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Introduce Historic Space

--- In the first class, students will be asked to produce a linear narrative of their life but then asked to edit, edit, edit for brevity and “relevance.”

--- In the second class, students will be asked to produce their life histories in a format such as a concept map, to get them to think about how the production of knowledge shapes knowledge.

--- In the third class, students will be asked to reflect on the previous activities and will be introduced to the theory structuring their future classes.


CLASS 1 – Timeline – (50 minute period)

Step 1: Set up the timeline activity, 10-15 mins.

- One of the most popular ways to read history is in a timeline.  A timeline shows progression, it demonstrates order, and most of all it highlights importance.  The first thing we are going to do today is make a timeline of your life.

- What kinds of things are usually on a timeline? Students answer out loud, list on the board (“important” dates like: birthdays, milestones, moving days, days of death, etc)

- Ok so, I’m going to give you a minute to make a list of “important” events for your timeline. *the purpose of this activity is not to give them a lot of freedom and independence but to structure the engagements of their own histories very narrowly so they can begin to understand the constraints in writing history

 Step 2: Expand and constrain the timeline, 10-15 mins.

- Great, now I want you to add to the timeline any dates in your life or your family’s life that would be considered important for a Canadian history textbook; this could mean dates of immigration to Canada, dates of full citizenship, dates of enlistments in the Canadian military, dates a family member was honoured by Canada, etc.

- OK, now let’s pretend that this timeline will be going in a textbook, under a page entitled “The life of a 21st century teen”.  As we can see from the timelines in our textbook, they cannot include every event, only the most important or relevant events to the topic.  The last chapter in this book goes up to 2000 is called “The search of Canada within a global community”.  If that is the chapter your timeline will go into, you have to make sure it fits the theme; now it is a very broad theme because we have both Canadian identity and global context, but regardless, it would still have to make sense if put in this chapter.  Teachers can also brainstorm with students about what a chapter for 2000-2010 could be called.  So what I want you to do next is cross off – just put one line through, I still want to read what you wrote – any event on this timeline that doesn’t fit the theme of “The search of Canada within a global community”.

Step 3: Peer edit the timeline, 10-15 mins.

- OK finally, in an effort to get this timeline available for “publication”, we would need an editor to edit it for brevity and relevancy, or to make sure it is brief and suitable for the textbook.  If we look at the timelines that are listed in the textbook, you will see that they only have a few entries; only 4-6 events regardless of how many years the chapter profiles.  - So in this next step an “editor” will cut your timeline down to 4-6 events that best represent your life and the theme of the chapter.

- Who will be the editors?  Your classmates of course!  I will collect all the timelines and then redistribute them to their new editors.

- As editors, you have 5 minutes to choose 4-6 events on your classmates’ timeline that: 1. best represents who they are, 2. fits the theme of Canada and global community, 3. would make sense to teenagers who read this in the future - Give students time to work

- Great, now editors, I want you to rewrite your classmate’s timeline.  Put their name at the top, and then the 4-6 events, in sequence, that you have chosen, put your name at the bottom.

- OK, now hand in both the edited timeline and the original timeline.  You won’t be marked on this, I just want to read them.

* This is just a description of what should happen in this first class.  Depending on the interest of the class and how quickly they do the activities, the teacher can prompt more discussion about what should be included on a timeline and student sharing about their own timelines throughout the class period.


CLASS 2: Concept Map – 50 minute period

Step 1: Concept attainment, 10 mins.

- Ok, in keeping with the similar theme last class, I want you to write a list of at least 5-10 things that define you or that are important to you; a list that if somebody saw it, they would say “yes, that is ___’s list”.  In this list you can put activities you do or watch or follow; you can put people in your family or other people you look up to; you can put things that inspire you, like songs or books; you can put events that are important to you; anything you want.

Step 2: Organize and start map, 15 mins.

- From this list you are going to make a concept map.  First I am going to demonstrate on the board.  Here is the list of things I came up with.  The first thing I am going to do is look if there is anything I can group together; so for example I can put all my family members in a group labelled “family”, or you can see here I moved a lot, so I can put all those experiences, and add more, under a heading of “travel.”

- What I’m going to now, is put my name in the middle here – demonstrate on the board – and put the concepts around it that I have listed and/or grouped together.

- You try…

 Step 3: Continue the map, 15-20 mins.

- OK, now keep going.  Add more things to the map that represent who you are.  You can add more concepts based on the groups you have – demonstrate on the board – or you can add more groups; you can brainstorm and link more concepts to the ones you first started thinking about, so keep going.

- Hand in


CLASS 3: Reflection and (Re)Introduction - (50 minute period)

Step 1:  Reflect, compare and contrast – 30 mins.

- Ok I am going to hand back to you your edited timeline you worked on in class one.

- What I first want you to do is write a paragraph describing what it is like to see you life edited into 4-6 events.

- Next I want you to write a paragraph describing what it was like to make this timeline about your life.  Did it feel like it represents you and your life?  Did you feel good making it?  Did you feel good about the final product?

- I am going to hand back your concept map.  This map was similar to your timeline in that it was a textual and visual representation of who you are – but it was structured different.  - - What was the experience like in making the timeline versus making the concept map?  Do you feel the concept map represents you and your life?  Did you feel good making it?  Did you feel good about the final product?  How do you feel about your concept map and timeline sitting side by side?  Write a paragraph reflecting on these questions.

- Does anyone want to share what they wrote?

 Step 2: Introduce Historic Space – 15 mins.

- Why does this matter in a history class?

- History is usually thought of as presented as this untouched thing that represents the “real” story, but of course we know that is not true.  What happens in the past is not as organized and logical as a textbook makes it out to be, things, events, people get deleted to make a cleaner story.  Look at your timeline, its a lot more logical then the concept map is, but that timeline doesn’t have room for your favourite song, or how you felt when your brother or sister was born, or the much longer history of your family and your culture(s).

- People often say that we learn about history because it teaches us about where we came from, where we are going, and hopefully teaches us not to do again; but the “right” answer to these questions are already written into the story.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that when we read the textbook, we learn that Canada come from the founding English and French settlers, almost every story in this textbook highlights an aspect of that story.  But what if you are not from England or France?  What if you are from England or France but because you are Brown, people don’t ever think you are from those European countries?  What if you are Ojibway or Cree and your history gets eliminated completely from the “important” story that is in the textbook?

- This term we are going to be thinking about these questions.  We are going to be fulfilling all the curriculum requirements that you have to hit in this class, but we are also going to be very sceptical about the linear and clean history that the textbook promotes.  The textbook will be a great resource, but so will the internet, archives, your neighbourhood, your family, and yourself.

- We’ll be doing more concept maps to understand what the ideal history is that the textbook promotes, but we’ll also be challenging that concept map to see what fits and what doesn’t.  Would you and your life fit into the real “The search of Canada within a global community” chapter in this textbook?  Why or why not?

 - In these last few minutes of class I want you to write in your journal what you think of: 1. what you think of “Canadian history”, 2. what you would like to cover in a history class, and 3. what you think of the activities we have done in the last few days.

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