2016-17 Educator's Innovation Awards and Grants Winners
In support of the many inventive and dedicated educators throughout the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, the Newfoundland and Labrador Education Foundation Inc. is pleased to announce the successful recipients of the NL Educator's Innovation Awards and Grants Programs for 2016-17. A public news release was issued to announce the winners of this year's 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. Recipient also commit to providing professional learning for fellow teachers.

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 initiative 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 this year's projects. For information on successful projects from previous years, please see the bottom of the page.

Congratulations to all our Awards and Grants winners!

Innovation Awards Recipients 2016/17 - Initiative Descriptions
  • Brother Rice Junior High, St. John's (Teachers: Angela Dawe & Mabel Nash)
    Comfort Cove
    Comfort Cove is a safe place where students can come to escape the everyday noise and busyness of the average school day. Currently situated in the music room, students can visit Comfort Cove during unstructured time to rest, relax, read, and/or reflect. There are quiet activities available such as crossword & logic puzzles, math sheets, poetry and journal prompts and quiet art activities for students to enjoy. As well, there is a place for students to simply relax or read or even sleep. There are daily visuals that teach skills in visualization, deep breathing, self-esteem, basic yoga poses and meditation. It known that visualization and meditation are powerful methods that prove to have a calming effect on the nervous system and is even used in reducing depression and anxiety. Comfort Cove provides students with the environment and resources to self-regulate and to practice and enforce coping skills that can drastically improve day to day functioning. Comfort Cove is a welcomed addition to the BRJH school community as a positive place to meet the needs of a diverse population in a non-traditional setting. In conjunction with the research and anecdotes of the positive experiences of current students availing of Comfort Cove, the teacher believes that there will be a direct correlation with increased well-being, attendance and in turn, academics in participating students.

  • Crescent Collegiate, Blaketown (Teacher: David Brothen)
    Chromebooks & Google Classroom: A Powerful Synergy
    Crescent Collegiate strives to provide an environment that accommodates and encourages students of all abilities to reach their potential. The science department uses Google Classroom to distribute notes, activities, and supplemental material to students. In small groups, students can watch curated videos to address areas of need without having to leave the classroom and move to the computer lab. Teachers can then have multiple groups of students working on different tasks according to their needs. Students that have mastered fundamentals, can watch videos that extend the curriculum, and students that need to revisit fundamentals can complete guided practice activities that provide immediate feedback. By incorporating Chromebooks in everyday teaching, the school has been able to multiply and magnify students' experiences. In a Chromebook equipped classroom, students are able to access notes that are posted online as they need them. The science department has shared their current Chromebooks across three classrooms, but as use of the devices has increased, the school has reached the limit of what can be done with one set. The school wants to equip all of our science classrooms with a set of Chromebooks so that we can more fully integrate their use and will use the award monies to get them even closer to this goal.

  • Elizabeth Park Elementary, Paradise (Teacher: Melissa Lee)
    Students Discovering Science and Technology
    This year, Ms. Lee has revamped the way that she approaches teaching and learning in her classroom. She has participated in the hands-on Teacher's in Action research program, integrated the use of Chromebooks and G-suite technology in her classroom, collaborated with another grade 5 class for science learning, and brought her class to the MUN med laboratories. She has shifted the way her students approach learning through design challenges, open-ended questioning, student-centred learning, and technology integration. Instead of completing worksheets, word problems, and following templates, her students are enthusiastic about designing and creating their own. Her focus for her project has been on the 'Body Systems' unit in Science. Students have had many opportunities to tackle design challenges and problem solving, such as designing a model of a workable arm, complete with 'bones' and 'muscles', and the nervous system. If students discovered that their design didn't properly represent the body system they were tasked with, they would collaborate as a group to overcome the problem and improve their design. After adopting this approach, students have applied these problem-solving skills in other subject areas when they are faced with an obstacle in their learning. By shifting the classroom from a teacher-centred environment to a student-centred environment, Ms. Lee has witnessed an increase in student achievement, as well as an increase in student motivation and enthusiasm.

  • Forest Park Primary, Grand Falls - Windsor (Teacher: Heather Hayley)
    Inspired by participation in a District-sponsored PLC (Professional Learning Community) implementing the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Program, the teacher identified lacking available resources at the emergent reading level as an obstacle to implementation at the Kindergarten level. Determined to allow children opportunities to self-select an explore developmentally appropriate materials, the teacher collaborated with colleagues and explored organization of school-based resources to begin this initiative. The award monies will be used to purchase materials such as; wordless picture books, emergency readers at levels A-C, a listening center where children can listen to self-selected fluent readings of favourite children's literature, a subscription to High Five and Chirp magazines, big books and Flannel Board sets for exploring and re-telling narratives, as well as additional materials to support literacy activities and the guided reading program. If children are offered developmentally appropriate choices at this early and critical stage of literacy development, it is this teachers hope that it will support children in making good choices, recognizing and guiding their own development as readers and support further development of self-regulation.

  • Gander Academy, Gander (Teacher: Annette Warren)
    Playing to Learn with Code: Preparing KG for Literacy in the 21st Century
    The Playing to Learn with Code Project will enable Kindergarten students to become problem-solvers and innovators through learning simple computer programming language. Using developmentally appropriate software (Scratch Junior, which uses a graphical interface in both English and French), students would be provided with opportunities to enhance their skills in literacy, sequencing, logical thinking, artistic expression and communication through producing their own creative computer code, and to inspire them to engage in the processes and skills of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The teacher wishes to further the project with assistance from the Educator's Innovation Awards program.

  • Holy Spirit High School, Conception Bay South (Teachers: Jeffrey Locke and Patrick Wells)
    The Adoption of Inquiry-Based Science Teaching
    This research project proposes to examine the adoption of inquiry-based teaching by high school science teachers. The new science curriculum for Newfoundland and Labrador emphasizes the use of inquiry to create student-centered instructional environments. While inquiry has many benefits for students, it creates problems for teachers, especially those who use traditional 'sage on the stage' methods. Evidence suggests that significant professional development is required for inquiry-based instruction to be successful. While the Department of Education will provide web-based support for inquiry-based instruction, this research proposes to use funding from this program to actively support high school teacher's enactment of student-centered teaching using field-tested projects and model lessons (accessible in digital format through Google Apps or a D2L shell). The project will work collaboratively with teachers using action research or class observations to reflectively examine how the resources impact the enactment of inquiry-based instruction. The collaborative research will also evaluate how the resources may serve a wider group of teachers interested in improving their inquiry skills and building instructional confidence. Reflective teaching with locally developed resources should allow science teachers to confidently adopt an inquiry stance and develop more inclusive classrooms.

  • Holy Trinity Elementary, Torbay (Teacher: Sara Barry)
    The Flexible Classroom
    Teacher Sara Barry has taken the opportunity this year to explore using the flexible classroom concept and has seen significant change in the temperament and engagement of students. Removing almost all the tables and standard chair, Barry provided numerous seating options for students to find a place where they felt most comfortable to learn, noting how there appears to be even more room in the classroom with the standard furniture removed. Barry notes students are more relaxed, calm, less concerned with what someone is doing next to them and most importantly, they are more engaged in learning. Flexible seating with clipboards and old cupboard panels serve as options for students, as well as the choice to work at the coffee table, kneeling table, standing table or they pull up the exercise balls to one of the folding shelves units. The flexible classroom really lent itself well to the collaborative approach of learning too, as a large part of Barry's teaching is the group approach. She saw that students now had the space to move around the classroom and to get into their groups in any way they please. The Educator's Innovation Award will allow the school to add more seating options to the flexible classroom, as well as help out colleagues who expressed interest in beginning the flexible classroom concept.

  • Larkhall Academy, St. John's (Teachers: Shane Fitzgerald and Krista Molloy)
    Using Drone Technology to Collect Data Regarding Habitats
    The Drone Project at Larkhall Academy has involved two Grade Four classes. The hope was to enhance student inquiry through the use of drones to further supplement science curriculum and improve overall student motivation in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. A major goal of this project was for students to not only use drones, but to also be actively engaged in the process of building, designing, engineering and maintaining their quadcopters. Students built four quadcopters and were responsible for troubleshooting any potential issues that may arise. As a result, students were more connected to their work and the entire experience was more meaningful for all parties involved. Troubleshooting potential operational issues with drones was a critical component of the 'drone experience' as it provided students with the essential skills to problem solve and dive into the world of scientific and technological inquiry. Once the drones were built, students were required to become familiar with the flying and controlling of the technology. Students have been given the opportunity to learn the Mission Planner program which is used to program flight plans for the drones. The students then went to an area outside the city (due to recent regulation changes for drone flying) and collected data regarding habitat. The footage collection will be taken and the students' will analyze it using science curriculum information learned in class regarding habitats. They will get the opportunity to analyze habitats that are often difficult to access and view those native to Newfoundland.

  • Menihek High School School, Labrador City (Teacher: Matthew White)
    Modernizing Technology Education: The sky's the limit!
    Throughout recent years, Menihek has transformed its Communications Technology course into a modern program that meets the needs of the 21st century learner. Its media room has become a hub of innovation, utilizing Apple iMacs and iPads to produce high quality multimedia projects. Moreover, this initiative has created space for student-centred learning. Students organize themselves into small groups and collaborate to meet curriculum objectives through a variety of hands-on activities. There is a strong focus on critical thinking and problem-solving through group communication and research. Students are given high levels of autonomy and are expected to take initiative beyond individual projects. A regular day may consist of students talking, sharing digital files, searching for information, filming, troubleshooting, synthesizing information and creating original content. It is the teacher's hope to continue to expand technology education capacity through the purchase of a quadcopter drone. This would serve the dual function of allowing students to film HD aerial footage, while exposing them to an exciting new technology that is finding utility in numerous industries and academic disciplines. A high-quality drone will not only further efforts strengthen the Communication Technology program but stands the potential to have a positive impact on nearly every department in the school.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Center, Whitbourne (Teacher: Matthew Thomey)
    Learning to Code at NLYC
    Students at the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Center will be given the opportunity to learn the basics of coding using Sphero Balls and the Lightning Lab App downloaded onto iPads. Students at NLYC typically have little experience and opportunity to use new and innovative technological tools and the Sphero Balls and iPads has the ability to fill this void. The District, as well as the Canadian Federal Government, have recognized coding as an area that is of increasing importance and that many future career opportunities will be available to individuals who know how to code. Students will be able to learn how to manipulate the Sphero Balls by coding and the use of the Lightning Lab App. Students will be given the opportunity to take part in after-school Sphero ball and coding programs, while other educators can also use the iPads and Sphero balls to integrate technology and meet curriculum outcomes. Students will obtain important 21st century learning skills that are highly sought after in today's increasingly diversified workforce. The funds obtained through this program will be used to purchase new iPads and Sphero Balls for the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Center.

Innovation Grant Recipients 2016/17 - Project Descriptions
  • Ecole C.C. Loughlin Elementary, Corner Brook (Teacher: Brigitte White)
    Bee-Bots Student Coding in the Primary Grades
    Computer coding is a fun way for students to learn to problem-solve. C.C. Loughlin has introduced students to the Hour of Code, as well as activities on the code.org website. Several teachers use the code.org website in their scheduled technology class and Vice Principal Brigitte White regularly invites students from grades 2-5 to the technology lab to continue with website activities. As technology becomes more readily available, the school would like to promote its the educational uses so that students understand its power and how interacting with technology can still promote communication and collaboration. The simple Bee-Bot Floor Robots allow students to work collaboratively to program the Bot's movements along floor mats or obstacle courses while allowing the school to promote the 21st century skills of problem solving, creativity, analytical thinking, collaboration and communication. The Bee-bot is the ideal cross-curricular resource to teach kids the first stages of programming, introduce sequencing and control, and develop positional and directional language (also able to be used in French Immersion classrooms). The 49 sequence cards allow students to plan the movements of the Bee-bot before actually programming it, while negotiating and discussing amongst themselves if the sequence of their cards will help the Bot arrive at its destination. Students are fully engaged and learning without even realizing it.

  • Ecole C.C. Loughlin Elementary, Corner Brook (Teacher: Ashley Sheppard)
    Mindfulness and 21st Century Learning
    The idea of flexible seating intrigued Ms. Sheppard, often seeing many items about flexible seating, learning spaces and learning pods online and in discussions with colleagues. In 2016, she decided to try out the idea in her classroom, providing seating options personally purchased and/or repurposed from the local classified and yard sales. With just a few options currently in her classroom, she has found the results to be quite amazing and is seeking to further expand this initiative. Her focus this year has been around developing Mindfulness among her students, and the seating options have fit nicely with this goal. She has seen an increase in student motivation, productivity and student responsibility. By letting go of traditional seating, her classroom has become much more student-centered, allowing children to take ownership of their learning. This grant will allow Ms. Sheppard to take this idea to a new level, helping to incorporate the concept into a new pilot program 'Mind Up', which focuses on mindfulness. She envisions a classroom without tables and chairs, but rather different types of seating options where students can pick where they will be successful and is hopeful that other teachers will see the benefits and would be interested in incorporating these new methods into their classrooms as well.

  • Gander Elementary, Gander (Teacher: Naomi Young)
    From Library to Learning Commons
    This project has a goal to support interactive projectors, like the Nureva Span system, in ther new elementary school. It is an integral part of a much bigger initiative to establish a new Library Learning Commons (LLC) in Gander Elementary. The LLC - more of a philosophy than a space - is focused on true collaboration with 21st Century learning at the forefront. The space will be aligned with the nationally accepted five core standards of practice for school LLC: facilitating collaborative engagement to cultivate and empower a community of learners; advancing the learning community to achieve school goals; cultivating effective instructional design to co-plan, teach, and assess learning; fostering literacies to empower life-long learners; and, designing learning environments to support participatory learning. A school's LLC can be assessed on a transitional growth continuum. The new school is at an optimal time to move along that continuum and embrace this shift FROM a library as a physical space that is a repository of books TO an inclusive, flexible, learner-centered, physical and/or virtual space for collaboration, inquiry, imagination, and play to expand and deepen learning. Instead of the traditional library 'hush,' Ms. Young and colleagues want their LLC to be the hub of the school. By introducing an interactive projection system, such as Nureva Span, movement on the continuum is inevitable - from exploring to emerging and evolving we will go.

  • J.R. Smallwood Middle School, Wabush (Teacher: Darryn Cramm)
    Creation of a Greenspace
    JR Smallwood Middle School is constructing a greenspace on-site to provide students with a safe place to play and learn. Labrador winters are harsh, and providing a place for students to be able to safely access, as well learn instructional outcomes, is the goal of staff and the School Council. The school will be installing various types of fitness equipment to promote physical activity, as well as providing lots of free-play items. This space also contains a garden - students plant and raise many types of produce such as potatoes, beet, cabbage, lettuce, carrots etc. The Little Green Thumbs project builds enthusiasm for students learning that they can grow their own food - and provides the potential for the school to expand it into a school garden concept. The school also believes that the social interactions learned are necessary and invaluable in the development of our children and plan to use grant monies to further assist in the development of their greenspace.

  • Mount Pearl Intermediate, Mount Pearl (Teacher: Kevin Andrews)
    3-D Printing MakerSpace at MPI
    Batteries, bicycles and bikinis. Shoes, tools, cars and guitars. What cannot be printed with a 3D printer? That's the real challenge for tech innovators entrepreneurs and teachers working in the field of additive layer manufacturing. K-12 educators in Canada are working in greater numbers with 3D printers and Mount Pearl Intermediate believes that the key to promoting innovation and fostering student engagement is to make available new technologies for students and teachers. We live in a time when schools need to future-proof their students to feel comfortable using technology and to ensure they embrace it to help bolster their creativity.

    Our science and technology committee has proposed a number initiatives to further promote 21st century learning while inspiring students to take a step into a variety of 3D related activities. From printing replacement parts for our robotic club to printing 3D models of cells and human organs in our Science curriculum, 3D technology will help students develop critical-thinking and creative problem-solving skills that will be essential in today's workforce. Allowing our English students the opportunity to write about the success and failures of the printing process while collaborating on printing a 3D pencil activity can raise engagement in the class and help inspire all participants to think big. Our technology classes look to a time when they can use specialized software to create and 3D-print their house projects while our technology clubs look for an opportunity to incorporate Rube Goldberg machines encouraging others to think and write about sequencing. Engagement is a well-known predictor of academic achievement and students at Mount Pearl Intermediate who have the opportunity to engage in 3D technologies will be better prepared for their future and have greater confidence to meet and achieve their dreams.

  • Riverside Elementary, Clarenville (Teacher: Jamie Loveless)
    Computer Literacy in the Elementary Classroom
    Computer literacy is a key component in the development of a 21st century learner. This project will use the website www.code.org as an introduction to coding, then move on to other programming languages such as Scratch (MIT) and Python to accomplish a variety of projects/tasks. Possible projects may include the creation of animated cartoons/stories, game creation, artwork, and music creation. Scratch software will also be used with Lego robotics. Computer literacy and applications will be further developed with the use of Raspberry Pi computers. The use of GPIO pins, breadboards, and sense hats, for instance, provide a unique way for students to explore circuitry. The Raspberry Pi provides a realm of endless possibilities for students and educators alike. Manipulation of previously created code, as well as the creation of new code, will allow for creativity, collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and logical thinking - all desirable attributes of 21st learners and educators. Schools need to continue to promote the creative potential of computers. Not only do educational facilities need to use technology, but also must learn to understand how it works. Programming and its applications provide learners of all ages an opportunity to be innovative... to be designers, builders, computational thinkers... and enjoy learning as it happens!

  • St. Edward's Elementary, Conception Bay South (Teacher: Annette Warford-King)
    We Are On the Ball - Coding at St. Edward's
    St. Edward's school is planning to introduce students to the language of coding, incorporating Sphero SPRK+ Robots by creating a lab of Sphero Robots and Chromebooks. Students will use these devices to write and share code as they learn how to maneuver the Sphero robot and share their creativity with the world. Students using Sphero would be facing challenges that involve math, science, technology and literacy. Using this technology, students can share code online or enhance code as they share with the worldwide community of the Sphero world and become authors of their own code. Students will first be introduced to the 'Hour of Code' and the activities that are part of this exciting project and will then be introduced to the 'Lightning Lab App' and the basics of code. As they complete more challenges, they then will be able to create their own challenges that they share with each other. These sessions will be completed in blocks of literacy/math/science scheduling. They will then be introduced to other forms of programming, such as Scratch, so that they will see the similarities of how coding works. This then will enable children to see how the devices that they use in their everyday lives work and now they have a better understanding of why math, science, technology and literacy is needed collaboratively in real life situations.

  • St. Lawrence Academy, St. Lawrence (Teacher: Elizabeth Cull)
    Teaching Innovation Through STEM
    This project will be an extension and continuation of the previous work that Ms. Cull has done with her students and other area schools to expose students to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This new approach and the educational sessions provided through this grant will flow from their previously supported Educator's Innovation Grant project with activities being developed and built from the foundation that it laid. Once again, the school with partner with Esteem Women Inc. and build on the success and results seen to date, while continuing to foster more student engagement. The self-confidence, enthusiasm, career-awareness and increased interest in STEM that the teacher reports students have shown after attending interactive activities has been phenomenal. Once again, match funding is also available through Esteem Women Inc and a $1,000 donation from the Oil and Gas committee has been secured to realize the full project scope for the 2017-18 school year.

  • Vanier Elementary, St. John's (Teacher: Ashleigh Hudson)
    How Robotics Helps Children Problem Solve
    The grade four teachers at Vanier Elementary are looking to inspire young minds and empower students by bringing computer science to elementary. Expanding on the 'Hour of Code' concept, Scratch and Khan Academy coding implementation in grade four, they want to offer students the opportunity to see tangible robots in action, performing actions and addressing challenges through student-led programming. Lego Mindstorms is a growing community, with users all around the world contributing ideas and challenges. Students in grade four will be provided with opportunities to code and program robots to perform a variety of tasks related to the grade four curriculum, with particular focus on science outcomes. As students engage in coding, they will gain the necessary skills for problem solving and perseverance. Students will have to seek out solutions to problems and develop a passion for lifelong learning. Students will also make links to scientific inquiry and the scientific process.

  • Villanova Junior High, Conception Bay South (Teacher: Megan Roome)
    Elementary Coding and Robotics
    With the help of the Educator's Innovation Grant, Ms. Roome plans to start an extracurricular coding and robotics club for elementary students designed to spark their interest and prepare them for a potential future in coding. The club will introduce students to the world of coding/programming through a variety of websites and apps, as well as robots. Students will be given the opportunity to build, program and navigate robots using code to interact and solve problems. They will move beyond using technology for entertainment purposes to learn about the science behind how their favorite games, websites, and apps are created! Ms. Roome is confident that through the use of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, students will find new purpose for their digital devices.

Previous Awards and Grants Recipients

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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