Exploring this land from
coast to coast to coast
By Vivien Bowers
Reviewed by Andrea Murik
Did you know that the CN Tower weighs more than 23,200 large
elephants? Did you know that Regina’s first name was Pile o’ Bones?
These are a few of the many interesting facts you will read about in WOW
CANADA! — a wonderfully entertaining collection of stories, photographs,
anecdotes and trivia about this great country of ours.
The story follows 12-year-old Guy and his family as they drive across
Canada on vacation. They start out on their cross-country adventure in
British Columbia and head east because "that is the way the earth is
spinning, we’ll get some momentum."
The entire book — which I found difficult to put down — is humorously
written and is perfect for elementary students who are studying Canada.
The layout of the book is very reader friendly — it could even be used
as a class read-aloud while following the journey on a classroom map.
Major cities (Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax) are given their own sections, as
are geographical landmarks (the Acadian Coast, Georgian Bay, the
Prairies). The last few pages of the book give facts about each province
(area, population) and there are several colourful maps throughout the
book. I highly recommend this book for children of all ages as well as for
teachers and parents. It is a fun way to learn about Canada and it brings
to life the people, culture and history this country has to offer.
WOW CANADA! Exploring this land from coast to coast to coast; Toronto,
ISBN 1-895688-94-9; softcover, 160 pages, $19.95; Owl Books, 416-304-0702
fax 416-304-0525; e-mail: email@example.com
Andrea Murik is a Grade 5 teacher at James Bolton Public School in Bolton.
Through to Difficult Kids and Parents:
Uncommon Sense for Child Professionals
By Ron Taffel
Reviewed by Michael Reist
Most self-help and how-to books begin with a lengthy description of the
problem to be solved and end with a disappointingly short section on what
can be done about it. Getting Through To Difficult Kids and Parents by Ron
Taffel takes the opposite approach and gives the reader a quick and easy
guide to diagnosing some of the most common psychiatric problems in
children. These include pervasive developmental disorder,
obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders, childhood depression and
attention deficit disorder.
He concludes with an insightful description of the problems facing children
and those who work with them. For example, he devotes a whole chapter to
what he calls "The Second Family" — the peer group and popular
culture — and gives specific advice for reconnecting parents and teens and
how to intervene with this so-called second family.
Taffel gives a lot of importance to understanding the six major aspects of a
child’s temperament and the wide range of possible behaviours. For
example, some children do not deal well with a change as simple as having a
supply teacher for the day. The response in an active child might mean
classroom chaos. Taffel gives specific advice for dealing with these issues
and suggests strategies to prepare a child for those situations that cannot
be avoided altogether.
Because of its very clinical approach, this book would be of particular
interest to guidance counsellors and special education teachers, but any
teacher who wants to understand and get help with "difficult" kids
and parents will find help here.
Getting Through to Difficult Kids and Parents: Uncommon Sense for Child
Professionals; New York; 2001; ISBN 1-57230-475-8; hardcover, 244 pages,
US$28.00; Guilford Press, 212-431-9800;
fax: 1-212-966-6708; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Reist is head of English and Modern Languages at Robert F.
Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon East.
Activities for the Cooperative Classroom
By Linda M. Schwartz, Kathlene R. Willing
Reviewed by Marjan Glavac
This thin book is packed with invaluable information on how to integrate
the computer into the classroom. Although the information is focused on
the elementary panel, many of the activities can easily be modified for
The six chapters cover topics from learning co-operatively with computers
to integrating the Internet into the curriculum. The authors have also
included is a list of resources, an appendix and index.
Each chapter is well designed for easy reading, with full-page charts,
rubrics, checklists and step-by-step detailed instructions for a number of
computer activities. Extra wide margins are filled with tips, Internet
vocabulary and connections to the curriculum, to the computer and to the
For any teacher looking for a book on practical information on integrating
the computer into the classroom, this book would be an excellent choice.
Computer Activities for the Co-operative Classroom; Markham, ON, 2001;
ISBN 1-55138-129-X; softcover, 112 pages, $18.95; Pembroke Publishers
Ltd., 905-477-0650; fax 905-477-3691; www.pembrokepublishers.com.
Marjan Glavac is a Grade 5 teacher at Wilfrid Jury Public School in
London and the author of The Busy Educator’s Guide to the World Wide
Web, 2nd Edition.
The Energy to Teach
By David Graves
Reviewed by Caroline Cremer
During times when teachers are constantly being challenged and scrutinized
by the public and other educators, The Energy to Teach by Donald Graves is
a valuable and encouraging book for all educators to read.
Through the use of various exercises that present different approaches to
deal with daily life, the author illustrates how to build energy in the
classroom. He is sympathetic and supportive of educators and understands
the factors that create discourage-ment in the profession. Because he
believes that "it’s all in the approach," he also shows how to
use these same factors to help increase levels of energy and productivity.
The Energy to Teach; Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH, 2001; ISBN
192 pages, US$17.50; Irwin Professional Training, 416-798-0424,
Caroline Cremer teaches Grades 1 and 2 at Leslieville Junior Public
School in Toronto.
The Courage to Teach
By Parker J. Palmer
Reviewed by Christina Bell
The Courage to Teach engages
the reader in a reflection of the intricacies of being a teacher in
demanding times. The reader will come away with a better understanding of
the forces that drive education today and why the spiritual side of
teaching is largely suppressed and ignored in a time of educational
reform, change and growth.
Ironically, perhaps the only flaw in the book is that it may be too
spiritual for some readers. Palmer’s style of using meaningful personal
experiences is highly reflective in nature. His examples do clarify what
otherwise might seem to be fuzzy topics, yet the explanations behind them
can tend to make the reader feel bogged down at times. Otherwise, the book
is thought provoking and well worth the read, professionally, spiritually
The Courage to Teach, San
Francisco, Jossey-Bass/ John Wiley & Sons, 1998;
ISBN 0-7879-1058-9; hardcover, 224 pages, $33.95; trade paperback $12.50;
phone: 416-236-4422; fax 416-236-4448;
College member Christina Bell
teaches Grade 4 math at St. John’s School in Houston, Texas
By Roland S. Barth
Reviewed by Brian Day
Roland S. Barth, the author of Improving Schools from Within, continues to
emphasize in Learning by Heart how the most productive educational changes
are not those outsiders enact upon schools but those which members of the
school community effect themselves.
Barth supports the view of many educators that while forces outside
schools can certainly do a lot to change schools, they cannot do a great
deal to improve them.
Aware of the obstacles to teacher leadership — including overwork and
the resistance of both other teachers and administrators — he
nonetheless regards this leadership as imperative for continued teacher
learning and engagement, which is itself necessary for continued student
learning and engagement.
Learning By Heart; San Francisco, 2001; ISBN: 0-7879-5543-4; hardcover,
224 pages, $37.50; Jossey-Bass, 732-469-4400; fax: 732-302-2300; email@example.com
Brian Day teaches at Rose Avenue Public School in Toronto.
Stories from Canadian
Classrooms: A Casebook for Teachers
Anne E. Elliott, Vera E. Woloshyn, Tony Di Petta and Sheila Bennett
Reviewed by Brenda Dillon
The authors, all faculty members of Brock University’s Faculty of
Education, have compiled a collection of 23 stories that reflect the
experiences of teachers from across Canada.
The authors have combined the use of narrative and case study to make this
a casebook with a difference. Although the situations and outcomes are
real, each case is presented as a narrative and followed by case
discussion questions, a list of related readings and the outcome of that
This is a useful tool for teacher education and ongoing professional
development that would be best used in groups where members can use the
discussion questions, bring in some of the related readings and share
related personal experiences.
Stories from Canadian
Classrooms: A Casebook for Teachers; Toronto, 2001; ISBN 0-13-085050-0;
softcover, 242 pages, $26.95; Pearson Education Canada; 1-800-850-5813,
ext. 3364; phabinfo.pubcanada@
Brenda Dillon is the
Teacher-Librarian at Philip Pocock CSS in Mississauga.