Week of French International Schools: TFS’ Ravine, a Space of Learning and Creativity

TFS would not be the same without its ravine. While this statement may seem equivocal, Torontonians are very familiar with the natural system along the Don River which crosses a part of the city. This natural environment, just two steps away from city life, offers its residents an escape from urban civilisation.
With its 11 square kilometres adjoining to the main campus, TFS’ ravine is a suitable space for developing curiosity and creativity at any age and in any season. This is the reason why we made it the focus of the French
International Schools’ Week from November 29 to December 4, 2021.

At TFS, the common areas of the various annexes are the exception. There are three entrances spread across the Toronto campus and the ravine is one of them. Here, on the favourite playground for science and biology teachers, the students discover the local wildlife from an early age, benefit from outdoor classes, get outside to make music and play sports, and later, conduct their first scientific experiments. It is also a favourite spot for French teachers! Finding a literature class engaged in reading a text aloud is not uncommon. 

TFS’ ravine in the spotlight during the French International Schools’ Week

The AEFE’s theme for the French International Schools’ Week is: “Arts, sciences and sustainable development: French education is here to prepare for the world of tomorrow.” Aligned with this theme, our ravine is regularly the epicentre of TFS’ actions in the field of education. The following initiatives are notable for this event: 

  • Removal of invasive species: our ravine is a gem but like many other natural places in Toronto, it is threatened by invasive species such as the dog-strangling vine, garlic mustard and Norway maple. No reason to worry though: a group of Grade 6 and Level IV (Grade 11) students are taking matters into their own hands. Using geographic information system software, they are identifying the most affected areas and building a record of the work already done. The collected data makes it possible to analyze the best ways to fight the proliferation of these invasive species. Once the space is rehabilitated, the students must plant trees. 

  • Water sample collection: As part of their chemistry curriculum, Level III students (Grade 10) collect water samples from the ravine to analyze them in class. They focus on identifying the water quality and the impact of nearby urbanisation in terms of potential pollution, as well as the repercussions on the environment and biodiversity. 
  • The ravine is also a source of artistic inspiration for our students: as part of a collaborative project on sustainable development, an art class has collected various branches, leaves and twigs and is finalizing a poster exhibition which illustrates their commitment to preserving the surrounding nature and their beloved ravine. 
  • Sustainable Architecture - Treehouse Sculpture: As part of their art classes, students reflected on architecture and sustainability with the goal of building a treehouse sculpture. First, they learned about various forms of sustainable energy such as geothermal, wind, hydro, solar and biomass, and how to capture them. With that understanding in mind, students were then required to choose the best spot in the ravine for their treehouse to be built. They then started to plan and sketch before going back to the ravine to collect building materials.

The appropriation of the ravine by the school community is an exceptional educational tool for observing the real world in order to identify and understand animal, plant and mineral life while developing a respectful attitude towards ecosystems and a responsible attitude towards the preservation of life.