Click here for an interview with Jim Burke about What’s the Big Idea? and the English Companion Ning.
Many people have written about how theory (or research) relates to practice; Jim is one of those rare professionals who live the relationship. His book is rich with insights from other scholars and teachers, woven together in a convincing web of argument and insight. But the book is just as rich in classroom experience, using the wisdom of the expert practitioner to focus his arguments on the lives of his students—in all their richness and complexity.
Validation Committee member for Common Core
Author of Curriculum as Conversation
What is especially valuable about What's the Big Idea? is not just the "big ideas"--or guiding questions of the book's title. While questions may help a teacher structure a lesson, the book moves beyond being merely an application of the essential questions pedagogy. The book presents many practical ideas for structuring and sustaining deep levels of student inquiry into whatever the subject of study. And that is the book's grandness--wonderful lessons that help teachers create conditions of deep engagement that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.
In addition to the materials in the book itself, there are helpful links from the book to parallel resources on the publisher's website that make the printing of clear copies of handouts easier.
There are books out there that attempt to frame teaching and learning through one narrow theory or approach. What's the Big Idea? is different. In it, Jim Burke tells a wonderful story, a story informed by years of teaching, supported by research, and immersed within the individual journeys of his students to explore, learn, and discover
—Daniel E. Sharkovitz, West Tisbury, Massachusetts
March 28, 2010
Jim Burke has done it again--and perhaps better than ever before! What's the Big Idea? Question-Driven Units to Motivate Reading, Writing, and Thinking not only provides a researched foundation for implementing inquiry-based instruction, but it also provides a clear picture of what goes on in Jim's high school English classes every day. Through this book Jim models how to motivate all students to engage in rich literary experiences that are tied to standards-based instruction. The text is laced with his activity handouts (also available online for classroom use), pictures of how he models specific skills, and student work samples.
—Kay Haas, Olathe, Kansas
March 1, 2010