The History of Activated Learning


The Activated Learning approach has been in development since 2010. It was prototyped by Laurie Faith as part of her classroom teaching work, and then refined during several years of presentations, consultations, and talks. Laurie’s work has benefitted from the support of Richard Guare and Peg Dawson, and as a result of her PhD studies at the University of Toronto. In 2014, Laurie discovered the work of Gabrielle Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer.  “Mental contrasting with implementation intentions” (MCII), a phenomenon they named and showed to be a powerful goal-striving mechanism, combines with an everyday, mainstream classroom delivery and an EF-literate context to form the basis of Activated Learning. Oettingen and Gollwitzer’s MCII approach is explained in plain language on their WOOP website, and can be applied to everyday life using their WOOP app.

The Activated Learning approach benefitted from a grant from the Ministry of Education Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP). This funding was secured by a team of teachers from the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) who became interested in Laurie’s work at the LDAO conference in 2015. These teachers wanted to learn more about EFs in the classroom. They used the TLLP funding to pay for classroom release time for teacher training and consultation. Their questions, suggestions, and adaptations over two years have helped to make the AL approach simpler, more open-ended, and more teacher-friendly. Laurie’s 2017/18 work with the TLDSB yielded a training team of 11 who helped share Activated Learning board-wide. Subsequently, two other TLDSB teacher teams have applied for and received TLLP grants to work on EF-based teaching. One is focused on EFs in the Arts and the other on Mathematics. This work yielded two twitter accounts with plenty of classroom artifacts. Check out @ArtsActivated and @ActivatedTLDSB.

In 2018-2019 the Activated Learning approach was brought to the York Regional District School Board in a 21-class pilot called #EF4ALL. Our analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data is ongoing, but plans are being made to continue working together. From 2019-2022, Activated Learning continued to partner with the York Regional District School board and was also engaged with the London Catholic District School Board and the Superior-Greenstone District School Board. As research on implementation evolves, the approach taken has evolved toward integrating AL training over several meetings in the form of an authentic team inquiry or PLC. Activated Learning has also made a mark on the Sagonaska Provincial Demonstration School and the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf in Belleville.

Overseas, Activated Learning is engaged in a partnership with an organization of educators, researchers, and psychologists called Connections in Mind. Over two years, Laurie collaborated with this team to develop teacher training and materials for use in the UK, and Connections in Mind is currently building their organizational capacity to support teachers and schools. Several Cambridge University scholars are studying aspects of Activated learning, and a pilot outcome evaluation took place at the Orion School, an award-winning public school in London, UK. Currently, Laurie is working on an EF book for parents with Dr. Bettina Hohnen, a UK-based clinical psychologist and the author of The Incredible Teenage Brain.

Laurie continues to engage in writing projects with Carol-Anne Bush, an EF coach and educator with global experience who currently lives in California. Having published their first book, co-written with Peg Dawson, Laurie and Carol-Anne are now working with Adele Diamond and the EFs2theRescue team on an EF curriculum for early years teachers.