Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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PS Calendar

Governing Ourselves


Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources. For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit Lu, vu, entendu. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Olivia Hamilton at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext 679, or e-mail

Laughter, learning communities and time

Laughing Matters

Strategies for Building a Joyful Learning Community

by Susan Stephenson and Paul Thibault

(book cover)Laughing Matters examines how humour and laughter can create a healthier personal life, a dynamic classroom and a stronger and more truly collaborative learning community.

Susan Stephenson and Paul Thibault are Canadian educators and leaders in staff development. In their book, they outline the physiological, psychological and sociological benefits of laughter and explore the connection between laughter and happiness. They describe the role of laughter and humour in learning and show how laughter and effective leadership fit together.

During the whole adventure, they guide us with examples and practical strategies to bring laughter and joy into the classroom.

The authors offer a keen understanding of the high demands and pressure facing teachers and administrators. They present a compelling view of the power of positivity, showing that it can help foster problem-solving and change that may otherwise be out of reach.

Stephenson and Thibault present existing learning theories in fresh and energizing ways. Citing experts and current research, the authors build on what we already know about ourselves, describing optimal conditions for learning together and for positive interaction among all members of the school community.

Laughing Matters is both engaging and rewarding. The strategies offered are sensible, relevant and doable. It is a powerful resource for outstanding classroom practice.

(Arrow graphic) Laughing Matters, Solution Tree, Bloomington, Indiana, 2006, ISBN 978-1-932127-91-1, softcover, 131 pages, CDN$11.60, Canadian orders tel l-800-733-6786,

Nadira Baksh teaches part-time at the Oxford Learning Centre, Brampton North.

Show Me How to Learn

Key Strategies and Powerful Techniques That Promote Cooperative Learning

by Robyn English and Sue Dean

(book cover)This book recognizes that today's students learn in a variety of ways and is designed to help teachers show students how to best use their individual learning style. Evolving from the authors' own classroom work and experience, the book outlines teaching practices and educational tasks that will be sure to engage each type of learner.

The authors identify how to create learning communities within classrooms and provide information on curri-culum planning and assessment – a major focus of the Ministry of Education. Also covered are goal setting and reflection strategies, strategies on how to put theory into practice and student self-evaluation.

Ample professional resources can be found at the back of the book, including black-line masters and lesson plans.

Teachers are always looking for innovative strategies and tools in their classrooms. This book will be a useful resource for new teachers, and more experienced educators may find themselves recalling strategies they have forgotten.

(Arrow graphic) Show Me How to Learn, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ontario, 2004, ISBN 9781551381787, softcover, 96 pages, $21.95, tel 905-477-0650 or 1-800-997-9807, fax 905-477-3691 or 1-800-339-5568,

Victoria Houston is a secondary school technological education teacher in Windsor.

Classroom Record Keeping Made Simple
Tips for Time-Strapped Teachers

by Diane Mierzwik

(book cover)Throughout the school year, teachers keep track of hundreds of papers, including curriculum, lesson and unit planning and the non-stop documentation required for student assessment and evaluation. It can be a struggle to keep them all straight and up to date. Diane Mierzwik's latest book offers tips and strategies for record-keeping at both elementary and secondary levels.

Ready-to-use, reproducible forms assist in maintaining accurate records. Student achievement, lesson plans, homework, incomplete work, parent-teacher communication, classroom management, student observation and anecdotal records are all covered.

This wonderful resource allows you to try different methods of record keeping, finding what works for you and changing what doesn't. Although some of the ideas may not be new to all teachers, it does offer great tips for saving time, particularly in keeping track of homework and class participation. It is worth reading this author's solutions for coping with the daily task of keeping all those papers organized when there is never enough time in the day.

If you are looking for a resource to help you manage the endless paper trail that is such an integral part of teaching, this book is definitely a resource to consider – whether you have been teaching for two years or 30.

(Arrow graphic) Classroom Record Keeping Made Simple, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California, 2005, ISBN 9781412914574, softcover, 120 pages, US$24.95, tel 1-800-233-9936, fax 1-800-417-2466,

Pina Zappone is a Core French teacher for the York Catholic DSB.

Sexual Misconduct in Education

Prevention, Reporting and Discipline

by Grant Bowers and Rena Knox

(book cover)As Doug Wilson, former Registrar of the Ontario College of Teachers, points out in the foreword, there is a disturbing need for books on this topic. Sexual misconduct or allegations of it are prevalent. However, rather than spreading fear, the book's purpose is to offer education and reassurance to teachers and the public. According to the authors, charges of sexual misconduct are relatively rare in Ontario, but where they do occur, it is vital that the education system and individual teachers be informed about their rights and responsibilities.

The authors indicate that this second edition was needed because so many facets of legislation and attitudes have changed since 2000.

The seven chapters explore various subtopics of sexual misconduct, including The History of Institutional Sexual Abuse in Canada, Sexual Misconduct in Schools – who is liable and who is not, The Role of the Children's Aid Society, Initial Reporting, Post Investigation and Internal Investigation. It concludes with some interesting though somewhat disturbing scenarios.

This book provides readers with powerful knowledge in lay terms and is an essential volume for any professional library.

(Arrow graphic) Sexual Misconduct in Education, LexisNexis, Markham, Ontario, 2006, ISBN 9780433451211, softcover, 312 pages, $45.00, tel 905-479-2665 or 1-800-668-6481, fax 905-479-4082 or 1-800-461-3275,,

Gail Lennon teaches distance-education online secondary courses for adults with the Bluewater DSB.

How to Lead

by Jo Owen

(book cover)If there is one book to buy about leadership, this is it. It's an invaluable resource for every aspiring principal and teacher-leader, and for all who want to lead more effectively in education.

Owen dispenses with management-school jargon and education babble and cuts right to the heart of the matter, breaking leadership into four areas: foundation, practice, mastery and the leadership journey. In each area he spotlights a number of features: focusing on people, being positive and being professional. Additional topics in each area address leadership from the entry, middle or top levels.

Each section includes tips that will have direct meaning and applicability in school settings. For example, in Being Smart versus Being Positive, Owen tackles the thorny issue of smart people who are viewed as clever but are not adept at seeing what is wrong, identifying problems or managing risks. A simple rule of thumb is to respond to these challenges with the “four As” (apathy, analysis, answers and action).

Owen captures the essence of making it through the matrix of middle management unscathed, and of moving forward on the career route without succumbing to the pitfalls associated with upward mobility. On the other side, Owen has many practical applications of value to those who hold influence in organizations that affect the working lives of both leaders and the led.

Read it to improve your leadership skills and to reflect on professional practice.

(Arrow graphic) How to Lead, Pearson Education Canada, Toronto, 2005, ISBN 9780273693642, softcover, 240 pages, $23.95, tel 416-447-5101 or 1-800-263-9965, fax 416-443-0948,

John McKeown, a former Toronto teacher, is vice-principal at the Luanda International School, Angola, Africa.

Sports in Action series

(book cover)The Sports in Action series has been expanded to 30 titles, which range in topic from badminton, through cycling, judo, track and volleyball, to yoga – with many others in between.

Each book explores the origins and essentials of a given sport and provides information about performance requirements and skills. Each book also contains a glossary of terms unique to that sport and a brief but well-organized index. In addition, a table of contents makes specific information easy to locate.

Aimed at age eight and up, the Sports in Action books are shiny and attractively packaged. With such a wide range of topics to choose from, students are sure to find welcome information about their favourite sport – whether it's one they actively participate in or one they cheer from the sidelines.

The set would be a great acquisition for physical education and school libraries, and individual copies would make welcome additions to any sports enthusiast's personal bookcase.

(Arrow graphic) Sports in Action series, Crabtree Publishing, St. Catharines, Ontario, softcover, each 32 pages, $8.50, set $254.05, tel 905-682-5221 or 1-800-387-7650, fax 905-682-7166 or 1-800-355-7166,

Gail Lennon teaches distance-education online secondary courses for adults with the Bluewater DSB.

Enseigner l'oral au secondaire
Integrated methodological sequences and assessment tools

by Lizanne Lafontaine

(book cover)People often say that the French spoken by our students is neither developed nor rich enough. To remedy this, Lizanne Lafontaine has provided a French textbook that is easy to read, understand and use.

Divided into five chapters, the book provides teachers with useful strategies, activities and sequences that are clear and easy to follow. Although her book is intended primarily for high school teachers, many of the suggestions will be helpful for elementary school teachers.

(Arrow graphic) Enseigner l'oral au secondaire, Chenelière-Éducation, Montréal, 2007, ISBN 2-7650-1919-8, 184 pages, $35.95, 514-273-8055 or 1-800-565-5531,,

Colleen Coutu is an immersion teacher and librarian at Walter E. Harris Public School, Durham DSB.


Native Nations of North America

(CD cover)(CD cover)

Four more titles bring this series to a total of 19 books. New are Nations of the Southeast; Nations of the Northeast Coast; Native North American Foods and Recipes; and Native North American Wisdom and Gifts.

(Arrow graphic) Native Nations of North America series, Crabtree Publishing, St. Catharines, Ontario, softcover, each 32 pages, $9.86, set $197.60, tel 905-682-5221 or 1-800-387-7650, fax 1-800-355-7166,

Professor Noggin's Card Games

(book cover) (book cover) The latest additions to this series of card games are The Human Body and Explorers.

(Arrow graphic) Professor Noggin's Card Games, Outset Media, Victoria, BC, each $14.99, tel 1-877--592-7374,,


For additional reviews in French, visit Lu, vu, entendu.