Author: Antonio Maurice Daniels

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels is an editor and columnist at The Good Men Project. Also, Dr. Daniels is a University of Wisconsin-Madison Research Associate in Education and Co-Founder and Vice Board Chairman of The Why You Initiative [YU?]. He is a minister, theologian, higher education finance consultant, university instructor, non-profit executive, published scholar, and Earl E. Hoffmann Fellow. His cultural commentary blog, Revolutionary Paideia, can be found at https://revolutionarypaideia.com, and follow him on Twitter: @paideiarebel.

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing: A Summary

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Photo Credit: Amazon

Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing (2019) offers readers important insights about how to make successful decisions. The book strives to help readers see decision making as an opportunity for spiritual growth. For Freeman, one can find peace even when it does not seem possible. The author contends that doing the next right thing is about moving one’s focus from outcomes to the present moment.

When a person removes distractions, Freeman argues that he or she can better understand inner experiences.

If an individual is not being real with himself or herself, the author asserts that God is not able to reveal what He desires to communicate to him or her in the present moment.

The Next Right Thing challenges the reader to question his or her desires and motivations. Freeman believes that questioning one’s desires and motivations allows him or her to find clarity on their spiritual paths. This does, however, require one to be candid with himself or herself.

Freeman recommends that one invest more time in listening to his or her believers rather than critics. She asserts that keeping yourself uplifted with positive words of others empowers you to arrive at the heart of the person you really are.

The writer values surprises, for they, she argues, more often permit one to resolve decision making chaos than perceived clarity does. The book emphasizes that it is not wise to expect clarity about every detail of the future, considering life unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

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Doing Justice by Preet Bharara: A Summary

Doing Justice by Preet Bharara

Photo Credit: Amazon

Preet Bharara’s Doing Justice (2019) offers the lessons the author has learned during his career as a former federal attorney. Bharara contends that effective investigations require investigators who have a strong work ethic and who commit to withholding judgment until the appropriate time. The author explains that a successful investigator must be willing to reassess evidence. Also, he helps the reader to understand that successful investigators often question the processes they use.

Bharara divulges that reasonable questioning of witnesses is necessary to gain the cooperation of witnesses. Doing Justice makes clear that posing the right questions is crucial to the final outcome of an investigation.

The writer warns investigators against making hasty accusations because they can severely damage their chances of success. Bharara posits that police officers and prosecutors who are not careful in their decision making are serious threats to justice. He urges them to muster the courage necessary to endure harsh criticisms from various people and maintain their focus on the proper pursuit of justice.

Doing Justice emphasizes the importance of governments and prosecutors ethically exercising discretion.

The author encourages prosecutors to prepare themselves diligently for their court dates, for surprises during trial are certainly not pleasant. The book argues that prosecutors have to be willing to challenge judges who demonstrate partiality.

Bharara has a strong interest in prison reform. For the former federal attorney, prison reform is necessary to true justice. He asserts that any just society must demonstrate a real concern for how prisoners are treated. The author acknowledges that many problems in the American prison system need to be addressed immediately, and he sees that it is going to take the American people to champion prison reform for these problems to be addressed.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro: A Summary

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Photo Credit: HarperCollins

Ben Shapiro’s The Right Side of History (2019) is a thorough defense of Western civilization and the religious and philosophical thought that has supported it. The author attempts to provide of an understanding of the centuries of thought that have developed and maintained the West, and he attacks threats to the dominant thought that has been central to defining the West.

For Shapiro, people desiring to be happy must pursue a life of moral purpose. The writer posits that the reason so many Americans do not have a positive outlook about the future is they are not living lives centered on moral purpose.

Ben Shapiro argues that the United States was the first nation to be grounded in philosophy. He cites Thomas Jefferson’s comments about the Declaration of Independence as an effort to ingrain the thought of Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and other great philosophers into the fabric of America.

The Right Side of History advocates for strong opposition to efforts to weaken individual rights in America.

The author contends that the modern American political left has embraced tribal identity, which, in his view, abandons Western civilization’s philosophical traditions. Instead of supporting truth, reason, and the pursuit of virtue, Shapiro asserts that the American political left has abandoned the aforementioned for victimhood.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

NIV, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition: A Brief Review

The Maxwell Leadership Bible

Courtesy of Thomas Nelson

John Maxwell’s NIV, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 3rd Edition, is a wonderful bible with an excellent, reader-friendly print. With the New International Version being a popular translation of holy Scripture, many will appreciate how John Maxwell helps readers to gain critical insights about it through illuminating leadership principles throughout the text. Maxwell does a brilliant job of evincing how the bible is truly a book that has much to teach about effective leadership. A well-established authority on leadership, Maxwell brings his years of leadership experience and expertise to profile biblical leaders and what can be learned from their leadership.

This bible contains an introduction to each book and many short articles related to leadership. The hardback edition is a soft, comfort hardback, which makes it pleasant to hold and carry. Maxwell does a thorough job of ensuring that the reader understands the bible through a leadership lens and that he or she is able to engage constantly with Scripture’s powerful revelations about leadership.

Without question, leaders (and not just spiritual leaders) should purchase a copy of this this bible. Also, all individuals serious about the study of the Word of God need a copy of this bible. When one reads this bible, he or she comes away from the text a more empowered person ready to address challenges and problems with biblical courage and wisdom.

To aid the drafting of this honest review, the publisher, Thomas Nelson, provided a copy of The Maxwell Leadership Bible through BookLook Bloggers.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy 39th Birthday to Dr. Santresa L. Glass

Dr. Santresa L. Glass

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Santresa L. Glass

As you continue to celebrate life, including your own life, I wanted to take a brief moment and wish you a Happy Birthday! I’m so grateful to have you as a best friend. In fact, you’ve become more than a best friend; you’re my sister.

Through you, I’ve learned what a true best friend is and what one is not.

Thank you for being you and thank you for teaching me so much about authentic love and friendship.

Have the greatest day!

Love ya,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dropping Everything to Read? How about Picking Some Things Up! by Jennifer Serravallo: A Summary

Jennifer Serravallo Reading Strategies

Photo Credit: Heinemann

In “Dropping Everything to Read? How about Picking Some Things Up!,” Jennifer Serravallo (2017) posits that teachers need to be intentional about how they engage students in independent reading. For Serravallo, it’s not simply about students reading whatever they want and however they desire; it’s about teachers creating independent reading experiences that lead to successful student learning outcomes and reward experiences. Independent reading time for students, if executed effectively and thoughtfully by teachers, Serravallo argues, can lead to the evolution of “a reading life” (p. 24).

Be Intentional about Independent Reading 

If teachers desire to see their students develop “a reading life,” the scholar asserts that they have to think strategically about how they engage them in independent reading. Serravallo recommends teachers to use “whole-class lessons that offer students strategies for focusing their attention and building their stamina” when reading (p. 24). Also, she contends that these strategies can be employed to instruct small groups “in strategy lessons, which are essentially conferences for two or three students at a time” (p. 24). In these strategy lessons, students are given a strategy to support their work or reading, and then teachers provide individual “coaching” while the other students in the group read or work independently.

Booktalks 

Another strategy Serravallo offers is using booktalks to trigger the interest of students in trying new authors, series, and/or genres. She recognizes that many teacher deliver these booktalks to the whole class, but she encourages them to use these strategies in small groups as well. Although whole class booktalks permit teachers to incorporate interests of their students, small groups are easier to tailor these booktalks to students’ interests. Also, the scholar divulges that booktalks in small groups allow teachers to select books appropriate for the reading level of each student.

Serravallo’s 5 Strategies for Supporting Reading Engagement

Longer texts and shorter texts take different kinds of reading attention and focus. It may help you to plan stopping places in your longer book and have some texts at the ready for briefer break reads. Articles, short stories, and poems are good texts for this kind of reading.

When you get distracted, stop and notice where your attention first started to drift. Go back to the last thing you remember not just reading but really understanding. Reread from there to get back into your book.

Being engaged means keeping not just your eyes but also your mind on the book. As you read, be aware of your attention shifting. When it does, back up and reread. If you notice attention shifting very often, consider whether the book isn’t a good fit or something in your environment is causing you to become distracted.

It’s crucial that you are always sure that you’re making sense of what you’re reading about. Check in with meaning by asking yourself, What’s happening, who is in this scene, and where are they? Can I see what’s happening? Am I thinking about, having feelings about, or reacting to what’s happening? If you feel like anything is fuzzy, back up and reread to make sure you’re understanding.

Engage your mind by asking questions as you read. In fiction you might ask, What comes next? Why did the character do that? In nonfiction, you might ask questions about the topic. Read on to answer your questions.

Setting Reading Goals in Reading Conferences 

Serravallo explains that teachers need to set a reading goal(s) for students while they are enjoying their books. The reading goal(s) should be generated with students’ input during reading conferences. For the plot and setting, she suggests students can engage in “understanding cause and effect, identifying problems and solutions/resolutions, retelling the most important information within a chapter or across a book, and visualizing where the story takes place” (p. 25). In examining characters, she recommends “working to understand main and secondary characters’ traits, feelings, and motivations; relationships between characters; and character change” (p. 25). To explore themes and ideas, the scholar encourages “interpreting lessons and messages in stories, being alert to symbolism and inferring the deeper meaning behind the symbolism, and considering how social issues are present in the text and relate the book’s themes” (p. 25).

The main idea of a book should be investigated to understand what it is mostly about and to learn the author’s angle on a topic. When examining key details, teachers can involve students in “collecting and synthesizing relevant facts and information related to the main idea from across the main text and text features” (p. 25). She recommends that teachers engage students in identifying text features to learn important information the text reveals. Exploring text features extends opportunities for students to make valuable connections. The scholar champions giving students opportunities to analyze vocabulary closely, including “inferring the meaning of those words and phrases” (p. 25). Every effort should be made to involve students in conversations about the books they read, including advocating for them to extend the conversations into a book club.

When a student reads, Serravallo asserts that students need to write about what they have read. For the scholar, teachers should develop “a repertoire of ways to respond to reading with purpose and intention, including short in-the-moment jots and longer responses to reading” (p. 25).

Overcoming Reading Conference Challenges in Middle School 

Recognizing that middle school classes are often short, and teachers often have many new classes of students across a day, reading conferences can be challenging but Serravallo encourages teachers to have students write to reflect on their strengths and possibilities for next steps. A questionnaire connected to each possible goal is one method of writing she suggests that can be used. The questionnaire enables teachers to have shorter reading conferences with students.

Establishing Conferences as a Regular Instructional Practice

Serravallo recommends that teachers establish a regular conference practice with students. Constant and substantive feedback is critical to high student achievement, and a regular conference practice prioritizes feedback in the classroom and gives it an authentic home, an authentic space in the classroom. Small group strategy lessons during independent reading time also give teachers a space to deliver ongoing and substantive feedback.

The scholar acknowledges that many teachers will feel uncomfortable with students reading different books, books that they probably will not have read, but this reality should not alarm them. When having conferences with the students, make them feel like conversations, balancing the talking time between students and teacher. Even though a teacher may not have read the book the student is reading, teachers know a significant amount about books in general, including about young adult literature. Teachers, therefore, should enter into the conversations with this confidence.

In each conference with students, Serravallo likes to introduce a new strategy to students or revisit a previously introduced strategy. When introducing the strategy, she places an emphasis on the “how” and the “why” of the strategy. After introducing the strategy, Serravallo gives students an immediate opportunity to practice the strategy in front her so that immediate feedback and support can be given.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

NKJV Ancient-Modern Bible: A Brief Review

Thomas Nelson’s New King James Version Ancient-Modern Bible is an excellent bible that aids the reader in gaining a solid understanding of Scripture. Throughout the text, the reader has an opportunity to engage with commentary offered by some of the leading Christian thinkers about much of the text. For those readers who struggle to understand verses after they have read them, this text will give them great confidence in their reading and study of Scripture. One should not, however, consider this a study bible; it’s not. At the beginning of each book of the bible, an introduction is provided that will assist in establishing an overview and context for each book.

The bible is well-designed, fusing a traditional style with a contemporary style. It has a nice, readable typeface and print in general that invites the reader to spend hours reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word. This hardcover edition of the bible is durable, attractive, and easy to carry around. Even though it is a hardcover book, I love how it feels; it has a really soft, comfortable feel to it.

This bible could offer more significant study aids for the reader, but it does not present itself as a study bible.

Although I generally like bibles that offer far more study aids than this bible does, I do recommend the Ancient-Modern Bible. Even without the study aids I typically appreciate, the commentary of ancient and modern leading Christian thinkers throughout the text makes this a resourceful bible to read.

To assist in composing this honest review, BookLook Bloggers supplied a complimentary copy of the Ancient-Modern Bible.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison