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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-961-8800, ext. 679, or toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222, ext. 679.
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
Park - CD
Hockey Players Read: Boys, Literacy and Learning
Gift of Reading
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; email@example.com.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
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.
Express: soprano recorder method for classroom or individual use
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