Monday, July 20, 2015

An Approach to Inquiry - Video Series

We developed a series of videos about the inquiry approach that was produced by "Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association (OESSTA) in association with "Ontario Association of Junior Educators" (OAJE).

The following video "How Can I Start to Plan For Inquiry?" explains our process for creating an inquiry-based classroom.

You can check out the entire video series on the OESSTA website under the video tab.
There are 8 chapters:
  1. Introduction - An Approach to Inquiry
  2. Why an Inquiry Approach?
  3. How can I start to plan for inquiry?
  4. What might teaching and learning look like?
  5. When to move beyond a two-week exploration?
  6. How does this process allow for the assessment?
  7. What is the value of working in groups?
  8. What do you consider in setting up your classroom space? 
What process/structure do you use to start an inquiry?
What does you inquiry-based classroom look like?
Please share!  

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Students Join Twitter Chat!

Check out the archived discussion from an #ontsshg chat with Rashmee Karnad-Jani (@Ms_Karnad) and her students. It's about Critical Thinking and students with Individual Education Plans (IEP).

Stay tuned because Rashmee and her grade 8 students will be blogging about their experience here!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Knowledge Building

On June 4th, we had a twitter chat about 'Knowledge Building' with Heidi Siwak @heidisiwak, the guest facilitator. She asked us to look at the 12 Principals listed at
You can see the archived discussion on the link below.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's All About The...Relationships We Build!

In this grade 4/5 classroom, students are motivated to do work and part of the reason.... their teacher.  It's rare to see Pete sitting at his desk, instead he is sitting with students, listening in on groups or conferring with individuals.  The relationships he builds in his classroom creates a positive climate where students are valued members and it promotes curiosity and learning.

Pete's brilliant idea of starting the year with having his students build go-karts; allowed kids to move freely around the classroom, gave them skills to work together, to problem solve and to feel like they were still on summer holiday! In the meantime, they were reading, writing "how-to" manuals, learning about simple machines, learning about measurement and the list goes on! They were motivated, felt safe to explore and learned the importance of collaboration. They were building relationships that would help them grow throughout the school year.

How do you promote positive relationships in your classroom? 
How do you create a positive classroom environment?
Please share!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's All About The....

...relationships we build in our classrooms!

It's important that teachers create an environment that fosters a sense of community, where all students feel included, appreciated and where their ideas are treated with respect.

One way to do that is to start the year with an amazing project/inquiry. In this grade 4/5 classroom students had the opportunity to build go-karts! This classroom turned into a workshop and let the students know that learning in this inquiry-based classroom would be different. Students responded immediately and couldn't wait to come to school everyday. Building go-karts helped to motivate and engage the students and it helped to build a community of learners, where they learned to listen to each other, collaborate, problem solve and become critical thinkers. 

Classroom workshop!
More pictures and stories to come!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dinosaur Exploration

This kindergarten class had a choice to make! Will they be learning about planets or dinosaurs?

The majority of the kindergarten students decided that they wanted to learn about Dinosaurs. The next step of learning for students was to build their background knowledge. What do they know? What questions do they have? 

Their teachers provided lots of books, showed pictures, showed video clips,  read informational texts, provided fun learning activities that included mapping skills and following directions. The students were able to discover and learn about the life cycle of dinosaurs!

Discovery Table

Follow directions
The students had to follow these dinosaur prints to find a dinosaur's nest and her eggs!
The Nest!
Once they found the eggs, the students had to take them to the water table to learn about melting ice and to discover what was inside the egg!

Melting Eggs

This kindergarten classroom was buzzing with excitement, interest and curiosity.

What has sparked your interest and curiosity lately?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

OESSTA Newsletter

Check out the newsletter for Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers' Association (OESSTA). The following was compiled by Byron Stevenson:

OESSTA News #8

Hello teachers , I have included a variety of materials that support the teaching of Social Studies History and Geography focusing on the 2013 Revised Curriculum. There are a variety of professional learning opportunities available to you that will enhance your practice.

We have also completed most of our projects related to the roll out. They are posted on our temporarily on our blog Do visit and see what we have created. In addition our new website will be ready shortly. The main feature of the website will be a forum to promote sharing and collaboration. Please share with your colleagues.

Professional Learning Opportunities
Please promote the conference within your district school board.

A) Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association Conference - OESSTA in conjunction with OAGEE will hold a conference at Ryerson University on October 17 & 18, 2014.

The conference will highlight teaching/learning approaches and resources related to the 2013 Revised SSHG curricuum document.

Registration has just opened:
Select the OESSTA section for registration. There are session relating to : inquiry, spatial technologies, using primary sources, teaching an African Canadian perspective , leading teachers with the revised curriculum, and working with the concepts of thinking.

B) Connecting with your colleagues across the province using twitter!

Teachers and administrators are invited to participate in the Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association (OESSTA) social media network to explore the New Revised SSHG on twitter @oessta1 using the hashtag #ontsshg for discussion. There will be a twitter chat on Thursday nights at 9:00-10:00 PM to discuss, share ideas and strategies. Hope you will follow!

Upcoming chats:  October 9/14 - Sharing effective practices for SSHG

(PLEASE CONSIDER facilitating (or co-facilitating) a #ontsshg Twitter chat on Thursday at 9pm - DM your email address to @Robitaille2011 - thank you)

C) Webinar - Heritage Minutes (register today) - Heritage Minutes, also known officially as Historica Minutes: History by the Minute, is a series of sixty-second short films, each illustrating an important moment in Canadian history.

Presented by Historica Canada in conjunction with The Ontario Elementary Social Studies Teachers Association (OESSTA) - October 8, 2014 3:45-4:30 - OPEN TO ALL

D) OTF Connects… small, frequent doses of valuable PD designed to fit your needs and your schedule

Registration opens -  October 7, 2014

The Ontario Teachers’ Federation cares about supporting your learning and is pleased to continue to offer OTF Connects. The OTF Connects program is online, ongoing support developed by teachers for teachers. A wide variety of session topics are available in the 2014-2015 calendar, including 21st Century Learning, Critical Thinking, Environmental Education, Financial Literacy and Violence Prevention.


1) What is Inquiry-Based Learning? (read this article about two OESSTA members)
“Inquiry-based teaching is an approach to instruction that begins with exploring curriculum content and providing a framework for the students to ask their own questions which builds interest and curiosity,” says Louise Robitaille, an elementary teacher in Midland.
Visit the inquiry website for more ideas at

2) The Thinking Teacher
The Thinking Teacher highlights ideas, strategies and resources for teachers and educational leaders who are working to support critical thinking in K-12 classrooms.

History? HERstory! Daily life of a pioneer woman - October is Women’s History Month. Invite students to determine what daily life was like for pioneer women at the turn of the 20thcentury using photographs, interviews and even a letter-to-the-editor. The set of History Docs,Daily life for pioneers 1890-1914, contains source documents, an image viewer, student tasks and teacher notes.

Targeted grades: Middle

View the History Doc

Find out more about the History Docs collection.

See more resources in The Thinking Teacher archives.