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 :https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludopédagogie

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.

Artful Tinkering in Kindergarten: The creativity table

Be sure to scroll down in this post to see the many photos of children’s work, and their descriptions of what it made them think of.

These days, many educators are preoccupied with helping their students develop creativity. We can harness children’s innate creative reflex in Kindergarten, and set them on a path of making, tinkering and creating. If you wonder where to start infusing the Maker spirit in a Kindergarten class – a creativity table may be just the thing for you! 

A creativity table is an open-ended activity center. Children usually prefer play that stimulates their curiosity and gives free rein to their imagination and creativity. One of the best ways to enhance their natural curiosity is to introduce a wide variety of materials we call ‘loose parts’ into their play setting. Your creativity table should offer your students plenty of loose parts to choose from.

Loose parts possess infinite play possibilities. They offer multiple rather than single outcomes; no specific set of directions accompanies them; no single result is inevitable; they are open-ended.

Materials become invitations that don’t focus immediately on the creation of products but instead support the children’s building relationships with those materials. Louder for the people at the back: materials are invitations. They do not lead the child to any particular course of action. The materials, and the creativity table ethos, allow children to build their own connection to what is offered. Materials are usually artfully presented, organised and sorted, preferably in transparent containers.


Transparent containers filled with loose parts

The children are given time to explore, to touch, to feel the textures and to let the materials lead their creativity with no particular outcome, product or set steps in mind. The invitation to create is open-ended and not time-restrained.

Their beautiful creations are ephemeral. This may be difficult for some children who are used to produce work that is always considered final and displayed. They learn to enjoy making them and then letting them go, though they can live on in the pictures that they take of them.

In one teacher’s words:

“[The first time] I put it out there, I thought ‘Let’s see what happens’. I’ll just change it.  Have them create some kind of images with shapes. They have had experience before [with art work that is ephemeral]. It’s really hard for them [not to keep their creation]. But they’re so good. They just create, have fun, and if they want me to take a picture, I can take a picture and put in their portfolio binder. But [I tell them] ‘Don’t make it permanent’. And they learn to do that. They respect that. And they respect putting everything back in its own place. It’s kind of fun actually [that they enjoy sorting things back into their containers]. Usually this is my plasticine/play dough table, but I’m looking forward to changing it up and see what else they can create with the stuff I’m just going to put there: my Exploration Table”

She compares it to building sand castles on the beach. 

“You create and play, and the next day it’s no longer there so you can start over again.”

September’s sea-themed exploration/creativity table

October’s fall themed table


When the children were “finished”, the teacher took pictures and asked them what their creations made them think of. (not “What did you make”!) Here is what they said about their creations – “It makes me think of…”

…the heart of a tree for a ladybug
…a flower
…a nest
…a beautiful garden


There were many more. All their creations were beautiful. But even more beautiful is what the children SAW in them. That is both creative AND poetic!

This very simple activity over time creates a maker mindset which values autonomy and exploration, which makes tinkering the default first steps of any activity, which gives permission to try different ideas and which provides invaluable experience with the medium used.







Fostering a Growth Mindset in the Arts Classroom

Guest post by Louise Campbell, Artist in Schools

What strategies can be used in the arts classroom to shift focus from ‘getting it right’ to exploring potential? Educators often refer to this as ‘fostering a growth mindset’. As an Artist in Schools, my first task in a music classroom is to use the skills students have developed with their teachers in a way that is surprising. I do this by setting up games. Games have rules, giving everyone clear guidelines that govern how and what to play, making it easy for everyone to participate, in addition to being fun.

The following is one of my favourite game pieces for use in the music classroom. It is a great start to a creative process, since long tones are a fundamental skill practiced in most music classrooms. The game starts out in a way that sounds familiar, and quickly evolves in surprising directions. Due to the process inherent in the game, the students can take the piece in any number of directions, leading them to more unfamiliar sounds and ways of playing.

Sound and silence By Louise Campbell



Instrumentation: for 4+ musicians playing pitched instruments


There are two choices of how to play:

  • a long tone( crescendo and decrescendo)
  • a silence

Long tones can be any pitch in any register on the instrument.

The long tones and silences can overlap in any way, shifting textures and timbres as different instruments come in and drop out at various times.

The next stage of this game is to consider pitch. Here are some variations, following the same rules as above. Musicians can play:

  1. An E in any octave
  2. Any note of a specific chord, such as C Major or E minor minor 7
  3. Any note of specific scale, such as pentatonic, or D Major
  4. Any note from a defined collection of notes, such as C, C#, D, F#
  5. Any note of the chromatic scale

Each of these variations sounds very different, depending on how students listen and respond to each other. The following excerpt demonstrates one version of this game as played by the Lindsay Place Music Étude students during a Culture in Schools workshop:


Sound and Silence,conducted by Louise Campbell. Co-composed, performed and recorded by Lindsay Place Music Etude students.


This is a fairly unusual sound for most students, and helps to create an atmosphere in which curiosity is at the forefront. In the event that a student understands the activity through a fixed mindset, this generally becomes evident when they point out a perceived ‘mistake’.  Hyper-focusing on mistakes can be quite detrimental to the creative process, as it can be quite limiting to what students are willing to try.

Let’s have a look (and listen) at one way in which a mistake may be identified, the self-talk that surrounds it and the way this situation was turned into creative potential.


The following audio track is a sketch I composed, played and recorded for clarinet and loop station (N.B. Loop stations repeat exactly what you play, over and over. So if you make a mistake…)

Sketch for Knitting Lessons, for clarinet and loop station by Louise Campbell. In the words of a wise woman who taught me both music and knitting, ‘If you make a mistake, do it twice. Then people think you did it on purpose. They won’t be any the wiser if you don’t tell them!’


The recording session is going swimmingly until:

ME TO MYSELF: Bah. I made a mistake.

(listens to 1:55 for a few loops and remembers knitting advice: if you make a mistake, do it twice)

Hmmm, actually that’s not bad, kind of foreshadows what I’m gonna do later.

(continues process for section, building new loop)

Now to work in that mistake…

(overdubs several loops 2:35-2:50)

… yeah, cool, that works…

Whoops! I didn’t mean that.

(listens to new ‘mistake’ at 2:50)

Actually that’s pretty cool. I wonder if I can use that…

(follows process to end)


In this case, my initial reaction to making a ‘mistake’ was frustration, as can be the case with a fixed mindset. I wanted the piece to come out the way I planned it. However, on remembering the advice to make a mistake purposeful, I was able to hear the potential in the ‘mistake’, and work it into the piece. In fact, the two ‘mistakes’ featured in this piece became ‘design features’ that are now integral to the piece. If I had stopped when I made the first ‘mistake’, I would never have found out where it would lead me. Re-contextualizing the ‘mistake’ as an unexpected event with potential allowed me to listen in a way that flipped a fixed mindset to one of growth.

This is only one example of the self-talk involved in a creative process, and resembles many discussions that come up with students in the art classroom. This was how I re-contextualized a perceived mistake for myself; listening to students and their self-talk shows the best way to re-contextualize perceived mistakes and help them see and hear the potential in unexpected events.

When facilitating creativity in the arts classroom, establishing an atmosphere of curiosity and exploration is the first step to fostering a growth mindset, and lays the foundation for contextualization of ‘mistakes’ as unexpected events that provide potential for the new and unexpected. Fostering a growth mindset makes for surprising discoveries for everyone, and keeps fun and play at the center of learning, creativity and making art.



Louise Campbell is an Artist in Schools. You can read her other guest posts:

Cell Phones in the Classroom: Music education in the BYOD era
Music, Memory and Making the Most of Earworms

Shoreline Project connects the local and global

Screenshot from the Shoreline Project
Screenshot from the Shoreline Project

I grew up in Alberta and part of my story of becoming Québécois includes the year I spent on the Îles de la Madeleine working as a Language Monitor at the Polyvalente des Îles. In an instant, I went from prairies to beaches. My fascination with the Québec coast continued through Montreal neighborhoods like Verdun and through towns like New Richmond, Gaspé and communities on the Lower North Shore of Québec.  I would always find myself braced against the cold wind looking at fishing boats, wondering about how life and work on the shore was changing with the decline of cod and the rise of crab and lobster.

Last month I was talking to Elizabeth Miller, a professor at Concordia University’s Communication Studies department who recently developed an educational resource called the Shoreline Project, a bilingual interactive resource that profiles how educators, artists, city planners, scientists, and youth organizations from nine countries are confronting coastal challenges with resilience and imagination.

It got me reflecting about life on the coast in Quebec.  I wondered about the opportunities young people have in school to ask questions about their history, the geography and how the local economy is linked to the global economy past and present. Not surprisingly, I’m not the only person thinking about these things.

Last spring, I was sent a link to a bilingual blog students in the Littoral School Board developed called Life on the Coast – La vie sur la Basse-Côte which is telling stories about life on the Lower North Shore of Quebec. After reading these posts, I wondered what these youth have in common with other youth in communities on the shore of the St Laurent or even coastal communities across the globe.

A Call to Action:

On Wednesday, October 24th, Elizabeth and I are hosting an interactive webinar that includes a tour of the Shoreline project site and educator guide.  This will also be an opportunity for teachers, community partners and youth interested in collaborating on a provincial project to meet and explore connections around a common coastal history.  This is in addition to being connected to global campaigns that raise awareness around the effect of climate change on communities situated on the coast.

You can get a glimpse of the Shoreline Project through a short documentary trailer:

The Shore Line – trailer from ShoreLine on Vimeo.


A Conversation with Elizabeth Miller

Last week, I had a conversation with Elizabeth to talk about whether this is an example of a transdisciplinary project teachers, students and community groups in Quebec might be able to integrate into English and French classrooms.

Below is part of our conversation.

Can you tell me about why you developed the Shoreline Project?

For this project I wanted to create a free online resource that would help teachers (like myself) showcase how ordinary people are responding to global warming and environmental concerns with collaborative solutions and imagination. I think of the project as a “futurist” textbook in that it uses videos to tell stories and answer questions like:

How can we foster the necessary skills for collaboration and community care in our schools?

How do we balance the urgent need to act with the need to build resilient, sustainable classrooms and communities?

Many communities across Quebec exist on the shore of the St Laurent River and the Gulf of St Laurent.   What are some ways young people in these communities can engage in telling the stories of their own shoreline?   

Many teachers have been using the website as a prompt to get their own students involved in visiting and observing local rivers and shorelines.

Water and coastlines connect us naturally and are great prompts to get young people involved in protecting the resources around us. So for example I teach a video production class of 24 students and I sent out eight teams of 3 to document changes along the Montreal coast. Then together we made a collaborative video. Sustainability is largely about relations and I would love to convene a group of teachers along the St. Laurent River who are invested in protecting this vital resource!

In your opinion, what are some of the ways a teacher can use the online resources?

The website has 43 unique videos from nine countries. Each video is two to five minutes and is connected to a set of guiding questions and follow up resources. Teachers can use our 2 to 5 minute short videos to prompt discussions or assignments around issues like ethics or sustainable architecture or whatever theme they are working on.  For example, I have had teachers assign a few videos and then facilitate exercises on ethics, on community based engagement, on place-based storytelling and more! We also have one-pagers to help teachers who are doing classes on local governance, indigenous worldviews, migration, or even speculative futures.

In an ideal world, how will teachers and students use the shoreline project resources?

Ideally teachers will use this project to build environmental and media literacy. The goal is to inspire students and serve as a prompt to connect them to the valuable natural resources around them and to see how they can get involved in making a difference.

To participate in the Shoreline Project Webinar -register here.

Wednesday, October 24th


If you have any questions, contact Ben at bloomer@learnquebec.ca

Screenshot from the Shoreline Project
Screenshot from the Shoreline Project

Leveraging Fortnite in Education: What can educators learn from games?

Fortnite has quickly become all consuming for many of our youngsters in 2018. They play for hours on end, discuss complex strategies at lunch tables, worship the ritualized character “dances”, will do whatever chores you ask for V bucks, they’ll even rush through their homework so they can join in on the next Battle Royal. What has this video game done to our children? One word: engagement! Fortnite is a 45 million user cooperative survival game which has three elements: scavenging, building and combat. This type of game is described as a ‘sandbox’ game, because gameplay is nonlinear and open-ended, allowing gamers to roam around the virtual world and interact with it and the other gamers that are online. The game design is a survival of the fittest – 100 online players glide into a virtual world and try to survive, by shooting, building and collaborating with each other until the last gamer is standing, winning nothing more than bragging rights.

My burning question has always been… what makes this game such a phenomenon amongst our children? Can we use similar game mechanics in Fortnite to engage our students in class?

It is clear that kids who play Fortnite willingly engage in a complex and many-layered activity for long periods of time. A research group from Stanford pointed out that players are continually practicing  “teamwork, collaboration, strategic thinking, spatial understanding and imagination—and when they lose, they’re highly motivated to try again for a better result.” Wouldn’t that be an amazing learner to have in our classrooms? How do I get one?

The designers of Fortnite are very aware of cognitive structures which make this kind of game so addictive. Its’ mantra, (similarly to online gambling games) “Lose by a little, win by a lot,” is its’ guiding force.  Max Albert explains in How Fortnite Became the Most Addicting Game In History:

  1. If a player loses the game by a little, they can examine the state of the game and note that they were “just one or two moves away from winning! I’ll win next time for sure!”

  2. If a player wins the game by a lot, they can examine the state of the game and note that they “are AMAZING at the game. I’m just going to knock out a few more levels while I’m on this hot streak.”

Have a look at how Candy Crash uses similar design and mechanics as Fortnite to keep players engaged and playing for hours.

Similar to a gambling game at your local brasserie, Fortnite makes it easy to keep trying after failure, the phenomenon known as Failing Forward, discussed by Avi Spector here, and Catherine Boisvert here. In a nutshell, here are the features that make Fortnite so motivating:

  1. Small wins keep motivating players – Failing Forward
  2. The comic-like aesthetic removes any sense of reality, mitigating the violent content
  3. The simplicity of play allows for incremental successes
  4. Players experience a profound sense of belonging to the game’s community.

Kids don’t talk on the phone to each other, they talk on the Fortnite platform. Also, because the virtual world is relatively small it forces encounters between players more rapidly, thus more action. The turn around between kills is super fast, so there is never much waiting. The immediacy keeps the engagement high, and makes for getting back up after failing painless.

Fortnite is a gaming MASTERPIECE that belongs next to the Mona Lisa in the halls of history.

Perhaps the biggest and most popular feature is the ability for players to collaborate and strategize with other gamers while playing in real time. It is not uncommon to hear players helping and supporting each other during a game, saying things like, “watch out, he’s right under you,” or “I have a great shot gun for you, come see me, you can have it” even “You lure him this way and I’ll wait inside the barn – you get him from the outside and I’ll attack him from the inside.” This collaboration is not limited to the game itself, players share Youtube videos, study game-play tactics, discuss strategies, create user materials all to make the playing community better.

Looking at the engagement loop from a gaming viewpoint, it clearly shows “the motor of gamification” on a continuum. This means that ones’ improvement never ends, learning how to win never ends, and giving up is never a question. How can we as educators leverage the intrinsic motivation found in games like Fortnite? I brainstormed and came up with the following key elements:

  1. Provide opportunities for lots of student choice & voice
  2. Value finding different solutions to the same or similar problems
  3. Allow for lots of try-overs
  4. Embed ongoing collaboration in learning
  5. Establish a system for immediate feedback (or as quick as is possible in a school setting)
  6. Start small with quick activities
  7. Help students develop a variety of strategies when “stuck,”
  8. Make sure students can see their progress

Leveraging game mechanics in your classroom is an effective way to get more engagement in your class. If students are engaged they will be more likely to realize learning is an ongoing event in the real world and the virtual Fortnite world to boot.



Fortnite: Schools ‘could Learn Lessons from Gaming’  by Bethan Lewis  – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-44871124

Stanford Experts Provide Guidance For How Parents and Teachers Can Navigate the Fortnite Craze by Julia James -https://ed.stanford.edu/news/stanford-experts-provide-guidance-how-parents-and-teachers-can-navigate-fortnite-craze

How ‘Fortnite’ Hooks Your Kid, And Why Experts Say You May Not Need To Worry by Justin Kaplan – http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/08/24/fortnite-habit-kid-problem

Parenting the Fortnite Addict by Lisa Damour – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/well/family/parenting-the-fortnite-addict.html

« Tu fais quoi maman ? » Les multiples rôles du conseiller pédagogique en FLS

Du haut de ses 5 ans, mon fils m’a demandé ce que je faisais comme travail. Je lui ai dit : «Je suis une conseillère pédagogique.»Et lui, avec ses grands yeux interrogatifs, il a répliqué : «Ouin… Tu fais quoi maman?»  

Avant de lui répondre, je me suis mise à réfléchir. Je fais plein de choses… Par où commencer ? Que devrais-je lui dire? Comment expliquer à un jeune enfant ce que je fais de façon simple? Mon fils m’a amené à me pencher sur mon travail.

Qu’est-ce qu’un conseiller pédagogique?
Qu’est-ce que ça fait exactement?

J’ai commencé par aller lire divers articles sur Internet. J’ai retenu deux extraits: un sur la nature du travail et l’autre, sur le rôle du conseiller pédagogique.

Selon la Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec, « l’emploi de conseillère ou conseiller pédagogique comporte plus spécifiquement des fonctions de conseil et soutien auprès des intervenantes et intervenants des établissements scolaires et des services éducatifs relativement à la mise en œuvre, au développement et à l’évaluation des programmes d’études, à la gestion de classe et à la didactique. »

Et d’après le répertoire PPO, « le rôle d’un conseiller ou d’une conseillère pédagogique consiste à soutenir les enseignants sur le terrain. Ce spécialiste conseille les enseignants, organise des séances de perfectionnement, évalue le matériel didactique, rédige des examens, aide les enseignants à se repositionner par rapport à leurs façons d’enseigner, fait de l’animation pédagogique auprès de ces derniers, etc. Il est à l’affût des dernières tendances en éducation et en pédagogie.»

J’ai donc quelques pistes d’explications pour mon fils, mais c’est encore difficile pour lui de comprendre d’autant plus qu’il existe une confusion quant aux conceptions des rôles du conseiller pédagogique. J’ai décidé de prendre du temps pour penser concrètement à ce que je fais, à mes rôles, aux projets auxquels je participe, aux formations et aux ateliers que je donne, aux compétences que j’ai développées au fil des ans. Et j’ai demandé à mes collègues conseillers pédagogiques en français, langue seconde de se prêter au même exercice que moi. 

Avec les renseignements fournis par les conseillers pédagogiques, j’ai regroupé toutes les tâches des CP en sept rôles professionnels : formateur, accompagnateur, conseiller, agent de changement, expert de contenu et de terrain, collaborateur et gestionnaire. Je vous propose donc un tableau synthèse des rôles et des tâches des conseillers pédagogiques en français, langue seconde au Québec. En plus, je vous présente un portrait de chacun d’eux soulignant leurs dossiers, projets, formations et ateliers pour l’année 2018-2019 afin de souligner l’envergure de leur travail. Je tiens à remercier mes collègues pour leur précieuse collaboration.

Alors, si mon fils me reposait cette question, à la lumière de cette réflexion, je lui dirais que je joue un rôle primordial dans la réussite éducative des élèves du Québec!

Cliquer sur le tableau pour l’agrandir.

Cliquer sur les photos pour accéder aux informations spécifiques à chacun des conseillers.

The Design Process: The backbone of school Makerspaces




The word on the street these days is Design. It comes up in terms like ‘design thinking’ and ‘design process’. Educators are increasingly being urged to use design in their professional practice and to teach design skills to their students. But what is design? What is its role in education in the 21st century? And finally, how are these ideas related to STEAM and Makerspaces more broadly?

What is ‘design’?

The word ‘design’ exists as a noun and a verb, and has been used in a wide variety of contexts, leading to confusion as to its meanings. When we ask kids in elementary classrooms to tell us what design is, most of them say “to decorate, to make something look nice, like a room makeover”. I would imagine many adults have the same definition in mind as well. Oxford Dictionaries offers the following neutral definition:

de·sign /dəˈzīn/…1.1. Do or plan (something) with a specific purpose or intention in mind.

I like this definition because of its clear insitence on both planning and action, and its lack of reference to context. Sure, you can design a room to make it look pretty, if that is your intention, but the design act can be deployed in a variety of contexts of widening scope, most of which have little or nothing to do with making something look pretty.

Todd Olson of The Design Innovator offers up this more detailed definition of design as a discipline:

design (verb), as a discipline: plan the creation of a product or service with the intention of improving human experience with respect to a specified problem.

The plot thickens. Now we are adding shading and detail to the acts of planning and action found in the Oxford definition. Two new elements emerge: 1) design occurs in answer to a problem and 2) with the goal of improving the experience for the user.

Wikipedia lets us glimpse the scope of design as a discipline across contexts:

Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object, system or measurable human interaction (as in architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, business processes, circuit diagrams, and sewing patterns). Design has different connotations in different fields … In some cases, the direct construction of an object (as in pottery, engineering, management, coding, and graphic design) is also considered to use design thinking.

image from Blueprint – copyright cleared

The design process

Turns out that humans are designers. It used to be that disciplines wanted to be unique and bespoke, with their own ways of approaching the thorny problems of their respective fields. As disciplines emerged, and as information didn’t flow as freely as it does today, idiosyncratic language prevented us from seeing the patterns that unite all disciplines involved with the construction of objects, systems or measurable human interaction – in short, the patterns that unite all of human activity.

Enter the design process. Say you’re a human in the Stone Age. You need to kill and skin an animal more efficiently (problem). Ok, you can use sticks that you sharpen by rubbing on rocks, or rocks themselves, especially those sharp ones you found the other day (brainstorm). Oh, there’s an animal now, let’s try the sharp stick that we have here (prototype). Ok, it works, but it broke in half because of the impact, so what if we attach this here pointy rock we found with some vines (make)? Hmmm, that was good, but the rock is getting dull already, so how are we going to make it sharper (reflect)? We need to sharpen this rock and see how that will work (iterate). Sounds familiar? We’ve been doing it since the dawn of humankind. No wonder it seems so obvious.

Design for educators vs teaching design to students

Here is where things get a bit meta, to borrow a colloquial term. Teachers can be designers of educational experiences themselves, as the classroom professionals that they are. And, they can also teach the design process to students. These are two different acts – and I’ll tackle teacher-as-designer in another post. Let’s focus on students for now.

Why teach the design process to students?

For the most part, education has shifted from ‘knowing about’ something to engaging in action in a specific field. The Quebec Education Program emerged in direct response to this educational climate by rooting its subject area programmes in competencies – i.e. what a learner can do with knowledge and skills in a given context at various points in time. ‘Doing’ implies engaging in one of the many processes we leverage to help us navigate complexity: a research process, a writing process, a problem-solving process, a creative process, a project process, a design process. The design process, like the other processes listed, has the benefit of being able to cross disciplinary boundaries, preparing students for adult life of their choosing. In the Science and Technology programme, the Cycle 1 Secondary text references the Technological Process, which can be said to fit under the umbrella of the design process.

The design process also allows learned to develop the Cross Curricular Competencies (that bête noire of the QEP, but very dear to my own heart), or those 6 C’s of Deep Learning that Michael Fullan talks about, or even 21st Century Skills that we see mentioned in the media. No matter by what name they are called, we all agree that they are the cornerstone of preparing young people for active participation in the world.

Makerspaces and design thinking

It’s no secret that here at LEARN we are big proponents of Making in schools – of getting students’ heads, hearts AND hands right into their learning. The educators with whom we have been privileged to collaborate, have highlighted for us how important it is to have structures within which the chaos of making finds meaning. Make no mistake, when you open up your classroom to Making or bring your students to a dedicated Makerspace, it can get pretty chaotic. Sure, kids are engaged for the most part, and most of them are working on something, but what are they learning? Are they all learning the same thing? (Is that important? A question for another post, perhaps).

The design process brings order to what can otherwise be a chaotic learning environment. It provides structure for the unstructured and the ambiguous. For some students, less interested in tinkering and making for its own sake, it can also provide a purpose, as they wrestle with thorny problems and come up with practical solutions to prototype in the Makerspace.

Visuals of the design process abound and you can pretty much choose one that appeals to you and work with that one. The key is consistency in terms of visuals and vocabulary – your students should have one process to work with, and their student learning tools should match the visual you use. If you see after some time that the visual you have chosen doesn’t suit your evolving needs – change it! Find a new one, or make your own with something like Piktochart.

Diana Rendina from Renovated Learning uses this process with her students – and makes her student tool available for all as a Google Doc:

Here are some other design process visuals


This one above from Stanford’s d.school initiative includes the step Empathize, which allows younger learners not used to thinking about the needs of others to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to see the world through their eyes. Heck, apparently, its not just kids who are not used to thinking about the needs of others since Todd Olson of The Design Innovator writes “Arguably the most important new line of thinking is around the concept of user-centeredness, which is at the heart of the design thinking movement.” (emphasis mine).

However, I think that if you are just starting out, simpler is better, and you can always add on.

We talk a great deal about schools needing to prepare children for their future, and not ours. We’re not always sure how to go about it, either. But one thing is clear: to teach students how to work with the design process in whatever context, is to give them the gift of navigating those problems that we cannot yet even name.


(c) Todd Berman

Reflective Question: Is Design Thinking or processes associated with design on your professional radar for this year? How does it fit with some of your current practices, whether as consultant or teacher?


Wiggins and McTighe (2006). Understanding by Design. Pearson: Merrill Prentice Hall. p. 24. ISBN 0-13-195084-3.

Stanford’s Design Process for Kids: Teaching Big Picture Problem Solving – http://www.ideaco.org/2013/07/standfords-design-process-for-kids-teaching-big-picture-problem-solving/

d.school at Stanford – K-12 Lab  https://dschool.stanford.edu/programs/k12-lab-network

Teaching the Design Process in Makerspaces

Summertime Reads from the LEARN Team

Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

As the on-going reflections and corrections of the 2017-2018 school year begin to swirl furiously in your brain, LEARN wishes to support you in turning essays into chilly cocktails, exams into sunny porches, book reports into BBQ delights and science projects into LEARN’s summertime reads recommendations. Summer vacation is no longer a tunnel dream, not simply a postcard on your desk to escape into, no longer a fictitious date on your personal calendar. It’s ok to start dreaming, fantasizing, planning, and of course relaxing – you made it! We hope you enjoy our reading recommendations for the summer of 2018.


Elizabeth Alloul – ESL Special Project

Innovators Mindset by George Kouros

George Kouros was a keynote speaker at the SPEAQ 2017 ESL convention in Laval, and gave an inspiring presentation on being an innovative educator-that I missed!

Who is George and what is he writing about?  I finally acquired his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, it is a book that teaches, inspires, and motivates the reader to help create a culture of innovation.

Next stop, his blog!  Happy summer!!

Kerry Cule – Online Teacher

Mandolin for Dummies

A few years ago, I started to teach myself how to play the mandolin. I have found that playing music increases my concentration, improves my coordination, and boosts my mood. While I’m no dummy, I’m looking forward to expanding my skill-set and learning a few new chords this summer!

Dianne Conrod – Principal, Virtual Campus

Canadian Gardener’s Guide
Lorraine Johnson, Ed.

Two of my favourite summer pastimes are reading and gardening, so it’s only natural that these two activities would overlap in the form of a gardening book. We have a lot of trees on our property, so I refer most often to the sections related to shade plants. This guide is a helpful reference for beginners and more seasoned gardeners alike and the colourful photos are inspiring!

Christine Truesdale – Director, Pedagogical Services

Broad Band
by Claire L. Evans

Broad Band, The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet weaves the history of the women who were the first ‘computers’, whose mental labour bore the original information technology and who “elevated the rudimentary operation of computing machines into an art called programming.” Author Claire L. Evans begins the story at the turn of the 20th C, when early use of the term ‘computer’ signified a job (mostly done by women), not a machine, and works her way through to the 1990’s, when cyberfeminists used the Internet as a platform for creativity and artistic expression. From Ada Lovelace, to Grace Hopper, to Brenda Laurel, these women were guided by their focus on the user, rather than the technology. Ultimately, they gave the machines their language and never lost sight of what should be the computer’s central purpose – to enrich our lives.

Julie Paré – Conseillère pédagogique


J’ai toujours aimé les mots, la poésie et la musique de Loco Locass, un groupe de hip-hop québécois formé de Biz, Batlam et Chafiik. Pour les amateurs de hockey et du Canadien de Montréal, vous avez surement déjà entendu leur chanson Le but. Cet été, j’ai décidé de retrouver la plume de Biz en lisant son quatrième roman Naufrage.


Michael J. Canuel Ed.D. – CEO

When by Daniel H. Pink

As the title suggests it deals with time, but more specifically, timing. Pink posits that when to do something and when not to is really a science and that knowing “when” to do something greatly influences outcomes. Not surprising until he starts to point out certain everyday realities and the value of recognizing patterns. When best to exercise, study, sleep, retire, collaborate, engage in critical reflection? An easy but enjoyable read.


Paul Rombaugh – Consultant


The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

My summer read takes me back to the 16th century, to “La Florida” and that familiar story of conquest, but from the perspective of an unfamiliar voice. The Moor’s Account by Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami, is a retelling of the failed Narváez expedition of 1527. Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico, was one of only four survivors from the journey. A slave, his version was forever silenced in the testimonies of the others. Lalami’s fictional rendition gives voice to the experience of possibly the first Black explorer to visit the Americas, and through his lens to voices of the indigenous people who resisted them all.

Mary Stewart, Ph.D. Managing Editor, LEARNing Landscapes


I just picked up a bag of 18 French language books at a garage sale for five dollars, so I’ll be reading to my two year-old granddaughter this summer. Rose is already comfortable in French, and I’ll get to practice reading at a level suitable to me. Best of all, we’ll be snuggling together!

Audrey McLaren – Online Teacher

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
by Kathleen Rooney

is the life story of the title character. Lillian reminds me of Rosalind Russell’s character in His Girl Friday, except there’s no Cary Grant –  there’s only Lillian and the many characters she encounters in her New-York-writer career path. Also, there’s poetry.

Michael Clarke – Pedagogical Assistant

Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

When my executive director asked me to include the book “Between the World and Me” in our public library, I pounced on it. I was immediately convinced of his incisive views on racial politics in America and bookmarked the book for this summer. Now, I can’t wait to read how his fears, misgivings, and hopes from just a few years ago so I can compare them daily to America’s ongoing identity crisis.


Kristine Thibault – Coordinator of Online Learning, Virtual Campus

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

I wasn’t sure how to take it when I received this book for my birthday from one of my dear colleagues (you know who you are!) 🙂 I can honestly admit to NOT being a self-help book kind of girl, but Jen Sincero’s straight shooting, hilarious style has kept me reading on. The author delivers many truth bombs that had me reflecting on the unhealthy/unhelpful ways our thinking can sabotage our lives. So far, this read is funny, insightful, motivating and self-validating. Thanks for the gift!
Louise-Gilles Lalonde – Systems Administrator

Words of the Huron by John Steckley

Despite having been studied and documented extensively since the 17th century, the Wendat language has almost disappeared in Quebec, with only a handful of native speakers still alive today. Initiatives are now being taken to revive and promote Wendat inside and outside the Wendake reserve. This book is one of the reference material used in classes for learning the vocabulary, syntax and cultural context of the Wendat language. Sehiatonhchotrahk!

Chris Colley – Consultant

Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitchel Resnick

I love to play, I love to learn through playing. Lifelong Kindergarten explores how all deep learning stems from play, engagement, discovery, creativity, excitement, freedom to explore, choice… kinda like being in kindergarten for life. Mitch Resnick’s position is that education should be built on Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play!  This book explains how…

Rosie Himo – Administrative Assistant

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

The Danes claim to be the happiest nation on earth in terms of education, childcare, taxes and food. Read the book to find out if you agree and how we (as Canadians) compare to their living standards. The book is available for your reading pleasure in our LEARN library.

Sylwia Bielec – Consultant, blog editor

The Future is History by Masha Gessen

Come for the clever wordplay, stay for the unsettling glimpse of a culture at once so unlike our own, and at the same time terrifyingly close. As Russia appears more and more often in the world news, I thought I would try to learn more about this powerhouse country who holds none of our truths to be self-evident. A looking-glass kind of book, where you find yourself not knowing what you knew in the first place.


And on that note, have a great summer. I think we’ve all earned a little light at the end of this 2017-2018 tunnel!


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.