The Rise and Fall of Berlin Wall – An Inquiry



Breaking Down BarriersLessons Learned from the Berlin Wall

25 Year Anniversary

The Split House: Symbolizes split families, separationThe Broken Heart: What was lost
Breaking down Barriers ~ Lessons Learned from the Berlin Wall. Students deconstructed the history of the Berlin wall, the cold war,  the stories and narratives,  and then constructed meaning by connecting the symbols and metaphors found in their Inquires to their own lives and own stories. Students created collaborative visualizations through poetry, art, design and math.
They analyzed, synthesized and collaboratively built a poem using symbols and interpretations of what the Rise and Fall of Berlin wall means to them.
Students designed their ideas using concrete (virtual) objects in MINECRAFT to share specific and general messages, their INQUIRY questions and connected this event in history back to their own lives.
What did we focus on during this INVESTIGATION? Here is a brief overview:
  • CONCEPT discussion:  “Barriers”  – Concrete and Abstract? What personal Barriers to we face? Community Barriers? School? Financial? Learning?
  • CONTEXT discussion: Share briefly the importance of the date (25th Anniversary of Berlin Wall) and Journalism OVERVIEW: Chronicle of the Berlin Wall
For 28 years, the Berlin Wall cemented the political division of Germany and Europe. It became a symbol of the Cold War, which split the world politically into an eastern and a western hemisphere. Over one hundred people died attempting to get past the heavily guarded Wall. In the end, the internal and external pressure on the GDR leadership increased so much that a chain of events was triggered that led to the Wall’s coming down. (

  • BIG IDEAS and INQUIRIES (Global and Local Citizenship)

*How do Symbols in History help to understand ourselves?

*How do lessons in history serve as metaphors to help understand and make meaning in own life?

*What walls or barriers, concrete or abstract, are faced by our own citizens and how does this connect back to Berlin?

How would we develop our own research questions about this topic? Why do we need to keep our question or inquiry specific?
  • METAPHOR and SYMBOLS in Language, in History
  • SELF-DIRECTED INQUIRY “Wet the appetite and explore (Intuitive Understanding and Natural Curiosity) (see the activities below post)


“Students to work in individually or in pairs on at least ONE of the ACTIVITIES.  They may do more than one, but must have something to share with whole group. Work will be shared using a collaborative document (initially) and eventually will be put into a website format”


  • PLAN (MEDIA LITERACY) Have students meet in pairs and briefly discuss, create and brainstorm a plan of action (in Minecraft)  Sources Focus on Media Literacy and use of online sources. What makes a source valid? How do you know that a source is credible? What makes the site honest?
  • DESIGN THINKING and CONSOLIDATION Imaginative Process, Natural Curiosity, Knowledge Creation – Students will use their Inquires (of Rise and Fall of Berlin Wall) and apply the concepts about metaphor and visualizations to the creation of a poem, artwork, or build (Minecraft collaborative server will be used). Students will try to use abstract thinking to create a message about Barriers.
22 Students started this on Day One. They worked at one team, split into several teams. 23 Students continued the publication on Day Two and another 24 Students on Day 5.
  • PLANNING (again) Have students meet in pairs and briefly discuss, create and brainstorm a plan of action (in Minecraft)
  • Open FLATWORLD Server using MinecraftEDU- remind students of positive work habits in this environment.
  • CONSOLIDATION: Knowledge Creation…formalized understanding and FURTHER questioning. Students will share their work using a collaborative doc. They will take snapshots of their visualization/poetry to explain/describe their work, bring it back to the big idea.
Self-Directed (and Differentiated) Activities

It’s About the facts
Create an Interactive Timeline documenting events that led up to the Rise and Fall of Berlin Wall


Include this timeline on your Blog!


Why does this matter?
Timeline: Use this tool (LOTS OF FUN)


Or (Available through tools on the HWDSB Hub…same username and password)
Suggested Resources:


All in the MATH!
What information would you need to know to build the first generation, second generation and so on of the wall?
Example:What Math and Engineering were used in the design, the build and the fall of the Wall?
How much concrete was needed
Ratio was 3:2:1 cement, sand, water
Suggest Tool:
*Mindomo (Available through tools on the HWDSB Hub…same username and password)


the Wall by Numbers


Four generations of the Wall


Some extra math problems
Activism in ART
Create and Analyze a showcase (with short descriptions) of the art created on the wall, about the wall and after the wall…


How did the art (music, poetry, visual arts) convey messages of the time?
Suggested Tool:
Google doc
*Google Presentation  
*Mindomo https://www.mindom.ocom/ (Available through tools on the HWDSB Hub…same username and password)


The Power of Story


Personal Stories


Share personal Narratives from the time of the Berlin Wall
How do these stories impa
ct how we view the HISTORY of the berlin wall?
Suggested Tools:
*Google Presentation
*Prez (Available through tools on the HWDSB Hub…same username and password)


From Concrete to Memory (Storytelling)
In the Media


FIRST: Read, Watch and Listen to a variety of newscasts about the rise/fall of the Berlin Wall. Create/Recreate a news event using your own technique, your own voice, your own style.


Suggested Tool: Green Screen Creator (ipads)


Lessons Learned
Create a “top 10” list about abstract (and concrete) lessons learned from this event.  Think outside the box
Suggested Tool:
Google doc
*Google Presentation  
*Mindomo (Available through tools on the HWDSB Hub…same username and password)
The Metaphor:



Lessons Learned:


Doodle it


Create a Graphic Visual “Doodle” that shares the big ideas, stories and symbols of the wall and what it means today.
Suggested Tool: Inkflow Plus, Livescribe Pen


Example of Doodle Art:


Photo Essay



Why we are using Minecraft as part of our Program?

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.12.30 PMWe often say kids are “playing” Minecraft. But what we really need to say is that kids are collaborating, co-creating, designing, problem-solving, building and most importantly THINKING … Minecraft.

Of course, when we say “Playing”, we imply “fun” or “distraction” and assume that “learning” isn’t at the depth that we expect for our children. And yet, “Playing” often means engagement or participation in contrast to passive learning.

At the Enrichment and Innovation Centre, we use Minecraft because it allows students to explore their creative side without the boundaries or structures that are often put upon them in a traditional classroom setting. We teach students how to interact with one another while the engage in design processes. We encourage students to use the unlimited tools and resources available in Minecraft to design structures that not only have concrete meaning (looking at city planning, 21st Century Urban Architecture,) but also abstract meaning.

Minecraft, like any open-ended tool (pen, paper, clay, sand, paint….) allows unlimited possibilities, including GAMING. Students enjoy creating adventure maps, recreating structures and designing problems for others to solve, within the “game”.

Take a look at this “Minds-on-Minecraft” blog where lesson examples will be showcased often.

At the Enrichment and Innovation Centre, we will use the tool (Minecraft) in Balance with other tools available within the space. Students will have opportunities to create and share stories, newscasts and inventions through digital storytelling tools, including Green Screen, Art, Music and Minecraft. We are excited that our students will have the opportunity to teach and work together, especially since there is such a wide variety of skill sets in all the tools at the Centre (including Minecraft).

Every Wednesday from 2:30 – 4:30 we will host a Minecraft club and will use a collaborative server hosted by Ryerson University. There are several schools and classrooms across Ontario participating in this server. Together, students will share their Artist, Musical, Dramatic, Linguistic and Mathematic skills!

Parents and Teachers are encouraged to join us. Just send us an email to let us know you are coming: or

Change for Open House

There has been a change in our schedule this week resulting in a group of students coming to our centre on October 27. Therefor, the Community Open House is changed to November 3, 3-5.

Thank you,

Enrichment and Innovation Centre Team.

Enrichment does not mean “Go to the Next Grade”

For enrichment, we don’t  encourage teachers, students or parents to just go to the next “grade”. In fact, for many of these students, there is such a little difference in the concepts or skills at the next grade, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Often, they would be able to learn the concepts at that grade fast as well.

Instead, we suggest the student engage in a project based or inquiry based method of learning. In this, the student can seek math concepts at any level or area that he/she needs. It isn’t the concepts or knowledge that we are after, but instead their ability to apply it.

A couple of tips and tricks we use when working with Gifted Students who seek out higher level work:

  1. we encourage the student and parent to use a Contract which can be found on our website
  2. We meet with the student to help him/her with initiating enrichment strategies himself or herself. This helps them to take initiative in their own learning and to know what to do when they are bored, know the concept, done early or want more. Learning this skill will be extremely valuable since their gap will continue to be quite wide as they go from grade to grade.
  3. We  provide examples and ideas for students to engage in projects or activities that relate to the material/concepts/themes that are covered in class
  4. We provide the questions (we do this for all students): What are we learning this, How/why does this matter to me? to us? to the world?

For example:

Numeracy and Number Sense: Can students apply a real world problem to what is being covered? Create a budget? Find a related problem (that is more complicated himself/herself on Khan Academy or another website)?  Find a real world example of when anyone would actually need to know this material and what /how this can be extended?

Geometry/Measurement: Can students use the concepts learned to design a structure? Can they use Minecraft? Can students look at city design plans? How are bus routes measured? What is the difference of time and measurements between bus routes? What about how street lights are tracked <– these are all inquiry. Students can find related measurement concepts or questions using Khan academy and then present them to the class.

Math Videos or Concepts:

Can students watch one of these TedTalks that focus on Math and provide a summary or presentation about how this fits with what they are learning (or have learned) from their schooling?

Can students create their own video or audio podcast about math?


  • Can students create a game from concepts learned?
  • Can students DRAW IT? What about create a pictures story that includes the math concepts through the use of Storytelling.
  • What about engaging students in the are of CODING?