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Natalie Vera: Building human connections through technology

Year: 2020 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Crescent School
Language, math, science, social studies, technology, grade 5
Toronto, Ontario

Being able to observe Natalie in action with her students has had a profound impact on my own professional practice.


As a Google- and Microsoft-certified instructor, with a master's degree in curriculum, teaching and learning, Natalie Vera uses technology extensively to engage her students, improve their digital and creative literacy, and assess their learning.

Teaching approach

Natalie says relationships are foundational to her teaching practice—in fact, she even co-authored a handbook on the topic with one of her Crescent School colleagues. Once she determines what type of learner each student is and where his strengths lie, she can help him make the best learning choices. Both inside the classroom and in extra-curricular activities, she enjoys getting to know her pupils.

STEM in the classroom

  • Harnesses digital tools to make students' learning visible: student love sharing their work through Kahoot, Quizlet, Pixton, Edpuzzle, Newsela, Flipgrid, SeeSaw, and Google Forms, Slides and Docs; families can view their children's progress and subsequent teachers can see their previous learning.
  • Encourages students to be creative: in the first science unit of the year, devoted to conservation of energy, she asks students to use minimal basic materials to design a device to clean oceans, rivers, streams and lakes.
  • Sparks students' imaginations with online video chats: uses Microsoft's Mystery Skype so her pupils can discuss the environment and other curriculum topics with classes around the world; through the Let's Talk Science program, students interact with scientists.

Outstanding achievements

  • Founded the Crescent Coyote Math Fair: Grade 5 students create and build a math game or puzzle, then help visitors solve it; pupils develop confidence about their problem-solving abilities and take greater ownership of their learning.
  • Led a Remembrance Day trip to Europe: students in grades 3 to 6 met veterans, sang at a church and other venues, and visited a retirement home; back in Toronto, Natalie organized visits to a local seniors' home to further foster students' compassion.
  • Gives students choices in their environment: offers multiple seating options, including Hokki stools, large pillows and foam pads; provides headphones and encourages students to create their own music; gives students "brain breaks" to dance, meditate or do yoga.
  • Coaches and advises student teams and clubs: these include swim, hockey, and track and field teams; and financial literacy, makerspace and coding clubs.
  • Established the Coyote Leadership Committee: lower-school students foster school spirit, model positivity and promote anti-bullying messages.

Get in touch!

Crescent School
2365 Bayview Avenue
Toronto ON  M2L 1A2

Twitter: @nvera18

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