Association of Teachers of English of Nova Scotia

Enter Your Creativity Here

ATENS Conference 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019


Click here to view a message from the NSTU Executive Director

as of September 23rd at 6:45 p.m. 

The payment issue has been resolved and members can now fully register for conference.   

Registration will open to NSTU webmail holders* only at 12:00 noon on Monday, September 23rd

Registration will open for Non-NSTU webmail holders at 12:00 noon on Monday, September 30th

*For those members who do not have an NSTU webaccount click here
To update your NSTU webaccount credentials email  Remember to include your professional number.


Auburn Drive High School
300 Auburn Drive
Dartmouth, NS  B2W 6E9

Click on map for directions:


8:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m. Check-in/Registration
8:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Keynote
10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Break
10:15 a.m.  - 11:30 a.m. Session A
11:30 a.m.  -  12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:00 noon  -  12:30 p.m. AGM
12:30 p.m.  -  1:45 p.m. Session B
1:55 p.m.  -  3:10 p.m. Session C


Registration is online only.  Deadline is October 11, 2019. 

The fee schedule is as follows:

Conference Fee (workshops, lunch, membership ) $95.00
Student / Substitute / Retiree Conference Fee (workshops, lunch) $85.00

As per NSTU Operational Procedure 13 E. III.: receipts of payment and attendance will not be distributed until the conference has concluded.

If you have any concerns about online registration or payment, please contact us at (

Keynote: 8:45 – 10:00 A.M.

Poetry In a New Light
Andre Fenton

Maximum Participants:  300

Through this workshop we will look at ways to get youth more involved with the creating process of poetry. We will look at the history of spoken word poetry, which will lead into how it evolved to its current state, and how it gives a voice to those who need it most.





Biographies of Presenters

Sara Adams has been a high school teacher for over a decade, as well as a certified yoga teacher. She has taught a variety of courses in many different content areas and has additional training in yoga for children and mindfulness. Sara recognizes the importance of mindfulness for good mental health in both youth and adults.  A former high school teacher and literacy mentor, Don Aker is the award-winning author of more than 20 books, among them several novels for teens currently taught in classrooms across the country.

Evan Barkhouse has been teaching within the Halifax area since 2007.  His current areas of focus are inclusive education as well as using social recreation to support students with autism, anxiety, or communication challenges.

Ryan Bucci has been teaching for 6 years with the HRCE. He is currently teaching Grade 7 and 8 Social Studies and Healthy Living at Dartmouth South Academy. Ryan has been exploring ways to incorporate podcasting and other forms of digital media in the classroom to help students demonstrate their depth of knowledge. Ryan was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Janice Doré has been teaching since 1990. After acquiring her permanent contract, she was a resource teacher for nearly 15 years and a Learning Center teacher for 5 years, both at the high school level. She is currently teaching in the classroom full time and loving the change.

Christine Emberley has been a teacher with HRSB for the past 13 years. She has made the rounds in Drama, Social Studies, Technology, French and English classrooms from Spryfield to Fall River, and in between.

Andre Fenton is an author, spoken word artist, and filmmaker. He has performed and represented Halifax, Nova Scotia at 7 national poetry festivals across Canada. He was previously a member at large on Spoken Word Canada and currently on his second term on the board of directors within the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. He has won awards in both filmmaking and spoken word poetry. He is also an author of young adult fiction. His first novel, Worthy of Love was released in September of 2018 from Formac Publishing.

Sandy Keddy has been teaching in the Halifax area since 2002 at both the junior and senior high levels.  During these years, she has worked with the GSA, The Canadian Improv Games, various musicals, board game and writing clubs. Outside school, Sandy is a visual artist, writer, and edits the ATENS literary magazine, Kimberlins.  She does her utmost to blend creativity and hands-on activities in her ELA classrooms.

Tracey MacDonnell is a wife, a mother of three and a teacher who loves what she does! Teaching English, Yoga and Social Studies at SAERC is where she can be found Monday to Friday and at the Port Hawkesbury YMCA two nights a week instructing a Centergy class in the dance studio. Her personal philosophy is a famous quotation by Maya Angelou:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  She is looking forward to seeing all of you on your mats in her Centergy class where she will be given the opportunity to teach like she means it.

Sonya MacKinnon has been a high school classroom teacher for 17 years with the Halifax Regional Center for Education. She has spent much of her career teaching a variety of Social Studies courses at Millwood High School in Middle Sackville. She has recently started to teach more English which initially began when she worked to get the African Heritage Literature 12 course running at her school. Sonya has always been passionate about reading and after seeking professional development on engaging adolescent readers, she embarked on developing an Independent Reading Program in her English courses with the goal of helping students learn to appreciate reading again and for them to show growth in their reading skills. She is excited to continue to develop this program and to share what she has learned so far with her colleagues.

Lisa McCaustlin has been teaching within the HRSB since 1998.  She has taught History, Family Studies, and English within junior and high school settings.  She still loves her job. 

Matthew McCutcheon has been teaching for 16 years. He currently teaches Grade 8 ELA and SS at Eastern Passage Education Centre. He has been working with digital film and video production for the past decade, but only recently has begun to realize the benefits of having my students use today's technology to tell their stories effectively. Matthew has recently been nominated for the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Aaron Peck is a high school English teacher with HRCE at Charles P. Allen High School. With both a masters in Literacy Curriculum and Technology Integration, Aaron is interested in finding innovative methods to engage reluctant readers with literature. 

Trevor Pierce is a high school teacher at Island View High School in Eastern Passage.  He recently realized that it's more valuable for students to work in groups solving problems than present to ambivalent audiences.  Trevor gets bored easily and is always looking to shake things up.  He also likes playing games. 

Tim Power has been teaching since 2004; Jeremy Dowding since 2013. Both high school English teachers who have a passion for teaching, culture, and literature, they have always made a strong effort to come up with and try new lessons and ideas in the classroom. 

Ben Sichel has taught history, Spanish and French at Prince Andrew High School for most of the past 14 years. On occasion he writes on education for a variety of publications and is a founding member of Educators for Social Justice – Nova Scotia. 

Melissa Trenbirth is a literacy consultant with HRCE, having previously taught English and Drama for over 15 years in junior and senior high. Melissa currently works with literacy coaches, teachers and schools to support literacy instruction and ELA.  

Jessica Wells loves collaborating with other teachers. Jessica enjoys sharing her findings when investigating and researching different types of children’s picture books. During her Masters Degree in Literacy, Jessica focused on diversity, or the lack of, in picture books for her thesis. It was eye opening !

Ryan Bucci has been teaching for 6 years with the HRCE. He is currently teaching Grade 7 and 8 Social Studies and Healthy Living at Dartmouth South Academy. Ryan has been exploring ways to incorporate podcasting and other forms of digital media in the classroom to help students demonstrate their depth of knowledge. Ryan was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Workshop Descriptions

A/B Combined Session  10:15 – 1:45

A-8/B-7  Read Like a Writer
Melissa Trenbirth

*This is part one of a two part session
The workshop focuses on helping students read like writers and our ability to teach rather than assign writing. By noticing and naming teachers can tackle grammar and eliminate traditional worksheets and bad grammar examples.
Junior and Senior High    (Maximum Participants:  30)

Session A:  10:15 – 11:30

A-1  Yoga & Mindfulness in the Classroom
Tracey Macdonell
Try beginner yoga for destressing teachers and students.  Learn how to incorporate simpler movements, meditative practises, and concentration techniques into your subject are classes.  Bring a mat and learn some strategies for being in the present moment more often with your students.
All Levels  (Maximum Participants:  20)

A-2  Creative Writing Lessons for English and Social Studies
Janice Doré & Lisa McCaustlin

Join us to gain and share creative ways of embedding writing into your English and Social Studies classrooms. This is a peer share workshop.  Participants are asked to bring one or two lessons to share with the group.  You can upload your lesson to the following google classroom, if you wish: 0lz8oah
Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-3  One Pagers
Sandy Keddy

One pagers are an alternative to more traditional written response activities and give students the chance to blend text and art.  A one pager can be designed to give students structured steps or left open for greater freedom. In this workshop, we will discuss some of the benefits and possible pitfalls of this learning activity.  Teachers will have the opportunity to create a brief one pager of their own.
All levels    (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-4  Poetry As The Vehicle
Andre Fenton

Poetry As The Vehicle explores ways poetry can further the writing ability of young people, and get them excited about writing in the classroom. Together we will look at different activities such as Spoken Word, Blackout Poetry, and Odes to Selves. Through self-reflection and exploration poetry can be used as a tool to heal and build upon. Students and teachers will be left with more stories they can't wait to explore within the classroom setting through a dynamic, and versatile lens.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-5  Tackling the Taboo
Christine Emberley and Ben Sichel
"Why can't I say that?"
"What about free speech?"
"Why do we have to be so politically correct?"
There are topics that many of us would rather avoid - but as teachers, we can't. Join us for a discussion about difficult conversations: why not to avoid them, how to approach them, and what to do when they go off the rails.  
All Levels   (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-6  Image Is Everything: Teaching Visual Literacy
Don Aker

Young people increasingly receive more information about their world through images than they do text, which underscores the importance of visual literacy. Using static images, brief film clips, and activities related to his own young adult novels, Don demonstrates how teachers can assist students in deconstructing visuals and media text.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-7  The Case for Independent Reading: Why Daily Reading Matters in High School
Sonya MacKinnon

How can we make independent reading relevant for today's learner? How do we get students to read authentically? How do we engage all learners, regardless of learning styles, abilities or needs in reading? How can teachers be a part of their student's growth in reading? How do we assess independent reading? These are some of the key questions that will be addressed in this workshop. Teachers will be given some practical tips on how to set up a successful independent reading program, make it a priority for their students, and help their students strengthen their literacy skills as they move on to the working world or post-secondary education.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-9  Inclusive Education in the English Classroom
Evan Barkhouse

The intention of this workshop is to discuss inclusion in the English classroom and to support teachers with meeting everyone's needs.  Following a presentation is an opportunity to collaborate with peers and share working practices for inclusion. This session is open to everyone but is focused on a junior-senior high school experience.
Junior & Senior High    (Maximum Participants:  30)

A-10  Looking at Diversity in Children’s Picture Books
Jessica Wells

During this session teachers will get to explore different children’s picture books and how they show diversity, or don’t show diversity. Teachers will be able to brainstorm ideas of what makes a positive diverse picture book, and have time to create there own. I will also present some of my findings!
Elementary   (Maximum Participants:  30)

Full Afternoon Session  12:30 - 3:10

B-2 /C-2  Breakout of the Norm
Aaron Peck
Breakouts can be a fun and engaging  way to explore literature with your students. In this workshop we will play through a game and then hold a conversation about how you might bring Breakouts to your own classroom. 
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

B-6/C-6  The “Other” Ways of Representing
Erin Mosher

This workshop will introduce ways for high school English teachers to use other ways of representing in the classroom. The focus will be on hands on, visual projects that meet English/Language Art outcomes. The workshop will take participants through simple ways to mix literature with art.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

B-8/C-8 Tabletop Games in the Classroom
Trevor Pierce

Trevor Pierce has a collection of commercial tabletop games that he uses to teach speaking and listening skills.  His games are either cooperative where all players need to work together to save the world, rescue the victims, or escape in the pod; or social deduction, meaning they have to read other players to learn what roles and what strategies are being used.  Most, if not all, speaking and listening outcomes can be met through the playing of tabletop games.
Junior & Senior High  (Maximum Participants:  30)

B-9/C-9  Better Teaching Through Dragonslaying
Evan Barkhouse

This double workshop introduces participants to Dungeons & Dragons, a popular vehicle for collaborative tabletop gaming, and discusses its potential for student learning.  The first session will introduce participants to the overall structure of play as well as its components and classroom applications.  The second session will be a walkthrough for teachers, followed by a conversation on how to introduce it to an English classroom.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

Session B:  12:30 - 1:45

B-1  Yoga & Mindfulness in the Classroom
This is a repeat of session A-1.

B-3  Embedding Mindfulness into Content Teaching
Sara Adams

This workshop will offer ideas for teachers to help embed the principles of mindfulness within their classes. It will offer a variety of activity suggestions that can be used, and adapted, at all levels. Come with a device to access Google Apps and an open mind!
All Levels   (Maximum Participants:  30)

B-4   Podcasting in the Classroom
Matt McCutcheon and Ryan Bucci

Teachers will explore the tools used to record podcast. In this workshop, teachers will attempt to create a published podcast as a group. The workshop will look at the rationale of the approach and offer different topics and formats to explore with this current platform.
Junior & Senior High   (Maximum Participants:  30)

B-5  Tackling the Taboo
See A-5 description for details.Maximum Participants:  30

B-10  Non-Traditional Texts in the English Classroom
Jeremy Dowding & Tim Power

This workshop will explore ideas surrounding how to incorporate some examples of non-traditional texts in the English classroom, specifically focusing on concept albums and podcasts. Using these texts, students are able to meet English outcomes by demonstrating their understanding and skills that align with their interests and culture. Providing concrete examples, we will discuss how we are able to use these texts to adapt to student needs and offer multiple choices and options, all while having them meet outcomes in all three strands. Both activities can be tailored to a variety of grade levels, with our focus being grades 9-12.
Junior & Senior High    (Maximum Participants:  30)

Session C:  1:55 – 3:10

C-1  Centergy
Tracey MacDonnell

Redefine yourself with Centergy.  Grow longer and stronger in this invigorating 60-minute mind-body workout.  Centergy incorporates yoga and Pilates fundamentals with athletic training for balance, mobility, flexibility, and the core.  Emotive music drives the experience as you breathe and sweat through this full-body fitness journey.  Take the time to Center Your Energy.
All Levels - Taking Care of Teacher  (Maximum Participants:  20)

C-3  Embedding Mindfulness into Content Teaching
See B-3 description for details.

C-4   Podcasting in the Classroom
See B-4 description for details.

C-5  Looking at Diversity in Children’s Picture Books
See A-10 description for details.

C-7  The Case for Independent Reading: Why Daily Reading Matters in High School
See A-7 description for details.

C-10  Non-Traditional Texts in the English Classroom
See B-10 description for details.

Click here to register

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