The students in my Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity course gained new and meaningful perspectives on what life was like for those targeted for extermination by the Nazi regime by creating a unique and innovative art exhibition that explored the lives of young victims of the Holocaust.
“Kim Kardashian published a book of them, Russia banned them, and at the Oscars last year Ellen took the most liked one of all time: Selfies. And love them or hate them, there’s no denying the impact their proliferation has had on modern society.” When I came across this statement in a magazine (Elle: Selfie Culture and Female Identity), I for the first time, appreciated the value of a ‘Selfie.’ Indeed, a Selfie can shed light on attitudes, values, allegiances, cultures, and pursuits – and all of this in a tiny, square screen.
Each year, like all educators, I think about new culminating activities that are meaningful and engaging. Inspired by Humans of New York on Facebook, I thought this concept would fit well into my Grade 11 Genocide and Crimes against Humanity course. In fact, the more posts I read, the more I realized how closely aligned they are to Facing History’s Scope and Sequence.
Having been an LTO (Long term occasional teacher) in the TDSB (Toronto District School Board) for several years I have taught a variety of courses with little prep time available; Facing History saved me more than a few times with their resources (and of course other teachers' contributions to this very blog). I'm delighted to be able to share some of my experience using and adapting Facing History and Ourselves resources and pedagogy in my classroom.
Topics: Film, Choosing to Participate, Human Rights, Facing History Resources, News, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, current events, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Literature Circles, Lesson Ideas, In the news, English Classroom, Social Justice, Literature, Personal history, English
Dictionaries define the word “neighbour” solely based on close physical proximity; we feel close to someone because we live next door, or down the hall, or across the street. But what happens when a connection is needed from someone farther away?
Topics: Antisemitism, Choosing to Participate, Events, Facing History Resources, News, Identity, Facing History Together, Facing History and Ourselves, current events, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Lesson Ideas, In the news
On November 26, we released Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools. This new resource brings educators new primary sources and first-person accounts about a painful period in Canadian history, when about 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and stripped of their language, culture, and traditions.
Topics: Human Rights, Facing History Resources, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, History, Canada, Racism, current events, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, genocide, legacy, In the news, English Classroom, Social Justice
Valerie Simmons was born in London, England in 1921. She has been writing poetry since she was six years old. At the beginning of WWII she worked in a first aid post dealing with Blitz casualties. When the Battle of Britain ended she joined the Women’s Air Force (WAF) where she was an admin officer throughout England and in Egypt. After the war she earned a BA from London University and went on to get her teaching qualifications. She has taught and worked in libraries.
Remembrance Day is a poignant moment to reflect upon the sacrifice that men and women made before us. As we get farther away from the world wars of the past, how do we as educators ensure that this day is meaningful for our students?
As an educator I often wonder what students remember once they have left my classroom. It is my hope that when they leave they take with them critical thinking skills, the ability to engage in difficult conversations, and a deeper understanding of how we are all connected - in the past, present, and future. Through all of my various attempts to learn from my students what they are getting out of their Facing History and Ourselves class, I have found that the best way to find out what students are learning is to ask them.
Each year, at the end of our grade 11 elective Facing History and Ourselves course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, we take the time to reflect on our learning and ourselves. This year a group of students from my classroom chose to participate in a reflective interview process in lieu of their final journal entry assignment, and agreed to share their reflections.
Below, as inspired by the popular blog Humans of New York and the Facing History project, Humans of the Woodlands, you'll have the chance to glimpse into the classroom learning and life of a few of my Facing History and Ourselves students.
Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, Holocaust Education, Memorial, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Social Justice, Personal history, reflection
Early in my teaching career I came across Voltaire's aphorism, which states, “perfect is the enemy of good.” As my fifth year as a middle school teacher, and my first year as a Facing History teacher comes to a close, I developed a new appreciation for this message.
Ten months ago, shortly after participating in the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behaviour seminar, I wrote a blog post detailing my plans for my first year as a Facing History and Ourselves teacher. I strongly believe in the power that the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum offers students, and I wanted to make sure I lived up to what it meant to be a Facing History teacher. During the year, I found myself chasing the “perfect” lessons, which I hoped would chain together to create the “perfect” unit, and the “perfect” year. Here is what I have learned since then.