My Challenge Program Classroom (Surrey, B.C.)

IMG_5200Teaching is my dream job!  Working with curious young minds is the best thing I could imagine!  I currently hold a district position as a Challenge Teacher, providing academic enrichment programs to students (grades 3-7) from 26 schools in North Surrey.  Each year I teach 16 different programs that typically last 9 weeks long each. Students travel to my classroom once a week, for half day sessions.  Students are grouped in split grade classes with 10-12 students each.  I love designing and teaching these interdisciplinary programs with special attention to fostering students’ development of skills in the areas of critical thinking, creative thinking, metacognition, communication, and leadership.  We work together as a “Community of Inquiry” and our approach to learning is project-based, dialogue-based and centred on students’ areas of interest and passion.  Students learn about their multiple intelligences areas and discover how to challenge their higher order thinking skills (Bloom’s Taxonomy) and to do meaningful, in-depth Personal Interest Projects. Here are descriptions of a few of my programs from the previous years (as described in the notice sent out to schools).


How to Be an Explorer

Ship_05All aboard—it’s time to discover your inner explorer! In this module that is part geography, geology, history and art, we transform our classroom into an explorers’ ship, the S.S. Inquiry. Onboard, we will learn about the secrets of places like the Galapagos Islands and Drumheller, Alberta. We will examine real artifacts and create historical replicas and illustrated travel logs. Students will also participate in costumed role-play as eminent explorers and naturalists like Jacques Cousteau, Freya Stark, Jane Goodall and Ernest Shackleton.


Time Travellers

Slide13If you could travel through time, where would you go? Who would you meet? Students in this module will build a “Time Machine” and engage in scenarios interacting with and roleplaying eminent people from the past including Albert Einstein, Marie Currie, Leonardo da Vinci, and Cleopatra. This inquiry-based program is 25% theoretical physics, 25% history, 25% drama and improvisation, and 25% art.


Inventors & Entrepreneurs

imgresImagine! Invent! Inspire the word! In this module, students will explore topics in invention and entrepreneurship. Students will learn about historical inventors, practice creative thinking strategies, and design and present their own inventions and/or business ideas to one another in a “Dragons’ Den”-style event.


Playground Design

Slide10What would your perfect playground be like? This program will challenge students to think critically and creatively about how children’s play areas can be designed. Students will conduct research, learn idea development strategies, explore concepts in engineering and design, and complete independent projects that include illustrations, blueprints, marketing materials, and miniature models.


Graphic Novel Design

Slide01Calling all artists and writers! Students in this module will explore their creativity as they learn strategies in graphic novel design. We will examine narrative structure, practice drawing techniques, and discuss the history, conventions and future directions of this growing genre. Students will contribute at least one in depth project to our class anthology.


How to Do a “TED Talk”

Slide11What’s your “idea worth spreading”? This module is for future leaders who wish to develop advance skills in public speaking, storytelling, and presentation design. Students will be coached in developing their chosen topics into TED-style presentations. They will learn about the history and conventions of TED, TEDx, and TED-Ed and co-produce a video of their talk to share with the world.


Philosophy Café

Slide03What big questions have been on your mind lately? Join your fellow philosophers in dialogue over a nice cup of hot chocolate or tea. Students in this module will think and talk about their own answers to deep questions like these: What is happiness? What is fairness? What would a perfect world be like? The activities explored will challenge and develop students’ critical thinking and communication skills.


Think Like da Vinci

Slide02Imagine! Invent! Investigate the world! In this hands-on module, students will explore creative arts and sciences activities inspired by the great “Renaissance man”, Leonardo da Vinci. Students will design new inventions, build their own flight machines, solve mysteries and riddles, paint, explore animal and plant biology, and sketch and reflect in their own da Vinci-inspired notebooks.


Board Game Design

UnknownDo you enjoy thinking strategically and playing games? What’s your area of special interest or passion? Students in this module will be challenged to develop their higher order thinking and research skills as they design and build their own original board games on topics of their choosing.


Wizard School

Slide08Calling all storytellers, artists, magicians, and adventurers! In this module, students will explore creative writing, art, drama, and problem solving activities inspired by children’s fantasy novels and fairytales. Students will explore legends and folklore, write their own fairytales, perform plays with “magical” props they create, learn “magic tricks”, and solve riddles to uncover hidden “treasures” in the classroom.


Brain Lab

canstock5827909What is a brain?  What is a mind?  Students in this program will be introduced to concepts in neuroscience and psychology as they explore this program about the human brain. Students will analyze their own thinking and challenge their cognitive skills (memory, focus, coordination, logic, verbal reasoning, visual-spatial skills, creativity, etc.).


The Learning Coats Project

Slide07Who are you as a learner? Students in this module will create their own “Learning Coats” as a way to explore their creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Students decorate their “Learning Coats” with meaningful imagery, writings, and symbols reflecting their unique identities, goals and journeys as learners. Learn more at



Slide06In what ways do we live in a mathematical universe? In this module, students will investigate a wide variety of problem solving challenges, paradoxes, and number experiments to challenge and develop their creativity and logical-mathematical intelligence. As well, we will co-create a “Math Game Show” for our final class.


Pop-Up Projects

fac48d475f74cc5a69767cae7d552b64How can we make eye-poping projects? In this program students will learn to learned to create, bind and cover their own hardcover books and practice techniques to make the following pop-up mechanisms: accordion, angle-mover, cage, frame, inverted frame, mouth, pocket, rocket, strong arm, and wall.  We will explore “visual-spatial intelligence” and its role and benefit in society and make connections between how students may use their pop-up-making skills and visual spatial intelligence to enhance their schoolwork, other projects, and future careers.  See a video of past students’ work:


Earth-Friendly Fashion

Slide12Can fashion make a difference in the world? In this creative art module, students will explore issues in fashion in connection with sustainability. Students will illustrate their own unique portfolios of “ethical spring fashions”. As well, we will use recycled materials to create clothing through fun team challenges inspired by the reality show “Project Runway”. See a past class website:


The Mind Olympics

Slide09Go for the gold! In a collaborative atmosphere, students will strengthen their cognitive skills with fun puzzles and games. Students will also invent their own brain games and work together to organize their own Olympic-style event for the final day of this program.


Astronomy Adventures

Slide04What’s out there in our universe? In this interdisciplinary module, students will explore topics in astronomy and cosmology through science, creative writing and art activities.



Slide05Students in the debating module will develop and challenge their critical thinking, research and public speaking skills through debate. This program culminates in a district-wide debate tournament.


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