Teaching Canada's History: 2020 Excellence in Teaching Finalists

In this podcast series, Canada’s History spoke with the finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Posted September 3, 2020

Canada’s History recently spoke with some of the finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes teachers from across the country for their exceptional work in teaching Canadian history. It is also an opportunity to promote and facilitate the sharing of best practices and innovative teaching ideas within Canada’s history education community.

We would like to thank voicEd Radio for their support in producing the podcasts. VoicEd Radio is a 24/7 Internet-based Radio Station dedicated to both broadening and deepening the conversations we have about education.

In our interviews, the teachers gave insight into their teaching practices, reflected on their experiences adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shared how they make history relevant to their students. 

We invite you to listen to the interviews with the finalists below and learn more about their projects and the important work they are doing to research, interpret, and share the stories of the past.

Kristian Basaraba

Salisbury Composite High School, Sherwood Park, AB

Kristian Basaraba’s students combined skateboard art with a history lesson on Indigenous culture and colonialism in an effort to raise awareness on the discussion of reconciliation. Led by Cree artist John Cardinal, students researched Indigenous art forms for inspiration to help with their own skateboard graphic. The goal of this program was to raise awareness amongst students of our colonial past and acknowledge the harm that has been inflicted, and to explore the causes and work toward changing that behaviour.  

Tienneke Calder and Maureen Kelly-Gibson

Calgary Academy, Calgary, AB

Tienneke Calder and Maureen Kelly-Gibson led students in an interdisciplinary, project-based learning experience entitled “Stories for Reconciliation”, which was guided by the essential question: " What actions can we take to further the spirit and intent of the journey of Reconciliation?". The project culminated with a national act of reconciliation as students used historical thinking concepts to honour  historical Indigenous perspectives and redesign the Canadian 5-dollar bank note to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Ian Duncan

Garth Webb Secondary School, Oakville, ON

Ian Duncan developed a 4-lesson LGBTQ2+ Canadian History module for his grade 10 history class. Students chart the narrative change and growth of the LGBTQ2+ community throughout the last 100 years of Canadian history, and use inquiry and collaboration to explore and tackle topics that have been largely overlooked by curriculum writers and educational publishers.

Christina Ganev

East York Collegiate Institute, Toronto, ON

Christina Ganev developed the project “My Land/My Canada, My History”. Her students conducted research into their family’s heritage and/or immigration history, shared cultural knowledge and ways of knowing, made connections to significant events in Canadian history, collected and recorded primary source stories in audio files in collaboration with the University of Toronto department of Linguistics, and explained the significance of cultural artifacts in a presentation to their peers.

David Lynch

St. Michaels University School, Senior School, Victoria, BC

David Lynch led a year-long, multi-stage project titled “Through their Eyes” that engaged students with the historical thinking concepts as they explored twentieth century Canadian history through the real-life experiences of (extra)ordinary Canadians. These diverse individuals and their divergent experiences acted as an enlightening window into the past, humanizing events and equipping students with concrete evidence that they used to assess -- and perhaps even challenge -- traditional narratives.

Dawn Martens

Buchanan Park Public School, Hamilton, ON

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Dawn Martens led students from grades 4 to 6 at Buchanan Park Public School in studying and performing Hans Krása’s opera, Brundibar. This opera was performed over 55 times by children in Theriesenstadt (Terezin), a hybrid concentration camp and ghetto established by the SS during the Second World War. [You can listen to Martens’ students singing on YouTube; illustrations in the video were done by the students.]

Nathan Tidridge

Waterdown District High School, Waterdown, ON

High School teacher Nathan Tidridge, his students, and community members, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, created the Souharissen Natural Area as a foundation for land-based pedagogy. This 55-acre educational and cultural space in Waterdown, Ontario, continues to evolve as an outdoor classroom and inspiration for numerous curriculum-based projects.

Chris Young

Kelvin High School, Winnipeg, MB

High school history teacher Chris Young created a four-week project titled "Kelvin Remembers the Winnipeg General Strike" to commemorate the strike’s 100th anniversary. His students completed historical inquiry projects that were showcased on the May 15th commemorative day. The project inspired his students to creatively engage with the past and with their community.       

Check out our French-language podcast Enseigner l’histoire canadienne to hear from additional finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

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