Video interviews of the 2016 winners of the Governor-General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History are now on-line. Topics range from family and school history projects to national history such as Vimy Ridge and Indigenous issues with an emphasis on historical thinking. You can read a description of the various projects below.
Adam Pounder and Lori Buchanan help their students connect their family past to critical moments in Canadian history. Students start by selecting and interviewing a relative, searching through family photographs, and writing about their relative’s experiences. After identifying a related historical topic to research, students analyze scholarly sources, write an account detailing their findings, and select an artifact to complement their work. This allows them to compare their relative’s story with the “official” narrative that surfaces during their research.
Brian Clancy, Lisa Sheppard, and Catherine Morneault gave their grade six French immersion students this challenge for their school year: “How can we collaboratively teach our community about the Canadian experience at Vimy Ridge and do something AWESOME in the process?” Students decided to craft a book-length collection of short essays to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle.
Elizabeth Freeman-Shaw and Sarah Murdoch introduce their first unit of Grade 10 history through the lens of Indigenous Issues in conjunction with the introduction and application of each of the six Historical Thinking concepts. There is no lengthy traditional ‘research’ project in Unit 1, but rather a series of smaller demonstrations relating to Historical Thinking Concepts. Students learn to critically approach Canada’s decisions and policies relating to Indigenous peoples. By exploring multiple perspectives of the past, they question the basis of Canadian pride and assess whether Canada is a truly fair and equitable country. Their inquiries culminate in the preparation of a creative representation: Stained Glass Window for the Future.
To celebrate their school’s 60th anniversary, the students in Geneviève Marois’ class decided to hold an exhibition on its history. They started out by examining several primary and secondary sources, and then presented the information in a number of creative ways, including with an interactive timeline, skit, movie, and dance. Some 500 students attended the exhibition, with another 250 community members turning up for the evening presentation.
Holly Richard’s students engage in a wide variety of academic and co-curricular activities meant to deepen their awareness of the connections between First Nation, Métis, and Inuit histories and cultures. The activities help students develop 21st century learning skills and empowers them to take a lead in educating their community. Leadership activities include student-led educational projects such as workshops on the legacy of the Residential School System, presentations on indigenous perspectives in Canadian History and most notably, the publication and distribution of a magazine that connects culture and history with current issues faced by First Nations communities.
The students of teacher Rita Gravina and Teacher-Archivist Catherine Pfaff delve into the many unsung stories of women who served their country during the First World War. As part of the HerStory project, their Grade 12 students are responsible for creating video narratives on the war experiences of former students.
The above is an edited version of text on Canada’s History website.