The Purpose of Civics

Keynote: Civics Day 10
Apathy_thumb-adj-300x199

Ontario Secondary School Diploma graduates must earn a 0.5 credit in Civics. This course is often taught by teachers who see it as a chore and it becomes repetitive lessons in memorizing party leaders, riding statistics and municipal responsibilities.

Does any of this help us to produce more active, engaged global citizens? Probably not. Also,  Social media does not voters make. This study also argues the course has not increased the number of youth voters in Ontario.

The Toronto Sun addressed this in a recent article, concluding the youngest voters are Spectators. According to the author, “They don’t believe in status buying. Or consuming for the sake of consuming. They also don’t believe in many of the touchstones of Canadian society — like democracy. And Parliament.”

Thanks, Tom Conklin, for reminding me this course deserves more study.

Nuclear Shelter Simulation

Building Miniature Houses of Inequality

Here’s Hans Rosling, creator of Gapminder, using statistics to demonstrate some clear changes in regional wealth, health and life expectancy over the last 200 years.

Some great online resources for Civics:

Bite-size, Young Person Friendly ‘Types of Government’ from CBBC

TVO’s Singing and Dancing Approach to Ontario Government (You tube channel)

‘Teacher Support.ca – ‘just add a classroom’ resources for studying citizenship, human rights, government workings etc

Political Cartoons in the classroom – why read when you can interpret?

Antz-English Version – Chart and worksheet to work with film, “Antz”

Think about what we need to do to encourage ‘Active Engagement.”

 

**reposted from December 2013

Advertisements

The Purpose of Civics

Civics Day 10

Ontario Secondary School Diploma graduates must earn a 0.5 credit in Civics. This course is often taught by teachers who see it as a chore and it becomes repetitive lessons in memorizing party leaders, riding statistics and municipal responsibilities.

Does any of this help us to produce more active, engaged global citizens? Probably not. Also,  Social media does not voters make.

The Toronto Sun addressed this in a recent article, concluding the youngest voters are Spectators. According to the author, “They don’t believe in status buying. Or consuming for the sake of consuming. They also don’t believe in many of the touchstones of Canadian society — like democracy. And Parliament.”

Thanks, Tom Conklin, for reminding me this course deserves more study.

Here’s Hans Rosling, creator of Gapminder, using statistics to demonstrate some clear changes in regional wealth, health and life expectancy over the last 200 years.

Some great online resources for Civics:

Bit-size, Young Person Friendly ‘Types of Government’ from CBBC

TVO’s Singing and Dancing Approach to Ontario Government (You tube channel)

‘Teacher Support.ca – ‘just add a classroom’ resources for studying citizenship, human rights, government workings etc

Political Cartoons in the classroom – why read when you can interpret?

Antz-EnglishVersion – Chart and worksheet to work with film, “Antz”

Think about what we need to do to encourage ‘Active Engagement.”

Googleable vs Non-Googleable Questions

Googleable vs Non-Googleable Questions The Lab.

In this post by Ewan McIntosh at @NoTosh, teachers and students are challenged to determine low and high order questions. The latter than becomes the focus for the duration of the lesson.

Why?  McIntosh states:

Every topic, every bit of learning has content that can be Googled, and we don’t want teachers wasting precious enquiry time lecturing that content. We want students, instead, to be using class time to collaborate and debate around the questions that are Not Googleable, the rich higher order thinking to which neither the textbook nor the teacher know the answers.

Update:

I tried this with my gr 11 Anthropology Class.

Lesson and Unit Planning

All new teachers must find a way which helps them to make sense of the day-to-day activities of teaching. Because I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I am much more comfortable giving myself a theme/concept/stimulus cue and then I can run with the lesson. Here’s what my ‘lesson/unit plans’ might look like. This is a grade 12 university-college level social science course. I like the weekends – they are places for me to write ideas or additions to the lessons.

"What day is it?"

New teachers may needmore direction. Lesson plans are a great way to keep you focused on the goal rather than the nitty-gritty of insignificant details or an over-abundance of information overload.

Lesson plans should have SKILL as well as CONTENT. You need to be aware of what previous knowledge your students have about the subject. We we pitch the lesson far above their ability, the work is useless, if it’s below their skills, boredom sets in. Sometimes one only needs to verbally ‘check in’ to gage students’ abilities.

Good lessons are not teacher-focused. Students should be given activities which guide them between relevant pieces of information and skills. Skills may include theme appropriate literacy activities, numeracy, evaluation of historical significance, map reading, ranking evidence etc.

Here is  link to a google doc for a template for individual class lesson plans. Select ‘make a copy” under the file menu and you can use & manipulate it to your heart’s content.

Think of a unit plan like a large-scale lesson plan. You have similar goals, you must pick out your curricular expectations and you give yourself an overview of all you want to accomplish over the period time allotted. You can use the same curricular expectations for several lessons — this will ensure your students have a mastery of the subject.

Here is an example of Top down Lesson Planning – Planning for Learning template and directions

Remember: in both your lesson plans and your unit plans, focus on the BIG PICTURE. If students can back their arguments and ideas with relevant information that is important to them(and to the course), they are successful. Everything else is just window dressing.

Teachers on Pinterest

I don’t pin*, but some of my closest friends do (Bronwyn or JenGilpin). They guarantee me that this is a brilliant way to share ideas visually. These two ladies also happen to be kindergarten teachers.

I stumbled across this great board for teachers. There doesn’t seem to be a lot for high school aged students, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t adjust some of these fantastic ideas for their lessons. Heck, many of these ideas could be just as effective in a grade 3 room as they would in a grade 10 History room.

Here are some of my favourites and how I might use them.

1. Classroom management

This would be really great for 7 and 8s. They may be able to ‘earn back’ letters before they have to wait x minutes after the bell.

2. Building new groups. I have students line up in different orders and then count them off in smaller groups.

3. Oral Assessments/Questioning

4. Literacy and Communication using evidence

5. Literacy

Young historians or applied level students would love using a giant venn diagram on the ground to compare periods of time or experiences of different Canadians.

6. Building Relevance

Students often struggle making connections between History and their own lives. Sometimes, it’s easier for them to connect to non-personal things AND this still demonstrates their ability apply ideas. Consider tweaking this anchor chart for the history classroom.

* I’ll admit I started an account whilst researching this post. I’m pinning. *

Scategories (a game for any classroom)

Scategories

Scategories is a great board game allowing all ages and abilities to contribute. This is a strategy for an introductory lesson as it activates previous knowledge as well as gets students to think about related ideas.

I make a game sheet. I usually make it small enough to fit three game sheets on one page (saves photo-copy clicks!).

Game 1                         game 2                          game 3

1 Famous Canadians
2 Canadian Places  Saskatoon
3 Laws  Street Signs
4 In my Community  Salvation Army
5 Rights and Responsibilities
6 Common Symbols  Swoosh (Nike)
7 About Politics  Socialism
8 Democracy means  Speaking Up
9 Non-Governmental Organizations  Save the Children
10 Things Citizens do…  sign petitions
11 Movies which teach Civics concepts  Stand and Deliver
12 Synonyms for Civics

I change the categories to suit the subject or unit.

How to Play

Goal: get the most points

Object: earn points by having unique words in each category

1) Teacher picks a letter of the alphabet (ex: S – as above)

2) Students have 2 or 3 minutes to come up with words which start with this letter and fit the category (see game 2 above).

3) Students cannot repeat the same word in a different category. (They can’t have ‘Stand’ for ‘things citizens do’  and also “Stand and Deliver” for movies.)

4) Take up answers. If one group has the same word as another, students strike off their answers and no points are awarded. If the group has a unique word, one point is awarded.

5) Add up points and declare a winner!

Variation:
Aschew the use of the letter and have students use course-related/unit related terms to fit the categories. This can be a great review!

War of 1812

I love anniversaries. We can relive moments of the past and celebrate (or mourn) the events shaping our present and future.300x133x2013_war_of_1812-300x133.jpg.pagespeed.ic.dpidUbu9Zf

Our current government invested heavy dollars into the commemoration of the War of 1812. The Canadian War Museum created a stellar exhibit showing the four major perspectives of the conflict (American, British, ‘Canada-British’ and First Nations) and there have been a plethora of reenactments along the St. Lawrence River for the 200 year ‘celebrations.’

Sexias and Morton’s team have created a plethora of activities and lessons around the War of 1812 using the Historical THinking Concepts of ‘the Big Six.‘ (If you haven’t invested in this fantastic resource, you should. Buy it here.) 

These lessons help teachers to give students historical inquiry strategies and skills.  Although I’ll come back to these again and again, Sexias and Morton (2013) conclude:

To think historically, students need to be able to:

  1. Establish historical significance

  2. Use primary source evidence

  3. Identify continuity and change

  4. Analyze cause and consequence

  5. Take historical perspectives, and

  6. Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations.