Celebrating Inquiry Fall 2018

Welcome to the ninth 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 2018 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

Coaching Soccer for Beginners

How can we facilitate a successful soccer season through coaching excellence, even for inexperienced coaches?

This coaching manual for soccer was inspired by listening to staff room conversations around teachers volunteering to coach, but having no prior knowledge on the sport or how to coach. Upon discussion with the physical education department, it was brought to my attention that finding knowledgeable and experienced coaches for soccer every year isn't easy or always possible. Seeing as I was head coach this year, I came up with the idea of creating a coaching manual for beginner junior high soccer coaches. This manual will help ensure that coaches can excel at their job and develop the best experiences for their players. By creating the manual while simultaneously coaching, it caused me to be more aware of my coaching and my players experience, and overall made me a better coach and teacher.

Safiyya did her internship at a junior high school in Calgary, where she fell in love with coaching and teaching PE. Her ultimate goal is to inspire each student to find a form of physical activity that they love enough to continue doing for the rest of their life! 

A Collection of P.E. Games to Enhance Skills and Encourage Positive Participation

How can implementing the Games for Understanding Model change how we teach Physical Education?

I came up with my project when I found out that the option teachers at my school would be teaching P.E. on Fridays in order to give the P.E. teachers prep time, since we do not get any during the week. They did not know much about gym and were not feeling very confident in creating lessons. I made it my job to create easy-to-understand game “cheat sheets” that they could use for their Friday Games. I created 3 new games every 3 weeks as they rotated each game through the 3 classes. Responses from teachers and students were very positive.

After filling this need for the Friday teachers, I had a conversation at a PD session with a teacher from Wilson Middle School about current practices in teaching and assessing gym. We started talking about the games for understanding model created by Bunker and Thorpe in 1982. After this discussion, I could see real benefits for students in having this approach utilized in P.E. so I created and organized my sheets based on games that could be used in the 4 categories of this model. The great thing about the project is that even though it is organized based on the 4 categories, they can be used in any games for understanding unit, a sport-specific unit, or by a sub who may not have much if any P.E. experience. This flexibility offers potential for the manual to be used by anyone, in any structure of class, in any unit. The collection of games features how to set up the play space, the rules of the game, possible variations, and suggested outcomes in the Alberta Program of Study. I truly believe the collection can be a great resource for any new or experienced teacher teaching physical education! It will be printed and bound, but also made available online for teachers to access.

Breanne is a PS3 Student who wants to pursue a career in Middle School Physical Education.

Why Do You Coach?

Why do some Teachers feel comfortable coaching while others don't?

As P.E. majors we noticed that, because of our major, it is often teachers like ourselves who are not only encouraged but expected to take on a coaching role within the school community. Though most of the time we have found that PE teachers are happy to coach, we started to wonder why teachers with other specializations don't. To start our inquiry, we asked current coaches why they do coach, in hopes to get a better understanding and responses that could resonate with all teachers. Surveys were also given to parents and athletes of the teams we were coaching to gather information on the attributes they think are important in a coach. Finally, a survey was given to all the teachers in our PSIII schools which focused on figuring out why 'Coach' isn't a role they take on. From that we discovered the most common reasons are time, commitment, lack of confidence, knowledge and resources. These findings led us to create our PIP document, a website this is accessible by anyone and simplifies taking on the role of coaching volleyball.

Devyn and Sydney each came from a volleyball background with experience in different levels, teams, countries, and organizations. As Physical Education pre-service teachers they often take on the role of coach outside of their classrooms but want to know how to get teachers in other roles to feel comfortable taking on a coaching role.


Assessment in Physical Education

How can visual exemplars of PE assessment enhance student participation, understanding, and growth as learners?

Assessing in PE can be difficult when students are unsure of what "effort", "participation", "teamwork", or "goal setting" truly looks like. And though students can be told what those assessments look/sound like, they might gather a deeper understanding by being able to see for themselves. For my PIP, I've created an online resource of a detailed PE assessment rubric that provides VIDEOS of past students demonstrating various assessments (teamwork, basic skills, fair play, safety). This way, new students can not only read what they are being evaluated on, but also watch and see what they must be doing in PE in order to receive their desired marks (Student privacy and FOIP forms have all been carefully checked and approved).

In spring 2017, Jayda graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Kinesiology degree and continued an after-degree program for her BEd, majoring in physical education. Her dream is to teach high school PE in Calgary where she can coach many sports teams, in particular volleyball, as well as inspire and motivate young adults to lead healthy active lifestyles. 

Inclusivity in the Physical Education Classroom

How can we teach students to develop an appreciation of universally inclusive low organizational games (LOG’s) in the physical education setting?

I came up with this project because a lot of people I've encountered don't participate in physical activity or sports because they don't like it. Many of those people don't like it because they weren't very successful at it when they were young, and they didn't receive the support they needed at that point in time to foster a love of movement. In the physical education classroom, traditional sports (such as volleyball or basketball) can be almost impossible to play for certain students. These students will miss out on developing not only their physical literacy, but also their skills associated with teamwork, finding compromise, social interaction and resilience.

LOG’s can help address this gap in motivation and learning. This approach to physical activity is beneficial for student learning because it places great emphasis on maximizing student participation with little to no equipment required in order to play.

My PIP project further addresses the accessible nature of LOG’s by asking students to consider how inclusive education is also necessary in the physical education classroom. Students participate in modified games and then are asked to create their own. They receive a case study of a differently abled student that, for whatever reason, cannot fully participate in Phys Ed. They then create a low-organized game that caters to that student's specific needs.

By creating and playing games that intentionally rely on teamwork and modified movement skills, students of all backgrounds and athletic abilities can participate in fun games in a safe, inclusive environment.

Amanda is a Phys. Ed major who spent her internship at a junior high school in Calgary. She loves physical activity and is a huge proponent of moving around and having fun at least once every day.

Games Club to Increase Numeracy in Schools

How can we incorporate more numeracy opportunities in schools while still making it fun and engaging for students?

While attending a professional development day in our school district I learned of some important needs of students within our school. As a staff we were reviewing last year’s results from a standardized math test given to all students in our district. We were wondering how, as a school, we can increase numeracy understanding and excellence. Although it should be acknowledged that we have very small class sizes, the average percentage of students ‘at grade level’ was lower than anticipated. Realizing the urgent need for more numeracy support in our schools, I decided to focus my inquiry project on this important topic. For me the best way to foster understanding while also building enthusiasm for numeracy is through games. My plan was to provide students an opportunity to practice as well as have fun with math and numbers. This strategy is particularly relevant because numeracy is a subject that often lacks an inherent sense of "fun". Both teaching and learning math also comes with many challenges, and students often feel overwhelmed or discouraged. By creating a club where students can practice fundamental math skills while still having fun, I hoped to encourage development in skills and attitudes related to numeracy.

Rachel is a Mathematics major finishing up her second degree this semester. She is from Bragg Creek Alberta and loves being outdoors. Her favourite thing to do is eat Sour Patch Kids and drink Slurpees. She hopes to teach Math someday very soon…preferably all around the globe! 

Creative Writing Club

How can we encourage talents, skills, and creative thinking through a Creative Writing Club?

As creative writers, we both saw a need for students to have more exposure to creative writing in our school. Our plan for implementing this club included tailoring the sessions to the interests of the members, building community within the group, learning new skills and techniques, and, of course, having a whole lot of F-U-N!

We have observed that many students have developed new relationships because of their shared interest in creative writing. Leadership skills are also improving as students are required to lead mini-lessons on a variety of concepts and strategies. We are encouraged that students are so positive about participating and are indeed having fun. We want to support the school in continuing the club, and will leave a plan that scaffolds activities and goals throughout the year.  

As the mother of four children and a former educational assistant, Jen is excited to be entering the education field as a teacher. She is passionate about literacy and creativity; She loves to read and write, and hopes to encourage others to explore the world and beyond through story.

Kendel is from Northern Alberta and is interested in a variety of activities including basketball, photography, and the outdoors. As someone who struggled with Language Arts in school but has always enjoyed writing short stories, she wanted to give students a free space to express themselves.


Chess Club

To what extent can chess be utilized to enhance students’ academic performance, develop critical thinking skills, and foster positive relationships with others?

I started the Chess Club because of the benefit I believed it would add to students’ lives. The club was intended to boost academic performance, develop critical thinking skills, and foster positive relationships with others. All students of different skill levels and grades were welcome to participate during their lunch break. After starting the club, I used a variety of different strategies to ensure greater membership and continued success.

Overall, I would argue that the greatest benefit of this club has been in developing new relationships through the students’ shared interest in chess. It has also allowed me to interact with students in a less structured environment than that of the traditional classroom. I would argue that there is great benefit to student clubs, especially those that create positive interactions among students.

Brayden grew up on a farm outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta. His interests include drawing, running, camping, skiing, public speaking, and chess. His family and love of travelling is a significant aspect of who he is. He looks forward to completing his education and pursuing a career in teaching.


Chess Club: Don't En Passant This Up!

Can chess club help students develop stronger executive functions?

Early in our practicum we were asked to help with the junior high options. After talking through a few different ideas we landed on chess club. During our time at the U of L we had many professors talk about the benefits of involving students in playing chess. Doing chess club as our junior high option seemed like a fantastic opportunity for us to explore this topic through our PIP. Our results, based on a self-evaluation scale administered before and after, suggest that chess club had a positive impact on students.

Adam Palmer and Mike Harrison are science teachers. Both are skilled at the En Passant, a move in chess.


Building School Community Through a Multi-Age Drama Club

To what extent do extra-curricular activities improve school community?

The goal of our project was to investigate how extra-curricular activities strengthen school community. We chose to focus on a drama club based on the requests of students on a school survey. We determined the best way to help improve school community would be to bridge the gap between the divisions, so we chose to welcome members from grades 1-6. Through our observations and reflections, we feel we have successfully facilitated positive interactions across the divisions as well as provided a safe, fun and caring environment for students to feel appreciated and successful. Through the completion of a survey provided to our members, we were able to evaluate the success of the program.

Emma and Bella are two PSIII students teaching at a rural elementary school.


Dungeons and Dragons and ELA/Social Studies Outcomes

How can tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, or Pathfinder apply to ELA and Social Studies outcomes? What other aspects of student lives can tabletop games enhance and enrich?

I chose to explore Dungeons and Dragons in my PIP project because I believe that it has tremendous potential for meeting countless outcomes within both ELA program of studies and Social Studies program of studies. The game is designed to push its participants to create stories, create characters, think critically, think geographically and to think creatively within narratives, all while making predicitions and resolving conflicts. Research also suggests that Dungeons and Dragons can have positive impacts on students outside of the academic realm. Tabletop role-playing games can be a way for students to work out personal issues on various levels in a safe, non-judgemental space, as well as help foster a sense of community for those students that do not traditionally participate in mainstream extra-curricular activities.

Brian Kim is currently finishing up his third practicum at Coalhurst High School, teaching social studies and ELA.


Philosophical Discussion in High School

In what ways do high school students experience philosophical discussion?

For this project, I was immediately interested in inquiring about the nature and impact of philosophical discussion in a high school setting. After taking some classes and doing my own readings out of interest, I came to the feeling that the big questions explicitly asked in philosophy are not unlike the big questions I have struggled with for years:

  • Who am I?
  • How can I be sure of anything?
  • What is our purpose?

In my practicum, I founded a philosophy club, which started as a way to encourage members to begin exploring these issues that may be considered out-of-place for most curricula. I thought that these students could come to our meetings, talk about concerns they hadn’t put into words before, and feel interested in bringing these ideas to their friends or family as they live out their lives. What I had not anticipated, was that a good portion of my demographic were IB-stream students who had already explored what I thought were introductory questions. I ended up having less control and less to offer than I expected, as the members began choosing discussion topics and questions that were interesting and impactful to them. Though my role felt minimal, I am very interested in the student-led direction our club started to take. The members are looking forward to transitioning the club into next semester and gaining new members, which speaks volumes about the need they feel the club is filling.

Dustin is a fifth-year math major from Langdon, Alberta. He has always been interested in sharing knowledge and teaching. He hopes to have a high school classroom of his own, and to eventually be part of big discussions on the future of education.


Teach and Question: A Study Technique

Does reviewing material through teaching and questioning peers help students’ learning and retention of course curriculum?

Research done in a general university biology course found students who taught and questioned peers performed 6% better on exams than students who reviewed lesson material on their own. During my practicum, I implemented teach and question study habits in two Biology 30 classrooms and a Science 10 class. I first assessed students' study habits and if they felt prepared for university courses. I then taught them how to do the teach and question technique. Students pair off and take turns teaching each other the material covered that day in class. The “student” in the pair will actively ask questions of the “teacher”. Many students found this technique useful, beneficial to their grade, and plan to continue studying this way.

After getting a Biology Degree in the U.S., Nicole decided to get a teaching degree in order to share her love of science and learning. She also enjoys reading, watching movies, and being outside.

The Effect of Growth Mindset in Mathematics

To what extent is a growth mindset in mathematics beneficial to students, in what ways, and what are some strategies to help implement it in your own classroom?

Growth mindset has been a growing concept in the world of education. There has been a shift in focus from talent and intelligence to the process of learning, allowing students of all abilities and skills to grow and succeed. I chose this topic because as a pre-service teacher, I am already hearing “I can’t," “I’m not good at math,” and “math is too hard” constantly. I'm finding students often believe math is a fixed trait that they are simply born with or without.

I am a strong believer that anyone can learn to do math, all they need is the proper mindset. In this project, I wanted to help prove the benefits a growth mindset in mathematics can have and create a resource that educators, and myself, can use to find strategies for incorporating growth mindset into a math classroom.

Samantha is a PSIII intern finishing her final practicum in Clive, AB. She will be graduating in Spring 2019 with a B.Sc/B.Ed in General Sciences with a focus in mathematics. She loves keeping busy and has a wide range of hobbies including music, reading, snowboarding, and more!


"Pardon my French": Making French a Part of Daily Life For Learners

How can educators best extract, motivate, and support student ownership regarding their language-learning journeys in order to offset the inherent restrictions of limited classroom hours?

The irony of language is that, although we use it to socialize and communicate, it is a distinctly personalized tool. Language helps to shape our individual interpretations of the world, and each of us develops our own unique lexicon through both conscious and subconscious means. On this basis, language should have a meaningful and applicable purpose if we, as educators, have any intention of creating effective retention for our language-learning students!

Unsurprisingly, four or five 1-hour language classes (and sometimes fewer) per week often does not provide an adequate amount of exposure to an exercise as complex as personalizing seemingly alien content. These confines may account for why so many teachers revert to simply handing out language worksheets which are often prescriptive, inauthentic, and have little to do with the student’s own reality.

Join me as I share with you some of the ways I have tried to extract and align the interests of my (highly varied) French students at Chinook High School in such a way that would enable and encourage them to continue language-learning at a responsive rate once they step out of the classroom. Furthermore, I will share a fascinating resource derived through collaboration with my colleagues.

Currently teaching FSL-10 and Social-9 as his last checkpoints before graduating from the faculty of Education, Andrew has a B.A. in Mod. Lang (French) and a minor in Political Science. Authentic experiences have driven his interest in these topics and they continue to guide his teaching philosophy in the classroom.

What learning supports are meaningful and have a positive impact on student success at school? 

As a French major and a strong believer in inclusion, I wanted to look at ways in which all French immersion students can be supported. Throughout the semester, as I had conversations with my teacher mentor and observed my students, the needs my students had became more evident and the ways in which they could be supported became clearer. After attending a professional learning day on wellness, I also started to evaluate how wellness affects my students’ ability to succeed and ways that we as educators can promote wellness in our classrooms. I put together an anxiety toolkit that could be used in classrooms to help mitigate student's anxiety and stress levels. 

Fisayo Latilo is currently teaching FLA and Social Studies in French immersion for her PS III internship. Upon graduation, she hopes to return to Calgary, AB to begin her teaching career.

Think Interdisciplinary!

How can we best encourage the acceptance and exploration of interdisciplinary views in the classroom in a way that is authentic, motivating and non-punitive?

This project started out as an exploration of motivation in the classroom and an effort to connect careers to curriculum. However as I began getting involved, a larger, more general question of how people relate to the general structure of a school emerged. How do physical walls, subject walls, and social walls block the views of students and staff to the interconnections between each other, their subjects and their communities? What is the best way to facilitate meaningful dialogue and sharing across these perceived boundaries?

Brett is born in Lloydminster, Alberta Saskatchewan. He is professionally interested in the Sciences, Math, Spanish, Athletic Coaching, Child Psychology and Career Exploration.

Developing Leaders in Elementary

How do we develop positive leadership skills in Elementary students?

In a child’s early years of education, they inevitably compare themselves to their peers. Usually they also start to develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in their varied activities, including schoolwork, sports, social activities and in their family life.” Erik Erickson, a noted psychologist, believes that some children are at risk of developing feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that may affect their sense of self-worth well into their adult lives. Erikson believed that learning to get along with others is crucial to positive self-development during this stage.

In my observations on the playground and in the classroom, I noted multiple situations where the children would benefit from having some more communication skills, or from learning to resolve conflicts themselves instead of just tattling or fighting amongst each other. My background in Air Cadet education inspired me to question whether a leadership program at the elementary level could help students build capacity in this important area, and to see if I could outline a set of positive leadership skills for elementary students.

Evan graduated with a Bachelor of music In 2017. He decided to continue in the after-degree program for a BEd with a focus in early childhood education. His goal is to teach students from grades 1-3 and to inspire and help grow the leaders of tomorrow.


First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Knowledge Through Picture Books in the Elementary Music Classroom

How can I incorporate First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge through picture books in the elementary music classroom?

As of September 2019, Alberta teachers will be expected to achieve the new Teaching Quality Standard (TQS). The new TQS is comprised of five competencies with the fifth one being developing and incorporating foundational First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) knowledge in the classroom. I found this fifth competency daunting as I have become aware of how important it is to develop and incorporate this FNMI knowledge in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. Through the development of my PIP, I have been able to research how to incorporate this knowledge and have found 15 picture books for music students in Kindergarten to Grade 6. I have developed accompanying activities that describe the focus, suggested curricular outcomes, process, and orchestrations.

Megan holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Lethbridge and is in her last semester of a Bachelor of Education. She is currently teaching music from grades kindergarten to six. Upon her graduation in December, she hopes to eventually teach music and choir in an Elementary School.


Strategies for Reluctant Readers

To what extent can we, as educators, actively engage reluctant readers, and what strategies can we effectively use to help them?

Before beginning my PIP, I was at a loss of what to focus my project on. It was not until the first week of school had taken place that I was introduced to the concept of D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read). Right away I took an interest in the concept and began learning about why this initiative was started. I soon realized that there were a handful of reluctant readers in my D.E.A.R group and began to research ways that I could help these students find areas of interest and strengthen their reading skills.

Karley Regehr is currently teaching high school English in Stirling for her PSIII internship. She is a firm believer in lifelong learning and has a passion for reading, writing, and travel.


Kindergarten Literacy Backpacks

How can providing Kindergarten students with Literacy Backpacks spark enthusiasm for reading and promote early literacy?

Literacy Backpacks was a program that was already in place in the Kindergarten grade level at Jennie Emery Elementary School before I arrived. It became apparent at an early staff meeting that the backpacks were in need of a bit of an overhaul and reorganization after some enthusiastic use. I decided to take on the task of first organizing and restocking the backpacks in current existence, and then to create eight new ones on topics of my own choosing. I chose topics that are relevant to today's students and added some new components to appeal to today's youth. Each backpack has a theme and includes two or more children's books (non-fiction and fiction) and a list of activities for the student to do with their family.

The goal of the backpacks is to encourage students to be excited about literacy and to give families access to new materials every week. To collect feedback on how they were received, surveys were sent home along with the backpacks.

Julie is a PS3 intern with a passion for Early Childhood Education and early literacy. Her interests include reading and changing into her pyjamas as soon as she gets home.

ABC Books and RBPs: A Different Application to a Multi-Grade Program

In what ways can Reading Buddy Programs be used to enhance a variety of student skills?

I was already familiar with the Reading Buddy Program (RBP) from past experiences, and was interested in building on what I had learned in order to maximize engagement and facilitate meaningful student participation. For my inquiry project, I investigated how grade one and grade five students could develop literacy, leadership, and social skills through working on a collaborative project. We focused on creating personal alphabet books.

I noticed that not only have both groups of students benefited from the social interaction, but both were able to meet specific needs through the project. For the older group, the opportunity to develop confidence and leadership in using technology for a specific purpose was most significant. For the younger group, the students responded eagerly to working with an older student and demonstrated high levels of engagement in the literacy activities.

Erica Thompson is a Lethbridge Fine Arts Major PSIII student, with an additional diploma in Therapeutic Recreation. She is passionate about helping people reach their fullest potential and loves to walk her dog, cook, bake, and hike in Waterton Lakes International Peace Park. She loves to travel and hopes to inspire and empower young minds to always be curious about the world around them!

Encouraging Literacy Learning with Student Presentations

Can early childhood educators promote students' literacy learning by having daily student presentations?

I chose this focus for my project because the literacy program I worked with involved a lot of peer discussion and sharing. I thought my Grade 2 students could benefit from having consistent and designated times to speak and act in front of the class as a whole. They were given regular opportunities to give and receive constructive and complimentary feedback, and to learn how to use these comments in a way that could result in personal growth academically and socially. I also hoped that having daily presentations would help my students understand that their ideas and opinions are meaningful and have an impact on others. My main goal by the end was to have encouraged my students to take more pride and responsibility for their literacy learning.

Overall, I think daily presentations were an effective way of promoting literacy learning because they gave my students something to look forward to and work towards. The variety and number of stories written increased with most of my students and many of them requested to share almost every day. It was exciting to have students who had been reluctant writers at the beginning of the year ask me if they could share their work in front of the class. I think that writing confidence did improve in my classroom because student’s efforts were celebrated and praised regularly to show them that their individual learning progress is valued by our classroom community.

Cathryn’s combined General Social Science and Social Studies education degree was completed at the University of Lethbridge. She chose to specialize in Early Childhood Education because she is passionate about teaching elementary school students and creating excitement about learning.


Trauma-Informed Education

How can teachers best create and maintain a trauma-informed classroom?

We addressed the topic of trauma-informed education since it is one of F.P. Walshe's goals to build resilience in its student body. Students can experience a variety of trauma, affecting their neurodevelopment, psychological, emotional and social well-being, and behaviour. The trauma can range from intergenerational trauma seen within Indigenous communities to trauma relating to family deaths, divorce, bullying, depression, chronic stress, and anxiety. Teachers must recognize that students within their classes may have pre-existing trauma. Students who have experienced trauma need support, but they often don’t know how to ask for or accept it. Our project shares a variety of resources on trauma-informed schools, as well as our experiences implementing trauma-informed practices in our classrooms.

Mitchell, Adam, and Logan are Intern Teachers at F.P. Walshe in Fort Macleod. They currently teach Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Art. Mitchell and Adam graduate at the end of this semester, and Logan completes her program in June.


Teacher Wellness

What impact does a teacher’s health and wellness have on students?

My practicum experiences challenged my beliefs about what the teaching profession entails. A reoccurring theme in this profession is addressing student mental health and the role teachers play in identifying and supporting their students. There is an abundance of literature on this topic. In my experience, there has been a lot less discussion about teacher health and wellness and its impact on students. The focus of this inquiry is to curate and evaluate research related to the central question. Ultimately, I see the need for more awareness and supports at the local, district, provincial, and national level. My goal in exploring the topic of teacher wellness is to generate meaningful conversation about this important issue.

Mario was born in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. As a seasonal firefighter, if he’s not sweeping the forest floor during the summer months it is because he’s fishing on a lake.

Teachers, Stress, and Anxiety, Oh My!

How can teachers best deal with the stresses and anxieties that come with the profession?

Until I began my teaching practicums, stress and anxieties never really presented themselves in the school setting. However, as I found myself in the throngs of teaching, where more and more kept getting added to my plate of things to do, I began to see my mental health decrease. I was nervous about my lessons, I would stay up late planning a 45-minute lesson and was really doubting my skills as a teacher. I hope that my PIP will help teachers know they are not alone and that there are resources out there to help them get back to a healthy place- whether that be intensive supports like counseling or small such as taking the time to get a good night sleep. I put together a survey, talked to professionals, and looked for online articles and resources- all complied on my site.

Emily is a social studies major with a minor in drama education.


Making Mindfulness Matter

How can weekly mindfulness exercises benefit students within our classrooms while also providing them with strategies that will be useful throughout school and beyond?

Mindfulness is a topic of increasing interest. As it is one of our division’s priorities this year, we felt it both timely and appropriate to incorporate it into our classrooms. It is also a useful and healthy practice outside of the classroom and consequently, has real-life value and application for our students. We structured this activity as a time of academic enrichment involving choice: students were able to choose a mindfulness activity that best suited their needs that day, which also supported their growth as independent learners. We found that students were more settled and focused after they had engaged in mindfulness exercises.

Zoe and Tyrel are PS IIII interns who are just completing their final practicum in Milk River, AB. Zoe is from Bruce, AB and will graduate in April with a B.A./B.Ed in English and French. Tyrel is from Grande Prairie and will graduate in December with a B.Sc/B.Ed in General Sciences. 

Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

How can issues within digital citizenship be addressed in the classroom?

Throughout our PSIII internship we had the opportunity to incorporate technology into our lessons often. Our school had wonderful access to a wide variety of technology, and we witnessed first-hand how beneficial this technology was in the classroom. However, it also became apparent that many students did not know how to use the technology appropriately or responsibly. There were many issues that occurred such as overuse of technology, lack of awareness as to the permanence of the Internet, and struggling to find reliable information online. These issues were prevalent in both Junior High and High School classrooms, so we began to consider, and then research, how digital citizenship can be taught in schools and why this is so important.

Our website resource is split into two sections. One section for teachers, which explains what digital citizenship is and why it is important to teach our students, as well as some strategies for incorporating digital citizenship into the classroom. Our second section is intended for students, and contains information as to why they should be good digital citizens (and what this means) as well as resources and strategies for those struggling with specific problems, such as cyberbullying.

Christina McLellan completed her B.A in Social Sciences in the spring of 2017 and will be completing her B.Ed, majoring in Social Studies Education, in December 2018. Her goal is to continue teaching in Lethbridge/surrounding area.
Kate Kovacs is highly passionate about literacy and is completing her B.A in General Humanities and B.Ed in English Language Arts in December 2018.


Twitter Used as a Hub for Student Learning

How can I most effectively use Twitter as a hub for student learning?

I wanted to solve the problem of cellphones and wasted time in the classroom. To do so, I set out to inform students on the different tools that a cellphone can utilize and simultaneously, we could reduce paper usage in the classroom.

The project evolved over time. Essentially, I used Twitter as a hub for sharing links/files of other applications that we used in the class. Students were able to access these programs more easily, and engaged positively with the variety of applications that we used in activities and assignments.

Joel completed PS III at Foremost School in Alberta. He has a passion for technology and relationship-building, and his project was aimed at combining those two passions.


The Edwin Pilot Program: Google Devices for Each Student

Does one-to-one device accessibility increase student engagement and ultimately allow students to reach success in the classroom?

The Edwin Project is a program created by Nelson Education that attempts to create an equitable learning environment by providing every student in class with a personal device. The device includes applications to access learning materials that are relevant to the curriculum.

The Holy Spirit School District was part of the Pilot program for the Edwin devices in Alberta. This is the first year it is being piloted in Alberta and has been implemented in Ontario prior to the Alberta project. Nelson gave the devices to only Grade 7 classes throughout the district for the pilot and will collect them at the end of the year. 

This project provided a perfect opportunity for further inquiry. I implemented the Google Devices in a variety of ways, but the three primary uses included web-based assignments, online assessments through Google classroom, and a device for research. I evaluated the program primarily through student feedback by giving two surveys about how they use the device. I also plan to ask parents for their feedback during parent-teacher interviews this week.

Jenna is a PSIII Intern in Coaldale.

Engaging Students in Physical Education Assessment Using Plickers

In what way does the Plickers app help with assessment in a physical education setting?

Student assessment in physical education is often a challenge due to lack of time and reliable tools. Plickers is a mobile phone application that makes feedback and assessment quick and easy for teachers and students, especially in a Phys Ed setting. This need was evident when students communicated they wanted greater understanding of how their PE mark was being formulated, as well as more opportunities for self-assessment. Through incorporating Plickers technology, I was able to enhance student engagement, better communicate assessment, and encourage self-reflection. I also collected data on student perceptions of the technology. I plan to continue exploring ways to support my teaching through this technology, and look forward to discussing it with others who may also finding it beneficial to their teaching practice.

Brendan Kearl is Graduating this December with a combined degree of Kinesiology and Physical Education with a Social Studies minor. He is a passionate physical educator who loves being involved with youth sport through coaching, supporting and promoting organized sports within schools and the community. Brendan continues to stay active through community sporting league and participating in local running and triathlon races. His goal is to teach physical skills and confidence to the rising generation, so youth can be active for life and find enjoyment through sport and staying active. Brendan plans to be a long-time member and contributor to the Lethbridge and southern Alberta community for years to come.

Managing the Impact of Environment on Student Learning in a P3 School

To what extent does the environment impact student learning?

My project takes a look at how the environment impacts student learning. I came up with this idea after I was introduced to my host school. My host school is a P3 (Public-private sector partnership) school. Like most P3 schools, it has a very open and collaborative layout, however, the muted tones and bare walls may come across as sterile and impersonal. I wondered what the students thought about the environment and how they believe it influences their own learning. My students took part in a general survey about the classroom environment. After I analyzed the data, I compiled some recommendations of possible modifications or additions based on their feedback. Interestingly, P3 schools have very specific rules regarding decorating or altering the environment, including a strict adherence to Occupational Health and Safety regulations. I was vastly limited in what I could bring forward for consideration, but I focused on ways to support student learning through an enhanced environment that still fell within the appropriate guidelines.

Taylor is currently finishing her Internship in Airdrie, primarily teaching Social Studies at the 20-1 and 20-2 level. She is a History and Social Studies major and in her fifth year of university.

Alternative Education in Alberta

What forms of Alternative Education exist in Alberta?

Alternative programs are programs operated by a public or separate school board that emphasize a particular language, culture, religion, or subject-matter, or use a particular teaching philosophy. These settings are of interest as incubators of change and as showcases of innovation. Often, they share an intention to change the way education is offered, since previous schooling experiences did not work well for their students. As a result, in many countries alternative and flexible education settings are now a small but significant part of the education sector in which students learn and teachers work.

​For my internship, I was placed at one of Palliser Beyond Borders online outreach sites teaching grades ten and eleven English online.  This experience sparked my interest in exploring Alternative Education, looking specifically at the forms of Alternative Education that exist in the province of Alberta. I have created a Weebly site for this inquiry project with the hope that it will act as a resource to highlight some of the alternative programs in Alberta and shed some light for students, parents, and teachers on how these programs work and what makes them unique.

Elisha Hunter is a PSIII student at the University of Lethbridge completing a combined bachelors degree of General Social Sciences and Social Studies Education. Elisha's interests include education, language study, international studies, and music. Elisha will graduate this December and hopes to begin teaching in Spring 2019.


Biology 20 Meets Career and Technology Studies (CTS)

How can I encourage engagement and reinforce career awareness in Biology 20?

This inquiry project came together serendipitously as the result of considering whether student engagement might increase through connecting Biology 20 to career opportunities. I also wanted to move toward offering inquiry-based projects in class. Having come fresh out of Career and Technology Studies (CTS) for non-majors, I mentioned these interests to my Teacher Mentor and discovered that he was already a step ahead. He has been offering students the CTS Health and Social Services (HSS) 1010 course, a prerequisite for 6 Health Care Services (HCS) courses that align with, and extend, the Biology 20 curriculum perfectly. This came together into one idea – would students opt to extend a mandatory in-class project and presentation to complete the outcomes necessary for credit in a HCS course?

In order to incorporate student choice, I let students select any of the 6 human systems to do their project on. I also gave them the option to extend any of the human systems into the corresponding HCS courses. The result is that some students have opted to do anywhere from 1 to all 6 courses, earning up to 6 additional credits. One requirement of the extension is that students need to interview someone in a career related to their project inquiry. Interestingly, it is not only the students who chose to do the extension who are benefitting. This project has generated a greater awareness of career opportunities and connections for the entire Biology 20 class.

Carmine is a passionate scientist and explorer who wants to connect students to the possibility all around them, and to help them take advantage of it. 


Small Spaces, Big Ideas: How to Utilize the Space You Have

How can you utilize the space you have when you have an increasing student population and limited budget?

Coalhurst High School's student population is on the rise, and with the idea of modernization at least a few years away we needed to get creative to utilize the limited space to its fullest potential. Boasting one of the smallest gyms in Southern Alberta, one of CHS' main concerns was creating an adequate space to accommodate multiple Physical Education classes at once. I focussed on the stage and adjoining loft area to turn a cold, dated storage space into an inviting fitness area with updated equipment. This now-functional space is used to its maximum potential while addressing Physical Education programming in a meaningful way.

Cidney recently completed her PSIII at Coalhurst High School where she taught Physical Education, Active Lifestyles and Leadership. She is graduating this December with her Bachelor of Education, majoring in Physical Education and minoring in Science. She is also currently coaching the CHS Jr Girls Basketball JV and SV teams and is looking forward to a good season.

All These Ukuleles, So Little Budget

How do I establish a Ukulele program with little to no budget?

As I was being toured around my placement school music room, I discovered there were an abundance of ukuleles on a shelf. When I inquired about the ukuleles, I was told that they have yet to be used in the music room and had been in the cupboard for several years. I asked if I could take a look at them and see what shape they were in. Upon acceptance of my inquiry, I opened the first few cases and realized that they needed a lot of TLC…but I was up for the challenge. I decided to use this project as my Professional Inquiry Project. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to set up a Ukulele curriculum for the music program at my placement school.

During the summer, before my practicum, I took all the ukuleles home to work on and fix. This was a time-consuming project, as I discovered that you cannot rush the repair process. I was successful in repairing thirty plus ukuleles, and managed to have all but one (beyond repair) fixed to the point where they could keep tune.

Creating my own program and unit, I included a repair manual with instructions and pictures to follow. I put together a Ukulele Student Handbook to guide my students through the process of learning the instrument, as well as an accompanying teacher manual that includes my lesson plans.

Through reflecting on every lesson I learned what worked for the age group I was teaching, what methods facilitated the most learning, and the step-by-step process of teaching each concept. While this project was difficult and took a lot of time to produce, I learned a lot from the opportunity. I was successful in giving these instruments a second chance to sing.

Sarah-May Morton has a Bachelor of Music degree. She is in the process of completing her PSIII in an elementary music classroom in rural Olds, Alberta. Her love of music and passion for learning is evident in her teaching.