Share this page 

Professional Practice

Illustration: Mason London/Central Illustration

An illustration of a person standing in the front of a class, speaking about a poster of a dog wearing spectacles with the text 'Pavlov? It rings a bell.'

As a high school chemistry teacher, I look for ways to draw my students into each lesson. I start every class the same way - with a meme! As students walk in, they see this image of a funny (sometimes silly) science pun that I've projected on the board, related to the day's topic. I essentially capture their interest with something guaranteed to get a reaction due to its already popular online presence. After doing a quick search online for subject- or unit-specific memes, I then import the visuals into my favourite presentation software, which makes them easy to project, update and store for the next semester. In fact, I've had students from the previous semester walk by my classroom and ask to see which meme I have up on a particular day. If it's one they've seen, they'll tell me if they remember it and let me know how good (or silly) it was. I never anticipated how this one simple idea would intrigue students (past and present) and help me build strong relationships with each.

Mariam Alkabeer, OCT
York Region District School Board

Have a classroom idea to share?
Send it to us at and your advice could be published in an upcoming issue! Check out our Professional Practice Research archive.

Games for Change

By Stefan Dubowski

We know students love playing video games, so why not harness that digital interest to help them learn? Check out It offers what the site's creators call "impact games," which focus on climate change, human migration and other serious matters, as well as core subjects like science, history and geography.

The site relies on teams of teachers and students to recommend only high-quality games. The teachers do an initial selection, then create student activities that they tie into the Ontario curriculum, says site creator and University of Toronto Schools geography teacher Michael Farley, OCT. Once the students test them out and provide feedback, the teachers refine the activities incorporating student input. At this point, they're good to go up on the site - and ready for you to try with your class.

Browse the Games & Activities section and you'll find links with helpful information such as recommended age range, device and platform compatibility, as well as activities to complement the games.

Get your gamers going with these titles: Against All Odds introduces high school students to the dangers and complexity of the refugee experience. Guts and Bolts helps 10- to 15-yearolds understand the links between our body's circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. Walden, a game puts students aged 10+ in the shoes of philosopher/naturalist Henry David Thoreau to explore and learn from nature.

Farley says that "well-designed impact games combined with thoughtful activities have the ability to increase knowledge and change attitudes and behaviours. Students come out with a much richer understanding of complex issues."