Using Facing History and Ourselves Resources and Pedagogy to teach the Grade 12 Secondary School Literacy Course

Posted by Lesa Smith on March 22, 2016

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.

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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

Youth and Teachers Respond Collectively to Art Spiegelman's Maus Through Art and Inquiry: An Interview with Professor Rob Simon and Delta Senior Alternative School Teacher Sarah Evis

Posted by Rob Simon on December 21, 2015

In 2015, Dr. Rob Simon, Associate Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE), and students from his teacher education course partnered with Sarah Evis, a teacher from Delta Senior Alternative School in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), and her grade 8 students, to study Art Spiegelman’s popular intergenerational Holocaust survivor memoir and graphic novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.

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Topics: Art, Books, Antisemitism, Choosing to Participate, Holocaust, Facing History and Ourselves, Innovative Classrooms, Holocaust Education, Middle School, Strategies, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, Night, genocide, Lesson Ideas, big paper, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Social Justice, Personal history

The Lost Generation

Posted by Alysha Groff on November 10, 2015

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.

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Topics: Art, Choosing to Participate, Events, Identity, Facing History and Ourselves, Canada, Memorial, current events, legacy, Remembrance Day, English Classroom, Personal history

Students of Facing History

Posted by Ben Gross on July 13, 2015

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.

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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

Nine Books That Everyone Must Read

Posted by Jamie on December 19, 2014

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.

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Topics: Professional Development, Holocaust, Holocaust Education, English Classroom, Literature, Personal history

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

A Visit to Treblinka Extermination Camp

Posted by Julia R on May 14, 2014

This week, our office director Leora, along with several other Facing History staff and board members, are traveling in Poland as part of a learning trip. Over the course of nine days, they are exploring questions about history, memory, and legacy that are at the core of our work. With the help of Polish and Jewish scholars, witnesses to history, community activists, politicians and journalists, as well as organizations that have worked with Facing History throughout the past 25 years, they will be challenged to think in new ways as we confront the past and struggle with questions about the present and future. On Monday, Leora and the group visited the Treblinka extermination camp. Read her thoughts here:

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Topics: Antisemitism, Facing History Resources, Holocaust, History, Museum Studies, Holocaust Education, Memorial, Personal history

Journaling in a Facing History Classroom: Finding Wisdom in Student Voices

Posted by Nathan Tidridge on March 18, 2014

I started journaling when I was a boy canoeing the waters surrounding my family cottage in Muskoka. My journals were filled with maps of all the places I “discov
ered” during my summers up north. As the years went by and I entered high school, the journal’s pages of maps became dotted with anecdotes from my life beyond that lake. It was around this time that I found a copy of The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon at a local bookstore.

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Topics: Identity, History, Memorial, We and They, Strategies, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Lesson Ideas, English Classroom, CHG, Personal history, reflection

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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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