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43 December 2017 | Professionally Speaking For additional reviews of French-language resources, visit pourparlerprofession.oeeo.ca. With the exception of some classroom sets, items reviewed are available on loan from the Margaret Wilson Library at the College. Contact Olivia Hamilton at 416-961-8800 (toll-free in Ontario 1-888-534-2222), ext. 679 or email library@oct.ca. reviews Your guide to recently released books and other teaching resources. Super Hammy WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY OKSANNA CRAWLEY It's little wonder that Oksanna Crawley has such an intimate under- standing of the early reading process. A retired kindergarten teacher who worked extensively with children in Reading Recovery, Crawley's skills as a former radio journalist and her passion for making reading an enjoyable task for young children are evident in the delightful series featuring Super Hammy and his superpowers. Super Hammy is an attractive package for beginning readers containing 15 small books and an accompanying CD. The star of all the books is an adorable hamster who possesses superpowers. Each book has a single sentence on the left and an illustration of that sentence on the right. Repetition reinforces word recog- nition and builds up reading vocabulary and confidence. Throughout the 15 books and three reading levels, other characters like Snowman, Cheese and Little Mouse make ap- pearances. The series promises to make reading fun and simple. It would make an excellent addition to classroom libraries and could be used individually or as a set. Preschoolers would also enjoy these books in their personal libraries where they would be a good addition to shared reading materials. Gail Lennon is a writer and reviewer with more than 35 years of teaching experience at all levels who lives in West Perth, Ont. Starting Strong BY KATRIN BLAMEY AND KATHERINE BEAUCHAT It's a simple and powerful truth that early, effective literacy skills are central to student success. The link between low literacy, disengage- ment and dropping out of high school are irrefutable. Poor literacy closes doors to future employment and a life rich with possibility. With that in mind, Blamey and Beauchat, both seasoned primary school teachers, bring their years of experience to their current gigs educating university students in early elementary teaching pro- grams. While recognizing the current pressures facing literacy teach- ers, particularly those teaching our youngest students, they bring together the most successful strategies for fostering engagement. They start by considering four proven instructional approaches to literacy: standards-based, evidence-based, assessment-based and student-based. After clearly explaining each of these instructional practices, they show how they can help improve teaching in all areas of early literacy. While innumerable online teacher resources offer accessible and fun ideas for literacy lesson planning, Blamey and Beauchat caution teachers to ensure that what they bring in to their classrooms is always rooted in solid educational practices. The book is structured according to early literacy skills: oral language, vocabulary, phonological awareness, word recognition, comprehension and writing skills. In each of the chapters, a frame- work is laid out for the way each instructional method can effectively be used to teach those skills. The authors suggest blending and juggling instructional ideas based on the individual circumstances in the classroom dynamic and using the approach that best fits at a given time. Starting Strong is framed for an American audience, so Ontario teachers would have to adapt the choices to include resources from the Ontario curriculum and for Canadian content. Nadira Baksh, OCT, teaches history at the Adult Education Centre in the Peel District School Board and recently completed a combined Honours Specialist in English and history. Super Hammy: My First Reading Series, DC Canada Education Publishing, Ottawa, 2017, one CD and 15 softcover books, ISBN 978-1-77205-206-0, $89.95, individual books can be purchased for $5.95 each, dc-canada.ca Starting Strong: Evidence-Based Early Literacy Practices, Stenhouse Publishers, Portland, ME, 2016, softcover, ISBN 978-1-57110-930-9, 240 pages, US$25, stenhouse.com

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