L’automne dernier, j’ai remis mon chapeau de superviseur de stage pour les étudiants en enseignement du FLS. En corrigeant les travaux, je me suis surprise à repenser à mes années universitaires, à mes cours et à mes propres stages. Et là, je me suis souvenue d’un enseignant. Cependant, je ne me rappelais plus exactement quel cours il m’avait donné. J’ai même oublié son nom et son visage. Le souvenir de cet enseignant revenait sans cesse relié à un sentiment de quelque chose d’important, de déterminant pour moi. L’impression d’une rencontre qui a changé ma vie, qui m’a donné des ailes, qui m’a donné confiance.
J’ai donc décidé de partir à sa recherche en fouillant dans mes vieilles boites. J’ai déniché mes plans de cours et j’ai découvert certains travaux. J’ai finalement retrouvé le nom de cet enseignant — Richard Robillard. Et le plus drôle, c’est que les quelques travaux que j’ai gardés furent réalisés pour ses cours. Je les ai relus. Ensuite, j’ai porté une attention particulière aux commentaires. Cet enseignant a su m’accompagner dans mes travaux en posant les bonnes questions, en écrivant les bons mots pour moi, en émettant des remarques qui me poussaient à aller plus loin et en célébrant la personne que j’étais et la future enseignante en moi. Il a su saisir l’essence de ce que je suis aujourd’hui.
Et là, je me suis demandé qui était vraiment cet homme-là. Que faisait-il maintenant ? Enseignait-il toujours après 20 ans ? J’étais curieuse et j’avais ce désir de le remercier, de lui dire qu’il avait su voir en moi cette enseignante. Tout bien réfléchi, ce que je suis aujourd’hui est un peu grâce à lui.
Alors, je me suis lancée ! Avec le peu d’information que j’avais, j’ai commencé à chercher dans le répertoire des universités en me disant qu’il enseignait peut-être encore. Peine perdue. Aucune trace. Ensuite, j’ai cherché sur Internet. Et en 5 minutes, j’avais les coordonnées d’un certain monsieur Richard Robillard qui semblait correspondre à mon enseignant. Merci Google !
Qu’est-ce que je fais maintenant ? Mon idée folle de contacter cet enseignant devenait réelle et je n’étais plus certaine de ma démarche. Que cherchais-je exactement ? Et puis, je me suis souvenue d’une rencontre avec un de mes anciens élèves l’an dernier. Il a pris le temps de me dire que c’était grâce à mon cours d’histoire de 4e secondaire qu’il avait décidé d’étudier en histoire à l’université et qu’il faisait maintenant sa maitrise dans ce domaine. Quel beau cadeau !
Alors, inspirée par mon élève et prenant mon courage à 2 mains, j’ai écrit un courriel à ce M. Robillard. Je n’étais pas encore certaine que c’était la bonne personne. Une bouteille à la mer. Et que fut ma surprise de recevoir une réponse quelques minutes plus tard affirmant qu’il fut bel et bien mon enseignant à l’université. J’étais stupéfaite ! J’avais retrouvé cette personne et en plus, elle acceptait de me rencontrer en chair et en os. Angoisse ! Qu’est-ce que j’allais lui dire ? Mais, je me suis risquée et…
La journée de notre rencontre, j’étais à la fois excitée et nerveuse. Nous avons parlé de tout et de rien. De la vie, de la profession, de nos carrières. Nous avons passé une heure ensemble. Mon désir de revoir cet enseignant pour le remercier s’est vite transformé en une rencontre enrichissante, formatrice, réflexive et surtout belle. Il m’a entretenu de la théorie de l’attachement et de l’importance du lien affectif dans le développement de l’enfant et dans l’apprentissage de l’élève. Sans la présence de l’attachement, il ne peut y avoir d’éducation et surtout pas d’enseignement efficace. Cette théorie a eu une résonance en la maman en moi et en l’enseignante. Il m’a suggéré un livre (que je suis en train de lire) : Dis-moi qui tu aimes et je te dirai qui tu es de Marc Pistorio dans lequel l’auteur explique en détail les fondements de la théorie de l’attachement.
Ce geste altruiste de rencontrer mon enseignant pour le remercier m’a en fait permis de découvrir en cet homme une sagesse, un positivisme, un être en perpétuelle réflexion, une âme noble.
Monsieur Robillard, je voulais vous remercier… d’être vous ! Vous avez été et vous êtes encore une inspiration pour moi et surement pour de nombreuses personnes !
Aux lecteurs, je vous lance maintenant le défi de réfléchir à un enseignant qui vous a marqué. À défaut d’entreprendre une démarche comme la mienne, vous pouvez le célébrer ici :
A few years ago I had the pleasure of observing Secondary 4 (Grade 10) classes in the Montreal area as part of my PhD research into the implementation of a then new and different program called Applied Science and Technology (AST). What made it different from the “regular” program, Science and Technology (ST) was that its methodology required that students learn science concepts by studying their real-life applications. In other words, students learn the concepts in large part only after they have seen the concepts in action.
The Applied Science and Technology program was implemented in many English high schools in the fall of 2008. Currently, students can choose between equally-valued science courses – Science and Technology (ST) and Applied Science and Technology (AST) in Secondary 3 and again in Secondary 4. Although people have trouble remembering this, the name “Applied” does not mean that the course is lower academically. Rather it refers to a different orientation from that of ST.
So what’s the difference?
While technology, meaning engineering technology, has become an integral part of the content and activities of both programs, AST places a greater emphasis on it in both the course content and its assessment. AST also differs from ST in that it offers students a more practical approach to learning science. AST places particular emphasis on the applications of science and technology and explains the applications as “practical achievements (objects, systems, products or processes), which are characterized by their operation, the materials of which they are made, the associated scientific and technological principles and the way in which they are built or manufactured” (MELS, 2007, p. 22).
The writing of AST was influenced by the positions held by Canada’s National Research Council (NRC), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (CMEC), and the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) movement, trending across the world of science education (Bybee & Fuchs, 2006; Gengarelly & Abrams, 2009).
The STEM movement promotes inquiry-based learning, context-based learning, constructivism and problem based-learning with the inclusion of engineering design principles in the science curricula (Barma & Guilbert, 2006; Potvin & Dionne, 2007). In 1995, the CMEC adopted the Common Framework of Science Learning Outcomes K to 12. This influential document was designed as a blueprint for scientific literacy for all Canadian students.
Who takes AST?
Students from both ST and AST must write a final Ministry exam at the end of Secondary 4. Recent Quebec Ministry of Education documents show that, among the English school boards, in 2014, 27 schools had active AST classes. This represents about one-half of all English high schools and about 1/3 of all Secondary 4 science students. Its popularity varies widely from board to board. Some have very few AST classes while others have almost all students following the program. Since the passing of either ST or AST is a requirement for a high school diploma – and therefore entry to CEGEP – parents and students need to know that either program gives equal chances for this opportunity. In fact, according to Ministry results, pass rates and average marks are about the same overall, with AST students achieving better marks in some cases.
The Hydraulic Arm – Engineering Technology in Action
As I was doing my research into the implementation of AST, I visited a number of schools in the Montreal area to find out what activities were being used to develop the engineering technology aspect of the program.
One of my visits was to Laurentian Regional High School, a school serving a mostly rural student population. Here the applied approach to science learning was the preference of most students and AST was considered to be the “high level” program. For most boys and girls, using tools and doing hands-on projects were a natural part of their rural lifestyle and so the applied approach to science and technology fit naturally with their learning style.
Setting the Scene: The teacher Scott Morrill introduced the hydraulic arm activity by discussing the heavy machinery that they all see regularly on their farms and on the roads and construction sites. He led them to a discussion on the need for these machines to have hydraulic arms to do much of the heavy lifting and moving. As a lead–in to the activity he and the class did a lab investigation of a syringe, focusing on Pascal’s Principle, the basis for the theory and use of hydraulics. He then related the syringe and the pressure exerted by the liquid to hydraulic jacks that the students are all familiar with. The QEP specifies that, in Secondary 4, AST students must study the engineering aspects of motion transmission systems (MELS, 2011b, p. 33).
Ever the humourist, Scott quipped “It’s jack week at Laurentian Regional HS”. He had the class do a 15-minute analysis of two types of car jacks to remind them of the important technical aspects of jacks – the links, degrees of freedom, forces, and controls involved.
Designing and Building the Arm: Scott then introduced an activity whose aim was to construct a model of a hydraulic arm whose purpose was to scoop up a quantity of “kitty litter” and transfer it from one container to another. This was to simulate a steam shovel moving earth at a construction site. With a physical model which he displayed in the front of the class, the students went to work on their designs.
The activity took place in the Technology lab. It is a large room equipped with floor-mounted tools, a heavy duty dust collection and ventilation system, large working tables and ample cupboard space for storage of projects. In many schools the technology lab is the old woodworking shop – updated for the new Science and Technology programs.. The photo below gives an idea of the use of the tools.
To construct their hydraulic arms students had a wide variety of tools available to them – band saw, drill press, sander, and miter saw, among others. They knew what to do and what equipment to use. Their expertise with the tools was remarkable. The girls were as comfortable with the use of floor-mounted tools as the boys. One girl explained, “We’re all confident using these tools. We can do it, no problem!”
As I have observed in other schools, these students did not place a lot of importance on the designing process before they constructed their project. They are more comfortable working from a rough sketch and designing the details as they go. I observed one group closely to see how this process would work. They progressed effectively by discussing and planning in their heads with scant reference to their written sketch. For example, while putting together the arm, as one held two pieces of wood, they discussed where to drill a hole to join the parts. One of them went to drill the hole while the other sanded the base. Both returned, discussed the hole placement and returned together to the drill press to make an adjustment. This “hands-on planning” was typical of the designing process in Scott’s classes. It was also very common in the other classes I observed during my research in AST classes.
Testing the Hydraulic Arm: Scott set up a testing area on the demonstration bench at the front of the room. He placed a large tray of kitty litter and, group-by-group, students brought their projects forward to test how much litter they could scoop up and place in a second tray. Before the testing, Scott reminded them of the need to hand in a written design and report of their work. Realizing that they are less enthusiastic about written work than they are on the hands-on aspects of science, he told them, “Nothing counts if a written report isn’t handed in. Like it or not, that’s what you’re judged on!”
As each group underwent the test, groups of five to 10 other students stood around the area to watch with interest. As groups ran into problems, other students offered suggestions for improvements. There was no sign of frustration when things didn’t work properly. They were in a mode of problem solving and eager to help each other. This was an impressive display of student engagement, motivation, cooperative relationships and learning of science applications – a compelling demonstration of the value of the applied approach to science learning.
References and further reading
American Association for the Advcancement of Science (AAAS). (1993). Science for All Americans: Project 2061. New York: Oxford University Press.
Bybee, R. W., & Fuchs, B. (2006). Preparing the 21st century workforce: A new reform in science and technology education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(4)
Council of Ministers of Education. (1997). Common framework of science learning outcomes K to 12 : pan-Canadian protocol for collaboration on school curriculum. [Toronto]: Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.
Gengarelly, L. M., & Abrams, E. D. (2009). Closing the Gap: Inquiry in Research and the Secondary Science Classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 74-84.
Ministère de l’Éducation du Loisir et du Sport du Québec (MELS). (2011). Quebec Education Program Progression of Learning in Secondary School Science and Technology Cycle One Applied Science and Technology Science and the Environment. Quebec.
National Research Council (NRC). (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: a guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Research Council
Potvin, P., & Dionne, E. (2007). Realities and Challenges of Educational Reform in the Province of Québec: Exploratory Research on Teaching Science and Technology. McGill Journal of Education Online, 42(3), 393-410.
Most would agree that there are two organizations that for several decades have helped to tell and shape Canada’s story: the CBC and the NFB. In a media landscape dominated by the U.S., it is increasingly important that we expose students to media with a truly Canadian flavour, so that they might gain an appreciation of their own country and develop their individual and collective identity as Canadians.
Susan: I grew up with NFB films starting in the early 1960s. My older brother organized a film club in our home for his friends and we borrowed films from the local library (being the only female in the club was an impetus to attend). I am a huge admirer of the many animators from the NFB, but also of the documentary filmmakers who opened my eyes to so many aspects of Canada and Canadians. I was privileged in university to take a film appreciation course with John Grierson, the first director of the NFB. Although we watched films by many film makers outside the film board, this only served to strengthen my admiration of the NFB productions.
Kristine: We all have a favourite… The Log Driver’s Waltz, The Cat Came Back, The Big Snit, and for me… Le Chandail. I have a penchant for animation and remember seeing this animated short in elementary school in the 1980s. The film is based on the iconic short story, Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace, by Québec storyteller Roch Carrier. Later, as a French Literature major at the University of Toronto, I remember delving further intothe narrative… but it was always the animated short that looped over and over in my mind.
Our students are even more immersed in film than either one of us was at their age. This is a medium they relate to. Watching films can…
help them learn more about a topic,
give them food for reflection,
expose them to the codes and conventions of film so that they become better at conveying a message through media,
encourage them to make connections that deepen their understanding of the world.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB/ONF) is not only a treasure but a treasure-trove of teachable resources because of its vast library of quality Canadian-made productions. Teachers and students no longer have to go to libraries, wait for a film to appear on the CBC or go to other lengths to access these films. They are all readily available at the click of a button on the NFB site. In the wake of its 75th birthday, we wanted to highlight NFB/ONF offerings specific to educators via NFB CAMPUS (offered through LEARN to all 9 Anglophone school boards, Littoral, QAIS, Cree, Kativik, FNEC and other independent Anglophone schools).
Here are some of the advantages of being an NFB CAMPUS subscriber:
Resources are available in French and English.
It is possible to create thematic playlists to share with students.
Pre-made playlists are available that include links to supplementary resources.
A chaptering tool allows educators to the select and organize specific clips from the videos they want to share.
Educational guides are provided for individual films.
Learning bundles, which are curated groupings of resources such as films, background information, discussion questions, classroom activities, articles, clips and other tools, are available on a variety of topics. These bundles can be searched by theme, subject area and age level.
Some films are only available to NFB CAMPUS subscribers.
With an NFB CAMPUS subscription individual teachers can present all the content from the website to groups of students within a classroom setting of 150 students or less, provided no entry fee is charged.
For more information check the links in the resources below.
Enjoy exploring the thousands of films that this great Canadian institution has to offer. We guarantee you will find many that meet your students’ needs and many others that will entertain and inform you. And please don’t forget to share how your favourites have had an impact on you and your classroom in the comments section below 🙂
In our second edition of The Students Have Spoken, LEARN turned once again to its online students to get their authentic voice on a few pertinent questions. This time, we asked two questions to a group of secondary IV (Grade 10) students: one about virtual communities and one about their changing learning styles in an online environment. The survey was conducted through the Twitter hashtag, #LQslowchat.
(Note, when the students talk about “BORs”, they are referring to breakout rooms: spaces where smaller groups of students can work together within their virtual classroom. “VT” is short for VoiceThread, another awesome tool for sharing content a la flipped classroom.)
Question #1: How has online learning allowed you to build community with other students around the province?
Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together. McMillan, 1976.
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.Cesar Chavez
Question #2: Online classes have changed the way you learn. Agree or disagree? Explain!
Three principles from brain research: emotional safety, appropriate challenges, and self constructed meaning suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to classroom instruction teaching is ineffective for most students and harmful to some. – Tomlinson and Kalbfleisch, 1998
Feeling a sense of community is big in all our students’ lives, connected as they are through social media and collaborative tools. In online classroom settings, the tools to which students have access have helped expand differentiating learning, allowing more students to construct understanding in how they learn best.
LEARN is opening “The Students Have Spoken” to all the classrooms in Quebec. If you have a class that would like an opportunity to have their voice heard by an authentic audience let us know. Contact our editor Sylwia Bielec firstname.lastname@example.org
Third Edition Questions – tweet @LEARNQuebec #LEARNstudents
Anyone is welcome to participate!
Q1: What digital tools do you use the most in school? Give examples.
Q2: If you were a teacher, how would you use digital tools in class? Give examples.
The LEARN community of bloggers is made up of pedagogical consultants, teachers and other educators working on a variety of LEARN projects. Together, we represent a wide spectrum of professional experience and opinions about education in the 21st century, especially when it comes to the anglophone community of Quebec, Canada. Learn Teaching and Learning blog.