History Comes Alive in GVSD

claire goertzen 130x97The Grade 5-8 students of Border Valley School as well as the Grade 6 students of Plum Coulee School were entertained and educated recently as they attended a presentation on the RMS Titanic by Claire Goertzen, a Grade 6 teacher from Plum Coulee School.

In recognition of the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15th 1912, Goertzen presented facts about this famous ship and the people who sailed on her on.

Through the use of music, costumes, props and a PowerPoint, the students spent the afternoon learning about the Titanic, including its connections to Canada, as well as the differences between the class systems of 1912. Individuals were given boarding passes of actual passengers on board and were informed of their fate at the end of the presentation. “This is a great way to grab the students’ attention as they now all have a real feeling of, - ‘I need to know what happened to these people!’ They can now take home a story that they were a part of,” says Goertzen who was dressed in an appropriate period costume.

“It is always fascinating to see the students’ reactions to the survivor stories, as well as the fate of the victims of Titanic. I think it is important for students to understand how our society has changed in the past 100 years, in regards to class and lifestyles. Getting a chance to have a glimpse at what life was like in the early 1900’s is a wonderful experience.” Claire Goertzen enjoys involving students in her presentation in order to engage the audience so that they can begin to make solid connections to the ideas and the history.

Some students were asked to hold their hands in ice water to see how long they could keep their hands in the water representing the struggle the victims of Titanic would have had trying to swim and survive in the icy ocean. Other students were dressed up in costumes representing 1st class and 3rd class passengers. There was even a replica Life Jacket that students were allowed to try on. Samples of food were also available for students to try as they left for break as well as perfume samples of Lavender Oil that was a popular Lady’s fragrance in 1912. Interestingly, 90 years after the sinking, vials of perfumed oils were recovered from the wreck of Titanic and when opened, the scent of Lavender and rose were still present.

The feedback from the students and teachers was very positive. Students from both schools enjoyed being a part of the presentation and thought the costumes and gallery walk were great ideas to help make history seem real! “I knew a little bit about the Titanic, but after today, I really have a sense of how tragic it was and it makes me think, what would I have done? I learned a lot,” responded Lexie Fehr a student at Border Valley, when asked how she enjoyed the presentation. Kaleb Diplock, a Junior High student, enjoyed the interactive activities, “It was really cool! I love the stories she told, it was awesome!”

Patrick Derksen, a teacher at Border Valley School who was in attendance with his class said, “When you can get Grade 7&8 students to openly admit to liking something connecting to History, that is a pretty big accomplishment! We are so thankful that she came to our school and really enjoyed ourselves, the teachers learned something too!” Goertzen enjoys teaching and sharing her passion for the Titanic and hopes to continue to present to more students in the future.

See also the below photos submitted by Mary Eberling-Penner, Plum Coulee School:

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