Once a month the PHE Canada Research Council selects one of its members to profile as Researcher of the Month. Whether it’s a university level teacher, academic, or graduate student, whoever is advancing research centered on topics and issues in physical and health education the Council wants to highlight. Do you know a PHE Canada Research Council member who’s professional ideals & service strengthens the physical and health education sector? Whose research & writing drives change forward? Who’s commitment and dedication to the field?
Congratulations to Dr. Joanne Weber, recipient of the Spring 2019 Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement by a graduate student. Weber is receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a grade point average of 89.83 per cent. Weber completed her course work, project, and dissertation within four and a half years while also working full-time for the Regina Public School Board as the only deaf teacher of deaf students in the province. Supervised by Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, Dr. Weber’s PhD dissertation is titled, “Becoming Deaf in the Posthuman Era: Posthumanism, Arts-based Research.” Her defense was so outstanding that she was offered a position with an international research consortium housed at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Nick Forsberg, Professor of Health, Outdoor, Physical Education (HOPE), was the inaugural recipient of the Jack MacKenzie Career Service award, which was presented at the Saskatchewan Physical Education Association 2019 Conference,”Celebrating Diversity,” held May 9 and 10, 2019.
Saskatchewan Physical Education Association Conference is committed to supporting teachers of Physical Education throughout the province in their implementation of the curriculum. Celebrating Diversity will be structured for our delegates to engage in sessions that will help them meet the ever-changing, diverse needs of their students in physical education.
An honour to recognize Nick Forsberg as the inaugural recipient of the Jack MacKenzie Career Service Award winner at SPEA 2019. pic.twitter.com/cKlgGSq3Jn
— SPEA (@SPEAonline) May 10, 2019
Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education co-edited by Marc Spooner and James McNinch won the award for Publishing in Education at the Saskatchewan Book Awards April 27, 2019
Researcher of the Month
Dr. Alexandra Stoddart is an Assistant Professor in the Health, Outdoor and Physical Education (HOPE) subject area in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. Before joining the U of R as a faculty member in January 2018, she completed her Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan. Alexandra currently teaches HOPE undergraduate courses in both the Elementary and Secondary programs. She enjoys the opportunity to see her students learn, grow, and thrive as they engage in their pre-internship and internship experiences.
(Source: https://phecanada.ca/connecting/research-council/researcher-month )
Congratulations to Marc Spooner and James McNinch, co-editors of Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, which has been shortlisted for the 2019 Saskatchewan Book Awards, SaskBooks Publishing in Education Award, University of Regina Press. https://
“I don’t teach in a box, and I want students to take risks, too. I want my kids to become healthy risk takers.”
How does one go from a struggling student in math and sciences to an award winning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) teacher? For Carla Cooper it took finding her way past failures and obstacles and learning to teach outside of the box.
In May, Carla Cooper (BEd ’08), a teacher at Lumsden High School and graduate student doing her Master’s in Education at the University of Regina, was informed that she was a recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM.
Cooper, who grew up in Moose Jaw, went back to school for a semester after graduating from high school to improve her marks. “I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences but I struggled in the sciences and math, quite badly. Fifties weren’t going to be good enough for me, so I spent a semester at Vanier, thinking a change might help. It was a huge help.” The change, or possibly a new maturity, Carla speculates, gave her success at Vanier, and from there, she went to Red Deer College to become a geneticist. However, life got in the way and before she finished, Cooper left college, moved home, got married, and began her family.
Not long after, Carla started in a new career direction: She had always been drawn to teaching. “I was that kid who had a chalkboard in my bedroom. I was always pretending, playing school. I love being in school: the atmosphere, being around the staff and students, the smell of the school; it’s weird. I love the sounds, the feel, the buzz.” Cooper was working as an Educational Assistant when Dr. Sandy Kitz observed her teaching math. Carla says, “Afterwards she pulled me into her office. I thought I was in a lot of trouble, but Dr. Kitz said, ‘What are you doing here? You need to go back to school. You need to spread your wings and fly.’ That was the push,” says Cooper. The next step in 2001, was to enroll part-time in Science, while waiting for admission to the Faculty Education at the University of Regina. Cooper took the required sciences for the Science Education program and in 2004, she was accepted to the Education program, in which she chose a double major in biology and chemistry, and moved to full-time studies.
By that time she was a busy single mom, and her memorable moment is not a very positive one: “It was the first year I was accepted into the Faculty of Education, and my first time back at University on a daily basis, and I got my first Biology mark back…it was horrible. I had really high expectations of myself but I realized that just because you’re mature, doesn’t mean you are going to succeed.” But Cooper pushed past this initial failure. From there, she says, “I improved and improved and improved and I figured out how to be a mom and a student.”
Recalling this experience led Cooper to a more positive story of her undergrad experience in her third year, when she found the science ed group “very accommodating.” At the time, Carla was feeling concerned because her youngest son was at home recovering from surgery, and a big project presentation was due. Her instructor, John MacDonald, had said, “Just bring him in.” Carla recalled, “My son just had his appendix out, but he said ‘bring him in’ and so I brought him in, and John had a lab set up with a whole bunch of laser activities for my son to do. John kept an eye on him while I did my presentation. Nobody in my class thought ‘there she is bringing her kid in.’ It was the opposite…I was celebrated for going back to school.”
Learning from both of Cooper’s memorable experiences can be seen in her current teaching philosophy. Cooper says, “I’ve had students coming back to school with babies; it’s just, like, babies cry…” So Carla recalls that on one lecture day, she told the student mother to let her hold the baby, and she says, “I just rocked that baby and taught and said, ‘no mom, you do your thing. Let me just hold him.'” Her role model, she says, is John MacDonald. “He is number one! I want to be John,” says Carla. What makes John special is, Carla says, is “his excitement, and his belief that you can do this. If you can’t figure it out this way, let’s find another way. He is so accepting of everybody,” says Cooper. “I can call him up for anything…I never want to lose the connection.”
Since her time as an undergrad student, Carla has had many other experiences that have contributed to her success as a teacher. Working for a time as Acting Vice Principal, gave Carla the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the administrative side of education. Though she likes to teach, as she says, “outside of the box,” she also respects the administrative process. “Having admin experience has made me a better teacher. I understand the Division’s vision. I try to keep up on what’s been changing with the Division. I want to abide by my Division’s philosophies. I don’t want to step outside their vision. They allow me to expand the bubble a lot.”
Carla also attributes the experience of working on the writing team for the Health Science 20 curriculum with her new understanding of teaching outside of the box. Through this process, she realized, “We don’t have to teach a prescribed curriculum. We have to teach the outcomes, but the indicators can be taught in the way that we like them, or grouped together with indicators from other units, or you can make up your own.”
For Cooper this understanding has unleashed her creativity, which she realizes through the incorporation of arts-based projects. For instance, she decided to model her human anatomy unit after Grey’s Anatomy. Students are placed in resident groups, and each group is assigned a fictional celebrity patient, those Cooper has assessed as being a match with certain types of health issues, such as Will Smith whom students will diagnose and treat for sickle cell anemia. Using the Diagnosis for Classroom Success program booklet, which is a book of labs to be worked through in a week or two, students “delve deeply,” working through the book over four months. Cooper says, “We weren’t learning about the human body for the next few weeks, we learned about a patient, learning through the eyes of a patient.”
Cooper allowed for the ethical and diagnostic conversations that developed, pushing the students to deeper learning. She says, “At that point I didn’t know what deeper learning was, but the deeper questions students were asking, we just ran with.”
Because this wasn’t a Grade 12 course, the final assessment was not a test. Instead, students were asked, “Did their patient live or die? How did they treat? Was their treatment ethical? Did they do invasive or non-invasive? What secretions did they evaluate, and why? What was the chemistry breakdown of that? And, how did the physics work for the cat scan? They had to do a peer review and self-review.” Carla created a rubric to go with the project and students marked themselves on the rubric. “These simulations have helped students either enter a science-oriented career, or decide against it. It has also helped prepare them for their post-secondary classes,” says Carla.
When she first received the news in May that she was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching STEM, Carla wasn’t sure if the letter was for real. She sent it to her husband, asking, “Am I reading this right?” When she finally processed what was happening, she felt humbled and thought, “What makes me different? I am no different than any other teacher. But I’m just realizing that I do things a bit different.” Carla is excited, by the new connections and opportunities to pass on her curricular understandings to others, including preservice teachers, generated by this recognition.
When asked what excellence in teaching looks like, Cooper says, “I don’t even know if I am excellent, yet. I feel like I’ve done excellent teaching when I’ve excited students by allowing them to be who they are. We have student-directed study and I don’t put any constraints on that. I don’t teach in a box, and I want students I take risks, too. I want my kids to become healthy risk takers. If something flops, it flops. I’ve adopted the phrase fail forward. We are F-squareds in C-squared rooms.” As Carla continues to envision what teaching outside of the box looks like, she finds her focus moving towards a new kind of box: a sandbox. She says, “My whole focus is practicing real world science and getting kids back in the sandbox. At recess the kids are playing, communicating, problem solving, building, and doing the six big Cs in education. Why are we not doing that? I take them to the playground, to the teeter-totter, if there is one. So in the last few years, I’ve been working to bring the students back to a metaphoric sandbox, but I hope to have a real sandbox in the classroom as well.”
By Shuana Niessen
Congratulations to the following extraordinary Faculty of Education Alumni/Alumnae:
As a journalist, educator, political advisor, mentor, author, and lifelong learner, Allan Bonner has tackled some of the most controversial and public issues of our time. Allan began as a journalist locally and then nationally in Canada and the US, and now holds graduate degrees in political science, education, business administration, law and urban planning.
Allan has worked with peacekeepers, international diplomats, oil, gas and chemical companies, and other blue chip clients on five continents. He is the author of eight books on communication, leadership, urban
planning, and crisis management.
Amy (Mickleborough) Moroz and Andrea (Gottselig) Ward are best known as award-winning athletes in the U of R Cougar Womens’ Basketball program. Both graduated with education degrees and now work in Regina schools as teachers and coaches – lending their skills to the next generation of young basketball players.
In March 2018, they applied their collective energy and leadership skills to host of the U Sports Women’s Basketball Championship at the University of Regina. Together with an ensemble of Cougar and University
of Regina alumni, they delivered events and hospitality to eight teams from across Canada. The 2018 Cougar Women’s Basketball team captured the bronze and the championship weekend was among the most successful U Sports tournaments in the University of Regina’s history.
Congratulations to Paula Stoker on receiving the Bachelor of Education After Degree (BEAD) Convocation Prize, which was established to encourage and recognize the most distinguished BEAD graduate, with an overall internship rating of “Outstanding” and the highest grade point average in the program.
Paula graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Elementary) with Great Distinction. During her studies in the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP), which is offered in cooperation with Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Paula was the recipient of the Academic Silver Scholarship in 2017 and was on the Dean’s List in 2016 Fall, 2017 Winter, and 2018 Winter.
Born and raised in Whitehorse, Paula earned her first degree: Physical Education and Sports Studies from the University of Alberta in 1991. After following her passion for health, sports, and fitness, Paula came to the realization that she is a teacher at heart and that a classroom is where she is meant to be.
When the University of Regina decided to offer a Bachelor of Education After Degree program in cooperation with Yukon College, Paula jumped at the chance to finally become a certified teacher, “I am so very grateful for the opportunity to be able to get my Education Degree without having to leave my family and my Yukon home. Going back to school was a challenge at this stage of my life, but the many hands-on learning experiences in the YNTEP were so valuable and the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from my amazing classmates and teachers made the experience so enjoyable and worthwhile.”
Now that she has her Bachelor of Education, Paula will apply for a Yukon Teaching Certificate and looks forward to the opportunity to use her experience and education as a teacher in Whitehorse.
Congratulations to Victoria Howe (@MissVHowe) on receiving the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) Convocation Prize at the Spring 2018 Convocation. The STF prize recognizes the most distinguished Faculty of Education student, graduating with their first degree, who has an overall internship rating of “Outstanding” and the highest grade point average in the program.
Victoria graduated with a Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education with Great Distinction. During her studies, Victoria was the recipient of the Academic Silver Prize in 2016 and 2017. She was on the Dean’s List in 2015 Fall, 2016 Winter, 2016 Fall, 2017 Winter, and 2018 Winter.
Born and raised in Moose Jaw, Victoria attended Lindale and Caronport Elementary schools and graduated from Caronport High School.
Next, Victoria attended the University of Alberta and studied science. However, Victoria soon decided that a career working with children would be energizing and fulfilling. So she returned to Saskatchewan to attend the University of Regina’s Elementary Education program.
Victoria immensely enjoyed her three years in the Elementary program. During these years she engaged in many meaningful learning experiences, created very strong friendships, and grew greatly as an educator.
Her most memorable semester was her internship where she learned just how much teachers do for their students and just how rewarding the teaching profession can be.
While excelling in academics, Victoria’s love for dance and performing led her to join the Roughriders Cheer team. She volunteered on this team throughout her degree and continues to do so proudly. Victoria plans to substitute teach as she works on her Inclusive Education Certificate this upcoming fall. Upon completion of that certificate, Victoria hopes to pursue her Masters in Educational Psychology and then find work near her hometown of Moose Jaw.