Celebrating Inquiry Fall 2015

Welcome to the third issue of our online celebration of learning and achievement by University of Lethbridge intern teachers. Below you will find profiles of all projects presented at the Fall 2015 Professional Inquiry Project (PIP) Symposium. These projects were completed by by pre-service teachers in their final twelve-week practicum. Please be aware that external links are supplied by contributors and are not maintained or monitored by the University of Lethbridge.


Return to Past Issues of Celebrating Inquiry

Technical Theatre Students

Can tech theatre students feel like they have a significant role and are part of the show’s team?


I came up with this idea when I was given the a Technical Theatre class to teach in my internship.


I will be organizing the finding of students to fill all technical theatre jobs for Fine Arts Shows and the Fall production of "A Christmas Carol". I will also supervise their work throughout the process of the production and during the run of the shows. I will then ask each student to comment whether they felt like they were an important role to the production and overall felt like they were important part of the show's "team".


Compile tech student's testimonials and add my own comments of how I felt the production process went to answer my question in a paper/essay.

Taylor is originally from a small town in Saskatchewan and moved to Lethbridge to attend University. She completed her BFA in dramatic arts in the Spring of 2014 and is just finishing her BEd this December. She looks forward to finding a teaching job and hopes to teach abroad in the UK sometime soon.


Integrating Art Into Core Curriculum

Within a project-based learning model, how can art can be integrated into core curriculum learning while serving to strengthen student confidence in themselves?


My intent as a teacher is to integrate art into everything I teach, and foster a generation of students who don't believe others or themselves when they are told "you're no good at art." I have the fortune of working at St. Paul School, where they are testing out project-based learning and mixed classrooms, so it was the perfect test-bed for the types of projects I have been thinking about. Through scaffolding of learning, I want to give my students all the tools they need to express themselves visually. This is especially useful for ESL students and students who are struggling with literacy. After my experience in PSII at St. Joesph's Collegiate in Brooks, and seeing such a large percentage of students who are either ESL or coded (or both), I felt that visual literacy is even more important to students than it ever has been before. Therefore, my goal has been to enable students to express themselves, tell stories and otherwise communicate without the need for words. The crux of this is building confidence in the students’ visual and technical skills.


I was given the task of teaching Social Studies, Science, Health, Religion, Art and Phys. Ed. at the school. Religion and Phys. Ed. were integrated together through the Christian Action ideals at the school (traits that make for a good Christian, which are remarkably similar to the attitudes and virtues taught in the martial arts) and included martial arts, fitness and dance instruction. Social Studies, Science, Art and Health (along with Language Arts and a little bit of Math, though that wasn't my focus) were integrated through class projects. The first project, on Identity, was a largely individual project that culminated in a show the entire group of grades three and four presented to the community. It received a lot of good press: in the local paper, on the radio, and on television through the show "A Public Education." The focus of the project was for the students to discover and express themselves, and that dug into their history and the history of their family. From there, it was a simple step to start looking at the history of Alberta and the people who came to this province, since many of the students are either recent immigrants or have deep roots in Southern Alberta, which presented a nice contrast.

The unit culminated in a class comic book on the history of Alberta. Each student was part of a group that was responsible for a chapter in the book. They then decided amongst themselves how to split up that part of the story so that each student was responsible for drawing a single page of the comic book. They were given a topic and guiding questions, leaving the research and drawing of the comic book up to them. Leading up to this, the students had several mini-projects and lessons that informed them both about how to draw comics and the history of Alberta. The last project spun directly out of learning about the province's past, and that about the regions and resources of Alberta. This project also consisted of several mini-lessons on science and painting, to culminate in a class-made 3-D display of a cross-section of Alberta. Each student group was responsible for creating one part of the display which then was brought together into a diorama display. The students have been heavily engaged, enjoying the art aspect of the learning. Also, by integrating art into the topics, it has led to the students asking deeper questions about the subject matter.


The results of the project have been very positive. The students were highly motivated and engaged in their learning (as adding in the art element somewhat disguised the learning as "fun"). Since they were given an amount of autonomy, they also felt like they were making a real contribution to the class. On top of that, the consistent and regular practice in drawing and painting showed a demonstrable improvement in both their drawing skills and their story-telling abilities. As the students transitioned from project to project, they acquired skill sets that helped the new project be an even bigger success. If I were able to have the students for an entire calendar year, the progress I would be able to document would be phenomenal. As a direct result of that, the students showed increased confidence in other avenues of their studies. By continually reminding them of their Christian Action Values, the students were more focused, worked harder and achieved more than I had hoped. This technique was familiar to me from my martial arts teaching experience, where using values and encouraging self-discipline can lead to positive results not just in the martial arts context, but in academics as well. In fact, the more I cross-connected everything (such as having the students "sit like Black Belts" in class) the better they did, as they were able to see that all of their learning was connected. I was tremendously happy to see the work of the students, and am very proud of their results.

Matthew is a former martial arts instructor, now Art Teacher, who has come to professional teaching after missing teaching children the martial arts. His goal is to show students that art is in everything and there is no such thing as being bad at art, it is simply a matter of not having enough practice.


Critiquing Online

Is there a benefit to cross-classroom collaboration within the art critique practice as a means of formative assessment?


An important element of any art practice is the critiquing process. By learning to speak about the formal elements and intent behind a piece, as well as through receiving constructive feedback in relation to their own work, an artist experiences growth in all areas of their craft. Sadly, many factors within the high school art classroom often result in the removal of this beneficial practice and as a result, students are not pushed to think and create in a highly critical manner.

The purpose of our Professional Inquiry Project was to experiment with the application of formative assessment and critique within a secondary art classroom. The goal throughout our PIP was to create an environment which connected students from various art classrooms in differing schools, exposing them to the works of other students their age. We aimed to create an authentic and engaging experience for our students while establishing the importance of the art community. Aware of the importance of teaching to the 21st century learner, we chose to create a website to foster web-based interactions. Our hope was that in having the students connect in a less structured and semi-private manner, they would not feel the same stress and pressure that accompanies vocalizing opinions within a traditional art critique. Students would be given time to read over the provided artist statement and view a digital image of the work, formulating a response based around handout prompts discussing the formal principles of the artwork, as well as the artist’s intention. We believe that in structuring our critique in this manner, students will have the opportunity for personal reflection in relation to their own artwork and that of others, as well as providing them with the purpose and motivation that accompanies creating artwork for an audience.


Students were asked to create a meaningful collage critiquing some aspect of social media. Our decision to provide our students with this theme was to help generate ideas with an element of cohesion in order to ensure they had a similar understanding when it came time to critique their projects. By scaffolding our instruction and building upon concepts as we worked, we were able to talk to specific ideas and issues within the theme throughout the entire process. By providing the instruction and discussion gradually, students gained confidence in their understanding of the topic and were better prepared to critically assess the artworks they were assigned to.


Throughout this process we were able to watch students think critically about their own artwork and the works of others. They began asking more questions and worked to create meaningful decisions within their projects. Knowing that their piece would be viewed and critiqued by another student, most worked to create something that they were proud of and looked forward to receiving feedback. While we did experience successes within this process, we also came up against a few problems. Coordinating dates between schools proved to be an issue as the students in one school had art class every day for three hours, while the other school had art twice a week for 80 minutes. For this reason, the students of CCH were able to complete their tasks much quicker than those at Myers, resulting in a delay before the critique and a loss of student interest in the project. In order to combat this issue in the future, we would align the project differently, having the students with less frequent work periods begin earlier, resulting in a similar completion timeline. Another problem that we encountered was that some students were not engaged in the given theme, which decreased their motivation and dedication in both the creation of their own artwork and the critique of others. We feel that this could be resolved by providing a more open guideline for the project, allowing for further individualization and interpretation, even if there was still an overarching theme. While our first attempt was not as successful as we had hoped, we still believe that this is an important concept to include within our future art classes and plan to continue working with this process. We also note that this method of critique could be adapted as a tool for online distant learning classrooms and independent studies.

Angela and Samantha are Education students with a passion for the Fine Arts. They share an interest in teaching their students about the benefits of critical thinking and creative problem solving and believe in the importance of embedding art into our everyday lives.


Involving Students in Community Service

Can you widen the views of a millennial generation teenager?

Description and Goals:

I have always been passionate about creating a better world, through volunteering and giving financially to various organizations (International Justice Mission, local charities, etc.). I have also been interested in the stereotypes given to the next generation: "selfish", "narcissistic", "social-media obsessed"…and the list goes on. I am not saying that the stereotypes can't be true, but my PIP is trying to prove that the Millennial generation can have passions that go further than their desire to have the best "selfie" on Instagram. Therefore, my PIP will have my class explore how they make a difference in the world and break the stereotypes. As a class we will be learning how we can positively impact the community around us. We are going to pull away from the "all about me" mind set and move into the "all about others" mentality.


I looked into some articles and opinions of the Millennial Generation and Generation Z. I also planned a field trip to Ridgeview Manor. I had to book a time with the Manor, get approval form my Teacher Mentor and Principal, and fill out the needed paperwork.

With my students, we discussed the two generations mentioned above. We also talked about the House of the Old in "The Giver", and compared the two. The class decided that they did not enjoy what the articles were saying about them. So, I told the students how we were going to respond with positive action, by going to visit residents at Ridgeview Manor. We created a formula for engaging in discussion, practiced with each other, brought my grandparents in to practice, and put it into practice at Ridgeview. We were also able to learn some Christmas Carols that we sang for the residents. Finally, I had my students reflect on their experience. The students started off quite nervous, but by the end they LOVED it.


I love how this activity seemed to push my students and make them think. I was a little worried to talk about what the research said about their generation, but it really allowed them to think and it helped to create a better outcome for the project as a whole. The discussions we had were rich and the students were able to look beyond the articles and see how they could change the status quo, even if just for a time. The students came up with the discussion formula for this project (Ask, Listen, Share, Repeat), and they diligently practiced with their peers and my grandparents. They went from thinking this would be "lame", to then having nerves completely take over, and finally to feeling like they experienced something truly amazing. They talked with each other about how great it was, they shared with their peers and teachers, and a lot of them shared with their parents about their wonderful experience.

I believe there is a future with this project because I had students begging to go back and I would reply with, "if you loved it, I am sure they would really enjoy having you back anytime". Some of the students seemed to really respond well to this idea.

Personally, I was thrilled with the outcome: how they compared the experience to the articles and novel study, how the students got over their nerves and got into the experience, and how they allowed it to impact their lives and thoughts. I was really touched by the work they put into the project and how they let it permeate their being. It gave me great joy to see these students be able to give to their community in a way they might not have thought about.

Caitlin completed her PS III at Raymond Jr. High and has been involved in working with students of all ages in various settings. She is passionate about helping this next generation become the best that they can be.

Teacher as Theatre Producer​

How Do You Produce a Musical Theatre Production?


For drama majors, putting on a school production can be an expected, but daunting, task. Over the course of my third professional semester I looked at all the specifics of producing a musical theatre production. This professional inquiry project looks at all the small, and big, pieces of running a production from start to finish.


To do this project I had to follow the step-by-step the process that the director took in creating the musical theatre production at school. I ensured that every thing the teacher did with regard to the production was recorded, whether it was big or small. From sending a parent letter home to ordering the licensing for the show, I had to ensure that I was making a note in my inquiry project of how and why this was done. One of the biggest surprises was the budget for this show, which was substantially large for a junior high. I realized that not all schools would have this supply of funds and I had to think about how these steps would be taken in a different school. This is where my idea for our grant application came from.


This project impacted the school in a large way, because I was able to fill the vacant role of stage manager, a role that was previously assumed by a teacher no longer there. The stage manager plays a huge role in the organizational aspects of the show. My internship school was also left with a detailed copy of how this production was run. This guide can help contribute to continued success in the school’s fine arts department no matter who the drama teacher may be.

Professionally, this project has now set me up for success in the future. No matter which school I fall into in my first teaching job, I will have the ability and knowledge to undertake a school production. The extent of my learning was extremely large: this is not knowledge that one learns in the drama department or the education department. This is knowledge one learns from experience in this area. This project has allowed me to now proceed confidently into my first teaching position ready for whatever is thrown at me.

Kristen is completing her program at the University of Lethbridge, with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts and Bachelor of Education. She just finished her PSIII Internship at St. Francis Junior High in Lethbridge. Alberta.


Sign Language Performance

How does nonverbal communication in the form of Sign Language affect scripted work and movement in the Dramatic Arts?


I came up with the idea for my project based on the fact that in my PS1 in Barnwell all the students there signed O Canada every morning and it was very beautiful. The class I was with also signed Silent Night at their Christmas concert. This really spoke to me, and stayed with me into my PSIII. When it came down to actually doing this project as a part of scripted work, I found out that there was a hearing impaired student in my class as well as at least five other students in the school who are also hearing impaired. I felt that this added to the school to by allowing students to experience diversity firsthand, and by serving as a reminder to truly be thankful for things we might take for granted.


For this project there was a lot of research on my side to figure out first how to sign O Canada, as well as what would be the best way for my students to learn it. The first things I did were to contact two people: my TA for PS1 and a good family friend who works with the hearing impaired. I asked both of them if they had any tips and any ideas for resources I could use. Both were able to get back to me right away with different handouts and tricks to use when the students were learning. The most helpful resources were the step by step picture handouts that I could give to the students and have up on the board. A second tip I learned was to not give them all the information at once: it was more successful to break it up and take it one part at a time. When our class got into working on actually signing, they were excited but unsure of how hard it would actually be. So we ended up spending all the odd days on learning and going over one page, and then on the even days we would have class challenges where they would have to show that they could sign what we have learnt so far. This method worked really well for learning the signs.

One major setback I encountered was that at least 50% of my students suffer from anxiety, and the thought of presenting this piece live to the school on Remembrance Day was too much for them. So I went back to my PS1 TA and she suggested that we perform it with a black light like we did for Silent Night. My students really liked the idea of not begin seen: we used white gloves on our hands and black clothes so that only our hands would really show up. It would have been a perfect solution if it were only easy to find white gloves, which is hard because most “white” gloves are actually cream. Once we finally found all our white gloves we ran into our last and biggest problem: the band was going to be playing O Canada and they needed the lights on where we needed them off. This dilemma was tricky, but an easy fix: I went to my class again with this problem, and one simple solution was to simply film it the day before and then play the recording using the projector. This ended up working really well, though the computer had a bit of a lag and our video was not in time to the music. After everything was said and done, the principal came and asked for a copy of us signing but with music attached, so that they could actually play it during the singing of O Canada in weeks to come.


This project impacted my students the most. They even had a chance to actually speak to one of my friends who is serving for the Canadian Armed forces. This exposure helped put the anthem into context, showing what it means to so many different people. Their respect and understanding showed in the end performance through how they stood and made sure that each sign was clear and strong.

As previously mentioned, the school will use our video with all classes in the weeks to come. I can also see the project being influential in the future, with other grades (and likely the whole school!) wanting to learn how to sign O Canada as well. Teachers may also be inspired to adapt this idea for a Christmas Concert or an Easter celebration.

Knowing sign language is still a relatively rare thing, in that not a lot of people know how to sign unless they need it. I feel like this project really added to my own learning because though sign language can be hard to learn, it is very useful and does not have to be limited to situations with hearing impaired individuals.

Samantha is a Drama Education major and recently completed her Internship at D.A Ferguson in Taber. She will graduate in April 2016.


Literacy Testing in Junior High School

How Can Fountas and Pinnell Testing Assist in Correlating Literacy Levels with Star Reader to Achieve a Long-term Goal of increased Literacy Rates at Cardston Junior High School?


Since Cardston Junior High School and the Westwind School District has a huge literacy focus, we wanted to help increase literacy in our school. CJHS frequently completes STAR Reader tests with students, and wanted to begin another testing method, Fountas and Pinnell. We wanted to know how data gained from both of these reading tests could assist our school in increasing student literacy rates.


For our project, we began testing students in the school using the F&P system, and then correlating that data with the results from the previous STAR Reader tests. Although we did not finish testing each student in the school, we were able to complete the test with most of the lowest readers, who needed the most assistance and intervention. We initially had to attend a short training course about the Fountas and Pinnell system, and acquire the box full of levelled books and resources. We began testing students for their instructional and independent reading levels according to F&P, using the instructions for specific resources that test for accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. We recorded the results into a spreadsheet, and then correlated this data with their STAR Reader results. Throughout the process we also maintained a log, documenting any challenges we encountered or findings we had. We discovered that the testing was a lot more time-consuming that we had first anticipated, which was a big setback for us. Once we got into the routine, however, we were able to test many of the students who most needed intervention.


Providing another set of reading level data can be very beneficial to the future of CJHS and its students. In some cases, we found discrepancies between the two tests, as contextual or environmental factors may have skewed the data or communicated an inaccurate score. An additional set of data can provide a more accurate representation of literacy levels, and provide opportunities for teachers to hone in on particular strategies to help struggling readers. The data we collected will be passed onto the administration and teachers at our school to be used as a guide for future instruction. We hope that our initial work with Fountas and Pinnell will help Cardston Junior High move forward with continued literacy support. In terms of our own learning, we found it very beneficial to learn this complex testing system, as it is a popular literacy test in local school districts. We also learned that we must be flexible in our assessments and provide multiple opportunities for students to prove their learning, as environmental factors can lead to an inaccurate representation of knowledge.

Erica is a Native Education major with a Social Studies minor. She completed her PS III at Cardston Junior High School teaching Grade 7 Social Studies. She grew up in Arrowwood, AB and hopes to get a job in a rural school once she graduates in April.

Chantal is a Native Education major with a Spanish minor. She also completed her PS III at CJHS teaching Grade 6 Language Arts. She grew up in Cardston, and hopes to get a job somewhere in southern Alberta when she graduates in April as well.


Take-Home Literacy Bags

How can I enhance student literacy skills while connecting home and school?


The purpose of Literacy Bags is to connect school and home and increase the parents' knowledge about their child's abilities. The bags I created for kindergarten or grade one classrooms are meant to enhance and extend the curriculum while providing opportunities for children, together with their parents, to practice recently acquired skills and knowledge.

I am passionate about literacy, and knew that I wanted to find some way to try to build on the literacy skills of my students. Literacy development begins long before children enter school. High frequency of home storybook reading is related to readiness to benefit from formal literacy instruction and increased motivation to interact with books and to learn to read. While most parents want to be able to help teach their children effective reading and writing skills, many are unsure of how to provide optimal support. Literacy bags can help parents by giving them tools: such as how to ask questions, what types of questions to ask, and how to develop comprehension skills in their children.


I started my project by designing my inquiry question, and then determining what tools I wanted to include in my literacy bags. I then started searching online and in the Lethbridge School District's curriculum lab for exemplars of literacy bags. I decided to take a practical approach and use my school's library from which to build the activities for each bag. From these stories I created several hands-on activities which were designed for parents and children to work through together. Each bag took considerably longer to create than I had anticipated, and became much more in depth than I had originally intended.


I decided to make my literacy program optional for my students and parents. I did not want anyone to feel compelled to participate in a program that they did not feel passionate about. There has been great positive feedback from the students and parents who have chosen to take part in this program. The students come back to school with the projects they have created and are filled with pride at their accomplishments. It has, overall, improved my relationships with both my students and their parents. I have been able to question the students at deeper, more meaningful levels in order to properly assess their comprehension and to then modify my lesson plans in order to accommodate their needs in more precise ways. This project has greatly improved my own abilities to provide explicit instruction, guided practice, and collaborative learning, which are essential to a balanced literacy program.

Stephanie worked as a speech and language educational assistant before completing her Education degree with a special focus in early childhood education.


Mini Lessons for Daily 5

When doing the Daily 5, there is not always a lot of time for mini-lessons. So, what skills do we need to teach and how do we teach them to make the most of our time?


Although my background is more science based, I chose to teach language arts to help me become a well-rounded elementary teacher. The school I completed my practicum at had a school-wide initiative to implement the Daily 5 during language arts. While planning, I struggled to find material for mini lessons and writer’s workshop because of the limited amount of class time. I noticed that some teachers at my school were also struggling with teaching the reading and writing mini lessons. This realization made me decide that it would be a good idea to go through the language arts curriculum and find skills that students would need to develop in order to experience growth and become more confident in their abilities.


The first part of my project required me to go through the language arts curriculum from Grade 1-6 and make generalizations about the outcomes. After I made generalizations, I grouped like skills together and placed them under categories on the website that I created. Once I decided on the layout of my project, I started collecting resources from many sources. While I did not try all of the resources in my class, I did have my students try some of the activities and I gathered feedback from them. As I collected resources and materials, I placed them on the website and included a short description with a link to the original source. I had originally wanted to create mini lessons in a typical lesson plan format but after a discussion with my mentor and administrator, I decided to simply provide the resources for teachers to use in a way that works best for them.


This project has been embraced by all staff at my placement school. This is the first year at the school that the Dally 5 has been required; the previous years have been optional for teachers. This project is something that I plan to keep adding to since I will be starting my first year of teaching in the near future. I know that teachers do not always have the time to search for resources, especially during the school year, and I am very thankful for the time that I was able to devote to my searches. I have learned that while there are plenty of resources out there, they are not all of equal quality, and it can take more time than one would think to find a resource to suit a specific purpose.

Taylor’s degree is in General Science (math, geography, physics) and Math Education, with a minor in Social Studies Education. For her PSIII, She taught Grade 4 language arts, social, and art.


Science Demonstrations and Experiments

Why Aren't "Fireworks" More Frequent in the Science Classroom?


This PIP came out of a necessity to help Alberta science teachers easily make science come to life. We felt like our students were not interested in the subject matter we were teaching, and wanted to bring more activity-based learning into the class. We researched different types of demos and labs, then correlated them to Alberta outcomes in a curriculum-oriented database.


Tanner took on the coding of the website, and we both tested science demonstrations in our Science 9, Science 10 and Chem 20 classes. Based on their effectiveness we implemented them into the PIP. It was a lot of work and it still will be, but there were no major setbacks.


This project was developed (and is still being developed) for Alberta teachers around the province. Due to its immense scope it is still very much in its infancy even though it is functional in its current form. This project is meant to impact not only our students and school but is also going to hopefully impact science education in Alberta as it progresses. We hope to share our project to make it easier for all teachers bring science to life in the classroom.

Tanner is a physics and education double major who just completed his Internship teaching chemistry 20 and science 9.

Instructional Strategies

What strategies can teachers use to create an effective learning environment that engages students in the quarter system?


The quarter system involves three-hour classes in which multiple transitions and different activities must be utilized in order to keep students engaged. When lesson planning in the quarter system, we began with some web searches for effective strategies, but could not find much beyond the usual "think-pair-share." When we asked veteran teachers at CCH about effective strategies, we were referred to a paper resource from Barrie Bennett's book Beyond Monet. We decided to create an easily accessible online resource that compiled some of the best instructional strategies into one toolbox. Hence, the "easyteachertoolbox.weebly.com" website was born!


Our method began by deciding what categories of instructional strategies we wished to investigate. For the quarter system, we decided that the most important categories of strategies were: classroom management, engagement, collaboration, formative assessment, and brain breaks. We then referred to Beyond Monet. This paper resource has been used by several teachers at CCH with a lot of success, however its descriptions are lengthy and several strategies seemed to repeat themselves. We compiled and refined these descriptions of effective strategies and typed them into our weebly page. Then we began on the brain breaks section, which was a combination of ideas from our own experience and from David Sladkey's Energizing Brain Breaks Blog. To better illustrate each strategy, we inserted pictures from Google Images that were under the "labelled for reuse" category. Knowing that the veteran teachers at our school would have some very effective and unique approaches, we requested to have some time at the next P.D. day to ask our staff for help. At the P.D. day, we asked all of our teaching and educational assistance staff to think of their first year in the classroom, and then posed the question: "what effective strategy do you use today that you wish you had had in your first year of teaching?" The staff wrote their responses on cue cards, and when they were complete, we asked them to turn their cue card over and write down what rewards they use in their classrooms to motivate their students. We collected these cue cards and added their valuable information to our Weebly page. To our surprise, a lot of teachers did not write down instructional strategies, but personal advice. We added our favourite quote to the home page: "Use what works for you, and shamelessly throw the rest in the garbage." With the project finished, we emailed the link to our website to all staff at CCH.


Our project was well-received by other teaching staff at CCH. A few emailed us back to say "Great job!!! Very comprehensive and engaging. Thank you so much for your time and effort to developing a wonderful resource.", or said in person "your project is great, I'm actually going to use it!" We feel that digesting Barrie Bennett's strategies from the Beyond Monet book and tapping into the veteran experience of CCH teachers was very beneficial. It helped us to use strategies that work and are both engaging and fun for the students. Young has already been using strategies that incorporate motion. Young’s students have given feedback such as, "We should do more brain breaks like these Mr. Shin," or said to other teachers "We should do more moving around activities. Ask Mr. Shin for the fun ones." Young has learned that much of these strategies need to be adapted depending on a particular make up of students or subject matter. Grace has learned that students enjoy it when teachers are not afraid to try out new ways of learning, and that all methods (however effective for other teachers) must be adapted to your personal teaching style.

Young Shin has a mathematics background and taught Religious Education at Catholic Central High School for PS III. Grace Martin is a fantasy novel author with a background in biology and physics. She taught Science during her internship at Catholic Central High School.


Active Learning in Math

How can I increase student engagement in math?


I identified the students' need for more engaging math when I did a math survey at the beginning of the year that asked them how they felt about math, how they used in their daily lives, and if they thought it was useful. The majority of the responses were quite negative - they felt math was boring, useless, and not relevant to their daily lives. It was also a need for the school because they are focusing on increasing numeracy skills within the Inspiring Education framework. Finding more rich and authentic tasks for math lent itself to project based learning which fits more within the Inspiring Education framework than textbook work!

I wanted to have a compiled list of resources that I could easily access when planning and so I thought that Pinterest/my portfolio would be a great platform to organize all the research and ideas. The Pinterest account has a board for each grade level and a general active learning strategies board that spans across grade levels and subjects. The pins on each board are organized by the different math strands from the Alberta curriculum.


I researched active learning strategies, recorded and compiled them, and then organized them on Pinterest and my portfolio website. I also made a point of getting to know my students so that I could create math projects and activities that were directly relevant to their lives. A lot of the compiled active learning strategies were used for math centers, paired group work, or whole class activities. However, the more authentic projects tended to be more individual work for the students. The main setback with creating authentic tasks for the students was to properly scaffold the projects so that students were still challenged but not overwhelmed. The main setbacks for using the active learning strategies in centers was to figure out classroom management practices that worked when so many groups of students were doing so many different activities. The other main setback for using active math strategies in centers was to foster more independence in my students to figure out what they are supposed to be doing without a teacher guiding their every action. Every week or two I would try either a new active learning strategy or introduce a new project in math. Sometimes they worked, sometimes not, but it was really good that I had a great relationship with the students because they were upfront about which math activities they liked or did not like!


I believe that the students now recognize how prevalent math is in everyday life. Some of them still aren't the fondest of it, but they no longer groan at the beginning of every math class because they see that math has a purpose. I have had great conversations with students about how useful being good at math actually is. However, students really love center days; they get quite excited when I have my centers' folders at the beginning of class.

Because I created the Pinterest board in the school's name, the teachers and staff now have it as a resource when they are planning and they can also add onto it.

This project contributed to my own learning in that I now have a wealth of more active learning ideas and I find that the learning that occurs in my class is more active than passive - not a lot of stand and deliver style of teaching occurs. This project also allowed me to accommodate a variety of learning styles because the activities were so varied!

Lisa grew up in Fernie, B.C. She graduates this December with a B.Ed/B.A and hopes to start subbing in schools shortly after.


Integrating Movement and Early Literacy

How can early literacy instruction be integrated with movement-based activities?


Many teachers are aware of the importance of Brain Breaks (or as I prefer to call them, Brain Boosts) as they have experienced first hand, the difficulty of having students sit still for 5-35 minutes. As a pre-service teacher, I have seen the importance of giving my students regular movement breaks as it allows them to get their wiggles out, receive additional DPA, reenergize and refocus. I have also seen a wide range of learning styles in my classroom. I have noticed that many students are kinesthetic learners; however, movement-based activities that can be used across the curriculum are not always readily available. I decided to focus my project on the importance of integrating movement with early literacy instruction. I believe that incorporating movement, in conjunction with traditional methods of literacy instruction (auditory, visual and tactile,) allows for all students to learn through their own learning style and needs.


For my project, I chose to research how early literacy skills can be taught through movement-based activities. I chose to create an activity bank for teachers to easily access these activities. This activity bank is based on fundamental movement skills taught in physical education and is a daily physical activity (DPA) and cross-curricular integration resource. I have designed my website as a compilation of various movement-based early literacy activities.

I started this project by analyzing the Alberta Language Arts Program of Study. Originally, I had intended on creating a grade specific activity bank, however after a detailed analysis of the program of studies and noting the natural progression of the prescribed learning outcomes, I decided to group activities based on general learning outcomes rather than by grade.

I consulted a variety of external sources including Ever Active Schools, Alberta Education’s Daily Physical Activity Handbook, and author Rae Pica. These resources acted as the prime source for the various activities found in my activity bank. I read through various movement-based activities and subsequently matched up general and specific learning outcomes. Using this information, I then began compiling my database and organizing it in an appropriate manner.

I tested a variety of the activities with my students and made appropriate adjustments to the activity description and added various extensions and adaptations. Due to the nature of this project, I was not able to test all of the activities with my students.


This project has been received very well by the students in my class and other teachers at my school. My students greatly enjoyed the movement-based activities and they continued to express their desire to participate in these types of activities when they were given a choice. I noticed an improvement in the students’ concentration and focus during and after the activities. Most students were engaged in the various activities for the entire duration. However, similar to any non-movement based activity, some students needed reminders to stay on task.

As a future teacher, I would love to incorporate literacy components into physical education. I believe cross-curricular integration provides a holistic opportunity for children to grow and apply their learning in different ways. I have had the opportunity to share my project with my professional learning network on Twitter and it has been received very positively. I have been contacted by various physical education teachers to learn more about cross-curricular integration. This opportunity has definitely taught me the importance of collaboration with other educators.

In the future, I would like to research cross curricular integration into other subject areas. I believe that movement-based activities are another avenue for students to explore their learning styles and interests, and it is therefore beneficial to investigate other teaching styles and methods of instruction.

Kim completed PSIII teaching Kindergarten in Airdrie, AB. She will graduate with a major in Physical Education, a minor in Mathematics Education and a special focus in Early Childhood Education.


The Benefit of Intramurals

How does physical activity affect motivation, behaviour and academic performance in the classroom?


For my PSIII Professional Inquiry Project (PIP), I ran intramural dodgeball at morning and afternoon recess for the grade four and five students. Because the students only have PE class twice a week for half an hour, I wanted to give the students a chance to participate in structured physical activity during the school day. Additionally, I created a small booklet of different Daily Physical Activities (DPA) to give to each teacher so they can easily incorporate physical activity into their everyday lessons.

My goal for this project was to increase motivation and behavior in the classroom. I selected this goal because I am very passionate about living an active lifestyle and active learning. I firmly believe that some sort of daily physical activity is necessary in order for students to reach their full potential. I expected that if my intramural program was successful in increasing student motivation and behavior, academic success would surely follow.


I started out by collaborating with the PE teacher and other grade 4/5 teachers to find a time that would work to run intramurals. Initially, I wanted to run them for a longer period of time and introduce the students to different sports. However, because dance troupe, basketball and running club all run during lunch recess or during the day, the 10 minute recesses were the only time available, and it ended up working just fine!

On top of intramurals, I also helped coach grade 4/5 basketball, went on a couple races with the running team and created a “DPA handbook” to give to all of the teachers. I split the handbook into 4 sections; DPA’s requiring no preparation, DPA’s requiring little preparation, active review games and helpful resources. As teachers, we are mandated by Alberta Education to incorporate 30 minutes of DPA into our classrooms each day. By providing the teachers with resources and a variety of DPA activities, I thought that it would be much easier and less time consuming to ensure the students are getting the activity they need.

Intramurals were a bit slow to start because the teachers weren't used to reminding their students to go to the gym and the students weren't used to participating in intramurals. However, once the students started coming more regularly, almost all of the grade 4 and 5 students would choose to participate and there were always students at my desk asking if we were doing dodgeball today.


I was very pleased with how my PIP turned out and happy to see the positive effects it had on the students. By keeping anecdotal notes, observing the students in my class and talking with other teachers, I was able to see how the students’ behavior and academic success changed after intramurals started. I quickly discovered that intramurals were a great motivator for almost all of my students, especially the ones who tended to act out more. After the students started regularly coming to dodgeball, they would monitor their own behavior and would ask me if they could come if they worked hard all class. It was so great to see the students taking ownership for their own behavior and recognizing when they were not working as well as they could. By the last couple of weeks of my practicum, I had multiple students at my desk every day. I even had other teachers tell me how they were able to use intramurals to motivate the students in their class.

Although I did not run this program long enough to really see a significant change in academic success, I did notice small changes in many students. Furthermore, I firmly believe that if students are motivated and on task in class, they will without a doubt have greater academic success than if they are unmotivated and off task. I hope that the teachers will continue to run the intramural program, because the students loved it and it clearly served as a motivator.

Jenna is from Calgary, but currently lives in Lethbridge. Her major is Native Education, with a minor in English Language Arts. She loves running, rock climbing and swimming. She completed her PS3 at Saipoyi Community School in Stand Off and hopes to get a job teaching abroad when she graduates.


"Why Play?"

Our inquiry looked at the benefits of play and how it is linked to the Alberta Kindergarten curriculum.


We have both found that some people may not fully understand the learning that occurs during play. We both had an interest in this area and wanted to show that play can be integrated into all areas of the classroom. Whether it is the traditional sense of play, using play as a tool for classroom management, or applying play to create imaginative thought and emergent literacy, play benefits young students. We applied our research throughout our internship and left our resources for our teachers and students' parents to further their understanding.


Our project focused specifically on researching the importance of play and how it can be incorporated throughout all 7 areas of the Alberta Kindergarten Program of Studies. We researched multiple articles focused on play as well as the book Explorations – Learning through inquiry and play by Lalie Harcourt and Ricki Wortzman. Kindergarten students were engaged in “superhero” themed learning activities that all involved some form of play and were developmentally appropriate for kindergarten-aged students. These learning activities fit into the learning areas of: Early Literacy, Early Numeracy, Citizenship and Identity, Environment and Community Awareness, Personal and Social Responsibility, Physical Skills and Well-Being and Creative Expression.

The final project that the students created as part of this theme was a comic book page with three separate entries. The entries included a written and artistic component related to superheroes. The first entry focused on what the student’s favorite superhero was and why, and the second required students to draw and write about someone who was their real life superhero. The third and final entry introduced the five senses and required students to create their own superhero emblem highlighting their favorite super sense. This project was developed based on the project based learning philosophy. The final component of the superhero project required students to give an oral presentation of their comic book page in which they were assessed according to a project based learning rubric. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was also included within our project although the ICT curriculum is not specific for kindergarten. However, in kindergarten we began to cover some of the curriculum including teaching students the foundational operations, knowledge and concepts of working on the computers.


The students were actively engaged throughout the superhero project. In particular, boys who were not engaged in the free play center areas containing the house or kitchen were extremely engaged in the superhero free play center where they could act out their own scenarios and take on the roles of their favorite superheroes.

Communicating our results on play to parents was an important aspect of our project. We wanted to communicate to parents and other school staff members that play has many important benefits for kindergarten-aged students. Play expands intelligence, stimulates the imagination and encourages problem solving, helps develop confidence, self-esteem, and a positive attitude towards learning. Play is also a significant factor in brain and muscle development.

Our research on play has impacted the way we will respond to as well as encourage play in our kindergarten classroom. It is important to note that the way that teachers and other adults respond to children’s play is important. When adults respond to play by asking open-ended inquiry based questions, this leads to powerful connections while promoting the curriculum. It is also important to note that without adult support, the play of many children will never reach its full potential. Teachers need to intentionally teach children how to play within the classroom. This includes how to plan their play, the roles to assume, the props to use, the language to use, the scenario as well as the time frame of their play. Play should be both nurtured and preserved as it provides a beneficial context for child development.

Both Alissa and Ashley have an early childhood education specialization and did their internships in kindergarten at Mike Mountain Horse. Owing to their similar interests, they chose to do the inquiry project collaboratively.


Creating Smudge Boxes in CTF Class

How can we bring meaningful FNMI content into CTF/CTS classes, given they are not generally known for having a cultural/societal focus?


I was trying to think of a way to do my PIP around the shop program when the FNMI director at St Francis (Billy Woitte) asked if she could stain some tipi poles in the shop. While she was there she told me about wanting to have every school in the district have smudge boxes (used in first nations religious ceremonies). This comment got me thinking about bringing the FNMI content into the shop program. Together we set up a project for the students to build the smudge boxes, learn about what they are used for, and appreciate their importance to the Blackfoot culture.


I drafted and designed blueprints for the students to use, and they prepared and built the smudge boxes from my plans. I continuously consulted with Billy Woitte on designs and also on bringing in Blackfoot elders to talk about the smudge boxes. The project progressed rather nicely, with few setbacks. Students had varying skill levels in wood-shop, so a few boxes had to be repaired and modified by me, but all in all it went very smoothly.


I found that bringing FNMI content into the shop is easier then you think. The students also found it to be really interesting and especially enjoyed it when the elders came to visit. I found it nice to be able to build something like this and still meet the objectives of the shop class: I was working on types of joints and fasteners, and through building the smudge boxes the students could still practice and show me their understanding of the different types of joints.

Will recently completed his PS III internship at St Francis Jr High school, teaching grade 8 math and grades 7,8 and 9 wood shop. He is a journeyman carpenter and has worked in the trades for almost 20 years, so teaching wood-shop has been a real joy for him. Part of his goal for this Internship was to make wood shop a little more meaningful for today's learners.

Creating Brave Bots

How can brave bots (personalized paintings on dominoes) be used in Middle School, a time of great change and struggle, to help remind students that they are capable of doing great things?


I heard about the idea of brave bots at a conference in Portland Oregon, and thought the idea fit right in with the FISH philosophy that GS Lakie school promotes, in particular the Be There component. In addition, brave bots can help students fulfill the remaining pieces of the FISH philosophy- Play and Make Their Day. The brave bot also serves as a reminder to help students as they Choose Their Attitude.


I introduced the idea to one of the classes, and they seemed quite excited by it. I did a presentation to introduce the concept, and then we spent two classes making the brave bots: one for the students to keep, and one that they were to give away. I used a video that the creator of the idea made, under the heading of "steal this idea". Brave bots are creating by painting on a domino in whatever way feels "right". In fact, one could create a joy bot, or a happy bot, or a love bot. The students regularly asked when the project would begin. Once they were created, there were a few finishing touches that I needed to add and then they were handed back to the students.


I found that my class really enjoyed the project and had a lot of discussion about to whom they were going to give their bot. I have a presentation that I will send to each teacher at my internship school, so that if they wish they can find a way to implement the idea into their classes and can continue to spread it. I found some students really grasped the idea behind brave bots, and wanted the one they plan to give away to be done in a meaningful way. I can see myself using this idea again in my teaching.

Stephen has returned to school after several years of working, looking to share his life experience and past adventures in the classroom.


Cross-Curricular Community Building Unit

How can drama build and strengthen our classroom community?


My project is a community building unit that meets outcomes in drama, health, language arts and physical education. I developed this unit in response to teachers’ feedback about areas of the school’s programming that could use a little bit of extra attention. Early in the year, teachers expressed interest in the development of more drama programming at the school. Teachers were also seeking out more strategies for teaching friendship skills to students. My major is drama and I have experienced the relationship building potential of drama, both as a student and a teacher, so I knew that these areas would be a great combination for my PIP! I combined the two areas to create my inquiry question and sought out drama games and activities that would support the development of a strong classroom community. I also considered the time constraints teachers face and the lack of time they might set aside for drama, an optional area of the curriculum. Knowing this, I strategically geared my unit to meet outcomes from required areas of the curriculum: Health, language arts and physical education. The end product is a unit that builds community and fits conveniently into a variety of instructional blocks.


The first step to creating the unit involved pinning down specific skills that support a strong community. With help from my colleagues and faculty members, I decided that the key factors that contribute to community are trust, respect and working together. These three skills became my goals for the unit: the things that I hoped students would be able to do at the end and the focus of my assessments. I worked backwards, looking for simple activities that would clearly show student progress towards the goals. The bookends of the unit involve a simple lesson that asks students to complete three tasks: get a partner, give someone a compliment and create tableaux. I videotaped students as they completed these activities on the first and last days of the unit. At the end of the unit, we watched those videos together and students reflected on the differences between the two videos.

“Get a partner” is the activity that I use to gauge student progress towards trust. My indicator of progress towards this goal is the length of time it takes students to get a partner. When students only trust a few people, they go running across the room to find those friends to be their partners and it takes a great deal of time to get everyone settled. If students trust everyone, they quickly choose the person closest to them in the room, no matter who they are.

“Give a compliment” is the activity that I use to gauge student progress towards respect. One sign of respect is the ability to find something good about every person, even if they are not your friend. I paired students with a variety of partners and challenged them to identify a specific good quality about their peers. 8-year-olds generally recognize that they need to be nice to everyone and most students found a general compliment to give (e.g. nice shoes) but I challenged students to go deeper. I know that students respect everyone when they can find a specific good quality in all of their peers.

“Tableaux” is the activity that I use to gauge student progress towards working together. The topics I give students are purposefully open-ended and I watch to see if they merely work beside a partner in two independent stories or if they work with a partner to create a tableau where they are both involved in the same story.

We spent 30-60 minutes each week participating in games and activities that build trust, respect and collaborative skill. The activities were primarily teacher-directed in the beginning and the students took on increasing responsibility as we progressed through the unit. I pulled ideas from a variety of experiences and resources, starting with activities and games that were familiar to me and then pulling from other resources to build a dynamic unit that appropriately scaffolds for students. I also worked through several lessons with three other classes to enhance my sense of the needs of a variety of learners.


My project contributed to a strong classroom community that permeated through all subject areas. Students were willing to work with anyone in the class and they became better at working together without teacher intervention. My teacher mentor also commented regularly that she noticed significant improvements that were benefitting student learning during her teaching time. These improvements helped students get more out of their learning experiences because they were spending more time focusing on learning and less time on friendship issues.

These experiences have also helped students embrace others. I had three students in my class who were new to the school and did not know anyone. I also had a student who demonstrated some challenging behaviors that were very disruptive to his peers. As my class progressed through the unit, they became a stronger, more inclusive group. Students recognized that they had things in common with the new kids and built friendships. They learned ways to manage themselves in a group. They embraced their differences. My students navigated a lot of disruptions as teachers and staff worked hard to apply strategies to support the child who was demonstrating challenging behaviors. There were times that students expressed frustration about this student’s disruptions and lack of socially acceptable behavior. Over time, however, they became more accepting and patient, showing admirable kindness to this student. I will never forget the day when that student loudly exclaimed “I’M NOT SPECIAL” in the middle of a lesson and instantly a chorus of 8-year-old voices rang out with compliments and reassurance. Even though the student was often disrespectful to his peers, my class showed him love, kindness and respect. I couldn’t have been more proud!

After using my lesson reflections to improve the unit, I will make this unit available to teachers at my school. The lessons are effective, fun, accessible and convenient so I am hopeful that they will use the unit in the future to build community with their classes as I did with mine. The unit meets outcomes across the curriculum and I have already heard feedback that this element of the project is welcomed and appreciated.

I am very happy with the results of this project. I know that I have supported the development of skills that will serve my students for the rest of their lives.

Emily's passion for teaching has been developing since childhood! In Spring 2016, Emily will complete her final semester of a B.A/B.Ed with a major in Drama, minors in Social Studies and CTS: Community Health, and an Early Childhood special focus. Emily completed PSIII in grade 3 at Lakeview School in Lethbridge.


Student Government and Leadership

Does being involved in student government have an effect on a student’s leadership skills and community involvement?


Participating in student council allowed me to break out of my shell in high school and become someone that was seen as a leader. I was interested to see if this type of thing also occurred amongst junior high students. I was also curious to see how the council would operate as a whole to plan events.

I believe that it is important to create future leaders in school. Student council is one way to give a group of students some responsibility and see what they can do with it. If they choose to take on this responsibility with open arms, they are more likely to find success in their work. I think that this success is necessary to inspire a student to be a leader because you have shown them what they are capable of on their own.


I spent most of my time simply observing and assisting with events and activities. I wanted to see how the students would take on their individual roles as well as see how they worked as a group. I consulted with another teacher from a different junior high school in my division. We discussed the similarities and differences between our councils. The major part of my project came from analyzing what I saw throughout the semester. The only major setback I had was finding time to talk to each member of the council one on one to complete the project. Once I completed all of the interviews, it was just a matter of going over everything that I have learned from them and drawing conclusions related to my question.


I based this project mainly around my own learning. My main goal was to expand my knowledge of how a junior high school student council should and could be run, and to see how this kind of extra curricular activity affected students. I learned a lot about the difference between a student who is extremely internally motivated to be successful, and one who is not. I found that my council was extremely motivated to get things done and hold plenty of events to build the school community. When I consulted with a teacher from another school, I found out that her council was the complete opposite. This observation has led me to a few follow up questions: how do we get students to vote for the person who is going to do the most work for the school and make the year enjoyable, instead of the student who is the most popular? And how do we motivate students to want to fulfill their roles, even if they happen to be elected based on popularity?

Cassandra is a math major who taught grade 8 math and computers for her internship. She participated in student council when in high school, and believes this experience allowed her to become more confident in day to day life.

Building Community School-Wide

Using the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays playoff run as a case study, how do school-wide events contribute to a sense of community among students?


Research has shown that a key hidden component for student learning is a sense of belonging. Students need to feel as though they are a part of the school and the community it is situated in to achieve higher results and motivation towards learning. As a baseball fan, I noticed that the hype of the Blue Jays playoff run was being overshadowed and was considered unimportant among students. With the Blue Jay-inspired hashtag #cometogether gaining significant momentum among the nation, I wanted to find a way for our own student body to come together to show their support for the Blue Jays. I hoped that this would highlight the importance that our sense of community and pride could start from our school and extend to much further places.


The project started with the spark of an idea to showcase the Toronto Blue Jays and create more interest among the students for the MLB Playoffs; usually baseball does not get the same coverage as the other major sports. I remember doing similar events as a young student to support the Calgary Flames and wanted to replicate it in a new format. Once the idea was beginning to sprout, I began doing research on how community involvement and different activities can lead to higher levels of self-efficacy and belonging among students, in turn leading to a higher desire to learn and be involved in a school. Now that I knew the research, I wanted to see if I could replicate the results using my own school-wide event. I had a vast amount of support and helpers among the staff, and it very quickly turned into a large deal for the school.

Initially our plans included taking the photo from the school rooftop, but we could tell early on that the angles and lighting simply would not work. My principal then came up with the idea of using a drone or a crane to take the footage and we outsourced to Aerial Tech Inc. to take the video for us. They loved the idea, as it was now a chance for them to provide support for the community as well as have a new video for advertisement purposes.

The day involved significant levels of planning and preparation to the smallest of details. Since we were filming students inside a maple leaf shape, I had to think about how to organize the students before they enter the leaf as well as disperse inside the leaf. To address this need I created a PowerPoint to send out to all of the classes. I used a voiceover and animations to help students visualize the day’s criteria in advance, all in an effort to minimize confusion.

The day before we took the footage we held a practice run during the lunch hour. We immediately noticed that the original plans of having different colored shirts to outline the leaf was not going to work as the leaf was slightly too large for the amount of students we had (very difficult to approximate the square footage of a maple leaf). We scrambled up some quick solutions and the rest of the event went off without a hitch.

When the video came back from the drone company, we were ecstatic with the quality and quickly added in some edits using Photoshop. We uploaded it onto Twitter and it immediately started being shared, gaining momentum through social media. Within minutes we had the university, the school district, and many local news and radio stations re-sharing the video. This snowballed larger than we expected and even ended up having a small clip on Sportsnet, which had a massive impact on the students’ perception of the day.


Perhaps the biggest implication for this project is how to measure the levels of success. It is difficult to assess gains in building community. Observation and questioning are perhaps the best tools for this type of assessment, hence the interview process was helpful.

The project greatly impacted the students’ sense of belonging and community within the school. It created a palpable atmosphere filled with positivity and support for the Blue Jays that one could feel just walking in the hallways. The students even requested we live stream the afternoon games in the foyer and our principal graciously agreed.

This project could easily be replicated in other formats to achieve the same levels of success. The key is to have the events be relevant and applicable to the current needs/wants of the student body. Regardless of the structure, this has shown me that school-wide events will continue to hold a valuable place in education as they truly bring large groups of people together in a positive manner. I keep discovering that teaching is so much more than just delivering the Program of Studies and we need to constantly be pushing the boundaries to create a positive, enjoyable atmosphere for all students.

Originally from Calgary, Dan came to the University of Lethbridge in the Fall of 2007. He obtained his B.A. in Kinesiology in 2014 and will complete his B.Ed. (Physical Education Major) in the Spring of 2016. He has a passion for student leadership, building character, and school-wide events.


Stage Combat and Acting for the Camera

How does a teacher successfully implement a new student club from start to finish while looking at the possibilities of content integration within a desired course curriculum?

The intent of this professional inquiry project was to gain knowledge in the area of extra curricular club development. My goal was to gain insight that might increase opportunities for curriculum integration through student clubs, as well as to gain experience that I could share in future teaching positions. This project also addresses the need for diversity within the extra curricular options for students.

The two clubs I formed are a stage combat club named Extreme Acting: Acting on the Edge and specialized acting club called Acting for the Camera. Both clubs were developed through the fine arts department at Lester B Pearson high school.
These clubs have been malleable in that the needs of the students have come before a prescribed curriculum. Both clubs looked to interact with each other. The stage combat club worked with the film club to develop resources for upcoming events at the school. Their major projects were:

1) The opening introduction to the audience at the musical theatre show.

2) Redesigning school news and events notices to be more student-focused, using humour to create appeal.

3) Bringing awareness to the arts at pep rallies prior to games.

Ms. Jessica Nottell has a BFA and BEd from the U of L as of December 2015. Over the past twelve years Jessica found her passion for teaching while working as both a Dance and Fight Instructor/Choreographer. She is excited to use her professional experience to inform her teaching.

Augmented Reality using Aurasma

How can augmented reality (AR) be used in the classroom? What can AR do to enhance student experience?


During my internship I have taken on the role of the production manager for the school’s musical. One of my tasks was to create the call board for the lobby of the show. Normally, head shots (and sometimes brief bios) are typed up for all of the actors. I have chosen to use augmented reality, specifically through the app Aurasma, to create the call board for this year’s musical. Augmented reality is technology that super imposes a computer generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Essentially family and friends can use their smart devices to activate a brief video from each of the cast members. In these videos I had students share a memory from the musical.

During this process I have also brainstormed a variety of other ways to use augmented reality in many different classrooms and learning environments. Augmented reality appeals to both visual and auditory learners, as it activates both streams of learning. It amplifies student engagement with regular learning tools, such as text books or bulletin boards, by bringing them to life through technology. I now have a clearer picture of how augmented reality can be used in many levels of education.


Currently I work in the educational technology department at the University of Alberta (U of A), which is where I was introduced to augmented reality. I approached my colleagues at U of A and shared some ideas on how I could use this technology in my work with the school’s musical. From there the U of A kindly lent me the equipment I needed for the project. I then recorded videos and took head shots of each student in the musical. I had students come up with a way to express themselves, and their experience in the musical. Some students shared favorite memories, while other students performed strange body tricks. Each aura truly showcases the variety of student actors, technicians, and musicians involved in the show! I chose to use the app Aurasma to create my augmented realities. Aurasma is a free app available on Google Play, and on the App Store. The final goal of this project was to have all of the student "auras" on display in the lobby of the musical for family and friends to interact with before the show.


This project was exciting for myself and the students. They were very curious as to how this would work, and so was I! I think that this form of call board really allows students to express themselves in a different way. Normally a call board would just be a simple head shot, perhaps with a few questions. With this augmented reality call board each student has a head shot, that transforms into a short video showcasing each student. Through this project students also gained on-camera experience, which is important within a dramatic classroom.

I also think that my use of this technology will show other teachers how it could be used in their classrooms. I have come up with a few different ideas outside of my own project. For example, augmented reality could be incorporated into regular textbooks and or flash cards. I also think that augmented reality could replace typical classroom manipulatives such as blocks or cards etc., and could be used to create scavenger hunts, bulletin boards, and word walls.

During this process I was fortunate to have a student assistant who aided me in the organization and creation of the auras. This student’s help was invaluable as there were over 60 students involved in the production. In conclusion, this project truly challenged me to incorporate technology in the drama classroom. I also believe that this use of technology was particularly meaningful as it enhanced student expression and reflection.

Emily is a Drama major from Edmonton Alberta. She has just finished her internship at Paul Kane High School in St. Albert. During her internship she taught a Drama 10 class and an Advanced Acting class, while helping with the schools’ production of the Addams Family musical. During her Internship, she also worked at the University of Alberta in the Ed Tech department, where she constantly learned about new educational technologies.