The Bear That Wasn't: Exploring Identity in Middle School

Posted by Ariel Vente on July 29, 2014

Earlier this year I had the honour of presenting a workshop at the Elementary Teachers of Toronto LGBTQI Teacher Conference at Ryerson University. I described the workshop as:

An interactive, participatory drama and movement workshop using the text “The Bear That Wasn’t” to explore our struggles with identity, how our identities are shaped by others and societal expectations and our battle to find our true selves.

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Topics: Professional Development, Identity, Middle School, Strategies, Lesson Ideas

What These Middle School Students Did Will Amaze You!

Posted by Amy Smith on June 3, 2014

This April, students at the Thomas Street Middle School (TSMS) in Peel took a stand against bullying and homophobia and what they did will amaze you. Watch this video then read on to learn more:

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, current events, Middle School, Social Justice

Voice, Reward, and Expectations: Reflections on a Middle School Classroom

Posted by Ariel Vente on March 20, 2014

As elementary schools have just passed the mid-point of the school year, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the first half of the year. Schools are part of a larger educational system. However, our classrooms are also a microcosm of society; a community of members with jobs to do, and rules, norms and expectations, which members are expected to follow. But, as we are too well aware, within the larger society, we encounter issues of unfairness and injustice. I’ve been questioning my practice and asking myself: Does my classroom parallel the oppressions of our society? Am I reinforcing and reproducing what is happening in the larger society in my classroom?

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Topics: Professional Development, Identity, Urban Education, Regent Park, Middle School, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Social Justice, Deficit Thinking, reflection

Good Questions Deserve Good Answers

Posted by Amy Smith on February 12, 2014

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Topics: History, current events, Middle School, Social Justice, reflection

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

From Summer Seminar to School: What I Took Back to My Classroom

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on October 17, 2013

As a middle school teacher I was often asked why I was giving up a week of my summer to attend the Facing History and Ourselves’ Holocaust and Human Behaviour seminar. “You don’t teach that time period,” being the most frequent comment. They were right. But there was something about Facing History and how they approached teaching that piqued my interest and so I went.

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Topics: Back-To-School, History, Middle School, We and They, Summer Seminar, Literature, reflection, English

Six Stages Leading Up to the Holocaust: A Big Idea Approach

Posted by Ariel Vente on July 24, 2013

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.

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Topics: Facing History Resources, History, Regent Park, Middle School, We and They, Strategies, Lesson Ideas, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, Social Justice

Creating a Culture of Safety in Uncertainty

Posted by Ariel Vente on June 18, 2013

As educators, we want the answers as to why our students aren't learning. Do they have special education needs such as a learning disability? Are they lacking motivation? Did they get enough sleep the night before? Did they have breakfast? But how many of us ever ask: do my students feel safe? Overwhelming brain based research indicates the importance of students feeling safe in schools in order for them to be able to learn.

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Topics: Urban Education, Middle School

Differentiating Red Scarf Girl Part 1

Posted by Ariel Vente on April 8, 2013

One of the challenges many teachers experience is trying to meet the needs of their diverse student population in their respective classes. Differentiated instructions strategies (D.I.) enables teachers to better meet these varied needs and in turn enables students to be successful because their needs are met at their level of readiness, interests and learning styles.

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Topics: History, Middle School, Strategies, Lesson Ideas, English Classroom, Literature

Using Visual Media to Learn about Genocide--OR--Goodbye "boring" History classes

Posted by Jack Lipinsky on April 7, 2013

In my last post I noted how saturated our students are by visual media. What a sharp contrast their lives are with mine at their age. In my high school history classes, the walls were adorned with old men, mostly with mutton chop whiskers and beards, staring down at me. Each of them had their name, dates of birth and death, and a sour stare that intimidated me when I glanced at them. My teachers reverently cited these old mens' careers and quoted them to the point of endless boredom.

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Topics: History, Middle School, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas

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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 Ontario, and invite you into the discussion.

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