Katherine Actually Learned Things; More on the News at 7

Welcome, friends, to the midterm section of my blog. Here you will find the link to my wonderful and not at all sarcastic prezi, for your viewing pleasure.


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Pat Whelan: Final Address

My final address:

“My minutes are slowly but surely coming to an end. As I wait to be fetched for my public hanging, I can’t help but think back on how it all happened. As soon as Thomas D’Arcy McGee was killed, the assassin was immediately assumed to be a Fenian. Ok like sure, the police found the exact same gun that was used to kill him in my front pocket but it’s because I recently got into shooting not because I wanted to become an assassin. Plus it was fully loaded. That should be enough indication that I didn’t kill him, right? Also yes, I may be Irish but that doesn’t mean I’m a Fenian, I swear. Besides, that’s not even enough proof to arrest me!

Thinking back on the final day of my trial, I should have seen it coming. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald had been there. You would think he would have some pity for me as I had the same first name as his taxi driver, Patrick Buckley, but no. No pity.

I dressed in all black that day. It was like I knew I was going to be pronounced guilty. I’m practically psychic and like I always said, if you’re going to go out, you better go out in style.

Now as I sit here about to live my final minutes and final seconds, I think to myself, what went wrong? Though everybody was certain that I had killed McGee, I assure you I didn’t. Unfortunately, even though I knew who did it, I can’t say. I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to that pinky promise.”

You can find my first journal entry here and my second entry here.

This is me trying to gain support at my trial:

Interesting conversation between John A. Macdonald and I:

Conversation between Thomas D’Arcy McGee and I:

Social Media/Studies

UntitledIn addition to more critical efforts to conduct inquiries into history as it intersects with our present landscape, the TALONS class has come to embrace dramatic efforts to enact and recreate history in their social(s) learning. Whether engaging in a mock trial of King Charles II, or making impassioned speeches as characters in the French Revolution, such theatrical turns have traditionally made for memorable classroom moments.

A few years ago, a group of TALONS grade tens approached me to see if they could ‘pitch’ a unit plan for our upcoming French Revolution study: in blog posts and classroom activities, members of the class would each adopt a character from the revolutionary period, and strive to realize and represent diverse perspectives on events in 18th century France.

In the years since, the unit has evolved to include Twitter, as well as a series of improvised discussions, debates and addresses – all in character.

Thus the class is able to imagine and take in the passionate decrees of a young Maximilien Robespierre:

In the future I believe that it is not enough for the monarchy to only lose a portion of its power. France should be a country run for its people by the people, a democracy! At this moment I do not have enough political power to share my views in such ways, but in time I shall express my desires. One day I assure you, I will find a way to improve the lives of the poor and to strike down those corrupt from power.

And see the story through to his betrayal of Georges Danton, who addresses his friend:

I curse you.

We once had, if not brotherhood, at least mutual understanding. We were creating a France that our children would be proud of. I know not when your idealism became madness but I must have failed to see the signs, because I was not prepared for all the murders, and all the terror that you instilled into this country.

Robespierre, you will follow me into dissolution. I will drag you down screaming, and we will fall together.

In addition to these perspectives developing on individual blogs in monologues and comment threads, classroom time is spent charting the development of significant revolutionary events against characters’ reactions which are presented in improvised debates or speeches. And the dialogue continues on Twitter, as each character adopts an avatar to not only promote and archive their blogged artifacts, engage in dialogue with their allies and nemeses, and exercise their own democratic rights in carrying out the final assessments in the unit:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.38.18 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.39.55 PMSensing that there might be a popular uprising against a tyrant teacher bent on sticking steadfast to an arbitrary deadline, I asked to see a show of support for the idea:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.43.23 PMThe idea was taken up quickly.

By philosophers:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.42.33 PMThe King of France:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.44.41 PM

Feminist leaders:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.45.54 PMAnd even the farmers:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.47.26 PM

At the culmination of the unit, each of the TALONS delivered a final address that looked back on their contributions to the revolution, and how they might have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight. And while each member of the class was only tasked with creating one unique angle on the historical events being studied, the effect rendered by the series of addresses on the unit’s final day presented a nuanced and multidimensional look into the various subjectivities that (might have) helped shape the revolutionary period.

From each of their perspectives, what the French Revolution might be about would likely sprawl in a dozen different directions: a part of a historical march toward justice; political reform; a spark in the narrative of female activism; the story of scarce resources driving extreme behaviour. And to ‘teach’ toward these myriad truths is at once a curricular requirement and Quixotic pursuit, revealing the tensions of education for citizenship in a pluralist democracy, asking How do we create unity and cultivate diverse perspectives?

In interpreting history, as well as our present moment, students ought be engaged in rehearsing this act, and with the dramatic role play the answer offered to the pedagogic problem lies at the heart of narrative.

Of sensing an individual’s arc at the centre of a multitude of shared and individual lives.

Of constructing ‘we’ out of many ‘I’s.

Whether face to face or in the online sphere, this is the task of schooling in the multicultural society.