Calgary Board of Education

Innovative Learning

Inquiry Into Democracy - 2003/04

What are the implications of living in a democratic society within a larger global context? Working closely with a specialist in middle east politics from the University of Calgary, students in Ms. Bechtold's Grade 10 Social Studies class examined democracy in light of the invasion of Iraq. The study culminated in a video conference where students from two different cities presented and defended their positions around this controversial topic. For more information and some video clips see, Democracy in Iraq at the Galileo Network.

Quote from a student
"Doing the Democracy in Iraq unit was quite different than assignments have done in the past. The part that was the most different was going to the University of Calgary and being able to talk to several different students from Edmonton. I found it very exciting and I thought it was a good learning experience, as we all had different points of view, so we were able to argue points to come to a consensus. I have never been able to talk with people like this for a school project. The Moderator, Mr. Gladstone, taught us a lot about democracy and democracy in Iraq before the video conference, which was very helpful when it came time for the symposium. All in all it was a great learning experience; probably one of the best I’ve ever had."


Model Parliament 2003/04

Ms Bechtold's Grade 10 Social Studies class explored Immigration and Human Rights issues which culminated in a video model parliament with a school in Toronto.In preparation for the debate students were required to establish themselves as an expert on the topic of their choice, reveal their position and two to three reasons in support of that position. They were required to reflect the ideology of the new Conservative Party. Students prepared briefing notes, anticipated arguments, developed counter arguments, supported their position and discussion points and prepared a closing statement.

After the debate, students were given time to reflect on the experience. Although happy with their performance they felt that they would have done better if they had more practise debates in class, researched both views and prepared arguments and counter arguments. Students would also like the opportunity to continue the debate online.

From one student:
Social Studies at the National Sport School is not like other schools. We had the chance to go the university and do different projects. In my other social studies, it was like, sit in the classroom, all lined up desks, and just learn straight out of the textbook.


Sovereignty - 2003/04

In Ms. Bechtold's Grade 10 Social Studies class, students explored the history of Canada through skits. Script writing was done with the help of Ryan Gladstone and Bruce Horak from Monster Theatre in Toronto through teleconferencing and students were directed in the production of their skits through video conferencing. Students performed their skits for staff and students at school. Video clips and more information on the Galileo Network site.

From one student
I think it has just been more interesting (this year in Social Studies) and because it’s more interesting it makes it fun - better than just sitting down and writing notes all day. In this project we were part of what we were learning - it made it more interesting, which makes it fun and makes me more of a learner.

From another student
That’s why the play was good because we had to take all of this information that we learned and put it into something totally different. We’re reteaching it to the audience. I think teaching something is the best way to learn it.


Grizzly Bear Hunt 2003/04

In Mrs. Biegler's Grade 9 Science Class, students investigated the ethics of the Grizzly Bear Hunt in Kananaskiis country as part of their Bio diversity unit in Science. The inquiry culminated in a classroom debate, where pairs of students took the role of the stakeholders: government, tourists, biologists and hunters. The time frame for this project was 2 weeks.

From one student:
I think it’s really important the students have their own opinions and that they don’t just believe something because they read it out of the textbook. It's important that they use a lot of sources and that they understand both sides of the argument and then they state their opinion on that.

From the teacher:
The students were self-directed. They would get right to work – they knew what they had to do. In groups they took on the roles that were assigned and took ownership of these roles. They did more creative things – one student phoned the premier. If I were to do this inquiry again, I would need to spend more time planning - there was not enough depth of knowledge displayed in the debate.


Economic Systems 2003/04

In Ms. Bechtold's Grade 9 Social Studies class, students explored the question, Which economic system provides the best quality of life?

From a student
"Well, one of our biggest projects that we did was a web site (eZine) and it was to do with Russian history. We were put into groups and were all given tasks to do for the web site. We researched our own information and wrote articles for our website from either the communist or anticommunist point of. Once we were finished we uploaded the web site to WebCT and presented it to the class."


Videography - 2005/06

The video project was a cross-curricular multi-grade project that began in October 2005 and continues throughout the year. In May 2005, Susanne Bechtold applied for the Artist in Residence grant in order to help defray the cost of bringing in a videographer to assist students in developing their filming skills. We were awarded the grant and Richard Zywotkiewicz was booked for 5 full days.

Part A - In-Camera Editing
A mini timetable was created to accomodate Grade 9, Grade 10 and Grade 11 CALM students to allow them 2 hours a day of hands-on filming experience. The focus of the sessions was in-camera editing. Students learned how to use camera techniques to help develop their stories. View the sample clips below.
Note that these clips are produced entirely in camera - no software was used to edit.

This clip shows the effect that camera angles can have, Scolding
Featuring: Curt, Kael, Shelby, Mike and Nick.

Watch how the in-camera editing leads the audience through the sequence of events, Who Dun It? featuring: Matt, Dana, Jamie and Michael.

Closeups and framing the shots help to tell the story, Ghosts, featuring: Nicki, Jessie, Alexa and Gilmore.

Use effective camera techniques to sell, Shiny Medals featuring: Raywyn, Tori, Denae & Chris

Part B - Video Editing

Each class then used their filming expertise and went on to create videos on specific topics related to their subject area.

  • Social Studies 10, S. Bechtold - Racism by Gilmore, Mike H., Curt, Aaron, Jessie and Christian
  • CALM, A. Oster - A Day in the Life
  • English 10, P. Trehearne - Romeo & Juliet by Dana A., Alex M. and Kyle T.


Sports Medicine Interactive Website - 2005/06

Students in the Sports Med class were involved in creating an interactive web site for other students and parents. Each student researched an injury common to his/her sport and created a complete scenario including diagnosis, etiology, treatment and prognosis. Students also created taping videos as well as first aid information. All of the information is being organized into an interactive web site including information on basic anatomy and physiology. Each student took on several roles including project manager, assistant project manager, web site designer, software technician, videographer, editor and technical writers. Several experts (physiotherapist, acupuncturist, sport psychologist and athletic therapist) were invited into the class to provide students with practical information.


Genetics - 2005/06

In Biology 30, students acted as Genetic Counsellors and preparing to talk to couples that are experiencing different genetic issues during pregancy. In preparation for their role, students investigated how sexual reproduction results in genetic diversity, learn about DNA replication, listen to a genetic counsellor, understand classical genetics (Gregor Mendel's rules and Punnet Squares) to predict genetic disorders.


Blast Magazine - 2005/06

As part of Blast Class (Grade 9 Option) this year, the Grade 9 students became the staff of an new online magazine. Because the theme for the month of November was health, the Grade 9's project was to create an online magazine for high performance youth athletes that incorporated health concerns and other interests.

The class brainstormed the possible content of the magazine, divided into an editorial and technical group and chose a overall manager as well as department heads for the technical and editoral staff. At the same time they created rubrics on how each person would be evaluated.

Over the period of three weeks the class functioned as the staff of an online magazine. They held staff meetings, collaborated on articles, made decisions and and produced the first edition of Blast Magazine. The students found that they had to work with others to bring their part of the magazine to completion.


Social Studies 20 - 2005/06

The content of social studies draws upon history, geography, economics, the behavioural sciences and humanities. It prepares students for active and responsible participation in a changing world. It seeks to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to function in the society in which they must ultimately find their place. Students are encouraged to think critically about their individual and collective roles in the modern world.

Curriculum matters will be organized around inquiries. Inquiry recognizes that knowledge is dynamic. It invites students to push their own understandings to the limit. It connects to events, issues and challenges outside the classroom. It deals with issues and questions about which students should care.

The Social Studies 20 curriculum, as outlined in the Program of Studies by Alberta Learning, focuses on Nineteenth Century Europe and the Interdependence in the Global Environment. Students will examine nationalism, industrialization, imperialism, international rivalries, diversity, development, quality of life and alternative futures.

Students are expected to take an active role within the context of a community of learners as they complete photo essays, debates (online and in class), social action projects and group position papers.