Plastic Currency: The solution to plastic pollution

Remember collecting pop cans or milk jugs to return to the store for a quarter? Well, the solution to plastic pollution is built on this premise.

Right now, people want to recycle more but are lazy and there are not recycling bins everywhere.  Plus, since creating plastic has such a low carbon footprint compared to other forms of packaging, the solution isn’t to ban it, but to manage it!

If there were machines that converted plastic into cubes or coins that could be used as a form of currency, then people would be motivated to recycle – even to pick up plastic trash in exchange for these coins.

What would this take? Well, first of all, someone would need to create some form of plastic trash compactor that could convert plastic into either cubes (dollars) or plastic coins. They would need to be everywhere.

Next, people would need to accept them. You could collect them as a fundraiser. You could donate them to a cause, like cancer research.  The point is, by making plastic trash valuable, you keep it out of landfills. Ultimately, they would need to be used by companies to make new plastic products.

Sounds simple right?

Other ideas would be to start rewards plans for recycling. Eg. Scotland to pay people 20p for every returned bottle and can, as rest of UK urged to adopt recycling model


Philosophy: Teachings kids to think for themselves

The greatest addition to my teaching practice has been the introduction of philosophical debate into my classroom.

Here are a few of my favourite resources

University of Washington Philosophy for Children Lessons:

Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom, and emphasizes the need to find the truth (here’s a short video: .


Next, we discussed values and how they shape all of our decisions and actions:


The importance of empathy:

Prince EA.

Kurzgesagt in a Nutshell

My favourite site for inspiring curiosity is Kurzgesagt in a Nutshell. They also delve a little into philosophy:

The School of Life’s videos are best for students grade 7 and older, although my favourites are are the first four listed below (in order).

Media Literacy Study for Gr 4-8 Ottawa Teachers

Teachers — want to earn $50? I am looking for grade 4-8 teachers in Ottawa to user test a cybersecurity game. Please share with anyone who may be interested in participating. Details about the study can be found below.
Looking for volunteers (Grade 4-8 teachers in Ottawa)
We are conducting a two-part user study to evaluate an online cybersecurity game and looking for participants. I am a PhD student at Carleton University, working under the supervision of Dr. Sonia Chiasson.

In Part 1, you will play the online game and familiarize yourself with its functionality on your own a time. This will take approximately 20 minutes. Part 2 involves a scheduled session with the researcher and will take approximately 60 minutes. In this session, you will provide feedback about your gameplay experience. Before beginning the study, you will also complete an online demographics questionnaire.

Part 1 will be conducted online, and Part 2 will take place in-person. You will have the right to end your participation in the study at any time, for any reason. If you choose to withdraw, we will ask whether your data should be kept or destroyed.

We are looking for teachers who teach children in grades 4-8 in Ottawa with experience teaching media literacy, digital literacy, or digital citizenship. Participants must be able to speak, read, and understand English. The game may be played in French or English, but the research study will be conducted in English.

Each participant will be rewarded for their time with a $50 Chapters eGift card or an email money transfer. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail Sana at:

You are under no obligation to participate. You may also share this information with others who may be interested in the study.

This research has been cleared by the Carleton University Research Ethics Board (CUREB-B,, CUREB-B clearance # 107030.


EQAO 2019

Administration of EQAO: February 25 to March 8, 2019.
In the SDC you need to list any student requiring permitted accommodations.  You will be able to change and update this later, from March 18- June 7.
There are a few new things:
  • For the mathematics section, students can use virtual manipulatives that are not instructional in nature, such as  Please remember that students must choose to use manipulatives and this should be regular practice.  Students who choose virtual manipulatives should be used to using them throughout the year.  Regular hands-on manipulatives should also be available.
  • Students who regularly use white noise or music during an assessment may do so.
  • Teachers may leave up anything on walls that is not instructional in nature.  See p. 12 of the attached guide and the attached Guidelines for Classroom Displays.
This was new last year (and is confusing to understand in the guide on p. 26):
  • ELL students who are in the early stages/steps of English acquisition (ELD steps 1-4 or ESL steps 1-3)  have access to any of the permitted accommodations that are available to all students, and those available to special education students, as long as they have been using them regularly throughout the year.  This includes Google Read and Write. They do not need an IEP.  You must include this information in the SDC.
  • You can also exempt ELL students if they do not have a level of English that is sufficient enough for them to be successful on the assessment (p. 26).  Exempting students does not adversely affect your published EQAO results.  It does affect your participating results.
Students with special education needs are permitted accommodations listed on pg. 21-24 of the guide.  All accommodations must be indicated in the SDC.  Students must have them listed on their IEP and must be using them on a regular basis in the classroom for assessment tasks.
All special versions (e.g. Word) of the assessment can be downloaded by the school on May 15 except Google Read and Write.  As in past years we download it centrally and then share it electronically with schools.  Instructions about using Google Read and Write for the EQAO assessments will be available later through your SERT.  We will offer an after school session in early May as well.  Please watch for more information.  With regards to Google Read and Write:
  • It is required to be on a student’s IEP and used regularly (or used regularly for an early stage ELL student without an IEP).
  • Students need to be very comfortable with the program in order to be successful.  They should be using it regularly throughout the year.
  • Unless a student is using Equatio in math in Google Read and Write, we do not suggest a student use Google Read and Write for the mathematics portion of the assessment. I will be asking later if you have any students who typically use Google Read and Write for mathematics and determine if it will be offered this year.
When scheduling your EQAO assessments, you must ensure that teachers get their regularly scheduled planning periods, including SERTs.  For example, if the EQAO assessment is periods 1, 2 and 3 and a teacher has planning period 2, it is fine for the planning time teacher to come in and supervise the assessment.  The planning time teacher must have been given the guide and met about the duties required therein.  If it were possible to move the period 2 planning period, to period 4, for example, and that was mutually agreeable to all teachers, you can do that.  Do not cancel a planning period one day to pay back later in the week.  
You do not need all your students to write at exactly the same time.  For example, you might have one class of grade 3s write periods 2 and 3 and another class write periods 5 and 6.  While most schools tend to have students complete the 6 hours over the course of 3 days, you can spread it out longer.  Each booklet requires 1 hour and should be done in one continuous sitting.  Students who require extra time must not be interrupted by nutrition break.

DPA: 12345

Here’s an easy DPA game that doesn’t require much space.

Someone at the front calls out numbers, slowly at first.

  1. Jump
  2. touch the ground
  3. turn around clockwise
  4. turn around counter-clockwise
  5. Jumping Jack

When 1 is called, the whole class must jump before the next number is called. The numbers are called out in a random order. When you mess-up, you’re out. You slowly increase the speed the numbers are called out in.

Now, instead of sitting, you can make students march on the spot or floss until the game is done. Play until there’s 1 person standing.

Then you can, as a class, come up with your own activities for 1-5 or even add to the list to make it more complicated.


Easy Critical Thinking Games for Students: Warm-ups, media, school

Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. In a world where we are inundated with information, much of which is false or misleading, this skills has tremendous importance.

One quick and easy way to get students to think critically, is to brainstorm, sort and rank ideas.

Warm-Up: Would you Rather

  • As the warm up, try Would you Rather? Have students write at least two questions, one of which may be a fun one, such as “Tacos or Pizza” but the other must be deeper. Students physically walk to the side that represents their opinion. BONUS: On tougher questions, I allow students to debate the question. For example, “Samsung vs. Apple?” gets good debate, or Would you rather live in the past or the future?
  • “Attractive or Intelligent” is a common one.
  • Organized or Creative
  • Too Cautious or Too Reckless
  • Be too hot  or too cold
  • Make modest money and a happy family, or stinking rich and alone?
  • Famous alive or Famous when you are dead?

would your rather

MEDIA Game for 7/8 and high school

Students brainstorm types of media and cut them out on pieces of paper so that they can easily sort or arrange them. Then they are to rank them.

Example, oldest to youngest audience:

media oldest to youngest

Other options include,

  • “Most male to most female audience”,
  • most respectable to least
  • size of audience
  • Used by their age group the best to least

Next, give them a product to advertise or an announcement.

  • A) Ask them to pick three social media sites that they would use to get the message across to their target audience. OR
  • B) have them create a campaign to reach the largest audience on only one media platform.

SCHOOL Problems

You could also use this same idea to discuss problems affecting their school. Brainstorm issues at the school and rank them according to various criteria such as:

  • Affects the most students to least
  • Most urgent, to least pressing
  • Affects boys more, affects girls more, affects teachers more
  • Broadest impact (affecting community) to smallest (affecting a small, specific group)
  • etc…

Next, have them pick an issue and create a survey using Google forms to collect data on their issue. Graph and use this data to create Change Campaign.

Financial literacy resources & Activities

While not all kids “like” math, what kid isn’t interested in money? And what better time to talk about money than after the holidays where you likely spent a lot, and hopefully received some, too!

For students with enrichment needs, making math more meaningful and relevant will enhance their interest and engagement with the subject. It also provides teachers with some easy real-world extensions to the curriculum.

So what does it mean to be financially literate? It means you can

  • Understand how banks work and the different types of bank accounts
  • Understand basic financial concepts like wants vs. needs, saving, investing, borrowing and  compound interest
  • Understand financial products like bank cards, credit cards, mortgages and insurance.
  • Feel comfortable discussing money with family members and feel confident in your ability to make financial decisions
  • Are able to plan for your financial future!

Why Financial Literacy?

The reasons for teaching financial literacy are limitless! In the world of “tap-pay” debit, students aren’t even aware of what they are spending? Do students even know how much things cost today?  Do they know how much post-secondary school costs How long will it take them, working a minimum wage job to pay for 1-year of post-secondary school? What salaries they can expect when graduating?

Just as important as spending habits, saving and investing are equally important topics. Personal debt is increasing in Canada and is a leading cause of adult suicide. Worse, students think debt is inevitable – a normal part of life. However, much can be done to alleviate this problem by making money a topic of conversation in your classroom. Fortunately, there are many resources to help you get started!

Return on Investment (ROI) – More than just a financial concept

This is one of the most important financial literacy concepts as it relates to all aspects of life. In simple terms it calculates what is the payback for an action. What value does this action provide?

In financial terms, the return on investment (ROI) is a calculation used in business used to determine whether a proposed investment is wise, and how well it will repay the investor. We can also use ROI to evaluate our purchases. This can be harder to do.

  • For example, what is a better use of our money: a $2 toy from the dollar store, or $15 binder for organizing your school work? A new car or a used car? These are not simple, straightforward calculations and have many variables, like how long you plan to keep them for.  
  • Here’s a tough one: 4 years of university versus 4 years of working? Short-term pain, long-term gain? Or vice versa?

In life, we can look at ROI to determine how well our time is spent. For example, what is the ROI on a walk outside on our mental health? What do we spend a lot of time doing, but don’t get much out of? Or worse, comes with an emotional cost? As you can see, this becomes a philosophical question and way of evaluating our life choices.

  • Try thinking about this concept in your classroom: which actions have the greatest payoff, and which actions come at a cost?

After discussing this concept with your class, ask them the following questions:

  • What is something that comes at a high cost but has a high payoff?
    E.g., university?  A well-used gym membership? A house? A family?
  • What actions or purchases come with a low or negative ROI?
    E.g., purchases of something you don’t use much (stuffed  toys, collectibles)? Procrastinating?

CFEE – Canadian Foundation for Economic Education

CFEE is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works collaboratively with funding partners, departments of education, school boards, schools, educators, and teacher associations to develop and provide free, non-commercial programs and resources for teachers and students – developed and reviewed by educators. Overall, CFEE’s work primarily focuses on youth but also aspires to help people of all ages be better prepared to undertake their economic roles, responsibilities, and decisions with confidence and competence.

Money and Youth

The world of money is one area where many people often feel they lack control. CFEE, in partnership with Investors Group, has produced this publication to provide youth with information that will help them to better understand the world of money, to enable them to begin to take more control over their financial future – and improve their chance of achieving success.

Table of Contents

CFEE Building Futures in Manitoba

Lesson Plans by Grade

All about Bank Accounts

Download this document to discuss the different kinds of bank accounts with your students are send it home for students to read with their parents. What is a Youth Savings Account and who should have one? Do you have an RESP? Do you need one? These are the types of question they’ll discuss.

Toronto Star – Classroom Connections

This program is designed to help you teach your students financial literacy. It comes with a Teacher Guide and a student section in both French and English! Download your copy today!

TRY THIS:  (a monthly section of ready to use ideas to push thinking in your classroom)

The Money Minute  & other money lessons for your class

b>Fairy Tale Values: Ask students to write a one- to two-page children’s bedtime story that would teach a young child a lesson about money.<
What’s more important—the job or the money? Discuss this question with students or ask them to write a brief opinion piece.

Keys Please? Grades 7/8: Discuss when and why it makes sense to borrow. Next, go find a car they’d like to own when they get their license. Use this car loan calculator to figure out how much they’d end of spending, and how long it would take to pay the money back. Have students share their answers. Lessons learned?

Get a job! Grade 7/8 – In groups, have students figure when they can start working, and how much minimum wage is (note: different for those under 18 than for adults). Next, research a couple of different jobs and pick one that you think is better than the rest.

  • A) Calculate how many hours/year they could work during high school? How much could they earn and save by the time they graduate?
  • B) Create a resume to match their “dream part-time job”. Conduct fake interviews with peers. Who would you hire and why?  Discuss all the ways a person could mess up a job interview and lose the opportunity to be hired.

Stop me, please! Discuss students’ greatest spending weaknesses. When do they wish someone would just stop them—and how could they stop? What could your family do with less of?


Money in my life. Discuss the role and importance of money in our lives. What are the benefits? What are the negative aspects? What’s important to keeping a proper perspective?

Reality check. Brainstorm to come up with a list of the basic expenses necessary for a modest level of financial comfort. What minimum annual income would be needed?

“I just can’t stand…” Which ads do students find annoying and why? Which ads do they like and why? BONUS: Create an ad for your favourite product.

Tic Tac Toe – Gr. 3-5 – Download this Tic Tac Toe Math Choice Board on money calculations and decisions. <

“Who wants to be a millionaire?” Who does want to be a millionaire and why? Who doesn’t and why not? Have each student make a list of what he/she would do with a million dollar windfall and hand it in on an unsigned piece of paper. Review the lists with the class.

Jobs we love: Brainstorm all of the jobs that students can think of. Next, brainstorm different industries: E.g., medical, education, manufacturing, government, fishing, retail, foods, services, hospitality. Have students add jobs that they were missing. Then start grouping them. From best to worst? Split them into “male jobs” and female jobs”.  White collar/Blue collar? Highest earning to lowest earning? Compare the different group answers. Why the difference?
Individually, have students pick their top 5-10 jobs.  Pick one job and research the qualifications required to obtain each job and their average salary (try Glassdoor).How many years of school will you need?  Have each student present their job to the class.

Bonus: research how much 1 year of schooling would cost. All years?

Time is Money: What do spend too much time doing when you could be more productive? Watching YouTube? Playing Fortnite? What could you be doing during that time that would be more productive? Set a goal to do 1h more work a week (or 10m/day). Bonus: negotiate with your parents to get chore money!

Savings Goal: Calculate how much money you think you get in a year (birthdays, chores, holidays). Make a goal to save half of that money. Calculate how much they’d have in 5 years. 10 years? Bonus, take into account extra money you might make as you get older!<

Spending Goal: Research 5 things you like to buy. Figure out how much they cost. Brainstorm ways in which you could earn enough money to buy one of them (NOTE: the money has to be earned).

Super Savers: There are lots of way to “earn” money by cutting back on spending. For example, cutting down on electricity  bill by turning off the lights. Saving on grocery bill by cutting coupons. In groups, brainstorm other ways to reduce spending costs for your family!<

Great Givers: In groups, research local charities and pick one you like the best. Keep a jar in your classroom for each group’s charity. Set a goal donation. Calculate how much each person would have to give over the course of a year. Make a goal of something like 25 cents a week/student. See much money you raise and make it a class trip to donate the money!

Hey, that’s my money! Research what fees you pay on bank accounts. Compare the major youth accounts. Which one would you pick and why?

Tooth Fairy: Primary – How much money do you get for 1 tooth? How much could you earn from all of your baby teeth? Set a goal to save some of this money. How much should you save? Discuss as a class.

Pizza Money: Do you get pizza at school? Chocolate milk? Calculate how much money you spend on lunch orders each week? How much will you likely spend in one school year?

Big Budgets: Depending on the grade, split the class into groups. Groups can choose to pick a big budget: a family, a university student, a school, a store, a city, the Canadian Government, a store, or something else of their choosing. Have each group brainstorm their expenses. BONUS: research the actual costs. How much should they put in savings based on the size of their budget (money for a rainy day)? How much should they set aside for investments, or donations?


Financial Literacy Terms & Word Wall Words  

Financial Literacy Infographics