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13 June 2017
Paul W. Bennett

File 7710

Principal Daniel Villeneuve of Saints-Anges Catholic Elementary School in North Bay, Ontario was among the first wave of Canadian school leaders to take a stand against Fidget Spinners, the latest craze among children worldwide.

On May 23 and 24, 2017, the North Bay principal visited class after class to advise his students that the hand-held gadgets were being banned from school grounds, then sent a letter to parents explaining the decision. What he didn’t say was perhaps obvious – the classroom distractions were ...

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24 May 2017
Andrew Campbell

File 7670

Meeting the incredible range of students’ needs in diverse Canadian schools is a daunting task. In every classroom, there will be students who easily grasp new concepts and others who need more time, more support or a completely different approach to help them learn. Simultaneously meeting these differing and often competing needs is what makes good teaching and learning so challenging. One approach used in teaching math, Discovery Learning, has become a flashpoint for anyone concerned with math education in Canada. 

Discovery Learning can be traced back to the writings of American philosopher and educator John Dewey over a...

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3 April 2017
Paul W. Bennett

File 7577

Developing a Growth Mindset in students and their teachers is perhaps the hottest trend in the education world outside of Canada. Originating in psychological science research conducted by Carol S. Dweck over thirty years of studies and continuing at Stanford University, it burst upon the education scene in 2006 with the publication of Dweck’s influential book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success[1] and has become a favourite topic in education faculty classes and professional development sessions.

The so-called Mindset Revolution, like most education fads, has also generated its share of imitations and mutations. Two of the best known are the Mathematical Mindset, promulgated by Math educator ...

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17 January 2017
Paul W. Bennett

File 7430

“Learning isn’t a destination, starting and stopping at the classroom door. It’s a never-ending road of discovery and wonder that has the power to transform lives. Each learning moment builds character, shapes dreams, guides futures, and strengthens communities.” Those inspiring words and the accompanying video, Learning makes us, left me tingling like the ubiquitous ‘universal values’ Coke commercials.

Eventually, I snapped out of it – and realized that I’d been transported into the global world of  British-based Pearson Education, the world’s largest learning and testing corporation, and drawn into its latest stratagem- the allure of 21st century creativity...

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Let's Not Fall Further Into the Urgency Trap
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3 January 2017
Stephen Hurley

"At one communty meeting, we ran into a high-conflict issue. We ran out of time and agreed to postpone this issue until the following week. All week, emotions ran high and opposing views intensified. We eagerly assembled at the next meeting, impatient to get this issue resolved. This was a Quaker community—each meeting began with 5 minutes of silence. On this day, the clerk announced that, due to the intensity of this issue, we would not begin with our usual 5 minutes of silence. We all breathed a sigh of relief, only to hear her announce: "Today, we'll begin with 20 minutes of silence." —as told by Parker Palmer, Educator and Writer 

This is the story that begins a brief essay on urgency by Margaret Wheatley from her 2010 book, Perseverance. It's the story that captured my imagination as my thoughts moved across the threshold into another year. 

To many, the turning point in Palmer's story will seem more than a little counter...

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Students must become thoughtful activists of Internet content
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3 November 2016
Andrew Campbell

One of the core tenets, perhaps the central belief of formal education, is that there is truth. Truth that can be learned, transferred and used to make decisions and solve problems. When William Butler Yeats wrote "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire" it is this idea of education, as the transmission of truth that he is commenting on.

Educators see this daily in their work with students that come to school wanting answers. And despite the increasing use of constructivist teaching methods such as Inquiry Learning, education is still essentially the pursuit of truth. We encourage students to find their own understanding, but implicit in that is the belief that there are answers to be found, answers that matter and that endure.

However, there’s considerable evidence that the importance of truth is declining...

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These school design considerations mean that optimal learning spaces are no longer a distant dream.
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19 October 2016
Ben Gilpin

One thing that is often overlooked in education is the learning space.  We need to look at our schools and ask, "Is this classroom flexible, open, wireless, comfortable, and inspiring?" – Steven Weber

One of my all-time favourite movies as a teen was Back to the Future II (truth is, I loved the entire trilogy). I especially enjoyed the second installment due in large part to their excursion to the future. My mind was spinning with possibilities. Whether it was Marty’s shoes or the new age diner all I could imagine was how cool the Future was going to be!

Some time ago I was sitting down and watching a Disney show with my son. The show is called Jessie. It caught my attention because the opening scene took place in a school. Immediately I was fixated on the teacher’s behaviour and the classroom design. One thing that really stood out was that the school on TV still had chalkboards. My brain began spinning; do...

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The journey between the head and the heart
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14 October 2016
Rosa Fazio

Over time I’m discovering how much our own experience in life and in school affects how we handle situations and how we teach. We bring a very strong belief about schooling to our classrooms every day and in every way.

What was your experience in school?
What is your story?
What do you believe is a good education?
What is your idea of an educated person?
How should schooling look like?

...

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13 October 2016
Ellen Rose

The physical design of a school communicates messages about the purpose and nature of education. In the past, schools were designed to support the delivery of rote, standardized instruction. Today, however, the goal is for students to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and meaning makers. Effective school designs reflect this change in educational philosophies and goals. For example, they include flexible, learner-centred spaces that encourage active, cooperative, and community-based approaches to teaching and learning.

Research on school design increasingly shows that students’ learning environments can have both positive and negative effects on their social behaviours, engagement, well-being, and academic achievement. The following specific school design elements are correlated with positive student behaviours and attitudes, as well as enhanced achievement:

Positive social behaviours
  • small school size
  • wide, clearly defined...
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12 October 2016
Holly Bennett

What does a school look like? For most of us, the image that first comes to mind is very much like the school our parents went to. The blackboard may have been replaced by a Smartboard; there may be new elements like computer tablets in the classrooms, but the basic structure is the same. Chances are that you, like me, most easily envision a blocky building with strings of square single classrooms, an office, a gym, a library, a playground.

Is this what a school has to be? Not anymore. Architects have understood for decades that form dictates function. While creative educators do find ways to work around the limitations of a traditional building, it’s also true that new approaches to teaching and learning can be either fostered or hindered by the building where they take place. As Zoe Branigan-Pipe points out in her Viewpoint...

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