December 19

Looking back 11/12s: We’ve been busy since September!

As everyone is happily getting closer to the Christmas Break, it’s good to look backwards and consider all that’s happened over the last number of months. It’s especially important for our Grade 12s as there will be no other fall experience at Kenaston School for them! It was their last Halloween night, Student-Staff Hockey Game, and sports games like football and volleyball. But we’ve had a great few months together in this school year and have a lot to look forward to in the new year/decade!

You may already peek in on my school Instagram account to see some of the goings-on in our classroom since September, but if you haven’t, let me share with you a few of the memorable moments we’ve had, the grade 11 and 12s together.

ELA A30 Update

They were a combined class this semester for ELA A30, which is the Canadian literature course. It uses poetry, short stories, essays, film, and novel choices to explore past events of Canada, current national issues or influences on Canadians, and helps contribute to a greater sense of awareness in our students in understanding what their country has been about, is about, and what it may become yet. Our class size has doubled(!) but they’ve done really well in benefiting from more peers in the group to team up with or mentor, etc. At times, we pick a target date when we’ll all study the same text together as a whole group, to benefit from some discussion and sharing of experiences and ideas, and other times they individually take their own path in their learning, with some jumping past an assignment to start another project and hoping to come back to it, while others work chronologically through the work as it’s assigned. This year, I’ve developed more instructional supports to help students if they feel they need the review or instruction. I’ve included instructional videos on my blog for them to use as they need with examples or overviews of assignments. Since the whole class doesn’t exactly start the same assignment at the same time, being able to still follow along with the overview of the assignment from me, even if they’re starting it a week after many others, I hope is helping keep students supported and informed about the course content. Here’s a video where I try to explain what this looks like.

Some of their projects and topics of study in the Canlit course have included:

  • texts trying to pinpoint the thing that makes each person Canadian, culture or living on the land
  • texts that explore regrettable events of Canadian history, like the Komagata Maru ship turned away from Vancouver harbour carrying 300+ British subjects of Indo Asian descent
  • writing an editorial on a topic of conflict in Canada using a method designed to acknowledge part of the opposite position while convincing them of the other side
  • picking from a range of novels and non-fiction books written by Canadians, for an individual book study and later a Book Talk with a peer (podcast style talk, for some!)
  • writing a critical analysis essay, not studying the content of a text, but the manner of writing in it
  • poems that reflect on the natural environment or little memorable moments in relationships
  • A field trip to Saskatoon to watch court trials and attend a Red Cross International Humanitarian Rights conference on Canada’s arms trade. Their understanding of what Canada is like has broadened, become more complex, I hope.


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We are about to finish the ELA A30 in the new year with just three weeks left of classes before exams. For most of the Grade 12s, that will mean the last of their ELA classes in high school! A lot of them took their ELA B30 last year already, so there are only 5 students who will have an ELA class in semester 2, in grade 12. For the grade 11 students, then, they’ll continue in semester 2 with their ELA 20 course and only have one semester of ELA to complete in their grade 12 year. It sounds exciting, to not have to have ELA again for semester 2, but I think some of them might miss it. (I think at least a few would admit that. lol)


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History 30 Update

The 11s and 12s are also together this year, the whole year through, for History 30. Some of them have different levels of background knowledge in the subject area and Mr. Jamieson’s shoes are certainly big ones to fill, but I’m trying to keep them engaged through some group or team activities as well as including some direct instruction using a lot of primary documents, for interest sake. Recently, they’ve been working on New France projects that will reveal an understanding of what it was like to live there at that time. There are a few board games under development, a tv show about wife swapping(!), a Dating Website love connection, a professional LinkedIn Inn Keeper’s profile, some journals and letter writing projects. It all sounds quite interesting, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they submit.

Some of the topics of study we’ve covered in History include:

  • the team challenge of trying to draw out a complete map of Canada and label provinces, territories, cities, and regions by memory… quiet library-style (without going over 60 decibels noise level)
  • reading primary documents about the early contact of European traders with Amerindian groups in North America
  • trying to transfer basic knowledge information and use it to answer higher level questions that require combining that knowledge to new understanding (open book but no direct answers to find)
  • taking a digital copy of the summary notes from a History video and trying to digitally format it in a document to organize into main and secondary ideas – requires higher level thinking and develops practice identifying support types
  • reading through primary documents of New France living, like restrictions among the settlers for who they could sell their vegetables to, how to measure a cord of wood to sell, or the requirement of ladders on rooves to help fight house fires.
  • individually or with partners studying the Seven Years War, that actually spanned 23 years, and trying to decide if it counts as the actual First World War of history.



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It’s been a great year so far. I’ve seen a lot of personal growth, students stretching or challenging themselves to grow in skills, some who’ve had highs and lows, but there’s a lot of laughter and shared experiences. I’m looking forward to more when we return after the break!

Here are a few highlights from the Instagram page (below) that include the 11/12s. (These are taken/shared with student permission.) Happy Holidays to you and your family!



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December 13

Hist 30 1.4 b Canada: The Story of Us Ep 3

One of the biggest moments defining Canadian history is the War of 1812 when British/American troops tried to take territory in French-held lands. Outnumbered and with fewer weaponry, the colonists, First Nations, and paid fighters worked together to defend Canadian land from British (American) control.

These are their stories. (Play sound file below)

Video Episode 3 Notes:

December 11

ELA A30 B8 Regions Explored – Poetry Practice

This section is a formative one to review and grow in your skills in analyzing poetry. It also includes an interesting poetry that you may find links to of our History 30 studies, the formation and question of what Canadian nationality is about.

I offered to study the poem together live with a group of students, if they wanted the guidance and support. Here is the recording of that discussion analyzing “The Provinces”

If you need a reminder, here is a handout that includes examples of figurative devices identified and how to properly identify them.

Figurative Language Handout – coloured samples added 2019

December 11

Hist 30 1.4 Britain Policies in Canada – The 7 yrs War – Research

You have the challenge to learn on your own about the causes and results of the Seven Years War. Here are some resources assembled to help support you in that learning.

Sample Google Search Phrases:

  • The Seven Years War Causes and Consequences
  • The Seven Years War Countries Involved
  • The Seven Years War Timeline
  • The Seven Years War Map Before – After
  • The French Indian War Summary
  • Before the Seven Years War
  • French British Relationship Before Treaty of Paris
  • Canadian History Textbook pdf 1700s
  • Seven Years’ War – Khan Academy Instructional Videos

You can also add “pdf” or “PPT” into your searches and read through the notes/slides of teachers who have posted their course resources online. Sample here. 


Class Instruction/Review of the Seven Years’ War (Jan 8th, 2020)


The Expulsion of the Acadians – what happened and why is it relevant to Canada today?

December 9

ELA A30 B9 Expressions of the Land

  1. Listening to Canadian Poetry Samples: Poetry can cover all sorts of topics and experiences, but in this section you’ll read poems that are grounded in an experience or perspective of the landscape, nothing else.

    Depending on your experience with poetry, you may have encountered some particular poems you really enjoyed or others you just didn’t get. It’s interesting to realize poems can be about any topic, even some surprising ones.

    Below are two poems written by Canadian author Al Purdy: one is narrated by the author himself and the other was developed into a performance video and partially narrated by Canadian singer Gord Downie. The topics of these aren’t maybe what you’d expect!

    Audio file: “Homemade Beer” – you can follow along with the written poem on your handout cover page.

    The “yellow flowers” in this poem aren’t like the ones you’ll typically find in poetry.

  2. Before Reading Activity: Draw out the scenery you picture while listening to the loons call out.
  3. Poem # 1 (Unnamed Poem) Below is the poem read aloud; it may help with your comprehension of it.

  4. Poem #2 “Between Two Furious Oceans”(Audio narration of the poem is given below.)


December 6

Soc 10 05 Making Decisions in Parliamentary Democracy

We’ve just recently gone through our election process in Canada and you’ve been fortunate enough to have time to discuss and learn about this decision-making power through real, current events.

Some other examples related to parliament and the ways decision-making is fairly made and balanced in Canada are included below:

    1. Parliament/Provincial Legislative: What’s the difference between minority and majority governments? And what examples have we had of them in Canada’s recent government? Find out what number of seats the different parties had that allowed for the party forming the government to be designated as either a majority or minority government.
      • House of Commons Floor Plan – seats per party & per province
      • Per Federal Riding – number of voters per MP & area covered by their riding
      • List of Canadian Parliament of past years – look at the difference in composition through the decades
        • 1.For how many years did the Canadian government exist with just two parties, compared to more recent elections where there are more recognized, Official Third Parties? Pick one Canadian government term and comment on what you notice or find interesting about its composition or make-up.
        • 2. Look at the makeup of the 41st Canadian Parliament – what looks so different about that one or is so unique about how it came to be? Explain how it differs so much to the 42nd Parliament composition that followed it.
      • Canada’s 43rd Parliament – list of seats per party, etc
        • 3. Based on the calculation of seats per party in the current government, is it easy or more challenging for parties to carry out their desired decisions? Answer for the leading party and the opposition party.
        • 4. Based on the calculation of seats per party in the current government, is it easy or more challenging for parties, both ruling and opposition, to carry out their desired decisions?
      • Party representatives elected per province – look to see how varied, or not varied, the elected members representing a certain party are by province
      • Party Representatives elected per province – a better look per province on this seating chart here
        • 5. What observation can you make about the values or ideology of Canadians based on who/what party members they elected in their local ridings by province?
      • List of Standing Committees: these are the groups that meet to discuss issues and hear from experts in these areas before creating new bills or voting on them
    2. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition:

    3. Regular Elections:
      • 7. Explain the circumstances behind Canada’s last potential election and how it was resolved without an election. How does the 41st Parliament outcome hint to reasons why government parties may want to avoid a triggered election?

4. Supreme Court of Canada:

    • SCC Cases in Brief website – decisions made on cases before the court
    • SCC home page – check for Live hearings video feed
      • Looking at the SCC page of cases ruled on located here, answer the following:
        • 8. Count how many cases the Saskatchewan Court of Queen Bench heard in 2020 so far. Then count how many cases the S.C.C.  heard in 2020, 2019 and 2018. What does it tell you about the types of cases this court chooses to hear or the access to this level of Canadian court justice, if the number of cases per year is fairly low? 
        • 9. Find/identify the following types of cases. In one sentence, summarize one of these cases.
          • two cases of the Crown versus an individual
          • one case of a province versus another party,
          • and one case of an individual versus Canada.

5. Freedom of the Press:

    • Public Safety Minister to investigate after serious offender moved to minimum security prison
      • 10. In December, 2018, Canadian media published the concerns of the father of a young girl who was kidnapped/murdered in 2009. His concern/anger was over learning the convicted killers of his daughter had been transferred to minimum and medium security locations. The issue was brought up by Opposition Party members (Conservatives) in the House of Commons in 2018 and responded to by Liberal party members. 
        • a) Search and list at least four Canadian media sources that published the reports of the initial move and concern of the father. Write their article titles, dates, and source publishers below. 
        • b) Identify the final outcome of the issue brought up by media and addressed by Parliament. Cite your source for your answer. 


December 5

ELA A10 B7 Quests and Adventures


Personal Online Search:
Find an article online that explores the benefits of engaging in long literature texts, like in novel reading. You will find a partner(s) and have a brief group discussion (6-10 minutes long) to compare what you find.

** Make sure a partner in the group records the discussion and submits it with a proper file name.

Active Reading Activity: “The Sniper”

  • We have practiced reading a short story and using the active reading slips of paper to help you start looking for elements within the text, such as predictions, or confirming beliefs.
  • Make a COPY of this digital copy, give it your own title (Name – The Sniper), and read through the text WHILE looking for examples of the list of active reading prompts within the text.
    • Highlight a portion of the text you want to make an observation of and Add a Comment that includes:
      • the number correlating to the prompt
      • the prompt name
      • your observation explained.
    • Example: #3 Clarify something – I think…….