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Reviews

Your guide to recently released books and other teaching resources.

For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit Pour parler profession. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Lisa Legett at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext. 679 or email library@oct.ca.

Image of a book cover of 'What’s Right About Wrong Answers.' The cover is an illustration of the text 'What’s Right About Wrong Answers.'

What’s Right About Wrong Answers

Finally a book that explains a student’s approach to solving math problems! Although making mistakes is a vital part of learning, it can be difficult for teachers to identify students’ thinking process.

To help your young mathematicians arrive at the correct response on their next attempt, math educator and curriculum developer Nancy Anderson reveals which of several problem-solving methods a student is likely using when they make a particular mistake. Understanding this faulty method helps to correct and coach the student’s intuitive math development.

Some students use keywords to solve problems, such as “groups” or “check your work,” which then prompts them to use a particular solution; others use comparison. Misunderstanding the size of a piece (for instance, in a fraction) triggers a different approach. There are 22 exercises in all including comic strips, letters to a fictitious math expert written by confused students, and sample student work containing common mistakes.

Although Ontario teachers provide rich environments for inquiry-based learning, this book would be a helpful reference tool for Grades 4–5, as it lists various numeracy methods students use, and how those particular methods can go awry.

Kara Smith, OCT, is an associate professor at the faculty of education, University of Windsor.

What’s Right About Wrong Answers: Learning from Math Mistakes, Grades 4–5, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, Maine, 2017, softcover, ISBN 978-1-62531-086-6, 152 pages, $31.95, pembrokepublishers.com


Image of a book cover of 'Reading, Writing, Playing, Learning.' The cover is a young child with paint on their hands.

Reading, Writing, Playing, Learning

In the perennial debate between play-centred and academic pedagogy, this book offers a healthy dose of balance and compromise so the two can co-exist in the same kindergarten classroom. The authors, both experienced Canadian educators, provide teachers with a range of tools to enhance play while building reading, writing and learning skills.

The book directs teachers to limit whole class instruction, to keep it brief, intentional, multi-levelled, and under the umbrella of active inquiry. Each chapter explores an aspect of kindergarten instruction, including classroom organization, shared reading, diversity and more. A whole chapter is dedicated to oral language development, where a range of word games and activities are laid out to support successful communication. From there, a playful assortment of reading and writing activities are suggested. The focus is clearly on harnessing student learning and engagement through experimentation, risk-taking, questioning and discovery.

While this book does not mention assessments, it does provide a research-based path to building a solid kindergarten program, incorporating both play-based and explicit literary instruction. In the process, it shows teachers how to help lay the foundation for building engaged and inquiring young minds.

Cheryl Woolnough, OCT, is a Special Education teacher with the Peel District School Board.

Reading, Writing, Playing, Learning: Finding the Sweet Spots in Kindergarten Literacy, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ont., 2017, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-321-7, 103 pages, $24.95, pembrokepublishers.com


Image of a book cover of 'Cultivating Readers.' The cover is a young child reaching for a book.

Cultivating Readers

Students who hate to read don’t need more strategies or more skills. They need something much more rudimentary — they need to get really excited about reading and what it might offer to them. Cultivating Readers takes students well beyond the nuts and bolts of reading by identifying six basic steps to foster real engagement and maybe even real joy in reading.

The first step is for teachers to share their reading lives, to invite students into their literary worlds and show them what ignites their passion for reading. Step two is to get to know the students and what reading material might inspire them. Step three is to model the habits of a good reader. The fourth step involves teaching why reading is important, the fifth involves creating a space for reading, and finally, the last is nourishing the will to read.

Many studies identify that reading has been on a steady decline, despite the fact that it is associated with considerably better performance in school and in life. According to international findings, good readers have home environments that foster literacy, and parents who like to read. This book, however, focuses on what a teacher can offer in the classroom, with many concrete suggestions and activities to revitalize a reading program and help ignite an enduring passion for reading.

Mary Veronica Moloney, OCT, a junior-intermediate teacher with the Toronto District School Board.

Cultivating Readers: Everything you need to take reading instruction beyond the skills to addressing the will, Pembroke Publishers, Markham, Ont., 2017, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55138-324-8, 141 pages, $24.95, pembrokepublishers.com


Image of a book cover of 'Ensouling Our Schools.' The cover is a medicine wheel.

Ensouling Our Schools

Expanding on her earlier work, author, teacher and advocate for inclusive education Jennifer Katz, along with Kevin Lamoureux, the former education lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, examine the four pillars of learning: a strong sense of self-worth, a feeling of belonging, cognitive challenge and social learning. Weaving in recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the book explores how to promote inclusion and healing in classrooms while celebrating cultural diversity and the many ways that children can learn. The philosophical underpinnings of the book are based on the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that guides the development of flexible learning environments to accommodate individual learning styles. The UDL principles, the authors argue, increase access to learning that will foster inclusionary practices in all classrooms.

Specific steps are included to show teachers how to build and sustain positive learning environments. Each chapter reinforces the idea that reconciliation is not about shame and guilt, but about doing what is right to cultivate healing and well-being for all. Rubrics, surveys and activities are scaffolded for early and middle years, adolescents and adults.

The authors’ hope is that teachers will be agents of change leading to a more just, peaceful, productive and sustainable world.

Anne Marie Landon, OCT, is a principal with the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

Ensouling Our Schools: A Universally Designed Framework for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Reconciliation, Portage & Main Press, Winnipeg, 2018, softcover, ISBN 978-1-55379-683-1, 260 pages, $40, portageandmainpress.com


Image of a book cover of 'I Have Squirrels in My Belly.' The is an illustration of two squirrels in a bathtub. Image of a book cover of 'I Have Bees in My Brain.' The cover is an illustration of bees in a child's brain. Image of a book cover of 'I Have Geckos on My Glasses.' The cover is an illustration of geckos on a child's glasses.

I Have Squirrels in My Belly; I Have Bees in My Brain; I Have Geckos on My Glasses

In I Have Squirrels in my Belly, Timothy explains to his mother that he’s sure that two squirrels live inside him, sometimes chasing each other around and making his heart race and his stomach lurch. In I Have Bees in My Brain, Jasper’s head is stuffed with bees that make it really hard to concentrate. In both books, the children find simple strategies to help control their seemingly out-of-control feelings. Through these children, the author demonstrates what it’s like for students dealing with sensory issues or who have problems with self-regulation or overstimulation. They are unable to function as well as others because their powerful interior distractions prevent them from paying attention to what is happening outside their bodies.

In the third book in the series — I Have Geckos on My Glasses — the sticky feet of two geckos cover up the lenses of a young girl’s glasses, making it difficult for her to be truthful about what she sees. She decides to spin tales to fill in the missing details, and learns a valuable lesson about honesty in the process.

These books would be great classroom resources, and are best suited to junior-aged children who could discuss the issues as a class or in small groups.

Sarah Lynn Frost Hunter, OCT, is a primary Special Education teacher at Kindree Public School in Mississauga, Ont., with the Peel District School Board.

I Have Squirrels in My Belly: A Child’s View of Anxiety, FriesenPress, Victoria, B.C., 2017, softcover, ISBN 978-1-4602-9881–7, 28 pages, $12.99, friesenpress.com

I Have Bees in My Brain: A Child’s View of Inattentiveness, FriesenPress, Victoria, B.C., 2017, softcover, ISBN 978-1-5255-1034-2, 32 pages, $12.99, friesenpress.com

I Have Geckos on My Glasses: A Child’s Struggle with Honesty, FriesenPress, Victoria, B.C., 2018, softcover, ISBN 978-1-5255-1880-5, 24 pages, $12.49, friesenpress.com

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