Archived—Recipient Bios

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Year: 2001 – Province: Manitoba

Certificate of Achievement Recipients

Peter Bjornson

School: Gimli High School
Box 1260
Gimli, Manitoba  R0C 1B0

Principal: Robert Arnason
School Telephone: 204-642-8546
School Fax: 204-642-5063
School Website:
Grades/Subjects Taught: Grades 8 to 12, history, geography, psychology, social studies

Teaching Approach:

  • Tests can often be quite arbitrary; they only tell you what the students didn't learn or simply don't know.
  • Cooperative learning and the skills associated with it are important for today's student.

Outstanding Achievements:

Literally brings history to life with exciting hands-on learning projects emphasizing awareness and appreciation of local history.

  • Pageant Wagon: dioramas depicting local historical events were constructed on metal trailer frames built by metalworking class, woodworking class built rough frames, art class and history students researched and constructed dioramas, which are now featured in the New Iceland Heritage museum.
  • Heritage Mural: painted by students, a mural in the school library shows experiences of early Ukrainian settlers and Icelandic culture of the area.
  • Museum in the Classroom: a constructed archeological dig site challenges students to unearth the remains of an ancient native people's camp. Items found will be catalogued, photographed and displayed in classroom.
  • Story Box Project: a four-year project to capture the history of small communities in the Interlake region using oral histories, historic photos, artifacts and other archives.
  • World War I trench: a cooperative farmer constructed a series of bunkers and trenches in his field; students re-enacted battles in cold, muddy October weather.

Mr. Bjornson's classes maintain high attendance, high levels of participation, low failure rates and no discipline problems. As a result of the exemplary research and study skills developed, several students win scholarships, others pursue degrees in education and Canadian history.

Rave Reviews:

Mr. Bjornson teaches us more than we really need to know, but no one complains, because the manner we learn material is fun and enjoyable. Student

Bjornson has consigned to the dim past the image of a teacher who believes history is found only in a book. Bjornson is taking his kids out of the school and turning them loose to get up close and personal with history. Winnipeg Free Press article profiling national conference on teaching history, October 18, 2001