Craig Brumwell, a social studies teacher at Kitsilano Secondary, is one of 6 recipients of the 2015 Governor General's History Teaching Awards.
The award is in its 19th year and recognizes the outstanding contributions of Canada's history and social studies teachers, ranging from elementary grades through to secondary schools. This year's recipients will travel to Ottawa to receive their award at Rideau Hall on October 16, 2015.
Brumwell's project, entitled Shifting Commitments: Safety, Security and Sacrifice in a Changing World, engaged his students to use game technology to travel back to their high school during the Second World War.
When he heard that some of the oldest parts of Kitsilano Secondary were being torn down, Craig knew it was time to use the decades of archival photos and composites that had lined the old hallways for years.
He wanted his students to think about the students who had once walked their hallways, used their lockers, and competed on their athletic fields. Most importantly, he wanted them to think about those students who graduated in May 1944 and were immediately faced with a life-changing dilemma: whether to enlist in the Canadian Army, a month before D-Day. And he wanted those comparisons to help his students talk about what commitment and sacrifice means to them today.
Learners were presented with primary source artifacts triggered through Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Quick Response (QR) codes on their mobile devices. They also had fictitious conversations with past Kitsilano students, interacted with a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) map, and watched present-day interviews of survivors who went to the school.
"I wanted to do something where the kids would connect with the photos and people on the wall," Brumwell said. "I had a hunch they would be interested. They're surrounded by these old photos every day, looking at them in the halls, pointing out their hair-dos and costumes."
The "game" is a means for students to better understand the difficult decisions people faced during the war by positioning them in the historical perspective of students from their own school at that time. Students worked complete a number of individual and team-based exercises to determine and defend a course of action to address national security, both in historical and modern contexts.
To learn more about the project follow these links ( https://youtu.be/tt6rn5fVnN4 and https://youtu.be/xKv0X5Lty8c) to watch a videos on the project or view below.