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Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources.
Photos: Stephen Ferrie

For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit pourparlerprofession.oeeo.calu, vu, entendu. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Call 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext 679 or email to reserve your copy.

An image of the book cover for 'Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom.' The cover image is of the words, 'Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom.'

Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom

By Barbara Boroson

Teachers looking for effective ways to teach students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) might do well to read this short, engaging book first. Assuming no prior knowledge of this increasingly common developmental disorder, Boroson begins by thoroughly explaining what ASDs are and explores the various ways they could manifest in students. The particular challenges faced by students with ASDs such as anxiety, transition fears, sensory issues and social and communication difficulties are all explored. For each challenge, she suggests concrete strategies to make them less stressful for both student and teacher. Boroson purposely places the chapter about behaviour toward the end of the book because as she correctly notes, if the triggers for students with ASDs are properly understood, and the previously described action plans have been implemented, most behavioural problems will be averted.

A companion website provides supplementary resources relating to each chapter, including reproducible charts, a bibliography and a parent questionnaire. Despite using the American special education system as her template, the differences between the Canadian and the American methodologies are minimal. ASDs in the Mainstream Classroom primarily targets elementary school teachers, but Boroson’s clear classroom-based examples and explanations are applicable at any level, and strategies can be adapted for older students as necessary.

Elizabeth M. Starr, OCT, is a professor in the faculty of education at the University of Windsor who specializes in the education of children with autism disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Mainstream Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students with ASDs, Scholastic Teaching Resources, New York, 2011, softcover, ISBN 978-0545-16876-2, 224 pages, $27.99, available through Scholastic Canada Ltd.,

An image of the book cover for 'Academic Conversations.'' The cover image is of a silhouette of two faces.

Academic Conversations

By Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford

Talking with people opens doors to seeing different perspectives, building fresh ideas, exploring boundaries and solving problems. And yet, as teachers, we are often flummoxed by how to teach, assess and evaluate this critical oral skill. Geared toward students in all grades, this resource shows teachers how to integrate spoken language into all subject areas while their students participate in one of the things they love to do best — talk with each other.

Although Academic Conversations covers many types of small and large group discussions, it primarily focuses on paired conversation. But this is talk with real purpose, like teaching students how to elaborate and clarify, how to support their ideas with examples, how to build on and/or challenge a partner’s ideas, how to paraphrase and how to synthesize. The lesson suggestions require little planning and few materials and will help students think about their spoken language in new ways. Some of the graphic organizers show students how to talk through a subject, listen to different perspectives and to justify their own thinking before writing their ideas down on paper. In addition, the book provides sample rubrics and advice on formative and summative assessments. This resource is the single tool you need to help your students create the essential link between thinking, speaking and writing.

Kerry Zinkiewich, OCT, is an instructional leadership consultant in K–8 literacy in Peterborough.

Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk That Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME, 2011, softcover, ISBN 978-1-57110-884-5, 234 pages, US$23.50,

An image of the book cover for 'Student-Driven Learning.' The cover image is of three footprints.

Student-Driven Learning

By Jennifer Harper and Kathryn O’Brien

We live in a technologically driven information age that proliferates with all kinds of intelligence. The technology has so radically shifted the landscape that we no longer know what skills our students will need to adapt to an uncertain world and for jobs that don’t even exist yet. That means that it is incumbent on us to prepare our students to be lifelong learners who can think critically, evaluate all information that comes their way and innovate based on their findings. This book offers some great insights and clear steps for teachers to transform their practice from teacher-driven to student-driven learning, which will foster personal responsibility and provide students with real opportunities to learn in their own highly individual ways.

The book calls on teachers to reflect on their current practices and to look at the different paths to establish a student-driven learning community in their classrooms. By providing practical ideas from which to pick and choose, this resource invites teachers to find those best suited to the needs of their students. Many of the strategies are basic, like getting to know your students, creating a culture of student autonomy, fostering creative mindsets and nurturing critical thinking. From there, the authors expand on the ideas.

This is a great resource for both beginning and experienced teachers. Newcomers will find the practical examples easy to adopt as they begin their teaching journey. Similarly, experienced teachers will find that the suggested ideas are not overwhelming and can be readily integrated into their existing practices.

Yovita Gwekwerere is an assistant professor of science education at Laurentian University.

Student-Driven Learning: Small, medium and big steps to engage and empower students, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-278-4, 128 pages, $24.95,

An image of the book cover for 'Ban the Book Report.' The cover image is of a student lying on the grass with a dog.

Ban the Book Report

By Graham Foster

Your initial response to the title of this book might sound something like, “I always assign book reports, why would I want to ban them?” Take a moment to inspect the cover of this text: a boy, reading. Look again. A boy reading, resting on the grass with his pet, in a big field or park, reading a short novel, smiling. He is enjoying it! But is he getting anything out of the book? We’ll know after he hands in the book report, right?

Most of us agree that the boy’s level of enjoyment should be fostered and encouraged, and that required responses (a rigid template of assigned topics) to independent reading may have exactly the opposite effect. If you want powerful alternatives to traditional book reports, look to this resource. It offers a true alignment of responses to reading for pleasure. Written by an educator with many years of experience, this must-have resource has 20 classroom-tested assignments that focus on a personal response to independent reading. Challenging and intellectually rigorous, each assignment has a student-friendly rubric, completion form and two exemplars that invite students to develop their ability to maximize meaning from texts.

Each chapter has several report statements with many insights into how best to implement the assignments. This is a phenomenal feature of the resource. And although the chapters’ recommendations may differ slightly, they all conclude with similar advice: develop reading responses that are real and that will deepen a love of reading for the rest of your students’ lives.

Mary Veronica Moloney, OCT, is a teacher at D’Arcy McGee Catholic School in Toronto.

Ban the Book Report: Promoting Frequent and Enthusiastic Reading, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-264-7, 128 pages, $24.95,

An image of the book cover for 'Making Connections with Blogging: Authentic Learning in Today’s Classrooms.' The cover image is of cartoon students holding hands.

Making Connections with Blogging: Authentic Learning in Today’s Classrooms

By Lisa Parisi and Brian Crosby

We have all come across students who are reluctant to put pen to paper. While many may be effective oral communicators, transferring information into the written word can be a challenge. Making Connections With Blogging adds a 21st-century spin on writing by integrating blogging into the curriculum. The book sequentially guides teachers through the process of blogging, starting with Internet safety and etiquette and moving on to responding to blog posts in a respectful way. Detailed examples and visuals highlight how blogging can be successfully integrated into the daily classroom schedule, along with lesson suggestions in several subject areas and assessment advice. For example, one illustration shows how children can create screencasts within their blogs, demonstrating problem-solving methods — a great way for shy and IEP students to present their skills and knowledge.

The book includes blackline masters and examples of the consent forms required before initiating a blogging project in your classroom. In addition to the detailed steps and proce– dures needed to start classroom blogging, Parisi and Crosby provide a variety of websites that support further inquiry. While this book refers to American education guidelines and standards, it is infinitely transferable to the Canadian classroom experience. This is a great resource for the blogging novice, or for an experienced teacher looking for fresh ideas to add to technology programs.

Cheryl Woolnough, OCT, is a Special Education teacher with the Peel DSB.

Making Connections with Blogging: Authentic Learning in Today’s Classrooms, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Washington, DC, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-56484-312-8, 100 pages, $23.50, distributed by Scholarly Book Services,

An image of the book cover for 'Potatoes on Rooftops.' The cover image is of a cartoon city with potatoes growing out of it.

Potatoes on Rooftops

By Hadley Dyer

Have you ever stopped to think about where your food comes from, or how many miles the fruit and vegetables in your grocery store might have travelled? The Industrial Revolution and urbanization brought about vast changes in the way food is produced and distributed to meet the needs of city dwellers. Growing city populations have led to an increased demand for fresh produce, which in turn led to the proliferation of large mechanized factory farms and extensive food distribution systems across the world. Although this system seems to be working to meet the demands of growing cities, it is unleashing toxic emissions of greenhouse gases that have huge negative impacts on the environment. In Potatoes on Rooftops, Hadley Dyer addresses the challenges posed by how our food is being produced and distributed and why it is critical for city dwellers to reduce their carbon footprint by growing some of their own food.

From rooftop gardens, vertical gardens, towering farms and underground gardens, the author suggests numerous ways to use small open spaces in the city to produce food. Ideas for composting, water harvesting, raising chickens and fish in city backyards are proposed. The book is a particularly useful reference for integrating the environment and sustainability ideas into the curriculum at different grade levels. It also suggests brainstorming questions for guiding teachers and students as they plan the logistics of establishing a school garden.

This is a valuable resource full of creative ideas for getting immersed in urban agriculture, and a compelling rationale for doing so.

Yovita Gwekwerere is an assistant professor of science education at Laurentian University.

Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City, Annick Press, Toronto, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55451-424-3, 84 pages, $14.95, distributed by Firefly Books,

An image of the book cover for 'U-Turn Teaching.' The cover image is of the words 'U-Turn Teaching.'

U-Turn Teaching

By Rich Allen and Jenn Currie

It is an understatement to say that teaching students in middle school is distinctly unlike teaching in the primary years that precede it. Young children usually start school with great curiosity and enthusiasm. As they move further away from play-based and hands-on learning, that positive attitude often erodes. Sitting at desks, working independently and listening to a teacher deliver a lesson, coupled with all the personal developmental changes of puberty, can often lead to apathy and indifference. This book is designed for teachers to recreate some of the energy from those early grades by focusing on classroom community, building trust and the very particular educational needs of middle school students. The authors fundamentally recognize that middle school children are ruled by the social environment more than any other single factor in their young lives.

Strategies in U-Turn Teaching are designed to turn around middle school students’ attitudes at this critical juncture in their education at the same time as turning around many of the traditional practices used by educators to teach this age group. Some ideas are not new, such as using Exit Cards and Mindmaps. But others are highly innovative like pegging students’ body parts to embed and trigger memory to recall information they have already learned.

The book is easy to read and provides action plans and clear examples, useful to both beginning and experienced teachers.

Maureen Doeler, OCT, is a Grade 5 teacher at Holy Cross Catholic School in Alcona, Ont.

U-Turn Teaching: Strategies to Accelerate Learning and Transform Middle School Achievement, Corwin Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-4129-9646-4, 182 pages, US$34.95,

An image of the book cover for 'The Night Before Christmas.' The cover image is of a cartoon mouse dressed in a santa outfit.

The Night Before Christmas

By Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid revitalizes The Night Before Christmas with dynamic Plasticine illustrations that bring a uniquely Canadian twist to the traditional poem. The story was originally written in 1822 for the author’s family and published anonymously in the Troy, NY Sentinel the following year. It wasn’t until 1844 that Moore acknowledged its authorship.

`Reid has chosen to use mice instead of the original human characters to spin the tale of St. Nicholas’s arrival with his reindeer-drawn sleigh full of toys. Readers will enjoy searching for the hidden visual treasures on each page and exploring the effects of illustrating with the medium of Plasticine. Teachers may want to use the book as a launch pad for teaching students how to create storyboards or for investigating art media, including Plasticine. Reid has created a number of online videos and projects demonstrating the essential techniques for working with the medium as well as how to plan, design and create backgrounds.

Sarah Lynn Frost Hunter, OCT, teaches Grade 3 at Kindree PS in the Peel DSB.

The Night Before Christmas, Scholastic Canada Ltd., Markham, 2013, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-4431-2471-3, 32 pages, $19.99,

An image of the book cover for 'What’s Next for this Beginning Writer?' The cover image is of a childlike drawing.

What’s Next for this Beginning Writer?

By Janine Reid and Betty Schultze With Ulla Petersen

This resource is a primer on the developmental stages of young writers and how to move them toward becoming confident and competent. Based on years of research, the authors propose two extra questions to expand on the original 10 questions presented in their first edition: What is the role of oral language in writing workshops? How do I continue to grow as a writing teacher? In discussing each of these questions, the authors never lose sight of their main question: What’s next for this beginning writer?

The authors address the 12 questions in a concise and accessible format. They offer practical suggestions for structuring writing workshops, applying key principles to the primary classroom on how to balance direct instruction with independent learning. Based on the belief that children will thrive as writers if they experience success, the authors discuss how teachers can talk to students so they feel encouraged and ready to set goals for future writing assignments. What’s Next for this Beginning Writer? will deepen your understanding of the writing process and strengthen your ability to help your students succeed in their written work. An excellent mentor book for teaching writing to early primary children, it will no doubt become your go-to book for your practice.

Caroline Cremer, OCT, teaches in the Primary division at Leslieville Junior PS in Toronto.

What’s Next for this Beginning Writer? (Revision), Pembroke Publishers, Markham, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-274-6, 160 pages, $24.95,