Students of Facing History

Posted by Ben Gross on July 13, 2015

As an educator I often wonder what students remember once they have left my classroom. It is my hope that when they leave they take with them critical thinking skills, the ability to engage in difficult conversations, and a deeper understanding of how we are all connected - in the past, present, and future. Through all of my various attempts to learn from my students what they are getting out of their Facing History and Ourselves class, I have found that the best way to find out what students are learning is to ask them.

Each year, at the end of our grade 11 elective Facing History and Ourselves course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, we take the time to reflect on our learning and ourselves. This year a group of students from my classroom chose to participate in a reflective interview process in lieu of their final journal entry assignment, and agreed to share their reflections.

Below, as inspired by the popular blog Humans of New York and the Facing History project, Humans of the Woodlands, you'll have the chance to glimpse into the classroom learning and life of a few of my Facing History and Ourselves students.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, Holocaust Education, Memorial, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Social Justice, Personal history, reflection

How to Teach About Canada's Residential Schools: A Model for Truth and Reconciliation

Posted by Cheryl Payne-Stevens on June 3, 2015

At the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report, the call to educate all Canadians about the treatment and legacy of the Indian Residential Schools was loud and clear.

Facing History high school teacher Cheryl Payne-Stevens embarked on this important (and daunting!) task with her students and shared her experience with us:

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History and Ourselves, History, Canada, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas

3 Ways Students Can Choose to Participate as an End of Year Project

Posted by Ben Gross on April 30, 2015

Over the years I have had many conversations with colleagues about how the Facing History and Ourselves’ Scope and Sequence—the framework for investigating atrocities in history—works in our classrooms. One of the topics that is brought up often is the last phase, Choosing to Participate. 

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Inside a Genocide Classroom

From Understanding to Upstander: Inside a Genocide Studies Classroom

Posted by Lanny Cedrone on April 13, 2015

One of the questions that we often struggle with as teachers, and even more so as teachers that cover issues of genocide, is How do we even begin to understand something that is so far removed from most of our personal experiences?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Safe Schools, Identity, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, Inside a Genocide Classroom

8 Lessons the Museum of Human Rights Taught Me about My Classroom

Posted by Jamie on November 27, 2014

Museums are invaluable to education. The carefully selected exhibits, information, and artifacts provide tangible and visual evidence for exploration, reflection, and dialogue that support lessons in the classroom. Museums allow students to build upon prior knowledge – to see things differently.

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Topics: Art, Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Holocaust, Canada, Innovative Classrooms, Museum Studies, Strategies

Vote for Deb Brown. Here's Why.

Posted by Jasmine Wong on November 4, 2014

Meet Deborah Brown, one of the 20 finalists in our Facing History Together Teacher Recognition Contest.

Leora, Jeannette, Gillian, and I are so fortunate to work with so many amazing educators from across Canada: Educators who inspire us through their love for teaching, their enthusiasm for learning, and most of all, through their commitment to students. A number of individuals nominated one of these amazing teachers in this year's Facing History Together Teacher Recognition Contest: Her name is Deborah Brown and we want you to meet her.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Together, Facing History and Ourselves, Innovative Classrooms

A Choice to Vote: Show That Your Voice Counts

Posted by Ariel Vente on October 25, 2014


Many of the kids I teach at Nelson Mandela Park Public School at Regent Park in Toronto have emigrated from nations in which government corruption is rampant, the electoral system is compromised, and simply trying to exercise a right to vote can lead to threats, attacks, or even murder.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Canada, Urban Education, Lesson Ideas

Choosing to Participate: The Path Less Travelled No More

Posted by Cheryl Payne-Stevens on October 16, 2014

“Ms. Payne, we are so privileged to witness these survivors’ stories. We must do something with this knowledge.”

Such a mature and poignant statement. This is what we want from all of our students: Not to be passive listeners, but to contemplate and then choose to participate.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, Inside a Genocide Classroom

Using Digital Storytelling to Develop Student Voice

Posted by Jasmine Wong on October 14, 2014

Harbord Collegiate Institute student Imogen Bysshe reflects on her learning from Radiozilla, a student-led radio broadcast project with Facing History and Ourselves and Regent Park Focus.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Together, EdTech, Media Skills, Radiozilla, In the news

Can One Teacher Change Your Life?

Posted by Jasmine Wong on October 5, 2014

If you had a $5,000 classroom gift to give to a teacher for changing your life, who would you give it to?

At the Toronto office here at Facing History, we know so many teachers who work tirelessly and selflessly to give students learning experiences, words of wisdom, encouragement, and kindness to make meaningful change in their students' lives.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Together, Innovative Classrooms

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This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Canada, and invite you into the discussion.

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