Category Archives: Journals

From Rap Battles to the Classroom Practice

Photo of a classroom with chairs on the desks.

Written by guest blogger Melanie M. Wong.

Educational research, in my opinion, is most effective when it is put into practice. In one of my early graduate courses I remember a professor commenting on how it took over forty years for research to enter into the classroom. Hearing this comment at the time both terrified and motivated me as a researcher. In my day job, I build the capacity of hundreds of teachers in a large Canadian school district to support their English Language Learners (ELLs) in their various classrooms. As I read the literature and work with teachers, I recognize the urgent need for both researchers and teachers to consider the implications of research in a classroom and how research can both inform and improve teaching practice. Therefore, in this blog post, I would like to elaborate on some of the potential implications of my own study of a technology-enhanced classroom for K-12 students and teachers. I argue that it is critical that educators have an understanding of what occurs in the various learning spaces of their classrooms and beyond, whether technology-enhanced or not.

In my own personal experience, educators are at varying levels of readiness to use digital technologies in the classroom. Whether it is SMART boards or learning management systems, these tools are often not utilized in K-12 classrooms intentionally or effectively. These digital technologies are tools for learning but they also offer a new world of learning opportunities for K-12 students which has been documented extensively in the literature (e.g., Abrams, 2016; Black, 2008; Ito et al, 2013; Jenkins et al, 2016; Lam, 2009; Lam & Warriner, 2012; Yi, 2008). However, although technologies are readily used by K-12 students in the interstitial (non-sanctioned) learning spaces (e.g., outside of school, hallway etc.), teachers are not necessarily using these technologies in the classroom context. The findings from my study assert that rich and engaging learning experiences occur when teachers intentionally design tasks which allow students to tap into their various shared histories of learning (Wenger, 1998). These shared histories of learning include students’ experiences using digital technologies and their experiences in interstitial learning spaces. It is not about the technology but rather about providing students with a variety of options to represent their meaning making. For example, a teacher might consider providing students with an open-ended/essential question to explore (e.g., What makes a good citizen?). Students will then be asked to unpack/explore this question and represent their understandings in the way they choose. By providing students with different options (digital or not), it helps to meet the learners’ needs and engagement.

In my study, a prevalent theme was the usage of YouTube in both the school-sanctioned and interstitial learning spaces. Youtube was often a first stop for my participants when it came to finding information to inform a school project or the discovery of a new literacy practice (e.g., Rap Battles). Educators need to gain a deeper understanding of what happens in the out of school contexts (e.g., students using YouTube) because it impacts learning in a classroom. Due to the affordances of digital technologies, ideas and practices are moving seamlessly into different physical spaces. Even within the physical spaces of a classroom, students are engaging in numerous learning spaces at one instance. Knowing about what occurs both inside and outside of the classroom helps teachers to be more effective when planning for instruction and knowing their learners. I would argue it is an essential part of being an effective teacher whether technology is utilized in the classroom or not.


Abrams, S.S. (2016). Emotionally crafted experiences: Layering literacies in minecraft. The Reading Teacher, 70 (4), 501-506.

Black, R. W. (2008). Adolescents and online fan fiction. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti., M, boyd, d., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., Horst, H.A., Lange, P. G., Mahendran, D., Martinez, K. Z., Pascoe, C. J., Perkel, D., Robinson, L., Sims, C., & Tipp, L. (2013). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Jenkins, H., Ito, M., & boyd, d. (2016). Participatory culture in a networked era. Malden, MA: Polity Press

Lam, W. S. E. (2009). Multiliteracies on Instant Messaging in Negotiating Local, Translocal, and Transnational Affiliations: A Case of an Adolescent Immigrant. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(4), 377-397.

Lam, W. S. E. & Warriner, D. (2012). Transnational and literacy: Investigating the mobility of people, languages, texts and practices in contexts of migration. Reading Research Quarterly, 47 (2), 191-215

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Yi, Y. (2008). Relay writing in an adolescent online community. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51 (8), 670-680.

Melanie M. Wong is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. She is also a K–12 educator. Her latest article in The Canadian Modern Language Review entitled “‘Sa:y What You Want . . .’: Rap Battles in a Technology-Enhanced Classroom” is free to read for a limited time here

Scottish Military Suicide in the Long Twentieth Century

World War One: first aid on the battlefield, Somme. Wellcome Collection. CC BY

Written by guest blogger Dr. Simon Harold Walker.

In 1916, just weeks after the first battle of the Somme, a Scottish Private penned his suicide note. The note began, ‘I cannot stand it anymore…they will not let me come home.’ This desperate Private was not the only man to take his own life during the First World War. In fact, it is increasingly becoming apparent that this was not an entirely rare event. Another, a former driver in the Royal Army Medical Corps, wounded out of service in 1916, also took his own life after being refused for reenlistment. Potentially influenced by the rhetoric of the white feather campaign, and shame and emasculation directed at those not in service, he lay down on a train track in 1917 to be decapitated.

Suicide within the British Military is a long-standing issue and topical issue. For the Scottish Armed Forces, recognition and support for these cases have been a long-term struggle. To this day, the charter from 1923 which outlines who is entitled to be named on the Honour Roll, explicitly forbids the inclusion of suicide cases:

A member of the Armed Forces of the Crown or of the Merchant Navy who was either a Scotsman (i.e. born in Scotland or who had a Scottish born father or Mother) or served in a Scottish Regiment and was killed or died (except as a result of suicide) as a result of a wound, injury or disease sustained (a) in a theatre of operations for which a medal has been or is awarded; or (b) whilst on duty in aid of the Civil Power.

Yet, Scotland has also been at the vanguard of dealing with military mental health in recent history. The infamous Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh developed increasingly sophisticated and innovative ways to treat and understand Shellshock during and after the First World War. Initially, a hydropathic institute specializing in water therapy; as an understanding of Shellshock developed, practical recovery techniques for psychiatric first aid were introduced for patients which included: swimming, golf, tennis, and cricket. Patients made model yachts, joined the camera club, and walked in the grounds. The famous psychologist William Rivers successfully utilized the ‘talking cure’ for shell-shocked officers while practicing at Craiglockhart on famous patients like the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

Sassoon also remains one of the only war poets to publish on the issue of soldier suicide directly. Within his poem, he describes the suicide of a soldier whose death is never again discussed. Sassoon outlines succinctly what remains to be a considerable challenge for historians and modern servicemen and women. In 2018, eight Scottish military personnel took their own lives, prompting Clare Haughey MSP the Minister for Mental Health to issue a statement confirming that steps were being taken to support the mental health of veterans.

Military suicide is a difficult topic to research and consider, but it is also increasingly essential as service and veteran suicide rates have yo-yoed worryingly since 2003 in countries such as Britain, the United States, and Canada. My research focuses on military suicides in Britain between 1914 -2018, and so far it has uncovered many untold histories.

Dr. Simon Harold Walker is a Military Medical Historian and Historical Suicidologist who is currently researching the History of British Suicide in the Long Twentieth Century. He has published on a variety of topics associated with the British Army and Military Medicine and is releasing a book on the physical creation and transformation of soldier’s bodies in the First World War with Bloomsbury Publishing titled Physical Control, Transformation and Damage in the First World War: War Bodies. He also presents the YouTube series Feeding Under Fire, where he takes pleasure in feeding trench food to his unsuspecting guests. You can find out more about Dr. Walker and his research at his website

Dr. Walker’s latest article in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History entitled “The Greater Good: Agency and Inoculation in the British Army, 1914–18” is free to read for a limited time here.

Where is the Nearest Starbucks, or, Globalization, Technology and Frontier Migration?

The global(izing) city contains several cultural time zones which are familiar to frontier migrants
Photo by DuBoix at

Written by guest blogger Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

One early morning in New Delhi, a young American woman who had recently migrated to India said to me, “Thank God for Google Maps!…[My move to India] wouldn’t have been possible…[without] all these stores…Zara is here, Starbucks is here…”

Although India’s capital is a notoriously tough city for Westerners to live in – the pollution, immense income disparities, the everyday struggle to negotiate with vendors and autorickshaw-wallahs and so on – this woman, whose parents had left India before she was subsequently born and raised in the USA, described her migration as being made possible by globalization.

The migration experience for migrants, refugees and even tourists has been totally transformed by technology (Google Maps, Uber, email, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, YouTube, and so on). My research on migration and globalization finds that technology makes it easier for those far away from their home country to feel closer to those left behind because communication technologies enable convenient and free communication with no time lag. But technology also makes them feel more at home in their new country.

The plethora of GPS navigation apps makes it easier to find one’s way in a new city. And the fact that the same apps are available in several countries means that the new migrant just has to flip on her smartphone and continue where she left off in her home country. Dating on Tinder or watching Netflix or shopping on Amazon or similar online retailers is now possible in scores of countries worldwide. Because of technology and globalization, crossing a national border into a new country does not necessarily mean a disruption in lifestyle. However, my research also finds that migrants from “developed” countries like Japan and South Korea and those in the UK, EU and North America have a significant advantage over other types of migrants when it comes to “finding home” in a new country.

“First World” Dominance

“Developed” or “First World” countries tend to dominate the process we call globalization and that means that migrants from these countries can find their home media, goods, food, apps, architecture, urban design and microspaces I call Cultural Time Zones (cafes, gyms, stores and so on) almost everywhere. For example, the top three most watched TV shows in the world are all American: The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones and then Grey’s Anatomy. These are “global” hits but often, when we use the word “global,” it refers to something that comes from a “developed” economy.

Often, during the course of my research on frontier migration – the move of people, capital, ideas and technology from a more “developed” economy to a “developing” one – migrants mention the foods that they miss most from their home countries. However, with the intensification of globalization in the 21st century, frontier migrants, more often than not, are able to find much of their traditional cuisine in their new countries.

“Global” Food

Starbucks, the well-known chain of coffee stores, operates in about 40% of the world’s nations. McDonald’s, the iconic hamburger chain, operates in over half the world’s countries. Coca-Cola is drunk in practically every country in the world. All these companies come from the USA.

The top ten companies that control the world’s food supply such as Associated British Foods (ABF) and Switzerland’s Nestlé have a common geographical origin. They are all American or European. For frontier migrants from the US, the UK and the EU, this means that they often encounter familiar brands and foodstuffs on their travels far from home. Frontier migrants from Japan and South Korea do not find as much of their home food although sushi is becoming increasingly popular globally but they do find other things that remind them of home.

“Global” Brands

Japanese and South Korean cars, televisions and phones dominate the market in many corners of the globe. Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai which also owns Kia are some of the world’s most popular cars. South Korean company, Samsung, has some of the most popular smartphones in the world and Sony electronics are a dominant Japanese brand in several countries.

Other “developed” countries’ automobiles and smartphones are also ubiquitous in many economies. German cars like the Mercedes-Benz and BMW dominate luxury sales along with British Aston Martins and Rolls Royces. No discussion of the smartphone is complete without mentioning US company Apple’s classic iPhone but beyond food, vehicles and electronics, frontier migrants find the urban landscape of many of the world’s globalizing cities like Shanghai, New Delhi, Johannesburg, Moscow, and São Paulo deeply reminiscent of what they left behind.

“Global” Cultural Time Zones

Gleaming skyscrapers that are part of an impressive vertical skyline are increasingly part of a city’s claim to global status. Skyscrapers are an architectural form that was born in the USA in the second half of the 19th-century and now they are built in every country. For frontier migrants, this is just one example of the multiple “global” cultural time zones (CTZs) they will find in the globalizing urbanscape of their new cities of residence.

Western-style CTZs like the American Starbucks and the British chain Costa offer the same lattes and snack foods everywhere. Fast food American restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway are often present in middle-class neighbourhoods in globalizing cities offering familiar fare. When it comes to exercising, Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Fitness First are some of the “global gyms” founded in the West but now operating in numerous countries. If a frontier migrant should want to buy new clothes, he will again encounter more familiar brands in any of the American-style malls which are increasingly popular in developing countries.

According to McKinsey’s Global Fashion Index, 97% of the world’s retail sector profit is dominated by ten European and American companies including well-known brands like Zara, H&M and Nike. After buying new clothes, the frontier migrant may want to show them off in a hipster bar, another US export to the world.

Or, he can just snap some pics on his phone to post on his social media feeds so that his friends and family in both his home country and his new one can offer their opinion.

Either way, globalization and technology have completely transformed the migrant experience, especially for frontier migrants from “developed” countries which already dominate globalizing processes.

Photo of Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is a research associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Wits City Institute. She was a 2017 Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study Writing Fellow and the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to conduct research in India in 2016, where she was affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi. Myambo has a PhD in comparative literature from New York University, and when the weather is warm, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Links to her other writings can be found on her website. Her current research focuses on globalization, migration, and “hipsterification” (hipster-led gentrification).

Her latest article in Diaspora entitled “Bloody Diaspora Theory for the Twenty-First Century: African and Asian Heritage Migrants Return” is free to read for a limited time here.

Decriminalization According to Whom? Reflections on the Recriminalization of Homosexuality in 1969

A demonstrator is arrested at protests against bathhouse raids in Toronto, June 1981.
The Arquives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives

Written by guest blogger Tom Hooper.

As a historian studying the Toronto bathhouse raids, one of my first research questions was about the criminal code reform in 1969. How could so many people be arrested in the decades that followed the ‘decriminalization’ of homosexuality in Canada? This special edition of the Canadian Historical Review provided an opportunity to explore the 1969 reform in greater detail.

What I found is that the law reform did not match any common definition of the term “decriminalization.” No laws were repealed, gay sex remained a criminal code offense, and the number of people who faced charges increased. This included the innovative use of the bawdy house law against gay bathhouses, but also the continued use of the very provisions that were reformed in 1969. In the weeks following the 1981 bath raids, the gay liberation newsmagazine The Body Politic printed the headline, “recriminalization?”

I resurrect this question in the hopes of revisiting the term “decriminalization.” Any celebration of reform must incorporate the ground-level interactions between LGBTQ2 people and police officers who were tasked with enforcing criminal law. When taking that perspective into account, 1969 did not represent a turning point toward equality and human rights. In addition to the community reaction to the reforms, I re-examined the debates in the House of Commons to search beyond the moral and medical rhetoric. I found members from all major political parties expressing their skepticism that the reform amounted to a decriminalization. Reactions in the media were similarly doubtful that the changes in law would have any practical effect.

Activists in the 1970s and beyond devoted much of their resources toward fighting the continued criminalization of LGBTQ2 communities. This includes the 1971 “We Demand” protest on Parliament Hill, in which activists called for an actual decriminalization with the full repeal of gross indecency and indecent acts. Branding the reforms as “decriminalization” is part of a deeper process of homonationalism, in which the struggles of queer people both before and after 1969 get erased. Progress in both legal and social transformation is not credited to these struggles. Instead, it is a celebration of Pierre Trudeau and the policies of the Liberal Party.

I am honoured to be joined in this special edition by other authors taking a critical perspective of Pierre Trudeau’s “Just Society.” Katrina Ackerman and Shannon Stettner examine the provisions in the criminal code regulating abortion, they argue these changes were so limited that it did not change women’s ability to access these services. Marcel Martel similarly argue that the Official Languages Act was not a turning point. Sarah Nickel examines the 1969 White Paper, which called for the destruction of indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights. The idea that these policies would end marginalization or promote equality represents a setter-oriented framework of justice.

Tom Hooper is a historian of the Toronto bathhouse raids. He is contract faculty in the Law and Society Program at York University. He has appeared before parliamentary committees in both the Senate and House of Commons on matters related to the criminalization of LGBTQ2 people in Canada. His article “Queering ’69: The Recriminalization of Homosexuality in Canada” is available free to read for a limited time on CHR Online.

When English is not your first language

Written by guest blogger Jessica Mayra Ferreira.

For those whose English is not their first language, it might be a challenge to submit a manuscript and not receive the comment “needs to be reviewed by a native English speaker”. I have always considered myself as a fast learner when it comes to new languages and it wasn’t such a struggle for me to learn how to communicate in English. However, when I decided I wanted to work as a researcher starting by my Master’s degree in Brazil, I had no idea that writing well enough for scientific literature would be such a demanding task. I received the same comment above in most my manuscripts reviews, even though some of those manuscripts were previously reviewed by a native English speaker, which made the work frustrating and stressful at times.

Following, I will present five tips that I have gathered throughout my academic work and hopefully will help not only Brazilians but also other researchers worldwide to write well in their future works.

  1. Do not start a sentence with numbers. For example:

    “1156 women were included in the study.”

    Instead, use:

    “A total of 1156 women were included in the study.”

  2. Avoid begging sentences with “the” – include it only when referring to something specific.

    “The computers are of enormous assistance in the scientific world.”

    Instead, write:

    “Computers are of enormous assistance in the scientific world.” (In this case, we are talking about computers in general, not specific ones.)

    “The research found that…” (In this case we are talking about a specific research and “the” is acceptable in the sentence.)

  3. Passive voice is well accepted and even encouraged in scientific literature:

    “The government has given little attention to the environment.”

    Instead, use:

    Little attention has been given to the environment by the government.”

  4. Do not use contractions such as “don’t” “aren’t”, “isn’t”, etc.:

    “Pregnant women shouldn’t smoke.”

    Instead, use:

    “Pregnant women should not smoke.”

  5. Avoid writing long sentences and try to simplify as much as possible. Instead of using “in order to”, use only “to”.

I believe an extra tip would be to practice a lot! The key to do anything perfectly, or as near to perfection as possible, is to practice. Try to read English articles as much as you can and pay attention to the way it was written. Make notes on what you think it is helpful and apply them in the next manuscript you will write. Trustingly, you will receive less comments that your work “needs to be reviewed by a native English speaker”.

Photo of author

Jessica Mayra Ferreira is a Physiotherapist graduated in 2009 at Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil, she specialized in Women’s Health, with emphasis in Human Reproduction and Human Sexual Health, she did her Masters and PhD in Health Science at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. She was a visiting PhD student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2017 under the supervision of Dr. Lori Brotto. Her latest article in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, “Analysis of 16 years of calls and emails to the Options for Sexual Health ‘Sex Sense’ information and referral service,” is free to read for a limited time here.