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Quest Journal
Quest Journal

It is with pleasure that the Quest Committee announces Volume 11 of the Quest Journal, an online research journal focused on linking research with practice in the interests of improving student well-being.  The publication of the journal coincides with the annual Quest Conference, and its content reflects the annual theme of the Conference: :  The Quest for Student Well-being: A Collective Responsibility.  Submissions to the this year’s journal will fall under one or more of the following themes – equity, innovation, leadership, mental health, modern learning, and mathematics.  For further information, please visit the submission criteria webpage.
One of the highlights of our Quest Conference is our online Quest Journal in which various conference presenters, educators, and scholars have the opportunity to publish articles relative to the conference theme. We invite you and your colleagues to submit articles, images or video from the work of your districts, organizations or from your own personal research. We are also pleased to showcase art throughout the journal from students across the YRDSB.
Thank you for your interest in The Quest Journal!
Committee members: Lynne Hollingshead (PhD),  Melissa Murray (MEd),  Jean Claude Ah-Teck (PhD), David Hung (PhD Candidate), Jayme Herman (MA).
To search articles, use the keyword search or search by year.

 Journal Submissions

Submissions will be accepted throughout the year to promote further reflections and learning around the Quest Journal themes:

  • equity
  • innovation
  • leadership
  • mental health
  • modern learning
  • mathematics

Please review the submission criteria before submitting

Keywords:   Year:   

Using Technological COmmunication Tools for Teaching Mathematics to Elementary Students to Enhance their Learning Experience

Authors: David Hung Cheong Lan and Jean Claude Ah-Teck

This article reports the findings of a study investigating the merits or otherwise of using common technological tools to teach Mathematics concepts to elementary students, particularly grade 7 and 8 students, in a North American school context. It is widely believed that Mathematics is a traditional subject that is best taught and learned in a brick and mortar classroom and that the teacher’s role is essentially to impart knowledge to students. However, in this 21st century, school-aged students are said to have been born in the technology era and are more than ever connected. Whilst many students still prefer to be in a physical classroom to learn, as evidenced by the number of students taking online courses compared to those selecting in-class courses in most educational settings, extant research shows that the advent of technology and the internet have undeniably revolutionized the way students, particularly teenagers with their ease to use internet accessible devices, learn nowadays. High school and college students are increasingly opting to study online due to various reasons and consequently, leading to a corresponding increase in the number of school boards and universities in North America offering online courses. Hence, our article focuses on the usefulness of technological tools and associated factors that keep students engaged for learning purposes, with particular reference to the enhancement of their mathematical knowledge and skills via online learning. Whist confirming the findings of other researchers in the field, various other aspects pertaining to how students better learn through online interactions, depicted in our study, are reported and discussed at length. Significantly the paper identifies new perspectives worthy of consideration when designing a fully online teaching and learning quality environment with teenagers as the targeted audience.

Keywords: Online learning, Mathematics education, Web 2.0, 21st century learning, Educational technology, Technological communication tools
On Becoming One of those "Math People"

Authors: Justin Hui & Ken Pettigrew

So often in social circles, the topic of mathematics is met with vehement disdain. It seems that almost everyone has a story to share about the anxiety they have felt when it comes to mathematics. Regardless of how this happened, it is the mission of the two authors to do something about it. It is incumbent upon all of us to challenge this outdated mindset, and to model for students that each of us has the capacity to push our limits and to achieve our potential.

Keywords: mathematics, math anxiety, growth mindset, humility, well-being, equity

The Inclusive Nature of Arts Education and its Impact on Keeping Students in School

Author: Justina So

Research studies have indicated numerous benefits of participating in Arts education. These include increased engagement, development of motivation and confidence, and the ability to think creatively and critically (Rusinek, 2008). The Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Project in the YRDSB is one such program that provides an equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students, in particular those who are at-risk or marginalized. This article will examine research findings on the positive impact that Arts education has on student engagement, well-being, and achievement. Connections will be made to the YRDSB AIR Project to understand how the Arts eliminate barriers and provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for students so they can be successful and future-ready.

Keywords: equity, inclusion, Arts education, elimination of barriers, relevant learning, 21st century competencies, modern learning

Cuts, Bruises, Mental Health and Restorative Practices: Meeting the needs of all students through a Restorative Approach

Author: Stephen Young

The negative state of a student’s mental health can have adverse effects on their academic progress if left unchecked and unattended. Increasingly we are becoming aware of some of the negative effects of daily life on the mental state of students, and that in many instances, these students do not know how to manage their mental injuries. Restorative Practices, if used consistently and school-wide, can be one approach to give students a sense of connection with their school and class, gives students voice, allows for the safe discussion of feelings and concerns, and builds and maintains positive relationships that allows adults to better perceive student mental injuries, and gives students a caring adult to approach when needed.

Keywords: relationships, restorative practices, mental illness, mental health, student voice, school climate, classroom climate, well-being

Language learning through multimodality and identity texts: A pilot project supporting English language learners

Author: Mandy Lau

In the spring of 2017, the Modern Learning: ELLs in Arts team and educators from Maple High School and Stouffville District High School engaged in a professional collaborative inquiry around how multimodality, identity texts, and Steps to English Proficiency (STEP) can support language learning for English Language Learners.

Keywords: ELL, English Language Learners, The Arts, identity, modern learning

Creativity, Learning and Wellness

Author: Tony Glover

The connections between creativity and positivity and between positivity and learning are well researched and documented; nevertheless, in an educational world in which some systems increasingly focus on knowledge and recall and in an ever-changing digital world, with its wealth of information and instant access, the importance of creativity becomes ever greater in enhancing wellness. Yet areas which lend themselves to creative expression are often marginalised or, at best, covered discretely.
In this paper it is argued that the benefits arising from creativity extend far beyond discrete areas of the curriculum and reach a whole approach to learning. For schools which are serious about promoting wellness and high levels of engagement in learning it is contended that creative experiences should be integral to the curriculum.

Keywords: Wellness, Positivity, Modern Learning, Creativity, Student Leadership, Innovation

Understanding and enhancing teachers' support for incluseive physical education

Authors: Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Lauren Tristani, Parissa Safai, Bert Imai, Andrea Haefele

Inclusive physical education provides an important opportunity to enhance well-being among all students including those with exceptionalities or disabilities. Teachers play a critical role in supporting the implementation of effective inclusive physical education. Unfortunately, many teachers do not feel adequately prepared or confident to implement inclusive physical education. The following video discusses the role of teacher training to support inclusive physical education, and a program of research to enhance our understanding of teacher training. This research will inform the development of tools and resources to support teachers in implementing inclusive physical education to enhance the well-being of all students.

Keywords: inclusion, physical education, students with disabilities, teacher support, teacher training, student well-being, equity

Barrier-Free H&PE

Author: Ontario Physical Health Education Association

This article looks at the ways in which creating an inclusive active space can support every student succeed. Sharing insight on teaching strategies, accommodations, modifications, safety and more, the article also demonstrates how inclusive education enhances learning and engagement for all students. Additionally, a variety of useful educator resources, tools and examples are shared throughout to support educators navigate the set-up inclusive active learning spaces.

This article was published September 29, 2017 at It is reprinted and distributed here with permission.

Keywords: Inclusion, Equity, Physical Activity, Health & Physical Activity, Education, Physical Education, Learning, Safety, Teaching Strategies, Teamwork, Accommodations

Let's Start a Self-Care Revolution!

Author: Ann Douglas

Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s self-preservation. It’s what allows you to function at your best, both personally and professionally. But it can also be a source of tremendous anxiety and guilt. You may worry that it’s self-indulgent to prioritize self-care. Or you may feel like you’re letting yourself down if your efforts to practice self-care end up falling short. This article encourages the reader to work through a series of guided questions that have been designed to encourage self-reflection and to spark community-wide conversations about the importance of self-care.

Keywords: self-care, goal setting, leadership, transformation, mental health and wellbeing, healthy active living, creating community

Special Ed Students: Equity through Maintaining High Expectations & Building Self-esteem with Collaborative Teamwork

Author: Katharine Piotrowski

This article explains how building a collaborative and connected culture increases students’ self-esteem within a special education classroom and empowers the students to engage and excel in deep-learning. Through maintaining high expectations that challenge students, emphasizing the value of learning from your mistakes, explicitly teaching self-regulation strategies and connecting with the community, these students begin to believe in themselves and take on projects to make a difference in their community and the world.

Keywords: Equity, Special Education, Technology, Inquiry, Mathematics, Collaboration, Self-esteem, Deep Learning, Professional Culture

Growing Understanding – Transforming Learning

Author: Beate Planche

In Ontario, we have clear outcomes and goals in mind that now include the integration of modern competencies using a variety of learning models. As the Ministry report on Phase One - 21st Century Competencies (Winter, 2016 Edition) reinforced – cognitive competencies such as critical thinking, analysis and problem solving are important but no longer touted as the only prominent indicators for success (p. 10). Interpersonal and intrapersonal growth are now being recognized as just as important as growth in the cognitive domain and the fundamental domain of being able to communicate well. Increasingly, we know it is important for adults to have strong people skills as well as reliable working skills. An important question in teaching this generation of students is how can we nurture and capture the impact of emerging ‘softer skills’ in student learning? As well, in what ways can we integrate social, emotional and academic learning authentically so that learning can be assessed as a part of our evolving understanding of student success?

Keywords: leadership, learning, transformation
Using Smart Ideas: Leadership Roles and Impact on Student Learning and Teacher Practice
Author: Darlene Nagy​

2016 Artwork by Sophia at Emily Carr SSOne of the main concerns I have as a junior teacher is how to help students who struggle in writing succeed. In my experiences I find that students have difficulty generating ideas and simply writing them down. Students with learning disabilities have an even more difficult time when writing. How do I help these students and lessen the frustration they feel when asked to write at school?

Keywords: leadership, teacher practice

The Power of Creating a Logic Model
Authors: Nada Bimbilov and Lynne Hollingshead

2016 Artwork by Asha, Alexander Mackenze HSAs researchers working within a large school board supporting system-wide learning we are regularly asked by our colleagues, “How can we measure our impact?” Our answer has consistently been - what are your goals and what does it look like and sound like along the way to reaching those goals? We have found the construction of a logic model not only supports intentional planning and monitoring but also builds a shared understanding and commitment to our work towards improved student achievement and well-being.

Keywords: program evaluation, logic model, planning, monitoring, goal setting, developing success indicators

Pairing Passion with Purpose: Change-making at Romeo-Dallaire P.S.
Author: Jennifer Birse

2016 Artwork by students at Lake Wilcox PSThis article describes a school’s approach in embedding an inquiry approach through a modern learning lens.

Keywords: Modern Learning, Inquiry, Growth Mindset, Authentic Student-directed Learning

Modern Learning in YRDSB
Author: Lovleen Rai

2016 Artwork by Chelsea, Alexander Mackenzie HSYork Region District School Board’s (YRDSB) initiative entitled ‘Modern Learning Strategy’ helps students develop the necessary mindset and skills, through deep learning opportunities, that will prepare them to be future ready. The initiative’s focus on teaching 21st century competencies, including life values, is providing students with the opportunity to actively engage in the curriculum, while also helping them become independent critical thinkers who will be prepared to overcome challenges outside of school. These opportunities are available since the initiative provides teachers with the means to create an environment that is built on trust and respect.

Keywords: Modern Learning Strategy; Democratic Purpose of Schooling; Transcendence-orientated Interaction; Future Ready; Life Values

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