Archived—Daniel Buchanan

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Year: 2009 – Province: Alberta

Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Daniel Buchanan

Harold W. Riley Elementary School (closed June 2009)
Simon Fraser School (as of September 2009)
5215–33 Street N.W.
Calgary AB T2L 1V3

Principal: Bruce Johnston
School Tel.: 403-777-7290
School Fax: 403-777-7293
School Email:

Subjects and Grades Taught: Grades 4, 5 and 6

Daniel Buchanan has never forgotten how it felt to be introduced to new technology by his computer and photography teachers when he was in high school in the 1990s—particularly since he had always found traditional approaches to language arts uninspiring. He knows how powerful and liberating it is for a young person to be introduced to new ways of learning and expressing themselves, and he has made it his mission to give his students the same opportunities.

Teaching Approach

Mr. Buchanan works to effectively and innovatively integrate technology into the classroom. He believes that all students, regardless of the challenges they face or abilities they have, can become more focused and engaged in their academic work when given access to appropriate new technology. Moreover, Mr. Buchanan believes that giving students responsibilities also facilitates learning. For example, he encourages students to form expert groups to master subject matter and then present what they have learned to others aided by new technology.

Outstanding Achievements

  • With the assistance of the school parent association, Mr. Buchanan acquired five technology carts, SMART boards, laptops, projectors, DVD players and speaker systems for the school. He had this technology in active use throughout the school within 24 hours of its arrival. He also worked with another teacher to submit a successful bid for a grant that brought $40,000 in new equipment to the school, including tablet computers, digital cameras and printers.
  • Mr. Buchanan puts new technology to good use to enhance student learning across the curriculum. An early success was a school-wide celebration of the virtues of Canadian citizenship, which involved the students not only in word processing stories they had written about these virtues, but also creating digital animations and musical scores, and videotaping plays and news stories. The students brought these elements together into a multimedia and dramatic play that they performed for parents and members of the community—many of whom were moved to tears.
  • Mr. Buchanan sought and obtained funding to buy AlphaSmart keyboards (essentially digital typewriters) for students having similar expressing themselves in language arts. The first four young boys to use them all developed a love for writing and a sense of independence and pride in their work.
  • For the past two years, Mr. Buchanan has worked with parents, administrators and students to organize an outdoor school at a ranch in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This extensive integrated unit incorporates concepts from mathematics, social studies, language arts, art, music, health and physical education.

Rave Reviews

"Thank you for the significant contributions you have made to the success of Alberta's students." Alberta MLA

"Mr. Buchanan positively influences his students and has an outstanding ability to facilitate learning opportunities that motivate students to want to learn. He effectively and innovatively integrates information and communication technology into his classroom and within the school community." School administrator