Growing use of contract faculty in Ontario traps many in precarious work, threatens quality of higher education

As an Occasional Teacher, this is an issue I can relate to. It’s hard enough trying to get a contract as a full-time teacher, but imagine having to compete with lower quality and cheaper “teachers” for these few jobs? How many of us could afford to be OTs forever?

“Improving the working conditions of contract faculty is about improving the learning experience for students across the province,” said Lawson. “It’s also about social justice and fairness for every academic employee.” 

Please read:

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) launched a campaign this morning to address the issue of increased reliance on contract faculty in Ontario’s universities. This was done in solidarity with the American contract faculty walkout.

As you likely know, this isn’t an issue that’s only occurring south of the border. The CBC estimates that over half of Canadian university courses are taught by contract faculty. These professors don’t have access to the same job security, pay and benefits as their tenured colleagues despite doing the same work. The quality of Ontario’s postsecondary education system is threatened by the poor working conditions of contract faculty.

You can find the campaign here:

And here’s the full press release:

Stop Motion App for creating videos

NFB StopMo Studio: A new Challenge for Creativity


This is a guest post written by educator Paul Carrière, plastic arts teacher, elementary level, FACE School, CSDM. All photographs were taken by grade 3 students in Paul’s class with an iPad.

Like its predecessor PixStop, the NFB’s new app for iPad, NFB StopMo Studio, is a great, inexpensive tool that makes it easy to produce frame-by-frame animated films. StopMo Studio offers a wide range of features and very gently hints that we, teachers may need to go back to the drawing board. It has been my experience that an app of the calibre ofStopMo Studio can get students’ creative juices flowing and even inspire teachers to review their teaching strategies. Students who are used to lecture-style explanations on a video projector or the blackboard are more receptive and engaged when I teach them using an iPad.

Check out the article for more information. We are creating Public Service Announcements right now and producing videos and some students are using this app!



Film Study: Symbolism

Symbolism: Something used for representing something else. Symbols work like images that have meaning added to them. Colours can represent a moods. A rose is just a flower, until it is one of a bunch given as a present. Then it signifies love – passionate if the rose is red, chaste if it is white.


  • Evil: Fire, black, crow, storm
  • Death or endings: Gravestones, cemeteries, grim reaper, day of the dead, skulls, candle blowing out, coffins, ringing of the bell, cross bones
  • Love:  cupid, harp, heart, rose, red

Film Study: Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a literary device in which an author hints certain plot developments that perhaps will come to be later in the story.  It can be very broad and easily understood, or it may be complex use of symbols that are then connected to later turns in the plot.

Foreshadowing often appears at the beginning of a story and contains clues about what is to come:

  • Keep an eye out for signs of potential conflict between characters.
  • Look for signals that things might not be what the initially seem.
  • Pay close attention to any details that seem unusual or have particular emotional significance.

A hint that is designed to mislead the audience is referred to as a red herring. This is particularly the case with mystery writers, who want to bury clues to a mystery in information that is partially true and partially false.

Film Study: Irony


  • The opposite of what is originally thought or expected occurs, and is characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between reality (what is) and appearance (what seems to be).

Verbal Irony is an incongruity between what is said and what is meant.

  • The discordance of verbal irony may be deliberately created as a means of communication (as in art or rhetoric).
    • as soft as concrete
    • as clear as mud
    • as pleasant as a root canal
    • “as pleasant and relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake” (Kurt Vonnegut from Breakfast of Champions)

Dramatic Irony is an incongruity between what a character in a work of fiction believes to be true and what the audience knows to be true.

  • Dramatic irony communicated the importance of a particular truth by portraying a person who is strikingly unaware of it, emphasizing a perceived truth.

Situational Irony is an “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal, [intended], or expected result.”

  • Descriptions or depictions of situational irony, whether in fiction or in non-fiction, serve the communicative function of sharpening or highlighting certain discordant features of reality.


  • Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.
  • The Titanic (the unsinkable ship) sinks.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Cup.
  • The police station gets robbed.
  • The fire station catches on fire and burns down.
  • It snows in the moths of June in Kitchener.
  • A lawyer is honest and will not charge a lot of money.

Film Study: Terminology

Cinematic Elements

Shots and Framing

Establishing Shot

  • Often a long shot or a series of shots that set the scene. It is used to establish setting and to show transitions between locations.

Long Shot (LS)

  • A shot from some distance. If filming a person, the full body is shown.  It may show the isolation or vulnerability of the character (also called a Full Shot).

Medium Shot (MS)

  • The most common shot. The camera seems to be a medium distance from the object being filmed. A medium shot shows the person from the waist up. The effect is to ground the story.

Close-Up (CS)

  • The image being shot takes up at least 80% of the frame.

Extreme Close-Up:

  • The image being shot is a part of the whole, such as an eye or a hand.

Two Shot

  • A scene between two people shot exclusively from an angle that includes both characters, more or less, equally. It is used in love scenes, where the interaction between the two characters is important.

Camera Angles

 Eye Level

  • A shot taken from a normal height; that is, the character’s eye level.
  • 90-95% of all shots are taken at eye level because it’s the most natural angle.

High Angle

  • The camera is above the subject.
  • This usually has the effect of making the subject look smaller than normal, giving him or her the appearance of being weak, powerless, and trapped.

Low Angle

  • The camera films the subject from below.
  • This usually has the effect of making the subject look larger than normal, therefore strong, powerful, threatening and authoritative.

Camera Movements


  • A stationary camera moves from side to side on a horizontal axis.


  • A stationary camera moves up or down along a vertical axis.


  • A stationary camera lens is adjusted to make an object seem to move closer to or further away from the camera.
    • Moving toward a character often precedes a personal or revealing movement,
    • Moving away distances, or separates the audience from the character.


  • The camera is on a track that allows it to move with the action. The term also refers to any camera mounted no a car, truck or helicopter.


  • The camera is on a crane over the action. This is used to create overhead shots.


High Key

  • The scene is flooded with light, creating a bright and open-looking scene.

Low Key

  • The scene is flooded with shadows and darkness, creating suspense or suspicion.

Bottom or Side Lighting

  • Direct lighting from below or the side, which often makes the subjet appear dangerous or evil.

Front or Back Lighting

  • Soft lighting on the actor’s face or from behind gives the appearance of innocence or goodness, “the halo effect”.



  • Sound that could logically be heard by the character in the film.


  • Sound that cannot be heard by the characters but is designed for the audience reaction only. An example might be ominous music for foreshadowing.

Theatrical Elements

Acting Choices

  • Acting choices are the ways the actors in the film choose to “act” their part. It could include how they walk, talk, or use certain gestures for effect.


  • Costume choices are always taken under extreme awareness of the scene and the overall mood/atmosphere the director is trying to portray.


  • The addition of props and how they add to the overall feeling of the scene is always taken into consideration. Remember, everything that you see in a film is put there for a reason and captured on camera for a particular effect.


  • The overall set of each scene is carefully planned out for the director to get his/her point across in the film.


  • Make-up has a tremendous amount of impact when filming. With the use of make-up, directors are able to film profound differences in the characters in an instant. Whether it is for an aging effect or to change the appearance of the actors playing a role, make-up plays an integral role in the making of films.

Editing Techniques


  • The most common editing technique. Two pieces of film are spliced together so that the film “cuts” from one image to another.


  • Can be to, or from black to white. It often implies that time has passed or may signify the end of a scene.
    • Fade in: A fade can begin in the darkness and gradually assume full brightness.
    • Fade out: the image gradually gets darker.


  • A kind of  fade in which one image is slowly replaced by another. It can create a connection between the two images.


  • A new image wipes off the previous image. A wipe is more fluid than a cut and quicker than a dissolve.


  • Cut or dissolve to action that happened in the past.


  • A shot of one subject, then another, then back to the first. It is often used for conversation or reaction shots.

Cross Cutting / Parallel Editing

  • Cuts between actions that are happening simultaneously. This technique is also called parallel editing. It can create tension or suspense and can form a connection between scenes.

Eye-Line Match

  •  Cut to an object, then to a person. This technique shows when a person seems to be looking at and can reveal a character’s thoughts.

Created by Nick Ioannidis