Lynn Wilkins: inclusion through new and different learning

Transcription – Lynn Wilkins, Prime Minister's Award recipient

[Black screen fades up to a white background, with the following words appearing, line by line: Prime Minister's Awards. Music playing. Transition to a white and grey screen with medium shot of woman, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right and voice over: Lynn Wilkins, Courcelette Public School, Toronto, Ontario.]

[Fade to black and then to photos, with voice over. Photos: Lynn and her students wearing safety glasses posing for a photo; Lynn examining, with two students, a cardboard model; Lynn and students posing in star wars costumes in front of a model starship; Lynn cheering on students in a cardboard boat in a swimming pool; Lynn and a student wearing safety glasses looking at a model made of popsicle sticks; Lynn and students building a structure; Lynn and students in class examining a structure students made; Lynn and students using tools to construct a model; Lynn and students posing for a photo; Lynn guiding a student cutting a piece of wood with a saw, while another student watches.]

Taking an inclusive and adaptive approach to ensuring all students have STEM learning opportunities, Lynn Wilkins prompts creativity and risk taking through design thinking. The cross-curricular Mars Mission Project saw Grade 4–8 students from two school form companies, build an online presence, and construct rockets, landers, rovers and scale models of habitats. She tackles math anxiety with MarchMathness, and helped launch a school wellness initiative.

[Fade to black and then up white and grey screen with medium shot of woman, smiling, on the left side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the right: Lynn Wilkins, Courcelette Public School, Toronto, Ontario. Voice over: Lynn Wilkins.]

[Fade to white, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in black.]

Year: 2019 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Lynn Wilkins

Science, Language, Math, Geography, Arts, grades 7 and 8
Courcelette Public School, Toronto, Ontario

"Ms. Wilkins is an amazing teacher and role model, and I found she was always pushing us to do our best work. … She's a very passionate person who cares for her students and who is always trying to find new innovative projects for us to do."  — Former student

Having an invisible disability herself, Lynn Wilkins strives to make her classroom as inclusive as possible through universal design for learning and differentiated instruction. Likewise, she takes an inclusive and adaptive approach to ensuring all students have STEM learning opportunities.

Teaching approach

Lynn's teaching is founded on her respect for all students' strengths, needs and interests, and reflects her belief that all students can succeed. She introduces design thinking to prompt creativity and risk taking, making the inevitable but essential failures fun (class activity videos often have a blooper reel).

In the classroom

  • Uses hands-on projects as a focus for differentiated instruction, inquiry and technology integration: cross-curricular Mars Mission Project saw Grade 4–8 students from two school form companies, build an online presence, and construct rockets, landers, rovers and scale models of habitats.
  • Created online space with assignment outlines, success criteria, lesson materials, exemplars and videos to enhance engagement and let students work and review at their own pace.
  • Provides numerous opportunities for students to show their work: they create commercials featuring a rocket or robot they built, construct small or large group wikis to explain, share and generate ideas, and write blogs, video blogs and webpages to communicate their learning.
  • Introduces extra-curricular opportunities for students to further test their learning: first-time school entries in provincial cardboard boat and video challenge involved students developing, improving and testing designs, while peers created shorted videos about the process.

Outstanding achievements

  • Designed classroom and school electronic surveys to gauge student knowledge gaps, needs and emotions (including math anxiety); responses drove a school improvement plan, tailored professional development, and prompted MarchMathness and school wellness initiative.
  • Leader within her school: works with administrators, teachers and students to foster strong school learning community, address diverse students needs and create positive school atmosphere; spearheading school focus on universal design for learning.
  • Plays provincial role in curriculum consultations, resource writing and teaching; looks to the next generation of educators, though work with education faculties around the province; supports Ontario and international educators through webinars and classroom visits.
Transcription – Lynn Wilkins - 2019 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

[Black screen fades up to medium shot of woman in interview setting, against a white background. Music playing.]

"A lot of teachers here have talked about how it was a calling, and it almost is. You kind of don't realize that you want to be teacher, I think, until you are a teacher.

[Fade to black and then back up to white with a medium shot of a woman, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Lynn Wilkins, Courcelette Public School, Toronto, Ontario. Fade to black and then up to Lynn in the interview setting.]

"I would say the main factor that contributes to student success in the classroom is creating an environment that students want to come to class. They're excited to come to class.

[Jump to close up of Lynn in the interview setting.]

"I think it comes down to relationships with your students. They know that you care about them, that you're happy to see them and that you make sure that what you're teaching and what you're doing is reflected from them. Their voice is heard and they know that their interests, their concerns, their wants and needs are being considered when you're addressing the program."

[Fade to black and then back to Lynn in the interview setting.]

"Something I'm really proud of in my classroom is probably the way I've designed the project-based learning."

[Cut to photos, with voice over. Photos: Lynn recording two students dressed up as Star Wars characters in front of a green screen; Lynn examining, with two students, a cardboard model; Lynn guiding a student cutting a piece of wood with a saw, while another student watches.]

"Students are willing to take risks. I try to make the inevitable failures essential and fun to their learning."

[Cut to back to Lynn in the interview setting.]

"And how I do that is ensuring that students always have a chance to improve. They have a chance to try something again. They have a chance to take a risk and know that it's okay if it doesn't work."

[Cut to photos, with voice over. Photos: Students wearing protective glasses assemble a wooden and aluminum structure; Lynn looks at something a student while other students work with wood.]

"That is probably the thing that I'm most proud of."

[Fade to black and then to photos, with voice over. Photos: Lynn with Paul Thompson, Associate Deputy Minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, having received her Prime Minister's Awards pin; Lynn with her husband and sons in front of the Prime Minister's Awards program banner; two photos of Lynn speaking at a podium to her fellow recipients.]

"It's been an amazing experience for me. And, I know I'm very grateful to the people that have nominated me. I'm grateful for the people that wrote the letters …

[Cut back to Lynn in the interview setting.]

"… and I'm so grateful for my students who supported me and believed in me enough that I could get this."

[Fade to black and then back to Lynn in the interview setting.]

"Always be curious. Don't stop learning. Be curious, be curious with your students. I don't think there is a better role model for students than a teacher who is willing to learn with them, learn beside them and take the same risks that we're expecting those students to take."

[Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Get in touch!

Courcelette Public School
100 Fallingbrook Rd
Scarborough ON M1N 2T6
416-396-6185
Courcelette@tdsb.on.ca
https://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/courcelette/Home/portalid/2480

Date modified: