Charlotte Travis: Taking learning and inquiry outdoors

Year: 2018 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Charlotte Travis

Bruce T. Lindley Public School
2510 Cavendish Drive
Burlington, ON L7P 4K5

School telephone: 905-335-0679
School website:


Subjects and grades taught: Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and the Arts, grades 4 and 5

After many years in the classroom, Charlotte Travis moved to her school's early years program. She learned alongside her Kindergarten students as they explored and developed play-based learning strategies. Now, she applies her newfound knowledge to her work with junior students.

Teaching approach

Wholeheartedly believing in supporting students as they explore outside in the natural world, Charlotte roots her practice in inquiry-based learning. She fosters students' thinking and problem-solving skills while developing their curiosity and imagination.

In the Classroom

  • Promotes global consciousness through personal connection and hands-on learning: Charlotte complemented a unit on stable structures with a story about digging a well in an African community; students followed the project and then built their own structure to retrieve water from the well
  • Encouraged students to explore technology such as old computers by taking them apart; this led to the school's "beautiful junk" project to remake things rather than throwing them out
  • Takes junior students to a nearby provincial park every week for inquiry-based learning activities incorporating science, math, literacy and the arts; tasks include building a stable structure to serve as that day's classroom; a visiting Mohawk elder shares how his people live with and view the land
  • Holds students accountable: check-in circles bring them together to discuss personal and class accountability and responsibility for learning, well-being and justice, especially when personal connections need to be restored

Outstanding achievements

  • Successfully engaged struggling learners through student-centred programming, an inquiry-based approach and family involvement; the students went on to lead the school's anti-bullying campaign and no longer required significant, and previously essential, classroom and professional supports
  • Designed two sets of backpacks containing all-season outdoor learning kits—featuring items such as rope, rings, magnifying glasses and jars—for each division in the school; teachers can easily move lessons outside, while children have the tools at hand to pursue and even extend their inquiries
  • Selected to participate in school board's truth and reconciliation initiative, led by community leaders and elders from First Nations across southern Ontario: teachers are developing school-wide (eventually system­wide) curriculum focused on healthy dialogue and experience with First Nations
  • Coordinated the school project to build a rain garden: in partnership with the municipality, students planted and maintain more than 150 plants and shrubs at the school

Rave reviews

"Always supporting the most challenging young minds to embrace their own learning … Charlotte knew how to pull, push, nurture and prod all types of learners, encouraging them to become successful."

Retired principal