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September 1999

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AG00041_.gif (503 bytes) Back to the College's Home Page
wpe34.jpg (3256 bytes) Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists:
A Desktop Companion
By Jeffrey W. Bloom
Reviewed by Xavier Fazio

Jeffrey Bloom’s dissatis-faction with current elementary science methods textbooks prompted him to develop a "handbook" for his students. This handbook later became Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists: A Desktop Companion, a book for pre-service and in-service teachers.

Bloom’s approach is based on several popular areas of research and theoretical development. His book includes chapters on the nature of science, children’s learning, classroom as community, and reflective practice. Those dealing with planning, instruction, and assessment emphasize Bloom’s vision of an effective science program. A chapter on the connection between science and technology would have been appropriate for teachers of the new Ontario curriculum.

Reflective questions such as, "How could we provide such experiences of science in our own classroom?" are inserted in sidebars. In a number of places, activities and comments are given to provide experiences that examine a teacher’s understanding of the teaching and learning of science.

Most chapters end with a list of suggested readings and appendices that provide useful information. These range from safety in the classroom to sources of equipment and print resources.

With the demand of the new elementary science and technology curriculum in Ontario, teachers need a framework for the new curriculum that is more than a methods book. Creating a Classroom of Young Scientists meets the challenge.

Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists: A Desktop Companion, Toronto, 1998; ISBN-0-7725-2514-5; $27.96; Irwin Publishing; 416-798-0424;

Xavier Fazio is a science and technology curriculum consultant with the Halton Catholic District School Board.

wpe32.jpg (5688 bytes) The McGraw-Hill Big Book of Science Activities
By Robert W. Wood
Reviewed by Rhea Brillinger

With an inquiring mind and a few easily found materials, students can uncover the mysteries of science ideas and concepts. Robert Wood’s The McGraw-Hill Big Book of Science Activities helps students aged eight to 12 do just that.

This fully-illustrated book outlines more than 250 fun and kid-tested experiments organized into seven categories: geography, chemistry, meteorology, geology, animal biology, plant biology and engineering. It also includes safety considerations, suggestions for science fair projects, a glossary and a detailed index.

Each activity has a title indicating the learning goal, a notebook illustration outlining all the materials needed, teacher background information and activity instruction. All activities contain clear directions and are easy to do. You will not need sophisticated equipment or knowledge. The experiments are suitable for the suggested age range of eight to 12 and perhaps even for six and seven-year-olds.

This is the kind of science activity book teachers can pull off a shelf and use right away when looking for experiments to enhance a science curriculum learning program. Amaze your students with how fun and easy science can be!

The McGraw-Hill Big Book of Science Activities, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1999; ISBN 0-07-071873-3; $15.95 US;

Rhea Brillinger is a teacher of Science and Technology with the Toronto District School Board currently on leave as an education consultant with Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc.

wpe35.jpg (6305 bytes) Par quatre chemins
L’intégration des matières au coeur des apprentissages – Activités sur Internet
By Martine Leclerc
Reviewed by Louise Bourgeois

Par quatre chemins, a collection of 10 integrated learning modules for Grade 4-6 teachers, proposes a range of relevant and meaningful activities with an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning.

Each module is based on an attention-grabbing text. Stories like Quelle vie de chat! (It’s a Cat’s Life), where students meet a Kingston couple with 689 cats, and Vous mourez d’envie de fumer? (Dying for a Smoke?), in which an emotional Trudy talks about her life going up in smoke, are sure to capture students’ interest.

Each module has interesting activities in a number of subject areas and includes suggestions for using the Internet. The activities may be used as is or adapted.

The modules do not list the learning outcomes or content of the curriculum and policy documents. But the author does propose three assessment grids adapted to reading, writing and research that include the outcomes for Grades 4-6 and are modelled on the achievement assessment grid in the French-language curriculum and policy document.

This collection emphasizes team discussion, transfer of knowledge and partnership with parents and the community. The scenarios give students an opportunity to solve problems, improve their communication skills, become aware of their heritage and culture and open themselves to other cultures.

Par quatre chemins, L’intégration des matières au coeur des apprentissages – Activités sur Internet, Montreal, 1998; ISBN 2-89461-148-X; Chenelière/ McGraw-Hill; (514) 273-1066.

Louise Bourgeois is an education officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education.

wpe1D.jpg (3118 bytes) Pédagogie, Performance, Professionnalisme
By Réal Charette

This book describes an assessment framework based on a vision of teachers as professionals who have responsibilities they must integrate into their teaching. The author has added a commitment to francophonie as a professional responsibility. The book comes with a guide that combines all the grids in an easy-to-use format and encourages all teachers to evaluate their professional skills.

1998; isbn 2-89442-751-4; $29.95; Centre Franco-ontarien de ressources pédagogiques

Reviewed by Lise Presseault, Ontario College of Teachers

wpe1B.jpg (3775 bytes) Raffi: The Life of a Children’s Troubadour
By Raffi

For those who know Raffi as the beloved Canadian children’s performer, famous for "Baby Beluga" and "Bananaphone," this autobiography reveals the man behind the music. It presents an intimate portrait of Raffi as performer, champion of the child, environmentalist, and man on a journey of self-discovery.

Vancouver, 1999; ISBN 1-896943-44-6; Homeland Press (604) 682-8698.

Reviewed by Laurie Allan, Ontario College of Teachers

wpe1C.jpg (6094 bytes) Jump Start 1st Grade 2000
Software by Knowledge Adventure

This program is excellent for Grade 1 students, and it’s truly fun to use. To begin, the students click the front door of a schoolhouse and enter a room where they have access to activities including math and English games. Games are practical, with an obvious connection to the real world. The only criticisms – and they are small – are that the coins used are American and moving between applications is cumbersome.

Power Mac CD-ROM/Win98/Win95; about $40 US; Knowledge Adventure, Torrance, California; 1-800-545-7677;
Reviewed by Jim Files, vice-principal of Greensville and Pleasant Valley schools in Dundas.

Learning the Arts in an Age of Uncertainty
By Walter Pitman

Walter Pitman draws on the work of many educators, artists and scholars and mingles it with his own ideas. He cites many examples of powerful arts experiences in Ontario schools and arts venues that serve to frame his message – place the arts at the centre of education.
Reviewed by David Geene, York Region District School Board.
Toronto, 1998; ISBN 0-9684672-0-2; Arts Education Council of Ontario, (416) 229-6384.