Christine Vanderwal: Learning Beyond the Classroom

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Viola Desmond Public School
Grades 7 and 8 - all subjects
Milton, Ontario


“Christine Vanderwal makes an impact every day. She is the kind of educator that learners talk about for their entire lives and hope that their own children will encounter one day. She is a mentor and a friend, a role model and an inspiration, a challenger and an agent for change, a knowledge builder and an integrative thinker, and most of all, a life-long learner.”


Teaching Approach

Christine’s approach is based on developing and refining strategies for creating learning communities using multiple pedagogical tools to generate engagement with every learner. She incorporates a wide range of tools, techniques, and pedagogies that become part of the learning environment, both within and beyond the classroom. She integrates concepts of Design Thinking and Knowledge Building using technology, art, drama to explore the topics that matter today, including Indigenous issues and human rights.

In the Classroom

Technology is a tool allows to share thinking and build on each other’s ideas. This is her credo. Christine integrates multiple platforms, software packages, and media to improve collaboration, develop electronic research skills, build knowledge, and share ideas with the larger community. Students use a wide range of technologies including photography, animation, stop motion, Minecraft, blogs, podcasts, websites, digital reflections, and interactive collaborative software like the Knowledge Forum to gain valuable skills and communications experience.

Christine’s classroom is about inclusion and engagement. To create this environment, she begins every year with a focus on building authentic connections among all members of the class, including herself. This starts with an exploration of identity, as individuals and as a community, with engaging discussions and activities that allow every learner to share their perspectives and ideas, as well as their personal uniqueness and culture.

Outstanding achievements

Christine has been an integral part of the Leading Student Achievement project, which was supported by the Ontario Principals’ Associations. Christine enthusiastically presented her work in numerous province-wide professional learning virtual sessions. She is also a valuable contributor to the project’s multi-year Elementary Innovation Network initiative - a cross-board project that brings together educators and administrators to share and design knowledge building practices. Christine also participates in global virtual sessions hosted by the Knowledge Building Innovation Network - an initiative supported by the Institute of Knowledge Innovation and Technology at the University of Toronto.

Christine promotes learning of Indigenous perspectives and realities by building awareness with her students, colleagues and school community. At the Grand Opening of the school in October 2019, Christine worked alongside students in their preparation of the reading of the land and territory acknowledgement used by the Halton District School Board. Students shared their experiences and connections with the land and territory following the reading of the statement which held a special place in the new Viola Desmond Public School community. Christine continues to be instrumental in supporting and augmenting students’ learning of Treaty relationships and Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canada.

Get in touch!

Viola Desmond Public School
1450 Leger Way
Milton, ON  L9T 7K6
Twitter: @DesmondHDSB