Presents a convincing, clearly written argument for a research-based instructional technique, supported by evidence of...



An Australian educator shares a simple method to improve spelling.

This neatly constructed debut work targets educators and parents who want an easy way to teach children to spell. Divided into three logical sections, the book first describes the author’s five-step “S.P.E.L.L.” method of teaching spelling, then discusses the reasons why it works, and finally offers proof via case studies of its triumphs. In Section 1, Harley provides a succinct description of each of the five steps, supplemented with examples and black-and-white photographs that add clarity. This section is a self-contained how-to guide that presents the method in sufficient detail so it can be implemented immediately and without additional assistance. Section 2 is an excellent analysis of the visualization technique behind Harley’s creation, inspired largely by her research into Neurolinguistic Programming, also explained in this segment. Because “S.P.E.L.L.” is multisensory and involves seeing, speaking, hearing, and moving, Harley delves into areas that get a bit technical, such as the manner in which movement increases learning, the balance system controlled by the inner ear, and the regions of the brain. Also included in this part is a discussion of various research studies regarding other techniques for teaching spelling, many of which validate the author’s reliance on visual memory as an integral part of her approach. One of the more useful chapters in Section 2 compares current educational schemes with S.P.E.L.L.; this chapter should be especially interesting to educators who want to see the major differences in practices at a glance. In Section 3, Harley offers numerous and compelling case studies, each carefully documented, that demonstrate the effectiveness of her procedure with both classes and individual students. In one such study of 20 pupils over a period of six terms, a 79 percent success rate was achieved. At the end of the volume, Harley provides a sample chart that can be used to motivate students along with extensive references.

Presents a convincing, clearly written argument for a research-based instructional technique, supported by evidence of success; should be a welcome addition to any elementary school teacher’s arsenal. 

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5144-4532-7

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.


A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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