Resources For Remembrance: Teaching Ideas For Your Subject
November 11th marks Remembrance Day, an opportunity to honour those who have served in the nation’s defence. Originally referred to as Armistice Day, and known as Veterans Day in the United States, this date represents the end of hostilities in the First World War. We pay tribute to veterans by wearing poppies, participating in two minutes of silence, and reciting the poem, In Flanders Fields. Remembrance Day is an important occasion and a meaningful learning opportunity for students. It is natural that November 11th is taught in the history classroom, but what about other subjects? How can we implement a cross-curricular approach to integrate Remembrance Day into our other classes?
I have taken several key concepts as inspiration for lessons in the following subjects:
“Keep Calm and Carry On” has become a popular saying, remixed meme, and image that your students are sure to recognize. I bet they didn’t know that the original poster version came from the British government during the Second World War as a way to boost morale. By engaging your students in a discussion about morale, you could ask for examples of how the poster has been altered but still contains similar sentiments. A simple Google image search will retrieve thousands of versions, like “Keep Calm and Stay Strong” or “Keep Calm and Sparkle On”. You could then ask students to create a version for themselves, using their best morale-boosting prose that reflects their own mantra. They could also write a one-paragraph reflection on their poster, explaining its meaning and how it relates to the original British concept.
English Language Arts
While most students use the peace sign in their selfies or think of it in relation to the 1960s flower-power era, it was actually first used by Winston Churchill. It used to be an obscene gesture, but Churchill transformed it into one of peace and positivity. Have students conduct further research into the topic, and write about how the peace sign has evolved over the years. How is it most commonly used now? How has the meaning changed?
Using the poem In Flanders Fields, have students create a tableau. A tableau is when students create still images with their bodies to depict a particular scene. Divide your students into small groups, and give each group two to three consecutive lines of the poem. Students should discuss what their lines mean and then work together to create the still images that symbolize them. The poem should be narrated out loud by a student (or played from a recording), and students can form their silent scenes, which together will depict the entire poem. Afterward, they should be able to explain the meaning behind their lines.
Instruct students to create a timeline that captures the ten most important events from the First World War. One easy-to-use online tool is Tiki Toki, which allows students to create events and add images, video, and URL links. Events can be colour-coded into different categories, which allows students to further analyze the event’s significance and determine what category it belongs to. Other online timeline tools are: Sutori, Time Toast, and Preceden.
How will you be teaching Remembrance Day in your classroom?
Canadian Veterans Day Teacher Guides.