What did you do in school today?

Supporting the success of all students starts with understanding how they learn.

Introducing CEA’s What did you do in school today? Professional Development Program

CEA is leveraging the highly respected research on the critical issue of intellectual engagement from its What did you do in school today? research initiative to deliver a PD program divided into the following two components: 

  1. Assisting teachers in developing and integrating effective teaching practices that generate deeper levels of intellectual engagement among students.
  2. Assisting school and district leadership teams in developing the most effective approaches to supporting and promoting the use of student voice in the design of School Success Plans.

While traditional PD for educators relies on external experts who deliver one-off daylong presentations, the What did you do in school today? PD approach is to embed learning within a School District Support Team, who then deliver PD to their colleagues within a school. This is “PD that sticks” because it ensures that learning is tailored for relevance to a school district’s education priorities, and is continually evaluated to demonstrate a change in practice among educators.

This is customized professional learning that engages districts and schools in creating the conditions for increased levels of Intellectual Engagement in learning. 

For more information about the What did you do in school today? PD program, please call 1-866-803-9549 or email info@cea-ace.ca

Since 2007, What did you do in school today? has grown from a provocative set of new ideas generated at a small symposium to a national initiative informed by a detailed conceptual framework and solid base of evidence about students’ engagement in school and learning. In the education sector, this is a unique example of a successful research and development initiative.

What did you do in school today? is a national initiative of the CEA designed to capture, assess and inspire new ideas for enhancing the learning experiences of adolescents in classrooms and schools. CEA is a centre for thought and action and What did you do in school today? brings these two roles together by exploring leading-edge ideas through continued research and ensuring those ideas take hold on the ground through capacity building and customized professional development for schools and school districts.

What did you do in school today? is one of the few initiatives in Canada that focuses specifically on the experiences of adolescent students. It is the only initiative that focuses on the powerful concept of Intellectual Engagement[1]. The core ideas of the initiative have made a significant contribution to understanding the important relationships between student engagement and valued social and intellectual outcomes of learning. By advancing student engagement as a core idea for improving the quality of teaching and learning in Canadian schools, What did you do in school today? has also brought attention to the fact that young people’s engagement in school affects not just their future, but the quality of their daily lives and experiences now.

The core ideas of What did you do in school today? resonate strongly with educators, parents, and students because they capture the kind of learning experiences we want for all students. The concept of Intellectual Engagement is particularly powerful in this regard because it connects student engagement directly to learning and speaks to the passions that many educators bring to their work for creating deeply engaging learning environments that reach the aspirations of all students. Intellectual Engagement is an idea that has the potential to become a real game changer in all schools, challenging us to rethink not just what students learn how they learn it, but who learning is for.

In its first three years, participation in What did you do in school today? grew from 10 districts and approximately 32,000 students to 18 districts and more than 60,000 students. During this time, CEA has published a number of reports and articles and presented at national and international conferences on the core ideas and research findings of What did you do in school today?. CEA is now well positioned to take what it has learned over the past few years to extend the reach and deepen the impact of What did you do in school today? nationally and internationally.

What did you do in school today? has become one of CEA’s signature initiatives. It is also a power lever for achieving the changes we want to see in schools across Canada


[1] What did you do in school today? has popularized a multidimensional framework of student engagement  that includes social, institutional and intellectual engagement. The dimension of intellectual engagement includes two measures: 1) Intellectual Engagement (a composite of rigor, relevance, interest and motivation, and effort) and 2) Instructional Challenge (a summary of students’ experiences of learning based on Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of Flow).

School districts from Canada and internationally can find out how to get their schools involved in an interest, engagement or practice network by contacting Ron Canuel, CEA CEO (rcanuel@cea-ace.ca)

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Contact Information:

Ron Canuel
President and Chief Executive Officer

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