Yes, but…if they like it, they’ll learn it!
by Susan Church, Jane Baskwill, Margaret Swain
Pembroke Publishers, 2007
$24.95, 120 pp, adult
Today teachers know that good professional practice means that learning should be based upon “authentic” pedagogy, which is well defined in the first chapter of this book. We also know that the present case for accountability often pushes teachers into teaching for test preparation, which can be contradictory to learning through authentic literacy experiences. The authors begin this book dealing with arguments that teachers might use to ignore the need for authentic literary exploration. They provide some good suggestions for dealing with teachers’ concerns such as using tests as texts, and linking recent research results and learning criteria to authentic learning and assessment. However, the bulk of this book consists of chapters that detail examples of excellent projects undertaken by schools. These projects meet the learning expectations and outcomes for Canadian students, and also help students develop deep understanding of concepts and theories through examining specific problems, provide student experience outside of school integrated with school learning, and provide knowledge readily transferred beyond the classroom into students’ lives. Along with a thorough explanation of each project, there are a number of consistent components in each chapter. They include how students’ experiences met the curriculum expectations for Language Arts from a number of provincial ministries, the instructional focus for each project, how the needs of diverse learners were met, the blackline masters used in recording information and planning, assessment practices and how parents and the community were involved.
This book would be especially useful with students from grade three on to high school. The projects outlined here could be easily replicated or serve as excellent models for teachers to plan an engaging, worthwhile unit of study that not only helps students to make academic gains but to appreciate the broader questions and issues of life in their communities. Recommended.
Review by Betty Schultze
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s January 2009 issue.