Sarah Beech and Chad Howie

Recipients of the 2011 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching

December 12, 2011
Canada's History speaks to Sarah Beech and Chad Howie about their classroom project on the Seven Years' War.

Valley Creek Middle School, Calgary (Alberta)

In their Seven Years’ War project, the everyday lives of Chad Howie and Sarah Beech’s grade seven students are turned upside down when they are asked to distance themselves from their own identities and take on the persona of a soldier — French or English — who lived nearly 250 years ago.

With their new identities, students immerse themselves in many different elements of the Seven Years’ War: interpreting different sources of information; researching and creating their own battle strategies; designing regimental flags; reenacting the battle of the Plains of Abraham and considering alternative outcomes. The project encourages them to think critically about the impact of war and to inquire about how one person can bring about change.

By living history, students have the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter. Human qualities such as relationships, perspectives, and emotions, become more evident, affording students a better opportunity to consider the perspectives and biases of the individuals involved in these historical events. If differing perspectives are not viewed within history, then inevitably only a part of the story is being told.