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Citizenship Test
In order to become a Canadian citizen, applicants must be able to pass a citizenship exam. This test requires them to demonstrate a knowledge of Canadian history, politics and more. Some sample questions from older tests can be found here:

In this activity, you divide your class up into groups. Then give each group a large sheet of paper with a quote about race or racism in the middle. Give each group a short time to respond, and then pass the paper onto the next group. The activity ends when each group receives their original paper and sees the responses of all of their classmates. Allow them some time to read what others said, then ask each group what they learned. Finally, have a class wide discussion about the important concepts and ideas discussed.

This activity is similar to the jigsaw activity, with some minor variations. Again, divide the class up into groups and give each group a large sheet of paper. Give them each a specific colour of marker, and ask them to write or draw anything that comes to mind about racism. After they work on it for some time, allow them to move around the class and see what their peers have done and add to their posters. The colours will show which groups have contributed where and show them that they all have related and similar experiences.

Skit response
As mentioned in our video section, we have made a skit which can function as an activity.

Sticky Backs
This activity is rather open ended, so be aware of the level of responsibility and maturity among your students when implementing it. Write down some negative treatments on sticky notes such as "treat me like I am stupid" or "treat me like I'm mean" or "treat me like I am pretentious". Pass them out to the class face down, and then have the students stick them to a partner's forehead, back, or somewhere else where they cannot see it. Then have the students walk around the class and treat each other as their labels describe. Finally, bring the class together for a discussion and ask them how they felt, and conclude with an argument against arbitrary discrimination.

The following activities are taken from: SECTION 5 – Social Studies and Diversity Education: What We Do and Why We Do It Edited by Elizabeth E. Heilman with Ramon Fruja Amthor and Matthew T. Missias Routledge, New York and London, 2010

Ch. 32 Exploring Identity, Commonality, and Difference
(Tracy Rock, pp. 149-154)

The important concepts and understandings of the Social Studies can be introduced and reinforced through daily activities and interactions that occur in the classroom, and not only in the designated Social Studies lessons.
e.g., determining classroom rules, making decisions that impact classroom life, resolving conflicts that arise, or building classroom community

Activity 1: Introducing Me! Artifact Investigation

  • Big Idea: Artifacts identify how a person or culture has developed.
  • Various artifacts that I collect out of my office, providing clues about me, both individually and culturally (e.g., family pictures, research journals, paper weight from grandfather, family bible, favourite books, etc.)
  • Students are given one or two artifacts to be identified, followed by brainstorming what each artifact tells about the teacher
  • Teacher either confirms or corrects the assumptions/hypotheses.
  • Gives students a chance to learn about the teacher (rapport building) and to understand that people and cultures are complex and cannot be reduced to artifacts.
  • Especially good for elementary school students to be introduced to the concepts of primary source/artifacts.

Activity 2: Let’s Get to Know You! Interviews, Introductions, and Movement

  • Big Idea: I am both alike and different from others.
  • Have students interview one another (especially the ones they do not know very well).
  • Produce a Venn diagram that says “we are all alike” and “we are all different” at the top.
  • Identify at least 3 similarities and differences between them.
  • Each student introduces his/her partner to the rest of the class.
  • Students and teacher make many connections with one another that otherwise may have never been known.

“The notion of searching for common ground is important to living, working, and playing together in a community, especially in multicultural environments” (Rock, p. 151).

Ch. 33 Who Are We? Exploring Our Class as a Cultural Demographic (John D. Hoge, pp. 152-154)

  • “Who Are We?” activity is helpful especially when done in the beginning of a SS methods or multicultural education course.
  • Requires at least 15 students but works best with 25-30
  • Takes 1 ½ to 2 hours and can be split across two sessions if necessary
  • Purpose: to engage students in a structured social inquiry that focuses on the diversities that exist within their life experiences and culture
  • Also serves as a “social icebreaker” and helps establish an open classroom environment
  • Implementation:
Write “who are we?” on the board and challenge the students to say what they know about our dominant culture:
- What would you tell a visitor from Mars about our culture?
- What might the visitor infer about us by simply looking at our group?
- How might we explain these traits?
- How are our Mexican or Canadian neighbours, for example, different from Americans?
- How is our culture in the South (or Northeast, etc.) different from our culture in the Midwest, for example?
- How has our culture changed in the past 30 or 50 years?
- What are some current trends that are taking place within our culture?
- What is causing these trends?
  • Set categories to group students’ ideas
  • Some typical categories: hobbies, favourite movies, books, songs/groups, foods, foreign travel, religious affiliation/experiences, hometown origin, etc.
  • Students get into a group of 3 and come up with survey questions for each category
  • “Data collection” – students ask one another questions they have created
  • At the end of the lesson, students will identify at least five ways in which they are similar and different in comparison to their classmates’ responses
  • Write a 1-2 page statement that describes what they like or dislike about their culture

Ch. 34 It’s All in Your Name: Seeing Ourselves in Historical and Cultural Context (Ozlem Sensoy, pp. 155-158)

  • Students tell each other about their name
- Who named you?
- What does your name mean?
- Do you have a nickname? / How did you get it?
- What do you know about the roots of your name?
- Connections between religion and culture (religion-influenced naming patterns)
- What has been lost by institutional practices?
- Naming rituals (e.g., being named after relative, certain patterns like all girls have names starting with N or all boys in the family have John as middle name, etc.)
- Norms of marriage – who changes surnames and why?
  • Activity gets students to understand the multiplicity of social location
  • Our names represent our individuality but also represent the multiple social groups we belong to (e.g., gender, ethno-cultural, religious, linguistic, and other group identities)
  • Develops skills in perspective consciousness, ability to recognize, examine, evaluate, and appreciate multiple perspectives

Black Lies/White Lies (Nancy Schneidewind and Ellen Davidson, p. 75)

  • Objective: to help students understand how connotations in our language perpetuate racism
  • Materials: dictionaries, paper, pencils, chart paper, markers
  • Implementation:
- Divide students into groups of five.
- Give each group a large sheet of paper to list all the words/phrases they can think of that have the word “white” or “black” in them (e.g., black lies, black eye, white as snot, etc.).
- Groups mark their lists as follows: + for a phrase with a positive connotation and – for one with negative connotation and 0 for one with a neutral connotation.
- Groups then look up the words “white” and “black” in their dictionaries and write down definitions.
- One student is appointed as a recorder.
- Each group calls out a word/phrase with “black” and “white” in it, along with the +, -, or 0 marks to be recorded on the board.
  • Discussion:
1. How many “black” words have positive connotations? How about “white” words? How many of each have negative connotations?
2. What reactions do you have as you look at this list?
3. How might black people feel hearing these words and phrases all the time? How about white people?
4. Many of our ideas are formed through language. Our feelings about ourselves often come from words we hear. What does our language imply about white people? About black people?

(Reprinted from Schneidewind, N. and Davidson, E. (1983). Open minds to equality: A sourcebook of learning activities to promote race, sex, class, and age equity. Allyn and Bacon.)

Creating Classrooms for Equity and Social Justice (pp. 4-5)

Authors in Rethinking Our Classrooms argue that curriculum and classroom practice must be:

  • Grounded in the lives of our students
  • Critical
  • Multicultural, anti-racist, pro-justice
  • Participatory, experiential
  • Hopeful, joyful, kind, visionary
  • Activist
  • Academically rigorous
  • Culturally sensitive

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