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As a kid growing up in suburban Chicago, Steven Wolk loved the Cubs and hated to read. When he graduated from high school, he could count all of the novels he had read on one finger. Really, one finger. Having "fake read" his way through school, the one book he really did read was Paul Zindel's young adult classicThe Pigman, because it was the only book assigned that was actually about a boy like him. Steve became a passionate reader long after college, when he could bond with books on his own terms rather than according to someone else's program.
Besides baseball, his passion was (and still is) photography. At around ten years old, he started roaming the streets, alleys, and parks of his neighborhood taking pictures by the thousands. Because it was the age of film (do you remember film?), he built darkrooms in his basement and by high school was staying up late to print his pictures. In fact, Steve says that photography prepared him for teaching and curriculum design more than anything, because he learned to critique and examine the world through the lens of a camera. Later, when he studied photography and art in college, he learned how a photographer does not simply record reality but creates it—just like good teachers do with curriculum.
Steve fell into teaching accidentally. Needing a job, he applied to be a teacher's aide but was instead offered a job as a full-time "building sub." With some trepidation he took the job and soon fell in love with teaching, especially with middle schoolers and their energy, passion, and naive confidence. Tap into that, and miracles happen.
Following nine years of teaching every grade from third to eighth, Steve is now a professor of teacher education at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He teaches primarily in the graduate programs, as well as a course on young adult fiction. Steve has also done consulting work in the Chicago Public Schools, presented nationally, been published in many leading education journals, and conducted teacher workshops on literacy, literature, and social studies. BesidesCaring Hearts & Critical Minds: Literature, Inquiry, and Social Responsibility, Steve has writtenBeing Good andA Democratic Classroom, which won the James Britton Award from the Conference on English Education of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Steve lives in Chicago with his wife, Laura, his son, Max, and their dog, Sadie.
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Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion