September 3, 2014

A 2nd Look at Grade 5/6 Social Studies


 I hope everyone has had a great beginning to the school year, and are getting a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather we've had today.  

Last week I shared my thoughts concerning how it is possible to teach the People and Environments strand of the revised 2013 Ontario Social Studies Curriculum in a combined Grade 5/6 class, and today I'll be turning my attention to how the Heritage and Identity strand might be approached.  Two weeks ago a teacher emailed me looking for a way to handle this strand in her class, and in looking closely at the two units, here is how I responded:

Strand A:  Heritage & Identity
  • Grade 5:  First Nations & Europeans in New France & Early Canada
  • Grade 6:  Communities in Canada, Past & Present
While these 2 units initially look like they don't have much in common, once you look at the examples attached to the specific expectations, there are tons of similarities, as New France can be thought of as having several small communities:  First Nations (various FN communities:  Haudenosaunee, Wendat...), English & French.  When you are looking in Grade 6 at how various communities interact with each other, New France is a perfect example of conflict and cooperation.  

Here are some examples from the curriculum, where I've used the specific expectations from Grade 6 and showed content from Grade 5 can help meet those expectations:
  • A12.  Evaluate some of the contributions that various ethnic and/or religious groups have made to Canadian identity: discuss the contributions of First Nations to Canadian art; discuss "Who are the founding nations of Canada?  For whom is the concept of "founding nations" troubling?  Why?"
  • A1.3  Explain how various groups have contributed to the goal of inclusiveness in Canada: How have First Nations contributed to the goal of inclusiveness in in Canada?
  • A2.1  Formulate questions to guide investigations into different perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experience of 2 or more distinct communities in Canada:  What are the different perspectives of the reserve system in Canada from the perspectives of First Nations, European settlers, & the federal government?  
  • A2.2  gather & organize information from a variety of primary & secondary sources that present different perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experiences of two or more communities in Canada:  What type of information can you gather from the petitions & letters of First Nations, Metis, & Inuit people about their experience & perspectives on being relocated to reserves and/or new settlements?
  • A2.3  Anaylse & construct print & digital maps as part of their investigation into different perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experience of communities in Canada:  Analyse a flow map showing the relocation of First Nations groups after the arrival of European settlers.
  • A2.4  Interpret & analyse information & evidence relevant to their investigations:  How can you use a cause-and-effect organizer to help you determine the difference in perspectives of different First Nations groups to European settlers?
  • A2.5:  Evaluate evidence & draw conclusions about perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary communities in Canada:  How did First Nations groups & European settlers differ in their outlook on issues such as land ownership, gender roles, spirituality...?
  • A3.1  Identify the main reasons why different peoples came to Canada?  What reasons did various people have for immigrating to New France?  
  • 3.2  Describe some key economic, political, cultural, & social aspects of life in settler communities, and identify significant ways in which settlers' places of origin influenced their ways of life in Canada:  How did French & English concepts of land ownership affect how land was handled in New France?  What role did the Church play in New France & Early Canada?  You can also discuss:  food preferences, language, education, concepts of loyalty & spirituality...lots to discuss here!
  • A3.3:  Identify various types of communities that have contributed to the development of Canada:  How did the founding peoples - First Nations, Inuit, & Metis, French & British - contributed to Canada?
  • A3.4:  Describe significant events or developments in the history of 2 or more communities in Canada & how these events affected the communities' development and/or identity:  What impact did the fur trade have on various First Nations groups (ie. Wendat vs Haudenosaunee)?
  • 3.5  Describe interactions between communities in Canada, including between newcomers and groups that were already in the country:   trade among precontact First Nations; cooperation between First Nations and the French & British in the fur trade.
  • A3.6  Identify key differences, including social, cultural, and/or economic differences between 2 or more historical and/or contemporary communities in Canada:  What were some differences in gender roles, land ownership, spirituality, etc between First Nations and French settlers in early Canada?
  • A3.8  Identify & describe fundamental elements of Canadian identity  What are some instances of the Canadian government NOT respecting the human rights of a group of people? - treaty rights!
As you can see, there are tons of commonalities between the two grade levels!  The concept of "communities" can be explored by both grades, with the Grade 5's focused on communities within New France and the Grade 6's focused on both contemporary and historical communities in Canada, of which New France can be one!  
I've already spent a great deal of time exploring the Grade 5 unit from this strand, and have even created a TPT resource to support this curriculum.  I am also working on my Communities in Canada resource, and perhaps I'll eventually create a split grade version as well!

So how are you thinking of approaching this strand in your Grade 5/6 class? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

If you're interested in exploring my First Nations unit, just click on the following link!

First Nations and Europeans in New France and Early Canada Bundle  

August 22, 2014

A Look at Split Grade Social Studies - Grade 5/6

I've been hearing from many teachers lately concerned about how to keep their sanity while trying to handle the new 2013 Ontario Social Studies Curriculum in a split grade, and as I have rarely taught a straight grade, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the topic.


                    Grade 5/6:  People and Environments

The Grade 5/6 split is one that can be particularly troubling for teachers, as at first glance the units can seem so unrelated, but I think if we take a closer look, the expectations are actually quite similar.  Today I'm going to explore the People and Environments strand:
  • Grade 5:  The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship
  • Grade 6:  Canada's Interactions with the Global Economy

Basically the Grade 5 unit has students look at current social & environment issues within the country from various perspectives, examining and evaluating the actions taken by various levels of government to address these issues, and explore their own responsibilities as citizens as they create action plans to address these issues.

The Grade 6 unit has students explore current social, political, economic, and environmental issues withing the global community, examining and evaluating the actions taken by Canadian federal, provincial/territorial & local governments as well as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to address these issues and explore Canada's participation in different international accords, organizations, and programs.

Can you see the commonalities here? 
  • The Grade 5's are basically looking at social & environmental issues within our country, seeing how various levels of government handle these issues, and then go on to explore how they themselves can influence how decisions are made through their own activism.
  • The Grade 6's are also looking at social & environmental issues (and adding on political & economic issues), but this time within the entire world, and seeing how Canadian governments, governments from other countries, and NGOs handle these issues.  Instead of creating their own action plans, they go on to explore Canada's international presence within various organizations.
In a Grade 5/6 split I see the potential here to perhaps keep the focus on social and environmental issues, such as child poverty or the protection & availability of clean water within Canada as well as within the world.

What do you think?  Does this seem reasonable?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


August 14, 2014

Back to School Art Folder

After a very long hiatus, I have decided to restart my blog, and will hopefully be more diligent about posting regularly!

When I was reorganizing my teaching resources this summer, I came across the activity I like to do for the very first art class of the year - my Back to School Art Folder. The folder itself is a fun way to review the "elements of shape", and it is then used to store student work throughout the year.

5 Basic Elements of Shape

I first discuss with the class the 5 basic elements of shape:

  1. The Straight Line Family:  Members of this family can be solid lines, dotted lines, horizontal, vertical, or diagonal - they just need to be straight lines!
  2. The Circle Family: Members of this family have lines that come around and meet each other, but the inside of the shape is not coloured in.
  3. The Dot Family:  Members of this family are exactly like the circle family, but are coloured in!
  4. The Curve Line Family: These lines are wavy rather than straight, and the two ends do not meet each other.
  5. The Angle Family:  Any 2 lines that come together to form a point are members of this family.
All 5 families combine together to make the shapes we see in our world.


Next I distribute a large sheet of bristol board to each student, and students fold it in half "hamburger" style. Students then get out a pencil, eraser and ruler.

After reviewing the difference between "edges" and "corners', ask students to listen carefully to the following instructions, and to create the lines and shapes as given:


  1. One straight line from one corner to the other opposite corner.
  2. One dot.
  3. One curved line starting at one edge and ending in a dot somewhere on the page.
  4. One broken line starting at one edge and ending at another edge.
  5. Five circles.
  6. One pointed line starting at one edge and ending at another edge.
  7. One curved line starting at one edge and ending at another edge.
  8. One straight line starting at one edge and ending at another edge.
  9. A zigzag line from one edge to another.
  10. One dot.
  11. A curved line starting at one edge and ending on the same edge, passing through the dot from #10!
I then distribute Sharpie markers and have students trace over their pencil marks. They then spend the rest of the period (well, often two periods) using markers or crayons to colour in their folder. I encourage them to use only 3 colours, and to ensure that one colour doesn't border itself! 

Students LOVE this activity, and enjoy seeing how everyone's designs are different. 

I wonder what art activities you start your year with?
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