Setting Limits in the Classroom

Author: Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D.

Publisher: Three Rivers Press, 1996, 2003

Pages: 351

Genre:  Non-fiction, Teaching

Rating: **** ½


Setting Limits in the Classroom is a straightforward guide to effective behavior management skills for the classroom.  MacKenzie describes easy techniques for dealing with students in a firm, but calm and friendly, manner using: clear verbal messages, encouraging messages, logical consequences, two-stage time-out procedures, “try-it again” approaches, and more.


He uses examples of real teachers in classrooms, pointing out the difference between permissive, punitive, and democratic methods of managing behavior. He then charts out the teacher’s actions with the students – what he calls a “dance” – noting which actions stopped a behavior and which were merely fancy language that did nothing to change the situation for the better.


The book outlines daily regular management skills, how to start off the year and teach kids the rules, methods beyond bribes and material prizes to reward students for good behavior, how to help parents with homework issues, how to deal with extreme behavior, and how to design a school wide discipline program that works effectively.


The techniques in this book are techniques that probably everyone’s heard of, what makes the book special is how clearly these techniques are explained, and the full description of how a teacher might use the technique to solve a classroom behavior problem.  MacKenzie is thorough in going through all the possible actions a student might have and how an effective teacher could respond, using a carefully sequenced string of techniques.


Highly Recommended.


****Setting Limits– This is MacKenzie’s book for parents.  It covers almost the same skills, using examples and details geared for parents at home rather than teachers.  There’s an especially good section on using these skills with teens. An indispensable book, one teachers could recommend to parents who need a good reference for home use.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City

Author: Kirsten Miller

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006

Pages: 387

For Ages: 9-14

Rating: ****


12-year old Annaka’s life changes the day she explores a sinkhole outside her family’s tiny Manhattan apartment.  There she discovers a hidden passage and a guidebook to an underground shadow city left by a strange dirty girl. When city workers seal up the sinkhole Annaka’s quest for a new entrance leads her to a mysterious white-haired girl at school, Kiki Strike, whose goal is to “be dangerous”. 


Kiki Stike is a fun action-adventure/ mystery for girls – full of complication, intrigue, and plenty of girl power. The daughterling loved this book and read it twice. I also reread it as soon as I finished.  Highly recommended.


I liked that the narrator, Annaka, is not your typical quirky-but-adorable girl.  She’s a bit off-putting and cranky. The group of girls doesn’t always get along. There are inter-group squabbles and alliances but they all work together because they all want to gain something from it.


Note: It takes about 50 pages before the story gets going and the reader is rewarded with an exciting adventure. By the end the reader will see the first 50 pages with new eyes. 


Kiki Strike: The Empress’s Tomb– I haven’t read the new Kiki Strike sequel.  The daughterling loved it.  It’s next on my list of must-reads.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

 Author(s): Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

Pages: 183

For Ages: 14 and up

Rating: **** ½


 Heart broken Nick is the only straight member of a queercore band playing a Lower East Side punk club. He just saw his ex-girlfriend here with some guy and she looks gorgeous. Heartsick Norah is the daughter of a famous record producer hanging out in the one club her father doesn’t want her to be in. She needs a ride home for herself and her drunken best friend.  When Nick asks Norah to pretend to be his girlfriend for five minutes, she wraps her arm around his head and kisses him. 


Told in alternating chapters from Nick and Norah’s perspective, the 17 year olds narrate a night to remember full of: witty banter, crappy cars, avant-garde clubs, Korean grocery stores, Ukrainian diners, posh hotel lobbies, deep conversations, romance, teen insecurity, and figuring out life.


I loved this book and read it in just one night. The narration is so vivid and fun I felt like I was reading a teen movie complete with a great soundtrack and a behind the scenes tour of Manhattan. Martin also liked this one.


Parent Info:  the main characters consider themselves “straight-edge,” meaning they don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. There are a couple secondary characters that overindulge but there are consequences.


There are several intense make out scenes between: a girl and a boy, two boys, and a light-hearted scene between two girls.  In all scenes there’s a great deal of caring and characters are shown carefully deciding where to draw the line.


The book is chock full of swearing, used as part of the color and attitude of the music scene, not for anger.


September 2007: Inbrief

 Quote of the Month:

“Holding resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Sally, married 50 years, read in an MSN article on longlasting marriages.  

(I love reading those MSN articles.  They’re like popcorn: small and tasty, but healthy enough that I don’t feel guilty reading a ton of them.)



Fall’s the best. The kids are happy in school, the new Fall TV season has started, I’m healthy, and I actually have time and energy to write. Summer and Fall totally win the Rowena Eureka “Best Season” awards.


Fiction Books Finished:

***   Millicent Min: Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee

** ½ Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer


Non Fiction Books Finished:

****  Setting Limits in the Classroom, by Robert J. MacKenzie ED.D.


Movies Seen:

*** ½   Bush’s Brain


Music I Listened To:


O.C. Mix

Charlotte Martin

Imogen Heap


Sub Jobs:

1 day in Second Grade

½ day as Special Education Resource Teacher

1 day as the Computer Lab Teacher- one of my favorite sub jobs


TV Watched:

****    Dead Like Me (Most of Season 1 on DVD)

*** ½ Ugly Betty (1st part of season 1 on DVD, in French and Spanish with English subtitles)

*** ½  Chuck (Pilot)

*** ½  Reaper (Pilot)- So far, this is probably my favorite new show of the season.

***      Dark Angel (1st part of season 1 on DVD, in Spanish with English subtitles)

** ½    Gossip Girl (Pilot)

**        Entourage (Current Season)