Celebrating Inquiry Spring 2017

Welcome to the sixth 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 Spring 2017 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

Exceptionalities and Mental Wellness in the Classroom

How can I create a resource for educators about exceptionalities and mental wellness in the classroom, that will be useful, easy to use, and informative?


I attended a session at convention about anxiety in students. I was shocked by the high levels of anxiety in elementary age students. I learned that anxiety and depression are comorbid 80% of the time. This means that test anxiety, for example, in a student in grade six, can lead to depression (although it is not the cause of it). The numbers shocked me, and I do not think that statistics like this are as well-known as they should be. Anxiety is just one of the exceptionalities teachers may encounter, and I became interested in how to effectively support students with other exceptionalities including Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.


When I started surveying the literature I saw that there are lots of resources about exceptionalities available online, but they are not in a single place. Teachers are busy people and it is important for them to know who is in their classroom, especially to be able to provide an inclusive classroom experience for all of their students. The idea behind my resources is that they are meant to provide a little bit of introductory information, while providing additional places where more information can be sought out. I focused on behaviour and strategies, and a resource section for each of the exceptionalities. It is my hope that these resources can act as a stepping stone.

I used the DSM-5 as my first source for research, as I needed to gain a better understanding of the exceptionalities that I was going to include in my resources. I included many online external resources in both of my resources, and found additional resources that I thought would be beneficial to other teachers, and in some cases, students. Once I determined which exceptionalities I wanted to focus on, I set up the framework for my online resource and my paper resource. After this, I spent a few days researching each exceptionality. I completed my resources one exceptionality at a time, which helped to break down the daunting task. After I finished the pages for the specific exceptionalities, I turned my focus to the “Teaching Acceptance” section and the literature sections. I was surprised to learn how many picture books and YA novels are available that discuss different exceptionalities in detail. I included the literature section because I very firmly believe that it is important to remove the stigma associated with many of these exceptionalities, and we can do this by normalizing them and integrating them into our classrooms.

I was surprised to learn that the DSM does not have an entry for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which surprised me. I did some research and learned that near the end of the DSM-5 there is a proposed criteria for Neurobehavioural Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE), which falls under the umbrella term of FASD. This stumped me for a while because I was using the DSM-5 information as my major source, in order to maintain the integrity of each definition. This was the first time that I have examined the DSM-5 with any depth. It can be a daunting task simply because the document is almost 1000 pages, and navigating it online can be a challenge (although it is available in full online).

For the “Strategies” section of each exceptionality, I drew from my readings, experiences in my placement classroom, and input from the teachers in grades two and four. While I was creating these resources I had a few of my students in mind. I was able to implement some of the strategies that I had researched, particularly those dealing with mindfulness and anxiety. I chose to include a general section on mindfulness because I think that this practice can have a positive effect on all students. I also realized that some of the things that I was already doing – like a visual plan of the day, and giving notice before any change- were more beneficial than I had previously realized.


I created a hard copy of the resource with the intention of it being added to the school library. I will attach a QR code to it that links to the website as well. I created the website with the intention of it being able to reach a wider audience than the paper copy. These resources are something that I plan on making reference to throughout my teaching career. Much like the tool box of exceptionalities that I created in Ed Psych years ago, this resource is an important one to hang on to. A PD session that I attended about autism reminded me how important mindfulness is in the classroom, and continuing to integrate mindfulness in the classroom has become a new goal of mine.

I have worked with students who experience these exceptionalities in my past and current practicums, and I now feel as though I understand these students better. I think that especially for beginning teachers, students with exceptionalities can be a challenge. It is important for all teachers, but especially new teachers to know where they can turn for valuable resources and support for inclusion of all students and teaching acceptance. I hope that the website can serve as a starting point in this process.

Laura completed her internship in a grade 6 classroom at Manning Elementary School, in Manning, Alberta. She majored in English, and is a firm believer that Language Arts should be integrated across the curriculum.


Problem Solving with Self-Regulation

What is being done in today's schools to develop self-regulation skills in students?

Description of Project:

This project focusses on what strategies are being used in today's classrooms to help effectively establish self-regulation in students. The project idea came from the need to develop more resilient students who have strong enough social skills to follow them in and out of the classroom. The project has taken the processes of executive functioning and broken it down to a comprehensive 8 category toolbox to provide a more direct and practical approach to implementing strategies in an educational context. This project begins the organization of strategies into the 8 categories to create a resource that is available for educators everywhere. It is intended to open the doors for sharing to build on the toolboxes and provide educators with a practical resource to use in their classroom to counter any executive functioning and self-regulation deficiencies that students may have.


We began the project by creating a simple survey: 1) What do you use/have you used in your classroom that develops your students’ self-regulation abilities? 2) What language do you use when implementing the strategies? 3) What quick re-alignment phrases do you use to provide student insight into their own self-regulation?

As we interviewed and surveyed the educators in our practicum schools we also conducted interviews with University professors from the UofL, which helped us find more research based information on what we were doing. In the creation of the website we decided that sorting the strategies into 8 categories that directly correlate with executive functions would create a comprehensive layout for the resource. The 8 categories were broken down as they applied to an educational context. As the strategies came in, we started to sort them into the categories and very quickly it became populated with all sorts of wisdom regarding self-regulation. The message we were promoting was that these strategies may not work for all students, but actual educators are using them and they have proven effective in the classroom. While we were conducting the interviews and waiting for responses, we also conducted research in scholarly sources available on the Internet and suggested to us. The project progressed rapidly as the strategies came in and the website quickly came together. The only setback we hit along the way was in the number of responses: we found that educators either didn't have time to respond, forgot, or repeated common strategies. Due to the frequency of duplicate strategies, we included a comment and rating section in each toolbox and encouraged educators to comment on their steps to implementation and the effectiveness of that strategy in their experience.


Our project goal was to create a practical resource for educators that would include a direct approach to developing healthy self-regulation abilities in their students. Jordan Logan's practicum school, Dorothy Dalgliesh, has applied to be a pilot school for self-regulation and looks to use the resource moving forward as their educators implement different strategies. We have both started using different strategies in our classrooms and have seen quite the effect as students are self-monitoring their own progress almost immediately at a grade one level! The future hopes for the project are that this resource is widely used in different schools and that educators add and reflect upon the different strategies as they use them in their classrooms. We are currently looking to apply for the Conference for Inclusive Education in October and hope to send the message and promote the resource more to carry it forward to even more schools and classrooms. Our own learning has benefitted from this project as we have grown in our own implementation of strategies and understanding of how self-regulation effects the classroom. Moving forward into our careers we hope to carry this resource and its message with us to create more resilient and autonomous learners both in and out of the classroom.

Jordan Logan is a 5th year Modern Languages (French/Spanish)/ Education major at the University of Lethbridge who is looking to graduate in December 2017. Kayla Matkowski is also a 5th year Kinesiology/Education major at the University of Lethbridge looking to graduate in April 2017. Both have taken a great interest in self-regulation and the effects it can have on students' learning and growth. 


Understanding Anxiety in Children

How can children with anxiety succeed in critical thinking and learning?


In my Kindergarten placement, there is a high rate of students suffering from anxiety. Anxiety is an internalizing disorder that has a negative impact on understanding, processing, and regulating emotions. Symptoms of internalizing disorders such as anxiety, which present differently with each case, include bodily sensations and an effect on cognitive processes and behaviour (Reilly, N., 2015, pg. 36). I believe the opportunity to learn should be accessible by anyone, and in order to reach this goal there needs to be changes in the school environment to allow learning to occur for all children. Implementing strategies that assist with anxiety is necessary to support students who suffer from this condition, and mindfulness is one strategy that has been introduced to the education world in recent years. Mindful practices improve ones’ emotional, mental and physical states as well as increase brain function. Since these practices have been proven to help decrease anxiety I believe incorporating mindfulness into the classroom and school environment will show great improvement in learning and overall wellness. Incorporating mindfulness practices was my main focus in the goal to decrease anxiety and increase learning for my Kindergarten students.

Centering my Professional Inquiry Project on anxiety connects with my vision as an educator. I strive for a balanced classroom. In order to successfully learn I believe the mind, body and soul needs to be aligned. Living with anxiety makes this difficult especially for a kindergartener. In my classroom I want all children to feel welcomed, loved, appreciated, and most importantly have confidence to learn. I will provide the tools and support needed for those students coming to school every day with anxiety and help guide them on the road to success.


To search for answers and effective techniques I used a variety of resources around my school including my teacher mentor, the Learning Support Teacher, and Palliser’s behaviour specialist. Their expertise was extremely valuable in finding solutions to decrease and manage anxiety. I also relied on external resources such as websites, books, professional development sessions, and the curriculum lab. One book in particular opened my eyes to the world of anxiety in the school environment, Anxiety and depression in the classroom: a teacher's guide to fostering self-regulation in young students by Nadja Reilly. This resource further developed my understanding of anxiety, self-regulation, and depression. It provided an excellent definition and description of the disorder and included behavioural and cognitive signs to look for. An emotional wellness guide for students, parents, and school wide mental health was provided as well. It is filled with strategies and tools for specific domains such as identifying feelings and managing somatic symptoms, cognitive restructuring, contingency management, behaviour support, increasing positive affect, active coping, relaxation skills, and social support. Through continuous trial and error in the classroom I was able to gather a greater understanding of anxiety and strategies to help manage the disorder.

I have created a website on anxiety in the classroom to help educators develop increased understanding of anxiety and related strategies that may enhance a child’s learning, growth and development. On my website I provide the definition, epidemiology, causes, behaviours, emotions, somatic complaints, and root of anxiety in a deeper and comprehensive way. Strategies to manage anxiety are split into specific categories such as; recognizing anxiety, academic tools, emotional and behavioural tools, grounding exercises, visuals, helpful resources, and helpful links. I have gathered a variety of tools to help increase self-regulation, boost the positive atmosphere, and increase the overall wellbeing of the child. “Mindful Minutes” played a huge role in my PIP project. This time is where children took a few minutes out of the day, usually at the start of the day, after snack, or at goodbye time, to concentrate on the mind, body and soul. It was a quiet time, with no talking, to take deep breaths, participate in yoga, stretch, and engage in listening activities or grounding exercises. To get a better picture of what this entailed and to view a number of other strategies to manage anxiety please explore my site.


As a closing to my internship I provided the staff with a learning workshop regarding anxiety and my complete PIP project. This session reviewed what anxiety is, what it looks like, and what teachers can anticipate in their classroom. I guided the staff through my website to provide a greater understanding of the tools and strategies they can use to help manage anxiety and increase self-regulation.
Students have grown substantially through this mindfulness process. I found that students were able to self-regulate and prepare for learning. Integrating these strategies into my classroom had a positive impact on the children as they were immersed into a calming and operational environment. The learning that happened in the room was incredible. The children were confident in their abilities to learn and were joyful.

Kennedy is currently finishing her combined degree of Bachelor of Arts and Science and Bachelor of Education majoring in Physical Education. Various experiences such as volunteering at the MAT, working at the Boys and Girls Club, and volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia have led her on a path to share her passion for working with people and to bring a positive, enthusiastic attitude towards life. She strives for joy, happiness and a balanced lifestyle. She believes the mind, body, and soul need to be aligned in order to achieve learning. 


Self-Regulation in the Classroom

How does educating students and teachers about self-regulation shape attitudes and behaviours in the classroom?


The school where I completed my internship has a high population of students with physical, emotional, and cognitive needs.
For my professional inquiry project, I have created a website about self-regulation in the classroom. As outlined on my website, Self-Regulation is the ability to recognize and respond to different levels of stress. Self-Regulation is important because it allows the individual to develop the ability to respond to greater and greater challenges. Therefore, Self-Regulation is a powerful skill that students will be able to practice throughout their lives – in and out of the classroom.


To begin, I met with Palliser’s behaviour specialist, Karen Braun, who shared many valuable resources with me for my project. Some of these resources include a PowerPoint presentation on Self-Regulation and general behaviour resources including an Antecedent-Behavior-consequence chart (ABC data sheet).

I also arranged for Mental Health Professional Allison Lux to give a classroom presentation about managing stress and anxiety. This presentation was beneficial because it taught students about “helpful stress” that protects and motivates. In addition, we learned about stress and worries that aren’t helpful, as well as strategies we could use to cope with this kind of stress. For instance, going for a walk or squeezing something soft are both helpful ways to deal with stress. Allison Lux also facilitated a Lunch and Learn that I attended for supporting students who struggle with anxiety. This session gave me the opportunity to understand what happens to the brain and body under stressful situations that cause anxiety.

During Teacher’s Convention, I attended a session called Yoga in the Classroom that addressed Self-Regulation and sensory processing. In this session, I learned about strategies that teachers can use to help create a better learning environment for students through Self-Regulation and mindfulness.

To further inform my research, I am reading Self-Reg by Dr. Stuart Shanker. This book has made me reflect on reframing children’s behaviour and it has reinforced the idea that all behaviour is communication of unmet needs.


How does educating students and teachers about self-regulation shape attitudes and behaviours in the classroom? If teachers are aware of their own needs (biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and prosocial) and those of their students, they will be better able to understand and reframe a child’s behaviour. Teachers will begin to see the meaning of behaviours. Although there is no simple recipe for what helps a child self-regulate, it is important to know why the student is acting a certain way and to have strategies and resources available to help students self-regulate.

One of the greatest indicators of my growth has been reflected in my students. Throughout the term, my students have been advocating for their individual learning needs. Students say things like “I need a break” or “Can I have a fidget?” This tells me that students are starting to recognize their needs as learners. The greatest challenge so far has been helping students understand that everybody has different needs. This is a difficult concept for students to understand as some view certain accommodations as being unfair. However, there are some students who are beginning to understand that different people have different needs. This idea was demonstrated through a small teaching moment. One student got a paper cut one day and asked for a Band-Aid. In response, my teacher mentor and I gave all students a Band-Aid. The students were perplexed because they did not all need a Band-Aid. We asked the students “But isn’t it fair?” This mini-lesson provided us with the opportunity to discuss fair versus equal and diverse learning needs.

The research I have done for my professional inquiry project so far has taught me about strategies to manage my own stress and things that I can do to help students manage their stress. Additionally, this project has also taught me how to be a teacher who works harder and perseveres longer. This is in part because I believe in myself and my students and because I can manage and respond to stress through self-regulation. I am hopeful that my project will not only be beneficial for my professional growth, but that it will also serve as an educational tool that I leave behind for the students and teachers at my practicum school.

Gabriela Garcia is a fifth-year English Education student. 


Technology in the Thinking Classroom


We are at a time where everyone is becoming more technology-dependent. An advantage of having a strong background in technology is that I am able to create relevant and useful resources to address students' diversity in learning styles. On top of using technology with my Internship class, I became involved in a project that begun last Fall: designing and putting together my school's media centre. I have been working on developing resources for staff and students, drawing the layout, creating instructional documents, compiling an equipment list, and writing a grant proposal with students.


When I develop my own resources, I use a combination of Photoshop and basic programs such as Word, Paint, and Powerpoint. As teachers, there are times when we are looking for something specific, and can't find it. Under "Digital Literacy" on my Weebly portfolio, I have included websites, links, and tools to guide teachers into making their own resources. 

I found that towards the middle/end of my practicum, I knew my students well enough to allow them to have more freedom with how they demonstrated their learning, giving them the space to make choices regarding how they might use technology to support their work.

As for the media centre, I have compiled the equipment list and helped to get the lights installed. I consulted the principal of the school, Heather Hadford, and Ken Heidebrecht from the University to help with the design and layout. One setback of the project was the delay of the equipment arriving, since that was in the hands of the Tech and Purchasing department. 


By integrating a variety of technological resources in my own teaching and in the classroom, I have seen an increase in student engagement, digital citizenship, leadership skills, and creative and innovative thinking. Technology frequently encourages students to collaborate with one another, and also helps to develop responsibility because they have control over their own learning. Students found new opportunities to interact with peers and educators within and outside of school, helping build a greater sense of community.

Sally Leung feels so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to combine two passions: teaching and technology! She is a photographer, videographer, and graphic designer. She loves running, yoga, playing music, and the mountains. Sally is enthusiastic about helping students develop leadership skills while becoming innovative and creative thinkers.


Critical Thinking Bell Work for Math

What does critical thinking look like in the math classroom?


I began the development of this project for my University Critical Thinking course as a way to increase critical thinking in the classroom. When I joined my school for PSIII I noticed the immense need for problem-solving skills and a way for myself to create routine in my math classroom. The Bell Work I had already begun developing just made sense.

The bell work helps encourage students to open their minds to view problems from different sides both mathematically and socially. Throughout the booklet students develop critical thinking skills that can follow them through their lives. Specifically, the focus is on professional discussion and how to defend/dispute opinions in a logical and evidence-based way. Some skills include:

  • How to professionally have a discussion/argument
  • Open mindedness
  • Valid/Strong reasoned arguments
  • Attitudes pertaining to critical thinking
  • Strategies to start a problem/issue
  • Vocabulary necessary to properly justify an answer


At the beginning of every unit I provided my students with their Bell Work booklet that I had developed ahead of time. To develop my half-page booklets, I created a template on Microsoft. Resources included University Education text-books, online problem-solving webpages, and puzzle books. I made sure to diversify the problems so that there were many examples of different types of problems interspersed with vocabulary and personal opinion questions.

The students began every math class with approximately 10 minutes of Bell Work followed by a short instruction/discussion period. They had some problems that were strictly individual, but others designated as partner or small group problems. This variety encouraged students to come up with their own solutions, but also to gain experience in the discussion and debate of differing answers or strategies.

The first Bell Work booklet was very difficult for many students and maybe not even very enjoyable until they got into the routine and started developing simple strategies. As we progressed, there were more and more students attempting solutions and coming up with correct responses.

In the beginning I expected students to pick up on similar strategies quicker but still have a hard time explaining themselves. However, this was completely opposite. I had more students coming up with solutions (sometimes very “out there”) but they were getting better and better at justifying why and how they got their answers using great vocabulary and reasoned answers.


I believe this project was extremely beneficial for my students. Even if they forget the point of the whole project, I have been able to provide them with strategies that they can use for their entire lives. They may forget the vocabulary but they will not forget the skills.

I have been able to pull the definition and use of "Critical Thinking" into their Science classes as well, which has now created a nice bridge between the two classes. They are starting to see how critical thinking skills can not only help them in math, but in science and also outside of school. These strategies and skills provide them with tools on how to take a problem, break it down and then proceed to overcome it. It also has provided them with a way to talk to each other over disagreements (this one is still being worked on).

If I continue to use this in the future (which I am definitely planning on) I would still create a problems booklet, but would implement it including the use of white boards. This addition would lead me further toward the idea of "Building a Thinking Classroom." I recently learned about this philosophy this semester and see many benefits. I also see it as a way to guide my project even further but to still suit my practices in the classroom.

The project has helped me put names to many strategies I didn't even know I used in everyday life, providing a better way for me to share my own thinking process, and the nature of thinking itself, with my students. I have gained insight into how certain students think, while giving them an opportunity to hear what I am saying in words from their peers. This reinforcement is extremely valuable for some students.

This project has definitely helped me realize how important it is to explicitly teach critical thinking skills to students; we cannot assume that our students will passively develop them. Now, more than ever, the possession of these skills is extremely important.

Raelene is a Math major with an interest in Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving as well as Special/Inclusive Education. She is very excited to be completing her degree and entering the next chapter of her life.


ESL/ELL Students

In what ways can teachers best help ESL/ELL students to maximize their learning?


The reason why I wanted to focus on this topic is because I am personally an ESL/ELL student. I immigrated with my parents to Canada when I was fourteen years old. At the time, I could barely speak any English. I have experienced what is like to be an ESL/ELL student -- that feeling of desperation and isolation when you don’t understand anyone and nobody understands you, that feeling of frustration, while hoping that someone could understand and help you. Now that I have this great opportunity to become a teacher, I would love to research and seek different strategies that can help students just like me. With a multicultural country like Canada, more and more people are immigrating here, meaning that more and more ESL/ELL students will appear in classrooms. Therefore, it is important for teachers to seek for effective ways to help these students to maximize their learning. Also, after I graduate, I would love to work at a bilingual school with both Chinese and English, or teach English in China. My inquiry project offered a way to learn and test out some strategies that will be applicable to all language learners.


The main part of my Professional Inquiry Project is based on developing an English-Chinese Picture dictionary. I created a series of powerpoint slides separated in different categories including numbers, colours, seasons, emotions, fruits, vegetables, holidays, animals, parts of speech, calendar and provinces in Canada. I also included a list of key words for math, gathered throughout my teaching practicum at the Killarney School. In addition, I recorded my own audio for each word in both English and Mandarin to better assist students’ learning.


I left this resource for my teacher and the school in order to support current and future Mandarin or Cantonese students. I would love to expand my project as I teach, as I created only a small portion of the dictionary. I will continue to expand the vocabulary.

Jing (Alisa) Wang recently completed her PS III internship at the Killarney School in Calgary, teaching grade 1/2/3. She immigrated to Canada with her parents when she was fourteen years old. She speaks fluent Mandarin and English.


Where Do I Start?: A Resource for Teachers Implementing Dramatic Arts in Their Classroom

How can I go about implementing the starts of a drama program in a school that doesn't have a lot in terms of established programs and resources.


In my internship, my school was in a rural community. The school was about 200 students from K-12. My initial idea started with a suggestion from my administration to get involved in the High School Drama that was happening at lunch. I did so, but was thinking about the implementation of a program that involved more of the Alberta Curriculum for Drama. I also wanted my audience to include my grade six students. I went through the process of asking for and setting up a "drama club" for Div II students that occurred at lunch 1-2 times a week. In this club, I implemented different "mini units", where we would study a specific unit of study for a few weeks. These topics included improvisation, reader's theatre, and puppetry. The resource I created from this was an online "drama resource" for teachers, including games, units, and year plans that they can use in their school or classroom if they were also looking to implement a program. Drama is so important for kids because it really helps to develop each student as a whole person. It teaches them life skills that sometimes are not learned in any other program of studies.


I started by getting administration permission and looking for a space for my club. Once that happened, I started gaining student interest by asking my grade six students if they would participate in a club. They responded with a lot of excitement. I made announcements in the morning regarding where and when the club was happening. As the weeks went on, a consistent process evolved: students came in, we would chat for a bit, and then I would introduce the concept/activity we were going to do. All of the students were really willing to participate in each activity. Attendance was my biggest setback for the first week. I went from having 12 students the first day to having 30. This amount proved challenging for the space we were in, but numbers eventually settled to an even 20 for the rest of my internship. I did a lot of consultation in terms of games that are effective and fun to play with students. A lot of the games were tested in our drama club. In my final resource I have a blog spot, where teachers can read my reflections on games played and how well they went. I wanted to make my resource really based on a "tried and true" mentality. Almost every plan involved the resource is something that I have created previously, and they are all tested on students. I think that this element is important for my purpose, because it gives a teacher who may not know a lot about the drama curriculum an assurance that the projects they are choosing from all work with students.


The students involved in drama club grew very passionate about coming each week and gave 100% to every activity we did. If nothing else, this project has positively influenced the students that participated. I believe that through this project, those students gained a new appreciation and passion for drama, and that they will continue to take each new opportunity that the school gives them to grow in this art. My own learning took shape in experiencing the process of starting a club from scratch. I grew up in schools that had established programs, as did my first two practicum schools, so this context was something I had no experience with. The process has made me completely confident that I could do something similar in a future school that lacks in resources for drama programs.

From High River, Alberta, Shannon is an education student in her 6th and final year, finishing her second University degree. She has a fire for the arts and has pursued their inclusion in each of her teaching experiences. She will graduate from the Education Faculty at the end of spring 2017 and launch herself into the world of teaching.


What Does Physical Literacy Have to Do With Students' Behaviour and Leaderships Skills?

Does increased physical literacy impact the behaviours of students and provide them with the skills needed to become leaders?


My work and research for this project started within the first week of my practicum, giving me ample time to promote physical literacy, implement more physical literacy into my classes and also assess the progress throughout. My interest in physical literacy started when I heard about a program called DancePl3y, which promotes physical literacy. Prior to hearing about this program I had very little knowledge on what physical literacy was, thus I had to look-up the definition to learn more. I instantly was taken to the Physical and Health Education website which states " Physically literate individuals consistently develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement. These skills enable individuals to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others, and their environment." This definition really spoke to me on a personal level because it really put a meaning to physical activity, which I did not have before. My experience as a student in gym class at school was not a positive one. It seemed that only the athletic students did well in this class. It became very discouraging and made me believe that I was not good at physical activity. Thus, by investigating more on physical literacy, I sparked an interest on how making physical literacy more a part of the gym class, and the students more aware of what it is, could impact the participation and effort put into physical activity. As well, as a result of the increased participation and effort, would the students gain more leadership skills attainable through physical activity and behave better in the classes following gym? From all of this, my project came to be.


In order to complete this inquiry project, I made the plan for intentional instruction related to physical literacy and implementing physical literacy activities within our allotted physical education class. Further, I selected, organized and carried out tasks for students to perform in order to develop the skills needed to achieve physical literacy and gain confidence in different areas. For example, in the cooperative games unit in gym class, I strategically chose games to play that involved using skills that would build the students’ fundamental movement skills. At the end of every cooperative games gym class, we had a quick de-brief of what movements we had worked on today, as well as what Leader in Me skills we used. I also devoted our entire gym class on Fridays to focus on Physical Literacy, which was very helpful during the heavy sports units, such as basketball. In these “Physical Literacy Friday” classes we focused on physical literacy activities and had conversations identifying the fundamental movements and Leader in Me skills that we used, similar to the conversations mentioned above.


This project not only included me doing the assessments throughout, but it also involved the students assessing themselves. Students participated in physical activities according to their own readiness, identified strengths and areas of improvement related to their behaviour after physical activity, and of course, identified how their physical literacy knowledge is related to the leadership/life skills set out by the Leader In Me program.

The leadership/life skills assessed in this project were leadership, responsibility, accountability, problem solving, adaptability, communication, initiative and self direction, creativity, cross-cultural skills, and teamwork. Assessments from the students were collected in the form of responses and surveys, which they answered about themselves. Further, the students, myself and my teacher mentor were looking at how student behaviour was affected with the increase of physical literacy, as well as making observations regarding their leadership skills.

This project increased student awareness and knowledge not only on what physical literacy is, but what leadership and life skills it helps us build in our lives. I have created a generic schedule that can be implemented into any class's schedule and will increase physical literacy practices and awareness. Being an English major and not an athlete, I did not have a huge amount of knowledge in the area of physical activity and how it can benefit children until I became aware of physical literacy. By doing the research and working through this inquiry project, my knowledge has flourished and my interest has grown.

Shelby is in her fifth and final year of her BA/BEd at the University of Lethbridge. She is an English major and Science minor, with a newfound passion for physical literacy.


Collaborative Teaching, Differentiated Learning, Connective Community, and Culture in Physical Education!

To what extent can a community contribute to guiding effective teaching using technology to reach differentiation of learning inside a classroom?


My Professional Inquiry Project was cultivated around 3 key aspects. Differentiated Instruction/Learning in a Physical Education setting, Pre-Instructional videos a teacher could use if they are unfamiliar with Track and Field events, and lastly a connection to our school's vision of a community that encourages motivation, drive, and passion toward being the best the students can be! This project also uses Technology in a Physical Education setting to enhance student learning. As a Career and Technology Studies (CTS) major, I was interested in how I could apply my skills in New Media to my 100% Physical Education Internship.

The project’s first key area was the need for teachers to incorporate different instructional methods into Physical Education settings. By complimenting direct instruction with visual cues, students who are more visual learners have better access to the specific techniques a teacher may be looking for in each Track and Field event.

The second aspect was Teachers who have never been exposed to some of the Track and Field events, but are required to teach a Track and Field Unit. These analytical videos give them a resource they can springboard their teaching around, and learn the knowledge, terminology, and cues of each particular event.

Finally, the third key aspect is to connect the University of Lethbridge back to our School Community. When using these videos in my teaching I placed strong emphasis on how these competitive athletes were once in the same position as the students are! Referencing athletes who are just down the street from the school, I was aiming to inspire more motivation, drive, and perseverance in the student population when they participated in each event.


My method/process of completion for this project was first to brainstorm the Applications available while establishing my vision and the goal of the project. From there I began finding references and external resources to justify how this project might contribute to student learning in Physical Education. The next step was setting up video times with the Track and Field team at the University of Lethbridge. Through the stages of video recording I had good conversations and learned a lot from the coaches and players of the Track and Field Team. Once the footage was created, the next process was using the analytical applications to break down each event of competition. While working alongside the school’s CTS Teacher, I created and made the footage into short videos/movies that include voiceover. Having a designated amount of time to complete this project, this area proved to be the biggest setback in my process. Editing video footage is very tedious and time consuming, and was an exponential learning area for myself moving forward! The voiceover was another key challenge; to find an area where the background volume and noise is consistent was a challenge in my placement School! Once the final product was completed, the videos were offered for teachers to start their Track and Field lesson each day, speaking to the individual learners inside the classroom.


The project allowed my students a first-hand look at some of the teaching cues, events, and effective techniques they could incorporate into each particular event. Moving forward, I would approach a similar project by first allowing enough time to edit footage and gather more footage as needed. I would also take steps to secure proper cameras for superior video footage. With these changes in mind, I will continue looking at ways to incorporate this method into other Units in Physical Education or even inside a classroom setting.

Cason is a CTS Business Focus Major with an interest in Physical Education, Mathematics, and CTF Curriculums. His teaching focuses on Inclusive Education with differentiated instructional methods and effective assessment tools. Cason is very eager, ambitious, and motivated to continue to pursue a career in which being a lifelong learner is encouraged!