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École Selwyn House School, Westmount, Quebec
Pascal Bureau challenged his grade 9 students to design educational and entertaining board games centred around major themes in the history of New France.
In the first phase of the project, teams of students chose one of the major curricular themes associated with this period of history and carried out extensive research based on primary and secondary sources. Mercantilism, colonization, exploration, the fur trade, and the evangelization of First Nations people were some of the topics explored.
For the second stage of the project, students had to imagine and design a real, marketable board game based on the major theme they had explored. With the advice of authors and professional game designers, students were able to develop a plan, design sketches, create prototypes, and finally manufacture a game board similar to those found in stores. Throughout this process, they learned to use different types of software, as well as common production tools used by artists and designers in the gaming industry.
In the final phase of the project, the student teams were invited to present and test their product at a series of community events, as well as at special sessions organized for primary school students at Selwyn House. Finally, the best games were submitted to a major competition organized by a Quebec game authors' cooperative, an event that brought together competitors of all ages and backgrounds.
With his project combining entrepreneurship and the study of the history of New France, Bureau succeeded in creating an authentic and immersive learning experience for his students.
Nominations for the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching are accepted all year round.