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Your guide to recently released books and other teaching resources.
Borrow a copy of any of the books reviewed in Professionally Speaking by connecting with the Margaret Wilson Library. Email email@example.com, access your College account via oct.ca, use the OCT membership app, or call 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext. 679. For reviews of French-language resources, visit pourparlerprofession.oeeo.ca.
Edited by Monique Sack
This is a treasure trove of thought-provoking strategies and practices for teachers and administrators. Each one is designed to impact student learning, thinking and engagement.
Written by leading educators and backed by research and examples from elementary and secondary school math classrooms, each section in the book presents concepts in novel ways. They show how specific strategies are necessary to support the changing needs of today's students, classrooms and schools. They also provide a clear and concise approach that will boost student learning to the next level.
For instance, teachers will see how creativity and math are a necessary pairing for nurturing students' problem-solving skills; how coding and computational thinking can be key elements in both teaching and learning; how vocabulary plays a pivotal role in math success; and how strategies often associated with language programs (such as think-pair-share) are also effective in supporting student learning.
My Best Idea is a valuable resource for sparking meaningful conversations among teachers, administrators and school board personnel. It will challenge views, sharpen teachers' skills and deepen our knowledge. It's an inspiration for visualizing a new way of engaging, motivating and empowering all students, and the perfect springboard for further inquiry.
Caroline Cremer, OCT, teaches at Leslieville Junior Public School in Toronto.
My Best Idea: Math, Volume 1, Rubicon Publishing, Oakville, Ont., 2019, ISBN 978-1-4869-2123-2, softcover, 140 pages, $40.95, rubiconpublishing.com
By Nancy Lewis Hennessy
Nancy Hennessy has done extensive research into the science of reading and created an invaluable resource for a teacher's library. Her framework bridges the gap between research on how to read and reading comprehension, and the practice of teaching students how to read.
Her detailed and carefully explained research indicates that skills such as finding the main idea are overdone and do not invoke higher-level cognition. However, taking a student's local and global knowledge and linking it to the new information allows inferences that will increase their comprehension. Mental models are also a helpful strategy to train the brain for thinking in new ways to simplify complex concepts.
Comprehension, she states, is the main component of reading. The framework she provides helps to organize instructional lessons through chapters on reading comprehension, vocabulary, syntax and sentence comprehension, text structures, background knowledge, and levels of understanding and inference.
Hennessy also provides evidence-based strategies that allow students to improve their understanding of what they are reading by providing activities and teaching resources for the classroom. This book will give teachers the confidence and practical tools needed to develop competent readers.
Teresa Ross, OCT, is a business and technology teacher with the Niagara Catholic District School Board in St. Catharines.
The Reading Comprehension Blueprint: Helping Students Make Meaning from Text, Brookes Publishing, Baltimore, Md., 2020, ISBN 9781681254036, softcover, 304 pages, US$49.95, brookespublishing.com
By Beverley Brenna
Beverley Brenna has woven the difficult subject of sadness and grief into a beautifully written novel for middle primary students.
Harris and his two sisters live with their grandfather, after losing their parents three years earlier. Harris's grandfather is dealing with his own loss while raising the children. Harris blames himself for his parents' death and is having a tough time in school with peers and school work.
In particular, Harris is struggling with a difficult science fair assignment and worrying about the consequences if he's not up to the task. Then, the appearance one morning of a crow tapping on Harris's window triggers a number of events that change his life and the lives of others. Not only does the crow move right in with the family dog, Pete, but it also begins to follow Harris to school and around town, causing surprising reactions.
Characters discuss the upsetting events in their lives in a gentle manner as they unravel the past and work toward a more positive future.
This book would work well for literature circles or as a class read since there's much in it for all students to enjoy, relate to and discuss.
Janet Cottreau, OCT, is the executive director of a family and leadership camp west of Ottawa.
Because of that Crow, Red Deer Press, Markham, Ont., 2020, ISBN 9780889956155, softcover, 160 pages, $12.95, fitzhenry.ca