Category Archives: From the Field

Stories from teachers and students in our schools

Summertime Reads from the LEARN Team Vol. IV

When the time finally rolls round to assemble this final LEARN blog post of the year, most educators we encounter tend to be dazed, confused – often struggling to understand what the heck just happened over the past school year.

Are the exams done yet? Did I get all my marks in correctly? Have I cleaned out the moldy lunches from the staff room fridge? Is my classroom reset for next year? Did I wish everyone a happy summer vacay? Am I allowed to go home now??? Please? Well, if you’re reading this post, all these questions should be settled, and the summer sun beckons you to loaf out! Yes, get outside, away from the books, papers, pens, white boards, chalk, overhead projectors, iPads, lunch boxes, school bells, urinals, after-school meetings, cafeteria smells and of course your beloved classroom/school/office. It’s time to celebrate solitude, relaxation and a ton of wonderful sunshine. Time for self-care… These recommended books should fit into the summertime plans pleasantly.

Julie Paré Photo par Mathis

Théo la Tornade par Anna Llenas

Vous êtes le parent d’un petit garçon plein d’énergie comme le mien ou l’enseignant.e d’un.e enfant qui bouge beaucoup en classe… Théo la tornade est un incontournable pour vous! La juxtaposition de collages, de dessins et de peinture rend les illustrations remarquables et l’histoire d’Anna Llenas profondément touchante.

“Five days, Four lost hikers, Three survivors” Kerry Cule

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

I recently read this work of fiction by fellow Canadian, Lansens, and I couldn’t put it down. When 18 year-old Wolf Truly gets stranded on the top of a mountain with three women, they start off as strangers. Their lives become entangled as they band together in an attempt to survive. I would characterize this book as a combination between a coming-of-age drama and man-vs-nature survival story. Check it out!

Shelley Armstrong

A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans

A captivating read for all animal lovers; this remarkable true story lends a unique insight into how one lone black wolf unexpectedly steals the hearts of a few lucky Juneau residents and their dogs. Hoping these incredible encounters into the unchartered world of wolves will warm your heart.

« When you were too small to tell me hello, I knew you were someone I wanted to know. » Carolyn Buteau

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a thoughtful, quiet story that imagines all of the things that both babies and children will grow up to be  including creative, clever as well as brave and bold. This charming picture book is guaranteed to appeal to readers of all ages… especially parents and grandparents.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

I will probably read this book another few hundred times over the summer, as it is Jacob’s favourite. Apart from the fun truck sounds (Beep beep beep goes Blue!) and animal noises, Little Blue Truck teaches the importance of friendship, kindness and teamwork. When everyone works together with Blue, even the largest tasks can be accomplished.

Dianne Conrod

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

Based on real incidents in the late 2000’s, The Boat People provides a fictionalized account of a cargo ship full of Sri Lankan refugees arriving in Canada. The story is told from three alternating perspectives: a refugee man separated from his young son; a political appointee to the role of adjudicator who decides whether the refugees, suspected of being terrorists, will be welcomed or deported; and a young lawyer of Sri Lankan descent who is assigned to the case despite her preference for corporate law. A spirited discussion was sparked in my book club this month about the real events, their relevance, and the layered characters developed by Bala.

Michael Canuel

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

I enjoy most every type of book, but I make a real attempt to read good literature.  This book falls into that category.  A Man Booker prize winner in 2006, it incorporates two tales that deal with migration and culture clash.  One character is an undocumented Indian worker in the States trying to find a way to simply survive.  The second character is an Indian girl who was raised in the Soviet Union at a time when India and the USSR were particularly friendly, but who, after the death of her parents, is returned to India to live with her aging grandfather. Their personal narratives touch on themes relevant to us all on both a personal and social level.  The language and imagery are outstanding and the descriptions captivating. As an audiobook, the reader is simply perfect.
Paul Rombough
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

An old reading tradition of mine was to try and get through one great (and often long) book over the course of a summer. Being quite a slow reader, and tending to take my time on each word, long voyages were the only times I could get through essentials like Ulysses, Moby Dick and Anna Karenina, often squinting over pages blasted into brightness by a Spanish sun, or dimmed into shadows on the midnight train platforms of France. But on one such journey, I remember running out of words almost immediately, as I screamed through the Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude in only a few days. A classic for those of my generation, it is a must-read if you’re young and haven’t had the chance already. From the first pages, this wonder of magic realism will take you for a ride through history, family, and language that you will never forget.

Dannielle Dyson

Bannock, Beans and Black Tea: Memories of a Prince Edward Island Childhood in the Great Depression by John Gallant and Seth

If you were playing “when I was your age…” against John Gallant, he would win hands down, easily. He did it all, walked to school in bare feet, and for miles in the snow everyday, while surviving on little else than boiled or raw root vegetables. These true stories told to Seth, during long car rides with his Dad, are transformed into this collectible art work of hand-written short vignettes and classic Seth illustrations. This memoir is not for the faint of heart, but for fans of young characters with a tenacity of purpose.

Kristine Thibeault

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys

This is a (not so) oldie, but a goodie! A 2002 National Bestseller by Canadian author Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden is a beautifully written coming of age story set in the English countryside during the Blitz. A tribute to both writing and gardening, this book is poetic, short and oh so sweet… and my vote for a perfect summertime read.
Natalie Dahlstedt

SISU – The Finnish Art of Courage by Joanna Nylund

I picked up this book to have a deeper look at my genetic roots. SISU (pronounced see-zoo) is something everyone has that must be cultivated in order to live by it. By doing so, you can face life’s adversity with courage and determination, increase your well-being and concentration, communicate with confidence, solve conflictual situation efficiently, develop endurance to reach objectives, raise kids so they are good with resilience and act with integrity while defending what is dear to you. Happy reading!

Audrey McLaren

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This author’s writing style is what I loved the most about this book, although the story is just as compelling as the hypnotic style in which it’s written. Ann Patchett is one of those writers whose words take you to another place altogether. I’ve also read “State of Wonder” by her, an absolute nail-biter, and I plan to read everything else she’s read.

Thomas Stenzel

The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain

This book is for those of you who miss the honest reflections and comments about food, travel, politics and life that made “No Reservation” and “Parts Unknown” such interesting TV series, this book of “Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps,and Bones” will provide the same but in written form.

Michael Clarke

Des Choses Fragiles by Neil Gaiman

This summer, I want to improve my french by reading one of my favourite author’s collection of short stories. Neil Gaiman has captured the essence of gods, old and new, so this book should replenish my imagination. Just the sort of chill vibes I need to decompress and disconnect from reality (read: the news)

Chris Colley

Meathead by Meathead Goldwyn

In an effort to fuse my two passions; science and BBQ, I’m all over this gem! The science of flame, smoke and meats… Yum! Let the BBQing begin.

Teachers leading the way with reconciliACTION

June 21st is National Indigenous People’s Day.  I’m taking this moment, four years after the release of the final report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools to reflect on the role of teachers, students and schools in responding to reconciliation and highlighting a new resource to use in the upcoming school year.

In April 2013, I had the opportunity to attend events in Montreal as part of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commision on Residential Schools.  As a non-Indigenous person, I had become more aware of the history of residential schools in Canada during the previous year and mostly through the work of dedicated teachers using the Project of Hope resources and participation in the Kairos Blanket Exercise, a participatory storytelling exercise of reconciliation.

A refrain that strongly resonated with me was that the story of residential schools is one of the stories of Canadian history.  I had not learned about residential schools in my formal schooling. It was later that I was introduced to this long, dark chapter in Canada’s history. It is not something that is easily overcome as a nation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) outlined Calls to Action, to  “advance the process” of reconciliation.  As educators, Call to Action 62 speaks directly to our work in schools and with students.  It outlines recommendations including “Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools”.

It is evident that six years later more work needs to be done, and I was contacted recently by Justin Boehringer, Education Associate of the Legacy Schools program, an initiative of the Indigenous led education organization the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.  Justin shared with me a new set of resources for teachers and students to learn about the residential school experience and participate in education for reconciliation.

I had a great conversation with Justin and wanted to share some of the highlights.  My hope is that you will register as a Legacy School and use the resources to bring the lessons into your school and classroom.

We, the teachers have the power to respond to the TRC call to action and ensure the next generation knows about the history of residential schools, as one example of racist policies towards Indigenous peoples which must be addressed to create true reconciliation.


I started off by asking Justin how Legacy Schools got started?

Mike Downie – Downie Wenjack Fund

“Legacy Schools got started with Canadian music icon Gord Downie’s book, The Secret Path [a graphic novel and album]. He was working on a book about the story of Chenie Wenjack, a boy who ran away from a residential school in the 1960s.  It was the first death of a residential school student that made national headlines back in the 60s.  Gord Downie heard about it later in life and it  moved him to create this legacy project –  to help with Indigenous education across Canada”.

“The Legacy Schools program, is encouraging schools to use the book, The Secret Path to teach students and staff about the Residential School system and Indigenous education, encouraging them to take some action for reconciliation”.


What impact have you seen among the teachers and students that participated in the Legacy Project?

Not just students, but teachers have been able to take their own learning and their own path in Indigenous education  They are using the tools to create a reconciliation action. Usually learning takes place using a text book…by becoming a Legacy School, the idea is that learning can happen by taking action, getting out into the community.  It’s creating the connection between the schools and community that is a huge benefit for reconciliation as a whole.

I asked Justin what he meant by community and he explained that “community means local Indigenous communities in the local area of the High School or non Indigenous communities. It’s really teaching and helping both of those communities come together”.

So often, it’s just schools doing things on their own, or there is sometimes a disconnect with the school and local community.  We really encourage, the connection – bringing in members of the local indigenous community into the school, to be part of the reconciliation action.  Whenever doing some sort of reconciliation, the local Indigenous community can join the members of the school in that action.


What kind of support can Legacy Schools offer teachers that get involved?

The most tangible support is the Legacy Schools Toolkit, which includes a copy of the Secret Path book and lesson plans to help teach about residential schools and Indigenous education.

We provide support for actions these schools can take.  We provide support in helping them come up with ideas, helping brainstorming how to get from the ideas stage to the action stage.


From your experience, what are some lessons learned when starting a reconciliACTION?

The biggest lesson is about learning about local Indigenous history in the communities of the schools, rather than a textbook.  When you can get in touch with a local community and have elders share oral history that you will never find in a textbook. Without this opportunity, some of this stuff will never be learned by the non Indigenous community, because oral history is only really shared through elders passing it down through the younger generation, so if it’s not taught to the younger generations, there is a risk of it being lost forever, so through our Legacy Schools, we’re really encouraging that connection, helping that history stay alive.


What is your hope for the Legacy Schools, one year from now, five years from now?  What are you dreaming about?

Currently we’re in over 700 schools across Canada, obviously the end goal would be, to be in every school in Canada to be a member of our Legacy Schools program.

The goal right now is to increase the engagement in our program, encouraging more schools to use this tool to teach about Indigenous history, to teach about residential schools history and showing that one boy’s story can represent the story of thousands of other students.

The end goal is to create an awareness, to normalize Indigenous education and make it an everyday aspect of the school rather than a one-off unit.  Having schools take reconciliation and doing action towards it, rather than just talking about it.


Secret Path Week

If you’re interested in becoming a Legacy School, register now so you can be included in the next shipment of resources in September.  The resources can be used to participate in the Secret Path Week (October 17-22, 2019).

The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund would like to inspire Legacy Schools to use this week to answer Gord Downie’s call to action, to “do something” by creating a reconciliACTION.  A reconciliACTION is any meaningful action that aims to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together in the spirit of reconciliation through education, awareness and understanding.

All Legacy schools are asked to participate in Walk for Wenjack during Secret Path week, which culminates in a live concert.

During the lead up to Secret Path week, LEARN will host a webinar to talk about Indigenous Education in Quebec and share reconciliACTIONs.  If you are interested in the webinar or becoming part of LEARN’s Education for Reconciliation community subscribe to LEARN’s Ed4Rec newsletter here.


Walk a Mile: A story of entrepreneurship and the Arts

Entrepreneurship is a way for individuals to be fulfilled, express their values, bring their ideas to life, gain control of their lives and contribute to their community. Entrepreneurial spirit is forged and evolves throughout one’s life in accordance with one’s personality, experience and environment

Nathan Gage and his James Lyng Secondary three students knock another project out of the park with “WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES” – a student-curated exhibition that showcases customized shoes, designed and painted by James Lyng High School students. I attended the vernissage and struck by how it made me reflect upon what symbols I would put on my shoes and I can’t remember the last time I went to an art show that left me with such an impression.

Embedded in each of their shoes are symbols which were chosen by the students to tell stories from their lives. Each pair of shoes is accompanied by a short film featuring students explaining the meaning behind their symbols.  The exhibition was conceived and carried out by Secondary 3 students in their Entrepreneurship class. This large-scale, interdisciplinary project involved classwork carried out in five different classes at James Lyng High School.

To help make the project happen, the class wrote Vans Shoes and received a donation of 24 pairs of white sneakers.

Participating students brainstormed meaningful symbols which they would later integrate in their shoe design. After writing about each symbol’s relevance, the students were provided with a new pair of all-white Vans sneakers. Students drew, stitched, painted and stenciled their symbols to create their customized shoes.

In March 2019, the shoes were showcased in a multi-media show curated by James Lyng’s Entrepreneurship class at the school’s Up Next Art Gallery. Each pair of shoes was accompanied by a short film in which the student artist tells the stories behind their symbols.

The students presented a short documentary chronicling the process of conceiving, organizing and curating the show which you can see above.

To complement the customized shoes, a large-scale mural, painted by students under the supervision of local artist, Haks, enhanced the gallery walls.

“It’s not just the fact that you get free shoes. It’s that you get to create something that no one else has, and you can do whatever you want on it,” says Secondary 5 student Keshaun Jarvis.

“It’s about how you feel at the end of the day. It’s a representation of what you think and what you feel.” Student organizer Colby McLean-Ross adds, “It was a deep and meaningful project. Thinking of what to put on the shoes was my favorite part, and now that I have the finished product, I really am proud.”

Walk a Mile was a local winner of the Osentreprende competition for Secondary Cycle 2.  

Strap on headphones and check out James Lyng’s music label website – featuring music by their students.

Images from the documentary


Do Board Games Have a Place in Education?

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion around gamifying the classroom, from classroom management apps like Classroom Dojo, to gamifying curriculum milestones. But what about good ol’ board games? You know, the ones that you play with other people, that come with a box with nifty cards or playing pieces? Do board games have a place in education? With their requirements for critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, reasoning, communication and collaboration skills – not to mention being able to win and lose with grace –  board games bring to life what is often hard to teach.

Modern vs Traditional Board Games

It is hard to ignore the comeback of board games over the past decade or so. There are many examples: board game nights, themed cafés and bars. The art of the game is alive and well, and taking place off screens for the most part, and in connection with real live people. New, modern board games are often a far cry from the luck-based games we all know, like Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, or Sorry. Also, they are often far more accessible than a skill-based game like chess.

Modern board games are where fun and intellectual development meet. When players are immersed in an authentic game, they surrender themselves to the modified rules of its world. Activities that would normally be met with disdain in the context of schoolwork are happily completed within the game. This is because an authentic game provides structured competition, recreation and intellectual challenge all in one package.

Modern Board Games in the Classroom

Settlers of CatanIf you bring to the table an authentic game, which also happens to have curricular connections, then you have something powerful. Students can see through educational games as another worksheet in disguise and they can get put off. With authentic games, the students are eager to succeed at the game and to do so, they quite naturally utilize many cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, pattern recognition, logical reasoning, etc.

It is the same power that drives “real-world” connections in the classroom. As educators, we try to make real-world connections to the content we are teaching so that the lesson has more meaning and context for the students. Games create that context through well-developed themes and so, meaning materializes as the students strive to succeed in this brave new world with its unique set of rules. This is just one of the important connections board games have to the concept of Deep Learning. The following is an example of this.

In the game Diamant, players pretend to be adventurers who explore a cave that is filled with valuable treasure…and traps. Players make choices simultaneously, with players deciding if they will continue to push on further into the cave with the aim of eventually leaving with more treasure than their opponents. Higher risk and higher reward.

Once players have made their choice to continue into the cave or leave with the treasures they have already found, a new cave card is revealed, either displaying an amount of treasure that must be shared between the players still in the cave, or a trap which can potentially end the round, forcing any players in the cave to lose all the treasures they have found that round. With the simple mechanism of “push your luck”, the game provides an opportunity to practice division and probability while encouraging imagination, cooperation, and fun.

Social Development

Board games develop students’ social skills by enhancing the affective need for friendship and socialization as well as collaboration among peers. They teach students how to resolve conflict in a safe environment since the rules of the game will dictate the appropriate course of action. Playing games helps students communicate and collaborate (play nice, win nice, lose nice). Students can learn how to accept loss as well as victory. For students who have difficulty in social situations, games can provide a less stressful way to interact socially with their peers and can help those peers develop empathy.Girl Contemplates the World

In terms of Deep Learning, a sense of belonging has been shown to play a pivotal role in learning. Playing a board game with other students creates an almost ideal social situation, ripe with opportunity to connect and help one another even though the game objective may be competitive, since understanding and running the game properly requires teamwork. Face-to-face interaction provides meaningful connections with others, reducing some of the emotional strain some children may be feeling, thereby encouraging a safe environment.

We have successfully incorporated regular board game play in the EMSB Strengthening Educational and Emotional Development (SEEDS) classroom. Students in this class have a variety of social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties. The changes we have observed in these students have been remarkable.Mancala, traditional African board game The amount of teachable situations that arise when playing a board game provide ample opportunity to work on specific skills such as self-regulation, cooperation, communication, and other unwanted behaviours.

Again, situations that would normally result in overtly aggressive reactions (skipping turns, moving another player piece, taking a game component someone else wanted, losing, etc.) are resolved with less and less need for intervention. The students have been able to express themselves rationally, work through upsetting situations calmly, and participate fully with one another. The students also had the opportunity to teach the games they have learned to the rest of the school and have invited the school community to participate in a family board game night that they will be hosting.

In Conclusion

With a variety of game mechanics such as Roll and Move, Worker Placement, Role Selection, Simultaneous Action, Open Movement, Set Collection, Cooperative Play etc., modern games force players to interpret, inquire, explore and act based on information from many sources. I believe that we can bridge the inherent learning potential of game play with the regular instructional program.

This is a guest post by Matt Pinchuk. Matt Pinchuk who is a West Island entrepreneur who has launched the website, which seeks to give students the opportunity to learn through play, intellectually and socially, using modern board games.
You can contact him at: mattpinchuk[at]gmail[dot]com

Inside Birding: How community partnerships can ignite student curiosity

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”

-David Attenborough, The Life of Birds

This is the story of how an adult with a passion for birds and a dedicated teacher can get kids hooked on learning about the world around them, giving them the chance to follow their natural curiosity in and outside of the classroom.

Over the last three years, Maureen Caissy, a teacher at Cedar Street School in the town of Beloeil (Riverside School Board) partnered with Sheldon Harvey, a member of Bird Protection Quebec (BPQ). Together, they have been capturing the imagination and engagement of her split grade 4 and 5 students through the simple pleasure of bird watching, linking habitat conservation, biology and art with the joy of getting outside and exploring.

It all started when Brian Peddar, the Community Development Agent for the Richelieu Valley Community Learning Centre connected the school with Sheldon Harvey, a local member of Bird Protection Quebec, a provincial charity dedicated to bird conservation and education. Sheldon is a passionate bird watcher and a natural storyteller; he is one of those people whose passion is contagious. When Maureen’s students listened to Sheldon talk about the many birds that lived in their community and how they could identify them, the students were hooked.

Maureen knew that observing birds in their natural environment would be a natural next step and an essential part of keeping the students engaged. So after applying for, and receiving, a small grant from BPQ, the class bought and installed a well-constructed bird feeder outside their window and started watching visiting birds with the help of binoculars and a digital camera to quickly snap a photo, allowing the class to zoom in and study the bird once it had flown away.

Once the initial spark of curiosity was there, the students continued learning about birds using educational resources developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell has a great app called Merlin Bird ID that helps identify birds. The app asks questions and narrows down the possibilities to a few choices based upon the season and location of the bird sighting.

“I’d be teaching and then all of a sudden a kid would yell out ‘Bird!’ and all the kids would flock to the window”. Maureen, being one of those teachers who could recognize a learning opportunity, was not thrown off by the brief rush of excitement and enthusiasm of a bird visitor to the class feeder.

From there Maureen set up learning stations which allowed students to learn more about bird identification, peruse books about bird species, how to use binoculars, a camera and how to identify birds using the Merlin app. Students also worked with bird journals which they used to collect data and record the birds that they were observing.

Maureen also engaged parents and families by sending home a list of local birds, including rare birds that could be found in the region. Students were provided with bird journals which they were able to take home. She wanted to keep the observation of birds “old school”, consciously keeping the students off smartphones while they were outside. She showed them how to use the journal to record the location of the sighting, the exact time of day, the habitat, size of the bird and what the bird was doing.

Over time, most kids used binoculars at home and had bird feeders installed in their backyards. Using the journal wasn’t seen as a homework assignment, but something fun they could do. “They all started to draw these amazing pictures and keeping track of the birds they were seeing. They were so naturally curious, they started learning all the bird names on their own”.

“We did a backyard bird count, [an activity promoted by BPQ], and when we went around the school we saw about 20 different types of birds. The kids knew all their names and this all just happened because they were genuinely curious and interested, it was really fun”.

Another highlight was the field trips to a local park. Sheldon brought one or two guides with him, and clear expectations were given to the students about bird watching etiquette, like “you can’t be loud or you will scare the birds away.” 

Brian Peddar who helped tie the partnership together explained that he saw students “out in the environment in nature, looking through scopes, being little scientists”. He also added that many parents join students on field trips, which “is kind of special and inspires bird feeders [at home]”!

According to Maureen, during the bird watching trip, Sheldon was able to keep the students attention, they were really curious as he talked about the birds that could be found around the park. “Some kids were furiously writing down notes!”

During the field trip, students saw flocks of birds landing in water. They also got the chance to use a powerful spotting scope and learned how to position it.

Maureen points out that since the birds are always there, it is a great topic to focus on throughout the school year, providing numerous opportunities to engage students while addressing multiple curricular goals.

Listen to Maureen Caissy discuss the project:


Classroom Activities Curriculum links
Build a parabolic dish out of a garbage can To explore the world of science and technology

Experiments with sound, listening to birds (science experiments)

Learning about habitats Research projects, theme of animals and classification system.
Bird counts and other citizen science projects Observing something in nature, collecting data.
Studying where the birds are coming from and being aware of the long distance birds are flying Territory maps and scaling
Bird Journals Using language to communicate and learn, writing information texts


About Bird Protection Quebec (BPQ)

Bird Protection Quebec (BPQ) was founded in 1917 and is one of the oldest bird conservation oriented charities in Canada. Part of their mission is to educate the public about bird and habitat conservation. As a way to fulfill their mission, they offer modest grants to help schools and community organizations get involved and participate in bird watching.

Here at LEARN, we are thankful that BPQ and people like Sheldon are available to work with teachers to help expose young people to real-world learning opportunities that can’t be found in a text book.

In fact, the whole family can join in on the fun by attending one of BPQ’s free weekly birding field trips, hosted in and around the Montreal area.

To learn more about BPQ and its services, visit their website.

This bird has flown

So, that’s it! I wanted to share this story of how a teacher and a community partner got their students really jazzed up about learning through real-world experiences.

I’m telling you this, because I’m inspired by the image of young people across the province really getting engaged in bird watching. As a teacher interested in the environment, bird watching is a natural and positive entry point to begin observing nature, experiencing the intrinsic importance of habitat preservation and observing biodiversity.

If you would like to hear more about great projects that engage students in engaging with their local environment, I invite you to join our new LEARN Community Service Learning page. It is a space to learn, share and be inspired by engaging projects that see students addressing authentic community needs.

How can I learn more?

Join us for a webinar on Wednesday, March 13th from 3:45-4:45 pm. Cedar Street teachers Maureen, Nadine and BPQ member Sheldon will share more stories and there will be time for questions. Click here to register.

Teacher Appreciation – There’s More to Teaching Than What Happens in the Classroom!

When we picture educators, perhaps we most often usually imagine them in a classroom full of students, in front of a whiteboard, or working at a desk. Many of the teachers highlighted this week, are also appreciated for what they do outside of the classroom walls. Whether the teacher coaches sports, organizes clubs, or engages students in community activities, builds confidence along with academic skills or is an expert in home-school communication and connection, all of those highlighted below have stood out as AWESOME to the families who took time to send messages of appreciation this week. There is more to learning than what happens in the classroom!

Highlighted teachers:”Keep doing what you are doing!”  Thank you!

Lindsay Woodman, Pontiac High School, WQSB

Ms. Woodman not only teaches French but encourages kindness and compassion for others in a fun way. Her students were expected to write letters to people that were affected by the Tornado last fall. Along with all their heartfelt letters, her classes made different types of cookies to donate as well. A simple gesture to show others that THEY CARE. At Christmas time, she repeated this but it was given to the elders at a Senior Home in our Community. Small acts of kindness can mean the world to a person on the receiving end.

As well as encouraging our children to be kind, she offers help to her students who need review or are struggling in class. I feel Ms. Woodman goes above and beyond her teacher duties. In my opinion, this makes her one of the best!

Photo provided by nominator


Anik Verner-Bernard, Gault Institute, NFSB

Anik on paper is a Grade 6 teacher; however, at Gault Institute she is much more than that. She is an innovative thinker, a dreamer, an active community citizen, a go-getter, an adventurer- a person that makes things happen.


Anik piloted cooking club at Gault, and is involved in homework club, drama club and student council. She wants what is best for the school and is not afraid to apply, apply and apply again for grants in order to make something happen. She believes students can learn from alternative and outside of classroom experiences. It takes a community to raise a child and Anik is a major part of our school community. The students and staff are lucky to be around her energy each day.


Will McGowan, LEARN Tutoring

Nima loves Mr. McGowan because he is able to relate to him. Mr. McGowan is also very flexible to what is important to Nima from week to week.

Finally, as a dad when I have a suggestion Mr. McGowan builds it in to his lesson plan, and I and the teachers can see the results in Nima’s ability and confidence.

Keep It Up and Happy Teachers’ Day!

Sean Cassin, Heritage Regional High School, RSB

You know a teacher is awesome when your child comes home and states, “I really like Mr. Cassin!” When asked why Mr. Cassin was so awesome, my son expressed, “Well…he knows what I do. Like, he knows my sports schedule”.

My son is fortunate to have Mr. Cassin as his basketball program coach, his school team basketball coach and for other classroom subjects. It’s teachers like Mr. Cassin that keep students engaged in school and support them to be the best they can be. Thank you, Mr. Cassin!

Beth Watson, Pinewood Elementary, SWLSB

“Describe why this teacher is SO awesome:”

EVERYTHING! She’s awesome in every way possible! My son has grown so much confidence in his class. All the children love her! She is strict but fair. It shows she loves her career!

Aurore Chanteigner, Edward Murphy School, EMSB

This teacher is so awesome because she takes time with students that need an extra push. She’s helped my daughter Nadia a lot.

Fallon Vechsler, Pinewood Elementary, SWLSB

Miss V is devoted, patient, kind, encourages the students.
She is appreciated by students and parents!

Heather Craig, Heritage Regional High School, RSB

Ms. Craig is my son’s grade 7 English teacher. From the way she communicates with parents and students, to the variety of activities the students do in her class, Ms. Craig is at the top of the AWESOME list.

Thank you for making the transition to grade 7 so exciting for my son. You are not only teaching the curriculum, but building skills that will help him be successful not only in high school but in life. You make school fun!

Kaitlin Hearty, Dr. S.E. McDowell School, WQSB

Mme. Kaitlin is a very kind, and helpful person. She is very easy to talk to and will answer any question or concern we have. Our mornings are always rushed when our son is in a hurry to get to school, and he even wants to go on weekends. She is very helpful and reassuring with each and every student and their ability to learn and grow, and is always a pleasure to talk to.

As she once told us, I say the same to her, “Keep doing what you are doing!” Great job!

Mylène Campeau, Edgewater Elementary, LBPSB

The best Kindergarten teacher for my daughter! My daughter had a hard time during her last year at daycare, before going to the “big school”. A lot of anxiety, trouble communicating and controlling her emotions, etc. After the first few days in school, I knew Mme Mylène was the perfect match for her. Her patience and calm ways are shining through my daughter and is making such a difference in her life.

It is great to see her blossom and shine the way she is and Mme Mylène has a big part to play in this success. Thank you for being the best teacher for my daughter!

Carole Bamford, Heritage Regional High School, RSB

There are so many amazing teachers at Heritage but the one that stands out the most to me is Ms. Bamford. You know a teacher is great when she/he puts effortless time into student success, and that’s what Ms. Bamford does. I am so thankful to have met her 3 years ago as a math teacher.


Read about the educators who were highlighted last week in the first post for Teacher Appreciation Week here.

If you missed out on the opportunity to send a shout-out to an appreciated staff member of your local school, feel free to add a shout-out in the comments.

Teacher Appreciation – Merci! Thank you!

This year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, as highlighted by le Ministère de l’Éducation et Enseignement Supérieur, has as its very simple theme: Thanks! Merci!

MEES Virtual Card –

Expressing and recognizing gratitude has been shown to make one feel happier. It is all too easy to focus on the negative. Taking stock of all the things for which we have to be grateful will surely make us feel better.  Just think about how happy it would make someone if you shared that gratitude! 🙂

That is exactly what these happy folks did in their shout-outs for educators across Quebec, featured in our 2019 edition of LEARN’s Teacher Appreciation Blog Posts. Thank you for spreading your happiness! (We’ll post again next week, so please keep the shout-outs coming: )

Johanne Lemaire, Forest Hill Junior, LBPSB

Last year at Forest Hill Junior we had a hard time to say goodbye to our phenomenal Kindergarten teacher only to find an equally amazing Grade 1 teacher. I have had the pleasure to volunteer in Mme Lemaire’s class and I am completely floored by how she manages her students. I can barely command one child and there she is leading 18 6-7 year olds and they are ALL listening to her and she has their attention immediately. Little cues to grab attention, little nudges individually to motivate, little looks to let them know they need to stop, encouragement to keep trying, tools to learn the word and sounds, books coming and going to our home, flash cards. It is almost impossible not to flourish in her atmosphere. I do reading with the children, As in all classes, some are more advanced than others. I had children who could not even read a letter at the beginning who are now reading sentences, as if it just clicked at some point for them through all her hard work. We love Mme. Lemaire and we love Forest Hill Junior. What a wonderful way to start our elementary life.

Thank you for being a perfect fit for your job, Mme Lemaire.

Carrie-Ann Novinsky, Pinewood Elementary, SWLSB

Ms. Carrie-Ann is a truly wonderful & special teacher in so many ways. My daughter Alexandra loves her so much! She is a very kind, calm, patient and understanding teacher among other terrific qualities. She always takes time out for her students and the parents. She has fun ideas for the students to do while learning. My daughter enjoys going to school everyday because of the amazing way Ms. Carrie-Ann teaches and by being such a sweet teacher.

Thank you Ms. Carrie-Ann for being such an amazing teacher! We love you!

Darren McCready, McDowell Elementary School, WQSB

My child was feeling anxious about starting Grade 4 so she was able to come in the day before school started to meet her teacher, Mr. McCready. He was very empathetic while reassuring her that if she felt overwhelmed, she could talk to him. After term one, we had parent/teacher interviews and my child attended it with me. The interview began with him telling me how she was doing but before ending, he talked directly to her… saying how he knew she would continue to succeed because she was a hard-worker. My daughter has always struggled in school so to hear his words and praise… it made her feel so encouraged and proud of herself.

Thank you Mr. McCready, for being a supportive and understanding teacher to my daughter! We are so grateful!

Jordan Venne, PACC, LBPSB

After many struggling years of becoming a single parent to two children with special needs, I decided to return to school to acquire my high school diploma. It took me 3 long years to achieve my diploma, but throughout all my studies, Jordan was my go to teacher, for any kind of help. I have a handful of teachers who really helped me throughout my achievements, I do not want to exclude them for their amazing guidance: Jordan, Lethisha, Isaac, John, Teddy and Gene, without all of you, I would have never made it through adult education.
My first time at PACC I met Jordan, he was my math teacher, at this time he was teaching cycle 1 math. Although I was motivated to continue my education, I was scared, shy and doubted my abilities of what I could achieve by continuing my schooling.
This awesome teacher showed the love and dedication of being a teacher by constantly reminding me I can do anything I set my mind to, as well as to believe in myself. Every time I said I could not do something or when I would doubt my ability to achieve something, he always had something inspiring to change my mind set. As an adult, those daily reminders changed my life before I even noticed myself changing. As important as that is for children growing up throughout their education, I believe in the adult sector it is equally as important. Not only did Jordan motivate me, but he took personal time on his breaks to help tutor me, even as I began higher math with other teachers.
Sadly, just when I got comfortable with Jordan helping me on my journey, he broke me the devastating news that he is leaving PACC, he was given an opportunity to work directly at the school board. When Jordan left, I found myself struggling with my math studies, so I decided to reach out to him asking him for help. This amazing teacher went above and beyond by introducing me to websites that could help me, showed me how to solve certain equations through a video he made for me just so I could succeed and understand what I was doing. Most importantly, in my emails asking for help, he always made sure to include one of his motivational speeches just to assure me that I am on the right road and not to worry.

Photo provided by nominator.

This past summer (2018) I finally graduated and yes Jordan was there, up front, watching me graduate. I was so proud of not only myself but of this awesome teacher who kept his promise by going out of his way to come and watch me walk across the stage.



This is beyond touching to have that kind of a bond with a teacher who helped curve my path in my educational road to success. Jordan, Thank you. 

Paola Casale, Leonardo-Da-Vinci Academy, EMSB

Over the course of our children’s early years, they will meet and be guided by many educators and caregivers. Sometimes, we will be fortunate enough to come across that special someone who truly leaves a mark on your child, helping them to grow confidant and learn new things every day. Both of my children have been blessed to have been in Ms. Paola’s kindergarten class at LDVA. Without a doubt, Ms. Paola truly loves what she does and it comes across in her work with our children. My daughter’s first reaction whenever she learns something new at home is to say that she cannot way to tell/show Ms. Paola. The connection between educator and child is such an important one, as they spend so much time together over the course of a school year. I am so very thankful to know that my children have been in such good hands.

Thank you Ms.Paola, for all that you do.

Vilma Scattolin, LEARN Tutoring

Vilma supports our son John with his learning on a weekly basis. We most appreciate the constructive interaction between the 2 and John’s math skills have tremendously improved in the last few months. Vilma also provides John with weekly feedback that helps with improving and developing his math skills.

Thank you Vilma for your commitment and dedication to our children, keep up the great work. John most appreciates you and looks forward to his lessons with you each and every week!

Diana Samaan, Pinewood Elementary, SWLSB

Merci Miss Diana d’accompagner notre fils Liam dans son évolution et de lui donner le goût d’en apprendre toujours plus.

Vanessa DaSilva and All of the staff at Flemming Elementary School, ESSB

Big shout out & thank you to all staff at Flemming Elementary- everyday you go above and beyond to insure both the happiness and success of the students. Each year we thank our son’s teachers and this year like previous years we are very blessed. Thank you Ms DaSilva for all you do each and everyday ~ your dedication to your class is so heartwarming to see .. we are all very lucky to have you ♥️ and want you to know that we appreciate everything you do to include and make everyone feel accepted and cared for.

All staff at Flemming Elementary ~ the support staff .. teaching staff and administrators deserve a ginormous thank you, you all are so kind, dedicated, and welcoming. When you enter the doors at Flemming Elementary it’s not just a feeling of being in a school~ you have a sense of community and pride and we are very honoured to be part of it ♥️

It’s not too late! Add a shout out in the comments below.

Read about the educators who were highlighted in the second post for Teacher Appreciation Week here.


Daily Physical Activity in Schools. Let’s Get a Move On!

Schools have an important role to play in helping students to understand issues related to health and well-being and to adopt a healthy lifestyle. They must provide students with an environment that is safe and conducive to their optimal personal and emotional development, and also ensure that they have many opportunities to move. This responsibility goes well beyond the physical education and health program; it requires the concerted action of all school staff members, working closely with parents, health professionals, community planners and others in the school and community.”
The Health and Well-Being Broad Area of Learning,
Quebec Education Program, p. 44

The following is a post by guest blogger Katherine Baker, Physical Education and Health Consultant at the English Montreal School Board.

Long before the Ministry introduced Mesure 15023 – À l’école, on bouge! in the 2017-18 school year, it was clear that schools have an important role to play in the daily physical activity levels of children. The initiative in question distributed funding to 450 elementary schools across Quebec to support them in providing students with the opportunity to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity each school day. The above excerpt from the Health and Well-Being Broad Area of Learning, published in 2001, highlights two critical points with regard to physical activity: the importance of daily movement, and the fact that it is the responsibility of the school as a whole to ensure students move enough during the day.

Fast-forward 18 years and although we have a long way to go as an educational community before we can say that, as a whole, schools are an active place, we thankfully also have many examples of schools to look to as active school models and we also have an incredible amount of resources available to support schools in including more movement in the school day (see ParticipACTION’s 2018 Report Card on 2018 Physical Activity for Children and Youth, titled Canadian kids need to move more to boost their brain health as a start).

East Hill School Wide Class Activity Chart

Why include more movement into the school day? For starters, the answer includes an appreciation for the many ways that students – and everyone – can benefit from physical activity beyond just the oft-cited physical health benefits (which remain important, of course). The truth is, through almost any lens – whether it be physical health, cognitive functioning and learning, self-regulation, building community in the classroom and social skills development, developing physical literacy, or increasing levels of student engagement in learning – movement can help. 

Progress in each of these above-mentioned areas contributes to overall student success. Here are some examples of ways that schools are using movement to benefit students in each of these areas (as well accompanying resources). Keep in mind that these movement initiatives can happen at different times throughout the school day and in different spaces all over the school, including the schoolyard, classrooms, hallways, the gymnasium, and many other innovative spaces:

Physical Health: 15-minute periods of school-wide moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each morning benefits cognitive functioning as well as physical health. Maximizing physical activity levels (and harmony) in the schoolyard is a focal point for many schools; between recess and lunch hour, the schoolyard is the place where over half of the active minutes at school will happen for most students. See Ma Cour, Un Monde de Plaisir , a comprehensive multi-step guide for analyzing and organizing school yards (english electronic version here).  This is naturally accompanied by ensuring that recess time is a priority- see this 2017 Quebec publication The Essential Role of Recess in Children’s School Success and Health. Ensuring that students receive the minimum of 120 minutes of Physical Education and Health per week in an active setting and taught by a specialist is essential, as is ensuring that the Physical Education and Health program at the school is well supported (in terms of scheduling, funding, support for extra-curricular initiatives, not having a culture where students miss PE to make up work in other classes, etc.). Having more students walk to school through active transport initiatives (see Trottibus or the On Your Feet challenge) is a way that many schools build community while supporting the physical health of students. Given the number of hours and times-of-day that students spend in daycare, ensuring opportunities for physical activity during school-based daycare hours is also key. See the My Daycare is Physically Active/ Mon service de garde physiquement actif project. This project saw the creation of a series of six workshops for daycare educators to support the planning and inclusion of more physical activities into daycare programs (workshops among other topics address the supervision of physical activity- e.g. managing space, transitions, equipment, making teams, working with highly competitive students, safety considerations etc.-  both in the gym, classroom spaces and winter/summer play outdoors). This resource is currently in the final stages of being reviewed for sharing province-wide.

Cognitive Function and Learning: Physical activity in the morning (see video link above); movement breaks in the classroom to manage students’ states of attention/alertness; special projects like Projet MathSport de l’école secondaire Mont-Bleu.

Self-Regulation: Hallway ‘energy stations’ where students who are having trouble focusing can ask their teacher for a pass to go to a station that houses equipment and/or instructions for physical activities for a set amount of time (using pre-set timers). See this example from Forest Hill Sr. (Lester B. Pearson School Board) and this profile on L’ecole de Paix in Repentigny for another example. Similarly, many schools have DeskCycles or stationary bikes in the classroom.

Building Community and Social Skills Development: Movement can be used for many fun and engaging activities to build community in the classroom. In his book The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement, Mike Kuczala dedicates an entire chapter on using movement for the purpose of developing class cohesion.

Development of Physical Literacy: The more physically literate that students are, the more likely they are in a position to engage in opportunities for physical activity and to experience all the benefits that physical activity has to offer. Active Hallway initiatives provide students with fun ways to transition from class to class while developing their physical literacy. The Don’t Walk in the Hallway initiative originated in schools out west but many Quebec schools also now have active hallways. The Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) actually sells active hallway decals, as does the Ever Active Schools organization in Alberta.

Increasing Levels of Student Engagement in Learning: Teaching academic concepts through movement is a definite winner when it comes to increasing engagement in learning. Many teachers have gotten ideas for teaching math and language arts curriculum actively from Moving EducationSome schools use materials from Gopher Sport’s Active Academics line or Flaghouse’s Active Classroom Kit (warning – not cheap!) to incorporate more movement in the classroom.  Similarly, for a ton of ideas, Mike Kuczala devotes a whole chapter to teaching new content as well as reviewing content through movement in his book. Teachers who have started using movement more in their instruction often comment that student engagement is one of the benefits they see the most readily.

A personal favourite for reviewing content is an activity (from “The Kinesthetic Classroom” book) called Footloose, where questions are written on cue cards (1 question per cue card). Students each have a numbered answer sheet with spaces to answer each question. Sitting on chairs in a large circle – or staying at their desks – students must get up to exchange cards at a designated exchange point (center of a circle or other area of classroom if sitting at desks), and  can only flip their card to look at the question once they have sat back down on their chair (strict rule: must return to seat and sit down before looking at the card!). Try this in your classroom and see how much movement it creates (especially when students sit down and look at the question only to realize they have already answered it, so they get back up to exchange then sit down again – lots of squats happening!).

Making schools more active in the many different ways that are possible is actually the act of changing school culture. This article does a great job of summarizing some key elements to keep in mind when facing educational change. The way the initiative is introduced to school staff has also been a difference maker at many schools – the more involvement and input from staff, the better. Having little things that maintain momentum and motivation, like this schoolwide class activity tracker from East Hill Elementary (EMSB) or the organization of a Family Physical Activity Night helps solidify the message and keep momentum going, particularly during a period of culture change.

There are so many reasons why more movement in the school day is the best move!  Have fun exploring what it can bring to your teaching, your students, and your school!

For more information, listen to:

Katherine Baker on CJAD

Katherine Baker on TSN 690



And now visit the new Daily Physical Activity section on LEARN
where these resources and others will be available!




La ludopédagogie


Nous ne cessons pas de jouer parce que nous sommes vieux; nous devenons vieux parce que nous cessons de jouer. George Bernard Shaw

Après avoir assisté à un atelier donné par Geneviève Ducharme et Emilie Laquerre sur la ludopédagogique, j’étais tellement emballée que j’ai décidé de vous partager leur excellent travail. Je les ai donc invitées à répondre à mes questions.



C’est une méthode utilisée dans la formation professionnelle consistant à sortir les participants de leur contexte de travail pour leur faire prendre conscience par le jeu de telle ou telle notion. L’aspect ludique de l’enseignement facilite d’ailleurs l’adhésion et l’implication des participants.

Cette méthode, aujourd’hui très présente dans les pays anglo-saxons, a été mise au point par des chercheurs canadiens dans la lignée des travaux du psychiatre et psychologue Erik Erikson.

Comment avons-nous appris l’alphabet ? En le chantant. Comment avons-nous appris à faire du vélo ? En montant dessus et en pédalant. Voilà tout l’esprit de la ludopédagogie ou apprentissage par le jeu. Et la meilleure preuve de son efficacité réside dans le fait que ces champs de compétences sont devenus inconscients, tant ils ont été acquis depuis un âge où l’acquisition par le jeu est spontanée. Définition tirée de Wikipédia :édagogie

En français, langue seconde, le jeu permet d’aborder ou de renforcer les concepts langagiers des trois compétences dans un milieu plus détendu, moins menaçant surtout pour des apprenants pour qui l’acquisition d’une deuxième langue peut être un défi. Cela met l’accent sur les rapports, sur le savoir-être en groupe tout en traitant le contenu à apprendre et cela permet aux apprenants un peu moins forts académiquement de contribuer en utilisant d’autres forces ou habiletés telles la dextérité, la résolution de problème ou le leadership.


Cette idée a pris naissance dans une école de premier cycle du secondaire il y a quelques années. Nous observions, autant dans nos classes que dans celles de nos collègues, un manque d’engagement et de motivation de la part de nos élèves. Surtout en après-midi! Nous avons donc voulu insuffler un peu de vie, une atmosphère entraînante et rassembleuse, tout en gardant en tête nos objectifs pédagogiques et le matériel à couvrir. On a pensé au jeu. On y a réfléchi, on a rassemblé nos idées, on a rassemblé du matériel et on fait quelques achats au magasin à bas prix. Voilà! Au cours de quelques années, parsemés de succès, d’échecs et de conversations intenses sur nos expérimentations, nous avons développé une expertise. Ces idées pour intégrer le jeu en classe de FLS sont tirées de nos différents parcours et adaptées au milieu scolaire. Alors il ne faut pas se surprendre si ces idées de jeu raniment des souvenirs de camps de jour, de célébrations familiales et amicales variées, de milieux sportifs ou récréatifs ou d’activités ludiques en milieu scolaire. La musique, la stratégie et l’esprit de compétition amicale, la résolution de problème et la coopération sont au rendez-vous!


À cause de manque de motivation et d’implication des apprenants

Nous vivons dans un contexte scolaire où nous avons 4 périodes par jour, les élèves sont souvent assis en rangées, prennent des notes, écoutent leurs enseignants pour des périodes de temps qui excèdent leur capacité de concentration. Bref, souvent, ils décrochent… Donc, il nous était difficile de voir ce que les élèves pouvaient vraiment faire ou ce qu’ils avaient acquis. Les activités ludiques développent en ceux qui jouent une volonté d’aller toujours plus loin et de se dépasser. Les jeux permettent aussi de modifier le rythme d’une leçon en relançant l’intérêt des élèves et d’augmenter leur confiance en soi.

Afin de créer des liens et un sentiment d’appartenance

Dans la classe au secondaire, il peut parfois être difficile de créer une ambiance propice à l’apprentissage où la coopération et la participation règnent. Le jeu permet d’améliorer le climat de classe; de faire ressortir les forces des participants, de susciter la créativité et la spontanéité, et de reconnaître les participants pour leurs contributions. Dans un climat compétitif amical, les élèves partagent un but commun, une complicité, un désir de performance, etc.

Pour différencier

Le jeu permet d’aller rejoindre un plus grand nombre d’élèves selon les intelligences multiples et les styles d’apprentissages des élèves. Il permet aussi de faire ressortir des forces, des compétences variées souvent passées inaperçues en classe. De plus, l’enseignant obtient des réactions/réponses non seulement intellectuelles, mais également émotionnelles, ceci étant dû à la nature même du jeu. Cette forme d’apprentissage global, avec une implication émotionnelle positive, est très efficace.

Pour développer les compétences

Le jeu en classe permet aux élèves de développer leurs compétences langagières tout en développant leurs compétences sociales et comportementales. C’est une belle occasion d’enseigner les compétences transversales du programme. On touche également aux trois savoirs.

  • Le savoir: les élèves acquièrent des connaissances.
  • Le savoir-faire: les élèves respectent les règles du jeu et des procédures.
  • Le savoir-être: les élèves adoptent des comportements et attitudes pendant le jeu.

Sans nécessairement le savoir, avec le jeu, les élèves apprennent à écouter les autres, à se respecter les uns les autres, à s’entraider, à prendre la parole, etc. Le jeu est une excellente occasion pour montrer aux élèves comment se comporter dans certaines situations: comment collaborer, comment interagir, comment gagner, sans oublier comment perdre. Nous ajoutons aussi le vouloir-faire. Avec le jeu, les élèves développent le désir d’aller plus loin et de se surpasser. On développe davantage la motivation d’ordre intrinsèque, qui ne nécessite pas de récompenses extérieures.



Les buts peuvent être multiples et devraient mener à l’apprentissage ou à l’évaluation.

La découverte et la recherche

Le jeu peut être utilisé lorsqu’on veut présenter un nouveau contenu ou du nouveau vocabulaire aux élèves. Par exemple, un enseignant pourrait demander aux élèves d’associer un mot à une image ou un mot à une courte définition.

Dans ce cas, les élèves font des recherches pour acquérir de nouvelles connaissances ou pour trouver des solutions convenables pour arriver à son but par essais et erreurs. Il peut être également utilisé pour l’acquisition de nouveau vocabulaire en associant images et nouveaux mots de haute fréquence ou un lexique spécialisé.

L’entraînement et la consolidation

On a tendance à oublier rapidement ce qui a été appris. Le jeu est un moyen de mettre en application ce qui a été appris à travers une pratique active. C’est également un excellent moyen de réviser et de pratiquer dans un environnement ludique. Un enseignant pourrait ainsi décider de faire un jeu pour pratiquer la conjugaison des verbes au présent.


L’observation de l’élève en train de jouer donne l’occasion à l’enseignant de l’évaluer de façon formative. Le jeu permet de constater la maîtrise des compétences des élèves. Le jeu permet également à l’enseignant de donner une rétroaction immédiate aux élèves et de réajuster ses interventions.


L’élève qui embarque dans le jeu va s’exprimer spontanément. Cet aspect ludique du jeu est très intéressant en classe de FLS, car se sentant moins menacé, l’élève prend des risques en s’exprimant en langue seconde. Des risques qu’il ne prendrait pas en situation plus formelle. Toutefois, que faire quand les élèves ont recours à leur langue maternelle? C’est tout à fait normal étant donné leur engagement à réaliser la tâche… Il faut simplement leur rappeler gentiment qu’ils doivent parler en français!



Un bon jeu doit être :

Un jeu doit développer le sentiment de joie chez les élèves; les élèves doivent avoir du plaisir à participer à cette activité.

Le jeu ne devrait pas être trop long ou compliqué à expliquer/comprendre.

Un jeu doit être bien structuré dans le temps et l’espace. Un matériel attirant, solide, robuste et bien conçu ; des règles claires, intéressantes et dynamiques ; ne garantissent rien, mais ils contribuent largement à favoriser l’attitude voulue. Un jeu pédagogique bien préparé ménage une place à l’imprévu.

Sans conséquence
Le jeu doit être sans conséquence pour les joueurs. Il faut respecter le choix des élèves de participer ou non. Il est toujours possible de proposer des alternatives, soit au sein du jeu lui-même (observateur, co animateur, arbitre, gestionnaire du matériel, etc.), soit par des activités parallèles ayant le même objectif pédagogique. Chaque élève doit sentir qu’il a une chance de réussir ou le plus possible de se reprendre.

Le jeu doit être structuré, cohérent avec les objectifs poursuivis. Cela permettra aux élèves de développer leur sentiment de performance.

Les élèves ne doivent pas connaître l’issue du jeu. Le jeu doit éveiller le désir et la curiosité des élèves.



Le plus important conseil est de travailler en équipe avec un ou deux autres enseignants. Trop souvent, chaque enseignant reste dans son coin, trop débordé par le quotidien, sans avoir l’occasion de discuter avec ses pairs. La mise en commun des outils et de la réflexion sur ces outils permettent aux enseignants de souffler davantage C’est beaucoup plus motivant quand on peut planifier, expérimenter puis partager en riant nos premières tentatives de jeu en classe, parfois chaotiques, et aussi nos succès avec des collègues qui tentent les mêmes expériences!


Tester différents jeux

Tout comme il y a beaucoup de recettes en cuisine, il existe beaucoup de jeux. Il ne faut pas hésiter à en tester plusieurs et choisir ceux avec lesquels nous sommes les plus à l’aise. Il est aussi impératif qu’on adapte les jeux selon nos goûts, nos besoins, etc.

Commencer avec des jeux courts et simples

Afin que votre expérience soit positive, il est préférable de commencer avec des jeux plus simples et faciles à utiliser. Vous aurez probablement moins de surprises et votre expérience et celle des élèves sera plus mémorable. La fois suivante, vous saurez déjà à quoi vous attendre, donc il sera plus facile de gérer la classe même si le jeu est plus complexe.

Les ratés: opportunités à saisir!

Le jeu en classe permet des discussions spontanées en grand groupe. Quand un jeu ne fonctionne pas tel qu’on l’avait planifié, nous avons un choix: soit de tout abandonner ou d’utiliser cette opportunité pour amorcer une discussion avec les élèves et susciter leur participation pour améliorer les conditions de jeu. Nous avons découvert que ces moments nous permettent de présenter des formules langagières permettant aux élèves de s’exprimer clairement selon le contexte, et l’opportunité de faire répéter ces formules telles « Je crois qu’on pourrait… » ou « J’ai remarqué que » sont vites apprises et peuvent ensuite être réinvesties dans le quotidien.

Nous avons créé un dossier sur la ludopédagogie qui propose des jeux d’équipe, des jeux rapides sans trop de matériel, des jeux d’interaction et des jeux en ligne. En plus de la description du jeu (matériel, temps, préparation, déroulement, des variantes et des suggestions de contenu en français, langue seconde), nous avons des exemples d’élèves du primaire et du secondaire qui jouent à certains jeux.

Dossier sur la ludopédagogie.


Drawing a Lesson: Familiarity Breeds Creativity

Putting herself in an unfamiliar learning setting, Christiane Dufour experienced first-hand what happens in the “making” process when one is unfamiliar with the materials and the techniques associated with them. It brought home what three teachers discovered when they implemented STEAM the Kindergarten Way through Play.
Be sure to scroll all the way down to the video at the end.

I have a confession to make: I envy the creativity and ability of those who can imagine something and then give form to it. Whether they draw it or make it, it seems to spring easily from within to be translated into the medium of their choosing. That’s an illusion of course: they learned their craft through a lot of experimentation over time.

I’ve never experienced that apparent ease. But, as a teacher, I must and do believe that you can learn anything when you set your heart to it. So, listening to the admonitions of the adage that you’re never too old to learn, I decided to take art classes, starting with learning how to draw.

Drawing Materials
Drawing feet by hand (count the iterations!)

Pencils and paper; lots of paper and a good assortment of pencils! I’m in familiar territory. The teacher is great, creative. He has a road map in his head but many ways to take us along. He listens, adapts to our abilities and interests. I’m learning to draw, to manipulate these familiar pencils along with a few other simple tools to create the effects I see in my head or in the models he gives us to reproduce or to inspire us.

Every week, he enriches our toolkit of gestures and expands our capabilities by building on the previous lessons. When he shows us a technique or corrects our work, he tells us what he is doing and, while doing that, he provides us with a language for shapes, forms, gestures, tools, space and more. All good! I’m still in friendly territory. I see where this is going and, more and more, I imagine things that I could do along with an ever greater variety of ways to do them. I think my drawings are sometimes quite nice. It feels good.

After weeks of learning all kinds of techniques and eventually practicing how to draw hands in all sorts of positions, the potter’s hands emerged from my page by bringing together many of these techniques.

Reaching my potential

Setting my skills into motion

Then he throws us (me!) for a loop. He says he’ll show us a technique that will allow us to marry drawing and painting. This time, he proceeds with the lesson in steps.

  1. Apply paint to this canvas. (Voice in my head: is any particular way better than another?) Now wait to let it dry.
  2. Apply this gel to the canvas in this way. (Ok, what does the gel do? Thick or thin coat? What will it look like when it dries?)

    One of the Cheshire Cat’s Dreams
  3. Sprinkle this powder over the gel. The powder prevents the gel from drying too quickly, we are told. (OK, but my brain still wants to know what the powder will look like when gel and powder dry.)
  4. Now take this bamboo skewer and draw by scraping away the gel and powder. (Draw? What, how, why?)

This is not the end of the process; there will be a few other steps to the finished product but I don’t yet know what they are. So I draw the way I do with pencils: lines to create a shape and a few details to give it volume.
I scrape away!
I feel lost.
It doesn’t look like anything I can relate to! I can’t imagine what this will end up looking like. I can’t even think of other things I could do that would give an interesting effect. It just looks like a mess!

I have no idea what I’m doing with these materials!

This is an “ah ha!” moment for me. I feel lost.
I can’t even imagine what I could do because these materials are so unfamiliar. I don’t know what they will let me create.

And, there and then, I’m brought back to what we discovered in our STEAM in K one-year experimentation. Namely, how important it is for children to be given ample time to play with and explore materials, tools and techniques freely and with no end-product in mind. Well, this doesn’t apply just to preschool children, does it? It certainly applied to me! And it’s true for any learner at any level. It‘s true also for anything we learn, from art to coding and for all the other letters in STEAM.

LEARN by doing!

In our year-long project in which three experienced teachers implemented STEAM in Kindergarten, this fact was spectacularly brought home the day clay was introduced in the class. It was a totally new and unfamiliar medium which just shouted to be explored. Their exploration started with the medium itself.

How does it feel? How does it let itself be manipulated? What different gestures can be used to shape it? What can be done with these shapes? Then, what tools can be used to refine manipulation? How do you change its texture? How do you stick pieces together? And so much more!

After having played with clay in many ways and used different tools and techniques over several sessions, the children discovered how this material works and what they could do with the tools. It also gave the teachers time to provide them with the language associated with this medium, the vocabulary of clay, its tools and gestures. Having worked with it many times with no particular goal in mind, the children were finally able to imagine what they would like to MAKE with it AND they were able shape their idea into the clay and obtain an intentional result.

The lesson I draw from this experience is that when we are introduced to new, unfamiliar materials, practices or techniques, we need to be given the opportunity to explore the potential of the materials multiple times before we make something with it whether it be a picture, a “thing”, or a program.

I am reminded that when we observe children inventing and making things with wooden blocks, with LEGO or with cardboard boxes, we tend to forget that they are quite familiar with these materials which have been part of their environment since daycare. They can turn them into any number of wondrous creations or use them in unsuspected ways to serve their goals. Add a few new materials into the mix, such as cars, balls, PVC pipes or cardboard tubes, tape, and they will be able to imagine new things to do and to make.

Without that, we are only following instructions without much understanding or transferable learning, very much like I experienced in my fateful lesson. Familiarity breeds creativity as well as proficiency.

Observe the exploration and creativity that is possible when Kindergarten students familiarize themselves with new materials without having to worry about creating a single product.