Songs That Teach

By Sara Jordan Publishing
Reviewed by Helen Donohoe

This is a series of five French kits each with a cassette tape and booklet for use with Core French and French Immersion classes grade 3 and up. Cassettes are done in song and the words/lyrics are given in the accompanying booklet.

Each of the cassette/booklet combinations covers a huge amount of grammatical and syntactical information in a comprehensive and very cerebral way. In particular, the verse about common and proper nouns in Des Airs de grammaire is very skilfully presented. Topics included are: Conjuguons en chansons, Folies phoniques, Des Airs de grammaire, Français pour débutants (for Kindergarten/Primary ) and Multiplications.

The melodies are catchy, lyrics are clearly enunciated and the instrumental component is varied, although on some tapes the lyrics are sung too quickly for the linguistic level and interest of many Core French students. The instrumental version has been recorded on side B of the tapes.

There are some paper/pencil activities, and for Junior/Intermediate classes a copy of the booklet (or possibly one copy for two students) is desirable to allow students to read as they listen. Copyright permission is granted only to the class that has purchased the set and extra copies of the booklet can be ordered separately.

There is so much information about the French language contained in these kits that wise and judicious planning would be needed on the part of the teacher. Too much at one time would be overwhelming. That said, all five packages would be extremely useful for the serious student of French.

Songs That Teach; St. Catharines, 2001; Français pour débutants ISBN 1-895523-44-3; Chanson thématiques ISBN 1-894262-38-7; Folies phoniques et plus ISBN 1-895523-14-1; Des airs de grammaire ISBN 1-895523-60-5; Conjuguons en chansons ISBN 1-895523-85-0; cassette/softcover book - $14.95 per kit; Sara Jordan, 1-800-567-7733; fax 1-800-229-3855. Also available on CD.

Helen Donohoe teaches at Sanford Avenue School in Hamilton.

A First Book of Canadian Art

By Richard Rhodes
Reviewed by Brenda Dillon

What a wonderful book! From petroglyphs to photography, A First Book of Canadian Art offers a fascinating tour of the history and geography, breadth and depth of Canadian art.

The layout is attractive, with just the right mix of text and art, and the quality of the illustrations is excellent. In only 71 pages, and with works drawn from twelve major art galleries or collections as well as private collections, this is an impressive and comprehensive introduction to Canadian art.

A First Book of Canadian Art could be used in a number of curriculum areas. Art teachers will welcome the variety of artists, media and styles included and it would an excellent resource when teaching Canadian history, and even English/Language Arts. For example, these paintings could serve as wonderful writing triggers for descriptive, narrative or expository writing. Students could be asked to describe a painting, tell the story depicted in the painting or explain why certain paintings are their favourites. The glossary is a useful addition as some of the vocabulary will be unfamiliar to students.

Suitable for children from Grade 6 up (adults too!) this wonderful book is worth including in all school library collections.

A First Book of Canadian Art. Toronto, 2001; ISBN: 1-894379-21-7; hardcover, 71 pages, $24.95; Owl Books, 416-304-0702; Ext.309; fax 416-304-0525;

Brenda Dillon is teacher-librarian at Philip Pocock CSS in Mississauga.

An Educator’s Guide to the Role of the Principal

By Eric M. Roher and Simon A. Wormell
Reviewed by David Squarzolo

The professional demands on today’s school principal have never been greater and making informed decisions based on educational law is a necessity, not an option, for principals to be successful.

School admin-istrators and other educators will take interest in the book, An Educator’s Guide to The Role of the Principal by Eric M. Roher and Simon A. Wormell. Roher and Wormell are lawyers who have compiled a well organized summary of various legal issues that will daily enter the world of the principal.

Roher and Wormell discuss such issues as the duties of a principal, documenting teacher performance, managing medications in schools and safe schools, among others. Each section is written with the law as the guide, but in language that is easy to follow and understand. Legislation, regulation and case precedence are referenced in the text as they apply. The legal expertise shared within the pages of this book will provide any educator with a useful reference tool as well as an informative and enjoyable read.

For a student in a Principal Qualification Program, this book will provide a straightforward interpretation of many of the laws governing the educational environment of a school and the professional practice of a principal.

The introduction by Michael Fullan perhaps summarizes the goals of this book best by stating: "The more sophisticated principals become about legal matters, the less they will become embroiled in exhausting cases. Thus, the more energy principals will have to do their core leadership work, which is to develop schools in which all students can learn." Sage advice, indeed.

An Educator’s Guide to the Role of the Principal, Aurora, 2000; ISBN 0-88804-342-2; softcover, 232 pages, $48.00; Aurora Professional Press, a division of Canada Law Book Inc., 240 Edward Street, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 3S9

David Squarzolo is a special education consultant with the Rainbow District School Board.

Native Nations of North America

By Bonnie Kalman
Reviewed by Helen Donohoe and colleagues.

This collection of four titles: Native Homes, Life in a Longhouse Village, Life in a Plains Camp, Nations of the Plains, is written in a straightforward, authoritative tone and contains a huge amount of interesting, relevant information.

Although the books are mainly directed at Junior/Intermediate grades, many secondary students would find the information useful and teachers will add immensely to their own pool of information.

The richly detailed vocabulary allows the reader to acquire a sound base of knowledge about native peoples. For instance, Native Homes describes and illustrates more than 15 homes/types of homes that evolved to suit the environment and climate, from "iglu" in the north to "pueblos" and thatched homes in the southeast. The considerable overlap of information in the four titles does not in any way detract from the impact of this series. Instead, it serves to stress the importance of environmental conditions

Clearly drawn maps and frequent references — in all four titles — highlight the fact that the native peoples did not recognize the political boundaries of Canada and the USA. Seeing the North American continent without these political divisions will provide a novel perspective for many students and should bring about thoughtful, meaningful discussion.

The pages are a fine balance of text and illustration. The unique approach to the art work in all four titles, an eclectic blend of artist’s illustrations and maps, photographs and reproductions of well known pieces of art, adds greatly to the richness and texture of the series. This is a series that belongs in every school.

Native Nations of North America; St. Catharines, 2001; Life in a Plains Camp, ISBN 0-7787-0461-0; Life in a Longhouse Village, ISBN 0-7787-0462-9; Nations of the Plains, ISBN 0-7787-0460-2; Native Homes, ISBN 0-7787-0463-7; softcover, 32 pages in each; $9.95 each; Crabtree Publishing, 1-800-387-7650;

Helen Donohoe and colleagues teach at Sanford Avenue School in Hamilton.

Quick Handle Marks

By Paul Brandon and Robert S. Dinsmore
Reviewed by Asha Mohindra

Quick Handle Marks is an introductory writing unit, ideal for Grade 11 and 12 academic courses and compatible with current curriculum guidelines. Written by experienced Ontario English teachers, this resource provides diagnostic tests to assess writing and language skills as well as lesson plans that will prepare students for these tests.

This very worthwhile resource for senior English teachers would be particularly useful at the beginning of the semester.

Quick Handle Marks; Toronto, 1999; ISBN 0-9684787-1-9; spiral bound, $20.00; Teacher Tool Kit Press; P.O. Box 22002 — 45 Overlea Blvd., Toronto, ON M4H 1N9.

Asha Mohindra co-ordinates an alternative learning program for the John Howard Society of Durham in Bowmanville.

Greening School Grounds - Creating Habitats for Learning

Edited by Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn
Reviewed by Clara Howitt

Greening School Grounds-Creating Habitats for Learning provides a very practical, no-nonsense guide for educators and school communities to create a hands-on, multidisciplin-ary learning environment in the school playground. The book displays the thoughts and reflections of more than 40 different authors and 75 reviewers across North America, all of whom have first hand experience in revamping school yards into green learning habitats.

This is a superb resource not only for teachers but also administrators and members of the school community who wish to naturalize their school yard in order to foster a positive playing and learning environment for children.

Greening School Grounds — Creating Habitats for Learning; Toronto, 2001; ISBN 0-86571-436-3; softcover, 120 pages; $21.95; Green Teacher; 416-960-1244; fax 416-925-3474;

Clara Howitt is the principal of Concord Public School in the Greater Essex County District School Board.

KIDFLUENCE — Why Kids Today Mean Business

By Anne Sutherland and Beth Thompson
Reviewed by Andrea Murik

This book is an eye-opening account of the power today’s kids hold in the marketplace and in the family.

"Kidtailing"–retailing to kids — is a huge business in North America. From movies to pop music, to fashion magazines, tweens are suffering from over-exposure to many adult concepts and choices. The "instant world" phenomenon that these kids have grown up in is being carried over into the classroom. Generation Y has never manually changed the channel, they have always had an answering machine, popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave, and they have always had cable. This poses some issues for classrooms and schools who are teaching the same way they taught even a decade ago.

Kidfluence outlines several factors that have lead to this shift in spending power and to the phenomenon that "Kids are getting older younger." Not only are they starting puberty earlier, but parents are pushing them to succeed earlier on in life (playing Mozart to an unborn baby, flashcards to a 3-year-old). Studies show that traditional toys are experiencing a decrease in sales and that kids are moving out of the category of dolls and action figures at age six — a year and a half to two years earlier than they did a decade ago.

This book is a shocking account of what the future holds for these kids as they mature in the 21st century. It is an honest depiction of how Generation Y thinks, acts, and expects and is a must read for every parent and teacher.

Kidfluence; Toronto, 2001; ISBN 0-07 087133-7; hardcover, 200 pages, $34.99; McGraw-Hill Ryerson; 905-430-5134; fax 905-430-5044

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

Miscue Analysis Made Easy

By Sandra Wilde
Reviewed by Mary S. Martin

Miscue Analysis Made Easy is a practical guide to the observation of reading strategies used by students as they interact with print. Suitable for teachers of independent readers at all stages of their teaching careers, the book provides an explanation of the reading process and a description of how to conduct a miscue analysis. Wilde offers teachers several common sense strategies to further the development of their students as readers, based on information derived from the analysis.

Miscue Analysis Made Easy; Portsmouth, NH, 2000; ISBN 0-325-00239-8; softcover, 134 pages, US$16.00; online price: $14.40; Irwin Publishing; 416-798-0424; fax 416-798-1384; e-mail:

Mary S. Martin teaches at Tall Pines School in Brampton.

Take A Mathwalk: To Learn about Mathematics in Your Community

By Sandy Szeto and Catherine Little
Reviewed by Quentin D’Souza

Sandy Szeto and Catherine Little have created an exceptional tool for teaching mathematics. Take A Mathwalk combines the reinforcement of key mathematical concepts with authentic tasks for Grade 7 and 8 students.

Students take a walking trip around the school and community and explore different mathematical concepts. The "Mathwalks" provide practical applications of mathematics to real world problems. An example is the first "Mathwalk" to the local grocery store, where students develop estimating and problem solving skills.

The book contains 10 ready-to-go walks that are easy to integrate into your program. Teachers will be pleased to find connections to the Ontario curriculum. There are also evaluation forms, cross-curricular connections and a rubric to help in assessment and evaluation.

Take A Mathwalk: To Learn About Mathematics in Your Community; Toronto, 2001; ISBN: 1-55244-009-5; softcover, 96 pages, $25.95; Trifolium Books; 416-213-1919; toll-free: 1-800-387-0141; fax: 416-213-1917; e-mail:

Quentin D’Souza teaches Grade 7/8 at The Divine Infant School in Toronto.

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