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CFL in schools

What do the Halifax Storm, Fredericton Acadians, Québec Grenadians and Yellowknife Yetis all have in common? Apart from being fictional Canadian Football League (CFL) teams, they were dreamed up by a group of grade 9 and 10 students as part of a series of new Canadian Geographic Education lesson plans that focus on the CFL.

The activity required the students, who were part of the University of Toronto’s Leaders in Training camp that took place in August, to choose the Canadian city they thought would be the most suitable for a CFL expansion team. Factors such as population, landscape, resources, transportation infrastructure and the city itself were all weighed, as were more artistic considerations. “The activity was really interesting, especially since they listened to what we had to say,” says camper Nathan Lautens. “It was great to be able to pick a Canadian city and design the team’s logo and jersey.”

While football may seem like an unusual topic for a geography class, the lesson plans link the two subjects in an educational way that captivates students. “When you take a core competency like geography and frame an interactive lesson around a topic that is both interesting and has a certain real-world application, students have a much easier time engaging with the material,” says Graham Long, an Ottawa-area high school teacher who led the lesson. “It was amazing to see these kids come up with names for their new teams that were completely reflective of the climate, the culture and the history of the regions they selected.”

The excitement didn’t end with the activity. Dax Johnston, licensing coordinator for the CFL, and Dennis Dowell, the Grey Cup handler, dropped in to surprise the students and answer questions about the history of the CFL and the Grey Cup itself. “All the campers seemed to have a great time; they all had a smile on their face,” says Johnston. “They put a lot of time and thought into the placement of a new team, thinking of different mascots, the sustainability of the stadium and the general feel of the community they picked.”

After the lesson was complete and the students had their photos taken with the Grey Cup, Long says he could see that they had gained a better grasp of Canadian geography as a whole. “I think they had a chance to get some basic knowledge about a great Canadian institution and apply that knowledge to what they knew about the country’s landscape in a really creative way.”

All 13 lesson plans are available on this website.

— Jessica Harding

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