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, 1999;
ISBN 1-895688-94-9; softcover, 160 pages, $19.95; Owl Books, 416-304-0702 ext. 309;
fax 416-304-0525;

Andrea Murik is a Grade 5 teacher at James Bolton Public School in Bolton.

Getting 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:

Michael Reist is head of English and Modern Languages at Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon East.

Computer 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 older grades.
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 software.
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;

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 0-325-00326-2; softcover,
192 pages, US$17.50; Irwin Professional Training, 416-798-0424, 1-800-263-7824;

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 and philosophically.

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

Learning by Heart

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

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 case.
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.

Home | Masthead | Archives

From the Chair  |   Registrar's Report  |   Remarkable Teachers  |   Blue Pages
News  |   Reviews  |   Calendar  |   Netwatch  |   FAQ  |   Letters to the Editor

Ontario College of Teachers
121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor Toronto  ON M4W 3M5
Phone: 416-961-8800 Toll-free: 1-888-534-2222 Fax: 416-961-8822