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Professional Practice


Illustration of student looking at letters through magnifying glass.

As someone whose second language is English and whose third language is French – and who teaches in a French-language school board – I've spent a lot of time reflecting on how language is learned and how we expand our vocabularies.

Last December, I created a personal dictionary and my students use it every day to jot down new words they heard at school or at home. Once they'd recorded them and understood their meanings, I encouraged them to make an effort to include those words in their everyday lives. I also encouraged my co-workers to use the personal dictionary approach in their classrooms, too. Consistency of the activity across many subjects makes it more likely that students will participate, stay interested and keep learning. As a language teacher, I think this is an effective way to encourage students to expand their vocabularies, and one they can continue using their whole lives.

Francesca Martínez Hernando, OCT, teaches Grades 7 and 8 with Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est.

Virtual Art Classes

by Stefan Dubowski

If you're looking for remote-friendly art education options, the province's biggest galleries have plenty to offer.

For starters, there's Ottawa's Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (National Gallery of Canada). The museum has curated a deep well of resources for teachers, spanning an array of activities and interests.

Distance Learning programs let classrooms connect for grade-specific lessons. The live webinars encourage students to discuss a range of artworks while exploring curriculum-based themes.

Click on "Resources for Teachers" and you'll find a growing list of on-demand videos on such topics as Lawren S. Harris's Snow II or a tour of the collection's most famous works. There are also downloadable activity guides for photography, crafts and colouring.

At the Art Gallery of Ontario's site, teachers can have their classrooms attend free live conversations with art educators, running every Monday to Friday via Zoom.

Go to and search for "virtual school programs" to see the full slate of classes. For example, Art and the Senses ("… about how our brain processes the world around us," the site explains) ties in with the kindergarten program, as well as science, language, health and physical education, and of course the arts. Indigenous Art and Artists speaks to social studies, history, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies. The gallery offers three versions of each conversation daily: one for students in JK to Grade 3, one for Grades 4 to 8, and another for Grades 9 to 12. Most are in English but there are also French sessions about once a month for each grade range.