Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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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

Workload, citizenship, culture

Managing Teacher Workload

Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing

by Sara Bubb and Peter Earley

(book cover)Although this book comes from the UK, its ideas reaffirm the challenges facing teachers everywhere.

The most expensive resource in any school is staff, so it makes perfect sense to take care of them. Bubb and Earley do a fine job of showing not only how administrators can take care of staff, but how teachers can take care of themselves.

According to the authors, the main reason for teachers leaving the profession is excessive workload. They cite the five main reasons for excessive workload – all of which will be readily recognized by Ontario teachers:

  1. non-teaching tasks including photocopying, filing, money collection, social work, paperwork
  2. MARRA-monitoring, assessment, recording, reporting and accountability
  3. too many supervisions and duties
  4. too many government initiatives and constant change
  5. planning issues, including poor planning within the school or department, lack of time for planning, ineffective plans, duplication of planning effort.

Excessive workload leads inexorably to stress – the main health and safety concern in four of the five schools studied. Other issues include low public esteem, increasingly difficult parents and students, and lack of control over one's job.

Bubb and Earley give simple but effective suggestions on how to attain the elusive work-life balance and provide techniques for time and stress management. They also offer simple but effective time savers on marking and report card writing that can work for any teacher. School administrators will benefit from suggestions on skills development and helping to manage teacher workload.

Except for abbreviations specific to the British school system, readers on this side of the Atlantic will easily relate to this well-organized book and greatly benefit from its research and suggestions.

(Arrow graphic) Managing Teacher Workload, Institute of Education, University of London, UK, 2004, ISBN 1-4129-0123-5, softcover, 129 pages, US$24.95, distributed in North America by Sage Publications, tel 805-499-0721, fax 805-499-0871,,

Marjan Glavac is an editor, teacher and author of the free newsletter How to Make a Difference (

From Student to Citizen

A Community-Based Vision for Democracy

by Peter Hennessy

(book cover)Historical, philosophical, pragmatic and passionate describe this analysis of Ontario education over the past half century. Once a teacher of history, school administrator and professor at Queen's University, Peter Hennessy offers readers a wealth of engaging perspectives on the state of education in our province and how it both shapes and reflects our societal experience.

Three themes – community, vision and democracy – run through all five sections of the book. Part One: The System Triumphant follows Hennessy's journey from secondary school teacher to professor in the faculty of education at Queen's University – focusing on forces that shaped education philosophy, policy and delivery, which functioned largely without a wide-reaching democratic vision and perpetuated class distinctions and segregation.

Part Two: The System Trembles details how the revolutionary social forces of the mid-20th century served to deconstruct entrenched notions of education. There is a lively analysis of the 1968 Hall-Dennis report as embodying the revolutionary spirit of the time, and there are new visions for education in Ontario based on equality, democracy and accountability.

Part Three: Reactionaries on White Chargers animates the dreams and drudgery of school systems of the 1980s, deeply affected by fiscal concerns. This discouraging look at real-life effects on teachers and students illustrates what can become of a system without an effective vision.

Part Four: Light at the End of the Tunnel and the conclusion in Part Five illustrate how communities of informed individuals are creating new visions, largely based on the spirit of the Hall-Dennis recommendations, yet emphasizing exigencies of 21st-century society. Democratizing forces such as critical thinking, civic engagement, pedagogical individualization and physical changes to the learning environment are presented by Hennessy as essential components of an effective vision for the future of Ontario education.

Hennessy treats readers to a lively and informed narrative, heavily steeped in experience. He presents the future as challenging yet promising. His “vision of public education would leave the schoolhouse intact on the hill, but only in its physical form. It would no longer be a prison for the young, albeit a humane one, but a home base for learning activities scattered widely roundabout.” The book is heartening for teachers looking for inspirational new paradigms.

(Arrow graphic) From Student to Citizen, White Knight Books, Toronto, 2006, ISBN 0-973670-56-8, softcover, 296 pages, $21.95, tel 905-873-1994 or 1-866-485-5556, fax 905-873-6170 or 1-866-485-6665,

Holly Dougall is an instructor of communication and business studies for Athabasca University.

Children's Law Handbook

by Zuker, Hammond and Flynn

(book cover)This comprehensive, concise book is an essential fingertip guide providing a broad perspective on various legal issues affecting children and those working with them.

Issues covered include family law, child welfare legislation, the boundaries of use of force, disclosure, giving evidence in court and charter concerns. Appendices provide the reader with additional information to broaden perspective on various legal issues.

As education law practitioners and scholars, the authors have written an easy-to-understand guide in non-technical language. Their stated purpose is to provide the reader with a foundation in children's legal issues so that sound decisions can be made within Canada's legal framework. Legal principles are set out in a quick reference guide.

The foundational first chapter provides an overview of succeeding chapters. Each subsequent chapter examines a unique area of children's law and its application in Canada. One chapter deals with child protection, including the role of children's aid societies and mandatory reporting requirements and liabilities. Another concerns itself with children giving evidence in court and focuses on the unique issues children face when telling their stories.

Best practices and applicable sections of the Youth Criminal Justice Act are articulated in another chapter, where readers are introduced to procedural protections for young persons, court proceedings, sentencing and privacy rights.

In a particularly useful chapter for educators, Dealing with Children and the Boundaries of Using Force, the authors outline the protection available to caregivers of children from criminal jeopardy if physical contact with the child arises and is “reasonable under the circumstances.” The history of Chapter 43, which refers to permissible correction, the court challenge regarding this section and how the Supreme Court viewed the indicators of use of “reasonable force,” are also explored in this chapter.

Written for those working with children and families, this useful, thoroughly researched book provides an essential overview of children's law today.

(Arrow graphic) Children's Law Handbook, Thomson Carswell, Toronto, 2005, ISBN 0-459-24265-2, softcover, 551 pages, $85.00, tel 416-609-3800 or 1-800-387-5164, fax 416-298-5082 or 1-877-750-9041,

Ruth Milikin is an investigator at the Ontario College of Teachers.

Teaching Gifted and Talented Pupils in the Primary School

A Practical Guide

by Chris Smith

(book cover)Teachers wanting to provide challenges for gifted and talented pupils in their classrooms need look no further than this book.

It shows the busy teacher how to challenge gifted and talented students in mixed-ability classroom settings, using tried and tested examples. The book sets out to encourage all children to develop and demonstrate their individual abilities.

Specifically designed activities appealing to a range of abilities are provided, as well as advice on creating a working environment, varying the way we ask students questions, thinking about and developing multiple intelligences, and offering varied levels of challenge and choice in classroom activities and research projects.

The book has ready-to-use material that can be photocopied.

I highly recommend this excellent resource.

(Arrow graphic) Teaching Gifted and Talented Pupils in the Primary School, Paul Chapman Educational Publishing, London, UK, 2005, ISBN 141290319X, softcover, 120 pages, $27.95, distributed in North America by Sage Publications, tel 805-499-0721, fax 805-499-0871,,

Majella Atkinson teaches Grade 8 at St. Pius X School in Toronto.

I Did It Because …

How a Poem Happens

by Loris Lesynski

Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

(book cover)Well-known Canadian children's poet Loris Lesynski teamed up with illustrator Michael Martchenko (Remember Robert Munsch's Paper Bag Princess?) to produce a poetry-writing book that would appeal to elementary school children.

Lesynski reproduces a selection of her own previously published poems, organizing them in categories to explore concepts such as rhythm, sounds and wordplay, as well as potential topics for poems: the self, observation, speculation, the origin of ideas and poetry itself. She also includes helpful suggestions for engaging children collectively in speaking poetry aloud.

These are rollicking poems, better appreciated and more likely to engage children's interest as imitative and innovative writers, when enthusiastically read to a class before being read together.

(Arrow graphic) I Did It Because…, Annick Press, Toronto, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-1-55451-017-1, 64 pages, softcover, $10.95, distributed by Firefly Books, tel 800-387-6192 or 416-499-8412, fax 800-450-0391 or 416-499-8313,,

Fred DuVal is a bilingual accreditation program officer at the College.

Peoples of the Ancient World

(book cover)This series encourages a visual exploration of past cultures, focusing on civilizations between 6500 BC and 500 AD. These bright and informative books have high-interest reading topics and many illustrations, making them an excellent addition to any junior-intermediate classroom or library.

The books are marketed at the Grades 4 to 5 reading level, which makes them especially useful for the Grade 5 social studies curriculum. However, they could equally well be used with other grades when teaching the components of non-fiction, such as the use of a glossary, index and table of contents.

Each text begins with a specific period timeline and maps outlining the main historical events of the era. Photos and illustrations with easy-to-read captions will engage even the more resistant reader. Coloured headings and subheadings help to distinguish between topics and subjects. Challenging words, in bold throughout the text, are defined in the glossary.

Specific chapters highlight important features of each time period, with topics such as government, homes, jobs and religion covered in all instances.

This is an excellent series that will be very popular with students.

(Arrow graphic) Peoples of the Ancient World, Crabtree Publishing, St. Catharines, each 32 pages, softcover $10.40, hardcover $20.76, tel 905-682-5221 or 1-800-387-7650, fax 905-682-7166 or 1-800-355-7166,,

Laura Barron is a teacher-librarian at Fernforest Public School, Peel Board of Education.

Moral Disorder

by Margaret Atwood

(book cover)As a secondary school teacher, when teaching Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, I found that her insights and discourse – as revealed in her poetry, stories and essays – provided a context for her novels.

Moral Disorder, Atwood's new collection of interconnected short stories, extends our glimpse into the author's sensibilities. Atwood's narrator, Nell, is a highly imaginative child, sensitive to words (duchess suggests to her the sound of taffeta) and curious about life. Throughout the collection – as she grows from compliant child to rebellious adolescent to contemplative, mature woman – Nell spins a fairytale of poignant moments. In one story she describes her sister – born late in life to her fading mother – as the “fairy child, the changeling … who sucked up its mother's energy in an uncanny and nocturnal manner.”

In Headless Horseman, Nell's description of creating a lopsided papier mâché Halloween costume extends our interest in her as a highly perceptive and thoughtful storyteller, one who grapples with the meaning of her own thoughts.

English teachers will recognize Miss Bessie in The Last Duchess. She is the educator who prepares students for the future – providing tools and structures for problem solving so that students can identify the verisimilitude of literature as it reflects their own lives.

Atwood's 11 stories present a softer, more mellow Atwood: one who has not lost her keen sense of observation, wit or amazement, but one whose awareness of human weakness, loss and stages of knowing has become wiser and more understanding.

(Arrow graphic) Moral Disorder, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0-7710-0870-2, hardcover, 225 pages, $32.99, tel 416-598-1114,

Patricia Goldblatt is a program officer in the Standards of Practice Unit at the College.

The Minds of Boys

Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life

by Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens

(book cover)For thousands of years boys have learned by moving around and doing things. But according to Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens this came to a stop after World War II, when it was decided that children should be in school until the end of Grade 12 and education centred around reading, writing and sitting still in one's seat.

Drop-out rates have always been higher for boys, but now boys also zone out, submit to prescription drugs, self-medicate or seek stimulation in anti-social and high-risk behaviour.

Gurian is a leading advocate for boys. His Gurian Institute trains teachers in the differences in how boys and girls think, feel and relate.

The Minds of Boys is essential reading for anyone teaching boys.

(Arrow graphic) The Minds of Boys, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2005, ISBN 0-7879-7761-6, hardcover, 351 pages, $31.99, distributed in Canada by Wiley, tel 416-236-4433 or 1-800-567-4797, fax 416-236-4447 or 1-800-565-6802,

Michael Reist is head of the English department at Robert Hall CSS in Caledon East. He provides workshops on how boys and girls learn differently (

New from familiar series

New titles available from Jordan Music Productions, Toronto, tel 905-938-5050 or 1-800-567-7733,,

Bilingual Songs and Kids

(CD cover)(CD cover)(CD cover)(CD cover)

This four-volume series is sure to interest French-language teachers. Each has a CD, book of lyrics (Bilingual Songs) and grammar resource (Bilingual Kids).

(Arrow graphic) Volume 1: ISBN 1-894262-75-1 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-55386-057-8, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-059-4 (kit) / Volume 2: ISBN 1-894262-80-8 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-55386-058-6, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-058-6 (kit) / Volume 3: ISBN 1-55386-047-0 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-55386-048-9, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-049-7 (kit) / Volume 4: ISBN 1-55386-052-7 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-553-86-053-5, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-054-3 (kit) / Each CD & book $16.95; resource book $19.95; complete kit $29.95

Véra Nochtéva is a high school French teacher at Saint Mildred's-Lightbourn School in Oakville.

sFrançais pour débutants

(book cover)More fantastic resources for French as a second language.

Français pour débutants covers the alphabet, colours, fruit, opposites, shapes and more. French for Kids, Beginning Lessons provides exercises based on songs and draws links with math. Chansons thématiques and the resource book, Thematic Lessons, are more advanced but could be used later in the year with younger children.

(Arrow graphic) Français pour débutants: ISBN 1-894262-06-9 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-55386-055-1, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-063-2 (kit)/ Chansons thématiques: ISBN 1-894262-39-5 (CD & book) / ISBN 1-55386-056-X, 64 pages (resource book) / ISBN 1-55386-064-0 (kit) / Each CD & book $16.95; resource book $19.95; complete kit $29.95

Ramona Dempsey is a Grade 1 French Immersion teacher at Louis-Honoré-Fréchette School in Thornhill.