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Robinson, Sam and others.

Scarborough (Ont.), Prentice-Hall,cl986. 336pp, paperbound boards, $17.20, ISBN 0-13-082074-1.CIP

Grades 7-10
Reviewed by Joanne K.A. Peters

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

Bridges 3 is the third volume in a four-part series of language arts texts designed for students in each of the grades from 7 through 10. In the preface to the book, the writers describe the text's purpose:

Bridges 3 is about communication: writing, listening, speaking, and viewing, it also deals with language and the value of language for today's students. Bridges 3 is not a replacement for literature books or a reading series. Rather it is a companion programme designed to extend students' experience with communication.

Bridges 3 is based firmly on a thorough understanding of the writing process; students who have not been exposed to the concept will learn both its theory and practice from this text (even if they have not worked from Bridges 1 or Bridges 2)* and teachers who are not yet teaching the writing process will find that the text gives them very thorough guidance. As is typical of texts using the process approach, student activities, although adaptable to whole-class groupings, are often performed in groups and pairs; thus, students are made to participate much more actively in the development of their skills than has previously been the case. As well, teachers who have had difficulty developing small group activities, or who are uncomfortable with teaching strategies other than that of a whole class grouping, will find that this text offers much in the way of purposeful, clearly-directed student activities.

As pointed out above, the text is not a source-book of literary readings. Analysis of extracts focusses on the rhetoric of a piece of writing, rather than on its literary elements. However, the book's format allows teachers to use individual chapters, or parts of chapters, as sources of activities to be used in conjunction with the teaching of literature. Once the writing process has been taught (or reviewed), the teacher is free to organize the study of the remaining chapters in whatever order best suits his or her program.

Standard assignments, such as the writing of description, narration, and exposition, as well as the teaching of note-making and essay-writing are found in this text, along with a host of unusual and novel activities. One of the more enjoyable is the study of characterization through analysis of comics and cartoons. Some may object to the colour, cut-out, and paste approach, but for some classes it may be just the strategy that will work. The writers of the text are very much aware of the profound influence that visual media (television, the movies, videos) have upon our students, and they use student familiarity with these non-print forms to sharpen analytical skills that can be used in the study of print media. "Visual literacy,'' the teaching of critical viewing skills, is given a particularly thorough treatment in a chapter on "The Video World."

In addition to the fourteen chapters on the skills of communication, there are six resource chapters focussing on usage, grammar, sentence combining, and the skills of listening and viewing. These chapters provide in-depth information on these topics, as well as some supplementary activities and exercises. Nevertheless, those who expect resource chapters to be chock-full of traditional drill exercises will probably be unhappy with this section of the text. A resource chapter on mechanics would have been an asset to this section of the book. The directions for the final revision of any piece of written work remind students that they are to check for errors in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, but the text fails to explain the rationale behind the conventions of punctuation or provide supplementary activities that will enhance student awareness of the role of proper punctuation in written communication.

As befits a text for the video generation, the book is well illustrated, not only with black-and-white photos or two-colour drawings, but also with extracts from familiar comic-strips such as "Peanuts" and "B.C." Colour blocks and coloured type highlight readings and activities, all of which make for an attractive text. Both the table of contents and index are clear and thorough, and careful citation of sources extracted for use in the text allows one to find and look at the entire work, should it pique one's interest.

Bridges 3 is designed for students of average to above-average language skills; those whose skills are far below grade 9 levels might find the work too difficult and the demands for academic responsibility a bit too much. While Bridges 3 would be a good choice for a classroom text to develop the skills of writing, speaking, listening, and viewing, interested teachers should examine the text carefully to determine how they will integrate its use with the literature they teach. Effective use of the text comes only with commitment to the writing process and to the concept of the language arts as an integrated set of communications skills.

Joanne K.A. Peters, Sisler H.S., Winnipeg, Man.

•Reviewed XIII/4 July 1985 p. 173.

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