Student Vote: Free Resources!

student-vote

Now this is a worthwhile activity for students. Get them involved in politics while they are young so they grow up to be adults who care and who vote! Check out Student Vote for resources, videos and more!

SEE THE PROVINCIAL ELECTION AS A TEACHABLE MOMENT WITH STUDENT VOTE

Elementary and high schools across the province are invited to engage their students in the provincial election through the free and non-partisan Student Vote program.

Student Vote enables teachers to bring democracy alive in the classroom and empowers students to experience the democratic process and cast a ballot on the official candidates running in the provincial election.

Participating schools will receive a variety of educational materials to teach government, democracy and the electoral process, and encourage research into the issues, parties and candidates. Authentic ballots and ballot boxes will also be provided for the coordination of Student Vote Day.

Already, more than 2,300 schools have registered to participate across Ontario and more than 250,000 students are expected to cast a Student Vote ballot.

To register your class or entire school, visit www.studentvote.ca or call toll free, 1.866.488.8775.

 

Frédérique Dombrowski
Outreach and Stakeholder Manager,
Gestionnaire de la promotion et des relations avec les partenaires
frederique@civix.ca

416-405-8683

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CBC: The Great Human Odyssey – Lesson Plans by Tammy Gaudun

The Great Human Odyssey

http://www.cbc.ca/greathumanodyssey/

Lesson Plans

Introduction

The Great Human Odyssey explores the unlikely survival and the miraculous emergence of Homo sapiens as the world’s only global species. Ancient climate research has revealed that we evolved during the most volatile era since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Just like the many other kinds of human who once shared our world, we should have died away. Instead, our species survived to populate every corner of the planet, against all the odds.

The series is an excellent introduction the the Grade 8 Geography curriculum.  It provides a historical context for many issues addressed in the the Ontario Curriculum, such as:

  1. The ways in which the physical environment and climate change have influenced our earliest ancestors and their settlement patterns.
  2. A look at sustainable communities and the relationship between our ancestors and the environment.
  3. The series raises questions about the quality of life of our ancestors, allowing students to compare and contrast to other communities and times in the world.

Because the documentary series is a reflection of the lives of our ancestors, it is important for students to be able to compare and contrast some of these practices to modern  times, and apply this knowledge to help make predictions about the future of the human species.

This Guide for Educators contains several components. For the three episodes, there are content overviews, viewing questions, and critical thinking questions, a computer-based assignment, which involves three community case studies for the first two episodes.

  1. The Viewing Questions are meant to be answered by students while watching each episode, or in discussion after watching the episode.
  2. The Critical Thinking Challenges are meant to be “big picture” questions that can be posed to students at any point during instruction.
  3. Each episode also contains a Web Component, where students use technology to find maps and to examine one of the three Case Studies, using the interactive World of Extremes website. After watching the series, students are able to participate in a virtual reality experiment, walking in the shoes of Kalahari Bushmen, Chukchi reindeer herders or Badjao free-divers, through the interactive web documentary.

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Secret Societies: Codes, Ciphers & Philosophy Activity

Create a Secret Society

Secret societies have existed throughout history for many different reasons: some good, some nefarious!  The goal of this lesson is to a) think about what secret societies exist in our world, which ones do good and which ones to harm (or both), and then create your own GOOD society and come up with your own secret code, cipher or other secret communication. 

Introduction

Some secret societies were good and necessary. For example, the Underground Railroad used songs and secret codes to allow for slaves to escape to the north where they could be free. They were secret to ensure their safety.

Some secret societies have done harm. However, the KKK for example, promotes white supremacy and are are a secret society because their values are against the law!

Small Group Activity

Brainstorm at least 6-10 secret societies in a T-Chart. What is their secret? Do they exist for good or for evil?  (Templar, Anonymous, Fenians, Illuminati). 

Good

Both

Evil ( harmful)

Underground Railroad – freedom for slaves

 

Superheroes – justice or vigilantism 

Anonymous – justice or vigilantism

KKK – white supremacy

 

 

Class discussion:

Discuss the pros and cons of having a secret club? Is it bad to exclude others? Is it ever okay to exclude others? In what situations? (E.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, survivors of abuse, people with AIDS,  people born with birth anomalies, groups smuggling people out of North Korea, political activists in fascist countries, etc…) Who gets more achieved – secret societies or public institutions?

Mission

  1. Mission: Have your students come up with a secret society (they could protect a secret, be a super hero squad of crime fighters, or attempting to escape from something. A secret society must have something or someone to protect.
  2. Code name: How will you refer to yourselves?
  3. Symbolism: What metaphorical symbol would best represent your cause? E.g., dove for peace (have students draw one).
  4. Communication: Students must invent their own code or cipher OR they could also invent secret handshakes, door knocks, clothing (poppy pin, red scarf, yellow watch etc.), ways of answering a phone call, texting,…you get the idea.
  5. Initiation. How will you choose who will belong to the group? What is the initiation? Refer to the class discussion on on exclusion/inclusion? When is it okay to exclude others (e.g., safety concerns) and when is not okay?
  6. Philosophy: What is the slogan or mission statement of your group? What are the only true and just reasons for a secret club to exist? Ensure students don’t start their own private, exclusionary club at school. Most of the time, secrets are bad! Not much good ever grows in the shadows.

Communication Examples

  • Morse Code – a form of communication developed by Samuel F. B. Morse. It uses a series of dots and dashes to relay coded messages. It was originally used to send a telegraph, but is still used today by amateur radio enthusiasts and for distress signals. https://morsecode.scphillips.com/

    Try sending messages with a flashlight!

  • Pig Pen Code: The pigpen cipher is a geometric simple substitution cipher, which exchanges letters for symbols which are fragments of a grid. The example key shows one way the letters can be assigned to the grid.
  • Semaphore:  Semaphore is a cipher system that uses the position of two flags to represent letters. You don’t necessarily need flags; the important piece is the arm position. It’s very similar to positions for the hands of a clock. Semaphore is still an effective method of communication used between boats or for distress signals.https://www.44mlb.com/kids-semaphore.htm
  • Caesar cipher is one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. Decoding depends a lot on frequency analysis with the alphabet.   E! https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-science/cryptography/crypt/p/caesar-cipher-exploration
  • Substitution cipher – instead of a letter, we use a symbol. So, instead of an A, you could write # or %, or any picture. This form of code was used by Mary Queen of Scots when she was plotting against Elizabeth the First. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t that difficult to decode! Frequency analysis ( math – data! ) ) helps you figure out the most used letters in the alphabet. Sherlock Holmes also used this kind of cipher in his one story The Adventures of The Dancing Men. For a PDF of the full story, click here.
  • Police Letters – 6966786_f520

    The 26 code words are assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet in order. Prior to World War I and the development and widespread adoption of two-way radio that supported voice, telephone spelling alphabets were developed to improve communication on low-quality and long-distance telephone circuits.

    This list seems a bit out of date now. How about your students create an up to date version that is gender and culturally neutral?

Resources on Codes & Ciphers

9780763609719_mresA handbook for making and breaking codes and ciphers. This book takes you through everyday codes and pictographs to different ciphers through history. Packed with lots of fun examples, this is a great starting book for a teacher who wants to try out cryptography with his / her students. There are also great ideas for starting a code breaking kit! Suggested for gr. 3 – 8. Priced at $11.60, it’s a deal! Click here to see more.

 

Lesson by T. Gaudun, resources compiled by M. Reist

Are Universities still needed?

When I was growing up, it was just expected that I would go to University. Today, you can’t even get a job interview without a degree. However, as a teacher, I can honestly say the idea of university has never made less sense to me.

Not personalized/relevant

Thinking back to my own experience, many of the mandatory courses  were just areas of study for my professors, meaning we learned them because our professors had an interest in them. Basically, I paid a lot of money to learn something which had no interest or relevance to my own personal journey.

No vocation training

If the purpose of education is to get a job, and you don’t learn about jobs in elementary school or high school (not part of any curriculum), then at what point should this become a priority? At the very least, Universities should be providing relevant skills and information about possible professions in the area of study.  No?!  At least some fields have co-op, but if you don’t like your experience, where do you go from there? Change majors? To me, this is the primary failing of all universities today. Students should learn in first year studies what types of jobs they can get with this particular major and provide basic vocational skills.

Lacking in practical skills

My friend, who quit university to go to college, said that his favourite course was a communications course where he learned, among other things, basic skills like how to properly compose an email. It sounds silly, but in a world where text is king, many students are not, in fact, very good at communication in a professional manner. There are also many basic programs my friend learned that businesses used, whereas I had none of this in university. I would like to think that all first year programs should include some sort of basic tech and communication training. Bonus if they offered personal finance courses where they learned how to save, budget and pay for, say, university or possibly a house! How credit cards and interest works!

Summary

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame professors who are undoubtedly doing the best they can within the system, but the system is old and in need of a major makeover. In a world where knowledge is available, at all times, at one’s fingertips, universities need to focus far less on the acquisition of knowledge and more on practical skills and basic vocation training. Otherwise students are wasting vast sums of money, years lost when they could have been working and earning money.How would the world look if everyone started earning money 4-5 years earlier? People would likely have kids at a younger age, own homes at a younger age,…Something to think about at least!

Perhaps companies should recruit out of high school.

As they say, hire character, train skill.

How to make school more useful

What is the purpose of school?

Seriously? Have you ever stopped to think what school is supposed to prepare us for? We’re so used to jumping through its hoops that few of us ever stop to look for the connections between school and life.

Most say, “to get a job,” but few can think of any instance where anyone learned about the types of jobs available to them, what they earn, or if they are suited to their personalities and strengths. If this is the main purpose of education, how come it literally is not part of any education curriculum?! The purpose of school is to get a job, but we don’t study jobs at all? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Second, people will say school is to prepare us for life. It gives us the tools to solve our own problems. Well, let’s brainstorm a few things that adults need to know how to do…

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  • Financial literacy: Trigonometry is mandatory but not personal finances? How about learning about types of bank accounts, interest, credit cards, learn how to pay for school, buy a house, get a job, save, invest, donate, pay taxes, balance budget, learn wants from needs, etc…
  • Have a family: learning how to maintain relationships, raise children, work through conflict, stay calm, learn how to de-stress, learn mindfulness….
  • Be healthy! Ah, but school teaches a health class, no? Yes, but when do students learn how to balance personal and professional lives? Go grocery shopping. Cook a meal. Yes, we learn about puberty and the Canadian food guide, but learning about health is much different from living it. And if you say students should learn this from their parents, well, look at your students’ lunches. We’re all on convenience mode – quick and easy. It’s hard to learn from someone who never learned it themselves. Learning about health and living it are 2 separate skills. Let’s try having daily phys-ed to start. Like, every single day! Even better, get teachers participating too! It also helps lift one’s mood and concentration. Let’s learn how to cook a meal! How does an oven work? No seriously, can someone teach me? I never learned this skill.
  • Politics: How about learning how the government works, what different parties stand for and the importance of voting
  • Capitalism: The means of production!

DUP2v_UU0AANbFiAll human knowledge is at our finger tips (i.e., the internet).  Why not learn about the soft skills.

Hire-character.-Train-skills

For more inspiration, check out the School of Life’s video below:

Politics & Philosophy / Capitalism vs. Socialism

I teach this as part of a “Shark Tank” learning cycle. It is really good at bringing in politics and philosophy into the classroom.

Note, the videos contain some “classic art” pieces in the background, two of which contain partially clothed people. I say, “pretend you are in a museum.”

Watch the History of Capitalism and make a t-chart of the pros and cons of it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIuaW9YWqEU 

    • Efficient as there is a much higher level of specialization, so there can be a much higher level of production
    • Higher specialization means people have a narrow, alienating focus on life
    • People at the bottom are exploited
    • good business is good for business
    • Value based on monetary worth and not necessarily on the things that make us happy.

Watch a video on Marxism which does a good job and looking at the ills of capitalism and shows the ideals and shortcomings/impracticality of socialism :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSQgCy_iIcc

Problems identified with capitalism include

  • modern work is alienating
  • modern work is insecure
  • big gap between rich and poor
  • capitalism is unstable (lots of peaks and crashes)
  • capitalism is bad for capitalists (wealth doesn’t equal happiness or fulfilling lives)
  • Ends with the quote, “Philosophers, until now, have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.”

How can kids change it? Learn about politics and voting. 

List the political parties in North American and have students try to plot them from left to right.

  • Left = high taxes and high services
  • Right = low taxes and low services

Talk about the differences between Canada and the USA. What are the biggest differences? E.g., health care (impact of no health insurance (heart attack or premature babies = huge bills) , cost of education and the impact of higher tuition costs, the distribution of wealth, and opportunity.

The American Dream? The Canadian Dream? What should our dream be?

Tell students to ask their parents who they vote for and why.

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Debate:

What are the potential pros and cons of the minimum wage increase?

The Museum – Maker Space Challenges

http://www.themuseum.ca/experience/underground-studio/education/

Students will learn by doing through experimentation, exploration and by ‘failing’ forward in unique 75 minute workshops delivered in our one-of-a-kind MakerSpace. Take part in projects across one of seven core program streams: 3D Modeling, Computer Programming, Circuitry & Soldering, Woodworking, Screenprinting, Textiles, or Deconstruction. Each program is linked to Ontario Curriculum expectations with an emphasis on inquiry-based learning and developing critical thinking skills.

It All Starts Here.

AGAINST THE GRAIN – WOODWORKING

Through proper use of hand and power tools for woodworking, students will cut, drill and fasten materials to measured specifications for the design of a tool box.

CONDUCTION JUNCTION – CIRCUITRY AND SOLDERING

Students will create digital circuits that carry out a specific task while considering electrical principles such as voltage, current and resistance. Students will complete the workshop by soldering a circuit together as a take home badge.

DESTINATION DISASSEMBLY – DECONSTRUCTION

Students will learn about the engineering design process to consider a simple challenge by deconstructing found objects using tools and methods provided. They will then be tasked with assembling a unique object that fulfills an imagined function.

HELLO, MR. ROBOT – COMPUTER PROGRAMMING (1-6)

Introduce your students to computer programming in a visual environment using the Scratch platform. Interpret how different logical statements change how a system behaves and experiment with different sensory commands to see what programs are capable of doing.

HELLO, MR. ROBOT – COMPUTER PROGRAMMING (7-12)

Challenge your students to create a program using the Arduino platform that causes lights to blink. Students will learn about the relationship between hardware and software by wiring systems together. Finally, students will decode a message in ASCII with the help from our robot Nali!

PLOT, BLOT, AND TWO STITCHING STYLES – SCREEN PRINTING AND TEXTILES

Using traditional screen printing methods, students will create and cut a custom design from heat transfer vinyl and transfer their design onto fabric.