2018 Workshops

Morning Workshop Descriptions:


You are a Refugee: Social Justice Math Simulation 

Based on my experience sponsoring and settling a Syrian refugee family, this math investigation looks at the difficulties of trying to live in Ontario on social assistance or a minimum wage job. With a monthly budget, students scour newspapers looking for apartments to rent, and cost out a meal plan, childcare, and transportation. Participants will be given a copy of the investigation to take home. Participants will also participate in a short simulation to understand the difficulties faced by refugees (and what their students are likely to experience), and understand how math can be used to illuminate social justice issues, and lead to further inquiry in the classroom. The workshop will also discuss student experiences and reactions in Grade 5 and 6 classrooms. 
Presenter: Harriet Simand, The Bishop Strachan School 
Target Audience: Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers

Problem-Based Projects to Engage Marginalized Students 

Two problem-based projects will be highlighted. The projects were conducted in a Behavioural Intensive Support Program, Grade 3-5. In the first project, students conducted a letter-writing campaign to Evergreen Brickworks, its Board members and Funding sources. The class was excluded from field trips because it didn’t meet minimum size guidelines. This violated their Charter Rights. The students won the Canadian Civil Liberties Association memorial award for this Social Justice project. The second project was a visual art/literacy project advocating for improvements to the local bike path. Students learned about levels of government and created a drawing/photo journal and communicated with each of their local City Councillors. Their project was a catalyst for huge improvements and investments to the path including solar lighting, a new bridge and all new paving. It improved access for students coming to the school from an area of low-income housing. 
Presenter: Sarah Smart, TDSB Briarcrest Junior School 
Target Audience: Primary teachers, Junior teachers 

Model Schools for Inner Cities: Research and Practice

How can we be innovative in public education to help support the educational success and well-being of all children? This workshop will share findings and conditions of success of an innovative system initiative, called Model Schools for Inner Cities (MSIC), implemented at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the largest school board in Canada. Maria Yau (Research Coordinator in Research and Information Services, TDSB) and Dr. Sejal Patel (Associate Professor, Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University) will facilitate an interactive workshop focused on describing how the MSIC program works and what initial conditions and program features help contribute to sustainable improvements in educational success and well-being of children living in marginalized communities. Now serving over 56,000 children, the MSIC program was launched in 2006 to reduce inequities in students’ educational success and well-being by providing additional supports and school-based services for students in low sociodemographic neighbourhoods. Key features of the MSIC initiative include innovation in teaching/learning practice, additional support services to meet the social, emotional, and physical health and well-being of students, the school as the heart of the community, and a commitment to share successful practice. The workshop will highlight MSIC educator/administrator, parent and student perspectives on how this unique social justice focused educational initiative works to support children and families in marginalized communities.
Presenters: Maria Yau (TDSB) and Sejal Patel (Ryerson University)
Target Audience: Primary teachers, Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers

Disruptive Teaching: Investigating Gender and Identity 

Over a three-year study period, we examined the nature of gender and racial inequity with 150 grade 5 and 6 students, all of whom were drawn from an all girls’ urban school in Canada. This study coincided with school discussion regarding the creation of a policy document to support students who are taking steps either to affirm or transition a gender identity within our single-gender school. Through a vantage point as both teacher partners and co-inquirers, we worked alongside students to examine a wide range of issues and dilemmas from a socio-political standpoint. We asked our students to position themselves as ethical citizens, capable not only of demonstrating sensitivity towards marginalized groups in society, but also capable of affecting change in society through both political expression and social critique (Giroux, 2010). This presentation examines the ways in which 150 students took up or operationalized themes of human rights and justice in both the classroom and in their broader personal and social lives, through 1) researching a social justice topic that resonated with students’ own lives, and 2) developing an action plan designed to impact the local and/or broader community. We asked: How do societal expectations impact the everyday lives of girls and women? How can students affect change through political expression and social critique? In what ways can students influence key stakeholders and organizations in their community? How can ethical citizenship and human rights be effectively integrated into both school policy and classroom curricula? 
Presenters: Radhika Raj & Rachel Hughes, The Bishop Strachan School 
Target Audience: Primary teachers, Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers

Rooting in Responsibility: Taking up Indigenous content as Settler and non-Indigenous teachers 

Many educators who don’t identify as Indigenous feel a lack of confidence when teaching about Indigenous histories, ways of knowing, and current perspectives, and are not sure where to begin. Others are concerned about saying the wrong thing or continuing the cycle of damage that has been done by the education system to Indigenous communities and giving inaccurate and racist images to Canadian and newcomer students. This workshop will help to uncover your own implicit biases, dismantle stereotypes, and bring you into conversation with others around what is working in your school or classroom and roadblocks along the way. After a brief sharing from the facilitator, we will engage in the World Cafe format to enter into conversation with one another, and come together at the end to harvest the themes from our conversation. You will leave with concrete strategies and suggestions for how to find and select resources for use in classrooms at any grade level. 
Presenter: Dr. Angela Nardozi, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 
Target Audience: Primary teachers, Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers

Treaty Education through Student Inquiry 

How do we practice social justice teaching in a responsive way, recognizing students as critical thinkers? This hands-on workshop will be a reflection on an integrated, student-led inquiry on Indigenous history and treaty education by connecting classroom with community. In 2017, I facilitated a six-month project that began with a student's inquiry, followed by exploring students' ancestries, studies on treaties and Indigenous-settler history, culminating in a multi-media art installation featured at Images Festival. Participants will be provided with materials to create a family banner and a pair of felt shoes. 
Presenter: Emily Chan, ALPHA Alternative Jr. 
Target Audience: Junior teachers

Afternoon Workshop Descriptions:


Confronting Colonization through Education and Mass Solidarity Movements 

On May 7th, 2018, the Carmel-Indigenous Alliance (group of grade 10 students) held a mass rally in the city of Mississauga alongside a rally and political action of civil disobedience on Capitol Hill in Ottawa held by the Labrador Land Protectors. As an attempt end Nelcor's mega-dam project in Muskrat Falls in Labrador, students teamed up with Indigenous groups and organized a mass action to raise awareness and make a clear political demand: STOP GENOCIDE NOW! While the education system, Liberal government and mass media propagate notions of reconciliation, forgiveness and human rights, government-backed corporations are systematically instituting the next generation of assimilation and genocidal state practices. This workshop entails critical and interactive content designed to build/share insights geared towards decolonization in the settler state of Canada. If you are interested in inspiring students to take a stance on controversial issues such as colonization and build alliances with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities at large, this workshop will be of informative and inspiring. 
Presenter: Jozef Konyari, Mount Carmel Secondary School 
Target Audience: Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers 

Emergent Inquiry with a Social Justice Lens - Stories from Grade 5 & 6 Independent School Classroom 

Working with a pedagogy rooted in the power of children and their ideas, emergent curriculum and student voice is paramount in our institution. We will share two inquiry projects that emerged during the 2017 and 2018 school year, one called ‘Understanding the Gender Spectrum: Engaging with LGBTQ+ issues and rights while developing a community activist action plan’ and the other looking at “Race, Rights and Student Voice: A critical look at March for Our Lives and the Civil Rights Movement, and the annual BSS Girls March”. Through these projects, we will talk about the essential components of a social justice lensed inquiry. Introducing how to tie your investigation into curricular big ideas, how to engage student voice, how to overcome misconceptions, all with an inquiry-based approach. We will work with participants on how to create a space for difficult conversations, how to provoke critical thinking and engage student voice. A lot of our work focused on unpacking privilege in our community and institution and navigating a world with stereotypes and preconceived notions imposed on them socially. We will have an interactive portion where we discuss challenges we faced from the community with these projects and how to deepen the learning. We will also create resource lists and potential provocations for participants to take back to their classrooms and use. 
Presenters: Bart van Veghel and Radhika Raj, The Bishop Strachan School
Target Audience: Junior teachers 

The Story Behind The Statistics: The Gender Wage Gap
In this workshop, we will take participants through the thinking routines of our Grade 8 class as they explored the stories behind the statistics of the gender wage gap. Students worked to develop informed opinions on this topic by analyzing real wage data from Stats Canada, reviewing research and work done by professionals in the field, hearing stories from women in the workplace, and designing solutions to these complex social problems. Workshop participants will experience a modified version of this project, including hands-on design thinking protocols. Our intention is to provide participants with concrete strategies and ideas to bring this work to their classroom and explore how to use story and statistics to unpack controversial social issues through a cross-curricular lens. 
Presenter: Andrew Ruston, The Bishop Strachan School 
Target Audience: Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers 

Creating a Culture of Equity and Accessibility for Teachers and Learners: Lived Experiences and a Professional Perspective 

Chelsea brings experiences as a blind student who has negotiated both specialized and integrated settings from preschool to high school before attending two post-secondary institutions. She currently teaches adaptive technology to adults with vision loss. School presents unique challenges for students with disabilities and, by extension, for those who teach them. Teachers’ misconceptions, inexperience and discriminatory attitudes about students with disabilities persist. Students consequently may not have equitable access to what is offered. Additional challenges may result when students have to navigate disclosure of their disability or take responsibility for advocacy around inclusive teaching and accommodation. These struggles are often compounded by the stresses of being a trailblazer in the school or program. 
Presenter: Chelsea E. Mohler, Disability Community Activist
Target Audience: Senior teachers 

Shifting Rape Culture to Consent Culture - Action in the Classroom and Beyond 

This workshop will be interactive and full of activities and conversation. We will look at these questions:

  • How do we address the systemic issues that lead to sexual assault and rape?
  • How can we work within our classrooms and school communities to shift a culture that excuses sexual assault to a culture of consent?
  • How do we make Consent education relevant to experiences student have in real life including their intersecting identities, their peer-groups, and when power, intoxication and entitlement are at play?
  • How can conversation around consent and healthy relationships connect with other social justice topics in the classroom and school? 

Presenter: Kaleigh McGregor-Bales. Bad Subject 
Target Audience: Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers 

Understanding Social Identity and Building Community through an Artistic Lens

Understanding one’s social identity is a complex process. To understand this process, we must reflect on how we characterize ourselves, how we relate to others in our environment and how we behave in social settings. Examining how we value ourselves and what we value in ourselves and in our world, is vital. Do we challenge or blindly accept societal norms and rules? Ultimately, understanding social identity affects the way we behave and respond to the world around us.
Presenters: Nidhi Menon & Sophie Bell, Ryerson University 
Target Audience: Primary teachers, Junior teachers, Intermediate teachers, Senior teachers