________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


Show Me How to Learn: Key Strategies and Powerful Techniques That Promote Cooperative Learning.

Robin English and Sue Dean.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2004.
96 pp., pbk., $21.95.
ISBN 1-55138-178-8.

Subject Headings:
Group work in education.


Review By Gina Varty.

**** /4


Show Me How to Learn embraces all children and recognizes their interests, needs and abilities. The authors illustrate how to create a successful learning community where students sense they belong, young people feel empowered, learners have control over their choices and decisions, and children experience joy in learning.


A little learning is a dangerous thing. But a love of learning is a gift a teacher can create within students that will last a lifetime. Show Me How to Learn offers step-by-step guidelines for empowering students and creating a powerful learning community within a classroom.

     Through six reader-friendly and easy to follow chapters, the authors provide tasks and best practices to engage all types of learners in grades three to eight (and beyond). Busy teachers will find the support, strategies and tools they need to build skills in reading, writing and research, and thus empower their students to be active participants in their own learning.

     The book starts with practical ideas for the daily business of classroom organization: how to best meet the needs of students by creating an environment for learning that addresses the unique individuals in each class community, and how to establish a code of conduct to foster a positive environment are discussed with examples. The chapter on goal setting is extremely practical and offers a five step implementation plan:

-set the time frame and behaviour target (two months works best) -identify learning strategies to make the goal happen (e.g. practising, researching, asking questions, being coached) -make a plan of the strategies to use to achieve the goal (four or five things) -keep the goal in mind -revisiting and evaluating the goal.

     This process is useful for other situations as well.

     The chapter on student self-evaluation offers skill checklists, and annotated work samples. The furniture layout diagram in the chapter on establishing learning centres is very helpful, as is the list of criteria to be used in selecting group membership and the chart about how to set appropriate activities.

     Teachers can easily put the principles into practice with the reproducible blackline masters at the back of the book. Pages of self-evaluation check- lists, data charts, Venn diagrams, scaffolding ideas, peer assessments and more are ready tools for assessment. There are also sheets to be used by students to support learning centre tasks. These include strategies for teaching English, including read and retell, context, and readers theatre. The book concludes with a professional reference list and a detailed index.

     This book is the Canadian edition of a work originally published in Australia. My only quibble with the authors is that all we know about them is that they are practicing classroom teachers. I would have appreciated a little more background information on them. However, this is a moot point as the learning community they created that teachers can recreate by following their well-written guidelines is the true gift of Show Me How to Learn.


Highly Recommended.

Gina Varty is a librarian in Edmonton, AB, currently providing library supply for Edmonton Public Schools.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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