After a great fall and a successful conference, I am glad to bring you greetings from the Executive and Regional Councillors. It really was an exceptional conference and I must congratulate the organizing committee first for taking on the gamble of running a conference in Ottawa and then pulling it off without a glitch. Well Done!
It is the mandate of O.A.G.E.E. to be representative of Geography Teachers and Environmental Educators throughout Ontario. This is not an easy commitment as distances can be great and this only makes organizing events that much more difficult. However, it is only because we have great volunteer organizing committees throughout Ontario that we are able to offer and carry out conferences in different locations across the province. If you feel that your region is under represented, please feel free to contact your regional councillor so we can try to correct the problem. We want to serve You as effectively as possible!!!
Besides the conference, it has been an extremely active fall for O.A.G.E.E. Many of our members have been involved in the initial drafts of the revised curriculum, both as writers and reviewers. At the time of press, the first draft of the Grades 1-8 Social Studies, History and Geography has been seen by focus groups throughout the province. We are just waiting for the draft of the 1-8 curriculum to be put up on the Ministry website so we can all have a chance to review it and submit comments for next revision process. Stay tuned. With respect to the secondary document, we expect it to become available some time in the New Year but no firm date has been established for its appearance as yet.
In support of the new curriculum, a number of O.A.G.E.E. members have been working to create an “Ontario Geographic Skills, Structures and Concepts Continuum”. This project is in the final edits and will be made available to all O.A.G.E.E. members to support both the existing curriculum, and the new revised curriculum, when it is announced.
O.A.G.E.E. has also joined forces with a number of other subject associations in Ontario to support the concept of Education for Sustainable Development. This is being supported by the Sustainable and Education Academy and UNESCO. This group is hoping to be in a position to help establish a focus on a sustainable future as one on the major tenets of Ontario’s education framework as we move forward.
O.A.G.E.E. members were also involved in many professional development activities for both O.A.G.E.E. members and other teachers in Ontario. This included such activities as a GAINS Literacy camp in Muskoka, a summer institute in geotechnologies (both of which will be running again next summer) and GIS/GPS training and certification for students in the Energy and Environment management High Skills Majors programs.
Another very exciting endeavour that O.A.G.E.E. members were part of was an authentic learning experience for students in Canada’s national parks. Through the creativity and perseverance of Susan Staple of Parks Canada, two residential sites have been established for student trips. Altogether over 50 students and teachers were able to enjoy residential experiences at both Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Point Pelee National Park .This is a great complement to the National Parks Poster Project and a carrot that could be used for Grade 10 students. Thank you Susan! She is hoping to be able to announce two other sites for this spring.
All in all it has been a extremely busy but fruitful year for O.A.G.E.E. with much more to come, including a Spring Conference in Peterborough and the Fall Conference at St. Andrews College in Aurora. Just to give you a heads up, the Fall Conference will be a little later next year - November 11 & 12).
Mark Lowry, Toronto District School Board