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Advisory Circle of Educators – May 3 and 4, 2018 Meeting Summary


Elections Canada (EC) held its second meeting of the Advisory Circle of Educators (ACOE) on May 3 and 4, 2018. Fourteen participants attended, including at least one representative from every provincial and territorial jurisdiction (except British Columbia), an educator from a First Nations school, and three members at large.

Throughout the two days of meetings, ACOE members offered valuable feedback on EC's newly developed learning resources. Additional feedback on branding and product design elements and marketing and promotion considerations was also provided. This information was all intended to support the launch and use of the learning resources by educators during the fall of this year.

This report summarizes the key themes and recommendations that emerged.

Learning Environment

Members provided insight into the general learning environment in their jurisdictions, including the placement of social studies and citizenship education in the regional curriculum. The following observations were made:

  • Members noted the importance of weaving social studies and civic education topics through several subject areas.
  • EC resources provide cross-curricular opportunities outside of social studies. The numeracy and media literacy components are very strong and versatile.
  • Several jurisdictions are undergoing curriculum review, and high priority has been given to Indigenous content and perspective due to calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • Many teachers would be uncomfortable if asked to evaluate citizenship, noting the distinction between citizenship status versus attributes of citizenship. Thus, any assessment in the activities should be carefully worded.
  • Nova Scotia introduced a new citizenship course to begin in fall 2018, representing one of two provincial/territorial jurisdictions with specific civics/citizenship courses.
  • The member from Quebec indicated that their province had removed citizenship from its curriculum.
  • The curricula of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have a specific citizenship component but include the question, “How do I contribute and live with others in the world?”, which aligns with EC's civic education resources.

Key Findings

Throughout the meeting, ACOE members expressed appreciation for EC's consultative approach in developing exemplary lessons using inquiry-based pedagogy. Several members said that they had rarely participated in a curriculum development project where input from classroom educators was so highly respected and their suggestions acted upon to develop excellent classroom learning resources. In addition, it was noted that the opportunity for educators from across Canada to consult on a common national curriculum project was exceedingly rare. ACOE members also acknowledged the positive benefits of working together in collaboration with educators in each province and territory, including First Nations schools, several times.

ACOE members strongly endorsed the new learning resources. They felt that the pilot-testing by EC was pivotal in providing important feedback that gives specific direction on enhancing the learning resources. The ACOE said that the results confirm that EC's new learning resources are on the right track in terms of pedagogy and inquiry-based learning.

The EC education specialist's scan of provincial and territorial curricula across Canada showed correlations with specific courses associated with each EC learning resource. ACOE members provided feedback and additions to the curricular links. Members viewed these as a valuable resource for educators in planning their teaching curriculum. EC's learning resources touch upon many curriculum subject areas, including civics and citizenship, history, geography, Native studies, social studies, mathematics, media literacy, politics, law and language arts. Such a range demonstrates that EC's new resources have many cross-curricular connections and can be applied in a wide variety of classrooms.

Members of the ACOE determined that EC is on target with establishing the frameworks and materials needed―including a new web page, marketing materials and other promotional strategies―to successfully launch the new learning resources. Members agreed that it is very important to select lead teachers from local jurisdictions to work with EC to champion and share the new learning resources and to give demonstration lessons for teachers at conferences and workshops across Canada.


The ACOE members provided feedback on their experiences in pilot-testing the civic education resources. They supported moving forward with publication, since the pilot-testing led to only minor changes.

EC sought feedback on a draft assessment rubric. ACOE members strongly agreed that the rubric should remain generic. They provided valuable suggestions about appropriate wording, such as “expressing civic values” and “civic disposition”.

ACOE members thought that some of the new learning resources are more suited than others to digital formats. It was recommended that any digital resources enrich and enhance student learning rather than replicate what can be done with pen and paper. In short, several of the resources ought not to be adapted to a digital format simply for the sake of going digital. Considerations around access to computers and Internet bandwidth requirements were also expressed.

With reference to the search features on the EC website, most ACOE members recommended creating filters to search by topic rather than by grade and age.

Because teachers get information about new educational resources in many ways, the ACOE recommended that, in order to reach out to educators, EC launch the new learning resources using both traditional methods―such as pamphlets, PD day events and information kiosks at conferences―and social media, including Twitter and Facebook. There was consensus on EC's participation in educational conferences to launch the new learning resources.

At a future meeting, the ACOE will consider the following:

  1. Teacher engagement and classroom use of the educational resources
  2. Development of an internationally focused learning resource
  3. Additional learning resources that target elementary-level classrooms
  4. Programming for pre-service teachers
“It is really encouraging to come to a national interaction like this where we are talking about what we believe are the best ways in which to engage students on a topic we believe is important, and to feel reinforced in the direction we are taking as a small jurisdiction around best practices in student learning…and to hear that echoed around the table. There are not a lot of opportunities, especially in the area of social studies, for a national discussion.”

Appendix 1

Meeting participants
Jud DeulingYukon
John StewartNorthwest Territories
Ken BeardsallNunavut
Shashi ShergillAlberta
Robert JardineSaskatchewan
Connie Wyatt-AndersonManitoba
Geneviève GouletQuebec
Darryl FillierNewfoundland and Labrador
Ian CoffinPrince Edward Island
Wendy DriscollNova Scotia
Josy RoskeFirst Nations Schools
Alan SearsMember at large
Christina GanevMember at large
Geraldine CampbellMember at large
Absent ACOE Members
Sonja van der PuttenBritish Columbia
Diane VautourOntario
Stéphanie BabineauNew Brunswick
Lisa BrazeauLemmex Group
Elections Canada Staff
Susan TorosianExecutive Director, Policy and Public Affairs
June CreelmanSpecial Advisor on Civic Education
Karo SéguinSenior Outreach Officer
Sandra BaranekOutreach Officer
Rachel CollishawEducational Consultant
Ross LaingEducational Consultant

Appendix 2

Meeting agenda – Day 1: Thursday, May 3
8:30Opening remarks
8:35Welcome and roundtable introductions
9:00Update on civic education initiatives

EC Resources: Next Steps–Part 1

  • Pilot testing: general feedback
  • Geography of Elections
  • Civic Action Case Studies
10:30Health Break

EC Resources: Next Steps–Part 2

  • Interpreting Electoral Data
  • Voting Rights through Time
1:15Learning resource demo: Does Voting Matter?
2:45Health Break
3:00Collaboration with Royal Canadian Geographical Society
3:30Assessment and evaluation
Meeting agenda – Day 2: Friday, May 4
8:30Session begins: Recap of previous day/housekeeping
8:45Digital resources in the classroom
9:30New civic education website
10:30Health Break
10:45Civic education branding and product design
12:45Marketing and promotion: How will the teachers learn about the new resources?
1:45Professional learning and teacher engagement: What is the need and how do we go forward?
2:45Health Break
3:00Next steps