Monday, December 05, 2011


Travis with some props from his Heritage Project
As students present the heritage research they've been at (on and off) for a month or so, I've been thrilled to watch how some of them have taken a fresh approach to project design. I'm sure most teachers can relate to the stubborn student that struggles to find a topic, opens up a powerpoint or brings out a poster board, surfs the web, then starts dumping random material inside with no real direction. Travis did the opposite. He has been thinking about this project for a long time, considering his approach and gathering research material carefully. The arrival of his "poppy" in town from Newfoundland provided him with an interview subject and focus for his presentation. The powerpoint was simply a vessel to tell his story, something done at the end of the process (utility in research) rather than the beginning (wishful research). His slideshow and talk gave the impression that we were getting highlights of what was an ongoing, ardent examination of his own background. The story was Newfoundland, as seen through his family's experience. The Newfie coins and stamps were cool, but the other two objects from/about his family members were amazing. The first was the book about the first 500 enlistees in the Nfld regiment sent to WWI, many of who died at Beaumont-Hamel. This had some significance for us as it was the subject of the guest speaker at our recent Remembrance Day ceremony. The second object was a letter sent to the mother of a John McDonnell of the 1st Nfld Rgt. In it a nun from a Egyptian hospital describes the final hours and death of John by dysentery, which we all agreed was a terrible way to go but probably not that unusual in WWI. As with the other project presentations, Travis proved the hypothesis that when identity is engaged and inseparable from curriculum, the quality of inquiry and the confidence of learning is pretty much guaranteed.

No comments: