From Understanding to Upstander: Inside a Genocide Studies Classroom

Posted by Lanny Cedrone on April 13, 2015

One of the questions that we often struggle with as teachers, and even more so as teachers that cover issues of genocide, is How do we even begin to understand something that is so far removed from most of our personal experiences?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Safe Schools, Identity, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, Inside a Genocide Classroom

Teaching “The Book of Negroes” Part I: Race, Names, and Identity

Posted by Jasmine Wong on February 11, 2015

It always amazes me how good literature has the capacity to expand our understanding of our world, challenge our memory of history, and grow our thinking about human nature and human experience.

As someone who works with educators, I love to see how bringing great stories grounded in lived experiences into classrooms can begin conversations, spur questions, and help students make connections between themselves, the lives of others in the stories they read, and the world around them.

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Topics: Identity, "The Book of Negroes", Strategies, Lesson Ideas, English Classroom, Literature

Students use Digital Media to Find their Voice

Posted by Ben Gross on September 17, 2014

Stories matter: They shape the way we see ourselves, the way we see others, and the way we understand history. By sharing and listening to stories, we recognize ourselves as part of the human story, as individuals who can change the narrative by making positive choices and shaping our world.

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Topics: Safe Schools, Identity, Media Skills, Technology, digital stories, Radiozilla, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course

6 Ways I Am Bringing my Transformative Learning to My New Facing History Classroom

Posted by Jonathan Temporal on August 25, 2014

Last week I had the honour of participating in the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behaviour summer seminar at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

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Topics: Professional Development, Facing History Resources, Identity, Middle School, Strategies

The Smallest Acts Can Leave the Biggest Impact

Posted by Ben Gross on August 19, 2014

We are very happy to welcome the voice of student Anmol Sandhu to the Facing History and Ourselves Ontario Network blog this week as she reflects on the power of choosing to participate.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, Media Skills, current events, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, CHG, Social Justice

Help Students Think Deeply About the Roles They Play and the Choices They Make

Posted by Ben Gross on August 12, 2014

As a high school teacher, one of the most common things that I hear when walking through the hallways is the refrain of students dishing out advice to their friends: “If that happened to me, I would’ve done/said _______.”

When I hear it, my first reaction is to wonder if there is truth in the advice. And if there is, how much?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas

The Bear That Wasn't: Exploring Identity in Middle School

Posted by Ariel Vente on July 29, 2014

Earlier this year I had the honour of presenting a workshop at the Elementary Teachers of Toronto LGBTQI Teacher Conference at Ryerson University. I described the workshop as:

An interactive, participatory drama and movement workshop using the text “The Bear That Wasn’t” to explore our struggles with identity, how our identities are shaped by others and societal expectations and our battle to find our true selves.

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Topics: Professional Development, Identity, Middle School, Strategies, Lesson Ideas

RadioZilla: From Bystanders to Upstanders

Posted by Ben Gross on July 10, 2014

Over the past three months Facing History and Ourselves, in partnership with Regent Park Focus and with funding from Mozilla Hive Community Projects, worked with students from several Toronto District School Board high schools to create short radio pieces exploring issues important to local youth. This project was called RadioZilla.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, EdTech, Innovative Classrooms, Media Skills, Technology, Radiozilla, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Personal history

Happy Canada Day!! What Does it Mean to You?

Posted by Ben Gross on July 3, 2014

Last Thursday I spent the morning working with a group of educators in Hamilton, exploring a Facing History pathway through the new Ontario Grade 10 Canadian History curriculum. It was a morning full of rich conversation and learning about both Canada’s history and its present, and how they inform each other. We began the morning with an activity using poetry to discuss the first step of the Facing History and Ourselves Journey: Identity. We talked a lot about what it meant to be Canadian in the past and what it means to be Canadian today. How have we changed? How have we remained the same? Who are the individuals that make up "we"?

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Topics: Identity, History, legacy, In the news, Personal history

What Happens When Universes Collide?

Posted by Ben Gross on June 26, 2014

The beginning of any Facing History and Ourselves journey is an investigation of identity and membership. As we study these concepts in history, we see the impact that they have on the way that people see the world and the choices that they make. We all have our own individual and group identities – but how do we expand those? How do we include more people, more 'others,' in our universe of obligation?

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, We and They, Personal history


This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Ontario, and invite you into the discussion.

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