Cooke & Salamondra Transcript


[Tracey] We were approached by a community group in a neighbouring community in Elgin and asked if we could create historical narratives for a park project, a park expansion/interpretive trail. And so, decided to take it on and this was during COVID which made it very interesting.

The students researched the histories of the community, tried to get as many interviews with local people as they could. But a lot of it had to kind of come from alternative sources of evidence because COVID made it really, really hard. So, we partnered with the local museum and that was where we got our starting point and then tried to make interviews around it. Because, they were available to us maybe when interviewing older people was not.

So, I teach the history section so my portion of the project really was research and evidence and multiple sources of evidence as well as, you know, modelling how to work with different forms of evidence, how to do oral histories and then, I connected with a local history organization and asked one of their writers to model for the kids his writing process and we use that as an example of how you could tell a historical story with evidence. So that was my part, the history part.

[Carla] So the ELA part falls in where I — after Tracey and I talked about how the project was going to look and what kind of skills the kids were going to need in order to tell these stories, write these stories. I geared my overarching theme for the semester as storytelling.

So, we looked at what is storytelling? We looked at the ethics of storytelling, we dove into memoirs and we did a class memoir and we looked at the format of telling a story. What was the important message that was coming from the author? How do I tell that? How do I respect that?

How do I put that on paper along with looking at humans of Hartney and we extended that out into our community practising those communication skills that Tracey was talking about. How do I interview somebody without making them feel like they’re being interrogated and more allowing them the space to be able to tell this story that’s important to them?

And then we looked at the danger of a single story and how does the media tell a story and how do we as students look at that construction and then be able to figure out the intent behind the story and the importance behind the story and connect it and then connect themselves to that story in that place. How do I research non-fiction? How do I take somebody else’s words and put them into my own words or in their words, it’s not just researching history but now it’s how do I tell that story and how do I tell it properly and how do I tell it so it becomes significant to not only the students that are writing it but the community, right? Right. I don’t know if you want to...

[Tracey] Well, I was going to say, I think one of the things that came out quite quickly for the students and for us was they realized that people were sharing things that were very important to them and they had to do it justice. And so, you know, there was a lot of time kind of spent on how do I connect the story to evidence but then how do I tell it in a way that’s fair to what the person was sharing with me and we always we talked a lot about how it was a gift and it came with a big responsibility and they really wanted to get that right and I think that was why the story, you know, I think that’s why the project became so big and so important was that they wanted to, they wanted to leave something for the community. That they felt they’d done justice to what the community had given them, yeah. And, I think that was a big part of it.

[Carla] Yeah. A lot of, they developed the pride in what they were doing because they were proud of these stories and excited about these stories that they’re hearing and so now I have the chance to tell the story to a community extended in different ways and they — the kids — just feel like now, they’re a part of that. They’ve left a legacy behind right so now all of a sudden that connection between English and history

[Tracey] and their community...

[Carla] and their community has come together and just the significance that history, the history that your place brings and the people bring to it, and just knowing where you’re coming from and it goes back to what Tracey was talking about — the identity.

How do you possibly know who you are if you don’t know where you came from and how do you make those decisions when you’re a young adult if you don’t know where you came from? So, with this project, I think, they were able to identify a little bit of themselves within the place, within the people that existed throughout and now and so when they make decisions in the future hopefully, they’re considering what how that affects communities and the people that are around them.

[Tracey] We don’t have any colleagues in our same subject area here so I don’t have another history teacher, you don’t have another ELA teacher. And so, we work together a lot just so we can collaborate

[Carla] ...and because we both had experience in both English and history and social studies, we’ve done a lot of projects so any opportunity that I have to work with Tracey or collaborate with her on her project is always an awesome experience for us and the students so this was a great one.