Lee Martin: Empowering students and changing the world through technology

Year: 2018 – Province: Ontario

Transcription – Lee Martin-2018 Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM

[Caption: Lee Martin, Central Public School]

[Lee speaking in the interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: Lee and group of students dressed in full Jedi regalia; and a group of young children at a table with multi-coloured alligator clips making circuits.]

Lee Martin: I think one of the main factors that contributes to student learning is creating authentic learning tasks for them. And, when you’re a teacher that believes that students can achieve anything, then you start to create learning experiences for them where they’re at the centre of it and that they’re driving the learning. When it’s authentic to them, then they create an emotional connection to it, and that’s something you’re not going to get in a textbook.

[Lee speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by video of Lee dressed as Daredevil Educator speaking into a mic in front of a screen, addressing fellow recipients, and still photos, as follows: Lee speaking to a group of children in his classroom standing in a circle holding hands; children mixing a red batter in a bowl; and Lee crouching down surrounded by a large group of children in outdoor clothes and wearing nametags.]

Lee Martin: I think one of the things that we do too often as teachers is build the space before the students come into it. If the space is then designed to support them… We need to allow them to be in that space and then build it organically around their needs. I also think it’s important to view your classroom like a home. When you view it like a home and you treat it like a home, then you start treating your kids like family. And, when you treat your kids like family, there’s nothing that they won’t do for you as far as taking risks and making mistakes; it really improves their investment in their learning.

[Lee speaking in interview setting alternates with voice over accompanied by still photos, as follows: two boys making a circuit with red wires and a laptop; a young girl smiling in front of a computer monitor; and two girls looking at a laptop screen.]

Lee Martin: I think technology positively impacts the learning process because it empowers our kids to explore the world, to make connections. Being able to connect with other groups around the world, I’ve seen my students develop an empathy. They’re able to see the challenges that people around the world face, and when we do that, they’re then able to use the technology to formulate positive and sometimes wonderfully creative ways of solving … or helping those people that are in need. We have a makerspace in our class and our students have developed this maker mindset where, if there’s a problem, ‘we can solve it. We can do anything.’ It’s so incredible how they say those things, so they taught themselves, with my support and some parents, how to sew reading buddies that they then are taking up to different groups of kids to empower them for a love of reading.

[Lee speaking in interview setting, cuts to video, with voice over, of Lee speaking to fellow recipients and then back to the interview setting.]

Lee Martin: My biggest piece of advice for pre-service teachers was the same advice that I got when I first started teaching, and it’s if you ask yourself, ‘How does this best support kids? Is this what is best for kids?’ And, if that’s your ‘why,’ if that’s what drives everything that you do each day, then it’s always going to have a positive impact on your students; it’s always going to have a positive impact on your learning; and it’s going to create a classroom where the kids are beating down the door just to learn each day.

[Fade to black.]

[Cut to white screen, with the Government of Canada FIP followed by the Canada Wordmark.]

Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM

Lee Martin

Central French Immersion Public School
10 Livingston Avenue
Grimsby, ON L3M 1K7

School telephone: 905-945-5459
School website: http://central.dsbn.org/
Twitter: @mrmartinEDU

Subjects and grades taught: Language, Math, Science, Arts, Social Studies, Makerspace, grade 3

A transformational educator, Lee Martin creates community in his classroom (the room 107 Family is the "best class") and then ensures his students have access to powerful tools to support their ideas. He also pushes himself and his learning further to better support students. And, he won't hesitate to drive a car full of student-collected bottled water to a community in need, or be inspired by a trip to the North to partner with a school there.

Teaching approach

Lee challenges his students to be the best version of themselves they can be, as global citizens, problems solvers, critical thinkers and mathematicians. First, he earns their trust and then engages them with uncommon creativity, including regularly dressing up in character—everyone from Samuel de Champlain to Elsa from Frozen—to bring subjects to life.

STEM in the Classroom

  • Develops responsible digital citizens: students learn the core skills of digital literacy, including critical thinking and proper online behaviour; using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a focus, students solve real problems for real people, and defend their approach
  • Embraces hands-on, multi-sensory learning: through the Minimakers program, students explore 3D design and printing, traditional hand tools, measuring and cooking (and math), and circuitry
  • Provides extra support so children excel in math: a Jedi-costumed Lee takes students seeking extra help in math to the planet Port-able to revisit difficult concepts in Star Wars-themed lessons

Outstanding achievements

  • Introduced coding—and the possibilities it presents—both to his young learners and fellow educators; he and his students now make presentations about coding across the country; Lee went on to found Canada's largest coding conference for children
  • Founded Computers4Change, a charity through which he brought advanced technology to his school and is now providing technology to low-income families across the school board to support their children's exceptionalities, and purchasing STEM resources for schools and communities throughout Canada, including a northern Ontario First Nation
  • Acted as consultant to a publisher for educational materials related to digital literacy, integration of information technologies and digital citizenship

Rave reviews

"I saw my son blossom and for the first time enjoy school and be excited to attend every day. … Lee Martin gave our son the confidence that he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to and started him on a great path in his education."