Finding a better way

Innovation in the classroom is changing the way our students are learning

By Elwin LeRoux


[dropcap]I[/dropcap]nnovation is often what we see in response to a question that begins with “I wonder what…?” 

It’s about stretching our minds and stepping outside of tradition in order to discover something new and promising! Innovation is the path forward when our current strategies have not yet resulted in success for all of our students. It could be an approach, a strategy, a tool, or a resource. 

Innovation is not necessarily technology, albeit most technology is founded on an innovation or a new way to solve a problem. Innovation is not simply about replacing a paper novel with a digital one. It’s wondering what a digital novel allows students to do that a paper one does not.

Innovation is happening throughout the Halifax Regional School Board. And it doesn’t necessarily happen by accident. Innovative instructional strategies are intentionally and thoughtfully designed to achieve greater success for students. 

Teachers who use innovative strategies clarify the challenge they are trying to solve, search for all the modern resources they can bring to the learning, and explore questions such as, “I wonder what would happen if…?” Innovation is how we take learning, and teaching, to new levels in order to achieve greater results. It’s about imagination.

There are countless examples of how teachers are using innovative strategies to engage students in their learning. No two strategies are alike, but they all consider interesting approaches that are connected to the real world and make learning fun! 

At Michael Wallace Elementary, many students in Grades 4, 5, and 6 are choosing to spend their lunch breaks inside the old portable classroom turned Makerspace. Every lunch hour, you can find kids imagining, creating, coding, building, problem solving, collaborating, connecting circuits, and even making pigs fly! Most importantly, they’re learning while innovating by simply having fun dabbling in engineering, programming, and physics. See for yourself: 

Green Screens, Ozobots, and Osmo
Technology is an integral, engaging, and extremely fun part of Erica Phillips’ Grade 3/4 classroom at John W. McLeod-Fleming Tower School. See how students use green screens, Ozobots, and Osmo to innovate, create, and enhance their learning: 

iPad Kiosks
This started as a project to encourage students at Basinview Drive Community School to develop a deeper love for reading. Grade 2 teacher Sheila McMullen came up with an idea to have students create book reviews on video using iPads. The reviews are available to the entire school to access on a set of iPad kiosks in the library. Not only has the project engaged Ms. McMullen’s students in reading, writing, and technical skills, it has also allowed for students in the school whose first language is not English to access books in their mother tongue, thanks to family and community member involvement. Learn more:

Assistive Technology
Every student comes to us with different strengths and challenges. It’s up to us to find ways to ensure we are providing a high quality education for every one of those students, every single day. Assistive technology is one of the tools our Student Services team uses to provide the right learning opportunities for students with special needs. Discovering what it might look like takes innovation and collaboration with a student’s family, his or her health teams, and our partners. 

Here’s an example of an innovative use of technology that is allowing T’onia, a Grade 2 student at George Bissett Elementary School, to engage in the curriculum and interact with her peers in ways she couldn’t otherwise: 

Thomas Edison once said, “There’s a better way to do it. Find it.” At the Halifax Regional School Board, we are committed to finding the best ways to ensure we are providing a high quality education to every student, every day.   

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