Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources. For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit Lu, vu, entendu. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Olivia Hamilton at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext 679, or e-mail

Leadership, pictures, play and words

Exploring Leadership and Ethical Practice through Professional Inquiry

edited by Déirdre Smith, OCT, and Patricia Goldblatt, OCT

This book, a joint project of the College and the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario, does exactly what it promises to do. Through a series of well-chosen, real-life case studies, it investigates questions of leadership in education. The case studies selected to illustrate the themes were submitted by practising principals, vice-principals and academic scholars. The seven-page list of contributors reads like a who’s who of education leaders.

Case studies are a particularly effective learning tool. They prepare aspiring educators and those already on the job for real situations that may emerge within their education communities. These scenarios involve students, parents, teachers and administrators in actual conflicts. Respected academic leaders weigh in with suggestions for reflection, discussion and learning. The studies provide opportunities to engage in the dramas of school life in a safe learning environment where participants or readers can adopt the roles of the various stakeholders and gain new perspectives.

Each of the 14 case studies is followed by a professional inquiry and commentaries that provide a framework for the investigation of tensions, issues, dilemmas and potential solutions. They offer reflections, interpretations and critiques.

This is a highly credible book. It is well organized and well thought out. As well as a detailed table of contents, it includes an 11-page bibliography. This book would make an excellent resource for principal and supervisory officers’ courses.

Exploring Leadership and Ethical Practice through Professional Inquiry, Presses de l’université Laval, Laval, Québec, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-2-7637-8666-7, 324 pages, $45.00, tel 418-656-2803,

Gail Lennon is a retired teacher and author who currently works as a tutor and book editor.

The Picture Book Experience

by Larry Swartz

Picture books open a wide window of literacy for young students. Young children study the pictures to construct meaning. Older children sound out the words to attach meaning to the pictures. Grown-ups read the stories and create complete visual and aural worlds of adventure, imagination and fun.

Larry Swartz encourages teachers to look beyond the usual primary scope of picture books toward their universal appeal to all students. In his new flip-chart book, he proposes numerous ways to engage students with picture books while supporting curricular themes. He offers an easy-to-use reference chart on patterned books, top 10 lists, tips on reading picture books aloud and activities for student response.

Swartz reminds us that picture books can be a deeply personal as well as a shared experience.

This book is a wonderful addition to teachers’ resource collections and will enhance literacy in their classrooms.

The Picture Book Experience: Choosing and Using Picture Books in the Classroom, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-235-7, 32 pages, $12.95, tel 905-477-0650 or 1-800-997-9807,

Catherine Jamieson, OCT, is a vice-principal and resource teacher at Emily C. General School at Six Nations.

Munsch at Play

plays by Irene N. Watts
original stories by Robert Munsch

With fun-to-say action words and the repetitive use of onomatopoeia, children naturally chant along to Robert Munsch stories when they are read aloud. Even students who don’t speak English begin to remember the phrases so that they too can join in. Now, these well-loved stories come in play formats.

Stories like Angela’s Airplane, Stephanie’s Ponytail, Mortimer, 50 Below Zero, Mud Puddle and The Paper Bag Princess are recreated as plays to act out. Starting with the cast needed to perform in each play, the book moves on to required props, possible set designs and, of course, the scripts themselves.

The book is published in a compact size that can be slipped into a bag for easy toting around to rehearsals and performances. Unfortunately, the hardcover binding makes it difficult to photo­copy the scripts.

Overall, this book provides an exciting alternative to reading the Robert Munsch books. It could be used for primary and junior grades and provides a safe way for English-language learners to speak out in a natural, fun and social way.

Munsch at Play: Eight Stage Adaptations for Young Performers, Annick Press, Toronto, 2010, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-55451-230-0, 80 pages, $24.95, distributed by Firefly Books, tel 416-499-8412, 1-800-387-6192,

Margaret Buckworth, OCT, is a kindergarten teacher at Red Maple PS. She also teaches international languages for SK to Grade 3 in Richmond Hill.

The Write Beginning

by Lisa Donohue

It may seem strange for a book titled The Write Beginning to start with the end. But not long into it, it begins to make a whole lot of sense. According to Lisa Donohue, writers need a clear picture of what the final piece will look like before they begin writing.

In promoting a backward mapping approach to writing instruction, the author challenges the more traditional linear method, which usually includes pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing and ends with teacher comments and a final mark. She argues that students should work back and forth among stages of the writing process, making improvements as they go along based on teacher feedback.

The key to Donohue’s vision is that, together, teacher and student must establish the expected components of a piece of writing before launching into the first draft. As the students work through their composition, the teacher can model specific writing traits, using mentor texts and descriptive feedback to support the work.

The Write Beginning motivates teachers to rethink how they support the young writers in their classrooms. In the words of the author, “Only when the end is clear are we ready to begin.”

The Write Beginning: Instruction That Starts with the End in Mind and Guides Students to Become More Effective Writers, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-246-3, 96 pages, $24.95, tel 905-477-0650 or 1-800-997-9807,

Caroline Cremer, OCT, teaches Grade 3 at Leslieville Junior PS in Toronto.

The Way of Boys

by Anthony Rao and Michelle Seaton

Normal boy behaviour is not disordered or dysfunctional. Nor is it the result of ADHD, Asperger syndrome, bipolar disorder or any number of learning disabilities. Rather, it is a natural and positive attribute of being young and male. It does, however, need to be understood and managed effectively in the classroom. And that is precisely what The Way of Boys addresses.

We sometimes label boy energy as hyperactive and boy behaviour as impulsive. But the relatively slower development of a boy’s brain dictates that his first loves are movement and space. The intrinsic need for movement must be accommodated as much as possible. Young boys are also slower to develop the ability to read social cues like facial expression and tone of voice. They are generally less empathetic and less verbal than girls.

Anthony Rao demonstrates that boy behaviour often becomes most unmanageable just before a developmental leap. His advice is to wait out the stormy period because an advance may be just around the corner.

The Way of Boys will be of particular interest to teachers in the Primary division. With the advent of full-day kindergarten in Ontario, they will want to be aware of the special needs of the youngest boys in the classroom. This book is a great start.

The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World, Harper Collins, New York, 2009, hardcover, ISBN 978-0-06-170782-7, 304 pages, $33.99, tel 416-321-3033 or 1-800-387-0117,

Michael Reist, OCT, is head of the English department at Robert F. Hall Catholic SS in Caledon East in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic DSB.


by David Bainbridge

Are high schools Darwinian laboratories? Are teenagers at the epicentre of human evolution? The central thesis of David Bainbridge’s recent book refutes the notion that the teen years are merely an awkward transition from childhood to adulthood. Instead, he says that being a teenager is the most important part of human life.

His research stretches back to paleontological evidence suggesting that the prolonged adolescence of our species evolved at the same time as the attributes and abilities that make us most distinctively human.

Bainbridge journeys through the anthropological, developmental and neurobiological characteristics of the teenage years, looking at the science behind all the changes in the teenage brain and body. During the course of his journey, he scrutinizes some of the behavioural tendencies for which teenagers are notorious – their proclivity for excessive sleep, rebellion, risk taking and moodiness.

Bainbridge suggests that “it is teenagers that give adults their reason for existence.” Our role is to be supportive and nurturing during this period of their lives when the forces of natural selection are acting on them. Whether you agree or disagree with the author’s point of view, the book offers teachers some new perspectives on the inner world of their students.

Teenagers: A Natural History, Greystone Books, Vancouver, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55365-437-7, 364 pages, $22.00, tel 1-800-667-6902,

Steve Kennedy, OCT, is a secondary school teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth DSB in the James Street Alternative Education Program in Hamilton.

On a Canadian Day

by Rona Arato
illustrated by Peter Ferguson

These stories take the reader through a voyage in time across Canada. The book starts with an Aboriginal child on the plains experiencing his first buffalo hunt. Other stories are about the pioneers, the Underground Railroad, life in Toronto in 1900, immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, dust bowl farmers in 1935, Japanese internment camps on the west coast during World War II and Vietnamese refugees in 1979. Each story concludes with a historical summary and photos from the given era.

The feelings, aspirations and fears of the children depicted in the book are realistic, making it easy for young readers to identify with them.

On a Canadian Day: Nine Story Voyages Through History, Maple Tree Press/Owlkids Books, Toronto, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-897349-51-9, 96 pages, $19.95, distributed by Raincoast Books, tel 1-800-663-5714,,

Rosemarie Chapman is a retired teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth Board of Education.

Le VocabulAIDE

by Pierre Cardinal

Do you speak Franglais?

Le VocabulAIDE is a compendium of anglicisms currently used in written French in Canada. Without assigning blame, this manual presents vocabulary and idiomatic expressions that have been influenced by English and can be found in Canadian newspapers such as La Presse, Le Soleil and Le Devoir.

Anyone interested in linguistics and the evolution of language will want to take a good look at this book.
The anglicisms are presented in alphabetical order along with quotations from French-language newspapers as evidence of current usage. The author explains how the word or expression borrows from the English and provides a number of equivalent words or expressions from the French. My only quibble with the book’s organization is the lack of an index to facilitate finding a given word or expression.

Here are examples from Le VocabulAIDE of French words and expressions that borrow directly from English: en demande (in demand), paver la voie (to pave the way), payer une visite à (to pay a visit to), réaliser (to realize). For the true language buff, this volume also includes an index of 350 pseudo-anglicisms.

With this manual, you can take a closer look at your own French usage and assess the influence of English on your written and spoken French. The alternatives to anglicisms offered in this book might inspire you to enrich your vocabulary. For some, this resource may appear to be too accepting of the idea of borrowing from English, but whether you are a traditionalist or a reformer, Le VocabulAIDE is evidence that Canadian French is a living language, evolving within our global culture.

Le VocabulAIDE, University of Ottawa Press, 2010, softcover, ISBN 978-2-7603-0737-7, 736 pages, $34.95, tel 613-562-5246,

Ramona Dempsey, OCT, is a curriculum consultant in literacy and French Immersion for the York Region DSB.

Launching RTI Comprehension Instruction with Shared Reading

by Nancy N. Boyles

To foster competent and independent readers, “You will need to change your teaching before you can hope to change your students’ learning.” So says the author of this must-have resource that targets the reading skills of junior and intermediate students. By creating a shared reading experience with objectives that are precise and measurable, teachers can help students fire their metacognitive potential and coax them toward applying what they learn to a variety of situations.

After presenting the components of a comprehensive literacy program, Nancy Boyles asks teachers to consider the specific design of shared reading lessons with instructional strategies that can be applied to a diversity of learners in the classroom. To help students formulate their responses to reading, Boyles focuses on an “oral rehearsal” – a time to talk with students about their reading experience before launching into more formal written responses.

Scheduling, vocabulary instruction, lesson plans, extension activities and questioning strategies are highlighted, as are questions aimed at teachers to promote discussion and deepen their own reflective practice. Boyles has clearly put considerable classroom time into field testing these outstanding lessons, as she has also provided sample answers that have been levelled. The book comes with a CD that contains blackline masters to help support students as they learn to dig for deeper meaning within texts.

Launching RTI Comprehension Instruction with Shared Reading: 40 Model Lessons for Intermediate Readers, Maupin House, Gainesville, Florida, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-934338-67-4, 313 pages, US$34.95, tel 1-800-524-0634,

Sarah Frost Hunter, OCT, is an early literacy teacher for primary students in the Peel DSB.

Text Me a Strategy

by Kathy Paterson

Text Me a Strategy offers a framework to support and build learning strategies so that students can learn to retrieve and retain information and become independent thinkers and learners. Strategy building shows them how to reflect on personal strengths and develop areas of need, all the while getting guidance from classroom teachers.

For strategies to be successful, teachers must present them in a meaningful context, highlighting their intended use and purpose. A simple strategy that can be introduced at the beginning of the year is called G-R-T-R (Get Ready To Remember). Students are taught four simple steps to eliminate distraction, stay on task and absorb classroom information. This is an excellent activity for wandering minds.

The diverse needs of all your learners are targeted with strategies to strengthen learning and personal development in the classroom. Paterson takes differentiated learning into consideration by creating simple solutions, especially for teachers who have to accommodate or modify instruction. There is no need to reinvent the wheel: Problems are clearly stated and effective strategies are suggested. Just identify the needs of your learners, find the strategies and apply while teaching.

Text Me a Strategy: How to Encourage Students to Develop the Skills They Need to Become Independent Learners, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-233-3, 128 pages, $24.95, tel 905-477-0650 or 1-800-997-9807,

Cheryl Woolnough, OCT, is a Special Education elementary teacher at Castlemore PS with the Peel DSB.

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy

by Jill MacLean

A sequel to The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, which was nominated for a Silver Birch Award,this novel presents a skilfully woven tale that follows the struggles of Prinny Murphy as she deals with many difficult situations at school and at home in rural Newfoundland.

Prinny’s father has kicked her alcoholic mother out of the house, and as a result Prinny must accept more adult responsibility. Prinny found her first friend in Travis Keating, but now she is losing him to Laice, the beautiful new girl in town. Prinny would love to have a friend like Laice, but Laice is only interested in keeping Travis away from Prinny. Without the support of her friend, Prinny is once again victim to a group of girls that relentlessly bullies her at school. In addition, Prinny is struggling academically and must attend weekly remedial reading sessions.

There is little comfort for Prinny until a compassionate supply teacher introduces her to a free-verse novel that motivates her to overcome her reading difficulties. As Prinny perseveres, she learns that “perfect” is only for the flat characters in her remedial reading books and begins to make choices to ameliorate her own complicated and distinctly imperfect life.

A definite must for any middle-school library, this is a more mature-themed novel than its predecessor. Prinny’s honest responses to some difficult situations will provide many points of discussion for both classroom debate and independent reflection.

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Markham, 2009, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55455-145-3, 192 pages, $11.95, tel 905-477-9700 or 1-800-387-9776,

Laura Barron, OCT, is a teacher/librarian at Fernforest PS with the Peel DSB.