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.
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.
Students love music so, when I tell my grade 11 College English classes that they are going to be creating CDs as their first project, students get excited. Inspired by Facing History’s approach to teaching about genocide, I started the “Tracks Of My Life Project” to engage students in exploring the concept of identity that is foundational to our first novel, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.
The students in my Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity course gained new and meaningful perspectives on what life was like for those targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime by creating a unique and innovative art exhibition that explored the lives of young victims of the Holocaust.
“Kim Kardashian published a book of them, Russia banned them, and at the Oscars last year Ellen took the most liked one of all time: Selfies. And love them or hate them, there’s no denying the impact their proliferation has had on modern society.” When I came across this statement in a magazine (Elle: Selfie Culture and Female Identity), I for the first time, appreciated the value of a ‘Selfie.’ Indeed, a Selfie can shed light on attitudes, values, allegiances, cultures, and pursuits – and all of this in a tiny, square screen.
Each year, like all educators, I think about new culminating activities that are meaningful and engaging. Inspired by Humans of New York on Facebook, I thought this concept would fit well into my Grade 11 Genocide and Crimes against Humanity course. In fact, the more posts I read, the more I realized how closely aligned they are to Facing History’s Scope and Sequence.
Having been an LTO (Long term occasional teacher) in the TDSB (Toronto District School Board) for several years I have taught a variety of courses with little prep time available; Facing History saved me more than a few times with their resources (and of course other teachers' contributions to this very blog). I'm delighted to be able to share some of my experience using and adapting Facing History and Ourselves resources and pedagogy in my classroom.
Topics: Film, Choosing to Participate, Human Rights, Facing History Resources, News, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, current events, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Literature Circles, Lesson Ideas, In the news, English Classroom, Social Justice, Literature, Personal history, English
Dictionaries define the word “neighbour” solely based on close physical proximity; we feel close to someone because we live next door, or down the hall, or across the street. But what happens when a connection is needed from someone farther away?
Topics: Antisemitism, Choosing to Participate, Events, Facing History Resources, News, Identity, Facing History Together, Facing History and Ourselves, current events, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Lesson Ideas, In the news
On November 26, we released Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools. This new resource brings educators new primary sources and first-person accounts about a painful period in Canadian history, when about 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and stripped of their language, culture, and traditions.
Topics: Human Rights, Facing History Resources, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, History, Canada, Racism, current events, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, genocide, legacy, In the news, English Classroom, Social Justice
Valerie Simmons was born in London, England in 1921. She has been writing poetry since she was six years old. At the beginning of WWII she worked in a first aid post dealing with Blitz casualties. When the Battle of Britain ended she joined the Women’s Air Force (WAF) where she was an admin officer throughout England and in Egypt. After the war she earned a BA from London University and went on to get her teaching qualifications. She has taught and worked in libraries.