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Silvana Carletti, Suzanne Girard and Kathlene Willing
Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1991. 136pp, cloth, $12.95
ISBN 0-921217-66-8. CIP


Ron Jobe and Paula Hart
Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1991. 155pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-921217-70-6. CIP


Jo Phenix and Doreen Scott-Dunne
Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1991. 103pp, paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-921217-68-4. CIP


Edited by David Booth
Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1991. 157pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-921217-69-2. CIP


Carole Tarlington and Patrick Verriour
Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1991. 128pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-921217-67-6. CIP

Adult / Professional

Reviewed by Gail Lennon.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Five books recently published by Pembroke Publishers have come to my attention. Those books deal with various aspects of the reading/writing process. Their commonality lies in the fact that they are all based on whole language philosophy and all were written by writers who have co-authored. Within their covers, the teacher attempting to implement whole language experiences will find several practical suggestions for dealing with reading, writing, spelling, presenting and evaluating.

In Canadian Connections, Dr. Ron Jobe, professor al U.B.C., president of IBBY, and a critic, consultant and instructor, and Paula Hart, a former elementary and secondary teacher who now teaches in the department of language education al U.B.C., introduce teachers and librarians to dozens of key Canadian books. These books are integrated into several related themes, and accompanying activities are provided. The book is well organized and easy for the beginning teacher to read. The chapters are organized in sections - by books, themes and activities. Chapter one explains reasons for making literature a key part of the child's school experiences. Chapter two offers practical advice and ample rationale for reading aloud to children. Chapter three introduces key books for various age levels from nine to over-twelve-year-olds.

One book for each of these age groups is featured in detail. The authors stress that theirs is only one way the book might be shared but they offer, in their investigation of four major Cana­dian books, a variety of ways of dealing with these landmark publications. Chapter four looks at books that are related thematically. Chapter five presents a planning study of individual creators of Canadian literature and discusses various approaches that might be applied to the study of any author or illustrator.

The book concludes with a list of recommended Canadian books for use in a literature program. As a graduate of teacher-librarian courses, I found the materials and strategies presented in this book excellent. It is a must for every teacher-librarian and a real asset for any teacher who wishes to enhance his or her literature program or inte­grate good Canadian literature into other subject areas.

Silvana Carletti is an acting science consultant with the Toronto Board of Education. She spent seven years as a teacher-librarian and several in elemen­tary classrooms. Suzanne Girard is a Primary teacher with the Toronto Board of Education and, with Kathlene Willing, has co-authored another book. Willing is a reading specialist and a computer resource teacher at a Toronto elementary school.

The Library/Classroom Connection by Carletti, Girard and Willing is an excellent link to Canadian Connections. Carletti, Girard and Willing provide innovative strategies for the promotion of information literacy skills. Practical charts and web organizers are included to help the teacher-librarian and classroom teachers "partner in action" in planning classroom curricula. Collaborative strategies presented in this book provide the students with opportunities in the whole language classroom to utilize higher level think­ing skills: location of information, analysis, synthesis and application of information.

Information in this book will be of special use to teacher-librarians. How­ever, information is included on class­room instruction strategies, special library programs, and bias-free materi­als that will be of use to the classroom teacher. This effective resource will assist classroom teachers and teacher-librarians in implementing the "partners in action" philosophy and will enrich the classroom experiences of all stu­dents.

Although Role Drama by Carole Tarlington and Patrick Verriour applies the philosophy of whole language classrooms, it presents a very specific strategy for using drama in the class­room. Carole Tarlington is a director, author, teacher, theatrical agent and free-lance drama consultant. Patrick Verriour is a former elementary and secondary teacher who is currently associate professor in the language education department at University of British Columbia.

"Role drama," defined by the authors as a "powerful method of teaching," aims at promoting a change in the understanding of the participants. Students have the opportunity, in this technique, to explore the thoughts and feelings of another person by respond­ing and behaving as that person would in a given situation. While the concept is commendable, it may require a tremendous stretch for children who are just beginning to explore their own feelings and insights. Within role drama, the teacher's role is to take a part within the drama itself.

Role drama will help teachers discover what drama is and how it can work successfully in their classrooms. Perhaps, for the teacher who feels uncomfortable with the concept of drama in the classroom, this is an excellent starting point because the drama activity is rooted in the existing classroom curriculum and the teacher's role is as a participant, not evaluator or observer.

Although the specific technique of role drama was unfamiliar to me when I began reading this book, I feel that I could integrate its strategies into existing classroom activities upon completion of this well-organized book. Given the fact that role drama enables students to grapple with thought and language in a meaningful context, it is an important strategy for promoting independent thinking, co­operative learning and whole language philosophy. For those interested in a specific drama technique, I would recommend this handbook as a "how to" manual.

The final two books deal with the topic of spelling in a whole language classroom.

Spelling Instruction That Makes Sense by Jo Phenix and Doreen Scott-Dunne provides a useful alternative to weekly spelling lists. It explores the time and strategies for introducing spelling in the whole language classroom. It offers teachers suggestions for "teachable moments" with individual students, small groups and the whole class. Practical suggestions for helping students explore the structure of words in an enjoyable way are provided. The book includes evaluation and record-keeping strategies for the teacher who must "teach" spelling but wishes to do so in a whole language context.

Jo Phenix is a well-known workshop leader. She has taught every grade from 1 to 13 in both England and Canada. Doreen Scott-Dunne is a reading specialist who has taught elementary grades in Scotland and Canada.

Spelling Links edited by David Booth brings together twelve practical essays on the topic of spelling and its place in the whole language classroom. Leading educators discuss interesting and noteworthy alternatives to the weekly spelling list. Topics include teaching spelling through poetry and writing, spelling and co-operative learning, and the role of assessment in spelling. Because of its organization into essays on a variety of topics, the book is by its nature disjointed, but it docs contain a wealth of expert advice on the topic of spelling. The title is, however, a bit ironic, since by its very nature the book lacks those links. It is, however, a volume of informed opinion on the contentious issue of spelling in the whole language classroom.

David Booth is a classroom teacher, consultant, professor, writer, speaker and editor. He is at present chairman of drama at the faculty of education. University of Toronto.

Gail Lennon, Walkerton District Secondary School, Walkerton, Ont.
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