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From Far Away

Elementary

Description

This resource centres around the Robert Munsch book “From Far Away” that tells the true story of Saoussan, a young refugee from Lebanon who wrote a letter to the author describing her experiences as a newcomer to Canada. 

The fear and emotions expressed by Saoussan as her family flees war and begins their new life lead to feelings of hope and joy as she appreciates the freedom to learn in a safe and welcoming environment.  This lesson builds empathy skills as students compare their own experiences with those of the young child through the following problem-based learning tasks:

  • Define the differences between problems and solutions.
  • Identify and describe difficulties facing a student unfamiliar with Canadian culture.
  • Consider strategies for effectively helping a new student adjust to their school.
  • Role play welcoming activities.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Empathy
  • Problem solving
  • Sorting and organizing ideas

Strengths

  • Organized with all worksheets included
  • Provides an assessment rubric
  • Supports personal development and empathy building
  • Topic is timely and relevant

Weaknesses

  • Does not include a hands-on activity to enhance the learning experience
  • Does not include any background information about Lebanon

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports Social Studies curriculum outcomes exploring immigration, life as a refugee and universal human rights. Introspection and communication are also important components of the learning experience and an emphasis is placed on building empathy. 

The activities in this lesson can be used to prepare a class to welcome a new student.  The class could develop a welcome package with short biographies and photos of the teacher and pupils.  Individuals could be selected to act as peer mentors and a map of the school that names places in the newcomers own language could be posted in the classroom.

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        • Regional and Global Communities: Canada is made up of many diverse regions and communities
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Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (1)

    • Refugees and Immigration

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students use the story content to reflect on their own experiences starting school and apply these thoughts and feelings to understand and appreciate cultural diversity.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

In considering the social issues that cause residents to flee their home countries students also learn that many families must face new economic hardships associated with leaving behind jobs, homes and possessions.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

This resource supports the concept that proposed solutions to aid refugees in adapting to their new country must match the difficulties they experience.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

This lesson can be used to assist a class in developing a welcoming plan for a new student that supports acceptance and friendship.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

The instructional strategy fosters respect and the authenticity of the topic provides a platform for students to identify personal feelings surrounding diversity.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

This lesson builds emotional intelligence as students display compassion and understanding of the human suffering associated with becoming a refugee and losing your cultural identity.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

Learners will value the relative safety and comfort of Canada as a country and feel pride in our reputation for acceptance.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Open ended questioning and brainstorming activities support independent thinking.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The content uses English Language Arts skills such as text analysis and describing ideas through writing to support the Social Studies learning outcomes.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

The tasks require some teacher guidance but there are many opportunities for individual expression.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

Students use role play to understand the perspectives of others.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students work in small groups to share ideas and promote active dialogue.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

An assessment rubric is provided that can be used to evaluate students problem solving abilities formatively and allows for a comprehensive summative assessment of the learning goals.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

This lesson is based on the true story of a refugee child.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.