As the end of the calendar year quickly creeps up on us, the Facing History blogging team decided to discuss the future and, while talking about the future, we reminisced about the past. We thought about what a great year of sharing and learning it has been. We decided that to celebrate this year of blogging we wanted to share with our readers the posts, voices, and teaching ideas that made us pause, think, and reflect – on history and on ourselves. Over the next few days we will be sharing our favorite posts and undiscovered gems from our LANetwork Blog out of Los Angeles, our OnNetwork Blog here in Toronto, and our InterFacing Blog, which focuses on the intersection of technology and education. Thank you for joining us on the blogs over the last 12 months. We hope these gems of wisdom and practice from the past help you reflect on your own year that was, and be sure to subscribe to this blog to make sure you see the Best of 2013, meet the new bloggers, and read exciting new posts in 2014! Happy New Year from all of us here in the Toronto Office of Facing History and Ourselves.
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Memorial, current events, Middle School, Lesson Ideas, In the news, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, English Classroom, Social Justice, LGBTQ, Personal history
We know that it's not easy to teach about the Holocaust and genocide. For many the topic is very difficult and many students cannot wrap their heads around the scope and magnitude of how these mass murders could occur, particularly about the idea of how an entire nation could allow horrific events like this to happen. Creating that safe, caring classroom is essential in being able to have these difficult lessons. In a middle school classroom, these are essential conversations, as students at this age care and have a strong sense of fairness and justice.
As the end of each school year draws near, I feel a great deal of frustration. As students are overwhelmed with culminating assignments or the decisions that they made about completing school work for the previous 9 months, the demands on the teacher expand exponentially as well. As I work with the Growing Success system and school programs such as student success and credit rescue, I struggle to ensure that the decisions that I make maintain the integrity of the course, give students the opportunities they deserve or need, and maintain the intent of the ideals of character education. I find this overwhelming.
As you may have read in other blogs, the “Stand Up, Speak Out” event was an incredible evening of sharing and community. For me it served to exemplify, and personify, the Scope and Sequence of Facing History and Ourselves. On that evening, half a dozen of my students took the stage along with students from three other southern Ontario schools to perform their spoken word pieces. The performances were broken down into the five steps of the Facing History Scope and Sequence:
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Urban Education, project, We and They, Strategies, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, genocide, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, CHG, reflection
As an educator I have found that FHAO’s greatest resources are their human resources. Over the past few years I have been very fortunate to get to know each of the members of the Toronto Office, and as such have found a wealth of knowledge and support through them that I have been able to bring into my classroom. The Toronto Office runs a variety of workshops (such as the Bully Film Workshop, Literature Workshop, and the Facing History Urban Education Workshop, to name a few) that I have found invaluable in my personal and professional development. They run workshops that are immediately relevant to both our curriculum and our students. They deliver the information in pedagogically relevant ways, modelling wonderful new and creative tools and strategies as they take us through new and interesting (and though sometimes disturbing, frequently uplifting!) content.