Students explore the implications of Confederation by determining whether three key decisions represented an extreme makeover or merely a paper change to life in Canada in the 20 years before and after 1867.
Rate sample scenarios
Introduce the lesson by drawing, on the board, a horizontal line with numbers 1 to 10. At one end, write Extreme Makeover and at the other end write Paper Change. Explain the terms, pointing out that a paper change is when the change is written on paper, but no change actually takes place.
To demonstrate the use of the rating line, offer several hypothetical scenarios. Ask the class to rate the effects of each of these scenarios on students:
- everyone in the community is given one million dollars
- everyone in the community is given one dollar
- the school opens a new computer lab
- the school passes a requirement that students must complete five hours of homework each night
- a sign on the gym or art storage room states, "No students permitted unsupervised!"
Ask students to rate other scenarios and to defend the ratings by giving specific reasons.
Review events surrounding Confederation
Review students' knowledge of Confederation by asking what is the general significance of July 1st. Next, ask students about the specific significance of July 1, 1867. If necessary, provide key information about Confederation, including the following:
- four provinces made up Canada — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Qu ébec and Ontario
- some groups of people were not asked to participate—First Nations, Métis, Inuit and women
- the reasons for Confederation included:
- political—government able to make decisions for the country
- economic—build a stronger economy
- military—develop a country to avoid attack from the Americans
- transportation—develop a transcontinental railroad.
The National Library of Canada's website Confederation for Kids provides an overview of the circumstances, events and key players leading to Confederation (see References).
Investigate key decisions in Confederation
Arrange students in groups to research, using paper and electronic resources, three key decisions associated with Confederation:
- the adoption of English and French as Canada's two official languages
- the building of Canada's national railway
- exclusion of Aboriginal peoples from negotiations surrounding Confederation.
Explain to students that the purpose of their research is to determine whether their decision represented an extreme makeover or merely a paper change for life in Canada. Direct groups to focus their research between 1847 and 1887—the 20 years before and after Confederation. Encourage students to research the impact of these decisions on various groups within Canada. Students may record their findings on a data chart with two columns—one labelled Before and the other labelled After.
You may want to adapt one of the charts in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Reach a conclusion
After conducting their research, each group is to decide to what extent their assigned decision represented an extreme makeover or merely a paper change. With the class, generate criteria for an extreme makeover, such as:
- produced long-lasting effects
- impacted a lot of people
- had significant implications for daily life.
Provide each group with a scale on which to record the rating and supporting evidence.
You may want to adapt one of the charts in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Determine an overall rating
Arrange for a member from each research group to join a new group so that each group consists of one student from each of the three research topics.
Based on their collective research, each new mixed group is to decide on a single overall rating of the extent to which Confederation represented an extreme makeover or merely a paper change.
Direct students to place an X on the rating scale, as they did in the opening activity, and justify the rating.
You may wish to adapt one of the charts in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Share and defend ratings
Invite each group to share and defend its conclusions with the rest of the class.