Never mind what I'm reading. It's unimportant, beside the point, really! If I want to fritter spare moments reading Absolutely Amazing Five-Minute Mysteries and Walrus magazine, "it ain't nobody's business but my own." Hmmph! School doesn't start until after Labour Day (Sept. 3).
Next week, although still 'officially' on vacation, I'll be in school Monday to Friday setting up my new classroom. I'll be teaching grade 8 for the first time: English, History, French and Geography with a healthy dose of Grade 6 French thrown in. I'm also working with Primary level students on Language and English as a Second Language a couple of days a week, but I'm most concerned with preparing the heavier Grade 8 curriculum:
Confederation (i.e. the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867)
- politics, personalities, significant events and geographical factors that led to confederation
- growth of Canada as other provinces and territories joined
- comparing life and socio-political issues in Canada today to Canadian society in 1867
The Development of Western Canada
- settlement and development of the Canadian West (prairies, British Columbia, Yukon)
- changes and conflicts (railroad construction, resource use, government, First Nations peoples, Metis, new immigrants)
- ways the history of the Canadian West has influenced Canadian arts and institutions
Social Change 1885-1914
- key characteristics of Canadian society 1885 to the start of the First World War
- society, economy, social roles and politics, as well as the individuals and groups driving the changes in these areas
- technology and everyday living and working conditions
- Canada's place in the British Empire and her relations with the United States
Patterns in Human Geography
- patterns of human settlement and the factors influencing population distribution and land use, levels of development and employment
- comparing living conditions in countries with different patterns of settlement
- ways in which demographics could affect our lives in the future
- comparing Canada to other countries, including developing countries
- economic systems and industrial activities and the factors that influence them
- Canada's economic relationships (regional)
- comparing manufacturing, distribution and economic development in different communities and countries
- patterns of migration and the factors which influence relocation and mobility
- challenges and opportunities migration presents for individuals and communities in Canada
- connecting real experiences of Canadians to data on the causes and effects of immigration
The challenge is in the details. I have to teach my students to use and make charts, graphs, reports, tables, maps, models, graphs and all sorts of high-tech stuff like computer slide shows according to the Ontario Ministry guidelines. We have to consider secondary and primary sources (archaeological dig anyone?) and locate information from field trips, stats, interviews, CD-ROMS, videos, websites and print materials.
The methods of research and presentation are important, don't misunderstand me, but this is not where I anticipate difficulty. I'm getting a very talented group. Most are much more computer-savvy than I'll ever be with similarly hooked-up parents and resources at home.
They might need help presenting information without plagiarizing. With so much information, formatted so beautifully at the click of their mouse, students have trouble making something that does not contain chunks of stolen intellectual property. This is the post-Napster generation who have grown up in an environment where "information just wants to be free." They watch pirated movies, listen to pirated music and play pirated electronic games. Why should school be any different? I've had teachers warn me the only solution is to make students write every assignment during class!
Fortunately, I have a couple of textbooks to help me, with charmingly descriptive titles:
Canada Revisited: Confederation, The Development of Western Canada, A Changing Society
Human Geography: Discovering Global Systems and Patterns
I skipped the hot links. If you need them, you already know how to order them. If you don't, they hardly make light reading material.
Wish me happy reading!