CLC Teacher Institute – 2015

On January 20-21,  over 75 teachers from CLC Schools spanning the Western edge of Quebec all the way to the Eastern border participated in the CLC Teacher Institute.

View a Map of CLC Schools

The two days were a great success.  Feedback forms tell us that teachers benefited from networking, hearing examples of Community Based Service Learning (CBSL) projects and spending focused time planning their own projects which will integrate School-Community partnerships.

  1. Download the planning templates
  2. View the powerpoint from Day 1
  3. Read more about CBSL best practices and resources

A big thank you to everyone who participated, presented and generally brought an open and reflective attitude.  It truly was a wonderful showcase of the talented teachers in the Community Learning Centre network.






Fresh ways to make the outdoors your classroom

As the days grow warmer, there are more and more opportunities to take your classroom into the outdoors or plan outdoor projects and activities. 

It’s more important than ever to get our students outside: children are spending on average only six minutes playing outside a day, as this eye-catching graphic from The David Suzuki Foundation shows. Meanwhile, they spend an average of six hours a day in front of a television or computer. 

The Outdoor Classroom Project shares that outdoor classrooms and activities improve physical development, promote an active lifestyle and let students release pent up energy. Not to mention, as little as one hour spent outside can make students happier, have higher self-esteem and develop an appreciation for nature.

This is especially important for students living in urban areas. For the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural communities.  Nestor Kelba, the general manager of Calgary-area Kamp Kiwanis, put it best when he told the Calgary Herald: “Touching, feeling and seeing nature helps students develop a fondness and a good feeling for the outdoors, which can’t be taught in a classroom.” When students have the opportunity to get out into nature, it concretizes curriculum material about the water cycle or food chains.

Resources and ideas for moving your classroom into the open air are abundant. When browsing on Pinterest, there are endless photos to provide inspiration. In our last newsletter, we included a list of outdoor activities from The Inspired Classroom to get ideas for activities, but the website also has a blog post all about teaching outdoors. It provides  outdoor activity ideas for teachers in all subjects. Lastly, posted an article listing 16 outdoor classroom activities, titled Outdoor Classroom 101! If your school has an outdoor classroom, even standard every day lessons can be moved into the fresh air.

There are over a dozen CLC Quebec schools with outdoor classrooms. If yours isn’t one of them, there are several programs to help you get started. The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation has teamed up with Focus On Forests, a  national forest education program, have created an outdoor classroom development guide to help teachers get started. The Friend of the Environment Foundation also offers a grant to schools and community organizations that need help funding the outdoor garden construction. The grant can be used for all different types of environmental projects, so it is definitely worth checking out.

Funding Community Based or Service Learning Projects

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that finding funding to support community based learning projects is not a priority role of the teacher.   Part of sharing roles and responsibilities is collaborating with your CLC coordinator or community partners to pull together financial and human resources to meet the needs of the school and community.

Often a big question to ask is, what is the goal of the project?  Often, school boards and community partners share those goals and CBSL projects can contribute to achieving them.  Is it student perseverance?  Is it a safe and healthy community?

Over the last few years, we have observed a niche role of some CLC coordinator is sitting on local and regional Table de Concertation.  The efforts of the coordinator ensures the school is literally at the table when discussions take place about how funds supporting healthy communities (Québec en Forme) or student perseverance (Réunir Réussir (R2) should be used.   In the spirit of collective impact, speak to your CLC coordinator about the type of services available and what criteria must be met.  Services could dovetail with community based learning or service learning projects.

All that being said.  Below are some examples of grants that a school can easily apply for;


Plenty of resources to support project planning

The CLC Teacher Institute was a great success with over 65 teachers from all across Quebec learning, sharing and planning their own community based learning project that address authentic needs.

When teachers were asked what they wanted more of in the future they mentioned specific knowledge and resources for project development and information on funding.

Instead of waiting until the next CLC Teacher Institute, I have included some of my favorite resources that can help in developing projects.

 Community Works Institute – I love reading CWI’s exemplars.  CWI is very grassroots with many Vermont examples.

Edutopia –The creator of Star Wars, George Lucas funds this. So you know the force is strong with this one.

Buck Institute– I like learning from videos. The site includes lots of great stuff to watch.

Learning for a Sustainable Future– Canadian website with lots of environmental stewardship projects.  It’s easy to apply for a grant.  They are really nice people.  Call them!

Canada’s History-Lots of ideas and resources about preserving and celebrating our history.





Forming networks key to CBSL project success


A successful Community-based Service Learning project (CBSL) forms networks among schools, community members, and other teachers to give students positive and educational experiences, agreed teachers at this year’s CLC Teacher Institute.

The conference, held on Jan. 21 and 22, brought together teachers from across the province to share ideas and build stronger connections for their own CBSL projects.

Melissa Laroque, a grade five teacher at the Gault Institute in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, said hearing about successful projects from other schools encouraged the creative use of resources specific to a region, especially in communities with limited finances.

“We come from small areas and you hear about other schools like, ‘Oh, they have salmon,’” she said, referring to a salmon-spawning project at Gaspé Elementary in Gaspé, QC. “You really have to work with what you have.”

During a brainstorming session on enhancing CBSL projects, white poster paper decorated with rainbow-coloured Post-it notes and felt markers outlined the aspects that worked and others that needed improvement.

Actively involving students and building self-esteem were among the list of priorities echoed by many educators.

“You have to be passionate,” said one teacher. “But the fact is, students need to be passionate, too”.

You can view photos from the CLC Teacher Institute by clicking here.

CLCs and Aboriginal Reconciliation

Last year a quarter of Community Learning Centres researched and implemented Community-Based Service Learning projects contributing to Aboriginal Reconciliation.

The annual Tell Them From Me  survey alerted the network that 12% of students in CLCs self-identified as Aboriginal.  One quarter of CLCs felt it was important to support the success of all aboriginal and non-aboriginal students by ensuring conditions existed for a sense of belonging and strong attachment to the school through the integration of aboriginal history in the curriculum and reconciliation around the residential school experience.

Students and teachers participated in the national  Project of Hope initiative and students exhibited active citizenship through the promotion of Shannon’s Dream.  In many cases,  partnerships were developed  with local Aboriginal partners.

Below is a collection of resources appropriate for students to learn about the residential school experience and partner with local Aboriginal communities to include all histories in school and take the opportunity to be active citizens.  Click here to download the activity sheet of Aboriginal reconciliation projects.  Click here to access a timeline to help with planning.

Project of Heart

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: Everyone…Students, Teachers, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Community Members

Project of Heart” is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to:

  • Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities
  • Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
  • Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively.

Legacy of Hope – 100 Years of Loss

Resources in English and French

Target Audience:  Youth ages 11-18

The Legacy of Hope Foundation developed two new educational products targeted to Canadian youth aged 11-18. Both products were designed to support educators and administrators in raising awareness and teaching about the history and legacy of residential schools.

The Blanket Exercise

Target Audience: Grades 4-8 and Grades 9-12/Adult

A teaching tool by KAIROS to raise awareness and understanding of the nation to nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.  The Blanket Exercise is an interactive way of learning the history most Canadians are never taught.

Two scripts are included: one for youth and adults, the other for children and younger teens. The exercise uses blankets to represent the lands of what is now called Canada, and the distinct cultures and nations which live on those lands to this day. Participants represent the First Peoples; when they move onto the blankets, they are taken back in time to the arrival of the Europeans. The Narrator and a European (or two) work with the participants to read a script while the exercise goes through the history of treaty-making, colonization and resistance that resulted in the nation we today call Canada.  Lisa Howell, a teacher at Pierre Elliott Trudeau CLC has adapted the script of The Blanket Exercise.

 First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada-Shannen’s Dream

Resources in English and French

Target Audience: All Ages

Shannen Koostachin, youth education advocate from the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, had a dream: safe and comfy schools and culturally based education for First Nations children and youth. Shannen worked tirelessly to try to convince the Federal government to give First Nations children a proper education before tragically passing away at the age of 15 years old in 2010. Named in her memory, the campaign engages Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to better understand the education inequities and to take action to ensure all First Nations children and young people attend good schools and receive a proper education that prepares them to achieve their dreams and be proud of their distinct cultures and languages.

The FN Caring Society offers resources to engage youth with the opportunity to raise awareness among their peers about the inequities faced by First Nations children and youth. It also promotes ways that children, youth, and communities can collaborate, think creatively about the future, and inspire hope for others in making a difference. In supporting child and youth engagement, communities and organizations support tomorrow’s future leaders!

 Protecting our Sacred Water


Learning for a Sustainable Future, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, and a group of First Nation and Métis Elders and educators, the LSF has created a guide called “Protecting our Sacred Water.”

Protecting our Sacred Water helps educators and youth program facilitators bring education for sustainable development to their students/youth in a transformative way through action projects. The guide provides tools for teachers to help youth choose a project topic and how to carry it out through the integration of FNMI ways of knowing. It is important that Aboriginal youth; Canada’s fastest growing and most marginalized population, see themselves as leaders in creating change. When youth are meaningfully engaged throughout the entire process, they are more likely to make positive changes for themselves and their community.

Action Project Funding is available to assist youth-led action that include activities from the guide.



CLC Teacher Newsletter

When I was a kid, different platforms meant going to the university pool and jumping feet first off the 2 meter and later the 5 meter diving board.

For better or worse, it’s not 1986 anymore. Now different platforms refers to this blog, my twitter account @cbslquebec or a newsletter for teachers highlighting Community Based Learning and Service Learning resources and opportunities.

Click here to see the first edition.

If you would like to subscribe to the CLC Teacher Newsletter click here.