Foundational Resources

Classroom Resources

Critical Inquiry

Over the course of the Social Studies Project, CARC participants from the eight school authorities as well as private charter schools participated in these unique project cohort opportunities. Participants attended in-depth training on critical thinking and then, in small grade level groups, began project cohort work on topics of their choosing.

NOTE: All outcomes referenced in the tasks are from the Alberta Social Studies Program of Studies, The outcome numbering has been modified by CARC for convenience.

The rubrics were created using:
Bennett, S. & Mulgrew, A. (2009), Building Better Rubrics. Edmonton: Alberta Assessment Consortium. (see


  • Gr 2
  • Gr 3
  • Gr 4
  • Gr 5
  • Gr 6
  • Gr 7
  • Gr 8
  • Gr 9
  • Gr 10
  • Gr 11
  • Gr 12

General Outcome 2.1

Alphabet Page
by Edith Dening

Overview: Students are to create an alpabet page that effectively represents daily life in each of the following communities: an Inuit community, and Acadian community, and a Prairie community.



General Outcome 3.1

Design a Pysanky
by Tracy Wirtanen

Overview: Using information gathered from the Ukrainian folktale The Bird’s Gift by Eric A. Kimmel, students will design a Ukrainian Easter egg (pysanky) that represents some of the common values of the Ukrainian people.  A social action project follows as an extension activity.

General Outcome 3.1

Carolina’s Gift
By Camille King and Tracy Chalmers

Overview: Through examination of the book Carolina’s Gift: A Story of Peru, by Katacha Diaz, students will utilize skills of historical thinking as well as explore cultural aspects of a community in the Peruvian Andes. 


General Outcome 4.1

Natural Resources in Alberta: A Prairie Alphabet
by Jill Labonte, Debra Boyda, and Wayne Tracy

Overview: Students gain a better understanding of natural resources, their locations, and the positive and negative effects of those resources on Albertans.


General Outcome 4.2

Museum In a Box: Building a Community
by Sylvia Kennedy, Karen Kinney, Don Anderson and Sharon Richter

Overview: This challenge uses Object Based Inquiry. Students will use items from the past to explore the idea of the stories that objects tell of the lives of the people who used them. It sites items from the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, however items from other museums or private owners can be used as well. Students will decide if European settlements made life better or worse.

General Outcome 4.2

Establishing Francophone Communities
by Central Alberta Teachers

Overview: Students gain a better understanding of the contribution of Francophone settlers to communities in Alberta through researching their lives and motivations in coming to Alberta.  Students will then create diary entries to illustrate those lives and contributions.


General Outcome 4.2

Relationship to the Land: Hidden Buffalo
by Central Alberta Teachers

Overview: Through analysing the picture book Hidden Buffalo, students gain a better understanding of the relationship of the First Nations people to the land.  Students then demonstrate their understanding by creating and illustration of that relationship.


General Outcome 5.2

Passage to Canada
by Adrienne Winkel

Overview: Using Information gathered from several sources, students will create a powerful visual representation of the three greatest opportunities and the three most significant challenges of immigrating to Canada

General Outcome 5.2

Follow the Drinking Gourd
by Kyla Cook

Overview: Students will represent important aspects of immigrant cultures that populated Canada and their contributions to Canada.

General Outcome 5.2

Secret of the Dance
by Kyla Cook

Overview: Students use the book Secret of the Dance to explore the importance of the potlatch to the Northwest Coast First Nations while developing the skill of critical thinking.  This book can be found in most school libraries.

General Outcome 5.2

Immigration: For Better or Worse?
by Sylvia Kennedy, Trudy den Boer, Brenda Rehmann

Overview: Students will gain an understanding of what constitutes quality of life.  They will develop criteria for judging quality of life and apply these criteria to the historical experience of immigrants to Canada.  The students will judge if quality of life was better or worse after immigration.


Skills Focus

Analysing Political Cartoons
by Karen Brusse-Paterson

Overview: Students gain a better understanding of techniques used to create an effective political cartoon through analysis of several cartoons and creation of their own.

Skills Focus

Detecting Bias in News Articles
by D. Lastiwka

Overview:  In this scaffolded activity, students analyse information on detecting bias in news articles then analyse articles for bias to ultimately determine the trustworthiness of the article.

Skills Focus

Supporting an Opinion through Research and Debate
by D. Lastiwka

Overview: Students debate the topic of smoking in public areas.  In preparing they must research the issue, drawing conclusions, and support their positions. Students must also communicate effectively.

General Outcome 6.1

MLAs vs. Cabinet Ministers
by Elizabeth Fargey and Darcie McDonald

Overview: In this inquiry activity, students ask questions of MLAs and cabinet ministers discover the differences between their responsibilities.

General Outcome 6.2

Athenian Social Structure and Decision Making
by Sherri Jansen, Laurie Shapka, Gwen Dawes

Overview: In this instructional activity, students explore social roles in ancient Athens to develop a meaningful understanding of the effect that social roles had on decision making.

General Outcome 6.2

Democracy: Ancient Athens vs. Canada
by Karin Brusse-Paterson

Overview: Students gain a better understanding of the principles underlying democracy by examining ancient Athenian democracy and deciding upon which is the most democratic between Canadian democracy and ancient Athenian democracy. Note: this challenge assumes students have an understanding of Canadian democracy.

General Outcome 6.2

Time Traveler Interview
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview: Students will write powerful questions and answers to create a fictional interview with an Athenian Citizen and an Iroquois Chief.

General Outcome 6.2

Collective Identity: Wampum Belt Challenge
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview:  The Iroquois used the Wampum belt to demonstrate collective identity. In this challenge, students gain an understanding of the collective identity of their own culture.

General Outcome 6.2

Want Ad Challenge
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview: Students use skills of open-mindedness and fair-mindedness in order to work within a group to make a decision about the most important attributes of the roles people played in history.

General Outcome 6.2

Deciding on the Decision Model
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview: Students understand and represent the differences and similarities between democracies in history. They then use this knowledge to understand the different ways of making decisions in contemporary Canada.

General Outcome 6.2

Political Cartoon Challenge
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview: Students will understand how the values of equity and fairness are an important part of democracy.

General Outcome 6.2

Trading Card Challege
by Darcie Macdonald

Overview: Students will think symbolically and communicate information about the roles of men and women in Haudenosaunee society in a visual format.

General Outcome 7.2

Rebellions and the Act of Union
by Janice Sulek

Overview: Students will investigate cause and effect relationships and evaluate solutions to issues by critically assessing effectiveness of the Act of Union in solving the problems that lead to the rebellions in Lower Canada and Upper Canada in 1837 – 1838.

General Outcome 7.2

Riel & Macdonald: Great Leaders?
by Sharon Richter, Don Anderson, Bobbie-Jo Douglas, Wade Groenewegen

Overview: Students will understand that choices people make depend on their perspective. Students will also discover some of the reasons different groups of people supported different leaders.

General Outcome 7.2

Museum in a Box: Communication Technology
by Don Anderson and Sharon Richter

Overview: This challenge uses Object Based Inquiry. Students will investigate the relationship between the CPR, the settlement of the west and communication technology. It cites items from the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, however items from other museums or private owners can be used as well.

General Outcome 7.2

Effect of Government Actions on First Nations People
by Jayne Schadeck and Sharon Richter

Overview: Students will explore the effect of the actions of the Canadian Government (i.e., numbered treaties, establishment of Provinces and immigration) on the First Nations people.

General Outcome 7.2

Museum in a Box: Irons and Butter Churns
by Don Anderson and Sharon Richter

Overview: This challenge uses Object Based Inquiry. Students will examine the changes in lifestyle of the settlers in the prairies due to technological advances. It cites items from the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, however items from other museums or private owners can be used as well.


General Outcome 8.1

Impact of Isolationism on Social Classes in Edo Japan
by Tara Billingsley and Sonia Hiebert

Overview: Students will understand how the policy of isolationism affected the social classes and their perspectives.
Note: The student pages are in both French and English

Download SMART Notebook Japan Continuum File


General Outcome 8.2

Renaissance Thinkers
by Edith Dening, Connie Visser, Ken Hoekstra, Brent Nixon

Overview: In this challenge students will brainstorm criteria for a great thinker in order to research and then rank the great thinkers/philosophers of the Renaissance. As an extension activity students are asked to report their rankings in a newspaper article, editorial or letter to the editor of the Renaissance Times

General Outcome 8.3

Which Was More Barbaric?
by Sonia Hiebert, Martin Rhéaume

Overview: by analysing and deconstructing a visual representation of the Spanish Inquisition and the Aztec sacrificial religious ceremony, the students will make a judgment as to which practice, the Aztec sacrifice or Spanish Inquisition, was the most barbaric.

General Outcome 8.3

Spanish Expansion: The Worldview Made Me Do It
by Don Jardine, Kristen Gough, Teresa Bryanton

Overview: Students will work towards an understanding of the elements of worldview that led the Spanish to expand their empire into South America.



General Outcome 9.1

Equity of Rights and Freedoms for Youth
by Mandy Reed, Hans Hulzing and Kelly Brand

Overview: To what extent is the justice system fair and equitable to youth?

General Outcome 9.1

Create Your Own Charter
by Mandy Reed, Laura McCann, Hans Hulzing and Kelly Brand

Overview: Weighing the importance of individual rights and responsibilities, students create their own Charter of Rights and Freedoms that will apply to their classroom.

General Outcome 9.1

Lobbying for Change
by Mandy Reed and Lindsay Zimmer

Overview: By the end of this task, students develop and implement a realistic and effective lobby plan for influencing government.  This is a four part critical challenge. Each part can be used individually or as a whole.

General Outcome 9.2

The Million Dollar Question
by Gill Brinton and Jill Turnbull

Overview: Students analyse the involvement of government in a market economy.  Students categorize reasons for intervention, debate them, and decide which is most important.

General Outcome 9.2

Roles in Mixed and Market Economies
by John Ferguson, Allan Whitehead and Gord Holland

Overview: Students analyse the role of the consumer and government intervention in the economies of Canada and the United.

Download SMART Notebook support file

General Outcome 9.2

Quality of Life and Consumerism
by Susan Lee, Kristi Paukstat, Allan Whitehead

Overview: Familiarize students with factors of quality of life their relation to quality of life.

General Outcome 9.2

Scarcity and Tim Bits
by Mandy Reed, Laura McCann, Neil Kirkwood and Kelly Brand

Overview: As supply decreases, prices rise. As supply increases, prices drop. As demand increases, prices rise. As demand decreases, prices decrease.

General Outcome 9.2

Create Your Own Political Party
by Alan Whitehead

Overview: To better understand the effect of philosophy, values and beliefs on political party platforms, students will create a political party complete with party platform and a budget proposal. A leaders’ debate follows the platform creation. Students will then analyse their own platform to interpret how it reflects their philosophy, values and beliefs.

Download SMART Notebook support file


Grade 10-1
Related Issue 1

Responding to Globalization
by Justin Holton and Theresa Krutchen

Overview: In this formative assessment task, students work in small groups to analyse quotes.  They then identify the challenge to globalization with which the quote is most closely associated and justify their choice.

Grade 10-1 Related Issue 3

“Showing Your Love…are Diamonds a Girl’s Best Friend?”
by Kathleen Galloway, Christa Henderson, Leigh Kvill, Ron Thompson

Overview: Students are asked to help a friend decide if Canadian Diamonds are a good choice for their friends who are getting engaged or married. Ultimately students decide if the processes followed by the Canadian diamond industry should be adopted as a model for other countries.




Grade 20 – 1 and 20 - 2
Related Issue 2

Propaganda Poster Project
by Neil Kirkwood, Ron Thompson, Greg Esteves

Overview: Students study World War I and World War II propaganda posters to identify the techniques, messages, and background. Students will then create their own propaganda poster for the period of the French Revolution/ Napoleonic period (from previous Nationalism/Ultranationalism lessons), demonstrating their knowledge of nationalism and ultranationalism, and of propaganda techniques.



Related Issue 1

Ideology and Identity
by Kelly Howell

Overview: Students examine the philosophies of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau in terms of collectivism and individualism before determining their own beliefs and values.

30 – 1
Related Issue 2

Responding to Classical Liberalism
By Justin Holton

Overview:  In this formative assessment task, students work in small groups to analyse quotes.  They then identify the ideology with which the quote is most closely associated with justification.

30 – 1
Related Issue 2

Modern Liberalism vs. Conservativism
by Ceara Ormond, Alanna Cellini, Jen Konschuh and Bruce Madore

Overview:  Students make connections between classical liberalism and the concept of modern day conservatism

Related Issue 2

Comparing Capitalism and Communism
by C. Ormond, A. Cellini, J. Konschuh and B. Madore

Overview: Students compare and contrast Capitalist and Communist ideologies through creating a storyboard.  The assumption is made that students already have basic knowledge of the principles of Communism and Capitalism.

30 – 1
Related Issue 2

Conflicting Ideologies: Events of the Cold War
By Justin Holton

Overview: Students will analyze ideological conflict by researching events of the Cold War then choosing and ranking the 10 most significant events. 

Download “Cold War Overview” PowerPoint

30 – 1 and 30 – 2
Related Issue 3

What Would They Do?
By Brian Plastow

Overview: In this activity, students will identify the problem or crisis in a text and demonstrate an understanding of the different approaches liberal democracies and authoritarian governments take in solving problems. 

Related Issue 3

Investigating Illiberal Practices
by Greg Barclay and Brian Hoglund

Overview:  Students investigate the idea that liberal governments may abandon liberal principles for justifiable reasons.

30 - 1
Related Issues 2 and 4

Fighting for Liberalism
By Ron Thompson

Overview: This inquiry project takes students on an analysis of historical and current issues to determine the viability of liberalism and the extent to which individuals were justified in the cause.