Mike Ward

Recipient of the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History

November 17, 2008
Canada's History speaks to Mike Ward about his Pioneer Village project.

Palsson Elementary School, Lake Cowichan (British Columbia)

Mike Ward believes that students learn best through personal experience, and with his social studies Pioneer Village his students are given that opportunity.

The Pioneer Village brings Canadian history to life as students create their own community on a four-foot-by-eight-foot, dirt-covered table. Each student becomes a pioneer in this new land and through role-playing, problem-solving, and public speaking, each learns the rights and responsibilities that accompany citizenship.

Mike guides students from the first arrival and the clearing of their new land to the creation of businesses, the election of a government, and eventually the development of a modern society. Students are challenged to decide what their community will need to survive.

To accompany the Pioneer Village, students complete projects and participate in various activities as the classroom is transformed into their mini-community. By the end of the unit, students gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their history, and their own community.