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2014-03-06 at NOON

Interactive past

By Leith Dunick,
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Austin Swalwell isn’t a huge fan of sitting in class and reading history from a text book.

For most 11-year-olds, the War of 1812 is a dusty, dry relic from the pages of the past. But for the past three weeks, Austin and his classmates at Vance Chapman Public School have been learning about the battles that helped shape modern-day North America through the help of Canadian Geographic Education’s giant floor map.

The map, produced by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society with the support of Canadian Heritage, is one of five traveling across Canada.

It’s a fun way to learn, Austin said.

“It’s helping me because some people don’t like reading a book,” he said. “Some people need visuals. It feels like you’re actually in the War 1812 because the map has so much detail.”

Classmate Shantay Labonte agreed wholeheartedly.

“I think the map is a great interactive tool for students our age because it’s way more interactive than sitting at a desk reading a textbook,” she said.

Better visual imagery, being able to map out the various raids and battles and being able to learn about the strongholds of the First Nation, Canadian and American  societies are just some of the reasons Olivia Adams, 11, found the three-week exercise so fulfilling.

“It makes the students more interested in what they’re learning,” Olivia said.

And knowing about your past is important, she added.

“I think it’s good to know your history and how Canada was created – and how we are divided up with borders today.”

Robin Bowles, who teaches Grade 6 and 7 at the Huron Avenue school, called the War of 1812 a defining moment in Canada’s history.
The project, which combines history, geography and even a little mathematics, is a great way for students to learn and be actively involved in their lessons.

“They actually walked up the path of the very people involved in our history,” Bowles said. “It’s a great tool for them to really understand.”

Bowles these types of educational materials are always welcome in her classroom – or school gymnasium in this case.

“Whenever we find an interactive learning tool we try to bring it into the school. It’s a great tool for them to learn about history,” she said.

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