“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” How many of us have heard this quote or a variation of it? Sayings like these are repeated so often nowadays that they have lost meaning. People will complain, “I don’t need you to lecture me, I already know all this,” “The past is the past, leave it behind where it belongs,” or a blatant dismissal from those who are so cemented in the now, that they refuse to see the truth right in front of them.
Topics: Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Students, Facing History and Ourselves, Holocaust Education, Rwanda, Student Work, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Equity in Education, Facing Canada
A Mindful Classroom: Establishing A Safe Space for Sensitive Topics
Many of us have seen the importance of mindfulness in our classrooms and personal lives. Being present and aware are integral to truly absorbing what is around you. How mindful are we of exactly what is around us in the classroom? The physical space we build for our students is often an afterthought to efficiency and more intangible metrics of behaviour and dynamics. This year, I made it my goal to be mindful of the materials within my classroom and how well they represent the values I hope we exercise within these walls.
Topics: Art, Student Work, Indigenous History, Social and Emotional Learning, Middle School, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, facing history pedagogy, Treaty, Facing Canada, cross curricular teaching and learning
Ever since attending my first Facing History and Ourselves workshop, I have looked for ways to incorporate Facing History pedagogy into my middle-years classroom. This year, I used the scope and sequence and pedagogical triangle to design the structure of my Grade 8 English Language Arts course.
Why Cross Curricular?
We know that time with students is limited, so taking advantage of repeated themes which exist between courses to help build bridges between knowledge gaps is an effective strategy. We also know that in the hecticness of a regular school day, these great concepts are often just that- concepts- because we don’t have time to take on anything more between teaching, marking, meetings, that varsity game you promised to attend, and the play you are helping find props for. Here are a few ideas with ready-to-use resources so that, if one speaks to you, you can easily use it within your classroom sooner rather than later. Remember, trying out one of these ideas on your own first and then looking to next year to work collaboratively can be a starting point, if finding an interested colleague to collaborate with proves difficult.
As an educator, I used to think true learning was my teacher content knowledge level or how much information I could get out there to students. Here’s what I thought should happen: students would learn information,reproduce it in the way I wanted them to, and then that would be a good measuring stick for how much they knew. However, In the 21st century with a world of information availability at your fingertips, this approach has become more and more obsolete.
Readers often ask what compelled me to write a novel about the Holocaust. After all, I am not the child of survivors. In fact, most of my family came to North America well before the outbreak of WWII.
When I moved away from being a classroom teacher to the role of Instructional Coach I knew my passion was in equity work. In Peel we have a five year School Success Plan with one branch of focus dedicated to equity and inclusion. Within the equity and inclusion branch of the plan there are four communities identified as a focus for teachers to gain additional knowledge about in order to better teach and support those students to learn and be successful in Peel schools. The four groups are: students who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, First Nation, Metis and Inuit students, black male students, (this year the focus shifted to all black students) and students living in poverty.
As the blog manager for Facing Canada, I have the privilege of working with many very talented, dedicated and creative teachers. There are so many teachers who come up with fantastic and meaningful projects and assessments for students that deepen learning and pique student interest. I have often been inspired by projects posted, and recently had a chance to adapt one for my own classroom that had been on my mind for awhile.
As part of a Facing History and Ourselves course, educators and students reflect on the power of apology. These apologies are often examined within the context of transitional justice. In Canada our students explore the apology given by the Canadian Government for their role in the establishment of Indian Residential Schools. In advance of a close reading of this apology, students and their teachers consider moments in which they have either given or received a meaningful apology.
Why is studying history relevant?
Canada Day, Independence Day, Bastille Day. Theses are days of celebration. People gather, wave flags, watch fireworks, and enjoy a long weekend in celebration. But what exactly are these days in celebration of? Why do we mark particular days with significance? Are these days equally as important for all people? Why do we honour the people we do? Are these people significant for all groups and generations? Can we change the way we remember individuals or honour new ones in light of new information?