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Professional Practice

Illustration: Jeannie Phan

An illustrated image of a crossword puzzle

Reinforce your students’ nonfiction reading skills with customized crossword puzzles. To solve your clues, they must take note of textbook captions, sidebars, glossaries and graphics, as well as the value of reading subheads and skimming text for information — all of which will improve their spelling, vocabulary and attention to detail. Crossword-generating software allows you to create puzzles tailored to your objectives and the needs of your group. These engaging devices transform a series of questions into a challenge that your students won’t want to put down until they’re done. They’re also a great way to review for a test, plus they’re self-marking!

Jan Hendry, OCT
Retired elementary teacher
Rainbow District School Board

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Idea Box

By Stefan Dubowski

Tired of endless web searches for Ontario curriculum-related resources? Time to think inside the box. Cube for Teachers ( provides free apps and other digital tools recommended by Ontario teachers.

The database has more than 33,000 links to lessons and other educational resources — for instance, posters, songs, videos and games — all searchable by grade, subject, strand and expectation. The site features teacher-approved technology, such as drawing tools, as well as non-curricular topics like classroom management, bullying and organizing special events. Also included in the mix are some 500 French-language materials.

Cube updates content regularly, thanks to its active teacher-users. (Only individuals who have Ontario faculty or board of education email addresses are allowed access.) Co-founder Susan Kwiecien, OCT, says her team is constantly adding new features, too. A private-group function was recently introduced where teachers can exchange their top tech resources on a specific topic. For instance, English department heads who are looking for tools to recommend to their staff use Cube, as can ECEs who want to discuss the latest research in their field.

Consider Cube your favourites list on steroids — a one-stop Internet shop for sourcing electronic materials designed with you in mind. As Kwiecien says, “It’s a place that provides teachers with a voice and a choice, the autonomy to share web resources relevant to their needs.”