5 Resources to Mark 20 Years of Democracy in South Africa

Posted by Ben Gross on April 24, 2014

Later this week, South Africa will celebrate 20 years of democracy – on April 27, 1994, citizens of the country voted alongside one another in the first post-apartheid elections. The case study of South Africa is an important one to introduce students to ideas about global citizenship, while teaching about the formation and strategies of the anti-apartheid movement. Check out the five resources below to help plan a lesson that explore issues of human rights and this important moment in South African history in your classroom:

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Human Rights, Facing History Resources, Identity, History, Memorial, current events, We and They, In the news, Social Justice

Journaling in a Facing History Classroom: Finding Wisdom in Student Voices

Posted by Nathan Tidridge on March 18, 2014

I started journaling when I was a boy canoeing the waters surrounding my family cottage in Muskoka. My journals were filled with maps of all the places I “discov
ered” during my summers up north. As the years went by and I entered high school, the journal’s pages of maps became dotted with anecdotes from my life beyond that lake. It was around this time that I found a copy of The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon at a local bookstore.

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Topics: Identity, History, Memorial, We and They, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, English Classroom, CHG, Personal history, reflection

The Voice of Empowerment

Posted by Cheryl Payne-Stevens on February 5, 2014

As a history teacher, I often struggle to help my students see the relevance of the past and understand the power it can wield in helping them to navigate the present. With this in mind, I began to plan my unit on the Armenian Genocide. This genocide occurred almost 100 years ago under the cloak of WWI in 1915, when the Ottoman government embarked upon the destruction of its Armenian population. I decided that to give voice to this genocide beyond readings and documentaries, I would invite a guest speaker from the Armenian community.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, History, Memorial, genocide, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, CHG, Personal history

They Were People, Too – A Reflection on Experiential Learning

Posted by Jamie on January 30, 2014

Sometimes the best lessons are not the ones that happen within the confined walls of the classroom. They are not meticulously planned, nor are they teacher-driven. Sometimes the best lessons – the best teaching moments – come from our students; it is then that we, as educators, find ourselves taking a step back and letting them teach us.

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Topics: History, Memorial

Branded by the Pink Triangle: From Reflection to Action

Posted by Amy Smith on December 13, 2013

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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

A Reflection on Nelson Mandela: Honouring A Legacy

Posted by Ariel Vente on December 9, 2013

Two years ago, I was offered a few teaching positions at different schools after having a number of interviews within my board. One of these was at Nelson Mandela Park PS, an inner city school in Regent Park in downtown Toronto. After a little debate and reflection, I knew in my heart, I wanted to be part of a school whose namesake was one of the greatest political leaders of our time, a man whom I regarded as one of my personal heroes. It was also a homecoming for me as I did my student teaching and also volunteered in the Regent Park community. I knew choosing to teach at a school named after Nelson Mandela was an honour, and that my teaching practice would have to reflect the values of this great man.

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Topics: Human Rights, Identity, History, Memorial, Regent Park, current events, Nelson Mandela, In the news, Social Justice, Personal history

Celebrating and Teaching the Life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Posted by Dylan Wray on December 6, 2013

Yesterday we said goodbye to a great teacher.

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Topics: Facing History Resources, History, Memorial, In the news

Commemorating Kristallnacht: Connecting to the Past, Learning Lessons for the Present

Posted by Ben Gross on November 7, 2013

This Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht or “Night of the Broken Glass." On the night of November 9th, 1938, Nazis and their followers looted and destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and businesses, and scores of synagogues. They killed over ninety Jews that night, and sent over 30,000 others concentration camps.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, History, Memorial, current events, genocide, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, In the news, Social Justice, reflection

Poland Days 2 and 3

Posted by Jack Lipinsky on June 19, 2013

We always say that Canada is a young country, but that never hits home till you come to Europe. Here I am in Krakow, the old imperial capital of Poland, whose existence is first mentioned by a Jewish merchant in 965 CE. A city gradually grew on this important trade route near the important salt mines of Bochnia, which would eventually account for 30% of Poland's national income in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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Topics: History, Memorial, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course

When the grandmothers speak, the world will be healed. Hopi prophecy

Posted by Robert Flosman on April 29, 2013

Grandmothers of Steel
When my Grandmother spoke, I listened. She survived Nazis, Communists and grandchildren. Yet she always had time for making schnitzel. Grandmothers are special; we know this. The partnership our students have formed with a very special grandmother has been inspiring. Her name is Lisbie Rae and over the last 2 months she has made regular visits to our classroom. This energetic and inspiring woman is a part of the Grandmothers of Steel! This amazing group has partnered with the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) and with TD Canada Trust, raising over $200, 000 in the last 4 years to help grandmothers in Africa. Grandmothers helping grandmothers! What makes this program such a great fit for a Facing History Classroom is that Grandmothers of Steel and TD has given our class $250 to spend as Lisbie calls it, “seed money.” Students brain storm fundraising ideas and are given what they need to buy supplies and then the profits are donated back, while returning the $250 for next year. This concept is known as Table Banking. Table banking is used in Rwanda to help grandmothers there raise their orphaned grandchildren. Rwanda is a central unit in teaching Genocide. What better way to connect students to the history than to fundraise for the survivors of Rwanda. Students are able to study the genocide and then help with the healing.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Innovative Classrooms, Memorial


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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