|Streamed field trips were key in|
supporting this interest-based approach
to studying World War Two.
Through the use of historical thinking skills, including historical significance, historical perspective, continuity and change, ethical dimensions and primary sources, there are limitless ways that students can approach history’s events, people and places. Most recently, while studying Canada’s role in World War Two, students were able to choose specific topics to help gear content towards students’ interests. To further individualize experiences, students in each of the streamed topics (Living History, Holocaust or Technology) were able to identify specific events to which they could connect in order to develop a broader understanding of the Second World War.
This method led to several important observations for teachers. Students showed higher levels of:
- Engagement, motivation and accountability;
- Understanding of the content; and
- Perseverance towards learning skills.
- Students persevered through a critical analysis of primary and secondary documents. They challenged themselves to research, find and analyze primary historical sources which gave very specific accounts of perspective within each of the events being studied, and to think critically about how these particular stories fit into the global picture of World War Two.
- Students in the technology stream were able to choose various pieces of technology and determine how each individual piece of technology impacted the war overall. They chose items like the enigma machine, Alan Turing’s computer, the Spitfire, the Lancaster bomber and the Sherman tank, among others.
While studying individual topics, students challenged themselves to:
- Practice research skills more rigorously;
- Write reports more thoroughly;
- Organize their ideas more effectively; and
- Present their findings verbally with increased confidence.
Teachers agreed that there were some exceptional pieces of work and the consensus is that interest-based learning created a richer environment for students to grow.
What did students think about the unit? See some of the feedback below.
“I found it easy to find primary documents. I like using the historical concepts of thinking because I think it takes your ideas out of your head and makes you put them on paper.”
“I think that I was definitely able to pursue some of my own interests. Through the project, I was able to research a relative. This gave me the chance to know more about my family history."
“I think that the historical concepts helped me focus on my research and thoughts because they gave me a sort of guideline that helped me find more research."
“I think that being able to choose which subject I was going to study made me much more interested. I chose that subject because it was something I wanted to learn more about.”
There were some very good observations made by teachers and some excellent experiences had by students. Moving forward, teachers will be collaborating on how to enrich this unit of study further.