Canadian Military Spending

Politicians often state that one letter received from a citizen is worth a thousand votes.

Decide whether you think Canada is spending too little or too much on the military.

Now write a letter to the Minister of Defence, arguing your point deductively.

Apply your premise to a specific example or examples, such as tanks, fighter planes, destroyers, submarines, etc.

As you look over your “discovery draft,” see whether you have specialized in either argumentation or persuasion. If your treatment seems too extreme, modify it in your next draft with a dose of the other approach, to produce a more combined approach.

In your final draft, edit for conciseness (the best letters to politicians are short).

Finally, submit your letter to your member of parliament.

Canadian Forces “Combat Camera”
Cabinet
Members of Parliament
Leon Benoit
Hon. Peter Gordon MacKay

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The Sniper

Read “The Sniper,” by Liam O’Flaherty.

Respond to the Story

  • Reread the first paragraph. What details in the author’s description of the setting establish the tone or atmosphere of the story?
  • What message about this civil war is Liam O’Flaherty trying to convey? How does his message compare to the theme in “War,” by Timothy Findley?
  • List words and phrases the author uses to describe the sniper and what he is doing. Write your own descriptions of him, using some or all of these words.
  • The sniper is the only character the author describes in great detail. Why do you think the author chose to do that?
  • Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not? Did you find it a powerful ending?
  • Do you think such a story could occur in Canada? Give reasons for your opinion.

Write a Factual Report
Imagine you are the main character in “The Sniper.” You’ve just returned to your company and have been asked to write a report about what happened. List the events in the story in the order they occurred. Use a complete sentence for each event. Because this is an official report, leave out how you feel or what you thought–just include the facts as you saw them.

Essay Topics

  • After researching the life of Liam O’Flaherty, write an informative essay explaining the extent to which he based “The Sniper” on his own experiences.
  • Does urban warfare, like that in “The Sniper,” affect the outlook and mental stability of combatants differently than battlefield fighting?
  • Is modern Ireland still influenced by the outcome of the violence in the early 1920s?
  • In an informative essay, write a short psychological profile the IRA sniper.
  • Can the tactics of urban guerrillas–sniping, sabotage, terrorist bombings–be morally justified?
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“Credo” by Robert Fulghum (excerpt)

I realized that I already know most of what’s necessary to live a meaningful life – that it isn’t all that complicated. I know it. And have known it for a long, long time. Living it – well, that’s another matter, yes? Here’s my Credo:

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life -learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and plants foes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own messes.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

  1. What is your reaction to Fulghum’s statement that everything he really needs to know he learned in kindergarten? Do you agree or disagree? Explain your response.
  2. Think back over your elementary, middle, and high school. What would you do differently if you had the chance? What would you not change?
  3. What advice would you give to someone entering your high school next year? Decide on the tone and form for your message. You could take a humorous or serious approach.
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Wordle: The Human Condition

a Wordle

a Wordle created on a Mac or PC

Tagul "Word Cloud"

Tagul “Word Cloud” created on Google Chrome

Search the net for a few quotes about the human condition. Review these focus questions to help you in your search.

Collect a handful of phrases that give you pause to think. Avoid anonymous quotes, note the author. (Keep the unharmed list safe in your notes somewhere.)

Go to wordle.net (on Chromebooks try tagul clouds while logged in with a google account) and and blast one, or some, or a whole pile into your own “wordle”. Try several attempts till you have something rich in thought, an inspiration to a deep thinker like yourself.

When you have a “wordle” you like, take a screen capture of it (Mac: command+shift+4 or Windows: Print Screen key) and upload the “png” to your blog and ….

Write a creative narrative (a short short story of about 500-1000 words) that develops an idea about the human condition inspired from your “wordle“.

Warning: These example short short stories from the net are certainly not inspired by this activity, but they are playful in form and have a certain lexical density.

Dinosaur

Periwinkles

Extract from a Novel

Warning: the ideas you spawn from generators like these should be used with caution, seriously.

Story Idea Generator

Story Idea Generator (tv tropes)

How to Write a Short Story

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To Build a Fire

Read “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.
Responding to the Story

  • The author writes of the main character, “The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.” Why would it be important to have imagination living and traveling in a harsh climate? What other characteristics or qualities does the man have? How are these demonstrated?
  • When did you first suspect that the man was going to die? How is his death foreshadowed?
  • Who or what is the “enemy” in this story? How did the man deal with this enemy? What type of conflict is developed in this story?
  • Why do you think Jack London gives no name to the man or dog?
  • What examples in the story can you find that tell you it was written a long time ago? Could the events in the story occur today? Why or why not?

Literature Studies: Short Story Theme
In “To Build a Fire,” Jack London not only tells his story convincingly, and entertainingly, he also expresses his feelings about the North and how people react to it.

  • In a sentence, write what you think the author’s theme is. List three examples from the story to s support your view. For each example, write a sentence that explains why it supports the author’s theme.

Writing an Essay
Look over the notes you’ve made so far. What you have written may be enough for a rough outline for an essay about the story’s theme.

  • The sentence you wrote about the author’s theme is your thesis. this is a statement or viewpoint you are trying to prove or explain.
  • The sentences you wrote for the examples are similar to the topic sentences you might write for the body of your essay. They develop and prove your thesis.
  • Review your notes. Is your thesis clear and easy to understand? Do your examples support your thesis or do they stray from its topic. Revise your sentence outline.
  • Now write a five-paragraph essay. The first paragraph will be your introduction and include your thesis sentence. Write a paragraph for each of your topic sentences. End your essay with a one-paragraph summary or conclusion. Work with a partner to edit and revise your essay.

Research: Gather Facts
“To Build a Fire” takes place in the Yukon. Use online sources to find out more about the first large settlement in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush. List each fact you discover. Include a link to the source of each fact you collect. Divide your facts into categories, for example, the type of people who went there, or how people traveled to the gold fields. Using these categories as guidelines, write a brief report.

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Plinky Prompt

Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Snap off time and let alternate history have its moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened.

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Teach

We never stop learning — because there’s always someone who can teach us new, unexpected things.

Ready to roll? All you need to do is…

  • Write a new post on your iblog in response to the prompt.

Need more ideas? Not sure what to write around Teach? We’re here to help:

  • We all possess niche, quirky talents. Write a post in which you teach your readers something — from baking a perfect chocolate-chip cookie to fixing a clogged shower drain.
  • Share links to some of the websites, magazines, or podcasts that never cease to inspire you to learn new things.
  • What subject or skill was the toughest for you to learn — and what did your teacher do to help you master it?
  • If you have a pet, what did you most enjoy teaching your pet?
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Civil Disobedience

Think of places you know where large-scale civil disobedience and social violence have occurred. Some examples from history are the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the expulsion of the British from countries such as India and South Africa. In what other places have people fought for political change? How was order restored?

Did the restoration of order end the problems that had created the disobedience and violence?

What experiences have people you know or know about had when they fought a government system?

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Balancing Job And Family

Interview a family member who works outside the home and takes care of a family. Find out how this person copes with the workload. how does he or she balance a job, family responsibilities, domestic work, and personal time. What is the biggest stress element.

Present your interview using a format of your choice:

  • a written transcript of the interview
  • an oral recording of the interview
  • a essay that includes quotations, facts, and conclusions.
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Protecting the Nation?

http://www.canadianmysteries.ca

A critical thinking challenge for students, ages 14-18

Introduction

In the spring of 1864 a series of killings sent a chill across Canada. The blood of 14 men, spilled into the Homathco River before dawn on the morning of April 29th, 1864, was only the beginning of this conflict. By the end of May, 19 road-builders, packers, and a farmer were dead. Within six weeks an army of over 100 men had arrived in the area to catch the killers.

The killings took place in a remote triangle in central British Columbia that, at the time, was inaccessible by road or even horse trail. The dead men had all been part of the teams trying to build a road from the Pacific coast to the recently discovered goldfields of the Cariboo.
This area was traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in people who had lived on the high Chilcotin Plateau for centuries, perhaps for thousands of years. The survivors of the attacks identified the principal leader of the more than 20 people involved in the killings as a Tsilhqot’in chief, who was called “Klatsassin” by his people.

Was this violent conflict an early attempt by First Nations in Canada to assert their legal right to their lands — to their nationhood? Did members of the Chilcotin First Nation kill 17 members of a British road-building crew moving through their territory in 1864 to protect the “national” sovereignty of the Chilcotin nation? Perhaps the motives were more cultural and less political: was it an attempt to protect the Chilcotin culture and way of life from outside forces? Or, as some historians have suggested, were the Chilcotin people lashing out against these non-Natives for reasons that had little to do with politics and cultural preservation?

The Task

In this MysteryQuest, you are asked to take on the role of an historian creating a public monument to commemorate the Chilcotin War of the 1860s. Your main task is to investigate to what extent this war was an attempt to protect a “nation” from invaders.

First, you will examine definitions of “nation” and learn about the two meanings of this term. Then, you will be introduced to the facts of the Chilcotin War. You will refer to an historical overview and maps to get a snapshot of the key events in the group’s history and insight into the relationship between the Chilcotin people and developers who were determined to access the rich resources of the British Columbia interior. You will then examine a number of primary documents from the period, looking for evidence of the Chilcotin motivations for this conflict. Your final task is to prepare a statement on the extent to which this was a war for nationhood. Your ideas will be used by an historical panel investigating the causes of the Chilcotin War to create a plaque commemorating the event.

continue investigation …

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Addicted

Have you ever been addicted to anything, or worried that you were? Have you ever spent too much time and effort on something that was a distraction from your real goals? Tell us about it.

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Elixir

Let’s think about the word: Elixir.

Ready to roll? All you need to do is…

  • Write a new post on your iblog in response to the prompt.

Need more ideas? Not sure what to write around Elixir? We’re here to help:

  • For you, tell us about the elixir of life. Maybe it’s the dog’s wagging tail that lifts your flagging spirits. Maybe it’s the bloom you worked hard to tend. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe it’s the sight of the ancient tree in your neighborhood turning color, creating beauty for all who come near. What’s given you a fleeting lift in the last week?
  • Poets: write an ode to your favorite elixir. Perhaps that elixir is an ice-cold frosty beverage. Or a hot cup of tea. Or a mint julep. Or cranberry and club soda.
  • Photographers: prepare your favorite elixir and photograph the process. Be sure to consider unique angles and tiny details as you tell the story of how you created it.
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