Curriculum Analysis

Analysing Articles

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

Interpreting Cartoons

Responding Personally to Historical Information

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

Listening with Discrimination

Generalizing from Historical Data

Analysing Cause and Effect

The Confederation Debate: A Community Perspective

Curriculum Analysis

The student lessons in this web site are rooted in the school curricula developed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education. This is necessary if they are to have significance and legitimacy.

The curriculum that forms the major context for this web-based unit is Canadian History 1201. Nonetheless, the learning skills promoted in the Canadian history curriculum are not unique to this field of study. A careful analysis of such curricula as English-language arts and fine arts indicates that they share some of the learning skills found in the Canadian history curriculum.

The following overviews the intent of these three curricula.

Canadian History 1201

The Canadian History 1201 curriculum adopts a thematic approach for the study of the history of Canada. The theme, A Time of Transition: 1946-1967, explores Canada's changing international position, Newfoundland's entry into Confederation, the rise of post-war Quebec nationalism, Canada-United States relations, and the economic, social and cultural trends in the 1960s. This theme, with its emphasis on the Confederation story, is most relevant for the development of instructional units on Confederation.

The Confederation Theme: Knowledge

Each theme is specified into curriculum outcomes, one of which states that "the student will be expected to assess the reasons for and the impact of Newfoundland's entry into Confederation" (Theme 5, Curriculum Outcome 2). The performance expectations attached to this outcome lends further specificity by suggesting the following interrelated elements:

  • purpose of key political movements, e.g., the Newfoundland National Convention;
  • roles of key political personalities, e.g., Joseph Smallwood;
  • part played by key groups, e.g., the churches;
  • reasons used by confederates;
  • reasons used by anti-confederates;
  • options other than confederation or responsible government;
  • methods used by confederate and anti-confederate groups;
  • the referendum process and results;
  • impact of confederation on individuals, families, and communities; and
  • conditions of entry into Confederation, e.g., the terms of union.

The Confederation Theme: Competencies

These elements form the understandings to serve as the knowledge-domain for the study of how and why Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province. Canadian History 1201 also describes a second domain to guide instructional practices so that students will demonstrate significant learning competencies. More specifically,

  • analysing cause and effect relationships;
  • objectively analysing conflicting historical interpretations;
  • retrieving and categorizing information from a variety of sources;
  • analysing maps, charts, diagrams and time lines in determining the relationship between time and location;
  • engaging in critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving;
  • effectively presenting information through the use of written, oral and graphic presentations;
  • developing and refining collaborative skills through practice in working group situations; and
  • develop extrapolations based on an analysis of past and present events.

The Confederation Theme: Values

To complete the description of the scope of a study of Canadian history, the curriculum sets out the affective domain. The student is expected to demonstrate an appreciation of

  • the contribution of history as a basis for understanding current issues and anticipating future trends;
  • the knowledge, skills and dispositions essential to effective citizenship;
  • history as a product of the interplay among aspirations, personalities, ideals and cultures;
  • the contribution of individuals, groups and cultures to the development of Canada;
  • peace as a preference over armed conflict;
  • the role of informed and rational discussion in the process of hypothesizing and decision-making; and
  • the right of democratic self-determination.

Department of Education Policy on Cross-Curricular Learning

The Senior High School Program: A School Administrator's Handbook (Draft 1996), intended to assist in the implementation of curriculum changes due in September 1998, draws attention to the importance of addressing the inter-connectedness of learning. To this end, it points to the need to identify inter-related threads running through various courses; and devise ways of bringing these threads together. The document suggests seven strategies for connecting curricula: combining subjects, connecting concepts, making connections informally, infusion, developing thematic units, and using a project focus.

Although the instructional units for the Confederation theme will strongly rest on the understandings, competencies, and dispositions espoused by Canadian History 1201, they will necessarily reflect an inter-disciplinary or cross-curricular approach. Such curricula as fine arts and language arts articulate concepts and processes that may be interwoven into lessons related to the study of the entry of Newfoundland and Labrador into Confederation with Canada.

Language Arts

The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education maintains that its English-language arts program provides students with an opportunity to experience, study, and appreciate language, literature, media, and communication. This area of study rests on six interdependent processes: listening, speaking, reading, viewing, writing, and other ways of representing. These processes are fundamental to the student's development of language abilities, cultural understanding, and creative and critical thinking.

The provincial English-Language Arts Curriculum: Grades 10-12 provides a detailed list of specific curriculum outcomes for each of the six process areas. When applicable, selected outcomes will be cited in each lesson for teacher reference.

Arts Education

The provincial Department of Education, through its arts education curriculum, attempts to enable and encourage students to engage in the creative, expressive, and responsive processes of arts through their lives. These processes find expression through dance, drama, music, and visual arts.

Arts is an integral part of general education since it provides an opportunity for students to become more aware of their culture by examining and producing "artifacts", and a means of formulating and expressing concepts, ideas, perceptions, and feelings during the process of inquiry.

As with language arts, outcomes for arts education will be cited, where applicable, in the teacher material for each lesson.

Social Studies Skills

One way to synthesize many of the learning skills promoted across these curricula is to develop a skills list. To this end, the following social studies skills list is provided for teacher reference.

Although a number of skills lists for studies are currently in use, the features that are most common and most relevant to this project include gathering, organizing, evaluating and communicating information; interpreting visual formats; interpreting maps and globes; participating in group formats; understanding time and chronology; and solving problems and thinking critically.

Gathering Information

  • Make efficient use of books, newspapers, magazines, and other reference sources.
  • Know how to retrieve information in a library and from Internet sources.
  • Read information sources with discrimination, particularly differences in purpose and coverage.
  • Obtain information from field trips and interviews.

Organizing Information

  • Identify key topics and outline responses to them.
  • Select main ideas and supporting details.
  • Classify visuals, facts, positions, and events.
  • Arrange information in a sequence.
  • Analyse and summarize information.
  • Develop a table of contents and supporting references.

Evaluating Information

  • Distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Recognize agreement or contradiction among sources and reasons for them.
  • Consider the reliability of information sources in terms of consistency, reasonableness, and objectivity.
  • Recognize trends and patterns in information.
  • Draw conclusions.

Communicating Information

  • Develop effective content by establishing a purpose, and selecting and integrating ideas and details.
  • Achieve effective organization by creating an opening; maintaining a focus; ordering events, ideas, and details; establishing relationships among events, ideas, and details; and providing closure.
  • Use fluent sentences through control of syntax and sentence variety and length.
  • Establish a voice by speaking to the reader individualistically, expressively, and engagingly.
  • Use word choice for appropriateness, precision, and clarity.
  • Achieve effective conventions through use of punctuation, spelling, capitalization, usage, grammar, and paragraphing.

Interpreting Visual Formats

  • Describe the content of pictorial materials and use related information in their interpretation.
  • Interpret symbols in cartoons and recognize point-of-view.
  • Analyse organization, sequences, and events portrayed in charts.
  • Interpret relationships shown in graphs and tables and draw related inferences.

Interpreting Maps and Globes

  • Orient maps.
  • Use absolute and relative location to find places.
  • Use scale to determine extent and distance.
  • Interpret map symbols to derive information.
  • Compare maps and draw inferences.

Participating in Groups

  • Participate in groups formed to achieve a common goal.
  • Give and receive feedback in a positive manner.
  • Accept the role of a group facilitator.
  • Willingly work within the parameters defined by a task and related rules of conduct.

Understanding Time and Chronology

  • Use systems for tracking of time.
  • Recognize sequence of events.
  • Understand differences in the duration of various time spans.
  • Develop generalizations arising out of temporal trends.

Solving Problems and Thinking Critically

  • Identify a problem.
  • Develop an approach to the study of the problem.
  • Retrieve and organize information about the problem.
  • Interpret and evaluate the information.
  • Summarize and arrive at conclusions.

Examining Values

  • Isolate ideas in a piece of communication.
  • Determine relationships among these ideas.
  • Explain the relationships.
  • Infer underlying values.

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