2019 Winners

of the Ken Spencer Award

Recognizing Innovation in Teaching and Learning

The EdCan Network is proud to share summaries from the seven Ken Spencer Award winners. From developing successful small businesses and sellable products, to harnessing the learning potential of museum artifacts and virtual reality alongside Indigenous cultural practices, these award-winning programs engage students into discovering their passions, histories and cultures in ways that equip them to effect meaningful change now and throughout their lifetime.  

The Ken Spencer Awards for Innovation in Teaching and Learning was established with the generous contributions of Dr. Ken Spencer to recognize and publicize innovative work that is sustainable and has the potential of being taken up by others; to encourage a focus on transformative change in schools; and to provide profile for classroom innovation within school districts, schools, and the media.

Dr. Ken Spencer is a former Director of the Canadian Education Association (CEA) and retired CEO and co-founder of Creo Products. In 2011, he was inducted as a business laureate of the British Columbia Hall of Fame. Since 2009, he has generously donated the financial awards for the Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

Check out our award-winning programs from 2019 (1.33 MB / pdf)

Learn more about the seven Ken Spencer Award winners.

Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship (MICE)


Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship (MICE)

Where students’ entrepreneurial enthusiasm leverages local expertise from A-to-Z

Maples Met School (Seven Oaks School Division)
Winnipeg, Man.


The MICE program provides learners with internships with local entrepreneurial mentors, to design their own start-ups that cater to real clients. Through partnerships with two organizations, students have learned the design process, gained critical skills related to seeing a project through from beginning to end, and developed solid business concepts related to app developmenvt, clothing lines, social enterprise, robotics, and renewable energy while gaining critical skills for a changing work world in a deeply authentic way.

Learn more about this program.
Rediscovering Tsiigehnjik


Gwich’in Land-based Education

Where culture, language and curriculum coalesce

Chief Paul Niditchie School (CPNS)
Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories


At this remote Arctic school, authentic culture-based programming aligns with the seasonal activities of the Gwich’ya Gwich’in people. Learning moves seamlessly from the school’s indoor classrooms to land-based education on the traditional fishing, hunting, and trapping grounds surrounding the community. This wrap-around approach to Indigenizing education, which grounds curriculum in the ways of knowing, doing and being of the people, has been characterized as “reconciliation in action.” Leadership, resilience, land-based inquiry, language reclamation, reconciliation and cultural pride are key components of this program and help students find themselves in their educational journey.

Learn more about this program.
Classe-Musée en réalité augmenté


3D Virtual and Augmented Reality Class Museum

How technology brings history to life

École L’Odyssée (Commission scolaire de la Capitale)
Quebec City, Que


The Classe-Musée program links middle school history with digital information technologies. Students research the historical relevance of structures, sites, or artifacts, then bring their learning to life through augmented reality and virtual 3D video montages. Students’ enthusiasm for this program extends beyond the school day and includes collaboration with several classes from around the world that are linked in virtually to implement their own Class-Museum programs.

Learn more about this program.
SPLICE Projects

SPLICE Projects

Where students take charge of what and how they want to learn

St. Jerome Catholic Elementary School (York Catholic District School Board)
Aurora, Ont.


SPLICE Projects are an opportunity for students in Grades 7 and 8 to engage in a week-long self-directed, inquiry-driven project of their choosing. Students opt to work alone or with partners on an intense inquiry that is not bound by the constraints of subject periods or any one school subject. Teachers act as mentors rather than instructors, and as the final products are not evaluated, students are encouraged to take risks and stretch themselves. Students are marked on their process, documentation and reflection of learning as shared in their final presentations.

Learn more about this program.

The Hopedale, Nunatsiavut Virtual Reality Class

Students learn to love where they live by exploring their history, traditions and culture

Amos Comenius Memorial School (Newfoundland and Labrador English School District)
Hopedale, N.L.


With a 360-degree camera and smartphones, students created a Google Expeditions virtual tour of Hopedale, Labrador, to welcome the world into their village. This project engaged all students, challenging them to think critically and work as a team to choose the most important scenes, topics, and information to include and to present them in a way that is both appealing and educational for their audience. This year, the students will create another Google Expedition to highlight important aspects of their Inuit culture such as snowshoe making, wood harvesting, trapping, and ice fishing.

Learn more about this program.
Personalization at Max Aitken Academy!1

Personalization at Max Aitken Academy!

Breaking the mould of schooling to customize Grade 6 learning

Max Aitken Academy (Anglophone North School District)
Miramichi, N.B.


Rearranging the traditional teaching schedule in order to set aside a weekly “Project Period” time has allowed a small but mighty team of teachers to collaborate in planning a series of meaningful, cross-curricular learning projects. The Project Periods allow their Grade 6 students to fully engage with these personalized learning projects. The scheduling flexibility and team-teaching approach has transformed structured classrooms to more free, fluid, and open learning communities. This program has included elaborate mock election campaigns, inventors’ workshops, and a young entrepreneurs’ holiday market – exciting real-world, hands-on learning experiences made possible by rearranging the traditional teaching schedule and evaluation method.

Learn more about the program.
Integrative Thinking

i-Think about Science

Student conversations to impact sustainable schools

Milton District High School (Halton District School Board)
Milton, Ont. 


A group of teachers have teamed up to deliver Integrative Thinking – a method for guiding classroom conversations and projects – with a focus on scientific discovery. (See link, above.) Students tackle “wicked problems” such as access to clean water, invasive species, maintaining biodiversity, and beautifying the school campus using this design thinking process. They will share their learning through student-led “open space” exhibitions to expose more youth to this innovative problem-solving approach.

Learn more about the program.