Heritage Fair and Good Teaching and Learning

Last update: Nov. 21, 2017 — updates expected early Dec. 2017

Students and parents gave me written permission to share the following clips.  All of the clips were first take, unrehearsed conversations.  I am the interviewer — my colleagues and students are genuine and brilliant. They make for great listening; the viewing quality depends on streaming.

You have my permission to adapt any of the attached files. Please give credit to the source.

If something is missing and you would like to see it added, email me, Greg Harris at gharris@scdsb.on.ca

There are three sections:  1. Video Clips, 2. Teacher Resources3. Convincing Reasons Why Teachers should Engage with Heritage Fair

1. Video Clips

Essential viewing if you are a skeptic, a believer, a follower, a leader, an educator

If you only watch one, you MUST watch Mason lays it on the line, just scroll down a wee bit.   It’s a one-take genuinely funny testament to what can happen when kids fail and find a purpose to engage with school work. Your money back if you don’t agree.

  Student stories connect families and communities and develop Heritage      Superintendent Jackie Kavanagh, former Ardagh Bluffs PS Principal explains why it’s the story that connects students to families, to teachers, to peers and to learning/understanding.

Jackie connects with kids         Superintendent Jackie Kavanagh, former Ardagh Bluffs PS Principal explains why it is important for principals to protect the time needed to evaluate student projects to truly connect with students. I think this is a must watch for school administrators.

Justin good teaching matters     Justin Weller, Grade 7/8 teacher at Ardagh Bluffs PS details why ‘good’ instruction matters for creating excellent student understanding/results. Self reflection is an essential part of the growth/learning for the teacher too.

  Start, reflect, improve, repeat         Joanne Downham, Grade 6 teacher at Ardagh Bluffs PS improves her second year as do her students, made possible by just jumping in the first year and getting started.  Reflection leads to improvement, and the improvement was tremendous!

Trust a Teacher Librarian? Would we lie to you?     Carolyn Hilmer, Grade 8 teacher at Ardagh Bluffs PS was a skeptic and now is a believer in Heritage Fair. Get engaged students with superb results/grades and get great report card comments/marks for Language (all strands), History, Arts.  Working with a Teacher Librarian is definitely the way to start.

Mason lays it on the line           Grade 7 student Mason honestly tells how personal connections with a research topic leads to engagement, pride and great grades, and how a total lack of interest leads to no engagement, embarrassment and terrible grades.

    Grade 7 student Mason tells what it takes to become engaged … not married … with a project.

Elizabeth Children can change their world    Grade 7 student Elizabeth thinks children can change the world; she is right.

2. Teacher Resources

How to Cite Resources … this tells students how to record the information they use in creating their work.

A link to EasyBib.com provides an automated site to record the info used, e.g., books, websites and interviews … Students should set up their own free account. They can save multiple bibliographies. This makes it easy for students to give credit to the sources they use. Once saved, students can easily return to the info links they used. Teachers MUST discuss/remind students why this matters.

As of Sept. 2015 most students have NOT used ENDNOTES/FOOTNOTES. Grade 7 & 8 could be introduced to this.

Grade 7? Would need guided practice.  Maybe if they have to use quotes from a book/internet in work, this would be practical.

Gr 8 rubric 2014 … This may be dated as of Dec. 2017. The aspect of comparing and contrasting a topic from 100 years ago with now is still relevant with respect to developing critical thinking.

Q Chart Q Matrix … update Jan. 23 2017 – This is a good start to demonstrate and show students how to ask questions to move from knowing basic facts to learning deeper understandings. When students establish a strong background/understanding based on their own questions from the FACTS section, the students become better/able to ask/create the higher level thinking questions.

However, a recent discovery extends upon the Background/Prior Knowledge level by providing excellent examples …

Critical Thinking Cheat Sheet    This uses the traditional 5Ws and 1H in a way that can inspire much deeper learning and understanding. If the link doesn’t work, then the original website at www.GlobalDigitalCitizen.org  will –>  The Ultimate Cheatsheet for Critical Thinking

RAN Chart  …  Created? Made popular? by Tony Stead, this Reading and Analysing Non-Fiction form provides students with a framework to ensure they prove their first assumptions/beliefs/facts before assuming they are correct and writing them down before verifying.  Using a file folder divided into the RAN sections works well. You need a good supply of Sticky Notes … make kids put their names on each sticky note >> they get returned when they fall off. See Joanne Downham, Gr 7 teacher as she has used this strategy.

Ardagh Heritage Fair Judging sheet for admin 2014   Used for years at Ardagh Bluffs; it also informs teachers what they need to do to prepare students for this additional level of judging.  (It’s similar to the form used at the Museum level of judging.) After in-class evaluations, 25-40 superior projects make “The Main Hall” for display. Principals interview the students.  The top ones go on to the Simcoe County Museum Regional Heritage Fair.

NOTE: Superior Project means the student is an authority why their project topic is important to Canadian History/Heritage — they are PASSIONATE about their topic.  Superior Project does NOT mean pretty or spectacular to look at.  There is time for students to ‘pretty up’ their projects if required. Students with “That looks awesome!” projects who are NOT passionate/dynamic/knowledgeable are ultimately not credible and not selected.

Additional student support:  Use of Google Docs and adding +gharris@scdsb.on.ca in the Comment section has greatly sped up the feedback process. Students can discuss or ask questions that I will see whenever I launch my school mail account. Depending on my schedule, feedback can take place quickly during and outside of school.

Teachers may send students to work in the library.

Students may request conference times. Students have said this was the most important part about their work — they had a sounding board to help them figure out what to do. (Teachers liked this too.)

I try to keep my opinions out of it. I tend to restate their own questions so they can filter out the noise and understand what it was they really want to say.  Some kids are frequent fliers and that is fine. Depending on the student and the rapport we have established, I may provide suggestions for inquiry questions.

 3. Convincing Reasons Why Teachers should Engage with Heritage Fair … and more Teacher Resources

These clips are pretty darn good persuasive argument.

Mason lays it on the line,     Why it works for students

Trust a Teacher Librarian? Would we lie to you?      Why it works for a teacher who needed assurance grades/marks were there.

Start, reflect, improve, repeat  and  Why you just start and see what happens and adjust along the way and for next time.

Justin good teaching matters    A summary of all of the above.

Canadian Heritage 2014 OLA Super Conference 1     Greg Harris TL @Ardagh Bluffs presented this Power Point with Shaughna Crew, Events Co-ordinator @ Simcoe County Museum at the OLA Super Conference in 2014. It could be used with staff. (Adapt as you wish.) It includes references to reasons why Heritage Fair supports the new Social Studies, History & Geography curriculum.

How to convince teachers …

1.  Ontario Heritage Fair Association    For Teachers is a good place to start.

Inquiry & Heritage Fair is a blue print for getting started with a class.

Online resources  is great.  I recommend using selectively — just giving to students would be overwhelming.

2. I am a much better teacher librarian for taking part in Heritage Fair.  Teachers at my school (Ardagh Bluffs PS)  and others are having conversations about what good questions are, how to create good questions and answer them, how to support students … it’s very enriching for teachers and students. Ardagh Bluffs started working with inquiry years before the ‘new’ Social Studies, History & Geography curriculum was introduced. Now, students routinely have choice for topic investigation and presentation format for many subjects. Inquiry is taking place in Arts, Language, History, Geography and we’re developing this in Mathematics too through our framing of work/challenges and through our investigations in developing a supportive mindset.


Greg Harris, Teacher Librarian @ Ardagh Bluffs PS   gharris@scdsb.on.ca







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