These reviews have been accessed times since March 1, 2006
Brief reviews for March 2006
Adams, Dennis & Hamm, Mary (2005).
Redefining Education in the Twenty-first Century: Shaping Collaborative
Learning in the Age of Information.
Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
In Redefining Education in the Twenty-first Century: Shaping
Collaborative Learning in the Age of Information, Dennis Adams and Mary
Hamm explore the varying pedagogical implications of integrating technology
into 21st century schools. They focus on the necessity to step away from
traditional teacher-directed classroom contexts to a vision of learning that
encourages collaboration and cooperation. Of particular interest is that Adams
and Hamm include classroom activities that promote interdisciplinary learning
technology is presented as a tool to support and extend teachers
efforts to develop students’ language and literacy skills. This is an
invaluable text for teachers and researchers dedicated to preparing students
for 21st century success.
This text is divided into ten chapters. It begins with a chapter dealing
primarily with the necessity to reshape educational institutions so that
schools "will no longer be permitted to live in the past" (p. 3). Recognizing
the proliferation of technology in schools, the authors position professional
development opportunities as critical to developing teachers’ techno-knowledge.
From the perspective of a secondary educator, it is refreshing that Adams and
Hamm hold parents, the media and all of society accountable for educating
students about the possibilities and limitations of technology. There is an
underlying premise throughout the text that technology has infiltrated all of
society; this requires that students and teachers acquire new skills to
evaluate, analyse and effectively utilize emergent technologies. Addressing
many teachers concerns that technology will eventually replace traditional
values and interactions, the authors refer to recent research initiatives
asserting that "face-to-face interactions" remain critical to the development
of students’ traditional and emergent literacy skills.
Next the authors delineate "shifts and trends of thinking and learning" that
have significantly impacted educational practice (p. 15). Adams and Hamm
journey through behaviourism and cognitive science to the current prominence of
constructivism. Drawing from Gardner’s (1987) research on multiple
intelligences they emphasize that 21st century learning is no longer about
acquiring "bits and pieces of knowledge" (p. 15). Instead learning is a natural
effect of students utilizing their "own gifts (for) reasoning, collaboration
and communication" (p. 13). Throughout this chapter and the rest of the text
collaborative learning is positioned as integral to improved pedagogy and
effective technology integration. Approaches to assessment are introduced as a
potentially collaborative process between teachers and their students.
Threading together theoretical research with practical classroom practice
renders this text valuable to both researchers and practitioners.
A particular strength of the text is how Adams and Hamm (2005) position
technology as a tool that increases student autonomy while providing
opportunities for multiple ‘modes’ of communication and expression. Technology
becomes an extension to literacy practices already in place in the classroom.
The authors acknowledge that current understandings of literacy are shifting
because of the emergence of computers, digital devices, the Internet and the
World Wide Web. These devices encourage students and teachers to "create beyond
what (the human mind) intends or what it can foresee" (p. 71). The focus
becomes how teachers can contribute to preparing students for the transient
world in which they live: "teachers can be sure that when they educate students
for a changing world they can help them become one of the individuals who can
change it" (p. 72).
The final four chapters provide exceptional illustrations of how Language
Arts, Mathematics, Science and the Arts can be supported through collaborative
learning environments, technological innovation and active inquiry. The authors
use examples from within each discipline, leaving the reader with specific
strategies and lessons that can be implemented by practitioners. These chapters
are unique in encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and
learning; exploring ways to integrate technology. The reader is left with a
heightened understanding of how each discipline contributes to developing in
students cross-disciplinary literacy practices that extend beyond individual
disciplines or even the school. Learning becomes about connecting to students
lives and real world events in order to bring relevance and authenticity to
varying learning tasks. The authors introduce each discipline as providing new
modes for learning, communicating and representing. The authors clearly
illustrate how the combined effect of cross-disciplinary learning will better
prepare students for the changing world of 21st century society.
Although written in a style that is accessible to teachers, I was
disconcerted by a statement made early on in the text: "there is general
agreement that we need better teachers to help students learn how to navigate
today’s unsettling reality" (p. v). This statement contradicts the many pages
emphasizing the necessity that teachers be supported in their efforts to
acquire new skills and strategies for teaching. My contention with this
statement is that teachers are just as "good" as always; what is required,
however, is systematic support so that teachers are granted an opportunity to
reshape their classroom praxis to better equip students for 21st century
society. Some teachers may be dissuaded from reading this text because this
distinction is not made clear within the first few pages of the preface.
Teachers are currently faced with the growing reality that "cultural, social
and educational trends are challenging old assumptions about teaching and
learning" (p. v); this calls for additional support and guidance not judgement
and blame only then will educators and researchers be able to work
collaboratively towards effectively “redefining education” for 21st century
Price: $52.96 (cloth); $32.95 (paper)
ISBN: 0-398-07587-5 (cloth); 0-398-07588-3 (paper)
Reviewed by Vetta Vratulis, a doctoral student in Language and Literacy
Education at the University of British Columbia
Amundson, Norman E.; Harris-Bowlsbey, JoAnn & Niles, Spencer G. (2005).
Essential Elements of Career Counseling: Processes and Techniques.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
This book was created to provide the reader with an easy to understand text
covering the basic career counseling processes most often utilized by
practitioners in a variety of fields. The authors use their wealth of
experience as practitioners and educators in the field to explain and explore a
variety of successful techniques as well as to discuss emerging trends in
career counseling. The authors incorporate a series of case studies to engage
and exemplify how each technique or process can be applied in a given
situation. The use of case studies is a valuable tool to understanding for the
beginning career counselor. Throughout the book, the emphasis on the complex
interaction between careers and the life context is highlighted as is the fact
that the world of work is changing at a rapid pace. The inclusion of the
influence of technology on the field of career counseling is treated with
detail while reminding the reader that the human factor in counseling is still
of paramount importance. Emphasis is also put upon the necessity for career
counselors to recognize and advance their training and skills to address career
guidance in a global world arena.
The authors provide two useful appendices at the end of the text: the
National Career Development Associations (NCDA) career counseling competencies
and performance indicators and the NCDA ethical standards (2003 revision). The
textbook publisher, Prentice Hall, offers a companion website to provide a
virtual learning environment for professors and students alike. The Syllabus
Manager ™ is included for the ease of creating and updating course syllabi for
professors. This component is a time-saving device which also precludes the
need for a professor to learn HTML. The student web support component is
composed of a section on current counseling topics, an annotated bibliography,
web destinations, professional development links, an electronic “bluebook” to
enable completion and electronic submission of written assignments directly to
the professor, a virtual message board and a chat room. The easy to navigate
electronic companion can be accessed through http://www.prenhall.com/amundson.
The book begins by describing the evolution of career counseling as related
to the changing needs of our society. As our country has changed from an
agrarian society to one based on information and technology, the types of
careers have by default been altered. Career changes occur more frequently as
a result of economic hardship, personal and/or corporate relocations and
mergers; career ladders are becoming “flattened” with less opportunity for
advancement and businesses are beginning to be more dependent on their bottom
line and less dependent on employee longevity. The concept of a lifelong
career is no longer a reality for most people. Career counseling, thus becomes
a necessity for many workers who may be unfamiliar with the goals of the
counseling process. The authors define career counseling as a process in which
a counselor works collaboratively to help clients/students clarify, specify,
implement, and adjust to work-related decisions. Career counseling addresses
the complex and intricate interaction of work with other life roles.
The book offers a brief overview of the three main career counseling
theories often utilized by practitioners. The treatment of career development
within personal context is also addressed. The book presents the theories of
John Holland, Donald Super and John Krumboltz in concise summaries which are
then explored and applied to the same case study-a fictitious student Sue. The
authors also summarize, explore and apply the more recent “constructivist
theory.” Each of the career counseling theories is presented logically and
includes a brief list of counseling goals appropriate for the tenets of that
theoretical perspective. This is by no means a comprehensive treatment of
counseling theories and serves only to highlight those theories which are most
often used in career counseling. If one were to enter the field of career
counseling, one would need additional sources of information to understand the
breadth and depth of these and other career counseling theories. The companion
website offers electronic links to many theories but is only useful if accessed
by the practitioner.
The book then proceeds, over several chapters, to address the concept that
career development takes place within the context of the person and the
environment. The emphasis upon positive client-counselor interactions is
described and explored as well. These principles are components of most
successful counseling relationships and are simply applied to career counseling
in this text. The internal characteristics of an individual, such as
intelligence, interests, aptitudes, values and needs are often determined
through the use of formal assessment tools such as interest and vocational
inventories. The external variables include school, family, community, the
economy, society and the labor market. The interaction of external and
internal variables is a complex matrix which must be explored in order to
achieve a positive outcome for the client. In some cases, clients may not
understand that it is a necessity to view the world of work within the context
of life. It is one goal of counseling to help the client recognize and address
these interactions. In the systemic belief that a change in one area of life
can affect benefits in other areas, the work of contextualizing the multiple
factors is of paramount importance to success.
There are several employability domains defined by the Human Resources
Development Canada (pp 48-49) as typical areas in which career questions fall.
These areas are: career exploration and decision making; occupational or
generic skill development; job search techniques; job maintenance skills. The
authors emphasize that in many cases, personal concerns such as alcohol or drug
abuse and child care issues are intertwined with career concerns and thus
career counselors must be connected to the additional services of the community
in which they work in order to provide appropriate referrals and support for
their clients. The authors suggest and demonstrate through case studies the use
of a variety of techniques as options for exploration of career/life
interactions. The reality of career counseling and its interaction with life
circumstances is that it is not a linear process and at times, a change in
direction may be needed in order to affect real change.
The book briefly covers formal structured assessments. It lists several
common career assessment instruments (e.g.: Self-Directed Search, Holland,
1994; Strong Interest Inventory, Campbell, Strong & Hansen, 1991; Kuder Career
Search with Person Match, Zytowski &Kuder 1999; Myers Briggs Type Indicator,
Consulting Psychologists Press, 1993) and includes the basic information that
each type of assessment can yield in terms of self-knowledge. Caution is
advised in that some clients expect too much from formal assessments and also
that formal assessments can be biased and or limited in terms of culture,
language and diversity.
The world wide web has had a great impact on the field of career counseling.
The authors address the some of the more common uses of technology in career
counseling and also provide a model of how to create a successful virtual
career center. The authors group electronic resources into three categories:
comprehensive systems; partial systems; and websites. The decision of whether
or not to include technology-based interventions is one that is based on the
needs of the clients, their learning styles and their familiarity with
technology in general. The needs of some clients such as data-gathering and
formal assessments can be met though web-based sites and systems but the
selection and proper use of sites and systems should be done under the guidance
of a trained counselor. The counselor should be familiar with the systems,
their strengths and weaknesses and their appropriateness for a presenting
issue. Several professional groups in including the National Career
Development Association (NCDA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA)
have created specific guidelines dealing with the ethical use and application
of electronic based interventions with clients.
This text provides a concise overview of career counseling and illustrates
several commonly utilized processes and techniques. It could easily serve as a
manual for the beginning career counselor. The underlying premise of this text
is that career counseling is a subset of counseling. The authors utilize many
case studies as examples of how to apply a specific theory or technique to a
potential client but maintain a Rogerian client-centered approach throughout
the book. The basic reality of career counseling is that a career counselor
must be a counselor first and foremost and work in the area of helping to
define and guide a client through the process of making sense out of career
choice and/or change. As the job market and global economy continues to
evolve, more people will be faced with the task of finding a second or third
career and may not have the skills or knowledge to make such changes. In this
new world of work, a skilled, insightful and creative career counselor can make
the process of career transition one of empowerment and growth for the client.
Reviewed by Brenda Gerhardt, The Ohio State University
Carden, Kathleen A. & Godley-Sugrue, Mary (2005).
Grade 3 Writing Curriculum: Week-by-Week Lessons.
New York: Scholastic.
Authors Carden and Godley-Sugrue provide a standards-based curriculum
consisting of daily journal prompts, weekly writing lessons, and reproducible
planning pages to assist third grade teachers in guiding students through the
writing process. This book is the third in a three book series, which includes
similar resources for grades one and two. Specifically, the third grade writing
curriculum presented is intended to “scaffold students as they build up to
writing multi-paragraph essays and hone their writing skills, leaving them well
prepared for the state assessments” (p.7). In a statistics-rich introduction
the authors address the reality that low test scores and poor performance are a
common result in many states and that these results have a negative impact on
the nation. In light of these findings, the authors present the need for a
“comprehensive writing curriculum” (p.5) that includes direct instruction and
guided practice wherein skills are taught sequentially and reinforced as
needed. The authors successfully meet this need with this book.
As a former third grade teacher I appreciated the extensive first chapter
titled, “Teaching Third Grade Writers”, wherein the authors acknowledge the
specific needs and challenges of teaching writing in third grade. The authors
recognize that teachers will have a variety of writing levels within their
classroom. Also, they address the challenges third grade writers’ face such as
paragraphing, spelling, and length. A thoughtful bonus within the discussions
of these challenges is the useful advice and recommended strategies included to
help teachers in the classroom. Provided at the end of the chapter is an
overview of the curriculum, including a helpful, easy-to-read table that
outlines the entire curriculum by assignment, writing genre, skill(s), and
The remaining ten chapters of the book contain the week-by-week writing
lessons. The chapters are divided and titled according to the months of the
academic calendar, which allows for quick reference. Each chapter/month
includes a list of suggested daily journal prompts to be used throughout the
month. Each prompt includes corresponding sentence starters that provide a
supportive framework for the students. The bulk of each chapter consists of
three to four weeks of lesson plans. Each week a new high interest writing
topic such as, “A Good Memory” and “How I Clean My Room” is introduced. The
writing topics cover a wide range of genres including narrative, expository,
and persuasive, as well as letter writing, short stories, speeches, and poetry.
Each topic is presented in an organized format listing the genre, skill,
standard, assignment, focus, model, and a conferring tip. The step-by-step
instructions that guide the teacher through the lesson are easy to follow,
while the reproducible planning pages provide an appropriate scaffold to
support student learning. An added bonus is the appendix which includes
informative and evaluative reproducibles as well as various writing templates.
Overall, although each lesson is heavily guided and supported by the teacher,
the instruction and reproducibles invite student voice and individual ideas,
which are commonly diminished in many writing programs.
Within the many highlights, I have only one minor critique of the book. I
am concerned with the promotion of “boost[ing] test scores” as one rationale
for teaching students to compose a multi-paragraph essay. Although the authors
effectively promote building a solid foundation to encourage competent writers,
another motivation presented is that this foundation is also needed to raise
test scores. While testing is a realistic pressure and concern in the
classroom, it is my hope that the authors’ primary intent outshines the
secondary for the users of this valuable resource. The quest to encourage third
graders to write multi-paragraph essays, specifically the five paragraph essay
referred to in the book, is a grand undertaking. Thus, when the purpose for
writing becomes motivated by testing the process can easily become one
which is driven by formula rather than creative ideas. However, I believe this
is not the intended use for this book. Instead, the authors present a
curriculum that provides direct instruction and support with many opportunities
for the students’ individual ideas to be included.
Grade 3 Writing Curriculum is a useful resource that targets a
diversified audience of teachers and students. The 25 years of collective
experience between the two authors shines through in the book’s practical,
teacher-friendly methodology. With this book, new teachers can easily implement
an effective writing program while veteran teachers can use the variety of
strategies and reproducibles to enhance an existing curriculum. Overall, the
authors have successfully achieved their goal to create a comprehensive writing
curriculum that provides a solid foundation to support and encourage proficient
writers in grade three.
Price: $19.99 U.S. / $26.99 CAN
Reviewed by: Danna Parsons, University of Houston
Culham, Ruth (2005).
6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for Primary Grades.
New York: Scholastic.
I was first exposed to 6 Trait Writing during my first year of teaching. I
was teaching Kindergarten and I remember being frustrated that 6 Trait Writing
was geared for children in grade 3 and up. So I took it upon myself to design
my own version of 6 Traits for my Kindergarteners. I believed, and still do,
that young children can benefit from explicit teaching of good writing. Ruth
Culham has designed a book to alleviate the frustrations of any primary teacher
who has wanted to teach 6 Traits but simply didn’t have the tools to do so.
No Child Left Behind (2002) has ensured that testing is here to stay, and
state governments are required to test children in grades 3-8 in both reading
and math. Many of the reading components also have a writing component. Culham
states that one of her personal philosophies is that schools should speak a
common language when it comes to writing. It’s just flat-out confusing to
students at any age when we use new terminology to describe something they have
already learned (p. 16).
6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for the Primary Grades is
the perfect companion to her prior book titled 6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The
Complete Guide (Grades 3 and Up). This new book will give schools the
common language they need to help children learn to write and write well. It
will support teachers in the primary grades in developing excellent writers who
will be tested on their writing abilities once they enter the intermediate
grades of elementary school.
Culham’s book is an excellent resource for primary teachers who want their
children to become excellent writers. She begins her book by establishing a
rationale for a strong foundation for good writing to begin early. She goes on
to explain how the Traits can be interwoven with the writing process, which is
so critical for young writers. Chapters 3-9 are the meat of the book, where she
outlines a definition of the Trait, validates the challenges in teaching that
particular trait, presents a step by step guide for assessing the trait,
provides a scoring rubric for the trait, and gives numerous examples of student
work that correspond with each level on the scoring rubric. Culham also
suggests ideas for teaching the Trait as well as a list of picture books that
correspond to each Trait. Finally, she ends each chapter with a student-
friendly scoring guide that will empower students to take charge of their own
Culham has written a teacher-friendly book that is a powerful tool for
primary teachers to help them get started teaching 6 Trait Writing to their own
students. As a former Kindergarten teacher, I highly recommend this book to
every primary teacher who believes that young children can and should be
writing high quality pieces of work. As a future elementary school
administrator, I highly recommend this book to every elementary school
administrator as a great resource to provide your primary teachers. It will
help them get started teaching young children the power of high-quality
Price: $26.99 US; $36.99 CAN
Reviewed by Brian Herndon, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri,
Columbia in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Brian is also a former
Kindergarten and Third Grade teacher. He received his Ed.S. in Educational
Administration from the University of Missouri, Columbia, his M.A. in
Elementary Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his B.A. in
Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
Daley, Allyson (2005).
Partner Reading: A way to Help All Readers Grow. Grades 1-3.
New York: Scholastic.
“Partner reading,” or “buddy reading”’ as it is sometimes referred to, is a
powerful resource in busy classrooms. However, it is often misused. Partner
reading is often implemented without attention to the conditions necessary to
ensure it is a learning context, and not just a strategy to keep students
This text provides sound guidelines to ensure it is used appropriately and
can support literacy learning. The author stresses the importance of preparing
students to work together effectively, knowing how to select books, strategies
to deepen understanding through collaborative talk and of teachers’ monitoring
and assessment of students’ learning. I particularly like the emphasis on
encouraging students to engage in extended conversations about the books they
have read. The question prompts, modeled by the teacher, can lead readers into
deeper responses to the texts, both as questioner and responder. The chapter on
using reading partnerships in Reading Centers, although somewhat repetitive,
provides some good suggestions and illustrations of partnerships in action.
The text is set out clearly, with useful side bars summarizing key points
and examples of student to student or student and teacher interactions.
However, the dialogue sections could have been substantially reduced without
detracting from the ideas they were illustrating. There is a risk that they can
be seen as models of interactions, and as such could be used prescriptively.
Although the book presents sound pedagogical strategies, as a text to
enhance teacher understanding of the power of collaborative learning and the
potential of peer teaching, it lacks inclusion of a theoretical and research
base to ensure teacher practice is well informed. There is a substantial body
of literature that could have been referenced amongst the professionals texts
cited at the end of the book.
For primary grade teachers this book is a useful starting point when
thinking about setting up partner reading or peer tutoring programmes in their
classrooms. However, I would challenge teachers to consider, also, the
rationale for the strategies suggested, and not to use the text as a manual.
The children’s texts recommended, and cited at the end, will be helpful for
many teachers. These too, should not be used prescriptively but as a launch for
a rich and relevant classroom library.
The book is generally well presented but there is an unfortunate production
error affecting a number of pages. I hope it is only in my copy.
Reviewed by Libby Limbrick, PhD, Head of School of Language, Literacy and
Communication, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland.
Diffily, Deborah & Sassman Charlotte (2005).
Managing Independent Reading: Effective Classroom Routines: Lessons,
Strategies, and Literacy-Building Activities That Teach Children the Routines
and Behaviors They Need to Become Better Readers. Grades K-2.
New York: Scholastic.
Deborah Diffily, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of
Early Childhood Education at Southern University, Dallas, Texas. She is a
former primary school teacher possessing extensive teaching and emergent
Charlotte Sassman, M.Ed., has over 30 years of primary teaching experience.
She serves as a mentor to preservice teachers as well as speaks and writes
about project-based learning and teaching writing. She has been honored with
the Scholastic Early Childhood Professional Award.
Intended as a teacher-friendly practical guide for promoting independent
reading in emergent literacy, this text lives up to its billing. For either
first time teachers or veterans looking for a refresher, this book provides
practical activities resources for boosting emergent readers at the primary
A variety of noteworthy features are embedded in the text. Among them are
easily identifiable “teacher tips” providing hints for useful strategies and
suggestions to promote literacy application. Quotables from distinguished
authors like Fountas and Pinnell and Burns, Griffins, and Snow are dispersed
throughout the book highlighting significant research-based findings on
literacy. Along with clear, standards-based lesson plans complete with
checklists, the authors provide reproducibles supporting the activities.
Home/school partnerships and literacy awareness are encouraged through sample
parent letters providing parental opportunities to participate in their child’s
This book, with its teacher orientation, creates a helpful reference text
for fresh and research-based activities promoting literacy in fun and
interesting ways. The text’s goal, to encourage young, emergent readers to
take ownership of their learning through the development of independence, is
adhered to faithfully by the authors.
Price: $17.99 U.S./$24.99 CAN.
Reviewed by Tucker Blythe, Texas State instructor in curriculum and
instruction; Elementary principal
Kennedy, Mary (2005).
Inside Teaching: How Classroom Life Undermines Reform.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Ask yourself why you don’t take advice from strangers about the way you do
your job. That in essence is what Professor Mary Kennedy did when electing to
tackle the difficult task of trying to understand why teachers are reluctant to
incorporate reform. The title is somewhat misleading: Kenney uses the term
undermine in it. I did not find anything in the book that meets the classic
definition of that term. Indeed, Kennedy provides a more objective title on
page 269, where she writes “The Mysterious Gap Between Reform Ideas and
Everyday Teaching.” That is what this book is about. The fact is that Kennedy
puts together enough evidence to bring an interesting read to the public about
what happens in a select group of classrooms when reality meets research
a worthy deed.
Interestingly, as a classroom teacher I found this book really wasn’t as
valuable for experienced teachers as it would be for those who are doing
educational research. As such it would be a good book to recommend to graduate
students working on education related topics. It is easy to read, has a great
many insights that need to be learned by those who have decided to enter the
research field, and its only major weakness is in its geographically limited
scope. That is explained by the author’s decision to search for reform oriented
districts. It certainly would be of value to do a follow up study in a
different demographical area where reform was also underway. This is especially
important considering that Professor Kennedy is addressing a national concern.
Kennedy’s energy in exploring why teaching and reform remain mutually
exclusive terms in some areas was done by deconstructing what these public
servants do on a daily basis and applying her analysis to that data. Since
Kennedy has never been a classroom teacher there is a tendency for those of us
who are practitioners to look at her findings with some dismay. She relies
heavily on teacher responses to small episodes to draw larger conclusions.
Nevertheless, by assessing her findings a good teacher preparation program
would have a ready-made source of realistic “case” studies that could open a
few minds in new teacher education courses.
Kennedy found in both personal and videotaped teacher observations that
there are four areas that appear to be the nemesis of reform. They include the
fact that teachers need more professional development to increase their
knowledge and strategies. Secondly, every teacher has a disposition towards
change based on previous experiences, common sense, and/or stubbornness. Next,
teachers don’t all see reforms as good and, indeed, reform proposals may make
them uncomfortable. Finally, and perhaps most insightful, Kennedy has found
that the nature of the workload in terms of what has to be covered, the amount
of time allocated, and the conditions, make change less likely to occur.
What is seriously missing is an analysis of what the students are learning
regardless of what Kennedy observes. There are no pre or post tests and no
elaborate student interviews and thus the findings are deeply colored by the
perceptions and background of the researcher.
Helping find a pattern for her hypothesis, Kennedy observed nearly 500
teacher episodes involving 45 teachers in 16 Vermont schools. They were
selected because that state was involved in implementing a reform initiative. I
find the average class sizes remarkably small; have no idea of the demographics
of the schools, and the teacher’s depth of knowledge and accreditation. This
may not make any difference, as the generalities she cites are very universal.
For example, getting through the curriculum is one of the most vital teacher
goals and one that stymies reform research. In other words the teacher sees the
curriculum as an end in itself (product) and not a means to an end (process).
What teacher can afford to fail to cover the state mandated curriculum to
prepare for standardized tests and federal assessments not to mention opening
up the district to a lawsuit by an unsatisfied parent.
The strength of this book is that it attempts to show what is happening in
the classroom in terms of the application of published research. It is
interesting to note that after reading Inside Teaching it appears that
those who would benefit the most from this book would be the researchers. In
that way maybe Kennedy’s questioning of why 30 years of reform have produced so
little change might be answered by the fact that the researchers may need to
spend more time understanding the process of teaching. Indeed it would be very
interesting to see how many university educators actually use published
research to improve their teaching. (A letter to the author about the title was
Read an excerpt
Kenney, Daniel R.; Dumont, Ricardo & Kenney, Ginger S. (2005).
Mission and Place: Strengthening Learning and Community Through Campus
Westport, CT: Praeger
For many, issues of campus planning and design are best left to architects,
planners, or those promoting major naming opportunities. The authors of
Mission and Place: Strengthening Learning and Community Through Campus
Design argue that the work of planning, building, and maintaining our
campuses is integrally linked to the academic life of the campus. Their work
covers a range of issues associated with planning and implementing the physical
design of an effective educational community. However, the most significant
contributions of this volume may be the questions raised about the impact of
the automobile on the life of the campus and how campuses might be designed in
more effective ways.
The authors bring a wealth of campus planning experience to their work.
Daniel Kenney and Ricardo Dumont are partners in the design firm of Sasaki
Associates. Ginger Kenney served on the boards of St. John’s College in
Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and brings the perspective of
experience in systems and organizational consulting.
The authors argue that physical design and development are matters of
concern to everyone in the institution. Developing and implementing an
effective campus plan requires involvement of stakeholders throughout a campus.
While faculty members, department chairs, deans, and other campus leaders
understand the importance of individual facilities; they sometimes fail to
appreciate the connection of each facility to a comprehensive plan that
reflects the larger institutional mission.
Although Mission and Place addresses a range of issues, it is most
thought provoking and significant when it focuses on three areas related to the
symbolic importance of spaces, the practical implications of their
organization, and the impact of decisions about the organization of campuses,
particularly related to the automobile.
Considerable attention is paid to issues of planning, architecture and
design. These express the dreams and ambitions of the campus, but they must
also reflect the practical needs of the college community. The authors explore
expression of institutional identity through campus design and appearance.
They acknowledge that a coherent master plan can conflict with needs for
discrete facilities that can also incrementally diminish a sense of harmony.
Not viewing each project from the perspective of an overall plan can produce a
seemingly unconnected collection of buildings. Counteracting this tendency
toward disorder, Mission and Place argues forcefully for the use of the
campus master plan to reinforce institutional goals. The authors warn of
making facility decisions without weighing them against the institutional
mission. The master plan should contribute to an overall sense of the whole
campus and balance demands to maintain institutional identity against forces
for newness and change.
The authors recognize the symbolic and practical importance of a coherent
campus master plan. They advocate a practice of “placemaking” which sets the
tone of everyday experiences on campus. This includes a unifying plan, an
emphasis on density, landscaping, architecture, mixing of building uses, and
ongoing stewardship (maintenance) of the campus. This process recognizes the
importance of creating meaningful places and symbols of institutional identity
while making spaces that encourage unity and community vitality.
A central theme is increasing the density and concentration of campus
buildings. Increasing density is a strategy to increase social interaction.
The trend toward suburbanization of campuses is viewed as a significant threat
to campus community. The authors criticize what they dub the “shopping mall
syndrome” (p. 107) in which the campus experiences uneven density from centers
of very dense activity that are surrounded by a sea of inhospitable parking
lots. Instead, they make the case for density; incorporating mixed uses and
proximity to the campus core. This approach offers enhanced ability to get to
class on time with back-to-back classes, increased sense of community, freedom
from cars, and more efficient land use.
The authors are critical of segregating campus functions. They observe that
segregating offices and support services from academic spaces removes those
functions from the students they serve. Instead, they offer examples of mixed-
use patterns that activate space more of the time. They also critique
isolating residence halls from academic areas and the rest of campus as
limiting the development of living and learning communities. The authors are
equally critical of one-stop student services facilities that isolate functions
and “… ironically, contribute to lack of community on the campus as a whole”
(p. 128). They acknowledge a variety of factors working against mixed use
including academic space competition and issues of “ownership” of facilities.
One of the most thought provoking aspects of Mission and Place is the
chapter dedicated to “Taming the Automobile”. The negative impacts of catering
to cars cited include environmental, traffic, loss of land to other uses from
parking, and patterns of campus suburbanization that lead to loss of
interaction. The authors highlight the significant costs that institutions
incur from direct or indirect subsidies of parking facilities. They assert
that catering to the automobile is “possibly the single largest contributor to
overall deterioration of the campus environment and loss of community and
collegiality” (p. 169). Although there is constant pressure to increase
parking and automotive access to the campus, the authors conclude that, after
weighing alternatives, institutions can most often “better serve their missions
by not adding more parking on campus” (p. 169).
The authors assert that most campuses err in heavily subsidizing their
parking programs (which in turn further encourages auto use). Instead of
adding conventional parking the authors suggest strategies to manage
transportation demands including walking, transit, on-campus housing, bicycles,
and car and vanpools. Following their discussion of the automobile, the
authors encourage campuses to consider the benefits associated with
incorporating issues of sustainability in decisions about building projects.
They offer a survey of sustainable practices and tools incorporating
sustainability into projects. This discussion returns to the importance of
having and using a master plan that considers the contribution of each building
to campus life.
Mission and Place covers an impressive range of topics associated
with planning, building and maintaining a modern campus and, over all, does so
with considerable success. Among it shortcomings, Mission and Place
suffers at times from too little detail in some areas and repetition in others.
Its format attempts to address a template of issues in each chapter. The use
of examples is disappointing in places, with the occasional result that the
reader is left wishing there were fewer institutions mentioned in passing and
more detailed examination of a few carefully selected campuses. The book
appears to draw heavily on the experience of the firm of Sasaki Associates. By
drawing on the firm’s considerable master plan experience the authors offer a
rich array of campus experience. However, it is not always clear whether the
examples cited are clients or examples of best practices, or both.
Mission and Place is a useful, visually attractive, and readable
resource for anyone concerned about the impact of facilities on the life of the
campus community. It is not a tome on campus planning; rather it surveys
elements constituting a coherent campus master plan. This will be of interest
to anyone concerned about the quality of life on their campus.
Reviewed by Dan Wakelee, Associate Dean of the Faculty, California State
University Channel Islands
Matteson, David M. & Freeman, Deborah K. (2005).
Assessing and Teaching Beginning Writers: Every Picture Tells a Story.
Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen
Matteson and Freeman’s book Assessing and Teaching Beginning Writers
caters to both academic and teaching audiences with the intention of addressing
early childhood educators and administrators. The book’s main feature is the
Early Literacy Continuum (ELC) which is intended as an ongoing form of
assessment in the early childhood classroom. This book incorporates guiding
questions at the beginning of each chapter for the user as a form of reflective
practice and utilizes a straightforward approach in addressing literacy
experiences. The chapters in this book are short and concise.
The first section of the book begins with a story about a boy named Michael
and his prekindergarten literacy experience. It then moves to theoretical
perspectives in early literacy development appropriate to assessment and
instruction, and then, addressing the characteristics of emergent readers and
writers. This section does not address the theoretical perspectives evidenced
in Lowenfeld’s research (Creative and Mental, 8th Edition) on the developmental
stages of drawing, but does stress the importance of student-teacher dialogue
and characteristics of emergent readers and writers.
The second section, chapters four through seven discuss how to use the ELC,
how to develop students’ drawings (work), how to develop students’ oral
language, and choosing teaching objectives, all of which serve as a guide to
further early childhood literacy learning. The ELC is a unique assessment tool
and helps teachers facilitate teaching objectives. The student work section
assessment scoring is predicated on the assumption that there are predetermined
meanings that can be visually evidenced (objects mean one thing), but if a
teacher is willing to acknowledge this, using the ELC for student work scoring
can be effective. Implementing the ELC as presented in this book will help
teachers foster literacy in all its forms, while understanding that literacy is
a developmental process.
This book is foundational in its approach to assessing literacy in early
childhood classrooms. If you are a teacher that is looking for quick answers
to pre-K and kindergarten literacy issues, this is not the book for you. This
book requires its reader to invest in the learning process through reflection
and action, requiring time and consideration of the book’s content as it can be
incorporated into the classroom.
Lowenfeld, V. & Brittain, W. L. (1987) Creative and mental growth.
8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Reviewed by Heidi Mullins, Lecturer, College of Education-Art Education,
University of Houston
Moore, Paula & Lyon, Anna (2005).
New Essentials for Teaching Reading in PreK-2.
New York: Scholastic.
Today in education, there are many interesting research studies being done
on how children learn and what strategies we as teachers should use to
facilitate learning. Paula Moore and Anna Lyon dedicate Part I of their book to
research in the areas of talk and instruction, the comprehension process,
vocabulary development and reading fluency. They establish the importance and
interconnectedness of these topics to reading instruction. Throughout this
section of the book the authors discuss definitions, examples, and research
based teaching approaches. The importance of talk is a common thread found in
each chapter of Part I. There are discussions and examples for using talk as a
learning tool in each section.
With the research close at hand in Part I, the goal of Part II is to provide
models so that teachers are able to apply the research in their classrooms.
This part of the book, Research in Practice, begins with the different
developmental changes children go through when developing literacy knowledge.
The authors feel it is important for teachers to understand the development of
young children so that they may adapt their instruction to their student’s
changing needs. The second chapter in Part II consists of vignettes describing
how to use talk as a learning tool in preschool, kindergarten, first grade and
second grade. Talk is used to support comprehension during read-alouds, shared
and guided reading. It also provides literacy experiences and conversations to
support the writing process.
Teaching to foster comprehension, vocabulary and fluency are the next
topics. Again, the teaching strategies and vignettes are broken down into
different grade levels. The last chapter focuses on how to incorporate this
book into a Reflective Practice Study Group, to support curriculum change,
within a school. As explained in the book, in order “to change, teachers must
have time to explore theory and practice and feel that they are initiating the
curriculum changes with the support of the administration” (p. 146).
I am sure that all teachers will appreciate the easy to read, organized
details that can be effortlessly incorporated into their present instruction
practices such as read-alouds, guided reading and shared reading. Teachers
don’t have a lot of time to research appropriate practices to enhance their
teaching skills. This book does that for them.
Through my classroom experiences, I believe that oral language is an
important part of a young child’s development. The authors make a statement in
this book that I have not been able to forget. They say “when children start
school, they enter a time of language deprivation” (p.19). This statement made
me think about my teaching practices over the years and I realize I am guilty
of this. I was reminded of the times I would struggle with having to cut a
conversation short because I needed to move on to make sure I covered
everything in the curriculum. There were times I would loose sight of best
practices. In actuality, if the research based instruction from this book is
applied across the board, the students will be life long learners.
This book not only reports the latest research on developing comprehension,
vocabulary, and fluency, it also provides easy to follow descriptions of how to
develop strong reading foundations when including this research in everyday
Reviewed by Teresa Edgar, University of Houston.
Payne, Carleen daCruz (2005).
Shared Reading for Today’s Classroom: Lessons and Strategies for Explicit
Instruction in Comprehension, Fluency, Word Study, and Genre. Grades K-2.
New York: Scholastic.
This handy book would make a useful tool for practicing teachers. It is full
of helpful hints and useful strategies for using the shared reading approach to
teach reading process skills to young children. Important early emergent and
emergent literacy skills are discussed and explained thoroughly. Teachers can
utilize this thoughtfully considered manual to expand their use of shared
reading with big books to integrate both strategy and skills instruction. Too
many teachers teach these very important concepts in isolation from actual
texts. Perhaps this is because they need Carleen daCruz Payne to take them
gently by the hand through the multiple exciting possibilities that Shared
Reading for Today’s Classroom presents.
While visiting early childhood classrooms in many schools, I rarely see big
books utilized to the full extent possible, as Payne illustrates so thoroughly
in her book. Perhaps busy teachers feel that using big books during circle time
is important enough to include in their curriculum sometimes, but lack the
background and skills to take advantage of the myriad possibilities shared
reading presents for expanding literacy understanding with their youngsters.
Those teachers who understand that circle time with a big book is a vital part
of their early literacy curriculum will enjoy this book. They will find a
writing style that is friendly to frantically busy teachers, including lots of
clear and not too wordy explanations, charts and tables, scenarios of
strategies used in real classrooms, and a wonderful list of suggested big book
titles at the end of the book.
The reader might note some loss of focus and minor vagueness in a few
places, such as a discussion about creating a classroom library, which, though
useful, is not really what this book is about. There is also a chapter on
involving parents at the end of the book, which doesn’t really relate directly
to shared reading. Examples of vague points are found in a scenario
illustrating Payne leading students to make predictions, which left me
skeptical at the accuracy of students’ predictions based on limited information
about the text, or when Payne explains that she stops at various spots in the
story, but doesn’t explain why she picks the places to stop in the story that
she does. Also of note, Regie Routman is cited often in this book. Even though
Routman is a thoughtful advocate of student-centered learning, one who
describes many useful ideas about ways to teach the language arts in the
classroom, Routman’s work depends more on her insights than on carefully
At the same time though, Payne packs so much useful guidance into one short
book, that it is easy to overlook those minor problems. For example, a
wonderful chart comparing read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading
clearly delineates the differences between each vital mode of reading
instruction. Many veteran teachers who do not currently use shared reading to
its fullest extent might be convinced to give it a try after situating the
distinctions and definitions so wonderfully presented in this text in their
minds. Shared Reading also provides very clear definitions of terms such
as Guided Reading in Kindergarten, Turn and Talk technique for sharing, and
Steps for Strategy Instruction. Many of these concepts are not new to teachers.
They just have new names and ways of being presented using Shared
Reviewed by Julia Meritt, Texas State University
Sigmon, Cheryl M., & Ford, Sylvia (2005).
Writing Lessons for the Content Areas: Grades 4-6.
New York: Scholastic.
“I never wrote a word I didn’t hear as I
In a standards-based movement, Writing Lessons for the Content Areas
presents the intermediate grade teacher practitioner with practical knowledge
of skills, activities, and strategies, while integrating writing and academic
standards across all content areas.
Rarely does a task, whether personal or work-related, involve only reading or
writing. Usually a task requires a blend of these skills and knowledge. The
authors illuminate the importance in making connections between two areas of
the language arts: reading and writing. This book clearly demonstrates how
reading and writing, as interrelated components of the language arts, can be
successfully and naturally woven across content areas to stimulate real-world
What is the Focus?
This book is centered on five sections where mini-lessons demonstrate the
elements that will assist intermediate grade students with the tools
to write more effectively. These tools are connected to content area
and provide the classroom teacher practitioner with illustrations of how to
manage these skills across the curriculum in an efficient manner. Each
is very practical and provides the reader with; 1) an explanation for the
2) a skills focus; 3) materials and resources; and, 4) quick hints. All mini-
are systematic and explicit, providing the practitioner with actual lesson
Practitioners will be guided through each mini-lesson as they learn how to;
1) model the lesson and teach for direct instruction; 2) facilitate students'
writing and application in a timely manner; and, 3) utilize students' time
Coming to America: Ellis Island is the culmination activity that
the end of the book. It is a model unit of integrated instruction that blends
writing, reading, and social studies. Within this unit, which extends over a
period of approximately 22 days, practitioners will learn how to write their
own mini-lessons ranging from basic conventions to a culminating project.
This final project,
students create and produce a Readers' Theater, requires students to read,
write, assimilate information, revise, craft text, edit, and publish.
practitioners are provided with appendices filled with ready-to-use guides
different teaching activities. For example, a "Persuasive Writing Flow Chart"
will assist students in the organization of their writing as they focus on
opinions, facts, and examples used to support their writing.
What are the Tools?
Few teachers would dispute that tools discussed in this book are common
necessary for content literacy. Themes so paramount to literacy development
are highlighted as "tools" essential for comprehension and communication of
text material and are woven throughout each mini-lesson. The authors
how students use these tools to build deeper meaning about content concepts.
Students work with specialized vocabulary as they write original
and acrostic poems-and also try to categorize, define, and analyze content
through concept maps, student-created glossaries, and word webs. Many
find that they can better organize their writing and more clearly present
ideas if they can use graphic organizers as a primary mode of
The text patterns in the book demonstrate how students can use a
of expository writings to better frame their ideas. Research skills
highlighted to demonstrate how students can use research to explore, examine,
and organize the many different kinds of information available to them. In
for authentic purposes, students write for reasons that are motivating
purposeful to them as writers.
A Toolbox of Practical Ideas
"Writing is reading from the inside
Finding the voice within our students' writing exposes us to their rich,
personal histories; histories and narratives that reflect the culture and
in their lives. It is these well-crafted stories that thread and weave the
of who they are to current understandings. This writing facilitates our
as we glean knowledge of students' understanding of story grammar,
word patterns, and spelling. Consequently, writing is a powerful tool for
Writing is also a powerful tool in developing thinking skills that activate
prior knowledge, elicit questions, build comprehension, teach vocabulary,
discussion, and allow us to review and reflect on our ideas.
As a professor teaching content area reading and writing to undergraduate
graduate teacher candidates in a teacher education program, I recommend this
book to any teacher practitioner seeking ideas and practical ways to
writing across content areas while aligning curriculum with academic
The authors’ attempt in mapping out a framework that incorporates the
essential tools for content literacy throughout the language arts delivered in
a mini-lesson format should be applauded. Students are engaged in meaningful
ways and for authentic purposes. This book could enhance any practitioner’s
classroom because of the variety of activities and the explicit direction for
each activity. The
format is easy to follow and undergirds cognitive theories we know to support
best practice; such as, schema theory, reader response theory, teaching for
transfer, and transactional theory, to name a few. Overall, Writing
for the Content Areas is an effective contribution to content area
writing and one that I would welcome in my classroom teaching.
Reviewed by Anita Iaquinta, Assistant Professor in the School of Education
and Social Sciences at Robert Morris University. She currently teaches all
reading and language arts methods courses along with content area reading,
educational psychology, elementary social studies, the learning processes and
has taught children’s literature, cultural diversity, creativity in the
elementary classroom, current issues in education, and assessment, to name a
few. She is active in reviewing curriculum planning and design at the
department level. She is actively working toward developing an urban
perspective within the teacher education program that includes field
experiences, student teaching opportunities, and selected courses that reflect
Spiegel, Dixie Lee (2005).
Classroom Discussion: Strategies for Engaging All Students, Building Higher-
Level Thinking Skills, and Strengthening Reading and Writing Across the
New York: Scholastic.
“Preparing your class for discussion is challenging work!” (p. 84), Dixie
Lee Spiegel exclaims early in her book Classroom Discussion. Whether
you are a teacher already experienced with leading class discussion or one just
starting out, the methods and suggestions outlined by Spiegel can help you
implement discussion better. In this vein, every chapter provides tips
on how to introduce and implement discussion. “Listening In” tips are
suggestions for collecting and then reflecting on your own experiences or
observations of other classrooms for use in future classes. My favorites, the
“Discussion Stifler[s],” illustrate those things we teachers do and say that
inadvertently stop discussion in its tracks and are, Spiegel exhorts, “ways
not to teach!” (p. 8). Once we are aware of these unsuccessful
practices, however, we can avoid them, replacing them with some of the numerous
time-tested techniques Spiegel provides in the “Activity” sections.
For those skeptical about bringing discussion into the classroom, Chapters 1
and 2 provide the rationale that will have you busily adjusting your lesson
plans to accommodate discussion. “Tracking My Thinking,” a worksheet
reproduced in Appendix 9 (p. 138), is like a streamlined version of that
rationale: through effective discussion students can shape one another’s
thinking and “leave [the classroom] with new perspectives and meanings” (p.
101) to come to different, nuanced understandings of subjects. How do we know
if discussion has been effective? In Chapter 6, Spiegel insists on teacher
assessment of discussion to ensure that students are advancing their knowledge,
and she provides a framework for assessment so that we “improve instruction and
help students achieve goals” (p. 112). Additionally, the sample student
worksheets reproduced throughout the text (and supplied in the Appendices) are
evidence of the knowledge students can amass and the meaning students can make
through discussion. The worksheets require students to chronicle what they
have learned so their progress can be monitored and so students themselves “see
the development of their ideas” (p. 108). The worksheets may be of special
interest to teachers of writing-intensive courses for their idea-gathering
As P. David Pearson writes in the text’s foreword, Spiegel has “gather[ed]
in one place our collective knowledge, wisdom, and good advice about how to
promote the sort of talk about text that creates access to academic success and
personal insight for students” (p. 6). From the particulars of organizing
small-group discussion to preparing students for the vocabulary they will
encounter in a reading, Spiegel’s book details how to do it. Spiegel is
meticulous, providing transcripts of classroom discussion; mini-lessons;
demonstrations; worksheets; student journal entries; activities illustrating
different approaches to promote and sustain classroom discussion; and
quotations from students for support, all of which emphasize Spiegel’s aim to
create a practical text for teachers. This book is not just a compilation of
theories about class discussion, but living examples from real classrooms
demonstrating student success. The book is geared toward middle school
teachers, but I can imagine high school and even college instructors gleaning
helpful advice. In short, any teacher, math, English, health, social studies,
and science teacher alike, at any level, should feel fully prepared to initiate
class discussion after reading this book.
One caveat: The amount of material may feel overwhelming, and I was
sometimes confused by the page layout and organization within chapters.
Fortuitously, in Appendix 13 (pp. 143-51) Spiegel suggests that teachers
arrange a workshop during the school year to discuss and “try out ideas” (p.
143) from the book in their classrooms. Exchanging ideas and offering feedback
from practice with the text seems like an effective and efficient way of
sorting through the abundance of material covered in such detail.
Although the book may take a little extra effort to pore over, it is worth
every bit of that effort! Wouldn't you like a classroom in which “discussion
is more than superficial—when new information is brought to bear on the topic
or question, comments are elaborated on, subtopics introduced, clarification is
sought, and ideas are challenged or supported” (p. 123)? Spiegel makes too
strong of a case in support of class discussion for us not to listen and use it
Reviewed by Déirdre Carney, adjunct instructor of English at Montclair State
University, Caldwell College, and William Paterson University, all in New
Jersey. Ms. Carney earned an M.A. from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and
the Trinity College London Certificate in TESOL from Griffith College Dublin.
Tschannen-Moran, Megan (2004).
Trust Matters: Leadership for Successful Schools.
San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
As an Assistant Professor at the College of William and Mary, Megan
Tschannen-Moran’s research centers on the social psychology of schools and how
the quality of interpersonal relationships between the adults in a school
environment can affect not only school climate and morale, but student
achievement as well. She has researched and written on a variety of topics
including collaboration, organizational citizenship, leadership, conflict,
school climate, and self-efficacy, which all focus on interpersonal
relationships in schools. Central to each of these topics is the concept of
trust. In Trust Matters, Tschannen-Moran has taken much of her
published research and compiled it into a practical, easy-to-read book written
specifically for school administrators and principals. She uses three real-
life examples of principals and their school communities to illustrate the
various facets of trust, how to cultivate and sustain trust, how to repair
broken trust, as well as the positive and negative effects that trust can have
on a school community. Her book urges school leaders to acknowledge the
importance of trust in today’s schools and emphasizes how essential their role
is in building trusting relationships within their schools. Her main premise
is that school leaders are key in modeling, developing, and maintaining
interpersonal relationships within school and that these relationships play a
significant role in making a school successful in terms of student achievement.
The book begins by hypothesizing about why trust is even an issue in today’s
schools. It proposes that historically, communities implicitly respected
school leaders for their professional knowledge and judgment. However in
today’s society, many of our social institutions, including schools, are under
close scrutiny by the public; “We are barraged by a steady stream of media
attention to scandals, revealing how business leaders, politicians, church
leaders, nonprofit executives, and school leaders have acted from self-interest
rather than out of the interests of the constituents whom they purport to
serve” (p. 8). In addition, increased political pressures, budget crises, and
widespread social issues have contributed to creating unrealistic expectations
for schools. When these expectations are inevitably not met, distrust in the
social institution of education can result. Tschannen- Moran believes that
ironically, this disappointment and distrust are “the result of the very
success of public schools…the success of our educational system has created the
very conditions that enable the common person to think critically and challenge
the status quo” (p. 10). Because distrust can be self-perpetuating, the
public’s overall distrust of the educational system can then spiral down to the
constituents actually involved in education – administrators, principals,
teachers, students, and parents.
Another factor that influences trust in school environments, according to
Tschannen-Moran, is that schools are in the unusual position of being
organizations that are both bureaucratic and professional in nature.
Organizations exist in order to accomplish tasks that are too large or complex
for individuals to accomplish on their own. School systems are bureaucratic
organizations that rely on a hierarchy of authority (from district
administrators, to school principals, to teachers, to parents and students) for
the coordination and control of resources, personnel, and services.
Bureaucracies function under the principles of power and control. However,
schools are also considered professional organizations that rely on the
expertise of their members, i.e. principals and teachers, to respond to the
needs of their clientele (students and parents). Professional organizations
function under the principles of autonomy and trust. When these two types of
structures exist within the same organization conflict can occur, and
oftentimes trust suffers at the expense of control.
Tschannen-Moran acknowledges that the concept of trust is a difficult one to
define. Trust is a multifaceted, dynamic construct that can mean different
things to different people in different contexts. She defines trust as “one’s
willingness to be vulnerable to another based on the confidence that the other
is benevolent, honest, open, reliable, and competent” (p. 17). She goes on to
explain in detail each of the terms used in this definition. These five facets
of trust provide the structure in which trust is considered throughout the rest
of the book.
Each of these facets of trust affect all
interpersonal relationships including those between the adults in a school
environment, and these relationships can affect the successful functioning of
- Vulnerability is essential to trust because trust
is only an issue in relationships of interdependence in which one party relies
on another for something they care about or need. Vulnerability creates the
potential for betrayal or harm if one party does not live up to the
expectations of the other.
- Benevolence is the confidence that
“one can count on the good will of another to act in one’s best interest” (p.
19). In other words, in a trusting relationship, you can assume that the other
party wouldn’t willingly act a way to cause you harm.
refers to a person’s character, integrity, and authenticity. People are
perceived to be honest through their actions, such as sharing truthful
information or consistently following through on promises.
- Openness refers to the process through which people share
information, influence, and control. These can symbolize power within a
relationship, and it is how this power is used that can influence trust.
- Reliability is the sense that one person is able to depend on
another, and that behaviors will be predictable from situation to
- Lastly,Competence is “the ability to perform a task
as expected, according to an appropriate standard,” or essentially the
perception of how well you perform a task or job according to understood
expectations (p. 30).
Tschannen-Moran then describes ways in which trust can be cultivated between
the adults in the school environment. She acknowledges that building trust
takes time, a resource that those in education are often short of. She also
asserts that trust can only occur when both parties are willing to
accept the personal risk and vulnerability that trust entails. Research has
found that initial trust, or the provisional trust that people extend to one
another in the early stages of a relationship, tends to be higher than one
might expect (p. 42). However, when one party acts in a way that is perceived
to be untrustworthy, that initial trust is revoked. Many other factors can
influence trust. Some people have been found to have a higher disposition to
trust others and be perceived as trustworthy, which is often dependant on the
environment in which they grew up. An individual’s values and attitudes can
also affect trust, depending on whether they align or conflict with those of
the other party in the relationship
The author believes that school leaders need to seek authentic levels of
trust, which can only happen as relationships develop and mature over time.
She recommends that school leaders pay specific attention to the five facets of
trust when building relationships with the members of their faculty. She also
believes that school leaders need to seek optimal levels of trust. She uses
two real-life examples of schools to illustrate the consequences of
dysfunctional levels of trust. In one school, too little trust caused time and
energy to be spent on self-preservation, resentment, and revenge rather than on
the business of educating students. In another school, too much trust allowed
people to take advantage of situations and become individually opportunistic at
the expense of the organization. In both cases, not only did the interpersonal
relationships and moral within the school suffer, but student achievement
declined as well.
Tschannen-Moran defines betrayal as the “voluntary violation of mutually
understood expectations that has the potential to threaten the well-being of
the trusting person” (p. 64). She discusses two types betrayal that can occur
specifically in schools. Betrayal which causes “damage to the civic order”
involves a breech of the rules or norms of an organization such as lying,
stealing, taking undue credit, broken promises, neglecting job
responsibilities, or abuse of authority (p. 65). Betrayal which causes “damage
to one’s self identity” stems from public criticism, unfair accusations, blame
for mistakes, disclosure of private confidences, or insults to an individual or
a collective group to which they may belong (p. 65-66). When betrayal occurs,
trust is diminished. She contends that not all betrayals are necessarily
unethical or antisocial, however the costs to the relationship must be
The author stresses that betrayal is not the same thing as conflict.
Conflict does not necessarily lead to the diminishment of trust. Rather, it is
the way in which conflicts are handled that can cultivate or diminish trust
within the relationship. If both parties have a commitment to the task, a
commitment to the relationship, or both, conflict can be a positive change
agent. School leaders that are skilled in conflict resolution know how to make
conflict work for them in their schools, rather than having it lead to feelings
of betrayal, resentment, and diminished trust. Distrust in a school
environment can be costly in terms of both morale and money. Time and energy
spent on self-preservation in an untrusting environment takes away from time
and energy that should be spent on educating students. Teachers become less
willing to take risks. Productivity and motivation suffer. Teachers look for
ways to avoid or remove themselves from untrusting relationships and
environments (such as transferring schools or leaving the profession). The use
of sick leave and/or misuse of work hours can increase. Distrust has a
tendency to be self-perpetuating and parties in an untrusting relationship can
become suspicious of even the most benign words or actions. Tshcannen-Moran
stresses that it is easier for school leaders to build trust than to restore
trust that has been broken, and urges principals to assess their school climate
and take the actions necessary to restore or maintain trust at an optimal
Although most of Trust Matters deals with principals’ relationships
with their faculty, the book does include a chapter on teachers trusting other
teachers, and a chapter on building and maintaining trust with parents and
students. In each of these chapters, the author continues to assert that it is
the school leader’s responsibility to initiate and model trustworthy behaviors;
“Because of the hierarchical nature of relationships within schools, it is the
responsibility of the person with greater power to take the initiative to build
and sustain trusting relationships” (p. 35). She describes how the five facets
of trust relate to the specific relationships between teacher colleagues, and
between school personnel and their clients, i.e. students and parents
The last chapter of the book ties together all of the ideas and examples
presented and specifically describes how to become a trustworthy leader. This
chapter states quite clearly that, “the principal sets the tone for the school.
The principal’s behavior has a significant influence on the culture of the
school. If schools are to reap the rewards of a trusting work environment, it
is the principal’s responsibility to build and sustain trusting relationships”
(p. 175). Tschannen-Moran looks at the five functions of instructional leaders
(visioning, modeling, coaching, managing, and mediating), the five
constituencies of schools (administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the
public), and uses her three school examples to demonstrate how these, combined
with the five facets of trust, can either foster or destroy a trusting school
climate. She urges school leaders to take the issue of trust seriously. “Trust
matters because it hits schools in their bottom line; it makes a difference in
student achievement” (p. 188).
The book concludes with four trust surveys that principals can administer to
their constituents. The first survey is the Faculty Trust Survey, which
includes three subscales to measure faculty trust in the principal, faculty
trust in colleagues, and faculty trust in students and parents. The second
survey is the Principal Trust Survey, which includes three subscales to measure
principal trust in teachers, principal trust in students, and principal trust
in parents. The third survey is the Parent Trust Survey, which includes two
subscales to measure parent trust in the school and parent trust in the
principal. The final survey is the Student Trust Survey, which measures
student trust in the principal. Each survey includes directions for
administering, as well as scoring directions and evidence regarding the
validity and reliability of the scoring scales. The book specifically
addresses the ethical standards that should be applied when administering these
types of surveys, gives principals a guide on how to present the survey results
to their faculties, and offers suggestions on the next steps for research in
Overall, I found this to be an easy book to read, in that it offered many
practical suggestions and real-world examples. The organization of the book
makes it very adaptable to a study group or a professional development course,
and could be used by both practitioners and researchers. Each chapter begins
with a quote on trust, with credits ranging from Ringo Starr to George Elliot.
Each chapter ends with a “Putting It into Action” section, bulleted key points,
and questions for reflection and discussion. Although all of Tschannen-Moran’s
ideas and concepts about trust could be applied to all interpersonal
relationships, she does a good job of providing specific examples of the
relationships and trust that exist in the school environment. All school
administrators and principals should be urged to look closely at how Trust
Matters within their own schools.
Reviewed by Tosha Young, Portland State University
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