________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 16 . . . . April 14, 2000

cover Self-Discipline: Using Portfolios to Help Students Develop Self-Awareness, Manage Emotions and Build Relationships.

Rob Kerr.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers Ltd., 1999.
120 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 1-55138-104-4.

Subject Headings:
Self-control in adolescence-Study and teaching (Secondary).
Behaviour modification-Study and teaching (Secondary).

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

Drawing from his experiences as a teacher, special education consultant and workshop presenter, author Rob Kerr has created this insightful book for teachers to help their students develop self-control. A program overview introduces teachers to the book's concepts, explains how to format the sessions (36 in all, each one about 45 minutes long), and the rationale behind the activities. Three main concepts - self-awareness, managing emotions and building relationships-- cover such topics as active listening, dealing with anger, sadness, disappointment and guilt, self-talk and the physiology behind emotional outbursts. Kerr presents the H-B-R model (Happening-Belief-Reaction), in which one's belief about an event is responsible for the type of reaction elicited, and the SAT model (Sensible Acting and Thinking), which helps students to relax and work through problems without over-reacting. Learning how to foster win-win situations and to be accountable for one's own behaviour are also stressed.

The activities range from drawing, role-playing and self-assessment to puzzles, games and group discussion. Reflection journals encourage students to review their actions, seek improvement and plan for their future. Goal-setting and providing "living proof" of one's personal growth are an integral part of this program. Throughout the school year, students are expected to file their work in a portfolio divided into three distinct sections: one section for completed worksheets, another for the reflection journal, and a third for the "living proof" that demonstrates success at applying the concepts in the program. Text/activities are written in teens' language and provide a variety of real-life scenarios common to teens - curfews, dating, and sports, for example. Line drawings enhance the reproducible worksheets. The book includes a bibliography and a list of recommended resources (both fairly lengthy), an index and several FAQs which explain how to gather materials for the portfolios and how to structure the sessions. There are also ideas for conferencing and sharing the portfolios. Teachers are advised to be flexible, both in their approach and in the number of sessions they choose to do (after all, they know their students best) and are encouraged to "go beyond the lessons." Throughout the book, the application of the major concepts to daily life is stressed.

A great addition to a middle or junior high school's professional library.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364