Making Connections 2017: Session descriptions
The theme for this year’s conference is “I want that in my school”. Throughout the day, we will be exploring research, programs, and real-life examples of things that people are doing to help students develop the broader skills they need to succeed, and to move the needle on the idea of broader goals for education.
9:00 – 10:00 KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Dr. Jean Clinton
Dr. Jean Clinton is an internationally recognized child psychiatrist, advocate for children’s issues, and expert on brain development. She is also an education advisor to Ontario’s Premier and Minister of Education. For Jean, the secret to success for our education system, and for all of our work with students, lies in integration, inter-relationships and “connecting the dots.” She will talk about the interconnections between academic achievement, well-being, and the competencies and skills that all children need for long-term success; and why it’s important to support collaboration, relationship-building and interconnected thinking about our goals for education and programs for children and young people.
10:00 – 11:00 PLENARY PANEL
Pushing the Limits: How schools can prepare our children today for the challenges of tomorrow
How do we prepare children for a future we can’t even imagine? Our public education system will play a key role in helping students navigate an uncertain future. To promote students’ long-term chances for health, happiness and economic security, our schools will need to foster innovators and nimble problem-solvers. This panel will look at some real-life examples of Canadian schools doing extraordinary things – things that will make you say “I want that in my school!” The panelists will provide a vision of what schooling can and should look like in our rapidly changing world, and explore how parents and teachers can realize this vision together.
Kelly Gallagher-Mackay and Nancy Steinhauer: co-authors of “Pushing the Limits”
Aaron Prosper: Mi’kmaw student, now in his third year of university, en route to becoming a doctor
Ingrid Palmer: parent leader at George Webster Public School in Toronto
Aaron Warner: teacher in Saskatchewan who introduced a “Genius Hour” to his classroom
11:15 – 12:30 MORNING BREAKOUT SESSIONS
AM1: Academic or Applied? Choosing the right path.
There are many pathways to a successful adulthood. For some, university is the right post-secondary destination; for others, it’s college or apprenticeship. It is increasingly hard to get a job without some type of post-secondary education or training. How can we make sure that students are keeping as many doors open as possible as they face the future? Are we asking students to make decisions when they’re too young? Do the course choices students must make in grade 8 close some doors too early? Is it time for Ontario to change its streaming policies?
Speakers to be confirmed.
AM2: Measuring What Matters – a peek inside the field trials
People for Education’s Measuring What Matters project is now in its fourth year. Over the past two years, educators across Ontario have been testing out new ways of thinking, teaching and learning about creativity, citizenship, health and social-emotional skills. In this session, some of the participants involved in the field trials will share the innovative ways that they are integrating the Measuring What Matters competencies into their teaching, and the impact it has had their classes. You may be surprised by what they have learned!
Alison Boehme: Grade 5 teacher, Hamilton DSB
Lynn Strangway: Superintendent, Toronto DSB
Pamela Crawford: Special Education Resource teacher, Trillium Lakelands DSB
Kim Stolys: Grade 1 teacher, York DSB
AM3: Beyond “Native Studies” – Incorporating Indigenous perspectives in math
Two of the goals identified in Ontario’s First Nation, Métis and Inuit Policy Framework are improved achievement for Indigenous students and the integration of educational opportunities so that all students have increased knowledge about the cultures, traditions, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. To meet these goals, our schools have to go beyond offering stand-alone courses and units focused on Indigenous issues, and incorporate Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in all subjects. In this session, you will learn how this can be done in math class, and the impact it can have on students.
Lisa Lunney Borden: Associate Professor at St. Francis Xavier University, creator of “Show me your math” program
Aaron Prosper: Mi’kmaw university student & “Show me your math” program participant
Pamala Agawa: First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Curriculum Co-ordinator, York Region DSB
AM4: There’s more than one way to peel a carrot! Engaging students in healthy eating.
How can we get kids to eat their vegies? School-based food programs can do more than just provide a good meal and support student health. By increasing students’ food literacy, these programs can help to develop lifelong healthy eating habits, and increase school and community connectedness. And they also support student learning and success! Learn more about the amazing programs schools are using to engage kids in healthy eating, by involving them directly in growing, preparing, and enjoying healthy foods.
Speakers to be confirmed.
AM5: To close or not to close – the challenge for small schools in Ontario
This spring, People for Education released a list of over 120 schools in Ontario that were being considered for closure. Shortly after, the government released a new plan ‘to strengthen rural and northern education.’ The plan includes more funding and a new process for closing schools. This session will look at school closings from several angles – the importance of having a local school in rural and northern communities; the viability of small schools and the challenges in keeping them open; and the impact of both the new rural education plan and Ontario’s community hubs policy on future school closings.
Karen Pitre: Special Advisor to the Premier on Community Hubs
Doug Reycraft: former president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, member of the Premier’s Community Hub Framework Advisory Group
1:30 -2:30 PLENARY PANEL
Assessment and Reporting
Measurement and big data are in the education news a lot. Just this summer, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation passed a motion urging provincial teachers’ federations to boycott international PISA tests. Data from measurement can be used to rank schools, but it can also provide detailed information to help target areas of need, understand inequities, and know more about our students and staff. The goal of this panel is to “unpack” some of the rhetoric around measurement. Is there a measurement/assessment “sweet spot”? How can we ensure that we have all the information we need about our students without creating unintended consequences, or narrow policy responses?
Annie Kidder: will introduce the session and provide some context with respect to People for Education’s Measuring What Matters initiative, then lead the discussion
Sam Sellar: co-author of “Globalizing educational accountabilities: Testing regimes and rescaling governance”
Norah Marsh: CEO of Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO)
Ian Pettigrew: Director, Curriculum and Assessment, Ontario Teachers’ Federation
2:45 – 4:00 AFTERNOON BREAKOUT SESSIONS
PM1: Getting away from A’s – New approaches to student assessment and report cards
As Ontario begins to explore broader goals for education beyond success in the 3Rs, we also have to think about how students’ growth in areas such as creativity, citizenship, and social-emotional learning are assessed and reported. British Columbia has moved to open up the reporting process and, in some cases, kids aren’t getting marks at all. Some teachers in Ontario are also experimenting with a ‘no-grades’ approach to teaching and learning. Learn more about how students are being assessed in these classrooms, and what it means for parents, students, and teachers.
Iram Khan and Shelley Brett: school principals from Surrey BC
Pamela Crawford: Special Education Resource Teacher, Trillium Lakelands Board
Liz Bristoll: Grade 7/8 teacher, Toronto DSB
PM2: Students are doing it for themselves! How students are changing their schools, their communities, and our world.
When students feel empowered to make change, stand back, because they will make change happen! Back by popular demand, this year’s student panel will feature students who have used their voice and applied their creativity and problem-solving skills to improve their schools and communities. From helping younger students transition to high school, to increasing enrolment at their school, to changing the provincial curriculum, these students got it done. In this session, you will find out how they did it!
Sakaana Yasotharan, who explored ways of increasing enrolment at her high school
Tessa Hill and Lia Valente, who advocated and succeeded in including consent as part of the sex education curriculum
Kherto Ahmed, student mentor, Success Beyond Limits
PM3: Fundraising and equity – Strategies for more inclusive school fundraising
Fundraising is deeply entrenched in Ontario’s education system. According to People for Education’s annual report on Ontario’s schools, the vast majority of schools participate in some kind of fundraising, and for many parents, it can be a great way to get involved at their school. However, fundraising raises issues about equity, both between and within schools, and provincial guidelines appear to allow for vast ranges in fundraising from zero dollars in some schools, to hundreds of thousands in others. This session will look at the latest data on school fundraising and explore strategies that school councils can use to both tame the fundraising beast and help to ensure that no family feels excluded by fundraising activities.
Christine Corso, Researcher and Project Coordinator, People for Education
Jacqui Strachan, Communications and Engagement Director, People for Education
PM4: Building better citizens through math
Imagine a group of elementary students figuring out a way to make their playground safer, proposing changes to the teacher supervision schedule, addressing the challenges raised by staff, and seeing their plan implemented. When educators build on the lived experiences of their students in order to bring the curriculum to life, and engage students in issue-based community action, students of all ages become agents of change. In this session, you will learn how students can use their budding math skills to address real-life problems – making math more relevant and developing their citizenship skills at the same time.
Speakers to be confirmed.
PM5: How can we help more students go on to post-secondary education?
The Hamilton Community Foundation, in partnership with local school boards, is working to improve the academic, community, and environmental factors that affect students’ likelihood of continuing their education. The goal of the ABACUS program is to improve high-school graduation rates and students’ access to post-secondary education, by focusing on the “middle-school years”: Grades 6, 7, 8 and the transition to grade 9. Find out what they’re doing in Hamilton, and get some practical tips about things that could be done in your board or school.
Terry Cooke, Executive Director, Hamilton Community Foundation
Jennifer Pearson, ABACUS Grad Track Project Co-ordinator