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What It Means To Be a Laboratory School

Laboratory schools exist to explore what is possible in education.  They have a public purpose, that is they exist to make a difference in the public domain by providing new insights into school organization, teaching, and learning for the benefit of public school students and teachers. 

As a Laboratory School, the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study shares characteristics that are common to many good schools across North America. These include: a focus on children and learning; involved parents; competent and reflective teachers; responsive leadership; a caring environment; and curricular, teaching, and assessment strategies that are appropriate and effective (Kochan, 1998).

As a laboratory school, we also enjoy several unique characteristics: a university setting; strong research capability; involvement in initiating and disseminating new ideas related to improving education; daily contributions to teacher training; and a measure of autonomy which Jackman ICS accepts as a trust and a responsibility.

Current initiatives which are part of our Lab School mission include:

  • Exemplary teaching in each grade and specialty subject
  • Attendance at conferences including the American Educational Research Association annual meeting and regular presentations of recent research work by our teachers
  • Active membership in IALS: The International Association of Laboratory Schools and University-affiliated schools
  • Building relationships with other schools including local public schools and laboratory schools in Canada, the United States and international locations
  • Seconding teachers from the public school boards to be teachers at the Lab School for 1-3 years
  • Conducting research in knowledge building using technology to create communal databases in ideas-centred classrooms
  • Using a professional development approach which is based on Japanese Lesson Study to examine our professional practice
  • Coordinating over 150 visits to the lab school each year from international, national, and local educators
  • Providing over 8000 hours of supervised practicum to teacher candidates annually
  • Partnering with the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to operate an Integrated Kindergarten Program (IKP) for children with and without physical disabilities
  • Participating in a wide range of funded studies including investigations in reading comprehension, early school adaptation, language acquisition, mathematical understanding and constructing knowledge. 
  • Year-round professional development activity including PD afternoons each Wednesday

An Integral Part of the University of Toronto

The Laboratory School's connection to the university influences everything from our high academic standards to the spirit of inquiry that pervades our classrooms. The university provides our faculty with professional development opportunities, resources, research support and library facilities which make our lively community of professional learners a unique school workplace in all of Canada. The children in our classes benefit from these university connections both directly and indirectly on a daily basis. The school contributes on many levels to the academic work of the University by linking educational theory and practice.

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Contributions to Professional Development

At the laboratory school, we make connections with colleagues in public schools, international schools, other laboratory schools, and we conduct and contribute to research which strengthens education for all.

The laboratory school maintains a regular schedule of publications, invited addresses, workshops, visitors from the world of education, and from the media. Here is a sample of the professional development contributions made by Jackman ICS teachers and administrators.

Recent and ongoing research includes:

  • Way of Contributing to Dialogue in Elementary School Science and History. (Scardamalia, M., Laferriere, T., & Chuy, M.)
  • Knowledge Community and Inquiry with Embedded Phenomena. (Slotta, J.D.)
  • Fostering Collective Progress in Online Discourse for Sustained Knowledge Building. (Zhang, J.)
  • We All Belong: Early-Years' Literacy Development and Social Inclusion. (Pelletier, J., Morley, E., & Messina, R.)
  • Exploring the Impact and Salience of the Experiences of Children Who Participated in the Integrated Kindergarten Program at Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre School.  (DelCotto, R.)
  • Thinking About the Readers’ Mind to Examine the Development of Reader Awareness as Children Learn to Produce Written Text. (Peskin, J.)
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