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Reviews

Your guide to recently released books and other teaching resources.

Borrow a copy of any of the books reviewed in Professionally Speaking by connecting with the Margaret Wilson Library. Email library@oct.ca, access your College account via oct.ca, use the OCT Membership App, or call 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext. 679. For reviews of French-language resources, visit pourparlerprofession.oeeo.ca.

Photo of a book cover of 'Freewriting with Purpose.' The cover is a view of a person writing through a butterfly outline.

Freewriting with Purpose

By Karen Filewych

Imagine the freedom of writing without the inner critic heckling: that's wrong, that's dumb, that doesn't make sense! Without worrying about "getting it right" we can simply "get it down" and express how we really feel.

That's freedom. It's also freewriting. First coined as one word by Peter Elbow in the 1970s, freewriting isn't something new or even complicated. But it is powerful.

With more than 20 years' experience in education, Karen Filewych makes freewriting the backbone of her program and a game changer in any classroom. Class discussions might only engage a few students, Filewych explains, but freewriting gives each person a voice and a safe place to explore it. It helps students move past the barriers of fear, reluctance or insecurity and allows them to be more fluent and innovative in their writing. It's a powerful skill that goes far beyond language arts, too.

Teachers of all subjects and grades will find strategies to incorporate freewriting into their classroom. Filewych also provides dozens of simple but inspiring prompts, provides strategies for modelling positive feedback and gives suggestions on how to run writing groups. She also offers guidelines for student-teacher conferencing and recommends ways to support our English-language learners.

Caroline Pignat, OCT, is a two-time Governor General's Award-winning author. She is also a high school teacher with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

Freewriting with Purpose: Simple classroom techniques to help students make connections, think critically, and construct meaning, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ont., 2019, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-339-2, 144 pages, $24.95, pembrokepublishers.com


Photo of a book cover of 'Fostering Mindfulness.' The cover is a person's face with their eyes closed.

Fostering Mindfulness

By Shelley Murphy

Do we pay full attention to what is happening around us? Are we really present for whatever life may bring us? Or half the time, do our minds wander, thinking and worrying about something other than what we are actually doing? Distraction can be a huge problem for teaching young minds how to learn. This book details strategies for teachers to retrain those wandering brains and to introduce mindfulness into their classrooms.

The author describes how students can learn to regulate themselves when they encounter stressful situations by challenging a triad of internal roadblocks: their attention, their emotions and their behaviour. By following the suggested exercises, students can learn to identify their feelings while focusing on accomplishing tasks in a socially appropriate way.

Mindful breathing, sensing what's around them, recognizing their emotional landscape and using movement routines are all part of a step-by-step set of instructions to guide students toward mindfulness. Suggestions from other teachers who have implemented these strategies are incorporated, too, along with worksheets and templates for K–8 students.

This is a straightforward and thought-provoking book, designed to encourage teachers to prepare their students to thrive not just in school but also well beyond the classroom.

Teresa Ross, OCT, is a secondary school teacher with the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Fostering Mindfulness: Building skills that students need to manage their attention, emotions, and behavior in classrooms and beyond, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ont., 2019, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-340-8, 168 pages, $24.95, pembrokepublishers.com


Photo of a book cover of 'Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock.' The cover is an illustration of a person walking outside with a basket.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

By Dallas Hunt, illustrated by Amanda Strong

Young Awâsis spends Sundays with Kôhkum (her grandmother), who is known for her world-famous bannock. One Sunday, she asks Awâsis to take some bannock to a relative. On the way, Awâsis has so much fun that she drops the bannock off a bridge. While trying to figure out what to do, she meets up with some other-than-human relatives who are waiting to help. During her adventures, we learn the importance of collaborating and seeking guidance from community.

This is the first book from author Dallas Hunt, a teacher, writer and member of Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Northern Alberta. Hunt playfully introduces some Cree vocabulary throughout the book, and includes a recipe for the world-famous bannock, as well.

Majella Atkinson, OCT, is a Grade 8 teacher at St. Pius X School in Toronto.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, HighWater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press, Winnipeg, 2018, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-55379-779-1, 28 pages, $19.95, highwaterpress.com


Photo of a book cover of 'Putuguq & Kublu and the Qalupalik!' The cover is an illustration of two people who are scared with their mouths open.

Putuguq & Kublu and the Qalupalik!

By Roselynn Akulukjuk and Danny Christopher, illustrated by Astrid Arijanto

Siblings Putuguq and Kublu venture off to the shoreline of the Arctic to find Kublu's friend Lisa. On the way, they meet up with their grandfather who warns them to be careful of qalupalik, a strange sea creature that lurks underwater and takes children away. As the children reach the shoreline, they brace themselves, ready to find out if the mythical creature is actually real. Much is left to the reader's imagination, making the book a particularly great starter for children writing their own legends.

Nunavut-raised author Roselynn Akulukjuk, in collaboration with Toronto writer Danny Christopher, teach about contemporary Indigenous culture and traditional world views in a way that's both playful and engaging.

Majella Atkinson, OCT, is a Grade 8 teacher at St. Pius X School in Toronto.

Putugug & Kublu and the Qalupalik!, Inhabit Media, Iqaluit, 2018, softcover, ISBN 978-1-77227-228-4, 44 pages, $6.95, inhabitmedia.com


Photo of a book cover of 'Una Huna? What Is This?' The cover is an illustration of a person running with a dog with a ship in the back.

Una Huna? What Is This?

By Susan Aglukark, illustrated by Amanda Sandland and Danny Christopher

Every morning, Ukpik sneaks out of her bed very early to play with her new, nameless puppy. She tries to think of a suitable name but can't find one. Meanwhile, a visitor from the south arrives and introduces Ukpik's family to cutlery. She is excited to learn how to use the knives, forks and spoons. At the same time, she worries that using the implements might be the prologue to giving up their old ways, and that means everything could change.

The story shows Ukpik's journey as she discovers that while many things change, the love for her home and family remains constant. After this revelation, Ukpik is finally inspired to name her puppy Uummat, meaning heart, or loved one.

Majella Atkinson, OCT, is a Grade 8 teacher at St. Pius X School in Toronto.

Una Huna? What is This?, Inhabit Media, Iqaluit, 2018, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-77227-226-0, 36 pages, $16.95, inhabitmedia.com


Photo of a book cover of 'We Contain Multitudes.' The cover is an illlustration of two people lying on their backs on the ground.

We Contain Multitudes

By Sarah Henstra

We Contain Multitudes is a provocative and eloquent portrait of a friendship between two unlikely teenaged boys.

Adam is a quiet giant, repeating his senior year of high school. He's a former football player and gets into his fair share of fights. Jonathan is a quirky and fiercely intelligent sophomore with a love for vintage clothes and poetry.

Paired together by an earnest English teacher's assignment, the novel is structured as an exchange of weekly hand-written letters between the boys. The letters start off reluctantly with the telling of their daily lives.

At first, they don't have much to talk about. But over time, they become more honest and revealing. Each realizes there's more to the other than meets the eye. What begins as a school project transforms into a complex story of friendship, love and secrets.

Henstra, winner of the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award, touches on many topics and themes real to teens today including bullying, siblings and family issues, peer pressure, friendship, homophobia, sexuality and more. The novel offers plenty to talk about.

Janet Cottreau, OCT, is the executive director of a family camp outside the Ottawa area.

We Contain Multitudes, Penquin Teen, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, Toronto, 2019, ISBN 978-0-7352-6421-2, hardcover, 384 pages, $22.99, penguin.ca