Jump to Main Content
Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto Home| OISE| U of T| Portal| Site Map | Contact Us
INSPIRING EDUCATION | oise.utoronto.ca
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto
Go to selected destination

Blogging with Doctor Bev and the Robertson Team


Image of a green line

June 10, 2016

High quality mathematics + Indigenous educational leadership =
First Nation student success!

A Forum celebrating The Math for Young Children - North West
Gaa-maamawi-asigagindaasoyang Collective 

Group at June 1 Forum

On June 1, the Robertson Program hosted a public forum highlighting the role of Indigenous educational leadership in improving the understanding of teaching and learning of mathematics. The event was a collaboration with the Indigenous Education Network, the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, the Indigenous Education Initiative, Rainy River District School Board, and Seven Generations Education Institute, as part of OISE’s deep commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Forum Summary Celebration Page

Held at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, the forum brought together Elders, community members, researchers, educators, and policy makers from across Northwestern and Southern Ontario. It was an opportunity to hear how members of the Gaa-maamawi-asigagindaasoyang Collective explored how to teach and learn quality mathematics in a more inclusive, accessible, playful, culturally responsive and engaging mannerGaa-maamawi-asigagindaasoyang is an Ojibwe word created by RRDSB Ojibwe language teacher Jason Jones that means, "Gathering to do and learn mathematics together." Throughout the forum, the team demonstrated the importance of respectful and reciprocal partner relationships in advancing student success. 

- Bev and the Robertson Team

Image of a green line

May 30, 2016

Science Educators from OISE Participate in Environmental Inquiry with Curve Lake First Nation!

Robertson team on the first day of the MA math class Carol Stephenson leads a group learning about Venn Diagrams Robertson team on the first day of the MA math class
Curve Lake environmental inquiry handout

A note from Arika Fleguel, Student Success Coordinator, Curve Lake First Nation

“A Day at Henry’s”

A visit by our partners from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education which included educators from the Robertson Program for Inquiry-based Teaching in Mathematics and Science, Natural Curiosity and the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study led each classroom to the boardwalk at the marshlands of Henry’s Gaming.  Students were asked to observe everything in the area and charcoal sketch anything they saw that sparked their interest and wonder.  It was amazing to see the marshlands through the children’s eyes and the questions they had were amazing—such as noticing the pollution on the surface and theories about where do the rising bubbles come from.

Following the tour, everyone gathered on the grassy shore to share what they had produced.  Classroom teachers spent some time over the remainder of the year, looking at ways to explore the topics and ideas from this experience within their classrooms. We are looking forward to continuing this journey in the fall with plans for linking our students with the students from Jackman ICS, perhaps through Skype, letters, videos and visits!

Thanks again for taking time to contribute!



Miigwech to the teachers and children of Curve Lake First Nation School for sharing a beautiful day of learning with our team on May 24! We were so inspired by the children and their excitement, engagement, pride, knowledge and respect for this very special marshland. We were impressed by the way the children seamlessly incorporated Anishnaabe language and Indigenous ways of knowing in their study of the plants and animals of the marshland. Hats off to the teachers for providing such a rich learning environment for the children in Curve Lake First Nation School!

Spending the day with this amazing group of children and teachers made it possible for us to see how land-based pedagogy and inquiry-based learning can bring school science to life.

The school is a model of what is possible when students are given a strong foundation in cultural understandings, content knowledge and respectful teaching practices.

We can’t wait to continue our learning journey with the teachers and students of Curve Lake First Nation!

- Bev and the Robertson team

Carol Stephenson leads a group learning about Venn Diagrams Carol Stephenson demonstrates the many uses of Cuisenaire rods Carol Stephenson demonstrates the many uses of Cuisenaire rods

A note from Carol Stephenson, JICS Kindergarten teacher

The Robertson team had a fabulous time being escorted to Henry's beautiful wetland, just a short walk from the school. To have such a treasure on your doorstep is a gift worth exploring, as the children’s interest and excitement showed. Their eager questions and thoughtful observations started great conversations that we look forward to hearing more about. Many thanks to the children of Curve Lake for sharing!

- Carol


Image of a green line

May 17, 2016

Robertson visits Alderville First Nation and the Black Oak Savanna

On May 3, a team of educators from the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, along with science educators from OISE’s Robertson Program, the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study and Natural Curiosity, gathered on Alderville First Nation’s Black Oak Savanna as part of their ongoing collaborative inquiry work in land-based teaching and learning.

Black Oak Savanna summary pageOur focus was on how to incorporate the rich history and ecology of Alderville’s Black Oak Savanna - Canada’s easternmost prairie and home to a variety of rare, threatened or endangered birds, mammals, insects, and plants – to inspire land-based pedagogy and inquiry-based learning in schools serving local First Nation communities.

The morning began with a tour of the land led by the knowledgeable and passionate biologist, artist and ecologist Rick Beaver. He shared the history of the people of this land and identified plant species, many of which are rare, threatened or endangered, as well as their traditional uses in medicine and their importance in supporting relationships with other species including birds, insects, and mammals. We were inspired and learned so much from Rick’s exemplary teaching and his passion, expertise, and respect for the land. Also joining the Robertson/JICS/Natural Curiosity team was an educator from Paraguay who was very surprised and delighted when Rick Beaver began speaking to her in Spanish!

In the afternoon, teachers from North Shore and Roseneath Public Schools shared the creative inquiry work they have been doing throughout the year in their classrooms since our last professional development session together. Teachers showed commitment and a true dedication to bringing the principles of inquiry to life through their work with their students.

Then it was planning time! Each group of teachers began to plan inquiry activities to support their upcoming visits to the Savanna with their own classrooms.  Rick Beaver reminded the teachers to “follow the children’s lead” while on the land. He urged us to observe what the children were observing, to follow children’s questions, and to support their inquiring minds.. 

- Bev and the Robertson Team

Image of a green line

May 6, 2016

Liz Osamawick shares her Water Song with the Robertson Program

We had the great pleasure to spend time with Liz Osawamick during our visit to Alderville First Nation’s Black Oak Savannah. Lizshared this song to honour Nibi, the sacred water, for its precious gift of life. Liz spoke about women as lifegivers, so how fitting that this song  is being sung on Mother’s Day  at Trent University’s Seventh Annual Water Awareness Walk on May 8

Migwetch Liz for your generosity in sharing this gift of song. 

Click here to learn more about the event.

Image of a green line

May 5, 2016

Zack Hawes presents at OAME 2016

Zack Hawes and Cathy Bruce present at OAME 2016

As the kickoff to this year’s OAME conference (Ontario Association for Mathematics Education), Zack Hawes (Research Officer, OISE's Robertson Program) and  Dr. Cathy Bruce presented to OMCA (Ontario Mathematics Coordinators Association). This also marked the official unveiling (unwrapping) of Taking Shape (Moss, Bruce, Caswell, Flynn, and Hawes). Members of OMCA were provided with copies of the book and spent the afternoon discussing spatial reasoning and excitedly trying some of the activities first hand.  A favourite activity amongst the group involved a series of paper folding challenges. For example, see the Twitter caption immediately above. Try it yourself! Members left the meeting with book in hand and an eagerness to try out the activities with young children.

OMCA members support the effective teaching and learning of mathematics in K-12 classrooms across Ontario. Members are coordinators and consultants at public and Catholic school boards and work closely with the Ontario Association of Math Educators (OAME)Ministry of Education, Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and the Fields Institute.

For more information, visit www.omca.ca

-Zack Hawes and The Robertson Program

Image of a green lineMarch 14, 2016

It's Rounded Pi Day!

Pi Day Countdown

March 14 – or 3/14 – is celebrated each year as Pi Day. Today, the annual celebration is especially significant – it's the “Rounded Pi Day."

Click here to read why today is Rounded Pi Day


- Bev and the Robertson Team

Image of a green line
February 24, 2016

Professor creates course to promote women's spatial reasoning skills

Some of Sheryl Sorby’s female students, who otherwise excelled in math and science, struggled in her beginner engineering classes – and subsequently chose to switch majors.

"They assumed they didn’t have what it took to be an engineer," the Michigan Technological University engineering professor told KQED News, "when the real issue was a weakness in spatial skills."

Research has shown women generally score lower than men on tests of spatial reasoning — particularly in measures of spatial visualization and mental rotation. But Sorby says she’s not necessarily interested in why the gap exists because training and practice can close it.

So, Sorby developed a 15-hour spatial visualization introduction class for her incoming students. It teaches students how to sketch figures from multiple perspectives, look at cross-sections of objects and create 3D objects through paper folding.

Students in the class improved their spatial skills, and their grades in all STEM classes improved. They were also more likely to graduate with an engineering degree.

Here at the Robertson Program, we are excited to be working with educators to develop activities that strengthen students’ spatial reasoning and geometric thinking skills, leading to increased interest and skill in STEM careers.

You can read Sorby’s research here to find out more about practical methods for improving 3D spatial skills, especially for women engineering students.

- The Robertson Team

Image of a green line

January 27, 2016

Quick Math Lessons scrambled egg math

First year students in the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education Program here at JICS (OISE, University of Toronto) developed quick math lessons as part of the Introduction to Curriculum: Mathematics course taught by Dr. Bev Caswell and JICS teachers Carol Stephenson, Zoe Donoahue, Lisa Sherman, and Ben Peebles. These quick lessons are 20 minutes or less and develop student understanding of many math concepts. Lessons include a clear description of the activity, Ontario curriculum expectations, and ideas about how the lesson can be adapted to extend student thinking and how you can assess for student comprehension. 
The very first lesson we are sharing, Scrambled Egg Math, is written by Bonita Lau. This lesson sees students problem solve through addition and subtraction of
single-digit whole numbers using a variety of mental strategies. Children shake an egg carton so game tokens land on two numbers. They then roll dice to determine whether to perform addition or subtraction, create an equation, and solve it. Click here to for the full lesson plan
We will be uploading more quick lessons in the weeks to come so keep checking back! We encourage you to look at our entire database of math lessons - it's a great resource for educators hunting for fresh, new lesson ideas.
-Zach and the Robertson Team

Image of a green line

January 22, 2016

Inquiry-based learning with Curve Lake First Nation educators

Curve Lake and JICS team with Natural Curiosity

The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study’s Robertson Program and Natural Curiosity is collaborating with the dynamic team of educators at Curve Lake First Nation School to create inquiry-based learning opportunities for K-3 children.

A huge thank you to Aricka Fleguel, Curve Lake’s Student Success Coordinator, for developing this partnership and organizing the day! The professional development experience included an overview of Natural Curiosity by Richard Messina (JICS Lab School Principal), a look at what inquiry-based learning looks like in a Kindergarten classroom with Carol Stephenson (JICS Kindergarten teacher), a chance for educators to read a case study and work together to “map” an inquiry with Haley Higdon (Natural Curiosity Lead). We then spent time together brainstorming ideas to begin inquiry in the classrooms. We appreciate the opportunity to spend the day learning with such dedicated educators!

- Bev and The Robertson Team

Photo from left to right, back row: Tammy (Grade 1/2 teacher, Dawn (Special Education teacher), Aricka (Student Success Coordinator), Katy ( Student Success Facilitator), Bev (Robertson Program), Holly (Ojibwe Language teacher), Kayla (Grade 3 teacher), Shannon (Grade 3 teacher).

Front row: Helena (Principal, Curve Lake FN School), Carol (Kindergarten teacher, JICS), Haley (Natural Curiosity), Matt (Kindergarten teacher, Curve Lake FN), Richard (Principal, JICS).

Image of a green line

January 20, 2016

Wab Kinew Challenges Students "to Craft" Reconciliation

wab kinew's challenge
 Photo from of a shrine to Reconciliation taken from Wab Kinew's facebook page.

Students engaging in dialogue about reconciliation!

Wab Kinew, musician, public speaker,broadcaster and university administrator, originally from Onigaming First Nation, has issued a challenge to students to discuss reconciliation in a creative way. The challenge invites First Nation and non-First Nation classrooms to talk and learn from one another about what reconciliation is and what it might look like. Kinew’s challenge is to use the popular building game Minecraft or another creative way to illustrate student understanding.                          

Learn more about this challenge on Wab Kinew’s facebook page.

Listen to what one teacher is doing to embrace this challenge in her classroom in this CBC news story.

- Larisa and The Robertson Team

Image of a green line

Click here for more from our blog

OISEcms v.1.0 | Site last updated: Monday, June 27, 2016 Disclaimer

© OISE University of Toronto
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1V6 CANADA