If there’s one refrain I hear over and over from my fellow teachers, it is that schools are in regular (and often desperate) need of resources. In a world of online and often unreliable resources, The Canadian Encyclopedia manages to provide a solid, well researched alternative for teachers and students of Canadiana.
But for World Teachers’ Day, I am not going to gift teachers with a diatribe on resources. As I said, it’s a regular refrain that is part of our everyday, and hardly a gift. Instead, I will use this blog post to gift them with five ideas on how to use The Canadian Encyclopedia in their classroom. Free resource and free ideas? That’s something to put a bow on.
Allow students the opportunity to put on their Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys cap – it’s time to do some detective work. Students of any subject need to develop the skill of ensuring their presentations, papers and original material are properly checked for accuracy. During your library time, assign individuals or groups of students each an article from The Canadian Encyclopedia. Students should use a variety of other resources (online, books, newspaper, magazine) to verify the facts within the article.
Have students choose a figure from the Canadian Encyclopedia and create a “baseball card” for them. Cards should include at least one picture, important facts (date of birth, any important associations or organizations involved in, and accomplishments.) Feel free to limit the subjects to those you’re studying, whether it is Fathers of Confederation or Canadian musicians.
It’s important for students to learn about historical bias and perspective. Have them re-write a Canadian Encyclopedia article from a different perspective. How would George Brown have written Sir John A’s article? Or how would Nellie McClung have written the article on Women’s Suffrage? To provide a non-writing option, students could instead debate the merits of the articles’ wording from multiple perspectives.
Rank This Day (or Week) in History
In almost any job, but especially that of a historian or teacher, we’re required to prioritize what we talk about. With only so much time in a single class, semester or year, sometimes content knowledge is passed over in favour of skills development. Ask students to make a difficult choice: using the Timeline feature, select a day and have students rank, in importance, the events of that day to the development of modern Canadian identity. July 1st is particularly challenging. Confederation? Beaumont Hamel? The Winnipeg Jets become the Coyotes? Students should be able to defend their choices.
And last but not least…
The Existing Lesson Plans
The Canadian Encyclopedia has some existing interactive resources, galleries and games that are an easy fit into any classroom subject or activities. Their foundation, The Historica-Dominion Institute, is also chock full of resources for students, particularly the Heritage Minute Lesson Plans.
Happy World Teachers’ Day everyone!