Going Beyond Canada 150: Memorial Design as a Course Culminating Task

Posted by Mike Elias on October 29, 2018


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?

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Topics: Student Voices, Holocaust Education, Memorial, Student Work, legacy, Grade 10 History, CHC, Black History, Decolonizing Schools, culminating

Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools.

Posted by Leora Schaefer on November 26, 2015

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.

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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

The Lost Generation

Posted by Alysha Groff on November 10, 2015

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.

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Topics: Art, Choosing to Participate, Events, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, Canada, Memorial, current events, legacy, Remembrance Day, English Classroom, Personal history

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

Happy Canada Day!! What Does it Mean to You?

Posted by Ben Gross on July 3, 2014

Last Thursday I spent the morning working with a group of educators in Hamilton, exploring a Facing History pathway through the new Ontario Grade 10 Canadian History curriculum. It was a morning full of rich conversation and learning about both Canada’s history and its present, and how they inform each other. We began the morning with an activity using poetry to discuss the first step of the Facing History and Ourselves Journey: Identity. We talked a lot about what it meant to be Canadian in the past and what it means to be Canadian today. How have we changed? How have we remained the same? Who are the individuals that make up "we"?

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Topics: Identity, History, legacy, In the news, Personal history

Rob Flosman's "Case" for History

Posted by Ben Gross on October 25, 2013

Rob Flosman is assistant head of history at Waterdown District High School in Hamilton. This year he is writing for our sister blog InterFacing. I don't want to give away all the details about his incredible project, the goal of which is to make history personal, relevant, and alive for his students and community, because he says it so well himself! With the support of a 2013 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grant from Facing History and Ourselves, Rob is in the process of creating a truly incredible legacy for his school and community. Click here to read his first blog on the early stages of his project.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Technology, genocide, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, CHG, Personal history

Family History: A Neglected Conversation

Posted by Ben Gross on July 30, 2013

I don't know much about the history of my dad’s family. I used to think that this was because there was not much known. I'm beginning to think differently. What I know about my dad’s side of the family is that my Zaida (grandpa) came in 1920 from what was then Ukraine (now Belarus) as a refugee via a camp in Romania. My Baba (grandma) came in 1914 as an immigrant with her aunt’s family from Ukraine, near Kiev. The legend of the family is that they were on the last boat before World War 1 broke out. My Zaida was a refugee from the same war that my Baba narrowly avoided. I know that after marrying, my Zaida served in World War II before starting a family. He had three children; two daughters and my father. There weren’t too many other details that I knew, especially about the family pre-World War II.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, legacy, Personal history, reflection

Scope and Sequence: From the Mouths of Youth

Posted by Ben Gross on July 19, 2013

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:

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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

How do we honour Nelson Mandela's legacy?

Posted by Jasmine Wong on July 18, 2013

Today, former South African President and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela turns 95. In honor of his birthday, citizens around the world are donating 67 minutes of their time to the greater good in honor of the 67 years Mandela dedicated to public service.

If you are donating 67 minutes today, we’d love to hear what you’re doing.

I wanted to do my 67 minutes – theoretically, shouldn’t we do this every day? – but when I started thinking of what to do, I struggled. I often think that my work as a program associate for Facing History is contributing to the greater good. In fact, I think of teachers in schools worldwide as leading lives of public service. So aren’t we, I thought, kind of exempt from such calls to action?

But that feels too easy, (and a bit lazy). So let me ask you, as teachers, are we living lives of public service and, if so, to what aims? What would it look like if we were to commit 67 minutes of our classroom time to public service in a way that would truly honour Mandela?

With that frame in mind, I wonder if we teach and interact in a way that promotes the respect and freedom of students? Do we as educators actively promote peace, integrity, and conscience in our students? Do we fight for equality amongst our colleagues? Do we structure our classrooms and schools to promote harmony and provide equal opportunities for all our students?

And when we speak about Mandela (if that’s how we choose to honour him in our 67-minute class), how do we connect him to our students so that they see him in the monumental way that he spoke to our generation? When we speak about his legacy and his aims, do we address the inequities, the racism, the unofficial apartheids that exist in our communities, or the violence that continues today?


How will you use your 67 minutes of Nelson Mandela-inspired service?


This post connects to Legacy and Choosing to Participate Facing History and Ourselves' Teaching Scope and Sequence


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Topics: Choosing to Participate, legacy, In the news


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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