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FNSS Curriculum Integration Project Click here to download this lesson.
Andrea Nikkel (MS-Word format.)

Grade: 5 - 7
Lesson 1: Reviewing History Critically
Time: 55 minutes

Topic: Thinking Critically About Historical Portrayals of First Nations

Rationale: Students will think critically about what is written about Canadaís history and learn not to be more aware of simply accepting written word as fact. They will identify bias in history and to understand how it has impacted the historical portrayal of First Nations people. Students will begin to appreciate our history from the First Nations perspective, even though it may be different from that which they are used to.

Materials and Resources

  • Lined paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Copies of the "roles"
  • Copies of the "reflection" page

Main Concept
Thinking critically about how history portrays First Nations people and events involving them.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify and clarify a problem, issue, or inquiry
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of bias in history

Planned Learning Activities

  1. (15 minutes) Have students pair up with someone they know and have a brief discussion about what they did yesterday/on the weekend. Have the partners move away from each other and then write a paragraph about what they did yesterday/on the weekend. After, they will write a paragraph about what their partner did yesterday/on the weekend from memory. Once everyone is done, have the partners get back together and read their paragraphs out loud to their partner, comparing how each person retold the events.
  2. (10 minutes) Together as a class, discuss the differences in how the partners retold the same events and why these differences may have occurred (sample questions included under "Personal History Discussion Questions").
  3. (10 minutes) Have the students get into four groups. Read out a scenario (see "Scenario" included in Lesson Plan) to the class, then assign each group a role (see "Roles" included in Lesson Plan) by handing a card to each group with information about that role on it (this is so that the other groups will not know what other roles are being presented). Each group discusses how their "role" would react to the situation and how they would describe the situation to the rest of the class.
  4. ( 5 minutes) Have each group present their view of the scenario to the rest of the class.
  5. (15 minutes) Discuss how each group viewed the scenario differently. Was one group more correct than another? If they were really in the scenario, who would they believe? Why? Have each student write a short reflection on this exercise (see "Reflection" included in Lesson Plan).


  • Participation
  • Student Reflection


  • Act out the scenario
  • Have students come up with their own roles to respond from

Integrated Opportunities

  • Students could write about this experiences in their journals
  • Students could use the scenario, or their own scenario, as a basis for some creative writing

Resources Used and Other Supplementary Resources Available

  1. Shuswap History: The First 100 Years of Contact, by: J. Coffey, E. Goldstrom, G. Gottfriedson, R. Matthew, and P. Walton

Personal History Discussion Questions

  1. Did you notice any difference in how you and your partner retold the same story?
  2. Why do you think that is?
  3. Whose retelling was more accurate in your opinion? Why?
  4. If someone wanted to know about what you did this past summer, who would be the best person to ask about that? Why?
  5. History, in many ways, is like telling a story. It tells the story of the past to those of us who werenít there. Often, history is written by whoever is powerful and in charge. Can you give me some examples of powerful people or people who are in charge? (make a list on the board or the overhead)
  6. When the explorers first started coming to North America, there were only First Nations people living here. At first there were a lot more of them than there were of the fur traders and explorers. Why do you think that most of our history is written by the leaders of the fur traders and the explorers when there were so many more First Nations people than non-First Nations people? (no written language, more education for non-First Nations people, etc.)


It was in the late 1800ís. In a rural area in the Interior of BC there is a small town. Most of the people living in this area are farmers and ranchers. There is a group of First Nations people living near this town. They live in peace with the non-First Nations people living in the town. Right now, not many new people come to the town but that may change. A railroad company wants to build their railroad track through this town, using the town as one of its stops. The train will bring many new people to the town and will likely create more business for the stores in the community. However, the railroad need land to build its tracks on and wants to get the land that the First Nations people are occupying as well as some of the land currently being used for farming and ranching. A stranger, passing through the town, wants to know what the community as a whole thinks of this endeavor.

I will hand out a "role" to each group. This "role" will tell you who you are in the town. Try to think like that person. How do you feel about the railroad? Is it a good move or a bad move to have it come to the town? Iíll play the stranger in the town. Pick one person in your group to speak for the entire group, and tell me about the railroad coming to town.

Role #1 Ė Store Owner
The railroad coming to town could mean a lot of new business for you. You live in town, right above your store and are well known in your community. People listen to what you have to say. You are making a fair amount of money right now, but wouldnít mind making more.

Role #2 Ė Farmer or Rancher
You enjoy living outside of the town. You really donít care too much if the town grows a bit bigger, as long and you get to keep your land. The railroad men say that you will be paid well for any of your land that they may want to use for their railroad. You could always buy more land.

Role #3 Ė First Nations Person
You like living where you are living. You have heard rumors that the railroad is going to use the land you are living on, but donít know anything for sure. Your family has lived here for centuries and you do not want to leave. You donít really care about the money, and arenít being offered any money for your land. The railroad could change your entire way of life.

Role #4 Ė Fur Trader
You really donít care too much about the railroad. You donít think that it will affect you at all. You seldom come into town, and when you do itís only to get supplies.

Final Discussion

Was one group more correct than another? Did all the groups tell the story the same way? Why or why not?

If you were the stranger and were being told the story of how the railroad was coming to town, whom would you believe? Why?


Why did the four groups tell the same story in four different ways?

Was any one person more right than another?

Earlier we talked about history being written by people who are powerful or in charge. Out of our four characters (the farmer/rancher, the First Nations person, the store owner, and the fur trader), who do you think would be the one to write this story?

How do you feel about this activity?

What questions do you have?

Summative Criteria

Criteria Ratings Comments
Student demonstrates an understanding of the important ideas about the topic (through interaction and activities) 4 3 2 1  
Examples, ideas, and detail were offered as solutions to this problem, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the topic 4 3 2 1  
Is able to appreciate another perspective and value its worth 4 3 2 1  
"Reflection" entry demonstrates a clear understanding of the concepts studied 4 3 2 1  
Group participation and cooperation 4 3 2 1  

4 - Powerful
3 - Good
2 - Basic
1 - Beginning