Alumnus Chris Dube Wins “Natural Curiosity Edward Burtynsky Award” for Environmental Education Teaching

Chris Dube (BEd, 2005; MEd 2009; Thunder Bay campus), and High School Science/Outdoor Environmental Education Teacher at Lake Superior High School in Terrace Bay, Ontario, has been named Grand Prize winner of the 2022 Natural Curiosity Edward Burtynsky Award for Teaching Excellence in Environmental Education. This annual, national award honours three outstanding educators across Canada for their exemplary practices in environmental inquiry.  

Chris explains that his philosophy of experiential, environmental education is that “students and the school should be an integral part of the community. I believe that local activism, and authentic project-based learning activities, allow students to develop their critical thinking and global citizenry.”

Chris demonstrates this passion through various hands-on projects he coordinates with students, such as the sustainable trail development of the Casque Isles Hiking Trail. Together, Chris and his students developed a plan to create 11 permanent camp sites along a 53-kilometre trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Students received a Trillium grant to fund the purchase of bear boxes, fire rings, signage, and material to build thunder boxes. They also researched sensitive environmental features of the trail, such as the Arctic Alpine Disjunct plants, to determine appropriate locations for camp sites.

Chris has also developed a locally-focused, yet globally relevant multi-credit Outdoor Environmental Science program, based on Ontario curriculum documents. The program consists entirely of hands-on, project-based learning activities, employing authentic and alternative assessment methods and Indigenous ways of teaching and learning. He notes that the program naturally incorporates four areas of priority: Indigenous Education, Community Development, Mental Health and Well-being, and Experiential Learning.

“The majority of the course is spent on the land with First Nations members, local community members, peers, and local business and community organizations to learn beyond the walls of the school,” he explains. This enables students to understand their role and responsibilities in the community, identify goals for self-development and growth, and actualize projects that have a real impact in their community.

Chris wrote an MEd thesis focused on assessment and evaluation of two secondary school outdoor, experiential environmental programs, under the supervision of Dr. Connie Russell.  

Faculty of Education May 2022 Newsletter Published

The Faculty of Education's May 2022 Education Exchange newsletter is now published.

This issue features an article on the Recipients of the Teacher Education Research Fund Award, introduction to new staff in the Faculty, faculty news and profiles, and more.

To access the Education Exchange newsletter, click here.

MEd Alumna Melissa Chumakov Wins Award for Thesis on Women in Mathematics Education

Melissa Chumakov, a recent graduate of the Master of Education program (Orillia campus, 2021) and current Secondary Business teacher, has received a Canadian Association for Teacher Education (CATE) Recognition Award for her thesis, Women In Mathematics Education: Pathways to Participation.

Melissa’s thesis focuses on improving women’s participation in mathematics education at the post-secondary level. As noted on the CATE Awards website, her work “highlights women’s experiences through storytelling, as a way of understanding how the complexities of gender identity influence the ways in which women orient themselves in various domains of academia.” 

Using narrative inquiry, her thesis brings together critical feminist theory, psychoanalytical perspectives, and social constructivist theory to share five women’s “personal pathways—including experiences, thoughts, and stories—to becoming a woman mathematics educator at the post-secondary level. The research questions guiding this inquiry are: Why do women decide to teach mathematics education at the post-secondary level? What are the experiences of women mathematics educators who had “overcome barriers”? What are the critical moments along their pathway to participation?”

Melissa recently presented her work via a poster presentation at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education conference, as part of a panel featuring CATE Award winners’ research.

Lucas Johnson Receives Grant for Research Project on Educational Technology Decision-Making Influences

Lucas Johnson (Educational Technologies Facilitator, Contract Lecturer, and PhD student) has been awarded an AMTEC Trust research grant for his graduate research, titled “Educational Technology Implementation Influences in Ontario K-12 Schools.”

His research examines the decision-making processes and factors related to the selection and implementation of education technology in schools.

“It is important to critically examine the factors influencing decision-making, especially in a time when publicly-funded spending on educational technologies continues to increase and technology permeates our lives,” he explains.

He plans to collect data via by surveying boards of education and conducting interviews to garner a larger picture of the scope of the factors influencing technology acquisition and allocation.

With over 20 years’ experience in the educational technologies sector himself, Lucas is well-positioned to undertake this study.

The annual AMTEC Trust award is a $3000.00 research grant awarded to a graduate student whose research is focused on educational technology. Lucas will present his research at the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education conference next year.

BEd Student Samantha Clay Wins Panel Award for Storybook about “The Sustainable Squirrel”

As part of the undergraduate conference during this year’s Research and Innovation (R&I) week, Bachelor of Education student Samantha Clay (Orillia campus) won a “Special Category” award for participating on panel and sharing the storybook she created and illustrated, titled The Sustainable Squirrel.

Samantha explains that the storybook introduces young readers to the Sustainable Squirrel character, who provides lessons in sustainability to Fashionable Frog, New Toy Turtle, Art Ant, and Water Bottle Walrus.

“The storybook focuses on the idea of commercial over-consumption. The Sustainable Squirrel promotes the concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling. I envisioned the story as one that could be shared with parents/guardians. Students could come up with their own characters with alliterative names, then follow the repetitive template of the book to identify more sustainable solutions to throwing an item away,” she says.

Samantha was selected by her instructor, Elizabeth Thomas (Curriculum & Instruction in Social Studies - Primary/Junior) to participate on a nine-student panel that focused on sustainability and growth. She adds that it was an honour to be selected and to be able to combine her interests in this project.

“I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors and the environment, and the ability to apply my artistic side to this project made it especially exciting.”

BEd Student Kari Clark Named Best Presenter on Sustainable Growth Panel

As part of an undergraduate conference during this year’s Research and Innovation (R&I) week, Bachelor of Education student Kari Clark (Orillia campus) was selected by her peers as best panelist on a nine-student panel that focused on sustainability and growth.

Her presentation, which she adapted from a Social Studies assignment, responded to the question: “How does the town of Collingwood’s potential water shortage affect the school system, infrastructure development, and growth and sustainability of the community as a whole?”

Kari notes that participating in the panel was an excellent opportunity to advocate for teachers using outdoor spaces to teach the Social Studies curriculum, as a means of promoting sustainability. This connected to the theme of this year’s R&I week: “Planetary Sustainability.”

As a reward for being selected as best panelist, Kari was asked to represent the Faculty of Education at a lunch with the University President and winners from other University faculties.

She explains that participating on the panel was “an amazing opportunity, especially from an educational perspective. Lakehead students have a wealth of knowledge, and to be able to witness this learning and growth in relation to planetary sustainability was nothing short of incredible!”

Connecting Indigenous Cultural Practices and Lynx Coding: Dr. Ruth Beatty and Colleagues Receive Grant

As part of a $3,000,000 CanCode grant awarded to TakingITGlobal, Dr. Ruth Beatty (Associate Professor, Orillia campus) and her Indigenous Knowledges and Mathematics research colleagues will receive $75,000 over the next 2.5 years to continue to explore connections among Indigenous cultural practices, mathematics, and Lynx coding.

Lynx is a text-based coding program available in many languages including Anishinaabe, Mi’kmaw, Kanien’kéha, and Oji-Cree. For this project, the research team will collaborate with community partners to continue to explore how incorporating coding can help us to further understand Anishinaabe and Métis ways of knowing mathematics that both align with, and are different from, a Western European conception of mathematics.

To date, they have used Lynx as a way to investigate the structure of loom beading, circular medallions, and Métis finger weaving. The dynamic nature of the software affords students an opportunity to explore different mathematical concepts inherent in beadwork or weaving such as computational thinking, patterning and algebraic reasoning, proportional reasoning, and geometric transformations. The current project will extend these previous explorations, and also include other technologies such as birchbark basket making.

Seven Faculty Instructors Nominated for Contribution to Teaching Awards

The Faculty of Education is fortunate to have many exemplary instructors whose work has been recognized in a number of different ways over the past years. In an impressive demonstration of the depth of teaching in the Faculty of Education, seven instructors have been nominated by their students for Contribution to Teaching Awards. Unfortunately, some of these outstanding educators are not eligible for the award, as one of the conditions for receiving the award is to have taught at Lakehead for four semesters. This does not detract, however, from the very real achievement of being nominated.

On behalf of the Faculty of Education, congratulations to the seven nominees!

  • Melanie Biesenthal - Curriculum & Instruction in Mathematics (Primary-Junior). Melanie recognizes that this nomination is the result of being part of a collaboration with Dr. Alex Lawson and the Primary/Junior Math Team with whom she learns and works so closely.
  • Tom Boland - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Faculty Advisor
  • Jen Farrell-Cordon - Curriculum & Instruction in Social Studies (Primary-Junior)
  • Sarah Gibbon - Curriculum & Instruction in Language Arts (Primary-Junior)
  • Sherri Lankinen - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Curriculum & Instruction in Language Arts (Primary-Junior); The Practice of Inclusive Education (Primary-Junior); Faculty Advisor
  • Steven Secord - Critical Digital Literacy; Online Teaching; Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Curriculum and Instruction in Science and Technology (Primary/Junior); Faculty Advisor
  • Brian Weishar - Planning, Evaluation, and Classroom Management; Literacy and Learning in the Intermediate-Senior Curriculum; Faculty Advisor

Dr. Gary Pluim’s Research Featured in OrilliaMatters News

Dr. Gary Pluim (Assistant Professor, Orillia campus) is leading a study that follows the transfer of curriculum between Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Eurasia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

His research was recently featured in OrilliaMatters News, as part of their “Research in Action” series.

As Gary notes in the write-up, “The research looks at the extent to which educational programming can be packaged and exported to different countries, the assumptions we make about the nature of knowledge, and the implications of sharing curriculum around the world. We draw on decolonial scholarship to critique a widespread perception that curriculum and knowledge are universal. In this vein we ask, ‘to what extent does place, culture, and nationality matter in education?’”

To read the story about Gary’s research, click here.

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo’s Research Featured in OrilliaMatters News

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo (Associate Professor, Orillia campus) is conducting a qualitative study to explore the lived experiences of adults with developmental disabilities living in the care farm setting of Camphill Communities of Ontario.

Her research was recently featured in OrilliaMatters News, as part of their “Research in Action” series.

As Sonia explains in the article, the goal of the research project is to build “knowledge and understanding about the well-being of adults with developmental disabilities, and figuring out what they need. We’re going to explore their lived experiences at Camphill and what that looks like.”

To read the story about Sonia’s research, click here.

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