Connecting The Past With The Present 

Anne Jespersen’s students are asked to connect, respond, and reflect to each of her lessons.  This creates an environment which fosters deep thinking questions.  In this unit, Anne wanted to specifically focus on:

  • supporting point of view with evidence
  • applying knowledge to transform thinking

Anne and I decided to start the unit by showing a series of pictures.  We had seen Leyton Schnellert demonstrate this technique many times..  Anne and I modelled (*modelling is one of the most effective ways to collaborate) how to talk about one of the photos, then we asked the students to share their thinking on the other photos.

Olden days introductory photos

The following are the activities with examples of student responses.  Take note of the great care Anne took to include a range of ways to respond to learning.

Anne read Little House on the Prairie and showed clips from Little House in the Big Woods from Youtube.  Along the way, the students responded with:

Students responded to a picture of a pioneer family, looking for similarities and differences to modern life.

Students compared a day in their life with that of a pioneer child.

Students responded to short articles

Miss Christie came in with HOMEMADE bread and made butter with the students

Anne made ice cream with the students

Students, taught by Miss Rice, were weaving during their spare time for weeks!

A slide show is a good way to get students to collect their learning.  The Grade 3s found images of pioneer clothes, food, school life, home life, and transportation.  Their slide show had to reflect their learning by answering ONE of the following questions:

  • How did pioneers live?
  • Why are pioneers amazing people
  • What do I know about pioneers?

The final slide was to be a picture of child with thought bubbles.  In one bubble they would record what they used to think about pioneers/olden days, and in the second bubble they would record their transformed thinking (now I think . . .)

Students were asked to bring in an artifact from home

Anne and Julie model the artifact project

Anne’s parents were invited to the class to answer questions about their experience in school.  Anne’s dad went to school in an urban school while Anne’s mom went to a rural school.  Each student had to come up with a question to ask.

The class dressed in olden days clothes for a visit to Helmken house and the provincial museum.  Upon their return they had to write a letter as a pioneer or about a pioneer – insert example


As a school-wide write (ssw), the Grade 3 topic was to decide whether they would want to pioneer child?  They had to use their learning to support why or why not.

The final activity:

Students were paired in twos based on what they had written in their ssw.  One student who wanted to be a pioneer was paired with one who didn’t want to be a pioneer.  The students read their ssw aloud, then the class voted who had the strongest, supported argument.