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Grade 7 Canadian History: Post 2

Jody Pereverzoff and Chris Dittman - Grade 7 Humanities

In our last blog post, we described the genesis of our Grade 7 Humanities project focusing on early Canadian (pre-confederation) history. We left off with students having just determined the most historically significant event in their debate group, each of which consisted of 4-5 students, each seeking to prove the historical significance of their specific event.  

We were left around 5 events in each of the 4 classes. Our focus now was to return to our original inquiry question; Why do so many Canadians know and care so little about our nation’s history?  We returned to our original class brainstorm around the importance (or lack of) of knowing Canadian history.  Specifically, we drew students’ attention to the reasons they gave for a lack of interest.  These included:

  • History is boring
  • People have studied events in history, but often forget
  • Events are not relevant

Students were grouped based on their debate teams, the reason being that the they had come to a consensus through their elimination of other events that the remaining event was the most significant.  The objective the group was now challenged with was to create a Common Craft video that would address the reasons listed above that they felt deterred themselves from wanting to know more about Canadian history.  

Students began creating the script for their Common Craft, using the research information and arguments pertaining to the Historical Significance criteria that was previously during the debate.  Students were tasked with including a powerful hook to grab, and keep, the viewer’s attention, an informative and entertaining summary and strong evidence of historical significance (the proof of why this event matters).  

Following the creation of the script, students were provided with extensive formative feedback from a variety of sources including their teachers, peers, and David Scott. Once the script was approved, students begin designing, developing, and rehearsing for the filming of the Common Crafts.  Students were encouraged to thoughtfully consider and create images that would enhance their overall message.  

Once the students had filmed a first cut, we headed to Mount Royal University for a History Symposium where Academic Historians, Dr. Jennifer Pettit and Dr. Joe Anderson, led the students in a workshop around why history matters. Students were also provided valuable feedback on their Common crafts from Dr. Pettit, Dr. Anderson, parents, Connect Charter Admin members, and a few history students at the University.

Our students favourite part of this experience was the opportunity to stop MRU students walking through the University and ask them questions about their events. Some students even had the chance to speak with Dr. David Docherty, Mount Royal University's president, regarding their event's significance. Students were proud of the fact that they generally knew far more about Canadian history than the university students they surveyed.

After arriving back at school, students requested time to carefully edit and film their Common Crafts based on the feedback that they had just received and the rubric they helped to develop.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their completed work at a screening we held for our grade and a few Common Crafts were selected to represent their classmates on our Canadian History Online Museum. 

This website holds three Common Craft videos and a short film explaining this inquiry from start to finish. It is also available below:  

Currently you can vote on the most significant event on this website, Canadian History Online Museumafter viewing the videos. We encourage you to do so as students are eagerly anticipating the results.


Mr. Lonsberry said...

What a great example of how the study of Canadian history can be a dynamic and engaging process. As I mentioned in my reply to your first post, this project is particularly strong in terms of assessment. Involving peers, other teachers and experts in providing formative feedback to students has definitely resulted in better quality student work that demonstrates a deeper understanding of the important learning outcomes you wanted to address as teachers. Well done.

Garry McKinnon said...

Jody and Chris, I enjoyed reading your follow-up blog on your Canadian history inquiry. Based on my observations of your students researching and creating their common craft videos, I would say that clearly they were not "bored"; in fact, they were highly engaged as they explored Canadian history. The Mount Royal University component of the learning experience highlights key elements of inquiry including involving outside experts and taking learning experiences beyond the classroom. Interestingly, with reference to the experience of your grade 7 students interacting with university students about their knowledge of Canadian history, your students were now in the role of outside experts. I was impressed with the exemplars of the common craft videos. Your video clip providing an overview of the inquiry is very interesting and informative and certainly it will be appreciated by other teachers who wish to take a novel approach to engaging their students in developing a deeper understanding of and greater appreciation for Canadian history.

Scott Petronech said...

Jody and Chris, I absolutely loved this project. What a great way to engage your students in a topic that could be seen as static and meaningless if it were simply taught out of a textbook. It is evident how much planning, energy and reflection went into this project. Your ability to get student buy-in was evident and powerful. I also appreciated your ability to utilize ongoing feedback strategies to provide students with information on how they could improve their ideas. I wish history had been taught to me this way.

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