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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Going to a Residential School

Type: Introductory
Subjects: History, Social Studies
Duration: 1 lesson
Purpose: To explore the positive and negative experiences of residential schools.
Summary: In this introductory activity, students will prepare a brief oral or written statement about the challenges and opportunities of residential schools.

Before Exploring
As a class, create a word web on the board or chart paper for the term "residential schools." Invite students to describe, identify, and provide examples of residential or boarding schools. Brainstorm and identify the possible positive and negative aspects of going to any residential school. If any students have ever attended a residential school, invite them to discuss their experience.

Tell students that residential schools were a central part of the experience of thousands of aboriginal Canadians and that they have had a dramatic impact on the history, culture, and personal experience of many people.


To explore the positive and negative experiences of residential schools

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools on the CBC Radio and Television Archives Web site. Allow students time to browse the topic in any order they wish. Alert students that some information may be unsettling. Students should take notes of characteristics and features related to residential schools.

Students should prepare a brief oral or written statement about their findings.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their statements. On the board or chart paper, create a large format word web about residential schools, based on students' findings and comments. Invite students to identify any questions they have based on this initial review of the file. Ask: What word do you think best describes the residential school experience? Why? What impact might a difficult experience at a residential school have on you in later years?


Students can write a brief statement describing residential schools, based on the ideas and facts raised in the collective word web. Students can respond to the following questions: Would you like to attend a residential school? How might the residential school experience be made positive and safe for students?