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Fay Brownlie, Susan Close and Linda Wingren

Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1990. 160pp, paper, $18.95
ISBN 0-921217-50-1. CIP

Reviewed by Gail K. Lennon.

Volume 18 Number 6
1990 November

The authors of this "how to" book for teachers of elementary children have had experience in both elementary and secondary panels. They have served in consulting roles and in teacher educa­tion.

This publication represents their second collaborative work. The book takes the form of teaching strategies presented in a step-by-step manner complete with teacher script and student examples. At the end of each chapter there is a "recipe" step-by-step guide to each strategy. Each chapter opens with a brief description of the strategy and several quotes from educators.

While the text promises to offer "strategies for developing thinking and learning," it is very selective in the strategies presented and very "uncreative" and structured in the method of presentation.

Not a lot of attention is paid to the thematic approach. The first chapter, "On the Edge," begins with a look at a study of a wolf theme. However, subsequent chapters isolate various thinking skills such as "Strategic Teaching," "Thinking Bubbles," "Build­ing Characters" and "Listen-Sketch-Draft." These, while somewhat thought provoking, are in no way the leading "thinking skills" recognized by experts in this field. Nor is any mention made of there being other strategies left out of this investigation. The chapter on "Becoming Researchers" makes use of an excellent strategy, "Inquiry Ap­proach," made famous in Ontario by Dr. Len Popp and his followers out of Brook University. Yet, the authors make no reference to Popp in the chapter or in the lengthy bibliography.

As well, the authors claim to have examined and addressed various learning/teaching styles. If there is any further attention to this important area, it is implied, not stated. The last eight pages of the book are devoted to student and teacher forms for several of the strategies presented in the text. One might question both the practicality of the forms and the convenience of placing these forms at the end instead of within the appropriate chapters.

Although these educators are to be commended for their attempts to bring thinking and learning together in education, I believe they have failed to do their research into current thinking literature.

This book would have been greatly improved by a more informed selection of strategies and by selecting a single theme, such as wolves presented early in the first chapter, and following this theme through the strategies presented. A more thorough look at Co-operative Learning as a teaching strategy and other better thinking skills would have made this publication more useful and more credible.

Gail K. Lennon, Lambton County Board of Education, Sarnia, Ont.
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