Calum MacKenzie: Digital Literacy at the Service of Creativity

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

St. George School
Grades 5 and 6 - all subjects
Ottawa, Ontario


“Calum’s learning environment values all students' perspectives. He connects students through community problem-solving challenges and empathy-building activities. He empowers his students' thinking by presenting them with real-world problems relevant to their everyday life and experiences to launch the curriculum. His students learn to code, prototype and connect l earning skills to creative action-taking. They embrace the process by personalizing their own journeys, adding their voices and their own thought process through critical thinking.”


Teaching Approach

Calum teaches his students to question the sources of the information they find, learning to discern trustworthy sources of information - a crucial skill in today’s world and an important step in developing critical thinking. For instance, Calum guides his students to move beyond “googling” answers. Search engines are such powerful tools that young learners need to be taught how to use them effectively. There is a significant difference between putting questions into the Google search engine and understanding the responses. Calum wants his students to process and conceptualize the information. They do this by deepening their research, applying the information to a task, evaluating the outcome for validity and eventually creating their own version of the information.

In the Classroom

Inclusivity, accessibility and student engagement are the words to describe Calum’s classroom learning environment. Within that space, his students feel both safe and encouraged. The learning environment is appreciated, as are the opportunities for students to further their knowledge in creative ways. They come to class eager to problem solve, knowing they are valued and that they play an important role in the learning community.

Digital Literacy is at the forefront of Calum’s classroom activities. He welcomes discussion as his students navigate specific situations, encouraging them to problem solve as a team while asking provoking questions to further push their learning. His approach to literacy is both creative and holistic, incorporating activities that improve his students’ reading comprehension skills while layering in some of the bigger curriculum ideas, such as math concepts of perimeter, area, 3D shapes and fractions.

Outstanding Achievements

The school board provides teachers with lessons titled “Samaritans on the Digital Road” for each grade. Calum was part of the team involved in the planning and implementation of this program. Cyberbullying is a key topic often raised with junior students who don’t always realize the impact of digital messaging. The program is taught at the beginning of each school year to help set the groundwork for the year, but usually needs to be revisited when issues arise. Calum has those tough conversations with his students who make mistakes in this area. He ensures that the student understands the impact of their action and provides guidance to effectively resolve the situation. One cannot underestimate the damage caused by cyberbullying, the value of this guidance to the school environment, and ultimately to the quality of education.

Get in touch!

St. George School
130 Keyworth Ave
Ottawa, ON  K1Y 0E6        
Twitter: @StGeorgeOCSB