OCT OEEO

PS_March_2017

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G R E AT T E A C H I N G 23 March 2017 | Professionally Speaking PHOTOS: MARKIAN LOZOWCHUK To view our Great Teaching video archive, visit oct-oeeo.ca/w2qkmg H elen Wolfe, OCT, is a hard one to spot. It's lunchtime in her classroom at Nelson Mandela Park Public School located just east of downtown Toronto. The students gathered here are an unlikely smattering of girls ages six through 13 — some with long braids, others with bright hijabs. Most have abandoned their food in favour of the coveted silver MacBooks that have been handed out for sharing. Groups of up to five girls can be found in front of each glowing screen, all awaiting a turn to type in their bit of code. When one hits a roadblock, a chorus of singsong cries goes up: "Helen!" Petite and peering over reading glasses from beneath a mop of silver curls, Wolfe materializes from a cluster of chattering students. She had been teaching them how to use co-ordinates to move a cartoon bird through a maze and turns now to bend over the laptop in question. While she sorts out its wireless connection problem, another student finishes building a tablet computer with a Kano kit (kano.me) and begins to program it; others are troubleshooting together as they learn how to use a 3D doodle pen (the3doodler.com). When the bell rings, there is no scramble to leave. In fact, Wolfe has to coax the girls into heading back to their regular classes. She has discov- ered over the past six years that doling out a parting snack at the door does the trick. PILLAR STRENGTH OF BY JESSICA LEEDER Helen Wolfe, OCT, introduces innovation and incites inspiration at a downtown Toronto school in a marginalized community.

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