For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit Pour parler profession. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact us at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext. 679 or email

Cover of So What Do They Really Know?

So What Do They Really Know?

by Cris Tovani

Real assessment, the kind that genuinely evaluates what students know and what they don’t, must take place in everyday encounters. By giving students continuous assessment and concrete suggestions while they are working on their assignments, they can incorporate what they have learned directly into their work, rather than doing badly or totally failing. Tovani provides an extensive list of formative assessment ideas so that teachers can gather a range of data and discover what their students really know — ideas like conferring notes, conversation calendars, annotated texts, double-entry diaries, students’ surveys and responses, exit tickets, inner-voice sheets, writing samples and drafts, silent-reading response sheets, work folders, discussion records, and response journals.

Each chapter includes practical suggestions and student examples for how to implement solid assessment strategies in your classroom. Tovani models reading workshops that address essential questions, followed by mini-lessons, student work time, catch-and-release time outs, conference strategies, more student work time and debriefing. She discusses her grading practices of assigning points for Attempt and Completion, Growth and Improvement, and Mastery and Understanding.

Each chapter is wrapped up with a summary of the main ideas, as well as a section that suggests how teachers can build best practices into their own classrooms. While recognizing that the reality of school today sometimes involves high stakes testing, she is keenly aware that kids can only do well when they are comfortable enough to let us know what they know and where they are confused. And she reminds us that one size does not fit all — that no single assessment can convey everything a teacher needs to know about a student. Multiple assessments over time must be used to understand how students are progressing, what they need next and how to plan instruction to get them there. This book is a valuable resource for upper elementary and high school teachers to offer assessment for learning.

So What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2011, softcover, ISBN-978-1-57110-730-5, 165 pages, $27.95, tel 1-800-997-9807,

Maureen Doeler, OCT, is a Grade 7/8 teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School in Alcona, Ont.

Cover of Guiding Readers

Guiding Readers

by Lori Jamison Rog

The journey toward independent reading requires specific reading strategies in a purposeful alignment with the rest of a literacy program. It also requires some basic structures like small needs-based groupings, careful text selection, assessment-driven instruction, responsive teaching and a delicate balance of success and challenge. What has changed over the years and what makes this book unique is its emphasis on more focused guided-reading strategies — lessons must be more issue-based, planned to a carefully structured model that is more intentional, more prepared and more concentrated.

That definitely means more student reading and less teacher talk. But why 18 minutes? The author explains that in her effort to organize her literacy block into 20-minute segments, she set a timer for 18 minutes to allow two minutes of transition time. The 18 minutes became a workable period of sustained reading without overtaxing attention spans. The result was that planning for this time span became more intentional with a corresponding increase in learning.

An excellent, concise collection of practical teaching and learning routines for each stage of reading development makes up most of this text. Organized by reading levels, the book covers emergent readers to fluent ones, with a special chapter for struggling readers. Inference, character analysis, synthesis and summarizing are just some of the topics addressed in the book. Particularly helpful are the lists of indicators to identify texts for each level of reader and ready-made learning goal suggestions in the margins.

Helpful websites are referenced such as, but I would have also included In my experience, Raz-Kids is the best place for all readers to practise reading Fountas & Pinnell-levelled books online (and it has online running records calculated automatically — beat that!) Get the headsets now.

This text is a stellar guide to guided reading. Its concise format, current topics and usable ideas make it one of the best investments you will make this year.

Guiding Readers: Making the Most of the 18-minute Guided Reading Lesson, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-273-9, 168 pages, $24.95, tel 1-800-997-9807,

Mary Veronica Moloney, OCT, is a teacher with the Toronto Catholic DSB.

Cover of Intelligence Quest

Intelligence Quest

by Walter McKenzie

The idea that children learn in diverse ways has become commonplace. Equally entrenched is a comprehensive approach to learning that is both project-based and interdisciplinary. What is new in Intelligence Quest is a blending of multiple learning styles and project-based learning with technology, creating a new instructional model that is flexible, self-directed and infused with digital-age tools.

McKenzie’s philosophical framework for the book is Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. He groups Gardner’s nine intelligences into three areas — thinking critically, thinking within and thinking outward — and suggests IQuest activities to show how learning in school can include real-world experiences.

The book addresses analytic problem-solving, meaningful data delivery, identifying multiple solutions and information literacy. Intended for educators and curriculum specialists, Intelligence Quest removes much of the mystery and stress of incorporating technology into all aspects of the curriculum.

Intelligence Quest: Project-Based Learning and Multiple Intelligences, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Washington, DC, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-56484-309-8, 114 pages, US$22.95, distributed by Scholarly Book Services, tel 1-800-847-9736,

Gail Lennon is a writer and reviewer with more than 35 years of teaching experience at all levels.

Cover of Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom

Media Literacy in the K–12 Classroom

by Frank W. Baker

Today’s elementary and high school students are exposed to media for more than 10 hours each day, every day of their lives. This exposure to television, surfing the Web and listening to music transforms them into passive consumers ingesting whatever information or messages are disseminated — and that can include some pretty dubious stuff.

This book introduces teachers to a breadth of practical advice for teaching students how to apply critical literacy to the media they consume. Baker defines media literacy as a lens through which we see and understand our media-saturated world, and suggests that students must be instructed how to be critical of the hidden messages embedded in propaganda, advertising and stereotypes. He compares the teaching of critical literacy with the teaching of point of view in a language arts lesson. Students need to be aware of their own biases that they bring to reading text as well as the author’s point of view in order to fully understand what is being communicated. But the book goes much further by offering both the theoretical background as well as practical classroom ideas for teaching a diversity of media literacy — in advertising, moving images, news, graphic novels, bogus websites and toy commercials. An excellent curriculum model diagram is provided to assist with classroom instruction, and a variety of charts and graphic organizers are found within the text to help with lesson planning. Websites, classroom activities and a detailed glossary are also suggested.

This book belongs in every classroom. It is rich in background and supportive in methodology. The cross-curricular approach outlined enables teachers to guide students toward becoming knowledgeable media consumers and producers of the future.

Media Literacy in the K–12 Classroom, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Washington, DC, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-56484-307-4, 197 pages, US$38.95, tel 1-866-654-4777,

Dorothea Bryant, OCT, teaches language arts to primary, junior and intermediate teacher candidates at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education.

Cover of Write Like This

Write Like This

by Kelly Gallagher

If you want to teach a basketball player how to shoot a ball, you demonstrate the technique and then stand beside her while she practises, over and over again. In much the same way, if you want to teach students to write, you show them what good writing looks like and then step aside while they practise, over and over again. That is the premise of Gallagher’s new book in which he shares his experience as a high school English teacher — at times standing beside his students and modelling exactly what he wants them to do. He reminds us that students learn by doing and need to be shown how and why by someone who knows.

Gallagher says that our adherence to the curriculum and to the standardized testing regimen is limiting the potential of our students. If we teach students to write well for tests, he says, they may succeed but will likely not be able to stretch further than that. But if we teach students to write well, they will achieve success on tests and beyond. To write well, students must see their writing as an essential tool for their future success rather than as a brainless task that they have to complete for school. They have to connect their writing to their own realities of blogging, texting, emailing and communicating using the written word.

This book grips you from the beginning to end. It is logical, reasonable and passionate — in other words, it is well written. It is the kind of guide to have at hand, to refer to often, and to put into action.

Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling & Mentor Texts, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME, 2011, softcover, ISBN 978-1-57110-896-8, 264 pages, US$23, tel 1-800-988-9812,

Nadira Baksh, OCT, is pursuing English Specialist qualifications while on parental leave from the classroom.

Cover of Math Work Stations

Math Work Stations

by Debbie Diller

Math can be one of the most challenging subjects to teach in a primary classroom. If you are looking for fun and motivating ways to engage your students’ inner mathematicians, this is the resource for you. Packed with a profusion of great ideas and photos, the book takes the reader through all the mechanics of workstations — how to set them up, manage and maintain them throughout the school year. Ideas for helping students develop conceptual understanding and skills, for using math vocabulary in talking about their mathematical thinking and connecting the big concepts to meaningful, independent practice are among the many that are explored.

There is so much to learn from Diller’s visually stunning book — the many photos of students using the math workstations are really helpful. I particularly found the second chapter showing photos of how to organize bins and math manipulatives to be a priceless resource for teachers. A 65-page appendix full of reproducibles is also included.

All this information is invaluable to help visualize how your classroom can look and how the math workstations can function. It is an indispensable shortcut to many hours of organizing and preparation. I cannot ask for anything more than what is available in this resource! Thank you, Debbie Diller!

Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On, K–2, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME, 2011, softcover, ISBN 978-1-57110-793-0, 289 pages, $39.95, tel 1-800-988-9812,

Maria Giuseppina Zappone, OCT, teaches Grade 3 with the York Catholic DSB.

Cover of Literacy Smarts

Literacy Smarts

by Jennifer Harper and Brenda Stein Dzaldov

Are you curious about how to use that fancy interactive Smart Board in your school? Are you wondering how to meld technology with learning and teaching expectations that might include collaborative and interactive learning, literacy and numeracy skills, all the while tailoring the learning to the diverse needs of your students? How about developing sophisticated ideas for organization and time management, curriculum, student behaviour and assessment? What about doing all that while accessing a wealth of resources and materials online? If any or all of this interests you, this publication — with its focus on the interactive whiteboard and its applications as a tool for learning — is your next must-have resource.

The reader is assured that no one needs to know everything about a piece of technology to be able to use it, and that the interactive whiteboard is no different from traditionally well-loved teacher tools such as the computer, blackboard, pens and erasers. The key is to effectively partner with your digitally savvy students. As teachers, most of us — who were not born into the digital world and who keep one foot in the past — can learn with and from our students. It sets an admirable example to our students as they watch us stumble through the mechanics of the technology, to problem solve and become true partners as we become more competent.

The book is full of ideas you can incorporate regardless of the grade level you are teaching. Imagine the possibilities — you can clone students’ work, turn off access if you wish to work on your own computer screen, share movies, flip between worksheets and create electronic portfolios of student work. Or you can go on virtual field trips from the ocean floor to the planets and back to ancient Egypt, and access resources from a multitude of resources. The interactive whiteboard can truly help to create classrooms without walls — a global community that can tap expertise from around the world.

Literacy Smarts: Simple classroom strategies for using interactive whiteboards to engage students, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2011, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-267-8, 144 pages, $24.95, tel 1-800-997-9807,

Connie D’Souza, OCT, teaches at St. Bonaventure Catholic ES and Pauline Vanier Catholic ES in Brampton.

Cover of Middle of Nowhere

Middle of Nowhere

by Caroline Adderson

Twelve-year-old Curtis isn’t worried when his mom doesn’t return home from work. He counts on her promise that she will never leave him again. As the days pass, he comforts his five-year-old brother, Artie, and desperately tries to keep the situation from their teachers. He remembers when he was about Artie’s age and his kindergarten teacher found out that his mom had left him — he was put into foster care with the Pennypackers. Their son, Brandon, stole from Curtis’s lunch and terrorized him. Curtis does not want to be referred to Social Services again. He’s sure they would separate him from his brother, and a kid like Brandon Pennypacker would persecute Artie.

Middle of Nowhere is an excellent book for middle-grade readers. Curtis’s compelling and honest narrative — the mix of thrill with sadness, hope with disappointment and skepticism with optimism — will capture readers. Award-winning author Caroline Adderson tells a poignant and memorable story.

Middle of Nowhere, Groundwood Books, Toronto, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55498-132-8, 214 pages, $9.95, tel 416-363-4343,

Nadira Baksh, OCT, is pursuing English Specialist qualifications while on parental leave from the classroom.

Cover of La première guerre de Toronto

La première guerre de Toronto [Toronto’s first war]

by Daniel Marchildon

Daniel Marchildon immersed his 14- to 18-year-old readers in a historical universe and, as a result, won the Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature in French language. The plot unfolds during the First World War and spectacularly presents a model of perseverance and resolve for Franco-Ontarian youth.

Seventeen-year-old Napoléon Bouvier devotes himself, body and soul, to all the battles he undertakes. His first battle, encountered in his daily life, is related to his background. A rare “Frenchy” in his environment, he dares to stand up for his language in Toronto in the early 1900s. He undergoes his second battle in the ring in which, as a promising boxer, he gives his all. He then enlists in the army to defend his country on European soil, where he witnesses the horrors of war. Wounded, he can no longer continue his career as a boxer. When he returns, his strength and determination transport him to Toronto, which was being ravaged by the Spanish flu. At the same time, a battle wages within him: on the one hand we see Corine who, during the war, while killing time in an ammunition manufacturing plant, longs for her fiancé to return, and on the other hand we see the young nurse who tends to his wounds.

This book lends itself admirably to both a French and a history course, and paves the way for a number of interesting discussions and activities in which to engage.

La première guerre de Toronto; Les Éditions David; Ottawa; 2010; softcover, ISBN 978-2-89597-150-4; 174 pages; $14.95, tel 613-830-3336;;

Dominique Roy, OCT, French teacher in École secondaire catholique Sainte-Marie, Conseil scolaire catholique de district des Grandes Rivières, New Liskeard.