Your guide to recent studies and reports that are of interest to teachers as well as information on recently released books. With the exception of some classroom sets, all books reviewed here are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Olivia Hamilton at or call 416-961-8800, ext. 679, or toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222, ext. 679.

Learning, Teaching and Living in French Ontario: Reality and Contradictions
by Gabrielle Barkany

What problems do Ontario parents of children studying in French encounter when they want to get involved in school life? Are professional learning programs meeting the needs of francophone teachers? What is life like for franco-Ontarian students and for other minorities within this minority?

These are some of the questions that researchers at the Centre de recherches en éducation franco-ontarienne (CRÉFO) address in a recent publication titled L'Éducation de langue française en Ontario : enjeux et processus sociaux (French-Language Education in Ontario: Social Issues and Processes).

The book addresses what it means to learn, teach and live in a Franco-Ontarian school environment, reporting on various studies that have been carried out since 1996.

Its nine essays could be loosely grouped under four themes: the exercise of power within the education system, the handling of difference, professional training (including pre-service and professional development) and students' experiences. Articles also explore some of the contradictions and conflicts that arise among government, school boards, schools, the public, parents, education specialists and students.

In one chapter, "From the 'Steamer Classes' to Special Education: Creating Difference," Nathalie Bélanger discusses one of the greatest challenges facing the French-language schools and school boards: how to provide support for special education teachers and students without stigmatizing the students.

Bélanger's work is based on her ethnographical observations in French-language elementary and secondary schools, where she discovers that there is no consensus on ways of coping with difference.

She notes a range of power conflicts between teachers and parents when students are identified as exceptional. In one example, a parent felt their child was treated as an outsider and that the special attention and lowered expectations were the source of social problems and that time out of the classroom for special attention was putting her child even further behind.

In another chapter Bélanger teams up with Denise Wilson to continue her analysis. "Pre-Service Teacher Education: Coping with Difference or Valuing Similarities?" presents the findings of a study of nine courses in two faculties of education, examining whether pre-service teacher education programs and practices respond to the challenges of mainstreaming, as defined in Ministry of Education guidelines.

One pre-service course had been designed to help prospective teachers identify individual differences with a view to ensuring a classroom management strategy conducive to learning. But notwithstanding this example, Wilson and Bélanger note that most courses at the pre-service level focus on training teachers to recognize students' problems, rather than how to integrate the students.

The authors predict that future teachers will be more likely to familiarize themselves with bureaucratic and legal procedures (primarily on the basis of cultural differences or the various exceptionalities that have been defined by the ministry) than to develop a critical sensibility concerning current approaches.
In "Professional Learning for Teachers," researcher Diane Gérin-Lajoie notes that teachers must cope with a shortage of material and human resources in French and are often isolated.

Some find that they are the only French teacher in their subject area in an entire school board. They have no colleagues with whom to share experiences, materials or resources. Gérin-Lajoie sets out the training needs of teachers working in French-language schools, but concludes that academic policies and programs rarely consider the needs of these teachers.

In "School Governance and the Creation of District School Boards," Normand Labrie, Denise Wilson and Monica Heller note that francophone communities have governance of their schools, but boards are now more tightly controlled by the provincial government - which gives community-elected officials little latitude.

In a second essay, Labrie, Wilson and Heller are joined by Sylvie Roy to write "School Councils: The Road to Increased Democracy?" This chapter presents a critical analysis of the establishment of school councils and district school boards. It shows that the restructuring of the school system, which was supposed to give parents more power, has led to confusion about the role of school councils versus the former parent-teacher associations.

The final chapters of this book touch on the experience of students and issues of identity. One finds that a bilingual identity is not necessarily consonant with assimilation. Another explores the issue of sexual orientation and reveals that girls and boys have a different experiences of discrimination as minorities within the francophone minority.

The studies carried out by researchers in L'Éducation de langue française en Ontario : enjeux et processus sociaux have their roots in Ontario's francophone environment, but they point to social phenomena and issues that exist beyond both francophone and Ontario communities - in other francophone communities in Canada and among linguistic minorities in other parts of the world.

L'Éducation de langue française en Ontario : enjeux et processus sociaux
, Éditions Prise de parole, $25


Geometry Park - CD
Produced by Joe Crone and Illumisware
Reviewed by Andrea Murik

Do your students need motivation to learn grammar, Canadian geography and fractions? With Geometry Park you can address Ontario curriculum expectations while entertaining your students with a rhythmic collection of upbeat tunes.

Although the title might lead you to expect only math concepts, Geometry Park integrates science, geography and language curriculum from Grades 4 to 8. From "The Provinces Rap," to "Slip to the Side" (on the rules of rounding), students will be singing the praises of this fun-filled CD.

Geometry Park is catchy, contemporary, fun to listen to and has easy-to-learn lyrics. Songwriter and teacher Joe Crone, who has taught music and drama from Kindergarten to Grade 8, believes children learn best through music. He has created simple rhymes and repetitive melodies that stick in the mind - helping students remember various concepts, facts and rules whether grammar, fractions or rounding-off.

As a former Grade 5 teacher, I especially enjoyed the songs about digestion and circulation, "Digestion Blues" and "The Beat Goes On."

The CD also comes with karaoke versions of each song, so students can perform themselves. Lesson plans and lyric sheets with chord charts are available from the Illumisware web site, which makes it easy for teachers to use this resource in the class and for concerts. This CD is a must-have for Grades 4 to 8, especially for those of us who are not necessarily musically inclined.

Geometry Park; London, ON; 2003; CD, $24.95; Illumisware; Fax: 519-455-1352;;

Andrea Murik is a Special Education Resource Teacher at the Simcoe County District School Board.

Even Hockey Players Read: Boys, Literacy and Learning
By David Booth
Reviewed by Brenda Dillon

In his recent book, David Booth - noted speaker, author and professor of education at OISE - argues that gender plays a complex role in reading success and that this must be recognized if boys are to become successful readers.

Even Hockey Players Read addresses the nature of literacy, explores the social expectations for male and female readers and suggests strategies and solutions for dealing with literacy concerns and problems.

Booth argues that the classroom environment typically provides better literacy support for girls than for boys and advocates changes to support the literacy development of boys.

He points to a misplaced emphasis on narrative fiction in language arts programs, noting that boys tend to favour non-fiction. To make a difficult situation worse, a focus on character development, relationships and readers' emotional response to literature also tends to make things easier for girls than for boys.

Excerpts from interviews with - and writings by - boys, men and children's authors illustrate Booth's points and provide insight into how teachers and parents can support boys' development as readers. Lists of recommended books and readings are provided.

In Even Hockey Players Read, Booth addresses a matter of great concern. The book provides a comprehensive overview of complex issues and questions that have no easy answers. Still, at times Booth's explorations seem to go in circles without coming to grips with the matter at hand. So, although Even Hockey Players Read is a worthwhile read, better editing might have made it a less frustrating one.

Even Hockey Players Read: Boys, Literacy and Learning. Markham ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 1-55138-147-8; softcover, 135 pages, $18.95; phone: 905-477-0650 or 1-800-997-9807; fax: 905-477-3691 or 1-800-339-5568;;

Brenda Dillon is the Teacher-Librarian at Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

The Gift of Reading
By David Bouchard, with Wendy Sutton
Reviewed by Susan Elliott

Around the same time that I received a copy of David Bouchard's book for review, I had the opportunity to hear him speak to teachers and administrators at a small conference on literacy.

The message I heard at David's conference session resonates passionately throughout The Gift of Reading.

Literacy is not for the fortunate few. It is the right of every child. Teaching children to read is not the responsibility of a chosen few. It is the responsibility of every teacher, every administrator and every parent.

The Gift of Reading presents a very down-to-earth approach to the effective teaching of reading. It specifically addresses families, books and reading; teachers, students and literacy; administrators, districts and schools, and includes suggested read-alouds and a bibliography.

Where the text diverges from the familiar is in the author's emphasis on modelling in the teaching/learning process. He offers a convincing argument that all adults who have contact with children must be seen as readers if we are to foster lifelong learners who thrive on reading.
Bouchard does not shrink from meeting some controversial issues head-on.

His discussion of the impact of increased standardized testing on teachers and students will be of particular interest. Furthermore, searching questions threaded throughout challenge us to take action on both a personal and professional basis.

In reflecting on The Gift of Reading, I found myself wondering why, with all we know about reading, it remains so necessary to have our attention drawn to such commonsense ideas? Yet, there are many lessons to be learned and relearned. I believe this book should be on the reading list of every parent, teacher, student teacher and administrator.

The Gift of Reading is thoughtful and entertaining and provokes us to reflect anew on Mark Twain's wry comment, "Those who can read and don't have no advantage over those who cannot."

The Gift of Reading; Victoria, 2001; ISBN 1-55143-214-5; softcover, 158 pages, $19.95; Orca Book Publishers; 1-800-210-5277,

A former principal in Ontario, Susan Elliott-Johns now lives in Prince Edward Island, where she works as a teacher educator and literacy consultant.

Teaching from the Inside Out
By Larry Beauchamp and Jim Parsons
Reviewed by Caroline Cremer

Teaching from the Inside Out is a book for all beginner teachers and for anyone who is thinking about becoming one. The authors clearly intend to help new teachers know what teaching is really about. Various realistic scenarios are presented and suggestions are offered on how to use professional judgment to solve problems.

Divided into three sections, the book begins with straightforward questions about reasons for wanting to become a teacher. Section two shares some of the tricks of the trade and details such topics as lesson planning, maintaining discipline, building inclusive classrooms, asking thought-provoking questions and delivering effective instruction as well as testing and evaluating students.

The final section explores the realities of classroom teaching: what really happens, the challenges and the rewards. Although nothing can fully prepare you for your first year of teaching, this book gives some insight that will serve beginning teachers well.

Beauchamp and Parsons present a realistic view of teaching that encourages those who are meant to teach and may discourage those who go into teaching for the wrong reasons. They bring to their book a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for the teaching profession.

Teaching from the Inside Out
is a celebration of teaching and a reflection of both Beauchamp and Parsons' dedication to restoring the pride in teaching.

Teaching from the Inside Out; Edmonton, 2000; ISBN 1-55220-106-6; Softcover, 216 pages, $24.95; Duval House Publishing/Les Éditions Duval; tel 780-488-1390 or 1-800-267-6187; fax 780-482-7213;

Teaching from the Outside In
By Larry Beauchamp, Gerald McConaghy, Jim Parsons, Kathy Sanford and Dawn Ford.
Reviewed by Caroline Cremer

Teaching from the Outside In
, the companion to Teaching from the Inside Out, addresses the same responsibilities of teaching that were highlighted in the first book. However, Teaching from the Outside In takes a more hands-on approach and offers various suggested activities to help discover the method most suitable for you.

In each chapter the authors ask thought-provoking questions on your teaching practice to assist you in figuring out why some things worked and others failed.

The nature of teaching demands that you perform, with or without theoretical knowledge or in-depth experience. Beginning teachers seldom have time to read theory and they have little experience to assist them in making the professional decisions that are required. Clearly, the authors remember what this was like and their book focuses on helping new teachers get through their practicums and their first year.

The book is based on the suggestions and experiences of teachers and advice stems from the authors' own mistakes. Theory has not been overlooked in this book, but it is not the focus. Teaching from the Outside In will help any prospective or beginning teacher and should be on the reading list of all teacher candidate programs.

Teaching from the Inside Out; Edmonton, 2000; ISBN 1-55220-2003; Softcover, 120 pages, $24.95; Duval House Publishing/Les Éditions Duval; tel 780-488-1390 or 1-800-267-6187; fax 780-482-7213;

Caroline Cremer teaches Grades 1 and 2 at Leslieville Junior Public School in Toronto.

Designs for learning: a new architecture for professional development in schools
By Paul V. Bredeson
Reviewed by Ruth Dempsey

In his 2003 release, Designs for Learning, Paul Bredeson defines professional development as "learning opportunities that engage educators' creative and reflective capacities in ways that strengthen their practice." Hurrah!

Using the metaphor of architecture, the author applies the principles of function, structure and beauty to professional development policies and processes and offers a stimulating perspective based on six design themes:

  • professional development is about learning
  • professional development is about work
  • professional development is a journey, not a credential
  • opportunities for professional development are unbounded
  • student learning, professional development and organizational mission are intimately related
  • professional development is about people, not programs.

Writing in an easy conversational tone, the author explores the above themes in 10 insightful chapters. These include: new designs for professional learning in schools, creating learning spaces for professional development and evaluating and implementing new designs for professional learning.

Building on the work of Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach, Bredeson's book charts the landscape of professional development bringing together the intellectual, emotional and spiritual. "Reduce teaching to intellect and it becomes a cold abstraction; reduce it to emotions and it becomes narcissistic; reduce it to the spiritual and it loses its anchor to the world. Intellect, emotion, and spirit depend on each another for wholeness."

Intellectually evocative and practically grounded, this book acknowledges teachers as individuals and lifelong learners vitally engaged in their world and their profession. It should be at the top of the reading list for teachers, principals and anyone involved in planning, implementing or evaluating professional learning in and beyond schools.

Designs for Learning: A New Architecture for Professional Development in Schools; Thousand Oaks, CA 2003; ISBN 0-7619-7889-5; softcover, 176 pages, US$29.95; Corwin Press; tel 1-800-818-7243, fax 1-800-417-2466;

Ruth Dempsey is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and an instructor at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa.

Recorder Express: soprano recorder method for classroom or individual use
By Artie Almeida
Recorder Express: CD with 99 tracks
Reviewed by Mary Hookey

This new book provides a traditional approach to beginning recorder instruction. Students start with the left-hand fingerings of B, A, G, C, & D - reading directly from the five-line staff.

There are many songs and exercises in the first 19 pages that should build confidence in playing these first five notes.

The songs and exercises in the remainder of the 48-page book cover an octave and a half of the C scale plus F#. Theory sections are clear and short and the book includes a fingering chart and many well-known folk songs.

The Recorder Express CD, sold separately, includes accompaniments in a variety of musical styles that should keep students motivated and challenged - requiring them to play at the recorded tempo.

A professional recorder player provides a model for students on 14 of the tracks. Beginners will benefit from these examples of proper breathing, tone and technique that support the teacher's demonstration.

Recorder Express; Miami, 2003; ISBN 54979-05094; softcover, 48 pages, US$4.50 - book, US$12.95 - CD; Warner Bros. Publications, 305-620-1500; Fax 305-621-4869

Mary Hookey has been a music teacher and music teacher educator. She is now retired.

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