||The Ultimate Math Guide: Integrating resources, expectations and assessment
By Susan Lovell, Terri Howell and Mary Spring
Reviewed by Peter Saarimaki
The Ontario mathematics
curriculum expects teachers to "design lessons that help students understand the
basic concepts, ...encourage students to explore alternative solutions, ...and ensure that
students talk about their reasoning." The Ultimate Math Guide brings together a
lively collection of resources that teachers of Grades 4 6 will find very useful in
meeting the curriculums learning targets.
Teachers Susan Lovell, Terri Howell and Mary Spring provide a graded
collection of connections to curriculum packages and software, as well as new activities
from their classroom experiences. The material is organized by math strand for ready
The resources include materials by authors such as Marilyn Burns and
Constance Kamii, and titles such as Super Source, Family Math, Writing Math and Puddle
Questions. The one Ontario reference, highly recommended, is Sandy Woodcocks
MathTotes. The authors have also included a list of concrete materials and Ministry of
Each major topic has a pre/post assessment for the students
portfolio (forms provided). Lovell, Howell and Spring have supplied a disk to assist in
overall record keeping. Files help maintain a cumulative record of each students
accomplishments against the overall expectations within each strand.
The authors guide teachers in the use of the resources and provide many
reproducible pages at each grade. Sample letters to parents abound, along with homework
assignments and other aids that will help teachers maintain communications with parents.
Teachers will find a much-needed emphasis on writing in math class, with
guidance, suggestions and two assessment rubrics. The authors present ideas to help
teachers meet the
needs of students who require program adaptations, whether they are
finding the work too little or too much of a challenge.
All in all, The Ultimate Math Guide is a highly recommended, useful
resource helping to bring together many other resources. It should be part of every Junior
teachers collection alongside ideas for integrated, themed approaches.
The Ultimate Math Guide: Integrating resources, expectations and
assessment, Huntsville, 1998; ISBN: 0-9682656-6; $39.95; Ultimate Guide Press; (705)
Peter Saarimaki is a co-ordinator of Mathematics with the Toronto
District School Board and president of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education.
The Students Are Watching: Schools and the Moral
By Theodore R. Sizer and Nancy Faust Sizer
As provincial policy-makers reconfigure secondary school education, Ted and Nancy
Sizers latest book, The Students Are Watching, provides a context for the ethical
dimensions of change. Theodore Sizer is one of the founders of the Coalition of Essential
Schools in the United States and a leader of the school reform movement. His wife, Nancy,
is a practising teacher and principal.
With chapter titles like "Watching,"
"Modeling," "Grappling," "Bluffing," "Sorting,"
"Shoving," and "Fearing," the Sizers reflect on the realities of
secondary schooling today for both teachers and students, and suggest directions that it
might go. "We must insist on a high school design which will help all the high
schools people to reach for the best version of themselves."
If one of the responsibilities of high school is
to prepare young people to "be thoughtful citizens and decent human beings,"
then the adults and children who teach and learn in a secondary school must answer these
questions: "What do we stand for in this place? How is that stance reflected in our
routines, activities and rituals? How do we model as instructors and as the people
who work with them that which we most value?"
Students watch the adults in the school to see
how they will address the answers to those questions, and look for consistency. "Few
qualities in adults annoy adolescents more than hypocrisy."
In the chapter on "Bluffing," the
Sizers describe a scenario that too many of us as both secondary school students
and teachers have experienced. The Grade 10 student hasnt had time to do her
English reading along with all of the other homework she must do, and so decides to bluff
her way through class the next day.
She will ask a few questions early in the class,
and then she knows that the teacher will assume she has read the material and will leave
her alone. At the same time, the English teacher has given the reading assignment but
hasnt had time to prepare the lesson so she, too, will bluff her way through class
the next day. Shell ask a few keen students some questions, and hope to jog her
memory enough about the books content to get through the first part of the class.
The Sizers describe both players sympathetically
the student is committed but overwhelmed by the amount of homework; the teacher is
dedicated but overwhelmed by her responsibilities and teaching workload. The result is
"We do not want our surgeon to bluff. Or
our carpenter. Or our bank. Or our police officer. From them, we want and expect the
unvarnished truth, without any sort of cosmetic treatment. The world depends on honest
answers coming from clear minds." We should expect the same in our secondary schools.
Ultimately, the Sizers ask hard questions but
are short on specific answers. Do conditions in the school allow each student to be known
well? What is the proper teaching load for a single teacher? Are the expectations for
students and teachers clear? Is more expected of both students and teachers than it is
possible for most to do well?
When adults do not address those questions
squarely, they send moral signals to students. The Sizers seem to be nodding at
policy-makers here, but teachers will read these as familiar problems without short-term
The Students Are Watching is not an exposť of
schools and much of what is presented is not even new. However, as a snapshot of secondary
school culture as it exists in many North American schools, it is descriptive and honest.
By holding up the mirror to what is, the Sizers are encouraging all of us to imagine what
The book is recommended as a primer for school
councils, policy-makers, and trustees. As preparation for a discussion of ethical
standards, especially as they are played out in secondary schools, it is a thoughtful
The Students Are Watching, Boston, 1999;
ISBN 0-8070-3120-8; $21 (U.S.); Beacon Press
Rick Chambers, who taught English for 27
years, is a program officer in the Colleges Professional Affairs Department.
The Superlative 21st Century Classroom
By Robert Kerr
Reviewed by Pauline Faubert-McCabe
The Superlative 21st Century Classroom provides practical guidelines for educators wishing
to promote self-esteem, co-operation, personal accountability and self-
control in their classroom. It contains detailed lessons and activities
that teach students specific strategies for resolving conflict and managing negative
The first chapter provides a very good overview
of the challenges facing 21st century students. It provides the perfect context for a
discussion around what cutting edge classrooms and schools need to consider when
re-establishing priorities for students and re-thinking the function of schools in our
information society. "The information age will call on individuals to take
initiative, to make decisions, to network, communicate, negotiate; to take risks, set
limits, innovate; to assume personal responsibility for the team."
The book speaks to the need for young people to
avoid overreacting to unfortunate events in their lives and to look at problems as a
source for learning, for growth and for getting better. Using the four-step SAT plan
(Sensible Acting and Thinking) students help each other solve problems, practice conflict
resolution and take responsibility for their own actions.
Author Robert Kerr lives in Moffat, Ontario and
writes from a Canadian perspective. He feels that students work best in an atmosphere of
direction and room. His program holds high expectations that all students will learn, will
stay on task, and will contribute to and co-operate with their SAT team. Students are
further encouraged to make choices, to become part of the decision-making, to find
solutions, and to accept consequences.
The book provides teacher friendly lesson plans
that include clear objectives, experiential activities and co-operative learning
exercises. This is a great resource for teachers working with their students to develop
responsible decision making skills.
The Superlative 21st Century Classroom,
Portland, Maine, 1997; ISBN 0-8251-3246-0; $17.95 (U.S.); J. Weston Walch; www.walch.com
Pauline Faubert-McCabe, former learning
co-ordinator with the London District Catholic School Board, is program officer in the
Accreditation Unit at the Ontario College of Teachers.
No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy Using Science Fiction
By Julie E. Czerneda
Fraction & Other Tales of Science & Imagination
Edited by Julie E. Czerneda
Reviewed by Mark Leslie Lefebvre
Author Jeffrey Carver says that one of
science fictions greatest strengths is "the ability to spark creativity and
awareness in the minds and hearts of young readers." Julie Czernedas teacher
workbook and companion student anthology provide an excellent resource that will help
teachers tap into several different modes of thought in science, art and literature,
allowing an exciting merger of scientific literacy, critical analysis and creative
No Limits is a workbook that science fiction
author Czerneda created based on a series of in-class workshops. It contains detailed
information to help teachers use science fiction literature to encourage students to
assess scientific information.
Complete with photocopiable classroom-ready
worksheets, it offers suggestions on using science fiction to encourage critical reading
skills and provides fuel for classroom discussions about moral and ethical issues facing
the scientific community. It includes lesson ideas, activities and extension ideas, as
well as annotated versions of the stories in the companion anthology Packing Fraction. And
if the teacher prefers to use other stories for a source, No Limits offers a list of
recommended print materials, web sites and tips on obtaining other science fiction
materials for use in the classroom.
Packing Fraction, the student anthology, is a
collection of stories by such authors as Robert J. Sawyer, Charles Sheffield, Josepha
Sherman and Carolyn Clink. Each story was written specifically to outline issues in
Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Applied Science and Technology and contains a biographical
listing for each author. The stories are accessible to most high school students, and are
ideal for students who may never have encountered science fiction literature before.
No Limits: Developing Scientific Literacy
Using Science Fiction; Toronto, Trifolium Books Inc, 1998; ISBN 1895579945; $24.95.
Packing Fraction & Other Tales of
Science & Imagination: Toronto, Trifolium Books Inc, 1998; ISBN 1895579899; $6.95.
Both books can be ordered from General
Distribution Services (416) 213-1919 or 1-800-387-0141.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre is a Hamilton writer.
Magazines of Interest to Teachers and Others Interested in Education
By Christopher Ball
In a recent issue, we reviewed some Canadian periodicals in
the education field. Heres a look at some interesting and relevant international
The Clearing House
Bimonthly, Heldref Publications, Washington, D.C., $35.00 US for
individuals, call 1-800-365-9753 to subscribe.
Now at Volume 72, this journal has been covering the key developments in
education for many years. What makes it especially useful for researchers and teachers
taking courses is that it is well-indexed and abstracted in most of the leading services,
such as ERIC and CIJE. This makes it easy to find relevant articles in your subject area.
The Clearing House is not an appealing looking publication by modern
standards, but the content is broad and solid. Recent articles have included pieces on
portfolios, teaching in block periods and reflective classroom cultures.
Monthly Sept May, except bimonthly Dec/Jan, ASCD, Alexandria, VA, $49.00 US
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development puts out three
publications which are received as part of a basic membership. They include this title
(eight issues), Educational Update (eight issues) and Curriculum Update (four issues).
If you are researching educational issues, or simply looking at a new
subject area of interest to you, youll find this title coming up again and again in
your search. They cover a wide range of levels and topics, and all the major indexing
services pick up Educational Leadership in their coverage.
Monthly except July/August, PDK International Inc.,
Bloomington, IN, $39.00 US, 1-800-766-1156.
Phi Delta Kappan
Standing at Volume 81, this title is one of the elders of educational
journals. If you wonder whats brewing south of the border and possibly coming
to a school near you Kappan covers it. Its highly readable, well laid out and
addresses the full range of issues.
Urban schools and violence, tinkering with TIMSS or exchange teaching in
New Zealand its all in this journal. Kappan is picked up by all the
educational indexing services.
Eight issues, Early Years, Inc., Boulder. CO, $28.97 US,
You might remember this periodical as Early
Years, its former title. This publication is a great source of ideas and inspiration for
the early years teachers. Making local history come alive, motivating the unmotivated
student and helping children through early adolescence are just a few of the topics
tackled in a recent issue.
A really useful feature of this journal is the
activities pages, now included in each issue. These are practical suggestions that you can
use in your classroom tomorrow, explained by teachers who are using them today.
Development: an international journal of teachers professional development
Three issues annually, Triangle Journals, Oxfordshire, UK,
$55.00 US, e-mail Journals@triangle.co.uk
A new name on the scene, but a promising one
with a world-wide focus on PD. Almost a book, with over 150 pages per issues, with no
illustrations or advertising to speak of.
Each article is preceded by a detailed abstract,
to help you in ascertaining the relevance of the article to your area of interest. Given
the in-depth nature of this journal, this is a very useful feature.
The latest issue covered such topics as teacher
professionalism, teacher in-volvement in school policy-making, and the importance of a
general teaching council.
Christopher Ball manages the College