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By: Thomas Adamson

When I was fifteen, I took a Canadian History class with a teacher who invested very little energy in designing engaging lesson plans. As a result, I think, of this teacher's shortcomings, I remember very little about the class and I've retained very little of the subject material—a problem I'm now confronting as I train to become a high school history teacher. I remember most of the class being textbook-based, with significant portions of class time devoted to independently answering questions taken directly from the textbook's pages, and I also remember several bizarre details about the teacher himself—how he always wore sunglasses inside and how he would erase a tally mark on the chalkboard for every day that brought him closer to his imminent retirement.

One lesson, however, sticks out in my memory. Near the end of the semester, as the tally marks on the board were nearing extinction and the class had virtually devolved into a series of tangentially relevant DVD screenings, we entered the class to find the teacher sitting on his desk and declaring that he'd be giving an “old fashioned lecture” on the NAFTA agreement that day. “Old fashioned lectures”, he proclaimed, are the kind of classroom learning we'd be expected to do when we went on to university. He then instructed us to “take out a pen and paper” and try to keep up with his lecture, reminding us that we couldn't expect university lecturers to “slow down” their material for students with slow handwriting.



By: Tammy Denomme

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, the Junos are coming to London, Ontario. Who knew that the arrival of this important Canadian music event would somehow connect to London’s schools?  In November, London’s Juno committee asked for a meeting with the Indigenous Education teams at the London District Catholic School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board.  They explained that the committee had been “inspired by Gord Downie’s call to ‘do something’…in an effort to furthering Indigenous education and truth and reconciliation within the region.” Juno Host Committee Chair Chris Campbell explained: “As the hosts of such a significant national event, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to not only build on the national conversation happening within the music community, but to take action. Our hope is that other school boards and other cities alike will continue to further these efforts and empower youth, all while keeping Chanie’s story and memory alive.”

The Committee introduced the Boards to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF).  Many Canadians will remember how Gord Downie used the last years of his life to raise awareness among Canadians of the story of residential schools in Canada.  He partnered with the Wenjack family to “continue the conversation that began with Chanie Wenjack’s residential school story and to aid our collective reconciliation journey through awareness, education, and action.”

By Zoe Flatman

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Here we are in March already!  It has been a harsh start to the New Year for many in Southern and Western Ontario with record, or near record snow days.  For those who love winter and outdoor activities it looks as though there will be great conditions for skiing, sledding and any number of outdoor activities over March Break.  For those, like me, who are not fans of the snow, the days are getting longer and the sun seems to be shining more- spring is no doubt on the horizon.  I have been approached about several upcoming events that might be of interest, including Facing History event at the Art Gallery of Ontario and CIVIX Democracy Bootcamp for the upcoming Student Vote Canada 2019 please read further for details.

As always, feel free to send me your ideas, activities, lessons, etc. for publication in the blog.  We are particularly interested in how you are meeting the TRC Calls to Action and Global Competencies in your social science classrooms.  The next deadline is April 12, 2019This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Matina Broumas

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Teachers are frequently thrown into situations where we must “make it work,” for such cases as new courses for which we may have inadequate (if any) background knowledge, lack of resources or support, or any number of other factors or variables. The Universal Design project was borne out of such a need to make the logistical reality of my own situation work for my students, and a pressure (mostly self-induced) to “get it right.” Little did I know that this would become a deep and authentic inquiry task, using minimal technology and a whole lot of mentoring.

It came at the end of a unit on Ableism in an HSE4M course that was newly introduced at my school. Early on, I decided to make the course more student-centred and project based. The challenge was to assess the kind of transformational learning I was hoping to achieve with my students, pushing students past pre-existing assumptions towards an openness to seeing issues through new perspectives. We learned terminology and theory, and found statistics on the state of diverse issues in our society, but the major learning came from various inquiries throughout the year.

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Slide from Risa’s presentation in February, 2018.

By Risa Gluskin

World History from 1450 (CHY4U) is very full. Very full of content. That’s a problem.

This semester, after reviewing my own past advice to teachers, I have decided to focus on one nugget: use fewer layers of context.  My version of CHY4U is not a narrative of world history; it’s a skill- and primary source-based inquiry-style course. I know a lot more than my students about the topics, obviously. As the teacher it is incumbent on me to use that knowledge to structure bite-size lessons rather than deliver oodles of background information to my students. I’d like to avoid the pitfall of overload which would detract from students’ skill development.