2015-16 Educator's Innovation Awards and Grants Winners
As part of continued efforts to assist teachers in creating innovative learning environments and inspiring innovative approaches to teaching, the Newfoundland and Labrador Education Foundation Inc. has announced the successful recipients of the NL Educator's Innovation Awards and Grants Programs for 2015-16. A public news release was issued to announce the winners of the inaugural program. The news release can be viewed HERE.

Successful NL Educator's Innovation Award winners will receive $2,500 to assist in the project's ongoing efforts and help further the work underway at the school, with the recipient also committing to providing fellow teachers with a professional learning session.

Those successful in receiving an NL Educator's Innovation Grant will also receive a $2,500 award to assist in starting or growing their fledgling innovation and implementing it in their school. In addition to also committing to provide fellow teachers with a professional learning session, all Grants recipients will collaborate on an information paper to provide sound, evidence-based recommendations for innovation in education.

Below, please find brief synopsis of the projects - congratulations to all our Awards and Grants winners!

Innovation Awards Recipients 2015/16 - Initiative Descriptions
  • Goulds Elementary, St. John's (Teacher: Jaime Snow-Parsons)
    Expanding Approaches in a Pervasive Needs Space
    An Instructional Resource Teacher for more than a decade, the teacher has used a number of approaches over the years to help address the complex needs of students with pervasive needs. In her experience, a majority of the young learners she works with have complex needs related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some of the approaches she has used have included Applied Behavioural Analysis, Reference and Regulate, TEACCH, Snoezelen Multi-Sensory Environments, Floortime, in addition to others; through her experience, she has found a combination of several of these approaches gives the best results to improve student learning. Through external funding in the past as well as school based funding, materials have been accumulated for a number of play-based activities and with the Award for work already accomplished, the teacher will further advance the current resources at hand and build upon the work already undertaken. These resources will include play-based resources and an additional piece of Snoezelen equipment.

  • Holy Cross School, Eastport (Teacher: Cathy Baker)
    Re-Igniting the Spark: Transforming a Kindergarten Space
    Inspired by an in-service in August 2015, the teacher took to transforming her Kindergarten space immediately for the 2015/16 school year from a space that was centered around teacher-function to an engaging learning space for students. It included all the components for many types of play-based learning; a puppet theatre, reading nook, construction center, dramatic play area, art center, nature center, and math center. "In this new environment and with my new approach, they were imaginative, curious, and focused. Each day, I was connecting with children on a deeper level than ever before. My teaching had been transformed, along with my classroom. Outcomes were being 'uncovered' authentically, and because new information was attaching itself to previously learned information in the brain, it 'stuck.' The children were happier, more secure and independent, and always, ALWAYS asking questions." The teacher plans to use the Award funding to more materials to continue to develop spaces that are engaging and deepen the curiosity of these young learners.

  • Holy Trinity Elementary, Torbay (Teacher: Leigh Borden)
    Learning Commons: A Transformation
    Throughout recent years, the teacher has lead the transformation of Holy Trinity Elementary School's library into a true Learning Commons which, unlike the typically a quiet library space full of printed material, is much more. The teacher has strived to create a 'hub' of learning, to have the space possess 'a hum of activity with students talking, learning, searching for information on a variety of devices, focusing on content creation and synthesizing of information.' Through this initiative, the teacher has created a place for teachers and librarians to collaborate to build inquiry learning and critical thinking skills in students, for technology integration and experimentation, and is owned by students and staff alike. Within learning projects, the teacher has incorporated inclusionary teaching practices and high interest activities that engage all learners. This is achieved through the improved functionality and use of the Learning Commons. The teacher wishes to use the Award to further this initiative and explore professional learning opportunities.

  • Humber Elementary, Corner Brook (Teacher: Sonya Dewling Salyzyn)
    Furthering Knowledge on Sustainability
    The sustainability program at Humber Elementary is hailed by staff as a significant educational initiative which provides tremendous learning opportunities for three Grade 6 classes to learn about social studies, art, and science in various real life situations and in many contexts. Throughout the last few years, the project has utilized community partners, including: community members, local businesses, such as Coleman's, government and municipal leaders who are the experts in the field. Students are empowered to learn, grow, develop an understanding and appreciation of the past, and how it connects to the future while researching topics involving the fishery. Students also explore their artistic side which is then put on public display and also take in an invaluable learning experience with a field trip to Cox's Cove. With the Award, the teacher and school intends to ensure the program has the resources necessary to provide a valuable experience for the 2016/17 school year.

  • Morris Academy, Mount Pearl (Teachers: Lori Powell, Stephanie Collins and Angela Furlong-Kelly)
    STEM Sisters
    These teachers have been working to develop a culture of innovation within their classrooms and within their school community at large since 2013. Recognizing their students' lack of enthusiasm and confidence to engage in the mathematics, science and technology curricula and knowing there was a need to employ innovative practice that would motivate and capitalize on a child's natural curiosity, the STEM Sisters became involved in the Teachers In Action program at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Three years later, they are still involved in completing action research aimed at improving professional practice to enhance the learning experiences of primary children. The STEM Sisters are passionate learners with an innovative mindset. They constantly seek new ways to motivate a variety of learners and inspire other educators to engage in authentic learning experiences that promote student growth and achievement.

  • Riverside Elementary, Clarenville (Lead Teacher: Jamie Loveless and colleagues)
    Building Critical Thinking Skills Through Science and Technology
    Nominated for the Award by school administration, the teacher and the colleagues who assist the Robotics/Engineering initiatives at Riverside are dedicated to leading a movement at the school to foster 21st century learning and leadership. Through enhanced science and technology exposure and curriculum, students are seeing significant improvements in critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication while also learning to set clear and attainable goals and effectively organize. The school believes the Award is deserved as the project goals originally set out have been met and have since expanded to encourage further characteristics of strong student leaders. The Award would be used to help further the development of the schools engineering clubs and 21st century based inquiries.

  • Smallwood Academy, Gambo (Teacher: Paula Ennis)
    Learning Through Film Making
    After using filming in the classroom as a method of getting students involved in an overall message, the teacher has seen significant engagement in her students around using film and technology in the learning process. Most recently, her class created a video for the TakeChargeNL challenge, working with a mix of a pop-song to encourage everyone to "Turn It Off" when it's not being used, meaning the tap, the light switch or the computer as a way of saving energy. The teacher notes "...my current project is back on track as we encourage 'Pawsitive Behaviour' through what we should and should not be doing in and around our school. We've brainstormed, we've illustrated and we have started our filming. Our first screening will happen in a few weeks, but the lessons we are learning and reinforcing will stay with the kids for much longer. I have used my students' photos in displays and writing activities. I have created custom Smart Book activities that get them involved with our curriculum content. Nothing I have done has gotten my students as engaged as creating videos. It is more than a teachable moment...it is an experience."

  • St. Lawrence Academy, St. Lawrence (Teacher: Elizabeth Cull)
    STEM: Beyond the Classroom - Skilled Trades Opportunities for Women
    Previously, the school and the teacher have seen great results from similar events offered by Esteem Women Inc. and want to build on these results and activities to further foster student engagement. The school has witnessed firsthand the benefits of such innovative programs through the self-confidence, enthusiasm, career decisions, and increased interest in STEM that students have shown after attending their interactive activities. Building on the groundwork laid before with the assistance of Esteem Women Inc., the initiative will promote innovation and foster student engagement through offering a series of exciting programs that focus on skilled trades and STEM. In addition to innovative 'hands on' activities, presentations combined with worksite and educational institution tours will garner their interest. In receiving this award for work already completed, match-funding is also available through Esteem Women Inc. and a $1,000 donation from the Oil and Gas committee to full realize this project for the 2016/17 school year.

  • Stephenville Primary, Stephenville (Colleen Ryan, Shauna Elliott, Lori-Ann Fry)
    Merging Literacy and Technology in a Kindergarten Classroom
    The kindergarten teachers at Stephenville Primary have been adjusting their teaching approach to be in line with modern technology and have been introducing important literacy concepts through applications and games on Apple iPads and monitoring student progress. Stephenville Primary School is fortunate to have a limited number of iPads, but teachers regularly encounter problems due to availability, accidental removal of apps by other grade levels, as well as uncharged iPads. "In the past two years our Kindergarten Teachers along with our associated IRTs have developed many new and effective literacy centers to aid in moving our students forward regarding their early reading strategies. We have added on a number of supportive apps that assist us in this endeavor." Upon providing the evidence of how these concepts are being absorbed by the young learners, these teachers are eager to see a dedicated set of Kindergarten iPads to further their research and see improved progress on curriculum outcomes. It is their intention to use the Award to purchase six new iPads for dedicated Kindergarten student learning.

  • Topsail Elementary (Amy Pennell)
    Topsail Elementary STEM Learning Commons
    Stakeholder data within recent years had indicated a need at Topsail Elementary for more varied math and science activities, inspiring the teacher-librarian and staff to transform their library space into a common area of teaching and learning for all. The school has been focused on improving the physical space, materials, resources, and teaching approaches to align with the school's development goals of incorporating 21st century practices. With school-fundraised monies and assistance from the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development's Youth Innovation Program, the school has re-invented their library in the tenants of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Led by the teacher-librarian, teachers have been working this year to plan collaboratively to cover particular outcomes in the interactive space to inspire 'aha' moments. "We are beginning to see student's abilities growing so they are able to question, communicate and respond in multiple ways. Students are becoming empowered to think critically, collaborate, create and overall become more engaged in their learning. We hope to continue growing these skills while encouraging positive attitudes towards STEM ideals."

Innovation Grant Recipients 2015/16 - Project Descriptions
  • Beachy Cove Elementary (Teacher: Meghan Lindsay)
    Flexible Classrooms Across a Grade 1 Environment
    Working with her grade-level colleague, the applicant has worked to incorporate a flexible classroom concept with their students. "The flexible classroom model offers choice. Students choose where and how they work, learn and collaborate. Students will not be assigned a desk and will not be forced to sit in a specific place to complete work and listen to instruction. Instead, they will be able to choose an option that works best for them." Still building the options for choice among their space, the teacher plans to use the Grant to purchase a number of Hokki stools for each classroom. These resources are described as 'an ergonomic stool that transforms stationary sitting into an activity. The convex base allows for movement in all directions, which is critical to student development as physical movement both increases well-being and encourages the physical and intellectual maturing process.'

  • Crescent Collegiate, Blaketown (Teacher: David Brothen)
    Accessibility and Organization Amongst Differentiated Learners
    After experiencing interesting challenges in instructing first and second year science courses, the teacher found more than half of his students required various educational supports and some have difficulties reading and writing. However, when they are read to, these students demonstrate a good understanding of the material. Additionally, other students faced medical or disciplinary challenges which lead to more absences than others. Through Google Classroom and Google Apps for Education, the teacher has begun to compile resources to address these challenges and create a student centered approach to the management of his course instruction through these online tools. He has requested a grant to assist with this initiative and intends to use the funds to: purchase a quality microphone to record textbook readings for uploading to his classroom, purchase 2 to 3 tablets for the ease of use of select students to make better use of online materials, allow time to develop course resources and a video camera to capture labs to make the resource available to those who may be absent on the required lab days.

  • Gander Academy, Gander (Teacher: Brian Kennedy)
    Supporting Independent Learning & Peer-to-Peer Collaboration
    The ability to learn from those around you is the focus of the successful initiative from Gander Academy. Exploring peer-learning environments, where students have a greater responsibility and an active role in their learning is the initiative of the Grade 6 French Immersion educator responsible for submitting this project. Through the purchase of presentation software such as iMovie, Prezi, Audacity and additional hardware such as iPads, video recorders, 3Dprinters and microphones (with match-funding available through the school), the teacher is looking to tap into students' digital expertise, knowledge gained from a reality where technology is an integral and ever-present part of their lives. Moreover, technology has changed our way of interacting with information in the real world and it is important that schools reflect this evolution. Using technologies in which students are already well-versed is a powerful way to support independent learning and peer-to-peer collaboration. Students can focus their technological skills to become better investigators and problem-solvers, attributes which will be important as they become more active in the learning process.

  • Leary's Brook Junior High (Teacher: Sarah Comerford)
    Maximizing Practice: Music Enhancement Proposal
    Anyone who has ever learned an instrument knows that practice leads to a better performance. In an attempt to maximize engagement among young musicians, Leary's Brook Junior High's music program is interested in using technology to enhance the practicing experience. "The Innovative Education Grant will be used to purchase three iPads, three practice room subscriptions, an educator's subscription, and Finale Music Notation software. SmartMusic is an incredible practice tool that can allow a student to individualize a program piece to suit their own needs. Interacting with this type of technology is motivation enough to practice; its ability to provide instant feedback to correct mistakes is a game changer. The ability to assess students on an individual basis and differentiate assignments to meet a diversity of needs and challenges would create a solid bridge to further strengthening our music program and growing these young musicians."

  • Menihek High School, Labrador City (Teacher: Peter McCormack)
    IRT Outreach Through Technology
    The mission of Menihek High School is to education students in a safe and nurturing environment, through a challenging, relevant program that stimulates self-esteem, life-long learning, problem solving and personal responsibility resulting in healthy, productive, and creative individuals. The school intends to use the grant funds to purchase a Bretford Docking Station and 5 iPads designated specifically for the IRT department to ensure access for students needing applications to assist in providing a more inclusive environment. The school also intends to purchase and use a number of apps, such as Proloquo2Go, which has been used to Canadian MP Mauril Belanger to communicate in the House of Commons. This will to allow students alternate forms of communication and learning, therefore providing a more level playing field for student development and growth.

  • Prince of Wales Collegiate (Teacher: Alison Edwards)
    Levelling the High School ELA Learning Field
    In recognition of the wide range of dynamic learners from various backgrounds at Prince of Wales Collegiate and the resources available to each of them personally outside the classroom, the teacher wishes to level the learning field inside the English Language Arts classroom. Exploring the use of 21st century technology in an English classroom, the teacher wishes to begin the process of acquiring tablet devices to ensure all students, regardless of personal ability, have access to modern devices to learn and explore the written word and express themselves while studying modern literary works. Students would not potentially "...feel conscious of the fact that they do not have a device to bring; the technology would be provided. By having the ability to incorporate technology and ensuring I have access for all, I can be more innovative in my planning and engage students with technologies that enhance their learning and their curriculum." The school recognizes the value of this proposal and will install an Aruba system to boost wireless signal in that area of the building to ensure students can maximize the resources acquired through the awarding of this Grant.

  • Queen Elizabeth High School, Conception Bay South (Teacher: Devin Baxendale)
    A Cross-Curricular and Collaborative Google Classroom
    The project proposal highlights the possibilities for expanding student's knowledge of English and literary studies outside their own classroom and collaborating with students and schools beyond their immediate reach. An impressive proposal, the teacher has already begun work through allowing an independent novel study option for students, allowing them to choose from 18 different titles in his Google Classroom and requiring students to post and answer questions to demonstrate their engagement. The teacher has requested grant support to take the approach to the next level. "I have been sharing my ideas with fellow English teachers from other schools, and have suggested creating a collaborative project that would allow my students to work in a Google Classroom with their students. A colleague in Labrador has expressed interest in joining such a project, as has another English and social studies teacher in Gamèti, Northwest Territories... Collaborating with other schools and networking with other teachers will be one of the real perks of this project."

  • St. Augustine's Elementary (Teacher: Andrea Clarke)
    Google Chromebooks: Gradual Release of Responsibility
    In an effort to inspire 21st century technology to inspire her Grade 5 students at St. Augustine's Elementary to be independent life-long learners, the teacher is seeking to equip her classroom with Google Chromebooks for an expanded use of Google Apps for Education. The teacher has been using techniques to encourage individual self-exploration and numerous flipped-classroom options in recent years, but is challenged with limited resources available throughout the school. Using a focused program to establish and monitor student learning and behaviour through an engaged Google Classroom, the teacher is seeking to expand students' independence and develop a sense of responsibility in her students. In helping the teacher establish a classroom set of resources, the school is also prepared to match funding where necessary.

  • St. Edward's Elementary, Conception Bay South (Teacher: Susanne O'Keefe)
    iBook Development in Music
    Following an in-service last year on the making of iBooks and using MacBook resources on loan from the District, the music teacher has been developing an iBook of Newfoundland music this past year with Grade 6 students. The young learners have used SmartBoard and Notebook software to write their own arrangements of eight traditional Newfoundland Songs using Orff classroom instruments such as xylophones, drums, maracas, spoons and the ugly stick. Using iPads, the class then recorded the songs as they were performed and have even produced their own art work for a title page for each song. With plans to expand this initiative to other elementary grade levels within the school, the teacher has requested a grant for the purchase of a MacBook Air to continue the project. The teacher also notes: "I would also like to have this technology available to other teachers in our school so they can produce their own books. I would be available to provide some PD for other teachers at our school and be able to offer them support. This will directly tie into our school development plan which looks to foster greater collaboration amongst teachers and further expand our use of technology."

  • St. Michael's Regional High (Teacher: Brad Jones)
    The Greenhouse Project
    Having undertaken a school greenhouse project at St. Michael's Regional High School, the teacher is seeking support to move the expand and 'grow' the initiative further. Research regularly suggests the many positive outcomes from hands-on learning; it works by engaging the student and has the most success in being recalled. This project has many cross-curricular and external benefits including but not limited to: science, measurements and mathematics, healthy eating, skilled trades in the creation and development of the greenhouse, agricultural and horticultural knowledge, discussions and lessons on personal and community responsibility and sustainability, and also provides further options for students to earn credit for volunteer hours essential to graduation requirements. "It may also motivate students to grow plants at their own homes and become more involved in producing their own vegetables and produce. This can also mitigate any food security concerns and can allow students to grow healthy and organic food right in their own community." School community supporters Radio Bell Island and Tourism Bell Island have also been willing to contribute to the project and some school-generating funding (recycling) is also available.

To Contact Our Foundation:

Newfoundland and Labrador Education Foundation, Inc.
95 Elizabeth Avenue St. John's, NL
A1B 1R6

Tel: (709) 758-2382 · Fax: (709) 757-4705

Email: foundation@nlesd.ca

95 Elizabeth Avenue
St. John's, NL · A1B 1R6
Tel: (709) 758-2372 · Fax: (709) 758-2706
95 Elizabeth Avenue
St. John's, NL · Canada · A1B 1R6
Tel: (709) 758-2372 · Fax: (709) 758-2706

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