In Action

This section spotlights innovative educators and youth across the country who are making media education happen. Know someone we should profile? Send us your suggestions!

Featured Youth

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Rosa Luo

The Regent Park Focus program provides youths from all around Toronto with a friendly space to learn and expand their technological knowledge. One of the youths that participated in the summer program of 2014 is Rosa, a student from North East Toronto.

“The RPF studio is located in the downtown core of Toronto. Although I have to commute everyday, it was totally worth the experience,” said Rosa. Some of the activities that youths experience includes script writing, producing, camera work, and editing. The RPF studio is equipped with all the tools needed, like the professionals. The end products include pod-casts, radio shows, television shows, and public service announcements. “At the end of the program I was very proud of all the work my team and I had accomplished. I am most proud of the “What is Art” video made from Popcorn Webmaker,” said Rosa. She would like to share this video with everybody: https://regentparkfocus.makes.org/popcorn/2948. The video was originally a radio pod-cast with community interviews and expert interviews made by youths. Surely, knowledgeable mentors are there to guide you every step of the way. If you are looking to learn, have fun, and receive volunteer hours then Regent Park Focus is a great way to go!

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Isabel Carlin Isabel is a U of T student who volunteers with Planned Parenthood Toronto as a peer educator, both in a general and a specifically queer and trans youth sexual health context. Through her involvement with other groups such as her high school Gay Straight Alliance and, more recently, as a volunteer with the U of T Sexual Education Centre (SEC), she has provided peer support and information regarding sexual health and LGBTQ issues. Through these programs, Isabel has had the opportunity to use social media as a way to reach out to youth without the structured formality of other resources, which is especially important regarding an oftentimes taboo and uncomfortable subject such as sexual health. teenhealthsource.tumblr.com

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Harnoor Gill Harnoor Gill is a 16-year-old youth activist who raises awareness on environmental issues and community issues who uses a Facebook page to bring youth in the community together. As the founder of a youth-lead group known as Peace Welcome Club, Harnoor wants to lend his hand when needed and he seeks to provide a networking platform to children and youth in their communities. With this network, youth can carry forward the peace initiatives through several creative social and environmental projects.

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Save Our Minds Samantha-Maria Figueroa, Simarjeet Gill, Jennifer Pazdor and Stephanie Zabar, students from Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Save Our Minds Project who are creating digital applications to provide information and solutions for families, students and parents who know someone who is experiencing mental illness. The girls have worked with Carol Todd and are currently developing an Augmented Reality “Elephant in the Room” campaign for The Mood Disorder Society of Canada. The girls received the 2014 Champions of Mental Health Award last May.

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Brennan Wong Brennan Wong is a 16 year old student from Richmond Hill, Ontario founded Pledges for Change, a global movement and the largest non-profit of its kind in Canada. As a youth-led movement, Pledges for Change is in a position to harness the energy and creativity of young people to rally support for these causes on social media. Anyone can submit their pledge to the Pledges for Change website or tweet their pledge using the hashtag “#pledgesforchange”. Pledges for Change also uses infographics and videos to promote the organization and its campaigns. The organization also hosts podcasts with the goal of reaching out to more people around the world and motivating them to give back through volunteerism.

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Digital Voices Students Digital Voices is a unique Digital Media course designed by secondary teacher Jamie Leduc for 12th grade students at Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The focus of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to embrace their cultures while experimenting with digital media. The course incorporates a variety of tools and technologies including, but not limited to, photography, film, animation, computer software, blogging, networking, and webpage design. Using the skills they learned in class, two groups of students put their knowledge to use and built grassroots projects dedicated to helping and inspiring others.

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Patrick Mott Patrick Mott is a 16-year-old from Toronto who is dedicated to teaching his peers social media literacy. Along with contributing to Huffington Post Live, Patrick has appeared on many TV shows discussing the importance of being aware of your digital footprint and having a positive online presence. His goal is to teach everyone, particularly teens, that while social media provide great creative outlets, the content should always be appropriate. Combining passion and determination as his personal brand, Patrick encourages youth to be good digital citizens in everything they do online.

Featured Educators

Amanda Kelly While pursuing critical media studies and production in her undergrad, Amanda realized that full participation in contemporary society had become contingent on digital literacy skills and access to technologies. This revelation led to an ambitious passion for the public sphere and ultimately the public library—an established proponent of equal access to literacy and technology. Following her Bachelor in Media, Information & Technoculture, Amanda completed her Master of Library & Information Science, specializing in technology and user services. Today, Amanda pursues her dream of empowering people and building communities as the Digital Media Strategist at Markham Public Library. She investigates cutting-edge technology and designs the library’s makerspaces, ranging from the newly opened CAVE, to the business incubation hub and creative arts studio (opening 2016). She further supports the development of digital and media literacies by coordinating open learning opportunities, including free film production courses and professional development programs in collaboration with ReelWorld Film Festival and Startup York. Amanda sees first-hand the ubiquitous impact of digital literacy on community, culture, the economy, and quality of life.  Each day brings the promise of a new challenge, and she wakes up excited to further her knowledge in this growing field so as to optimally support the needs and growth of her community.

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Stepan Pruchnicky Stepan Pruchnicky is an elementary educator that has been seconded to work as a Student Work Study Teacher (SWST) for the Ministry of Education this year.  In his role as SWST he gets to dig deeper into learning and view school through the eyes of students.  Prior to his assignment to SWST Stepan was a classroom teacher with the TCDSB.  In his own classroom Stepan always encouraged his students to not only be critical consumers of media, but also to contribute to the body of knowledge on the internet.  Students in Stepan’s class would regularly submit content and work samples to their class website (which Stepan moderates).  He also explicitly taught and encouraged his students to share their work through social media and gather feedback from voices around the world. Whenever possible he searches for real, grounded, interdisciplinary learning opportunities that invite new people and ideas into his classroom.  He has presented at a variety of school board functions, provincial technology conferences, and national reading conferences.  He uses his blog (http://140pluslearning.tumblr.com) to think out-loud about the learning in which he participates.

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Andy McKiel Andy is a K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at St. James-Assiniboia School Division. He also serves on several boards and committees across the province of Manitoba, including ManACE (Manitoba Association for Computing Educators), MAETL (Manitoba Association of Education Technology Leaders), the MERLIN Advisory Board, the Literacy with ICTAdvisory Committee and the BYTE Conference Planning Committee. Through his work with educators throughout the province, Andy advocates the use of emerging technologies, such as blogs, wikis and podcasts and explores ways that these tools can be used more effectively to improve the teaching and learning. Working with ManACE has given Andy the opportunity to work closely with Manitoba Education and the Manitoba Teachers’ Society to plan the provinces contributions to Media Literacy Week over the last several years. These collaborations have led to theShow Your Media Literacy, Blurred Images and It Starts With Me initiatives. This year, Manitoba is launching a Media Literacy Week Instagram Challenge! to celebrate the week.

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MJ Wheeler-Ali MJ is a Teacher-Librarian and Instructional Technology Lead Teacher at Allan A. Martin Senior Public School in Mississauga. As a Teacher-Librarian, media and digital literacy is at the core of her teaching. With a library recently renovated to reflect a 21st century Learning Commons, MJ encourages a collaborative, self-directed learning environment for students. By ensuring students visit the Learning Commons regularly, MJ teams up with teachers to not only teach students appropriate use of technology but also to implement collaborative inquiry projects in subjects like history and geography. Much of the work of the Learning Commons encourages students to create and maintain a positive digital footprint. Students are taught to understand how to evaluate and interpret messages and also encouraged create their own media using the best possible tools for their messages. MJ has also worked with the Ontario Ministry of Education to write interactive learning objects for the Ontario Educational Resource Bank and has worked in collaboration with The Learning Partnership to run the Invention Convention and Entrepreneurial Adventure.

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Michelle Solomon Michelle is an English, Media and Social Science teacher at Northern Secondary School in the Toronto District School Board. She developed a passion for media literacy education while working on her M.A. She has been a director at the Association for Media Literacy since 2011. In the summer of that year, she and Ms. Keats started #K12Media, a hashtag and weekly Twitter chat for teachers. The chat is currently in its third year (Monday nights at 8pm). Michelle has worked as a consultant for the National Film Board of Canada, as well as for school boards in Ontario. In that capacity, she has created resources for teachers and students to help integrate media literacy across the curriculum at all levels. Michelle blogs about media literacy and teaching and developed a website for her students in 2004. She continues to integrate media education throughout her classes and is currently teaching a course on Social Media.

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Jane Mitchinson As a Media technology teacher in a Canadian classroom, she is fascinated with the ever evolving relationship teens have with technology and has been focused on combining the fields of media and education since graduating from Ryerson in 1993. Since then, she has taught Communications Technology, Film, and Media at the high school level and Journalism at the college level. In October 2010, she completed a Masters of Arts in Media Production at Ryerson where she researched and produced a documentary on teens and texting. She also wrote the course curriculum for the online Grade 11/12 Communications Technology qualification course at Queen’s University Faculty of Continuing Education department where she currently teaches the course. Jane recently joined the executive committee for the Association for Media Literacy and occasionally blogs about technology, teens and education on her blog www.janemitchinson.ca.