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The Secret Path Middle Years Lesson Plans

Elementary, Middle

Description

This lesson plan was created to help engage teachers in reconciliation and was created to support the use of Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s book and CD the Secret Path, which talks about the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died after running away from Residential school in the 1960s.

The lesson plan is divided in 3 mini lessons.

1. What Were Residential Schools: After watching the first 4:15 minutes of the Secret Path video students will develop a Know/Want to Know/Learn chart as a class. This will start the discussion on what students want to know about residential schools.

2. Identity: Student will be reflecting on images from the book the Secret Path in order to create a writing piece on what they have observed to better understand sense of self, loss of identity, culture, language etc.… This will also help them create their own identity piece stating: “If you really knew me, you’d know…”

3. Art Project: The first part of the lesson asks students to select a black and white image that resonates with them. They will then share why this image is powerful and what it represents to them.  

The second part has students design an illustration (in the style of Jeff Lemire) that represents their personal ideas/thoughts on reconciliation. 

The lesson aims to raise awareness of the history and creation of the residential school system, its ongoing legacy, and how it has shaped the country we live in today.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Listen and respond
  • Create
  • Critical thinking

Strengths

  • Actively engages students in reflection and critical thinking about the issue indigenous families have faced in the past and still face today
  • Activities are age-appropriate and interesting
  • Excellent tool to introduce or open a discussion about residential schools in Canada

Weaknesses

  • The lesson is created to support other resources that some school may not have.
  • No adaptations for students with learning difficulties
  • No evaluation tools

Recommendation of how and where to use it

When talking about reconciliation, exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world. This could be addressed as part of those units of study that discuss citizenship education and more particularly the concept of global citizenship. It is also a useful resource for those units of study dealing with human rights.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • 7th Century to 1750: Contacts and conflicts between peoples stimulated significant cultural, social, political change.

Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (2)

    • Cultural Diversity
    • Social Justice
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students lead their own research and questioning. Peer to peer discussion and active communication are used to form individual opinions and conclusions about the issue.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

Cultural and social barriers are identified, and students have a chance to reflect on the outcome of these barriers and how it can create different problems. 

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The resource facilitates respectful consideration of First Nations people and their roles, both contemporary and historical.  Ensuring this complexity is part of the students' experience with the resource will depend on the teacher's planning and preparation.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

Students write about their personal illustration (What does it mean? What does it represent?)

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

This resource has a First Nations focus but the framework could also be used for studies of other cultural groups.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

This resource is specifically developed for Manitoba School District teachers, but it could also be adapted to other areas. However, the resource is built to accompany another resource that some school may not have. 

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The resource is built on the ideal of promoting understanding for Residential Schools. The resource is based on the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12 year-old boy who died after running from Residential School in the 1960s and the process of Reconciliation through education. The activities raise awareness of the history and creation of the residential school system, its ongoing legacy, and how it has shaped the country we live in today.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

There is guided questioning provided in the lesson plan to help students and to help engage students in discussions about the issue that will then lead students towards independent thinking.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The purpose of this resource is to raise awareness and understandings about First Nations Peoples and Residential Schools through Social Studies, inquiry, literature, art and ELA activities.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Poor/Not considered

The resource needs other resources that would give more information on the subject in question. 

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Activities include

  • Discussion and cooperative learning 
  • Art media: ink and water colour 
  • Written responses 
  • Critical reading of art
  • Critical thinking 
  • Empathy 
  • Problem-solving  
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The resource recommends a meeting with First Nations Elders and citizens to share stories with students.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered

There are class discussions. 

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

The lessons plans are based on Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire's book and CD which chronicles the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died after running away from Residential school in the 1960s.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.