Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Watt and Jill Colyer
In this professional resource on inquiry-based learning, Watt and Colyer — both Ontario Certified Teachers — point out that inquiry draws on essential elements that all learners bring with them, including curiosity and a desire to think, debate and explore. According to the authors, “These natural human traits are the trump cards of effective teachers.” True learning happens not when students answer factual questions, but when they ask thought-provoking ones. In other words, today’s schools are becoming places where students learn how to learn, rather than places where they are told what to learn. Teachers are the vanguards of this new approach in their classrooms and IQ is a practical guide to show them how.
First, they introduce the concept of inquiry, including the research supporting its effectiveness, as well as its key vocabulary. Each chapter then covers important stages in the inquiry process, outlining the steps along the way and proposing a wealth of practical strategies. Blackline masters for all parts of the inquiry process are provided. The needs of ESL, differently abled and struggling students are addressed, and ongoing assessment and evaluation tips are highlighted, as well. Watt and Colyer point out that students are not only open to inquiry-based learning, but reap enormous rewards from it, and that teachers can make it work in their classrooms.
Best suited for intermediate and high school grades, this resource is a quick and easy read loaded with information teachers can apply in the classroom the next day.
Anne Lefebvre, OCT, teaches Grade 3/4 at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Renfrew.
IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning, Oxford University Press Canada, Don Mills, 2014, softcover, ISBN 978-0-19-900934-3, 165 pages, $52.95, oupcanada.com
By Hilary Mac Austin and Kathleen Thompson
A deluge of popular media inundates our students daily. If teachers are going to teach them how to critically process the torrent, students must first become analytical examiners of the texts and images around them, both inside and outside of school. According to the authors, a great way to help students develop critical and creative thinking processes is to teach them to dig into primary sources, especially visual media and first-hand accounts of historical moments or events. “These evidences of our past evoke a personal reaction — of sympathy, of anger, of compassion — in a way that straight narrative and lists of facts simply cannot,” they write. Teachers should encourage students to examine all sources — photographs, maps, paintings, political cartoons, charts, graphs — with the eye of an historian, using approaches that consider the purpose of the source and its intended audience, as well as any bias that may be embedded within it.
Students are also encouraged to understand that while their prior knowledge is activated when they interpret a piece of evidence, any opinions they may have about a photograph, for example, should be an informed response that is fully supported by the evidence. Paraphrasing an old journalism maxim, the authors suggest that “[if] your mother tells you she loves you, get a second source.”
Ideal for primary and middle school teachers, the book teaches all of us how to learn differently and to question the words and images that shape our perceptions of the world. Although it closely aligns with American curriculum, it equally applies to the Canadian experience.
Michael Bellrose, OCT, is the principal of Algonquin Road Public School in Sudbury.
Examining the Evidence: Seven Strategies for Teaching with Primary Sources, Maupin House, North Mankato, MN, 2014, softcover, ISBN 978-1-62521-630-4, 164 pages, US$24.95, maupinhouse.com
By Di Gibson
This hard-hitting, self-help book offers straight advice to young adults as they begin their journey into the world of work, finance and survival. Written in an easy-to-follow format, its practical advice allows the reader to pick up and put down as needed — giving just enough information to help navigate a variety of real-life situations and challenges.
Written in a witty tone, Someone Really Oughta Tell You is ideal for high school or university students who are starting to set both short- and longterm life goals. Full of real world examples of what not to do with your time and money, it touches on subjects such as common-law relationships, wills and when to claim car accidents on your insurance. Students will learn about taxes, rental agreements, insurance, mortgages and credit cards — all of those real world responsibilities that aren’t taught in school and can land young adults into years of financial trouble. Each chapter also offers a list of further resources to supplement the strategies offered.
The author is very clear that learning about these skills in a book is no substitute for actually applying them. An in-depth budgeting guide that encompasses everything from discretionary spending and paying down debt to banking fees is designed to help students keep track of how much money they make and spend.
Help prepare your students for the real world by arming them with this reality check before they venture out into the great unknown. Maybe then they won’t come back to tell you that someone really ought to have told them.
Andrea Murik, OCT, is a credit recovery teacher with the Grand Erie District School Board in Brantford.
Someone Really Oughta Tell You: Life Strategies for Young Adults and Life Renovators, Tall Doors Press, Toronto, 2012, softcover, ISBN 978-0-9881471-0-2, 310 pages, $29.55, tower.com/book-publisher/tall-doors-press
By Sharon E. Mckay and Daniel Lafrance, Illustrated by Daniel Lafrance
When 14-year old Jacob is abducted and compelled to become a child soldier, he struggles to hold on to both his sanity and his will to escape. Based on interviews with former child soldiers from Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (led by the brutal rebel leader Joseph Kony), this searing graphic novel tells Jacob’s terrifying story as warlords fought for power.
Soon after being captured, it becomes clear to Jacob that his survival would be based on his mental and physical endurance and his complete obedience to Kony’s barbaric commands. When he finally runs away, Jacob is placed in a rehabilitation centre where he is interrogated by police and told to forgive himself for what he has done. All the while, he is haunted by his memories of killing, torture and abuse. Despite his deep trauma, Jacob feels a compulsion to tell the world what happened to him and his childhood friends, and decides to write this story.
The simple writing, coupled with the emotionally packed illustrations, create a powerful narrative, densely layered with colour, darkness and light. Suggested for Grades 9 and up, it could be discussed under many thematic umbrellas: war; death/loss; violence and its impact on all levels of society; Africa; politics; civics; current events; memoirs; or graphic novels. Older students may already be aware of Kony through a YouTube video produced by the American charity Invisible Children, which received 98 million hits in 2012 alone. Kony was indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2005 but remains a free man, believed to be living with rebels near the South Sudan-Congo border.
War Brothers, and the original novel upon which it is based, have won or been nominated for nine writing awards.
Terri Lawrence-Tayler, OCT, is an anatomy and physiology instructor with the nursing program at St. Clair College in Windsor.
War Brothers, Annick Press, 2013, Toronto, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55451-488-5, 176 pages, $18.95, distributed by Firefly Books, annickpress.com
By Jennifer Gold
Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth is understandably unhappy when her parents uproot the family from their home in Vancouver to settle in Toronto. When the next shoe drops—she learns that her father will soon leave to serve in Afghanistan — she has difficulty finding her way.
While wandering through a garage sale the day before her dad’s birthday, Elizabeth finds an odd little doll with a baby face, dressed in a soldier’s uniform. Intrigued, she thinks it might make the perfect farewell gift for her father. Soon after, she discovers that the doll may have been the subject of a famous World War l poem. Gold artfully weaves together relevant snapshots of past wars in Europe and Vietnam with more recent conflicts as she traces the doll’s journey from hand to hand throughout times of despair. Genuine and plausible historical connections to the soldier doll coupled with a highly engaging writing style make for a compelling narrative. The first-time author appreciates Elizabeth’s struggles and writes about them with great compassion and humour. She makes the tragic actions and consequences of war relevant to teens who may otherwise feel disconnected or desensitized to the issues. For the history teacher or student, the book also offers creative ways to consider primary materials and innovative research techniques, blending old and new strategies in examining how the past shapes the present. Soldier Doll is a solid contribution to the genre of young adult historical fiction.
Nadira Baksh, OCT, is a volunteer at Darcel Avenue Senior Public School in Mississauga.
Soldier Doll, Second Story Press, Toronto, 2014, softcover, ISBN 978-1-927583-29-6, 256 pages, $11.95, secondstorypress.ca