OCT OEEO

PS_December_2018

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GREAT TEACHING 23 December 2018 Professionally Speaking O n May 26, 1924, Fred McGaughey was accused of killing his 19-year-old girlfriend, Beatrice Fee. He got the mandatory penalty for murder — death by hanging. McGaughey's sentence was carried out that December, marking the final execution in Lindsay, Ont. More than 90 years later, Grade 11 students at the local I. E. Weldon Secondary School revisited the case. By then, few townspeople knew the details and some digging was required. Jessica Kennedy, OCT, had her class comb through trial transcripts, documents, photos and old newspaper accounts. They even took the time to interview McGaughey's great-niece to uncover all aspects of the case, along with its cast of characters. Probing a murder, and its aftermath, is an engaging topic for a history assignment; but this wasn't history class. Kennedy is a drama teacher and her students were doing research for The Last Hanging, a play they created and eventually performed at Lindsay's former jail, the Olde Gaol Museum. "In drama, we use different approaches to examine and unpack current issues, history and imagined worlds," says Kennedy, which feeds into her teaching philosophy: Embrace big ideas. Encourage students to consider other perspectives. Foster collaboration. Facilitate community engagement. Through writing, improvisation, movement and other techniques, Kennedy's Grade 9–12 students tackle topics that could easily fit into other areas of the Ontario curriculum, such as animals in captivity, the sex trade, and issues facing Indigenous communities. Like most, Kennedy did not develop this appreciation for (or approach to) teaching overnight. While pursuing a graduate degree in theatre at the University of Toronto, Kennedy secured part-time jobs teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to adults and tutoring elementary students. That is when her love of teaching became evident and she decided to pursue a B.Ed. at Queen's University. Stage Presence Jessica Kennedy, OCT, gives her drama students the freedom to explore and create both onstage and off. BY STUART FOXMAN ONLINE EXCLUSIVE To view our Great Teaching video archive, visit oct-oeeo.ca/GTvideos

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