________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 1 . . . . September 1, 2006


Jivin’ Johnny’s Let’s Talk!: Learning through Discussion.

Jivin’ Johnny.
Midland, ON: Jjohnny Press (Box 756, L4R 4P4), 2004.
112 pp., spiral bound, $17.95.
ISBN 0-9686403-7-0.

Subject Headings:
Group work in education.
Discussion-Study and teaching.


Review by Stephanie Yamniuk.

**** /4

User-friendly discussion generator that offers students grades 6 – 12 the chance to voice opinions and ideas while growing in tolerance, understanding and self-confidence.

     Full of stimulating questions, Let’s Talk! helps kids explore over 45 topics of current issues – including School, Dating and Survival, and Work, War and the Media. This book is a valuable resource to teachers and student group leaders that is fun and encourages individual groups of students to think, discuss and learn.

     LET'S TALK! is available from jjohnnypress.com where there are lots of other classroom resources available such as "A Classroom Teacher's Emergency Lesson Plans"; "A Teacher's Notebook"; "Classroom Jukebox 1 and 2"; and "Reel Talk 1 and 2."

     The book begins with different ways you can use the book:

  • Small group discussions
  • Class discussion
  • Panel discussions
  • Oral presentations and impromptu speeches
  • Formal and Informal Debates
  • Writing & Projects

     Chapter 1: Talking about You
Questions about Getting Acquainted, Family, Growing Up, School and Friendship are explored in this chapter. The question is posed: “You rub the bottle and the Genie appears. “I have the power,” Genie announces, “to make one of your wishes come true.” What do you wish for? Why? How does it change your life?

     Chapter 2: Talking about Couples
Let’s talk about The Sexes, Dating, Love, Marriage, Parenting, Divorce. In the “Let’s talk about The Sexes” section questions are asked: what are some problems girls have to face that boys don’t? Do you think teacher treat girls differently from boys? Where do our ideas about what a man should be like come from? Is it OK for a man to cry? What do the movies teach us about femininity? Examples?

     In “Let’s talk about Love,” the section goes to the core of what many young people are looking for: intimacy. It asks young people: Is love our strongest emotion? What evidence would you offer? Can a person live without love? What is the opposite of love? What questions would you ask about hate or apathy?

     Chapter 3: Talking about the Inside
In this section, many topics are covered, with lots of follow-up questions about:

  • Creativity
  • Dreams
  • Our Secret Lives
  • Morality
  • Honesty

     Chapter 4: Talking about Outside
This section includes discussion questions on Society, Freedom, War, Death and Nature. For example, “Let’s talk about Society” discusses expectation of our society. It asks questions such as “Where do we learn how to behave in society? Who are our ‘teachers’? How might growing up in a slum or ghetto affect one’s life and outlook? What, to you, is ‘the good life’?

     Chapter 5: Talking about Daily Life
In this section, many topics are covered, with lots of follow-up questions about:

  • Work
  • Money
  • The Law
  • Sports
  • Travel

     Chapter 6: Talking about the Arts
I think this section would be a great start to conversation with ESL students. They can discuss pop culture items which are common to all people, while talking about their own experiences. There several short scenario with questions that accompany them that can be discussed in a group:

     1. You’re watching TV with your family and a documentary about heroin addiction is about to come on. Your 11 year old son and your five year old daughter both say they want to watch it.
• What do you do?
• What if the documentary were about serial killers? Nuclear war? The wonder of birth?
• Are there TV shows you would not let your children watch? Why?
• How do you feel about violent on television?

     2. Lorelei lands on a planet that has never heard music.
• What should she tell the inhabitants music is?
• What pieces of recorded music would you suggest she play them to give tem an idea of music’s diversity, power and beauty?
• What is the best concert you ever heart or attended?

     Chapter 7: Talking about the Modern World
This section discusses issues around communication, media, science, choices and survival. Insinuation, tone, signals and sayings that people may interpret differently. In the media section, they discuss radio, newspaper, advertising and movies. Survival can be interpreted in many ways; there are several discussion questions listed that be can used in a small group or individually.

     Chapter 8: Talking about the Past, Present & Future
This chapter looks at our Country, History, Civilization, The World, The Future. This chapter is another chance to involve Canadian students from all cultures to share and grow in understanding of each other’s experiences and develop a context to understand each other.

     Talking to teenagers can be a frightening experience for an inexperienced teacher or youth leader. This discussion book of over 40 topics is a tool that anyone working with youth should have in their library. The questions can be used as listed in the book, but there is also room to build on these questions, based on the response from your students. Enjoy getting to know your youth better and allowing them space to build a better relationship with their peers.

     LET'S TALK! is available from my website jjohnnypress.com (along with my six other titles.)

Highly Recommended.

Stephanie Yamniuk, a former English teacher of grades 10 and 12, is the Prairie Regional Director for UNICEF Canada.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.