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Local Educators Team Up to Provide Students with an Authentic, Educational, Northern Ontario Experience

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St. David School, grade 6 student Victoria Duchaine enjoying a roasted marshmallow during her outdoor education experience.

February 9, 2012 - Killarney Outdoor Education Instructor, Bradley Blackwell, and local grade 5/6 St. David Catholic School teacher, Leo McLaughlin, worked as a team to plan and co-ordinate an authentic Northern Ontario experience for Mr. McLaughlin's grade 5/6 class - a full day ice fishing at Perch Lake. Both teachers, avid outdoorsmen, thought it important to offer students this curriculum based, beyond the indoor classroom learning experience. St. David Catholic School is located in the heart of Sudbury. The students are from the Donovan, Flour Mill and Louis Street areas.

According to Blackwell, "in planning this ice fishing field trip we based it on our teaching philosophy, which is that our students learn best by doing. They need the opportunity to discover the outdoors and be in nature. They feel better about themselves when they work as a team and see each other having fun while accomplishing a task. Before we went on our ice fishing excursion we covered such topics as outdoor ethics, ice and winter safety and environmental responsibility. We invited a local First Nation Elder to share the teachings of traditional harvesting and protection of animal species for the next generation. Mr. McLaughlin ensured the trip was connected to the Ontario curriculum by teaching about states of matter, fish biology, the food chain and biodiversity."

The students spent the day at Perch Lake with parents, community volunteers and teachers and learned the most valuable lesson of all: "a Northern Ontario winter can be a beautiful, diverse, and inspiring classroom for all learners".

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