Creating Meaningful Responses to Memoir and Engaging in Reciprocity

Posted by Alysha Groff on June 21, 2019

This spring, Facing History and Ourselves, in partnership with the Azrieli Foundation Holocaust Survivors Memoir Program, invited 175 students from 6 schools to layer onto their learning about the history and legacies of the Holocaust, or of Canada's Residential Schools by reading Survivor memoir. Students read Theodore Fontaine’s Memoir Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, or excerpts of Nate Leipciger’s Memoir The Weight of Freedom, then created pieces that reflected their understanding and responses to these testimonies, which were gifted to each Survivor.

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Topics: Toronto, Holocaust, Memoir, Facing History and Ourselves, Survivor Testimony, Canada, Residential Schools, Canadian History, Student Work, project, genocide, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, reflection, Connected Learning, Grade 10 History, HSB, CHC, difficult conversations, trc, stolen lives, facing history pedagogy, Azrieli Foundation Memoirs, Decolonizing Schools, Holocaust History in Canada, Facing Canada, cross curricular teaching and learning, collaborative inquiry

Creating Engaging Social Studies Unit Culminating Ideas: A Zoom Conversation

Posted by Jasmine Wong on September 27, 2018

Join us on Monday, October 15, 3:30 - 4:15pm EST for a conversation with Facing History and Ourselves Program Associate Jasmine Wong about creating engaging curriculum based History, Anthropology/Sociology/Psychology, and Genocide Studies projects.

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Topics: project, Middle School, Social Studies, culminating

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

Why Teachers should bring history out of the shoe box and on to “the wall”

Posted by Robert Flosman on February 5, 2013

After the success of our museum, the crowds have gone as have the newspapers. How do you keep the momentum? A class can’t host a museum every month. The answer is turning inward. If we ask our students to uncover their past, to the basements and the shoeboxes in their homes, we uncover the ultimate facing history project: That of uncovering their families’ role in Canadian History. So many 15 year olds know their grandparents for their Florida vacation homes and holiday gifts. Teachers need to push our students to dig deeper. All these stories can be revealed over dinner and a conversation. A simple phone call can reveal a new world for a student and a new appreciation of family and history. What are their stories? Did they serve? Did they engage in resistance activities? What was their war experience? My students asked these very questions, then gathered and documented these stories and artifacts to display on our Wall of Heroes; a dynamic museum being built in our school halls.

Each artifact on the wall (see example below), provides a picture of the both the grandparents and student (with mention that they attend our school), and a brief account of their grandparents’ exploits. While no artifact will tell the whole story, each opens a window into history and encourages us to stop and further explore the connections we have with each other and our history. Jeff wrote that his grandfather was instrumental in developing CAMP X; that he was not only friendly with James Bond’s Ian Fleming but also guarded Igor Guzenko. Igor Guzenko is the first lesson in any grade 10 Cold war unit...but now that man pictured in every Canadian textbook with the bag over his head; the man who heralded the beginning of the Cold War in Canada has new meaning and connection to the class (Those less impressed with that connection at least went to see Sky fall! ). In the same class, a young lady named Lindsay knew only her Polish Catholic roots. Yet after investigating further, her family turned out to be Jewish! Her family had to hide from the Nazis. Her grandmother will soon be a part of our Wall of Heroes .

Teachers, how many of our students’ grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles have built this country’s history? A life revealed on the Wall of Heroes. Museums don’t have to come from New York. Every student’s family is a small window into the past. At our school, kids are coming from everywhere to tell their families’ tales. A simple plak, costing $11.99 from Staples, brings their history to life for a school and a community. For more information on how to proceed and see our online archive, visit genocide@waterdown and look under Wall of Heroes. Let’s get the museum started!



was born on Dec. 27, 1902 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. After completing his studies, he was drafted into the Dutch army. When German troops invaded Holland in May 1940, he was a captain and in charge of a heavy machinegun detachment. He experienced some of the bitterest fighting in defence of his country on the Grebbeberg Line. For this he was awarded the Commerative War Cross with bar, (Oorlogs-herinnerings kruis).

Rather than languishing in Germany as a P.O.W., he went into hiding and joined the local resistance movement. Some of the initial sabotage consisted of destroying railroads, falsifying identity and ration cards but as the war progressed his group focused mainly on the rescue and returning of Allied pilots and aircrews. These activities were punishable by death. Both the governments of the U.S. and Britain awarded him certificates of gratitude and appreciation.

He is the great grandfather (Groot Opa) of current students S__________and J______ L___________.

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Topics: Assessment, project, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas


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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