Thursday, July 29, 2010


By Mike Grandmaison
Published by Key Porter
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Get ready for a long-weekend of barbeques, canoeing, hiking, swimming and campfires with this gorgeous coffee-table book. It is a beautiful and stunning photographic portrait of one of Canada's vacation wonderlands.

For this book, Mike Grandmaison, an award-winning Canadian photographer, has turned his photographic eye to the summer playground of Ontario's cottage haven, Muskoka.

Muskoka means “land of the red earth” and this area of Ontario stretches from the eastern wilderness of Algonquin Park to the western shores of Georgian Bay Islands.

Featured in this text are images of forest's rugged beauty, clear, pristine lakes and settlements of the photographer's favourite cottage destinations. Each photo is crisp, clean, and contains colours and hues of all shades from the natural world, from the orange skies of a late-august sunset to the clean, blue water on a hot summer's day.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education

Paper Mate Biodegradable

The new Paper Mate Biodegradable ball-point pen and mechanical pencil can decompose within about a year in soil or home compost.

The pens and pencils are made from Mirel, a bioplastic derived from corn sugar, an annually renewable agricultural resource. Mirel has the same heat, moisture and sweat resistant properties as plastic.

This pen delivers a smooth ink flow, vivid colour, and has a comfortable grip. The pen and pencil can both be refilled, making them more environmentally friendly. When finished, simply disassemble the pens and pencils as instructed on the package and bury the biodegradable components (the majority of the pen) in soil or home compost.

MAGIX K-12 Academic Suite

Add a little MAGIX to education!

Movie Edit Pro Plus 15 is loaded with powerful editing tools, a intuitive user interface, and advanced MAGIX Pro-Audio dubbing technology, Movie Edit Pro Plus 15 will let you transform all your videos or pictures into movies. With the simple press of a button you can upload your creations to YouTube.

With, Music Maker 15 creating music is made easy. Preloaded with an extensive sound pool including some 1,500 sounds and loops and authentic virtual instruments that sound just like the real thing. Remix your favourite song, or edit an original creation, and then burn and share your projects.

MAGIX Xtreme Photo & Graphic Designer 5 combines professional image editing and intelligent graphic design for photos, bitmaps and vector graphics. It includes one-click photo optimization, sophisticated bitmap editing and intelligent vector graphics.

To purchase MAGIX's K-12 Academic Suite for the academic price, please visit JourneyEd

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 combines power and simplicity so you can easily tell compelling stories with your photos. Create unique, personalized photo books, scrapbook pages, greeting cards, slide shows, and more. Make all your photos look extraordinary with powerful yet easy-to-use editing options.

Snap one photo with flash on and one with flash off and Photomerge Exposure will combine the shots into a single, perfectly lit photo. The Auto-Analyzer automatically tags your media so you can quickly find your most interesting, highest quality photos and video footage. Find your subjects in a flash with People Recognition, which automatically identifies the people in your shots.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is available for Windows and Mac operating systems. 
Remember to take advantage of Adobe's educational pricing.

speckFINDER HD Digital Computer Microscope

The speckFINDER HD is a digital computing microscope that offers high magnification quality. It incorporates the microscope, camera, and computer monitor into one compact piece of equipment. The unit has a Windows XP operating system built-in allowing users to work with and store images.

The speckFINDER HD offers high resolution and a full color display monitor. Its wide viewing angles allow multiple users to view at once. The flat panel is ideal for teaching and can be easily moved when not being used.

Additionally, its ergonomic design helps to reduce the stress placed upon the body as with conventional microscopes.

Epson BrightLink 450Wi

The Epson BrightLink 450Wi is an interactive projector that turns any standard whiteboard or smooth wall into an interactive learning area. This classroom tool is a cost-effective way for educators to integrate interactive capabilities without purchasing dedicated interactive whiteboards.

BrightLink allows networked presentations so educators can include several classrooms in one lesson. It is compatible with virtually any interactive software program.The project also features “USB Plug 'n Play” that projects images from a Windows PC or Mac computer via a USB connection.

Lastly, the BrightLink 450Wi has speaker and microphone input that allows teachers to use a microphone to amplify voice using the internal speaker.

Interwrite Mobi System

The Interwrite Mobi and Interwrite Mobi System is an interactive white board system tablet designed to support student-centered, collaborative learning, designed and produced by eInstruction.

The Interwrite Mobi system has wireless connectivity and works with existing computers and projectors. Each includes one tablet for instructors, two tablets for students, a charging dock and security station, and Interwrite Workspace software. The tablets are light weight in design and ergonomic and up to nine tablets can work together simultaneously. Single InterWrite Mobis can be charged by connecting to a computer using a USB cable.

The tablet features a Kwik Screen, a 2.4” color LCD display, which instantly reports student responses when used with eInstruction's Classroom Performance System.


The SAMCAM 860 is a new document camera with high-end features that is affordable.

Features of the include: optical Image with 1.4 megapixel resolution, larger aperture lens that provides a total of 48x zoom with 6x optical zoom plus 8x digital zoom, video and image recording, SD memory card - up to 32GB, built-in microphone with optional microphone jack, built-in LED lamp, microscope adapter and macro setting, can be used with virtually any whiteboard.

The SAMCAM 860 can be used as a web cam that connects directly to applications such as Windows Moviemaker, and GradeCam. SAMCAM 860 is PC and Mac compatible and comes with a remote control.

Tool Factory: Assessing for Disabilities Bundle

Tool Factory's Assessing for Disabilities Bundle includes a number of programs for students experiencing a variety of disabilities, using researched-based norms.

The bundle includes assessments in reading, math, emotions, and sensory awareness across a full range of ability levels. Educators can assess students' level of Dyscalculia, or Dyslexia

A student's range of emotional awareness can also be determined with Emotional Literacy Screener. Assess whether students understanding their own emotions, and how those emotions affect others.

Sylvan Dell eBooks

It is safe to say that in the future the grand majority of books will be eBooks.  Sylvan Dell is now offering eBook formats of all their hardcover and softcover texts.

Their eBooks are accessed online and feature: auto-flip, auto-read, 3D page flipping, and selectable English and Spanish text and audio. The eBooks can also be viewed using smartboard technology or projectors.

A one-year site license provides unlimited access to all Sylvan Dell eBooks. The license can be used on all school computers and can be shared with parents to access the eBooks at home.


Skoolee is a web-based school management systems for educators. Skoolee's management system allows you to spend less time on administrative tasks.

Some of Skoolee's features include a scheduler where users can view by teaching hours or extra-curricular activities, a lesson-planning feature that allows teachers to build and upload lesson plans for different courses and classes, and much more.

Plus, there is an "agenda" that can be accessed by all students, and in one simply click, assignments can be handed out and viewed by the students.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Field Trips: Dramatic Arts

Somewhere between education and participation, entertainment can often be a forgotten factor in coordinating a classroom field trip. An excursion for your next dramatic arts lesson is the perfect opportunity to present students with an experience that is filled with both learning and excitement. Theatres for young people are promising with its flexible academic applications and reasonable ticket prices.   

Field Trips Opportunities:

Calgary Young People’s Theatre
Calgary, Alberta

Carousel Theatre
Vancouver, British Columbia

Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People                                      
Toronto, Ontario

Manitoba Theatre for Young People
Winnipeg, Manitoba                                                                                                           

Field Trips: Astronomy

Students will experience an “out of this world” adventure while visiting places dedicated to the study of the universe. Look through some of the world’s most powerful telescopes, examine the Solar System, or go beyond our own galaxy on a guided field trip to places like a planetarium or the astronomy department of a science and technology institute.

Field Trips Opportunities:

Montreal Planetarium
Montreal, Quebec

NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Centre of the Universe 
Victoria, British Columbia

Field Trips: Aboriginal Studies

Experience first hand, the many aspects of Aboriginal cultures of Canada on a guided field trip. Learn about Aboriginal language, regalia, food, games, trades, entertainment, and art among an array of other topics. This is an experience that cannot be taught from a textbook so plan your Aboriginal Studies field trip today.

Field trips opportunities

17th Annual Canadian Aboriginal Festival
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON - November 26th-28th, 2010

Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre
Whistler, BC

Field Trips: PhysEd

A day excursion for PhysEd class is great because many of the destinations provide students with educational activities that keep them active and require teamwork while providing them with a hands-on learning experience. Activities include predator prey/survival games, snowshoeing, and orienteering.

Field Trips Opportunities:

Glacier National Park of Canada and Mount Revelstoke
Revelstoke, British Columbia

Humber Arboretum
Toronto, Ontario

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Life and Love of Trees

The Life and Love of Trees
By Lewis Blackwell
Published by Chronicle Books
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Trees are a vital part of life, just like the sun and the air.
Without trees human kind simply would not have survived. But not only are trees completely essential for shelter, construction and nutrients, they have been an inspiration for art and religion throughout history and all over the world.

The Life and Love of Trees is a beautiful and breathtaking collection of photographs that were taken during a journey from the boreal forest at the edge of the Arctic to rainforests.

The text is simple and accessible, yet written eloquently, so it is interesting yet comprehensive.
This photographic series features huge, ancient bristlecones and fresh-leaved tiny seedlings. The trees in this book are beautiful, scary, charming and rare, and your eyes are bound to widen at these gorgeous photographs of much-needed and much-loved plants: trees.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tattoos and Indigenous Peoples

Tattooing: Tattoos and Indigenous Peoples
By Judith Levin
Ages 12+
Published by Rosen Publishing Group
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Tattoos are popular among many different cultures and have many different meanings. Tattoos and Indigenous Peoples looks at the nature of indigenous and tribal peoples and their uses of tattoos. Tattoo traditions of Japan, India, the Arctic, the Americas, Polynesia and Oceania are also examined.

Ancient cultures and tribes have used tattoos to mark milestones in life. Today, tattoo artists pride themselves on being their own tribe of sorts. Modern tattoo artists have the purpose of perpetuating this old and interesting art form.

The Tattooing series studies anthropological significance of tattoos in culture, permanence of tattoo images, and the innovation of tattooing over the years.

The book is easy to understand, very clearly laid-out and includes several colour photographs. It also includes an overview of the anthropologists who studied tattoo meanings and symbols, which can have different meanings in different places of the world.

Tattooing closes with a discussion of how tattoos can now be seen as a revival or a fashion choice among modern people who can choose their style and identity more freely than could early indigenous peoples.

Learn more about this type of artistic expression and its historical roots with this book about tattoos from many cultures around the world.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Taking Gender Differences into Account

A few differences have been noticed between the way boys and girls learn and develop certain skills.  It is important to understand the differences between their learning styles before being able to successfully engage and teach them.

Reading and comprehension is one subject in which girls excel at while boys take a little longer to learn and to grasp new concepts.

Boys, in general, take longer to learn something new, especially reading. This could be partly because boys tend to read less than girls and therefore don't get the same amount of practice.

Reading: Make it a Habit!

Cultivating a student who enjoys reading and writing can be tricky. The key is to find something that they enjoy reading and to make the act of reading more interesting and hands-on.

There are a few group and individual activities you can create to help engage students in a hands-on way.

For example, have students create a fantasy sports league. They can nominate players for a fictional team only after they have read about that athlete and can make a case for why that athlete should be included on the team.

Teaching the Language of Everyday Life

Most ESL students want to learn English for social as well as academic purposes. Starting with the basics is the best way for them to meet their goal. If they start by learning the essentials, the words and phrases that they would use in their community, at school, or while shopping, they will quickly learn the language of everyday life. By using a few simple techniques, you can help students reach their goals.

Keep the lessons simple. English-language learners can be from any age group, any grade, and any place. They're probably living in a new place, making new friends, and trying to make their way around a new society. Small amounts of information will be much easier for them to remember and much easier for them to practice.

First, teach them essential phrases that will actually help them, such as “My name is…” “I don't understand/speak English” and “Where is the bathroom?” At first, they may only understand these phrases as complete units, but soon they will understand the component words and recognize them in other sentences.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Love Struck

Love Struck
By Chantel Simmons
Published by Key Porter Books
Reviewed by Lisa Tran

Poppy Ross leads a seemingly perfect life. She's a successful career woman, working as an image consultant and is married to her devoted husband, Parker.

All of that quickly changes however, when Poppy discovers Parker is having an affair. Before she can confront him, he is conveniently struck by lightning and loses his memory. In an attempt to save her marriage, Poppy remakes herself in the mistress' image.

Poppy's question to become Parker's perfect woman has hilarious and disastrous results. Her misadventures mirror many of the inner struggles shared by women everywhere. Love Struck is a tale of love, loss, friendship, mischief, determining one's self-worth, and many “She did what?!” moments.

You will laugh and you will cry and then laugh some more.

If you enjoy the likes of Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Weiner, you will surely love Chantel Simmons' sophomore title, Love Struck.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Get them Talking: The Value of Oral Language

When students have ample opportunity to speak and communicate in English, they easily develop listening and speaking skills. They are also more able to connect with their peers and develop self-confidence, which is actually a huge part of learning a language.

To help encourage them to speak, create a supportive and accepting environment. When assigning tasks and projects, keep in mind the student's level of proficiency. Assign groups and introduce people with common interests and activities so that they have things to talk about other than school work.

 Also, establish a classroom climate in which a student's errors are accepted as a normal part of the learning process. Make sure all other students in the class are welcoming and positive, offer their help, and communicate carefully with ESL students.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stolen Child

Stolen Child
By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Published by Scholastic Canada
Ages 9-14
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Coming to Canada after spending five years in a Displaced Persons camp in Austria is a huge change for Nadia. She moves into a new house in Brantford, Ontario, which takes some getting used to. But she is now safe in Canada, away from Europe and away from the war.

But soon after she arrives, Nadia starts to have dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks of the war years in Europe. Are they simply nightmares or they memories? This is what Nadia has to find out.

While Nadia adjusts to her present and future life in Canada in a new house, a new school, new customs, new neighbours, and even new parents, she must also deal with her past. She must try and remember what happened to her in the old country before she can feel safe and comfortable in her new one.

For her first summer in Canada, Nadia spends day times with Miss MacIntosh, a neighbour on her new street who teaches her how to speak English.

But when Nadia starts school in the fall, her classmates tease her and are mean and unfriendly. simply because she isn't Canadian in their eyes. They call her the “Hitler girl” because of her blonde hair and blue eyes.

But Canada is Nadia's new home and she will have to let go of her old life and make a new one in Canada.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Seating in the Classroom

Photo Credit: Clipart Pal
There are a few different ways of setting up seating arrangements in your classroom. The physical spacing of a classroom impacts the way students learn, interact and focus.
Different desk arrangements encourage different types of interactions between teachers and students.

Start off the year wit desk arrangements that encourage individual or partner learning to help them gain focus and the ability to work by themselves.
A few weeks later, start placing the desks in small groups of three or four people, with the desks facing each other. Sitting in groups lets students develop working relationships with a few students. But, switch the groups of students every three to five weeks, so that no one gets frustrated.

For presentations or readings, make sure there is a designated seat, podium or space for the presenter. Having a designated space for presenters indicates that the presenter has the right to the class's attention and focus. Also, having a small library and reading area is a great way to encourage and interest students in independent reading.

This information about seating and set-up in the classroom is from a section of Maria Carty's text Surviving and Thriving: Making Classroom Management and Organization Work for You and Your Students, published by Pembroke Publishers.

Encouraging Early Writing

Getting small children and younger students interested in writing can be a little tricky, but, with the right activities, it can be fun.

During arts and crafts time, encourage students to experiment with pencils, pens, crayons and paper because children like to imitate adult work. They can draw flow charts, instructions or stories. Encourage them to fill in whatever words they do know under their images.

During playtime, encourage the kids to play games that involve pretend-writing, like grocery shopping lists, letters to friends and filling in applications.

You can also try having your students dictate a few sentences of a short story while you slowly write the words for them. This way, they can see the movement that your hand makes as you write the words. They can illustrate the story and, again, fill in the words they do know under their images.

Another good method for getting younger students to learn how to write letters and words is to copy out a word, lightly, in pencil. They can then trace the letters you've written and try mimicking the shapes themselves on another line.

Word searches are quiet, individual games that can be played in the classroom and also develop their word skills. They learn to find certain letters and words and can also start to learn how to pick out smaller words within larger ones.

Based on a portion of Ready to Learn by Anne Burke, published by Pembroke Publishers.

Routine in the Classroom

Establishing a regular routine right from the beginning of the school year is very important.
A routine starts the moment students walk into class, from distributing materials and creating discussions to dealing with late students and late work.

Always start the day the same way. Have regular activities that are done in the same order each day.

Walk students through your routine on the first day of class. Show them where to sit, which materials to take out and how to start the day. Most importantly, lead by example. Stick to your schedule firmly so students know that your routine is the way the classroom is run.

Photo Credit: Clipart ETC
Another important step is planning instruction and lessons. To get ideas, talk to other teachers and meet with school staff at the beginning to each school year to review plans.

Lessons should be planned carefully so that every part of your instruction has a purpose. Establishing a regular order of classes and topics helps the students be more prepared. When introducing a new topic, bring up what the students learned the week or day before so that they have something to build off of.

If students have tasks to complete during or after the lesson, post them on the board so everyone can easily keep track of what needs to be done. At the end of a lesson or activity, remember to always leave room for group or individual discussion of lingering questions.

Another great idea is to plan each lesson so there is an opportunity for students to get up and move around, shift their focus or take a brief break every 20 minutes of half-hour. Mini breaks help students stay focused while they're working or taking notes.

This information about establishing routine is from a section of Maria Carty's text Surviving and Thriving: Making Classroom Management and Organization Work for You and Your Students published by Pembroke Publishers.

Power: Ethical Debates about Resources and the Environment

Dilemmas in Modern Science- Power: Ethical Debates About Resources and the Environment
By Kate Ravilious
Ages 12+
Published by Smart Apple Media 
Reviewed by Martha Beach and Lisa Tran

You're probably spending much of your leisure time outdoors this summer. But are you really noticing the environment around you?

Read up about the natural resources we use and the debates surrounding them in this week's Book Bag selection.

Everything in our world is connected and has an effect on the natural world-from the electricity used to power your air conditioner to the gas you use to drive to the cottage.

Dilemmas in Modern Science series is eye-opening understanding of ethical issues surrounding modern science and technology. Power: Ethical Debates about Resources and the Environment focuses on controversial issue surrounding our resources.

Power presents both sides of environmental issues involving natural resources, including environmental ethics, power and energy, renewable resources, transportation, travel, wood, and water use. Each section focuses on a different issue, and, after providing students with facts about the different problems, the students are asked questions that they can debate about and attempt to answer.

The questions will get students thinking, talking and paying attention to important ethical issues about the power they use every day.

So, while you're cooking that burger on your grill, think about where the propane you're using came from and how its journey may have affected the environment around you.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bug Zoo

Bug Zoo
By Nick Baker
Ages: 8+
Published by DK
Reviewed by Martha Beach

The summer is the perfect time to get outside and explore the wildlife. Bug Zoo is perfect for kids who want to get outdoors and learn about the world around them.

This text teaches young readers how to turn backyard bugs into pets. It's a hands-on guide to nature and backyard bugs. Kids can learn to construct an ant farm or spider house, make a bee box, or wormery. This book is the perfect guide to making a zoo of insects, spiders, worms, and other common creepy-crawlies. It describes the bugs in detail and shows the correct ways to capture and care for backyard bugs.

Bug Zoo includes facts about natural history, bug biology information, inexpensive project ideas, over 150 colour photographs, diagrams, and tips on where to find bugs in the local park or in your own backyard.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Monday, July 5, 2010


By Doug TenNapel
Ages 10+
Published by Scholastic Canada
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Ghostopolis is a children's graphic novel that is sure to be a page-turner for any student.
Garth, a normal kid, likes to read and play make-believe with his toys. But Garth, as we find out in the first few pages, is terminally ill.

Garth's life is drastically altered when a washed-out agent from the Supernatural Immigration Task Force accidentally sends him to Ghostopolis - the world of the dead.

This once regular guy suddenly finds himself in a ghost's world where he has powers that even ghosts don't have. While in the world of the dead, Garth can do things that the ghosts can't; he flies, disappears, and walks through walls while the dead are bound by Ghostopolis' rules of gravity and physics. In the world of the dead, Garth can do anything he imagines.

Garth is on the adventure of his life. He has to use his new powers to fight the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, all the while he has to try and get back home.

Ghostopolis is a graphic novel jam packed with adventure, battle, and travel. Plus, during his escapade, Garth learns something very important about his life - his long, long life.

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Grill It!

Grill It
by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Published by DK
Reviewed by Martha Beach

Teachers, get right into summer cooking with this classic grilling book. This text has a wide range of recipe ideas, for many tastes and occasions.

Included in Grill It is a wide array of appetizers, salads, snacks and dressings, as well as serious steak-grilling recipes and a whole section devoted to grilling fish.

Recipes for grilled meats or grilled veggies are both included. For vegetarians, there is a spinach and grilled-peach salad and other grilled-veggie ideas. For meat-lovers, there are grilled lamb chops with roasted red pepper and walnut relish, plus much more.

From sweet to spicy, Grill It includes over 200 recipes for all of the grill-lovers out there. There are over 400 colour photographs to go along with the step-by-step recipes, as well as condiment and side suggestions that are included with each recipe.

So get out there this hot, summer weekend and get that barbecue going!

Remember to check out TEACH Mag for the latest in education.