Should we, or shouldn't we?

Canadian History (Confederation)

There was heated debate in Newfoundland about whether or not it should join Canada. The following site (http://www.heritage.nf.ca/confederation/lesson2.html) features some letters to the editor that were written in 1948, just before the vote. Have students read the letters and note arguments for and against union with Canada. Then ask them to prepare to debate the issue either in groups, or as a class. (Note: there are also additional activities and discussion questions on the site that can be used to further explore the letters through the lens of critical thinking).

Teacher prompt: Which letter would convince you to change your opinion about whether or not to join Canada?


Cartoon persuasion

English (writing, critical thinking, interpretation of media)

Canadian History (Confederation)

Ask students to examine and compare these two political cartoons about Newfoundland's confederation debate:

For: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/confederation/cartoon3.html

Against: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/confederation/cartoon4.html

What makes them persuasive? Do they play on positive emotions? Fears? Do they use humour? Could they be offensive to someone who doesn't agree with them? Have students draw a persuasive political cartoon of their own to get a point across. If they would rather not draw, ask them to find a political cartoon that they either agree or disagree with strongly, and explain to the class why it is effective.

Teacher prompt: Do you think political cartoons are a good way to make a point? Can they go too far?


Homegrown Heroes

Canadian History (World War I, the life of a soldier)

Newfoundland has an impressive online archive, found here: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part3_database.asp. Ask students to visit this page and choose the name of a soldier (click on the "soldiers" tab at the top of the page). They can read PDFs of documents associated with the soldier of their choice. Ask them to identify the types of documents they found, and also to prepare a brief report about their soldier for the class. How old was he? Where was he from? Did he survive the war? If so, did he suffer any injuries or disabilities? Was he married or single? How long was he overseas? What did his medical records (if any) reveal? Was there any correspondence? Or a will?

Teacher prompt: Is anyone in your family in the military? What prompted them to join?



The 17th Century gets modernized

Arts (comparing two productions)

As a class, watch this excerpt from Tartuffe filmed at American University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvrjJgHYpQ8. Compare it to Andy Jones' play, where it corresponds to Act I, Scene II. Ask students to compare costumes, set and language. Did the Newfoundland adaptation make the play richer? In what ways? Have students think of a play, book or movie that could be adapted to a different culture, place or time. Ask them to take a page or scene from that work and try to rewrite it. Discuss with the class what challenges you would face in terms of creating an authentic setting, language, costume, and characters.

Teacher prompt: In your opinion, what was Andy Jones' greatest challenge when adapting a 17th century French play to 1939 Newfoundland?


It takes courage

Canadian History (pre-Confederation Newfoundland)

The Newfoundland Rangers played an important role in the province for the 15 years they were in existence. Ask students to read the following tale of what it was like to be a Ranger: http://home.ca.inter.net/~elinorr/ranger-ramble.html. As a class, recreate the life of a Newfoundland Ranger. Consider things like eligibility requirements, housing, uniform, food, transportation, tasks.

Teacher prompt: Would you like to do something like this?


Whaddya at, b'y?

English (speaking to communicate, appropriate use of language)

Have students read the following brief article about Newfoundland slang, including the list of expressions at the end: http://thescope.ca/bestofstjohns/best-of-st-johns-2011/best-local-slang-2. Make a list on the board of slang that students use in their daily lives. How do the adults in their life react when they use slang? Are there occasional misunderstandings? Have students construct a good argument for the use of slang, and a good argument against it, either in groups, or as a class.

Teacher prompt: Do you use slang? With friends or family? What words are particular to you and your group of friends or family?