It’s near the end of the year and our grade 9 learning adventure is almost over but learning takes no prisoners and once again here I am. Another jam packed project with more growth and exploration than previous ones before. Since the main theme of this years learning was Canadian history, our final destination was none other than Canada’s defying point, WWI. We also used film to guide our projects, which leads me to the driving question of this project: How might we use artifacts and film to show the significance of WWI?
When we were first informed of the project, we were given the information that we would be assigned a significant artifact to Canada from WWI. Our teacher told us that our class was going to be given a box from The Canadian War Museum, we would have to include a soldier and our project competencies:
Establish Historical Significance: How do we make choices about what is worth remembering?
Global Collaborator: How might I use technology to connect to the world?
I wasn’t sure what was going to cross my path on the forked trail of learning but I knew it had been a long time since the last learning adventure, so I put on my growth mindset, threw my bag full of learning tools over my shoulder and started my trudging through trenches of our new project.
Putting myself in the shoes of this blog’s reader, I realized that unless you remembered your grade nine social studies classes, you probably don’t know much about WWI and what it was. Since that is the case and you probably don’t want to go read an entire article on WWI and every day of it, let me just give a brief explanation of how it started and who was involved. If you already are a historian level knowledge, than you can just skip this section.
Although the war broke out in 1914, the world was on the brink of war for a while before. A blend of militarism, imperialism, nationalism, and the assassination of the duke of Austria-Hungry to light the fuse split world in half. You probably wonder why the war didn’t just stay near Austria-Hungary, well the reason this was proclaimed a world war was from a little thing called alliances. When the war started in 1914, the war was split into two warring sides: The Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. These six powers were all military leaders which made this battle one of the bloodiest and unliveable battles ever. In the war there was two main fronts, the western front were Canadas alliances had fought and the eastern front which is less remembered today. Although you probably think that war is action packed and full of hero’s, WWI was almost polar. It was said to be a war of attrition which was proven in the months of waiting, in trenches, in the elements of earth. The war was like that until 1919 when the peace treaty was signed and the war was declared over. Even though some countries seemed to have gotten worse out comes, there are no winners of war which was clearly made prevalent in the 6 million lives lost for the historical “winners of the war”.
Why Did I learn This?"The past is everything that ever happened to anyone anywhere. This is too much history to remember it all. So how do we make choices about what is worth remembering?" (HTP). By understanding the significant turning point of the First World War, we can better understand what makes Canada the nation that it is today. You will work to convince your audience that this event is significant and worth remembering. Through artifacts and objects that transport us to the past, we can humanize the events of WWI and connect the significance of this event to what it means to be Canadian.
In this project the first time we were asked to use the historical significance competency in our work was milestone one, which actually had nothing to do with WWI. We were asked to pick a symbol that makes Canada the place it is and to tell a story of why the artifact that we chose was the most significant towards Canadian identity. This was all going to be a video. I was doing pretty well, I knew what I was saying, I told a good story, but at the end, I knew that this wasn’t at all the story that the assignment asked for. After the critique to show historical significance more clearly, I thought of what I learned and knew I would apply it to the next time we used this competency.
The next time we used this competency was for our artifact after we had chosen them. At this point we only had access to photos of the artifacts and after walking around to look at the different options I stumbled brightly coloured flag that caught my eye. Not knowing what it was or why it was chosen for this box, I decided that this would be the one. After that, we were then assigned a worksheet to help us find the historical significance of the object we had chosen. Looking back on the project, I realized that just this small exercise had set me up to succeed throughout the rest of the project. I dug deep, used my creativity and created some really crucial points of significance that would be the foundation of my work all the way to the exhibition.
The other competency in this project was the Global Collaborator. This competency basically asks you to use the technology we have to communicate to the world in some sort of way. I thought that I was able to excel on this competency in milestone 3 when we were asked to find and research a Canadian soldier from WWI. This was the first time that I had every really done research on an insignificant person and really used the internet to its advantage… and it was pretty awesome. I not only felt like a professional historian, but I also like I was discovering story’s about someone that were lost in time. With the help of the Canadian archives, I was able to find an in-depth understanding of his time at war and many other facts that would help me tell his story in a much more in depth way. After hours of fascinating research on LT Ibbotson Leonard, I began to link his story with my artifact, which was the next assignment. In this step of the project I was able to use the technology I have access to to share the incredible story of an un-remebered story that made Canada the place it is today.
After I had a clear idea of what the story I was going tell would be about, I began the screen play which would hold every detail of the actual video. I put my best work into the screenplay, using the pervious brainstorming, researching and story outline to guide me. I was very intrigued and connected to the story of Ibbotson Leonard and the Semaphore Flag, which I think was the main reason for the positive reaction to my finished screen play. As I was working on and researching for the screen play, I realized how important not only recording your thoughts but voicing your opinion is and will be decades down the road. I found that even if you aren’t a president or celebrity, someone may look back on your name.
after the story was made it was time to bring it to life. Finding images and videos to back the script was actually quite difficult. Since my soldier and his life were pretty un documented, it really took some digging to find some useful media. Besides for photos of his documents or family business, the video and photos, usually had nothing to do with Ibbotson at all. For this step of the process I thought it would be helpful to get all photos I needed ahead of time so I could have more time to curate and arrange the photos and their roles in the video. This ended up helping a lot and allowed my to have a thorough idea of what my video would look like. Much like the other storyboards I had created this year, I was very proud of the aesthetic and planning I put into it.
By the end of the storyboard I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to communicate through my video so all that was left to do was make the video. By the time I had put in the photos, recorded, and aligned the audio with the visuals I had a pretty good feeling about my work. The only hold back was that I still had an entire week before we were required to finish. I knew that this was going to be one of the last times I could show my video skills this year and I knew my video could be better, so I got to working. With the help of all of the previous projects, I used my favourite apps and my own creativity to weave together a masterpiece of a video. Although I thought it was very entertaining and interesting to watch, I also knew it wasn’t going to meet the criteria when it came function. I was so focused on making it creative and intriguing, that when I took a step back to look at the video, I got bit distracted. The point of the video was to inform and to teach, not at all my video at that time. I revised, made my video what I had wanted, and got ready for the final destination of the adventure.
The exhibition was when I was able to really show my understanding of both historical significance and Global collaboration. After we had our artifact and a condensed version of an explanation of what the significance of the artifact was in WWI, we were able to present our knowledge to other classes at our school. I found out that it was actually incredibly difficult compressing weeks of knowledge into a three minute pitch. Although, at the actual exhibition I was very pleased on how well I was able to execute that task. Since the exhibition was in a gallery walk format, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by helpful peers. In particular, I had Logan Wickstone when ever I needed some help with pitch or moral support. In the exhibition I was able to tell a good story, list of some good facts, and hopefully leave the audience with an understanding of why the semaphore flags in Canada was significant in WWI.
taking everything from a project to answer the Driving Question is pretty challenging, although, if you reflect on each piece of work and how it helped you reach you end goal, it often isn’t quite as gruelling of a task. Using how I improved on both of the competencies, and my improvement in work, I can now answer the the question: How might we use artifacts and film to show the significance of World War One? After my research, story telling, and presenting I had came up with the answer: we can use artifact and film to tell stories of WWI to prove their significance to the state of the world around you. Overall I’m glad I was able to hav the opportunity to share my learning with you and make sure you comment and questions or thoughts you have on this post.