Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?

This project is extremely flexible in its potential delivery and target audience.  As designed, it is the summative project for a history unit on 20th Century Canada.  It could also be used as an inquiry project with students investigating the Essential Question: Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?

This summative project is the culmination of a twelve week unit encompassing the time period 1900-2000 and was developed for my Social Studies 11 class.  Students are provided with an Essential Question: Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?  This question is reviewed at the end of each section of study (usually a decade) and students record their thinking/answer to the question with supporting evidence.  Embedded throughout the unit is the use of Historical Thinking Concepts to enhance student understandings and foster more critical thinking towards Canada’s role in the 20th Century.  Marking rubrics are provided for all activities and guide students’ success and assessment. 

The project allows students a choice between creating an I-Movie or E-Book to answer the Essential Question.  Students use the evidence gathered after each section of study and supplement this information with further research.  Through this summative project, students are able to synthesize the materials learned and weave them into a narrative of their understanding of Canada’s role in the 20th Century.

By providing students with an Essential Question (Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?), they are able to have a theme around which they are able to support their learning and the larger ‘story’ of Canadian history.  This project has several intended outcomes:
  2. 1. Create increased student engagement and personalize history through the use of primary documents
  3. 2. Develop student competency in the Historical Thinking Concepts
  4. 3. Increase student knowledge and understandings of Canada in the 20th Century
  5. 4. Provide students with a creative culminating activity in which they have choice and are able to demonstrate their learning in a meaningful way.
I taught lessons on the 6 Historical Thinking Concepts and provided primary and secondary documents for more personalized learning and to create empathy and perspective.  Students participated in a variety of activities to learn the content related to Canada in the 20th Century.  Individual research, partner, small group and class discussions along with debates were used to enhance the learning experience.  Resources included accessing content from CBC Digital Archives, Canadian War Museum online, Canadian Letters online, Canadiana Scrapbooks as well as textbooks and other digital resources.
After completion of the unit, students used the supporting evidence they had gathered throughout the unit as it pertained to the Essential Question.  They were able to choose either an I-Movie or E-Book to creatively demonstrate their learning.  Further research was required and students were excited to delve deeper into aspects of Canadian history for which they were particularly interested.  While evaluating the students’ work, it was apparent that they were able to weave their knowledge of factual content, with their supported opinion about the Essential Question and the larger narrative of Canada’s evolution in the 20th Century.  
Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?

Janet Ruest


Chemainus, British Columbia

Students investigate the Essential Question (Did the 20th Century Belong to Canada?) and then prepare a digital report.

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