Sunday, September 28, 2014

We should never assume what students know!

Our school received the Giant map of 1812 from the Canadian Geography. These giant maps are perfect for students' inquiries on Canadian History, Geography and Science. If you have not ordered one visit The Canadian Geographic Site for the Giant floor Maps

Provoking (Previous post) is the most important step for inquiry especially relating to the current Canadian and world issues. The Franklin Expedition was on the news and we began our discussion on why is it important for Canada to spend money retrieving the expedition? Why did Stephen Harper show an interest in visiting the site?

I was presenting the social studies curriculum to the Gr 5/6 students to start our inquiry about the Canadian History and Geography. I told my students that history is all about asking questions.
I thought I would ask the first question what is History and Geography? It was so interesting to find out students' reaction in teams and brainstorming of the two concepts. History was a little easier as they had some knowledge and no idea about Geography!

Hold on! Before I proceed with the war of 1812 and unpacking the overall expectations of the Social Studies Curriculum., An unexpected great discussion was necessary that I assumed students knew!

I gave students time to explore posters from the Legion about Canadian participation in wars. I had just participated in the Army Run and shared my shirt that showed celebrating
100 years of WWI.  We revisited  the graph on what they knew about History and Geography and so many more ideas were provoked and added.


By analyzing the meaning of history and geography and taking time at exploring these general concepts students have developed a meaning and interest at not only looking at the passed, also at reasons for our existence of where we are and provoked discussions and interest in exploring so much more of the changes, effects and how do we know what we know?

An unplanned discussion by listening to students is important. The extra time spent on this discussion engaged students' focus and perception of presumably simple knowledge to excitement and inquiry through the the curriculum that they will start this week. 

The map also provoked an understanding of historical events prior to 1812 for the G5 curriculum and historical Canadian identity and contributions for the Gr6.

It was a powerful, unexpected progression in which the students became completely aware about the reasons and impact of history and geography. I do not regret taking that extra time as it merged them into a meta-inquiry of why we learn history and geography. 

This made think do we always have to rush through the planned activity?  Do we have to rush from activity to activity? 

A short video of the Gr 5 historians and geographers on the map of 181.

The Padlet for provoking historical and geographical events. 


  1. Hi Rola,

    I am certainly discovering this year that I need to SLOW. DOWN. with my current group. I keep assuming that they'll know certain things or that they'll know HOW to do certain things. That keeps blowing up in my face. The need to scaffold and really take time to discover where my students are (not where I expect them to be, not where they CAN be later in the year) has proved vitally important so far this year.


  2. So true Shauna, we need to slow down and always have be in partnership with their learning. I am having so much fun taking my time this year and really have them scaffold through their own guiding questions. I am trying not to deliver and have them lead and control the next steps.

  3. It's sometimes hard to go *slower* than I expected, but I remind myself that I can speed through content and leave most (if not all of my learners) behind, or I can take it at their pace and actually help them learn. It seems an easy choice when I think about it that way!