Reach Ahead E-Learning Program for Gifted Math Students

Grade 8 Opportunity – E-Learning Reach Ahead


Many have heard of an opportunity that is open strictly to students that meet criteria to be identified as Gifted in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

This opportunity is called the E-Learning Reach Ahead Grade 9 Academic Math course.  Students in Grade 8, that meet criteria to be identified as Gifted, are eligible to take a Readiness Assessment that is then moderated by an unbiased group of Educators.

Those with the highest scores on the Readiness Assessment, and have Learning Skills that support this style of learning, may then be offered the opportunity.

This school year, the Readiness Assessment will take place on December 1, 2016 with individual students being informed of results by December 12, 2016 at the latest.  This E-Learning class will begin the first week of February (Term 2, Secondary Schedule).

Please be aware, there are very few spaces in this class as it is first offered to students currently in Secondary schools.  If students currently in Secondary school take all the spots in the class, there are no spots for our Grade 8 students.

As a result of this, please consider Transition opportunities with the catchment Secondary School.  These conversations should always occur at the home school.

Enrichment Connections to Hamilton’s Arts Community


This year, grade 6, 7 and 8’s  have been working with textiles at the Enrichment and Innovation Centre. We’ve been building a collaborative project to represent Hamilton, sewing pillows that sport anti-logos, and creating handbags. Students are learning that textiles are a medium in which to create works of art, that utilitarian items that we use every day can also be beautiful and individualized creations, and that textiles are reusable. They have an opportunity to create something useful and beautiful out of something that might otherwise have contributed to a landfill.

All the while, the act of creating beautiful things has been tied to the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. By making things out of reclaimed textiles students can think about their role as consumers in a global context. By designing an anti-logo, students think about the power of logos and branding in making meaning and informing identity. They think about the questions “Who am I?” and “Who decides?”

Earl’s Court Gallery has an exhibit titled Catch the Weave II: A Textile and Fibre Art Experience. This exhibit features a range of stunning works by Karen Cummings, Sophia DeFrancesca, Agnieszka Foltyn, Lindy Fyfe, Mita Giacomini, Judi Miller, Rochelle Rubinstein, and Maggie Vanderweit. All of these works connect directly to what’s been happening with the grade 6s and 7s at the Enrichment and Innovation Centre this fall. We invite you to extend your child’s learning by attending Earl’s Court Gallery before November 6th.

Teaching Critical Thinking Through Sewing

Let’s Sew! We are pleased to announce the arrival of 4 new sewing machines at the Enrichment & Innovation Centre! These machines have assisted us in expanding our Maker space to include designing and making with textiles.They were first used with our grade 7 students and due to the tremendous amount of fun and learning that happened simultaneously, we are using the machines with our grade 6 students too!
On first glance, it may appear that we are teaching students how to sew. Although not incorrect, there is a whole other level to the learning as well. It is our goal this year to address critical thinking while making!
Our grade 7 students were asked to consider the concept of re-purposing throughout their day at the Centre. Students were asked to bring old shirts and other articles of clothing to use as the fabric. T-shirts were turned into drawstring bags, pant legs turned into neck pillows and old pockets re-purposed into ipod cases. While the skills of hand sewing and machine sewing were addressed during the day, students were given an opportunity to ponder how the skills involved in making could help address the United Nations Global Goals. Students pondered what else they could re-purpose instead of sending to landfills.
The classroom was busy! Students were measuring, cutting, designing (sounding like Math to me!) while critically thinking about environmental and social issues! It was fabulous! The conversations and thinking that occurred transpired in such an active way! At the end of the day were we all expert sewers? – NO WAY! However, the pride that occurs from having a completed project was tremendous. Students felt empowered. Instead of just talking about how we could solve World Issues and creating a lofty list of things that we may never do – we did! We made! We created! We re-purposed!
This lesson addressed re-purposing, but that is not the only critical thinking that can be addressed through sewing. Our grade 6 lesson was much different, yet visually if I took a picture of the class during the two grades they would look exactly the same. Students were moving around the room doing!
During our grade 6 sessions we used sewing to address media issues. We focused on how logos and branding impact individuality. Students were asked to design a logo that they could cut out of fabric that represented them. They were asked to think about what others would infer from that image. These logos were then hand sewn onto a piece of fabric that became one side of a pillow that was later sewn in a sewing machine.The conversations that occurred during this lesson differed from the re-purposing conversations that occurred during our grade 7 classes! Here are some of the questions that were pondered while making:
Are logos truthful?
Why would corporations and institutions choose to use logos that have no words?
Do logos control the message or expand a message’s possibilities?
Who decides the meaning of a logo?
What informs the meaning of a logo?
Does everything need to be represented with a logo?
How might logos work for or against the UN Goals for Sustainable Development?
Wow! These questions require such deep thinking. Yet, instead of just just talking we made while we talked. Again, our students left with a finished product and a sense of pride that comes from making. It is no wonder that I had a nightmare that I came to work and had no sewing machine in my classroom!
We are only just starting to explore the potential of the machines in our classroom. We have just touched the surface of learning by addressing re-purposing and logos in media. The rich Math that would come from making or following a pattern has yet to be fully explored. Not to mention further exploration of Social Studies issues such as Child Labour (the textile industry plays a large role in this!) or exploring the textiles of other cultures.
If I haven’t yet convinced you of the power of a sewing machine, and even if I have, check out the video below of an amazing young boy who sews teddy bears for children who are sick and at the hospital. Warning – have your kleenex ready, it’s a tearjerker!

Welcome to a New School Year!

The Enrichment and Innovation Centre would like to welcome you to a new school year!


We look forward to working with Students, Parents, Teachers and School communities throughout the year. There will be many special events, projects and opportunities for leadership and learning!

We will be updating our calendar and website regularly.

Throughout September, we are organizing class lists, contacting schools and preparing lessons and activities for over 500 students who will be invited to attend our centre throughout the school year. Only students that are identified as Gifted by the HWDSB criteria will be attending the program during the school day, however, other students will be invited on special days days – so stay tuned!

Parents and Students will be notified by their schools by the end of September of the schedule. Parents will be sent home permission forms by September 23. Please contact the Learning Resource Teacher at the school if you have not received the form by the end of September


Zoe Branigan-Pipe

Kristy Luker

Gerry Sheafer



Information Evening – Presentation

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone – Parents, Teachers and Students who came to our presentation on Tuesday Night. We got the sense that everyone is excited about the many opportunities that lay ahead!

Here is the presentation, for those of you who could not make it, or simply want to review some of what was said: