Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON  M4W 3M5; e-mail:



There is an error in High Expectations: The Challenge of the Modern Multigrade Classroom (March 2002). My colleague, Angèle Fradette, and myself are cited as the leaders of the project on multigrade classrooms.

In fact, the Action Plan for Combined Grades is a four-project Ministry of Education initiative. The manager of Project 1 (a four-phase project) is Constance Legentil of Conseil scolaire de district des écoles catholiques du Sud-Ouest, who shares the project co-ordination with Danièle Lemieux of Conseil scolaire du district du Grand Nord de l’Ontario. Danièle is the sole co-ordinator of Phase 4.

Angèle Fradette and I are responsible for Phase 1, a survey of the research into multigrade classrooms, which was published last year. This year, I am working on Phase 4, the tools segment, which will be released this year; I am responsible for the best practices guide.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that the initiatives described in the article on multigrade classrooms are designed for anglophone teachers, and there are other francophone initiatives as well. I am sure that francophone teachers would be interested in knowing what is being done for them.

Diane Lataille-Démoré
Diane Lataille-Démoré is a professor in the École des sciences de l’éducation at Laurentian University.


Thank you for the Portfolios Promote Professional Growth item in the March Professionally Speaking.

An AQ course I took a number of years ago included a session on portfolios, and at the time I felt portfolios were a tool with huge potential. On that occasion though, the samples demonstrated were out-of-control grab bags containing one of everything. Clearly the concept has evolved; Professor Berrill’s emphasis on reflecting has confirmed my first impression. I like the one-inch binder and maximum size instructions for her BEd students - and inherent message ... keep reflecting, keep culling, keep current!

I loved the comment from the young’n after her first teaching interview: "I was more proud of who I am." Professional pride - now there’s a concept which has taken a beating recently. Similarly, "... teacher candidates enter with leadership and service experience ..." And what better way to capitalize on those experiences?

It is so unfortunate that the concept of ongoing teacher AQ and updating responsibilities was introduced amid the sledgehammer/ant rhetoric of the past few years. Imagine how refreshing an AQ portfolio course could be for mid-career teachers. Just think what reflecting on their respective "leadership and service experiences" would do for personal growth and confidence - never mind professional competencies!

Mollie Cartmell
Mollie Cartmell is a retired English teacher.


I read with interest your article on the challenge of split grades in Ontario schools. While it presented a balanced look at the issue, it was unfortunate that you chose to use the example of Charles Dickens School in Vancouver when a similar and highly successful school organization exists in Scarborough.

Silver Springs Public School has had a Grade Team organization of all combined-grade JK/SK, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8 classes in a school of about 600 students for the past five years, in a community that is 80 per cent ESL. The students stay with their teachers for two years (with occasional exceptions) and the curriculum is managed through a literacy focus with the identification of expectations common to both grades, the regrouping of students for math, and the achievement of all content unit expectations for the two grades from social studies, science, the arts, etc. over a two-year period.

As the school’s principal for the four years prior to 2001-2002, I saw how the combined grade approach benefited students and created the opportunity for teams of teachers teaching the same grades to collaborate and to share resources and ideas.

The notion of trying to teach parallel curricula in one classroom IS ridiculous, especially with the number of expectations involved. However, there are other approaches that work well and that some believe are even better than straight grades.

Reni Barlow
Reni Barlow is a Toronto District School Board principal, currently on four over five leave.

Our apologies to David Arthur for an editing error that turned "outdoor education is the experiential component of environmental education ..." into the experimental component (Letters, December 2001).

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