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
CBC's battle of the books - Canada Reads 2015 - is taking place from March 16-19th. Canada Reads involves five prominent Canadians debating which book all of Canada should read.
Each year the theme for the event relates closely to our work at Facing History and this year’s theme, One Book to Break Barriers, is no exception. The panel must decide the one book out of the five chosen that best "challenges stereotypes and changes perspectives." The debate over which book to pick takes place over four days beginning March 16, and is live streamed on CBC.ca at 10am EST and broadcast on radio and television each day.
For the past few weeks, I have been thinking and writing about ways to bring The Book of Negroes into the classroom through discussions of identity, and a study of the history of race and slavery in America.
The first post offered ideas for establishing a safe classroom for discussing difficult ideas through contracting. It also offered a strategy for exploring names, identity, and the relationship we each have to the world. The second post built on the theme of identity by examining the beliefs we hold that separate us from others, and how our beliefs can influence the choices we make. This week, I want to address how teachers can bring the book’s difficult moments into the classroom safely.
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.
We've compiled a list of the nine books that we feel every teacher (and student) must read. Each of these books tackles an important event/issue in history. Each of these books is engaging, well-written, and powerful.
Remembrance is an act of humanity and it is about humanity. At Facing History and Ourselves, we often ask ourselves, How do we help students (and ourselves) to remember more than names, dates, and battles? How do we help students to connect to the humanity: the people behind the names, the lives, ideas, and cultures lost, and the legacies that extend beyond the signing of a treaty that signals the end of war?
As a middle school teacher I was often asked why I was giving up a week of my summer to attend the Facing History and Ourselves’ Holocaust and Human Behaviour seminar. “You don’t teach that time period,” being the most frequent comment. They were right. But there was something about Facing History and how they approached teaching that piqued my interest and so I went.
Facing History Toronto is delighted to introduce five Class Sets now available for our qualified* teachers to borrow and share with their students.
In “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection,” Tyronne Howard notes the importance of finding ways to address the growing heterogeneity of our students cultural needs to “construct pedagogical practices that have meaning to students’ social and cultural realities,” (195-6). Literature Circles are a model that I used, which I have found to be an effective tool for engaging students using differentiation. The diverse nature of my classroom, which is common for an urban school, makes it is difficult to find a single text that will engage each student in the classroom. Since those students who do not engage and read their texts are traditionally the least successful, it is important to try and find materials they will.
An innovative new collaboration taking place in Canada this spring is connecting classrooms and teaching students literacy and performance skills through the study of history and spoken word poetry. “Stand Up, Speak Out,” a four-week program designed by Facing History and Ourselves, is bringing professional spoken word artists into Grade 11 classrooms as part of a unit of study that explores the history of genocide and issues of identity, tolerance, and community.