TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
École New Era School Grade 1 French immersion teacher Linda Dinsdale, centre, sits in her class with teacher-librarian Vivian Thorgeirson and principal Chad Cobbe on Friday. Dinsdale is among the recipients of the Manitoba Certificate of Achievement, held by Cobbe, part of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. Dinsdale was nominated by Thorgeirson.
Two Westman teachers have been recognized by Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their innovative teaching styles and passion for their work.
Devon Caldwell’s Oak Lake Community School senior kindergarten students use iPads to graph the number of shoppers who use reusable bags and plastic bags at the local Co-op store. It was part of their Little Hands, Big World project when they investigated reusable bag use in the community.
Linda Dinsdale, a Grade 1 French immersion teacher at École New Era School, and Devon Caldwell, a kindergarten teacher at Oak Lake Community School, both received the Manitoba Certificate of Achievement, as part of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence.
"It’s an honour to be recognized in that way," said Dinsdale, who has been teaching for more than 30 years.
Dinsdale was nominated for the prestigious award by a colleague. Her teaching approach incorporates information and communications technology (ICT) into the classroom, creating a stimulating learning environment.
Dinsdale secured a pilot project for the use of 25laptops in her classroom and has developed a learning curriculum that blends traditional learning with one-on-one computing.
"Linda is fantastic and she is so … incredibly deserving of this recognition," said New Era principal Chad Cobbe. "I have had the opportunity to work with a teacher now for a couple of years who I’ve seen, before my eyes, completely revolutionize her approach in the classroom, in an excited sort of way, in an incredibly enthusiastic sort of way."
Meanwhile in Devon Caldwell’s Oak Lake classroom, iPads, iPods, Skype and Twitter are just a few tools that are used to create an exciting and memorable learning experience.
"We do infuse ICT a great deal to help learning in junior and senior kindergarten," Caldwell said. "I’m a big proponent of collaboration between educators and among classrooms. We’ve collaborated with different classrooms around the world."
Caldwell was also selected for a 2012 Canadian Microsoft Innovative Educators’ Award for the Little Hands, Big World project, developed with her colleague, Leah Obach of Hamiota Elementary.
"Our Little Hands, Big World project focuses on sustainability and how our youngest learners can function as agents of change in their families and communities," Caldwell said. "We’ve been tackling environmental issues and this fall we’ve switched gears and we’re looking at more of an animal rescue project."
Caldwell is from Kenton and began her teaching career at Oak Lake Community School in 1999. She teaches junior and senior kindergarten and is also a resource teacher for K-8.
"I absolutely love it," she said. "It’s an amazing school, really supportive community and I have a terrific administrator."
Caldwell said it’s important to strike a balance between new and old techniques, and cater to a student’s individual learning needs.
"I always really want to give the message to teachers that technology is fabulous, but it’s no substitute for the important hands-on learning that our little ones need," she said.
Award recipients are selected by an external committee composed of education experts from across Canada. The committee looks for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in five areas: digital literacy and the use of information and communications technologies in the classroom, innovative and exemplary teaching practices, student skills development, student achievement and participation, and teacher commitment and leadership.
Certificate of Achievement winners are presented with a $1,000 cash prize, as well as letters and certificates signed by the prime minister.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 13, 2012