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New Ideas for Curriculum: More Books and their Insights into How to Shape Curriculum

By students of John Myers at OISE

 

By Subin Moon

A Concise History of Canada by Margaret Conrad reveals the detailed history of Canada to 2011. It is useful for grade 9 to 12 classes to understand the chronological occurrence of historical events and relations. Not only does the book provide different perspectives to explore different events and time periods in history, but it also provides an opportunity to students to improve their information processing: to learn more in depth by follow-up discussion, write-up, presentation, or debates. As it is a secondary source students can measure and discuss its reliability, and where and what to take on for further learning inquiries.

Also, in relation to history curriculum, students can obtain deeper understanding based on the concepts of historical thinking such as historical significance, cause and consequence, continuity and change, and historical perspectives. They can be trained to identify each of the concepts while they explore a secondary source like this book. Students can also formulate questions for self-inquiry process for applications and thinking criteria as well. The interpretation and analysis will develop their logical and critical thinking skills for long-term learning and will enable them to evaluate the information to draw reasonable conclusions.   Therefore, the new scholarship can reshape the whole learning process of our students.

 

 

By Julia Armstrong

 

This year was the first time I had attended the OHASSTA conference in a few years and I am so glad I attended!  The opportunity to meet with teachers in our discipline from across the province was a great opportunity to network, discuss common concerns and share best practices.  

While all of the workshops were excellent, I especially enjoyed the Teacher's Toolbox.  Kelly Armstrong and Kelly Snyder from Peel DSB shared some great examples of ways to improve student engagement.  They shared some examples of how they are designing a variety of alternate work spaces to best meet student's needs for collaboration and social learning.  Their presentation clearly showed how well things are working in their classes and also gave some practical tips and tools that we could take home and use.  Thank you so much for sharing!

Thank you again to the Executive at OHASSTA for your time and efforts in putting together an excellent conference.  I will be sure to attend next year and will be encouraging more of my colleagues to do the same!

 

Julia Armstrong is a Department Head of History in York Region District School Board.

By John Myers, OISE

In the previous issue of Rapport I painted a gloomy picture of the practice of inquiry in classrooms. In Ontario the calls for inquiry in curricula go back to my early days of teaching in the 1970s and way before into the last decades of the 19th century. More than a century ago John Dewey articulated this in How we Think (Dewey, 1910).

This picture is compounded by recent evidence from a major study looking at how students analyze web home pages, evaluate evidence, and assess claims on social media. If these together represent a cornerstone of civic online reasoning, they reinforce the despair many feel in the aftermath of the American election (Stanford History Education Group, 2016*).

So what can we do?

Recognize that the evidence strongly supports the notion of inquiry as a habit of mind or a tool for reflective thought rather than a set of discrete processes or “skills”.  Such thought is linked to meta cognition: a key factor in promoting student achievement.

Incorporating a number of directions suggested in both OHASSTA workshops and previous Pedagogical Perspectives (I leave you to explore Visible Thinking, Co-operative Learning, Mystery games, student-generated questions as well as the work from the Stanford History Education Group: all of which offer classroom-ready approaches to try and assess) I offer two additional directions for promoting or, as the TC2 people say,  “nurturing” inquiry.  The first approach is to get students into the habit of forming their own questions and teachers into the habit of using such questions to promote inquiry.

Welcome to the new Rapport blog! Our talented new editor, Risa Gluskin, has been working hard to bring you the latest iteration of Rapport. We are committed to communicating with our membership in ways that are relevant and meet your needs. In the blog you’ll find all the traditional Rapport content but it will be maintained more often to stay true to the blog format.

There are a number of other ways to connect with the OHASSTA membership and executive to share ideas and teaching practices:

  • Twitter - follow us @OHASSTA
  • Facebook 
  • Cube for Teachers - search for OHASSTA to find our page
  • Annual conference - we are returning to Ottawa in November, 2017 for Canada’s 150 celebration
  • Website - check out the resources - you're already here

 

Sandy Kritzer

By Jessica Fulton

A New Teacher at OHASSTA

In October I handed in the last assessment piece of my postgraduate education (teaching) degree - yay! After four years, two babies and a (temporary) move to Canada from Australia, I had finally finished the key step my mid-life career change. Now that I was qualified, in addition to volunteering at local schools, I wanted to spend my last few months in Ottawa preparing unit and lesson plans, finding materials and resources and preparing as much as I could so that I could hit the ground running once we move back home. Getting started on this grand project, however, was not as easy as I had hoped. After the elation of finishing the course subsided, I found myself drifting in a melancholy fashion through that awkward space between studying to become a teacher and actually having a classroom in which to teach. For so long I had imagined my future classes, and written assignments with future students in mind. Now I had to wait until the northern summer when our family returns down-under before I could turn my imaginings into reality. Enter the OHASSTA 2016 Conference. From the passionate keynote opening to the practical workshops based on real classroom hits and misses, OHASSTA Conference gave me two days of ideas and inspiration to fuel the launch of my preparation work.

Throughout my degree I was interested in a number of themes – technology in the classroom, inquiry-based and project-based learning in history and using both historical fiction and current events to teach social studies. I used these interests to guide my workshop selections, in the hope that I could glean some real life perspectives to support the theory that had thus far been the main stay of my teacher learning.

MP Charlie Angus’s opening address highlighted for me a number of similarities between the treatment of Canadian First Nations people and the Indigenous people of Australia (Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples).  This gave me food for thought about how to incorporate comparative lessons into social studies classes.

MP Charlie Angus at 2016 Conference, photo courtesy of Alan Skeoch

My first workshop was about using Google My Maps to enhance history lessons. We examined an existing map of a Canadian soldier’s World War I experience which not only provided us with an excellent demonstration of the mapping capabilities, it also (again) got me thinking about shared experiences between our young nations. Even better, as a workshop group we collectively designed our own map to test out some of the design features.  Rob Barter’s workshop was a good illustration about how a simple (and free) mapping exercise can breathe life into historical experiences.