Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

Our Home and Native Land


This unit is designed to help students learn about the five major geographical regions of Canada and to understand how the landscape, resources, and climate in each of those areas have influenced the lives of Canadians.

Subject:                    Social Studies

Learning Levels:     Grades 4-9

Author(s):                 Elaine Melanson



This project allows students to "Seek, Think, and Verify.”

Students will

This activity provides an excellent basis for discussion of how the actions of Canadians impact our geography in terms of 

Student will explore our responsibilities as local, national, and global citizens to be good steward of what we have.


Students will be expected to:



Step 1

Negotiating and collaborating within their working group of five, each student will agree to research one of the five major regions of Canada: the West Coast, the Prairies, Central Canada (Ontario and Québec), Atlantic Canada, and the Far North.

Step 2

Working individually, students will use ArcView GIS and the data found on Disk 1 of the CD-ROM ArcCanada to analyse such information as landforms, elevation, eco-regions, natural resources, climate, land potential and inventory, population demographics, and census data. By layering map themes, students will be able to individually draw their own conclusions about the region they are studying: its geographical variations, its people, settlement patterns, land use and industrial/economic growth.

  I give my students 4 class periods to manipulate the ArcCanada data and analyse it. Giving them a certain time frame in which to accomplish this moves the work ahead at an even pace. If your students are beginning users of ArcView, they may require a longer period of time to complete this step of the project.

Step 3

Students will conference for one class period (or part of a period) with their team members to discuss their findings and hypotheses. They will provide each other with feedback about their work to this point.  

Step 4

Using the Internet, students individually will visit the websites of Statistics Canada, the Canadian Communities Atlas, the National Library of Canada, and Environment Canada, to verify their conclusions about the region they have researched, and discover how Canadians in that region actually have adapted to and are influenced by the landscape, resources, and climate.

Step 5

Students will meet with their group members to bring together their information, examining and highlighting common and unique findings of the 5 regions. Each group will publish their hypotheses and subsequent findings on a class website. This may be a section of your school's website, or you may choose to use webspace provided by a free site builder/host such as the Nova Scotia Department of Education’s EdNet web site. ( Students will collaborate on all aspects of the design, organization, and publication of their project web pages. Each student will be responsible for typing in their own research material on their group's web pages. 

Step 6

Each group will present its findings to the class. This may be done in two ways:

I have used both of these presentation methods and found them equally effective.



Student to Student:

Teacher to Student:


Evaluation rubric for final product 

You might choose to have each student individually evaluate their peer groups, or have group members conference and give a mark to each of the other groups’ projects.

  Self-Evaluation Rubric

  Group Evaluation Rubric 

Peer Evaluation Rubric 

(To get an individual student’s mark for this category, calculate the average of the marks given to her/him by the members of his working group.)

  The above three rubrics are completed by each individual student and are done in class during the next Social Studies period after the final products are evaluated.

  At the end of the project, I always provide to each student a sheet that indicates their group and individual marks for each area of assessment, and the total of these, which is their final mark.



(Because my students are proficient with ArcView, I allow them to browse freely the CD-ROM to find the shapefiles they need. Some shapefiles are more difficult than others to read, and your students may feel overwhelmed by the task if they are not used to interpreting those files. If this is the case, I recommend that you pre-determine which files you want them to use, and save those in a folder on your school's network server so that the students access their data from the folder instead of the CD-ROM.)



Group Evaluation Rubric: Our Home and Native Land

Our Home and native Land P.E.C. Checklist

Peer Evaluation of Group Members: Our Home and Native Land

Self-Evaluation: Our Home and Native Land