Resource-Based Units Cooperatively Planned by Teacher-Librarians and Teachers.
Edited by Linda Knight.
THIS TIMELY VOLUME is the latest of several publications from the Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada. With financial hardships hitting schools in Ontario and several other provinces, Ministries of Education are looking for places to cut costs. Hiring library technicians at half the cost of teacher-librarians has certainly been part of their budget discussions.
Those of us who have worked in unit planning with competent teacher-librarians know the value of a teacher-trained professional in our school libraries. Projects like Winners should help convince other teachers, librarians, and tax payers that partnership is an important part of a quality education.
Winners presents some excellent themes, unit materials, and curriculum ideas. Its coil-bound format makes it easy to use. A clearly laid out table of contents provides unit topics, suggested grade levels, and core subject areas. Teacher/librarians from all across Canada are represented in this book
The units are arranged in ascending age/grade order from K-12. Of special note are the unit ideas on "Peace and Freedom," "Conflict," and "Databases." The quality of the units varies from inspired to mundane, but all include a rich array of background print materials.
Several flaws permeate the units, however. Some topics or activities aren't appropriate for the grade level indicated. All depend on the availability of specific texts that may not be readily available to all teachers. Many of the book's teacher/contributors miss opportunities for integration of mathematics or science activities into the theme. Most units contain very brief outlines and almost none of them discuss evaluation strategies or culminating activities. No attempt is made to provide application to other subjects or situations.
But Winners does win by providing interesting, meaningful activities with strong ties to print resources. In the introduction, Liz Austrom, past president of the ATLC, cautions that these units have been designed to meet specific goals for specific groups of students, and that it is unlikely that "any unit could or should be replicated in its entirety."
Teachers and teacher-librarians looking for inspiration are certain to find some excellent ideas in the thirty-seven themes Winners provides. For creative teachers it will be a springboard to adding their own activities and to creating their own themes. For the teacher-librarian who is anxious to move beyond being a "keeper of books" there are outstanding suggestions. And for the beginning teacher, Winners will be a source of curriculum ideas and confidence builders.
This book should be a part of the professional library of every school, and as assigned reading in pre-service and in-service teacher education courses.
Gail Lennon is a secondary resource teacher with the Bruce County Board of Education. In her thirty years of teaching in both rural and urban settings, she has taught every grade from JK to Adult Education in elementary, secondary and university academic locations. She has specialist qualifications in Library, ESL, Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior, and Special Education. Ms. Lennon is a keynote speaker, author, and workshop leader who has reviewed for CM for the past seven years.
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