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Professional Practice

Illustration: Sara Mulvanny/Agency Rush

An illustrated image of board games, card games and brain teasers.

When I was an occasional teacher for math and science, I came to class prepared for anything. One trick that never failed was packing a collection of puzzles and brain teasers for a variety of learning styles and ability levels. These handy resources fostered valuable mental activity for those times when a lesson plan was not available, or when I’d completed a lesson early. Plus, they allowed me to teach problem-solving skills along the way! Tactile games are always fantastic for keeping students engaged and well-behaved.

—Irina Ivanova,
OCT Toronto District School Board

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Ask an Expert

By Stefan Dubowski

Explore the world without leaving your classroom. Take an electronic trip to the Digital Human Library (dHL) and browse the hundreds of “meBook” experts who are just waiting to discuss curriculum-based concepts within their area of specialization.

Like your local library, you register first; then access is free of charge. The experts you’ll come across include published authors, historians, astronomers, even clean-energy specialists. Collaborate with these human encyclopedias to create activities, lessons or presentations to share with your students via your videoconferencing technology of choice (for instance, Skype, Google + Hangouts, FieldTripZoom). The Royal Botanical Gardens, the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, as well as the Art Gallery of Ontario are among the participating institutions — many of which provide content in both English and French.

Never done a video chat? dHL offers tools to help you through the process. Visit the Teachers tab on for advice on how to choose an appropriate expert, what technology you’ll need to get started and how to ensure that your overall experience is a smooth one. If you’re ready to crack the spine on this high-tech adventure, select the Resources tab on the site’s homepage to take your students on pre-recorded multimedia tours of cities, museums and natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef.

dHL is the work of Leigh Cassell, OCT, a Grade 1/2 teacher at Stephen Central Public School in Dashwood, Ont., and the technology coach for the Avon Maitland District School Board. Tired of having to tell her students that they wouldn’t have the same field-trip opportunities as those in less remote areas, Cassell developed the site as a solution. But it’s not just practical for students in rural areas; it provides essential instruction for any next-generation classroom.