Fostering Good Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

Whether we’re looking up a recipe, getting directions, sharing a photo on social media or doing online banking — there’s no question: we’re living in a digital world.

And while there are many positive aspects to our connected world, there can be drawbacks and dangers, especially for young people who are still developing the critical thinking and interpersonal skills they need to stay safe and have positive interactions online.

Here are three tips shared by Ophea Canada in their blog post, Safe & Savvy Online, which I had the opportunity to contribute to and be interviewed for.

1. Connect to Curriculum:

The 2015 H&PE Curriculum includes expectations around online behaviour in the Personal Safety and Injury Prevention component of the Healthy Living strand, in the Human Development and Sexual Health strand and through the Living Skills—the personal, interpersonal and critical and creative thinking skills that are woven throughout the curriculum.

We want students to use Living Skills like critical thinking so they’re questioning what they’re seeing online and thinking about the integrity of what they’re doing, as well as the behaviours and actions of others.

2. Connect to the Community:

School administration, the OPP, Kids Help Phone or local police and public health for are great resources and sources of support. As teachers we can learn from professionals and subject experts about situations that have occurred, what resources are available, and what actions the school or community have taken in the past and can take in the future.

Collaborating with other teachers and various organizations (like the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) can also be a good way to stay up-to-date on trends in technology. It changes very quickly, and in most cases students know before we do as educators. Be willing to learn and comfortable knowing that your students will likely know more than you.

3. Connect to the Everyday:

Internet safety needs to be part of the everyday safety we’re teaching students. As teachers we can model positive behaviour and learning through “Think Alouds” as we Google search various topics connected to the curriculum.

Learning online is simply an extension of what we’re already doing. Teachers should be integrating online safety as they would any safety topics, including road safety, safe handling of food, and bullying.

By teaching students to think critically about what they read, see and share and then to act with kindness and integrity, just as we want them to do in real life, we’ll help to ensure our students success and safety—both in the virtual and the face-to-face world.

To read the original blog post through Ophea, click here.

Get the Facts on Quality H&PE

The following post is one I wrote for Ophea’s #FunFact Friday. View the original post here.

A new school year means a fresh opportunity to get students moving and inspire physical activity in all areas of school. Research has shown connections between increased levels of physical activity and better academic achievement, better concentration, better classroom behaviour, and more focused learning[1], now what teacher wouldn’t want that for their students.

The Ontario Health and Physical Education (H&PE) curriculum is important in ensuring the development of physical literacy and promoting lifelong active living. To help demonstrate its impact we’ve compiled four of our favourite statistics to help inspire you to motivate your students and colleagues to move more!

1. H&PE makes quality physical activity accessible: Community sports teams might be few and far between in your area, or might come at a costly price. According to the UNESCO Quality Physical Education: Guidelines for Policy-Makers[2] , quality physical education is embedded into the school curriculum to provide developmentally appropriate and inclusive physical education learning experiences. The Ontario H&PE curriculum promotes important living skills and goals that support the development of health literacy, physical literacy and character. All students, no matter their social economic background can take part and have fun in developing a healthy, active lifestyle.

2. H&PE in the early years matters: Active kids become active adults. H&PE in the early years is important to develop confident movers who have acquired the transferable skills and strategies they need to be active throughout their lives. Research into motor development indicates that learners acquire new fundamental movement skills (motor skills) most successfully during the preschool and elementary years.[3] By helping students become competent and confident movers in the early learners, they won’t shy away from active pursuits later on in life.

3. H&PE helps students get the physical activity they need: Only 9% of Canadian kids get the 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity they need each day.[4] H&PE classes can support students in reaching 60 minutes a day but that still may not be enough. As one of the H&PE curriculum Fundamental Principles states, “Health and physical education programs are most effective when they are delivered in healthy schools and when students’ learning is supported by school staff, families, and communities.” Teachers, administration, parents and community members (public health professionals and recreation leaders) can support getting students active before, during and after school.

Need to get your school community on board? Check out Ophea’s Healthy Schools Certification. This initiative promotes a Healthy Schools approach which supports H&PE curriculum values beyond just the gym, and can help all school community members see the value in getting students active. Check out certification details and try something new this year!

4. H&PE leads to lifelong enjoyment in active living: Through implementation of quality H&PE, students are exposed to a variety of games and activities that they can fall in love with and take part in for the rest of their life. For example, the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) approach supports students to build transferable game skills and strategies while encouraging inclusive and fun spaces. Moreover, H&PE and Daily Physical Activity provide motivating and empowering settings where students may instill a lifelong sense of awareness, value and enjoyment of physical activity.[5]

Whether it’s helping students gain physical literacy skills, creating an accessible program for all abilities, or promoting life long active living, research shows our students need H&PE and the Ontario H&PE curriculum is here for them.

To learn more about the Ontario H&PE curriculum and how it supports educators implement active, safe and inclusive schools, check out the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Elementary Curriculum & Resources and/or Secondary Curriculum & Resources.

For more information on how Ophea supports H&PE implementation visit,


[1] Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education. Retrieved from

[2] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2015). Quality physical education (QPE): Guidelines for policy-makers. Paris, France: UNESCO Publishing.

[3] Ontario Ministry of Education. (2015). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education. Retrieved from

[4] Statistics Canada. “Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS).” (Accessed Sep 12, 2016).

[5] Cradock, A.L., Barrett, J.L., Carter, J., McHugh, A., Sproul, J., Russo, E.T.,… Gortmaker, S.L. (2014). Impact of the Boston Active School Day policy to promote physical activity among children. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(3 Suppl), S54-64. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.130430-QUAN-204.

Have fun with Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards this summer!

The following is a blog post I wrote for Ophea Canada on how educators and parents can get kids active using the Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards. These easy to use cards are available for order here, or can easily be made by writing your own favourite physical activities on index cards or theme card cut outs.

CC_50fitblog_15JN16With warm weather here to stay, it’s the perfect opportunity to add some fun and play into your everyday activities. Here are three new ways you can use your favourite Ophea 50 Fitness Activity Cards.

Beanbag Balance

Adapted from Ophea’s workshop DPA: Getting Active in Any Space

  1. Participants move around the classroom with a bean bag balanced on their shoulder.  Leader periodically calls out a change in locomotor movement.
  2. If the bean bag falls off, they must perform a 50 fitness activity on the spot until one of their classmates comes over to them.
  3. Their classmate must bend down and pick up the bean bag and put it back on the shoulder of the participant who dropped it.
  4. They must balance their own bean bag at the same time.
  5. If one participant’s bean bag falls off while trying to replace the beanbag, they must both perform an on the spot 50 fitness activity until someone comes and replaces their beanbag.

Tail Chase

Adapted from Ophea’s

  1. Participants place a  streamer/bandana/ribbon in the side of their shorts.
  2. Pairs attempt to grab each other’s “tail” without having their tail grabbed by their partner.
  3. If a tail is grabbed the participant who lost their tail selects one 50 fitness activity for both participants to perform. They both start off performing one repetition of the activity. Each time a tail is grabbed they add one repetition on (e.g., the first time they perform one chicken jack, the second time they perform two chicken jacks, the third time three and so on). The tail is then returned and the game continues.

Fire 5/10

Adapted from Ophea Ambassador Cindy Merritt.

  1. In pairs participants face each other with 1 or 2 hands behind their back.
  2. On the signal “1, 2, show” participants reveal their hands with any number of fingers showing.
  3. Participants add up the fingers of both/all hands as soon as possible, with the goal to shout out the correct answer first.
  4. Participants perform a 50 fitness activity based on whether they shouted out the correct response first. Shout out first: “Chicken jacks”, Shout out second: “Squat kicks”, Tie: Coffee grinders

View the original post here.