In this challenge, students learn about the cultural and historic origins of their family and community by researching the significance of the names found in their community and then recommending a meaningful name for a site that has not been named yet. Because examining family names can create awkward situations for some students, it is important to recognize and accommodate any sensitivities or reluctance students exhibit.
Invite students to explore the meaning and history of their family name(s) or another name of their choosing. If appropriate, students might interview family or community members to gather information, such as:
- the cultural roots of the name; e.g., Métis, French, English, First Nations, Eastern European
- what the name means
- where the people first/historically lived in Alberta.
Ask students to organize this information and share the story or history of the name with the class.
Provide examples of interesting stories behind a few local sites (see References). Then, invite students, individually or with a partner, to research the story behind the name of an assigned site in the community or region; e.g., natural landmarks, streets, buildings, bodies of water. Ensure the names selected represent the cultural and linguistic diversity of the area. Encourage students to interview local people, access Internet sites (see References), examine community maps (see Background Information) and, if feasible, visit the site. Consider adapting the charts and strategies in Recording Our Research (Support Material) or Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess students' research.
Help students assemble their research into a story that indicates important events associated with the site and the significance of the name. Arrange for students to share their story with the class, along with photographs and other interesting information that make their presentation more effective. As the stories are shared, highlight the origins and contributions of various groups and individuals to the community and draw explicit connections to the specific curriculum outcomes addressed by this challenge.
Invite students to recommend a meaningful name for an unnamed location in the community or region; e.g., a new street, an unnamed hill, a future school. As a class, develop criteria for a historically significant name. These may include:
- reflects origins of the community
- has historical meaning
- is connected to the specific site or building.
As a class, brainstorm possible names for the site. Shortlist several of the more promising names and ask each student to choose the name that best fits the criteria. Consider adapting the charts and strategies for Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this part of the activity.
Invite students to write the story of the name they propose and offer reasons for recommending this name. If appropriate, arrange to submit or present the stories and rationale to the local council or regional authority for consideration. If pursuing this option, help students think of effective ways to present their proposal, including the use of photographs and inclusion of relevant and convincing information.