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Saskatoon (Sask.), Saskatchewan Instruc­tional Development and Research Unit and the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit, 1991. 26pp, paper, $5.00 plus shipping and taxes.
Distributed by the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit, c/o Sas­katchewan Teacher's Federation, P.O. Box 1108, Saskatoon, Sask. S7K 3N3.

Reviewed by Gail Lennon.

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

Sheryl Mills, a teacher who uses Concept Attainment, was asked to provide this teacher resource aimed at giving teachers practical and relevant guides for using concept attainment as a means of expanding or redefining teacher repertoires.

This slim teacher workbook provides the rookie and seasoned teacher with beginning information and strategies in concept attain­ment. A well-organized table of contents lists the following subtopics: "Concept Attain­ment Dictionary," "Lesson Planning Guide," "Sample Lesson Plans," "Getting Started" and "Coaching and Concept Attainment." A wealth of resources for further study lists books, manuals, articles, ERIC documents, and audio-visual materials.

For those unfamiliar with the term "concept attainment," the strategy involves stating the purpose and setting the rules of the lesson. These rules include concentrating on the things the examples have in common. In the next step, the teacher presents examples and non-examples, having the student focus on the attributes of the examples. Students are then asked to hypothesize about the concept. They look at whether each object is a "yes" or "no" in terms of the concept. Students then name the concept and state other examples of objects that would also fit this same concept. Finally, students discuss the thinking that would have taken place to arrive at the concept.

The strategy encourages students to work' in co-operative groups and to discuss various characteristics of the objects presented. Analysis and evaluation are an integral part of the process. Finally, the end discussion provides students with an opportunity to use their meta-cognitive skills in thinking about thinking. Follow-up activities focus on the application of the concept in other subject areas.

A valuable part of the workbook is the emphasis on the teacher's role in this strategy. Although the first ten pages of the workbook are clearly outlined, the book jumps rapidly to a variety of lesson plans on energy aimed at a wide range of grade levels. It then proceeds to discussion of "refine­ment" and "coaching" of concept attainment before the teacher who is new to the strategy has had an opportunity to begin to feel comfortable with the concept of starting out in the classroom.

Perhaps the book might have been more useful to the teacher who is trying this strategy for the first time if it had attempted to cover a smaller range and spent more time on introductory activities. The book professes to be written for the teacher at this stage of professional development, but then moves rapidly to more complicated, abstract refinements of the strategy within a few short pages.

I believe the strategy of concept attain­ment has much to offer in the classroom at any grade level. However, the depth and breadth of the topic selected by this author would be sufficient to scare the beginning teacher away from attempting to get started!

As a resource this is a useful book, but as a teacher initiation tool, it misses the mark.

Gail Lennon is a resource teacher with the Bruce County Board of Education at Walkerton District Secondary School in Walkerton, Ontario.
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