Thursday 19 Jan, 2017

Canadian Geographic Comes to Vimy 100

As we lead up to Vimy 100, we will be sharing some of the incredible, immersive, and experiential activities you will participate in during your tour, specifically at the Artois Expo in Arras, France. Our first educational partner highlighted is Canadian Geographic, who is facilitating activities with their giant floor maps. Learn about all of their associated educational materials here.

Trench lines near Arras, France

Of the many innovations born during the First World War, aerial photography had some of the most influential and lasting impacts on the war’s outcome and discoveries yet to come. During the war itself, aerial photography was integral in reconnaissance and military strategy. The images produced during the First World War continued to contribute to advances in a vast array of scientific fields from archaeology to cartography. If nothing else, they are simply captivating and beautiful in their own right, a form of art even.

In standing with this tradition, Canadian Geographic created a series of Giant Floor Maps utilizing various techniques and information collected from satellite and aerial photography, providing an excellent means for educators to engage their students in a tactile, immersive, and experiential way. More recently, Canadian Geographic along with Sound Venture Productions created a three-part documentary, “A Nation Soars”, and accompanying educational and instructional resources to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Battle at Vimy Ridge.

This initiative brings to the forefront the specifically Canadian contributions to the Allied victory in the First World War through various interactive devices such as floor maps depicting Vimy Ridge and the Western Front, along with a digitally-interactive cartographic program.  Additionally, Vimy Flight will provide a fully functioning replica of a “Sopwith Pip” biplane from the First World War to fly over the ceremony on April 9th, 2017. Together with schools across Canada, these types of activities will reconnect today’s youth with this nation’s history, even when removed by five generations or more.

Sopwith Pup Biplane

We have partnered with Canadian Geographic to bring these monumental maps and experiential exercises to the Artois Expo in Arras, France for all participants to engage with and learn from during their Vimy experience. Canadian Geographic will have 6 facilitators, who are also educators, trained in delivering the content in a manner that will prompt intrigue and exploration – these maps are so big you truly have to explore the Vimy Ridge!

The design of the Giant Floor Maps is to engage students in a physical manner, where they are encouraged to take their shoes off, walk all over the virtual Ridge, and discover patterns or places never seen before. Participants can interact with the facilitators as much or as little as desired. We invite you to peruse the maps and educational materials,

To make the most out of her students’ experiences with Vimy Ridge and these maps, teacher Janet R. out of British Colombia ordered these maps and built her curriculum with several layers leading to the arrival of the floor maps at her school. She and her students read letters between a soldier and his family, researched trench life, and read poems in preparation. Then, when the students finally got to walk around the map, “they felt like they belonged, like they knew that area” already, even though they had never been to Vimy Ridge. This highlights exactly the power of experiential learning: the ability to transcend daily activity and immerse students in the material. When lesson plans are designed to facilitate understanding, not just memorizing, we see talented, critical thinkers emerge.

The commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge is a rare and unique moment when we can both celebrate our history and be a part of it. These maps, in combination with facilitators and complementary activities will manifest in personal and intellectual discovery.

How will you engage your students further on before, during and after tour? Will you incorporate these activities and lessons?