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Materials for teachers

A classroom teacher for 28 years and a literacy teacher mentor for five, Don has created a number of resources for educators, among them his book Hitting the Mark: Assessment Tools for Teachers, which outlines practical ways to assess student performance fairly and accurately while attending to curricular outcomes and a wide range of student ability. This book offers time-saving approaches to anecdotal reporting as well as helpful suggestions for assessing both process and product, essential elements of assessment for and of learning.

Among other materials Don has written to support educators is the document Essays Say—This…, a resource prepared for grade 9 English language arts teachers and available from Nova Scotia's Department of Education. Besides outlining the various kinds of essays and providing numerous tips for writing in that genre, the document describes the qualities of an effective essay using the Write Traits framework and offers descriptors of each trait at four different levels of achievement. It also includes a sample student essay and offers an assessment of it using this framework, detailing both the student's areas of strength and areas of need.

Don has also created reader's guides for his young adult novels. While he understands that perceptions of reader's guides are often negative ("I can think of no more effective way to 'destroy' a novel," he says, "than to print off a list of questions and pass it to students along with a copy of the book"), he feels they can be helpful for teachers as a means of planning instruction around a particular work. Don's guides, which are available free of charge, include the following:

  • "Pre-reading" questions that help activate students' prior knowledge around the novel's subject matter
  • "During-reading" questions that focus students' attention on significant aspects of the narrative
  • "Post-reading" activities that help students extend their reading experience with practical applications of thematic issues 
  • "Writer's craft" questions that help students explore the various techniques Don has used to tell his story

Teachers interested in receiving guides for Running on Empty, The Fifth Rule, The Space Between, One on One, The First Stone, Stranger at Bay, and Of Things Not Seen may request them by emailing Don at mail@donaker.com

Also, teachers interested in conducting an author study focusing on Don's work should refer to the Nova Scotia Department of Education teaching resource called Teaching in Action, Grades 10-12, which includes detailed suggestions for such a study as well as three of Don's short stories and related learning activities.

Click here to access a free PDF version of Teaching in Action, Grades 10-12.



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Pembroke 1995

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Available at no charge

Please note that Don's reader's guides do not include chapter summaries.