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New at the Library

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, access your College account, 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

'Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer' book cover.

Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer

Suzie Napayok-Short presents a junior-level fictional account of a young girl's learning experiences offered through her visit to the Arctic one summer. Colourful, realistic illustrations help bring the environment to life.

Young Akuluk takes a bush plane to see her grandparents in their small Nunavut community. She visits with her grandma (anaana) and grandpa (ataata) and then boards a noisy float plane with her toy polar bear for another journey. After an hour, the plane glides to the Arctic shore where she's welcomed at the dock of Saatut by her Uncle James and Aunt Sulie.

In this world, humans and animals coexist with understanding and interdependence. Foxes play with their kits on the tundra in much the same way as Akuluk plays with her aunt and uncle's newborn puppies. She also discovers the strongest pup's future role will be to pull the Inuit sled, or qamutiik, across the ice and snow.

The narrative will hook the junior-level student, encouraging a sense of adventure. And through Akuluk's Arctic vacation, readers will learn about Inuit life, complex ecosystems and the care of our environment, supplementing many areas of the curriculum.

Dorothea Bryant, OCT, is a tutor for primary, junior and ESL students in reading, writing, English and math.

Kits, Cubs, and Calves: An Arctic Summer, Inhabit Media, Iqaluit, Nunavut, 2020, ISBN 978-1-77227-274-1, hardcover, 32 pages, $17.95,

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'Protectors of the Planet' book cover.

Protectors of the Planet

Environmental and climate changes can be depressing and distressing topics. However, weaving science with culture, award-winning author and former CBC radio columnist Jamie Bastedo has compiled an inspirational collection of biographies of Canadian eco-heroes who are doing extraordinary things to help the planet. Through interviews and research, Bastedo explains how they dedicated themselves to their cause, including the defining moments that began each of their trail-blazing journeys.

The book's greatest impact may be found in the tips that accompany each profile. Bastedo asked each interviewee what they suggest others can do. The responses range from small daily measures to larger scale political actions that encourage legislative changes. Written with teens and adults in mind, these relatable stories stem from life lessons, perfect for class discussions, and especially useful to complement Earth Day activities.

Bastedo quotes former Green Party leader and environmental activist Elizabeth May. "Being hopeful is not the same as being unrealistic," she states. "This is not the dreamy, dewy-eyed hope of the deluded … hope is hard work. Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up." Protectors of the Planet is for anyone who wishes to keep hope alive and "roll up their sleeves" to protect the planet for future generations.

Anne Marie Landon, OCT, is a principal with the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97, Red Deer Press, Markham, Ont., 2020, ISBN 9780889955691, softcover, 330 pages, $24.95,

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'Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster' book cover.

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster

Ever wonder how to make gelatin from scratch or what goes into a peacock pie? Alice Fleck and her father, James, know that and more when it comes to recipes from the Victorian era and beyond.

In this novel, a young girl must navigate through becoming a middle schooler, deciding how she feels about her father's new girlfriend, and avoiding embarrassing herself on a cooking competition show, all while attending a Victorian festival at a stately manor house.

This engaging story mixes in fascinating and expertly researched tidbits about the Victorian era and its food. At its heart is a normal middle schooler experiencing perfectly normal middle school problems: self-esteem, being herself, and trying to fit in, while also facing a changing family dynamic.

Adding to those pressures, Alice is devastated to discover the new cooking show's producers have turned it into a cutthroat, frightening competition.

This novel blends historical facts, a carefully plotted mystery and fun cooking ideas while exploring themes of identity, family relationships and being a teen girl. It's a natural fit for a middle school classroom and would be an ideal companion to a food and nutrition course or one on careers.

Shannon Saturno, OCT, is English department head at the Virtual Academy in Ottawa.

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster, Puffin Canada, Toronto, Ont., 2021, ISBN 9780735269286, ebook, 9780735269279, hardcover, 256 pages, $21.99,

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 'Sully, Messed Up' book cover.

Sully, Messed Up

Sullivan Brewster awakens on a September morning, the first day of Grade 9, and stares at his creature-like image in the bathroom mirror. To his eye, his reflection shows a frightened Picasso or a deranged Mr. Potato Head.

The fact that (almost) no one else seems to see what Sully sees when he looks in the mirror underscores his search for identify. The school bus trip does not offer him any refuge either. It's there that Tank, the school bully, decides to call him Sally, a moniker that taunts Sully whenever he's around Tank and his crew.

Sully, Messed Up is about a young boy who does all he can to avoid the teasing and harassment of Tank's gang. He cannot seem to find his way out of the victim role he has accepted. With the exception of his mother, the adults in Sully's world seem oblivious to what he faces daily. Feeling alienated and in pain, and with his self-esteem wavering, Sully goes out of his way to avoid his supportive, if oddball, friends.

Intermediate and senior level students, especially, will identify with the characters and themes of the book. The novel explores the question of how a child can form a healthy identity when they are bullied for long stretches of time, and opens the door for positive classroom discussions.

Dorothea Bryant, OCT, tutors primary, junior and ESL students in reading, writing, English and math.

Sully, Messed Up, Red Deer Press, Markham, Ont., 2021, softcover, ISBN 9780889956377, 312 pages, $14.95,

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'Embracing Math' book cover.

Embracing Math

Deanna Pecaski McLennan's new book presents a math education philosophy in which our youngest learners, in preschool or kindergarten classrooms, move toward a more playful and less fearful attitude to numeracy and problem-solving.

She begins with the observation that children are naturally curious about math and that the teacher's role is to create a safe, supportive learning space where that curiosity can be encouraged.

The author also points out that when children explore math situations with others they experience alternative approaches to solving problems.

The second section is about creating rich, cross-curricular experiences that involve math exploration in different subject areas like art, science and physical education. In a section co-authored with Erin Keith, specific attention is given to connecting math concepts with literacy experience.

In the third section, readers find real-life examples of these principles in action, such as how a classroom bird feeder stimulated interest in numeracy, and how a class food drive created opportunities for number talks.

If more children begin with the type of math and problem-solving experiences the author describes, when they reach high school there will be less compartmentalization and dismissal of math as something they "are not good at" or "don't need."

Chris Jull, OCT, teaches Grade 9–12 English classes at Crestwood Preparatory College, an independent school in Toronto.

Embracing Math: Cultivating a Mindset for Exploring and Learning, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Washington, D.C., 2020, ISBN: 978-1-938113-65-9, 160 pages, US$25,

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'Teaching in the Online Classroom' ebook cover.

Teaching in the Online Classroom

This book reviews the foundations of online learning by first explaining the difference between asynchronous and synchronous learning, and addressing the pros and cons of each. It also taps fellow educators and scholars for practical solutions. One example considers the challenge of reduced student engagement during synchronous learning, a reality for many teachers. Another concentrates on Pause Points, a strategy that helps to avoid the pitfalls of distraction.

Practical solutions and suggestions support online learning alongside technology tips. However, the book does not negate the challenges involved for teachers and students such as extended screen time, tech literacy, effective learning spaces and parent support.   

By posing questions that will identify potential teaching gaps, Lemov also provides teachers with an opportunity to reflect on their approaches. Each chapter offers teachers' online practices, classroom anecdotes, strategies, examples and resource links.

While the book provides practical information and solutions to support a successful online platform, it does not address inequalities associated with students who are marginalized by the education system, specifically Black and Indigenous students.

Cheryl Woolnough, OCT, is a teacher and inclusion coach with the Peel District School Board.

Teaching in the Online Classroom: Surviving and Thriving in the New Normal, Jossey-Bass Publishers (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons), Hoboken, N. J., 2020, softcover, ISBN 9781119762935, 192 pages, US$19.95,

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'Climbing the Literacy Ladder' ebook cover.

Climbing the Literacy Ladder

Teachers see the struggles students face when they do not comprehend what they read. By Grade 3, the skill of reading with comprehension is required in cross-curricular areas. Without this skill, students lose interest and continue to fall behind.

In Climbing the Literacy Ladder, Beverly Tyner uses her experience and expertise as a literary educator to address this and other areas. The six developmental stages of reading and writing are handled individually with specific activities for each student from pre-kindergarten to Grade 5.

Using a differentiated process with small groups, teachers are able to implement material to build and develop the student's reading and writing skills. Sample lesson plans include research-based areas to work on while fluency in reading, word study, vocabulary and comprehension are addressed.

Tyner illustrates possible classroom situations and conversations that might take place between student and teacher. Strategies and activities are rich and plentiful. When a student is ready to move to the next level, Tyner provides the resources and direction.

This well-organized resource can help Grade 3 students become confident cross-curricular learners. It is suitable for primary/junior teacher candidates and, of course, kindergarten to Grade 5 classroom teachers.

Dorothea Bryant, OCT, tutors primary, junior and ESL students in reading, writing, English and math.

Climbing the Literacy Ladder: Small-Group Instruction to Support All Readers and Writers, PreK-5, ASCD, Alexandria, Va., 2019, ISBN 978-1-4166-2748-7, softcover, 230 pages, US$25,

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'Core Practices for Project-Based Learning' ebook cover.

Core Practices for Project-Based Learning

This book serves two key purposes: it introduces the principles of project-based learning, and it provides important teaching strategies that serve to further the goals of this approach.

The authors present four pillars of project-based learning: authentic tasks connected to the wider community; collaboration between students; mastery of discipline-specific learning; and iteration. Readers will come away with a strong sense of what this classroom style is all about and its potential.

Core Practices offers strategies for a range of grades and subjects, from high school math to intermediate social studies. Each chapter begins with a diagram of a classroom and a teacher engaged in project-based learning. Examples offered are the result of years of iterative learning — reassuring for teachers who may find that a project doesn't work as expected on the first try.

The practical advice and guidance in the book can support any teacher, from kindergarten to advanced placement. Teachers interested in project-based learning will find practical advice about how to employ it in their classroom. It would also be an excellent choice for school administrators to assign to staff as professional development reading.

Chris Jull teaches Grade 9–12 English classes at Crestwood Preparatory College, an independent school in Toronto.

Core Practices for Project-Based Learning: A Guide for Teachers and Leaders, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2021, ISBN 978-1-68253-642-1, softcover, 192 pages, US$32,

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'Making Math Stick' ebook cover.

Making Math Stick

Author and curriculum consultant David Costello uses his extensive background as a teacher and administrator to create this rich and meaningful math resource. His approach to the subject centres on classroom teachers adapting their teaching and learning framework so they become more manageable and sustainable. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.

Costello provides a variety of methods to support diverse learners by offering research-based strategies to enhance learning, along with input from educators. Samples of student work are also provided, with solutions to support next steps.

The book describes stages to bolster students' learning, including consolidation and retrieval. Costello explains that retrieval must take place multiple times throughout learning, not just at the end of the math unit. This resource infuses elements of Multiple Intelligences (MI), Differentiation and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), even though they are not explicitly labelled. For example, one strategy involves "Picturing It," where visualization, free sketch, concept maps and graphic organizers guide students through the problem-solving process.

This is a valuable Kindergarten–Grade 8 resource to support all teachers in developing better long-range plans and approaches.

Cheryl Woolnough, OCT, is a teacher and inclusion coach in the Peel District School Board with international teaching experience in the United Kingdom, Caribbean and Asia.

Making Math Stick: Classroom Strategies that Support the Long-Term Understanding of Math Concepts, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ont., 2021, ISBN 978-1-55138-350-7, softcover, 144 pages, $24.95,

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'Open Questions for the Three-Part Lesson.

Open Questions for the Three-Part Lesson

Marian Small is a renowned mathematics educator, author and learning consultant who, in this six-book series, identifies three key parts to math lessons: Minds-On, Action and Consolidation.

At the back of each book, she provides a grade-by-grade summary of each strand's Ontario math curriculum expectations. This allows teachers to conveniently look up questions they could use to close gaps in student learning. Curriculum expectations are also listed on the top of each page.

The Minds-On questions are designed to draw on students' prior knowledge and stimulate class discussion. From the responses, a teacher would be able to assess what students are comfortable with and develop next steps to guide instruction. Action questions make up the second part of the book. These can be solved individually or in small groups, and provide a lesson's main learning. The final part of each lesson, Consolidation, determines if students have met their learning goals.

The series is not designed to be an entire mathematics program since a balanced program includes both open and closed questions where teachers assess knowledge and understanding. However, it does provide well-organized, high-interest lessons to encourage student engagement and foster greater thought about how we teach math.

Anne Marie Landon, OCT, is a principal with the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

Open Questions for the Three-Part Lesson, Rubicon Publishing, Oakville, Ont., 2015, softcover, ISBN 978-1-77058-980-3; 978-1-77058-981-0; 978-1-77058-988-9; 978-1-77058-989-6; 978-1-77058-993-3; 978-1-77058-994-0, various prices and pages,

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