The Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning was established by Dr. Ken Spencer to support educators who work tirelessly to ensure that all students discover their place, purpose and path. The Ken Spencer Award recognizes and promotes innovative work that is sustainable and has the potential of being taken up by others and encourages transformative change in schools.
Recently, three TDSB schools were recognized nationally as the 2018 winner of the Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. They are:
Wexford DHH Co-enrollment Program
The Wexford Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Co-enrollment Kindergarten Program with Lesley Blyth-Collins, Kana Sora and Vivian Choi-Lin who are the dedicated members of the Co-enrollment team and received the award at a ceremony held recently at Wexford Public School.
The Wexford DHH Co-enrollment Program is the successful collaboration between the Special Education - Hearing Itinerant Department and Wexford Public School. The Co-enrollment Program is a unique, inclusive approach to the education of children, who are DHH, and their hearing peers in Junior and Senior Kindergarten. It’s a win-win model for all. Using both an integration and reverse integration model, students from mainstream Kindergarten classes work alongside their peers, who are DHH. For children who are DHH, the Program is a pathway to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to thrive in their home school. The Program provides a myriad of benefits for the students, teachers, parents and the school community at large. All children in the Co-enrollment Program, along with the teachers, are more engaged with each other and have come to develop empathy, acceptance and understanding of one another.
Georges Vanier Secondary School
Georges Vanier Secondary School where all students can build a better world was also recognized for their innovation. More than a Makerspace, the ADVANCE Innovation Skills Centre at Georges Vanier SS is a place where students learn to build the future. It is at once a visual art studio, a cross curricular incubator, and a drop-in centre where teachers from across the Toronto District School Board can bring their students to collaborate on a wide variety of projects. The Centre has seen a diversity of creations; 3D printed jewellery, interactive and electronic art works, an iPad game for students with developmental disabilities, prototype space vehicles, environmentally friendly buildings, and more. The Centre uses technology as a vehicle for equity and achievement that has been explored by a diverse group of students from Grades 3-12. Students create prototypes from concept to execution, applying global competencies to engage a world of increasing connection and automation. The Centre engages STEAM learning that is rich and authentic, building in students the resiliency and skills that they will need to survive in our global economy for the next 20 years.
“Student excitement to learn-by-doing with the latest technology is palpable at this centre, but it’s the equity focus welcoming teachers and students from across the school board to collaborate in this engaging environment that sets this program apart.” says Darren Googoo, Chair of the EdCan Network.
Tredway Woodsworth Public School
During the Spring of 2015, a television commercial that emphasized the rapidly declining bee population inspired the teachers at Tredway Woodsworth PS to bring this world issue into their classrooms and open a discussion amongst students. What followed was the beginning of an inquiry project; a journey to create sustainable gardens on the school grounds for the purpose of attracting pollinators while getting students outside and involved in hands-on learning. This discovery helped catapult their programs into a 3-year school-wide initiative. Along with students, staff and community, they learned to change their roles as humans using the environment for personal gain by becoming conservationists and working together to protect living greenspace.
Three years later, the Bee School Program is an initiative that continues to grow at Tredway Woodsworth PS. Through this inquiry project, students have become independent learners, innovative knowledge builders and creative thinkers. By focusing on the authentic problem of the declining bee population, students are continually empowered to explore their school community potential and develop ownership of their learning. Creating and tending to a pollinator-friendly garden helps students connect to nature as they learn about native plant species and how pollinators help to sustain natural environments. Researching and building structurally sound and visually stimulating “Bee Hotels” offers experiential learning and opportunities for students to solve problems using real-world contexts.
Tredway Woodsworth PS is dedicated to realizing the change that school communities can make by embracing the environment as an outdoor, authentic learning space. Ultimately, an initial brainstorming session designed to involve students in their Science lesson, exploded into a massively successful project that they simply could not have imagined. Staff and students are excited to see how their project will continue to grow as they continue to learn about the impact of pollinators on their lives and in their very busy, bustling city.
Congratulations to all.