Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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  • The questionnaire can be audio or videotaped for students with writing difficulties.

  • If a student cannot watch TV, a taped segment could be shown with an outline form to complete while viewing the tape.

  • The student could present the type of advertisements seen in a pictorial format.

  • The students may be given a bar graph of births that they complete by colouring the columns.

  • The students may be provided with a number of picture books from the 1950s and 1960s which provide enough visual information to describe the boom generation.


Approved classroom textbooks


Bondy, Robert and William Mattys. New Promises 1945-1963 Canadiana Scrapbook. Prentice Hall, 1980.

Catholic Catechism

Statistics Canada

Various magazines

Activity 6: Canadian Perspective Through the Arts

Time: 150 minutes


Students focus on Canada’s identity as seen through the eyes of various Canadian artists. Students evaluate the impact of American culture on Canada and determine the distinguishing features of Canadian artistic expression. They research the criteria for the Order of Canada and apply that criteria in nominating some Canadian artists for this prestigious award. Finally, students summarize this unit by recording a retrospective of the years 1984-1999.

Strand(s) and Expectations

Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations: CGE3c, 4f, 5a, 5b, 5e, 5g.

Strand(s): Communities: Local, National, and Global; Change and Continuity; Methods of Historical Inquiry

Overall Expectations: CGV.01, CCV.02, MIV.04.

Specific Expectations

CG1.03 - demonstrate an understanding of how artistic expression reflects the Canadian identity;

CG2.01 - explain how American culture and lifestyle have influenced Canadians from 1900 to the present;

CC2.01 - use visual displays effectively to show how technological developments have changed lifestyles through the twentieth century;

MI2.02 - use technology effectively when researching Canadian history topics;

MI4.03 - express ideas and arguments in a coherent manner during discussions and debates or in graphic displays.

Planning Notes

  • Locate and have available various CDs of Canadian musicians, samples of Canadian literature, and Canadian art.

  • Bookmark the government web site that describes the criteria for the Order of Canada or contact Rideau Hall for the information.

  • Reserve the video camera and CD player for the retrospective video.

  • Consult with the Grade 9 and 10 English teachers and the teacher-librarian for an appropriate selection of Canadian literature.

Prior Knowledge Required

  • Students should have knowledge of early examples of Canadian art such as the Group of Seven, Lucy Maude Montgomery’s books, and early examples of Canadian television from earlier units.

  • Students should be familiar with the structure of poetry to employ in this activity.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Survey the students on what is their favourite musical group, TV show, book, picture/painting. Which of these are Canadian and which are American? How have American ideas influenced Canadian culture? The teacher administers a diagnostic test by asking students: name the first Canadian Prime Minister; first American President; Canadian capital city; US capital city; list five American TV/movie stars; five Canadian TV/movie stars. The class takes up the answers and determines the level of their knowledge of basic Canadian artistic facts. Does the result of this test confirm the earlier answers to American influence on Canada?

2. Students are divided into four groups (TV/movies, art, literature, music). Each group develops a list of Canadians involved in each artistic category. Each group presents its list. Members of the other groups can volunteer other names to the list. Each student researches one member from his/her artistic collection. Students research information in order to have enough facts to support their nomination of their artist to the Order of Canada. If the person is already a recipient they can be nominated for a higher level. Students examine the government web site for the nomination criteria for the Order. Once individual research is done each student returns to the original group and tries to convince it that his/her person is the best choice. Each group then presents its nominee. Students indicate how their nominee’s work reflects Canada. After all the groups have presented their nominee, the class votes on its official nominee. As the presentations are taking place, students complete a peer assessment form which is examined by the presenters. As a concluding application exercise that can also be used in the video, students may write their own poetry, music lyrics, drawings, etc. that illustrate some aspect of Canada. The students could also write a class letter to the nominee informing him/her of the class’ choice.

3. Throughout this unit students have been keeping track of the important events within each activity. They now work together to produce a retrospective of the last 20 years of the century. They are divided into the activity groups where they determine what is the most important event/issue of that activity. As a group they determine how they present this event on video. The video must have a title, overview of the event, and rationale for selection. The class selects one person to act as a narrator for the video. This person introduces the video, the various segments, and concludes the presentation. The group needs to compose a script, collect costumes and props, and locate appropriate background music. Each group presents its event (two to three minutes). Students review the composition of the Heritage Minutes and “CBC News In Review” for examples.

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