Algoma District School Board Wins National Innovation Award

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Ron Canuel, President and CEO of Canadian Education Association (CEA)

The Canadian Education Association (CEA) honoured Algoma District School Board with a Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.  Ron Canuel, CEA’s President and CEO was on hand at the Committee of the Whole meeting, Tuesday May 24th, to present ADSB educators with their award and a cheque for $1000.  On hand to accept the award on behalf of the e-learning team were ADSB teachers Kaila O’Callaghan, Brandon Grasley, Sarah McCloud Joe Caruso and Tyler Hankinson.

Algoma District School Board’s districtwide E-learning initiative was recognized as tackling the root causes of student disengagement by providing long-term support to a core group of 22 secondary school teachers from nine high schools and two alternative programs to take risks and transform their practice using online environments. Students who participate in this program choose what they study, which empowers them for deep learning, particularly when the traditional secondary school model isn’t working for them.

E-learning team –this photo shows a representation of the 22 secondary teachers who are engaged in the ADSB e-learning initiative.
E-learning team –this photo shows a representation of the 22 secondary teachers who are engaged in the ADSB e-learning initiative.

ADSB has been committed to keeping the same teachers in the same courses for a number of semesters and providing them with extensive face-to-face co-planning time and direct access to experts throughout Ontario.  This has proven to be a key ingredient for the sustained success of this learning model.  Student learning needs determine teacher learning needs and as a result, eLearning students in the Algoma District School Board no longer suffer through a content delivery model of education. They are supported in pursuing their interests, which fuels their curiosity and creativity.

Mr. Canuel applauded the initiative identifying it as “a successful learning program which showcases a courage and willingness among educators to rethink traditional classroom practice that caters to the interests and needs of all students.”  He went on to say, “This program is helping to define the relationship between technology and learning and has cultivated such a robust teacher engagement and mentorship approach, which has had such a positive impact on students.”

Donna Fry, Provincial Lead for Leading Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching, Ministry of Education.
Donna Fry, Provincial Lead for Leading Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching, Ministry of Education.

The Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning was established to recognize and publicize innovative work that is sustainable and has the potential of being taken up by others; to encourage a focus on transformative change in schools; and to provide profile for classroom innovation within school districts, schools, and the media.  Dr. Ken Spencer was a past Canadian Education Association Director and retired CEO and co-founder of Creo Products.

Director of Education Lucia Reece and Chair Jennifer Sarlo both thanked the ADSB e-learning team for their innovative techniques and for their forward thinking. Director Reece commented, “We know that technology is merely a tool, but a tool that, when used effectively, can transform both the teaching and the learning experience.  We recently had Will Richardson here to speak to our teachers and Will reminded us that teachers need to be co-learners with students, skilled at modelling the learning process to answer great, open-ended questions.  Ultimately, said Will, teachers must be master learners.  I congratulate our ADSB e-learning team who are clearly modelling the way and for having the courage to rethink what is possible for instruction and learning.”

Founded in 1891, the Canadian Education Association (CEA) is a network of educators advancing ideas for greater student and teacher engagement in public education. CEA does this by conducting research and spreading useful ideas through its publications, website, workshops, symposia, blog, videos, and social media channels, and supporting education systems to be more adaptive to the rapidly changing needs of all learners in an effort to reverse the trend of students ‘tuning out’ of their learning opportunities.

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