Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mapping the Historical Consciousness of 7th Graders.

by Cynthia Wallace-Casey,
PhD Candidate
University of New Brunswick
(Fredericton)

At the risk of self-promotion, I would like to draw your attention to a research note that has just been published in the Journal of New Brunswick Studies. As a graduate student who has devoted the past 5 years to exploring the phenomenon of historical consciousness, I am (needless-to-say) thrilled and honoured to see a small piece of my research published in a scholarly journal.

All this aside, the findings also warrant further discussion, since they provide an intriguing glimpse into an age group less commonly discussed in conversations around historical consciousness and historical thinking in Canada. The data was collected as part of a pre-survey that expanded upon the Canadians and their Pasts (2013) investigation with an entire class of Anglophone 7th graders.  In working with this group of students, I had the privilege of learning a little bit more about their relationship with the past, and the narratives that they carry. Over a period of 15 weeks, we worked together to explore a material history framework for historical thinking in museums, which served as a cultural tool for deepening students’ historical consciousness.

As Stéphane Levesque (2014) has pointed out, “the study of historical consciousness makes it possible to understand how people use the past.” For the students participating in this inquiry, it was evident that they initially used the past to situate themselves within a Canada narrative of privilege and war. These “broad pictures” for remembering represented common themes that (just as Levesque has indicated) served as “backdrops” for acquiring new knowledge. For these students, their themes of privilege and war were predominantly optimistic.

In somewhat contradiction to this optimism, however, many of the students paralleled this schema with more pessimistic perceptions about change over time. In this regard the students were very unlike adult samplings in the larger Canadians and Their Pasts study. Hence, rather than perceiving things as getting better over time, nearly half (42%) of the students recognised progression as a contradiction. For these students, while technology had made life easier, the resulting pollution and conflict had also made life worse. In this sense, students’ narratives of privilege seemed to be somewhat at odds with their beliefs in change over time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Adapting Documents for the Classroom: Equity and Access

Source:
Teaching History.org

What Is It?
Preparing and modifying primary source documents so that all students can read and analyze them in their history classrooms.

Rationale
Although they are useful for engaging students in the past, and teaching them to think historically, primary source documents often use antiquated or complex language. This can pose a challenge even for able readers, let alone those who read below grade level. Adapting a variety of historical documents for use in the classroom will allow students greater access to important reading and thinking opportunities.

Description
Adapting documents for the classroom includes the use of excerpts, helpful head notes, and clear source information. It means adjusting documents for non-expert readers and making them shorter, clearer, and more focused. Adaptations can also include simplifying syntax and vocabulary, conventionalizing punctuation and spelling, cutting nonessential passages, and directing attention to a document's key components.

Read more..
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Is it Ever Okay to Tamper with the Past? Modifying Primary Sources to Make Them Accessible

Source: 
History Tech 
by glennw on October 27, 2014

Maybe this is not as big a topic as I think it is. Maybe it’s just me. But it seems as if the idea of modifying primary sources in order to make them more “user friendly” for our students, especially younger kids, is kind of a big deal.

Maybe I’m wrong. As I travel around the country, I get the chance to work with lots of social studies teachers – who by the very nature of their position have a tendency to voice strong opinions about, well . . . just about everything.

Including among other things: K-State football, KU basketball, Democrat, Republican, Texas BBQ, Kansas City BBQ, and iPads vs. Chromebooks.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

by Cynthia Wallace-Casey,
PhD Candidate
University of New Brunswick
(Fredericton)

For educators interested in human rights, consider the recently opened Canadian Museum of Human Rights as your go-to source for lesson plans and teaching ideas. As someone who has been watching the museum develop from afar, I look forward to the day when I can visit in person. Yet, for those of us restricted by distance, the museum’s web site provides an effective outreach service that is equally beneficial.

As Mireille Lamontagne has noted in her recent blog post, the museum’s Canadian Human Rights Toolkit provides a convenient hub for lesson plans geared towards grades K-12, which can be filtered by province, language, grade level, and subject area. The hub currently boasts more than 200 teacher-reviewed resources, including lesson plans, teacher’s guides, manuals, handbooks, and study guides. What makes this tool kit most promising, however, is that it is a work-in-progress. As such, it represents an evolving database of teaching resources, useful for Canadian classrooms, and intended to grow over time with user-generated content. In this way the Canadian Human Rights Toolkit promotes an on-going exchange on human rights education in Canada. As educators, the more we contribute to this exchange, the more we can add to the national conversation.

Criteria for submissions to the toolkit are based upon four basic points:
  • Related to human rights;
  •  Available in English and/or French;
  • Intended for the Canadian classroom;
  • Aimed at students aged 5 to 18;
Resources are verified for completeness and suitability according to this criteria, then posted as “not reviewed”. Materials are later reviewed bi-annually by a national committee of accredited teachers, brought together by the museum’s project partners (these partners, however, are not identified). 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taking Time for Role Reversals in Museums

by Cynthia Wallace-Casey,
PhD Candidate
University of New Brunswick
(Fredericton)

One of the biggest challenges I've encountered when working with both adults and students in community history museums, is the problem of time. There never seems to be enough time to make connections: connections with student visitors, connections to individual artifacts, connections to big ideas in history. Too often it seems, a school field-trip to a community museum evolves into little more than a hurried walk through history, where students are presented with only the alluring highlights of each exhibit space. Although armed with the best of intentions, in such instances museum educators become little more than information gatekeepers, adjusting their tour ‘on the fly’ to the immediate needs of a group leader—without any prior knowledge of the students or their interests. For students themselves, such a scenario leaves no time to ask questions, no time for individual engagement, and no time to establish historical connections.

There is a solution to this, however, and it rests with role reversals, along with repeat museum visits. As I have found in my own research, with repeat visits to a community history museum (combined with curatorial classroom time) traditional gatekeeper roles can be reversed—thus ‘flipping the museum’—to enable student-driven exploration of the past. In my own case study, students visited their local community history museum four times over six weeks. In between, they also re-visited their experience through classroom activities, which included close reading (and corroboration) of artifact sources, as well as mapping of museum narratives. In this way, students were empowered to break out of their passive role as knowledge-receivers—to become engaged in discovery, observation, de-construction, and re-interpretation.

By returning to the museum over an extended unit of study, students benefited from having ample time to establish thoughtful connections within the museum. In addition, with each repeat visit, role reversals became increasingly more evident, as students themselves adopted the social role of museum curators. Thus, arriving at the museum for their first visit, students attentively followed the guide, listening to the words and taking notes. Arriving for the second visit, it was obvious that all of the students were now eager and prepared to engage in dialogue with the exhibits, as well as the curators. They were focused, familiar with the site, and armed with a mission. This sense of purpose continued with each return, as students became increasing more accustomed to the learning environment, and seized upon each opportunity to direct probing questions of the curators. By the fourth and final museum visit, it was clear that museum roles had been flipped, since instead of simply following the guide and taking notes (as had been the case during their first visit), students were now fully in charge of the tour—with each presenting curatorial statements of significance about their chosen artifact, while the adult audience simply listened. This reversal process proved to be very effective,