A Kid’s Guide to Canada – Yes!

Canada’s 150th has been an umbrella capturing much of the inquiry in my room this year. It’s a once a generation kind of party.  Students from across Canada have been invited to contribute content to an online Guide that will be presented to Canada on its July 1st birthday.  I think it’s really cool that my students will have a part in the shared youth voice that is going to shape what this ‘by kids for kids’ guide will look like. What a memorable opportunity Cathy Beach has created for these young Canadians.

What does it involve:

  • registering on akgtcanada.com
  • having students create digital content, digitized (photographed) content, or videos and songs to upload to the teacher sharing space for other involved teachers from across Canada to share with their students.
  • reaching out and connecting with other Canadian classrooms via skype or hangouts to dig more into these conversations and expand the idea of ‘community’. (Optional)


  • developing your students’ appreciation and understanding of the unique piece of Canada on which they live.
  • perhaps developing an interest in the history and heritage of their community
  • developing an understanding that kids their age from across our huge country may have many elements of their identities in common. How do differences add to our nation’s diverse strengths?
  • connecting kids with kids – let the ‘I wonder’ questions begin!
  • celebrating the feeling of belonging to a great, great place to live.

img_2316                                        (Photo taken from AKGTCanada.com, February 5, 2017)

What might our artifacts for sharing look like?

I think the sky is the limit.  How might students best teach a little bit about the place where they live?  Art, social studies themes, a literacy task focus, or a special project? What might the format be?  Google Site, piccollage, photo essay, photograph of art piece, digital writing app, video, song, green screen work?  I suppose the most important thing to keep in mind is the audience for the work.  I’m going to try and connect with other grade 4 classrooms, so I think I have an idea of what another student in this age range might be able to connect with.

My plan:

I am hoping to share lots of different things on the website.  I happen to be doing a community-based learning passion project this year, so we luckily have lots to share.  I’m going to list a few things I am going to upload, just in case you are looking for an idea. Keep it small to start, and see if your idea grows from there!

  • Identity maps of students from Aylmer.img_1998 We have focused on elements of identity as a way to examine ‘character’ during our literacy periods. Now it’s time to create their own. I’m thinking a piccollage with an image and text boxes sharing their specific identity details surrounding their image.
  • Aylmer heritage research / passion projects. Presented on a Spark Glideshow.  This app is a beautiful way to take text and images and create web content that can easily be scrolled through in a stunning final product.  It can be done on iPads or simply online.  It’s easy to use.  We will upload the images, interview quotes, and research elements that we’ve discovered on route to answering the ‘big idea’ question they decided upon this month (e.g., when the major hotels burned down why were they not rebuilt, what happened to all the factories and where do people work now?).  I’ll ensure that every Glideshow includes a text box that includes all the relevant citations for the images, quotes and information referenced.
  • “TED Talk” videos. Using greenscreen apps, students will select an archival photograph as a backdrop. They will then embody a Town Councillor, 30 years from now, and will identify a ‘3 point plan’ to take Aylmer to the next level.  We will focus on key areas for improvement identified in the interviews we completed with local seniors in the Town.  We will also tie in our natural resource strengths and physical features of the area we discussed in our social studies unit back in the fall.  I want the flavour of these TED Talks to be fast, fun, and dynamic (re: media, oral and writing marks…).
  • Canada 150 song. I love to create songs with my students.  We use Padlet or another virtual whiteboard app to allow all students to add their voice to the project.  We tweak the lyrics together to fit a melody line I’ve created on my guitar.  Any other teachers out there willing to share a song?
  • Seniors interview one-page, non-fiction text posters.  This is our practice piece for learning how to use quotes properly, as well as the captions that appear underneath photographs.  We’ll use the piccollage app and include 5 non-fiction text features when sharing key learnings from our interviews.

So I know that is a lot, but like I mentioned, I was doing many of these items anyways, so things are working out perfectly in providing a REAL audience for my students this year.

Start small.

I want to quickly examine how I expect my students to cite their sources.  We are using interviews, archival photography loaned from the local Museum, database and Web research, and text resources.  An age-appropriate citation for each of these sources looks different.  I sat down with the local Librarian to develop an age-appropriate format for giving credit to the authors of the content we are referencing.   It might be a bit advanced for typical grade 4 research, but I believe these are life skills and understanding that content belongs to someone else is important.

(I will upload an image of our citation practice after our field trip to the library this week.)

So please join in!  Share student voice.  Connect and reflect.  Maybe we’ll get the chance to introduce our classes to each other before July.  Have fun!