Visual: White screen with the Elections Canada logo in the bottom right corner. An animated green line moves across the screen and turns into an X. The X turns sideways, splits and disappears from view. The title, Teaching Voting Rights through Time appears on a white background.
Visual: Live action begins with a medium shot of a woman standing behind a table speaking directly to the camera. On the table are several educational materials.
Rachel: Hi, my name is Rachel Collishaw. I’m a teacher and education specialist at Elections Canada. In this video, I’ll be showing you how you can teach “Voting Rights through Time.”
How inclusive is our democracy? That’s the inquiry question that students explore in Voting Rights through Time. Students examine a case study in voting rights and work together to understand events in Canada’s history. We use a three-part lesson structure: Minds on, Activity and Consolidation.
The Minds on here is a quick 5-minute activity to help students connect their own experiences of inclusion and exclusion to the big idea of the lesson.
Visual: The screen splits in two. Rachel is on the right side and remains there throughout the video. On the left side appears an image of the Minds on from the teacher’s guide.
Rachel: Ask students to think about a time when they were excluded from something and to think about how it felt. Then have them write those feelings on a sticky note. What you’re looking for are descriptive words, not the actual events or experiences of exclusion. You also want to make sure that students remain anonymous to make sure that you maintain a safe classroom environment for all students.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display two photos, one after the other. In the first, an adolescent boy writes on a sticky. In the second, a student holds a sticky note on which is written the word “unimportant.”
Rachel: Next, have students think about a time when they were included in something, and invite them to write some descriptive words about that experience on another sticky note in a different colour.
Visual: The left side of the screen displays of photo of a white board, with the word “inclusion” written on top. Under this are posted many sticky notes. The teacher has written several words on the board, such as: proud; happy; sense of belonging; respected.
Rachel: Then, gather the sticky notes on the board and read out some of their words, or have a student read them.
Visual: The photo changes to another photograph of a whiteboard, which has been divided in two sections. Under the word “exclusion” are blue sticky notes featuring words like “useless,” and “sad.” Under the word “inclusion” are yellow sticky notes featuring words like “good,” “appreciated,” and “happy.”
Rachel: These descriptive words can now help your students understand the effects of inclusion and exclusion. I like to write them a little bigger so that they can use them as a reference during the activity. This quick 5-minute activity can also tell you a lot about the literacy level in your classroom. If most of their words are simply “happy” or “sad,” you’ll know that you might want to spend some time on vocabulary building!
To get into the Activity of the lesson, give each small group of students the materials. When you order the kits, you’ll get enough for one classroom working in small groups.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display the “activity” section of the teachers guide. As Rachel mentions the materials, a timeline and three activity cards are also displayed. The activity cards feature a date, an historical photograph, and text.
Rachel: If you need more materials, everything is also available to download and print from our website.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display a web page, featuring PDF and online versions of the materials. The URL electionsanddemocracy.ca is displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Rachel: Start by having students read aloud the context card in their groups. This gives them an overview of the case study and allows them to quickly jump into the critical thinking and analysis.
Visual: An image of the context card is displayed on the left side of the screen. It is titled “Case study 1: Japanese Canadians.” It includes three paragraphs of text and a black and white photograph of four young Japanese Canadian women. The image changes to display two photographs of adolescent students reading a context card.
Rachel: For students who need more literacy support, we made a language-learner version so that language level is not a barrier to their engagement.
Visual: Two cards for the Women case study are displayed on the left side. They are nearly identical; both include a black and white photo of four women, and are dated 1916. One card has less text than the other.
Rachel: Next, students read aloud the case study cards one at a time and place them on the timeline according to the date and where they think it sits on the inclusion to exclusion scale. This is where the conversation really gets interesting!
You can suggest that they take turns reading to encourage more engagement from all students. Groups should try to come to a consensus about the card placement by listening to each others’ points of view. This is a great time to have students apply their collaboration skills.
Visual: A montage of several photographs is displayed, showing adolescent students in a classroom working together, reading the context cards and case study cards, and placing them on the timeline.
Rachel: You could even do some observation of these skills while they are working. Not sure what to look for? We’ve got an assessment rubric that you can work with to get you started.
Visual: The left side changes to display an assessment rubric, which includes various competencies and the level obtained. Competencies include understanding content and using collaborative group learning skills.
Rachel: Students are now creating a “Timeline with Attitude.” It’s a really visual tool to help them see continuity and change over time. There is no right or wrong placement of the cards. The important thing is that the students have a reason for the placement they choose. In my experience, you will see very different thinking from group to group.
Visual: A montage of several photographs is displayed, showing adolescent students seated around the timeline, talking, and placing case study cards.
Rachel: If some groups finish before others, you can extend their learning by introducing the concept of a turning point.
Visual: Two photos are displayed. One of a completed timeline filled with case study cards and a green frame. The other of a boy placing the green frame on a card.
Rachel: Give out the Turning Point Frames and have them consider these questions.
Visual: The graphics change to full screen, featuring the following two questions: When did the change begin? Was there an event or development that really started to shift the story towards exclusion or inclusion?
Rachel: Have them place the turning point frame and be ready to share their reasoning with the class.
Visual: The graphics return to side-by-side, with Rachel on the right. One the left is a photo montage displaying completed timelines, with activity cards and a turning point frame placed in different locations on the board.
Rachel: Now, students can stand up and walk around the classroom to have a look at the other timelines.
They’ll notice that the choices that they made with their cards might not be the same as the other group with the same set of cards. They can visually see how the same body of evidence can be interpreted differently.
I like to ask what they notice about the shapes of the timelines. How would you describe the shape? Is it a diagonal line? A checkerboard? Or something else?
Visual: Another photo montage is displayed showing completed timelines. The activity cards of each are placed differently.
Rachel: Once the students come back to their own groups, you can move into the Consolidation phase.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display the consolidation section of the teacher’s guide.
Rachel: Start by asking them to report from their group. We’ve suggested some questions for discussion, but you know your students and your curriculum best.
Visual: The following four discussion questions are displayed in a bulleted list: Which card was the most difficult to place? Why? Which events were surprising? What questions do you have now? Does getting the right to vote always mean inclusion in democracy?
Rachel: To bring it back to the big picture of voting rights in Canada, you can show our short consolidation video, or have students analyse the infographic. Students are usually surprised how few people had the right to vote in the first federal elections, and they can see that most Canadians have that right today.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display a video, in the style of an animated infographic. Above the video is the title “How have voting rights changed since 1867?” The video features the question, “How many Canadians do you think had the right to vote in 1867?” The visuals change to display an infographic. The infographic includes two pie charts, demonstrating the percentages of Canadians who had the right to vote in 1867 and today.
Rachel: The activity ends with a few questions for individual reflection. These will let you know what they learned and what they want to know now.
Visual: A handout titled “for individual reflection” appears on top of the infographic. It includes the following three questions, with enough space for students to write their responses: What surprised you about inclusion and exclusion in Canadian democracy? What is one question you have now? Are other changes needed to make Canada’s democracy more inclusive?
Rachel: When they do want to learn more, we’ve got you covered with lots more background information in the teacher’s guide to help you support their learning.
Visual: The left side of the screen changes to display three documents called “background information,” one after the other. There is one for each of the case studies: Japanese Canadians and Democratic Rights, Women’s Right to Vote, and Youth and the Vote.
Rachel: For reflective questions, I like to use thinking journals in my classroom where students can write reflectively and see how their thinking progresses over time. You can use the thinking guide we provide or even make your own exit card. No matter what format you choose, regular reflective writing can help students really see their own learning over time.
Visual: The visuals return to a full-screen shot of Rachel behind the desk.
Rachel: Voting Rights through Time can be a really great springboard into a lot more topics, but the goal is that students can appreciate voting rights today because they now understand the stories of Canadians who didn’t have those rights in the past.
Hopefully, they will feel a personal connection to the past and will want to learn more about elections and democracy.
We want to know if your students liked the activity. Share your experience and photos on our Twitter and Facebook accounts!
Visual: The screen fades to white and a clip art image of a student in a graduation cap is set against a green circle. A speech bubble appears above the head of the student and a red heart appears in the speech bubble. The Facebook and Twitter logos appear on screen with the handle @democracyCA.