Your guide to recently released books, CDs and other teaching resources.
For additional reviews of French-language resources, click here. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a difference
Cases for Teacher Development
Preparing for the Classroom
Developed by the Ontario College of Teachers
Edited by Déirdre Smith and Patricia F. Goldblatt of the Standards
of Practice and Education Unit
Many good things can be said about this work as a contribution to teaching
and teacher education: the range, richness and authenticity of the stories,
the implicit Canadian flavour and the universal appeal. The stories are
accompanied by sensible, critical commentaries by practitioners and researchers,
the latter well known in the Canadian and international research community
(Clandinin, Booth, Cole, Manley-Casimir, Russell, Axelrod, and many others).
These commentaries open up multiple perspectives, uncover silenced assumptions
and suggest generalizations and principles. But they do not prescribe,
thus inviting many other points of view and experiences and reflection.
Topics will be of interest to school principals, experienced teachers,
teacher candidates, specialists and the broader community, including parents
and policy-makers. The overall effect of this book is to contextualize teaching
and education as complex enterprises. This is achieved, not because the
narrators and commentators agreed to frame teaching as a complex act, but
precisely because they did not. Their contributions were made independently
and therein lies the great value of the work.
But there are shortcomings. I approached the book with the promise of its
title: Cases for Teacher Development: Preparing for
the Classroom. As a
teacher educator, I welcome a much-needed focus on the preparatory stage
of the profession. But the introduction clarifies the broader appeal of
the work and suggests that the thread which runs throughout is the complex
question, “What does it mean to be a teacher?” which might be
a more appropriate title for the book. At any stage of professional development
the stories have value, but there is particular resonance for teacher candidates
and teacher educators in Chapters 6 and 8 (Student Teacher Authority and
Classroom Management), for experienced teachers in Chapters 4 and 11 (Sharing
Classrooms and Re-entering the Profession), and principals would be interested
in Chapters 1 and 10 (Affects of Diversity and Parental Influences on Schools
I also anticipated a pedagogical focus – it is after all a book about
teaching – but that eludes us. Issues that impinge on pedagogy are
explored – evaluation of the new teacher, relationships, respect,
parental involvement, principals’ decision-making – but concerns
specific to new teachers about classroom teaching are not addressed directly.
The narratives are dynamic and engaging and the commentaries contest assumptions
but do not provide definitive answers. The stories span the life of the
teaching profession and are of great value for their authenticity. They
provide opportunities for reflection and professional development.
Cases for Teacher Development, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks,
California, 2005, hardcover ISBN 1-4129-1366-7, $79.95, softcover ISBN
1-4129-1367-5, $39.95, 272 pages, distributed by Login Brothers Canada,
tel 905-507-8953 or 1-800-665-1148, fax 905-507-9919 or 1-800-665-0103,
Reviewed by Alice Collins, who is dean at the Faculty of Education of Memorial
University of Newfoundland and president of the Canadian Association of
Deans of Education.
Being Smart about Gifted Children
A Guidebook for Parents and Educators
by Dona J. Matthews and Joanne F. Foster
Written by Ontario educators, this book addresses one of the most misunderstood
and under-served groups in our schools.
Teachers have the daunting task of meeting the needs of diverse students,
implementing individual education plans and modifying curriculum so that
all their students thrive. Without a challenging curriculum, gifted students
can become bored and inattentive. They may also be misdiagnosed with hyperactivity
or attention deficit disorder. Gifted students who fall through the cracks
may be at risk of dropping out of school. But because gifted programs are
seen as elitist, this group is often ignored. Being Smart about Gifted Children
advocates for gifted children by presenting current research and practical
solutions for identifying and teaching these students.
Chapter ten discusses motivation in self-directed learners: “Parents
and teachers of gifted children should realize that highly capable learners
do not automatically get high marks on their report cards.” Low grades
may reflect the disengagement of a self-directed learner in a boring classroom
The authors present “no single formula for living or working with
gifted children,” but offer readers “some perspectives and understandings
that can help us make good and informed decisions, and find ways to make
a difference so that children experience their world as an engaging place
in which to live, laugh, and learn.”
This is a valuable resource for any person involved in the education of
Being Smart about Gifted Children, Great Potential Press, Scottsdale,
Arizona, 2005, ISBN 0-910707-66-9, softcover, 408 pages, $37.95, distributed
in Canada by Monarch Books, tel 416-663-8231 or 1-800-404-7404, fax 416-736-1702,
Reviewed by Kerry-Lee Finkle, who is a program officer at the Ontario College
Guided Comprehension in the Primary Grades
by Maureen McLaughlin
Contemporary research into literacy acquisition confirms the importance
of the early years. A crucial indicator of future school success is the
child’s ability to construct meaning from texts and communicate that
Guided Comprehension in the Primary Grades is adapted from the instructional
framework originally presented by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen
in Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model for Grades
3–8. The new
book offers a comprehension-based teaching model with developmentally appropriate
practices for children at various stages. The model is based on the premise
that reading is a cognitive process that increases in scope and complexity
as children develop.
The comprehension model is delineated as a three-stage process involving
direct and guided strategy instruction. Ways to organize and manage the
model in each grade provide a helpful bridge from the theory to its classroom
The model is also applied to popular primary-level themes – stories
by Eric Carle, animals, dinosaurs and Arthur the Aardvark – and multiple
primary-grade lessons and examples of student work are included. Theme-based
plans highlight goals, assessment techniques, comprehension strategies,
routines and resources.
Just under half the book is given to the appendixes, which include a wide
range of resources for planning, supporting and delivering effective reading
comprehension instruction as well as a developmental continuum for reading
and writing, blackline masters, sources for levelled texts and assessment
This book is a valuable resource for both primary-grade teachers and others
involved in reading instruction.
Guided Comprehension in the Primary Grades, International Reading Association,
Newark, Delaware, 2003, ISBN 0-87207-005-0, softcover, 368 pages, US$34.95,
tel 1-800-336-7323, fax 302-731-0878,www.reading.org, email@example.com
Reviewed by Lillian Gilchrist, an elementary teacher with the
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
Why Gender Matters
What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex
by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD
The first half of this book is full of fascinating and useful information
on gender differences in the brain. In the second half, Sax draws his own
conclusions about how children should be taught and parented based on these
current research findings. Some of his conclusions are disturbing.
Sax talks about the need for a firm hand in child rearing, saying that
children need to be shown who is boss. He derides showing too much respect
to children and allowing them to make their own choices.
One of his proposals for monitoring teenage behaviour is to give them a
global positioning satellite (GPS) watch. “You lock the watch on your
teen’s wrist and then monitor your child’s location in real
On the topic of sex-prevention, he concludes that boys are hard-wired to
want sex and it’s the girl’s job to say no.
One of the most disturbing passages is his discussion of the “anomalous” male – by
which he means the sensitive male. He describes this as a problem that can
be helped with early intervention. He advises parents to “avoid computer
science camps, arts camps, music camps, and the like.” Instead, “adopt
and maintain a firm disciplinary style … and encourage competitive
He quotes sociologist Patricia Sexton, saying these boys are “reluctant
to acknowledge the connection between school honours and feminization, or
to inquire into whether their success can be attributed more to acceptance
of female norms than to brilliance or superior intellectual endowments.”
For Sax, academic success is feminine, while sports prowess is a hallmark
of masculinity. He concludes, “He may grow up to be a mission specialist
on the space shuttle, but he’ll never be the pilot.” This line
is indicative of Sax’s underlying attitude: we need to get back to
a world where men are men and women are women.
He spends too much time on the topic of permissive parenting, which has
little to do with gender differences in the brain. He quotes Harvard professor
Jerome Kagan, who holds up puritan New England as a time when “very
harsh punishments for children” were used to create “model citizens.”
We are all too aware of the swing to the right in the US over the past
twenty years. Why Gender Matters illustrates how this ethos can permeate
Why Gender Matters,
Broadway Books, Toronto, 2006, ISBN 385.51073-X, softcover, 320 pages,
$34.95, distributed in Canada by Random House, tel 905-624-0672, fax
Reviewed by Michael Reist, who is head of the English department at Robert
F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon East.
How to Make a Difference
Inspiring Students to Do Their Best (e-book)
by Marjan Glavac
How to Make a Difference reviews strategies for bringing order, industry
and success to students’ working environments. It also took me on
a trip down memory lane.
In the anecdotal musings of teacher Marjan Glavac, I was transported back
to my early teaching days in elementary classrooms. The stated goal of How
to Make a Difference is to nurture self-esteem in students. Glavac, an Ontario
elementary teacher, describes his strategies for becoming better acquainted
with his students and more knowledgeable about his own strengths and weaknesses
as an educator.
While the suggested techniques are not new, they offer practical “survival
tactics” for beginning teachers and/or those experiencing organizational
and discipline problems. We all need somewhere to start and How to Make
a Difference provides one.
The 81-page book comes with a 27-page student handbook with ready-to-use
worksheets. More of this material and fewer teacher-directed activities
would make the package even more useful. More meticulous cross-referencing
of the two books would make them more teacher-friendly. A list of resources
at the end of each chapter and subtitles for quick access to strategies
and techniques would add an important dimension. But the beauty of an e-book
is that it is always a work-in-progress. Perhaps these suggestions will
be taken up.
How to Make a Difference provides busy educators – particularly new
ones – with practical, field-tested teaching and organizational strategies.
To Make a Difference, self-published e-book, 2004, 81 pages, US$27.00,
Reviewed by Gail Lennon, who teaches distance education online secondary
courses for adults with the Bluewater District School Board in Chesley.
Creating Effective Schools for All Learners
by J. Michael Peterson and Mishael Marie Hittie
This informative book attempts to answer the important question: How can
we make our classrooms more inclusive and thereby become inclusive teachers?
The inclusive classroom is a place where all students learn together well
and where their teacher intentionally builds “a learning community
composed of children of diverse abilities.”
The book begins with a historical study of inclusion in American schools.
The authors then outline strategies for inclusive teaching that they call
the four building blocks: Multilevel Teaching, Scaffolding, Multiple Intelligences
and Learning Styles. Numerous examples are provided. Finally, the book addresses
how teachers can act as leaders – working with administration, the
community and the students to create inclusive schools.
This book is a valuable resource for understanding how students with learning
disabilities can best learn within a regular classroom. In particular, teachers
new to the profession would find its classroom strategies and approaches
very helpful. Interesting and informative – but not light reading – the
book was designed as a university text.
One particular sentence stuck me and made me rethink how I work with students
of varying abilities: “We must be careful to see students with labels
as children first.”
Inclusive Teaching, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004, ISBN
0-205-46479-3, softcover, 560 pages, $109.95, distributed in Canada by Pearson
Education, tel 416-447-5101 or 1-800-361-6128, fax 800-563-9196, www.pearsoned.ca,
Reviewed by Kenneth MacKinnon, who teaches Grade 2 and primary music at
Macklin Public School in Scarborough.
Just one more time …
by Sharon Fitzsimmins
You don’t have to be a music teacher to fully understand the significance
of the title of this book … but it helps! Think of the number of
times we have said that to our bands, choirs, orchestras or guitar students.
Teachers of all subjects know that practice makes perfect, but in the world
of music teaching that old adage has special meaning. For music teachers
of all ages and stages, but particularly for beginning music teachers, this
book is an inspiration and a valuable resource. Sharon Fitzsimmins has gathered
up, organized, and now shares her music-teaching experiences and resources
from her 30-year career at Barrie North Collegiate.
This book contains ready-to-use ideas that work for performance and non-performance
classroom activities, vignettes of an inspirational and motivational nature,
and practical suggestions and guidelines for everything from music festivals
to parents’ groups, from budgeting to the importance of student leadership.
In this book, Mrs. Fitz, as her students called her, provides music teachers
with an always-welcome infusion of positive energy and pride, combined with
advice and advocacy.
In the section of the book titled Making Music Class Even More Exciting,
music teachers will find many unique projects for their students. As with
any type of activity designed for one class, readers will have to adjust
the ideas to fit the needs, abilities and resources of their own particular
situation. This music-teaching opus provides music teachers with many examples
to follow and many reasons to keep believing in the power of music education.
one more time …, Kabibel Press, Kitchener, Ontario, 2004,
ISBN 0-9735412-0-2, softcover, 93 pages, $30.00, www.kabibelpress.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Jane Saunders, a music teacher at Fort William Collegiate Institute
in Thunder Bay.
Lire et écrire au secondaire
un défi signifiant
by Godelieve De Koninck
This book brings together information that teachers must usually search
out from a multitude of sources. Godelieve De Koninck, with Réal
Bergeron and Marlène Gagnon, explains how to teach reading and writing
at the elementary and secondary levels. De Koninck proposes an approach
that will spark your students’ curiosity – starting from the
premise that a bored student does not learn anything.
This is a valuable reference book. Examples are appropriate and varied.
The organization and subtitles make it easy to find information quickly.
Explanations are clear, the texts are relevant, pleasant to read and Canadian.
When I shared this book with colleagues, they said it was a resource every
French teacher should have.
Lire et écrire au secondaire, Chenelière Éducation,
Montréal, 2005, ISBN 2-7651-0396-8, softcover, 192 pages, $39.95,
tel 1-800-565-5531, fax 1-800-814-0324, www.dlcmcgrawhill.ca, email@example.com
Reviewed by Josette Blais-Jol, who is a Grade 7 and 8 music and Special
Education teacher at Saint-Charles-Garnier Catholic High School in Whitby.
Quand lire rime avec plaisir
by Élaine Turgeon
The main goal of this book is to make good use of children’s literature.
The book provides 52 cards and a reference section as well as reproducible
Turgeon also introduces collections and printable material, and provides
a list of resources, though the resources are geared to francophone children,
especially those from Québec. On the other hand, the activities and
printable material may be used in conjunction with many books and resources.
Quand lire rime avec plaisir, Chenelière Éducation, Montréal,
2004, ISBN 2-7651-0376-3, softcover, 240 pages, $34.95, tel 1-800-565-5531,
fax 1-800-814-0324, www.dlcmcgrawhill.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Jocelyne C. Hovenden, who teaches Grade 4 French Immersion
at Agnes Taylor Public School in Brampton for the Peel DSB.
New from familiar series
Series of 4 books
Series of 6 books
Crabtree Publishing, they are going bananas. Following the original Blue
Bananas series, reviewed in December 2002, there are now Green Bananas
and Red Bananas.
Designed for ages 4 to 6, each book in the Green Bananas series presents
three interlinked stories.
These are amusing, high-interest stories that cover a wide range of themes.
Many of the stories have a surprising twist at the end that will keep beginning
readers interested and engaged.
Both series would make a fun addition to any elementary school library.
Green Bananas Series (4 titles), Red Bananas Series (6 titles), Crabtree
Publishing Company, St. Catharines, Ontario, 2005, each 48 pages, hardcover
$18.36, softcover $7.16, tel 905-682-5221 or 1-800-387-7650, fax 905-682-7166,
or 1-800-355-7166, www.crabtreebooks.com, email@example.com