Friday, October 26, 2012

World Issues Class

     I can't believe it is Friday already! Student teaching has been ALL consuming and I am trying so hard to make a good impression and provide meaningful learning opportunities for my students. I want to share all of the things I have been doing with my two main classes so I am dividing this into two separate posts...

     First, World Issues! My Grade 11 World Issues class only has 9 students so I really wanted to try my hand at working in options that were inquiry-based that allowed the students to have more control of their own learning. They had just finished up an "Environmental Issues" unit with my cooperating teacher and I officially started our unit on "Indigenous Peoples of the World" on Monday.
This was the title screen of my PowerPoint I used as part of our learning!
     I know that my students come from very diverse backgrounds so our first step was to get an idea of what  image came into their head when they heard the phrase, Indigenous Peoples. Here were some of our responses:
Different from the majority of society
Specific religion/beliefs
Traditional clothing
Different languages
As we went through each of their suggestions we discussed why they happened to pick the responses that they did which I feel lead to some really good discussion. My next step was to show FIVE different short film clips that represented various aspects that could relate to indigenous peoples (culture, traditions, language, issues, rights, etc). I asked my students to watch the clips and think of how someone may define what constitutes an Indigenous person. Here is what we watched:

     I found that most students in the class used similar ideas and terms that they first mentioned when they were describing their "vision" of an Indigenous Person. To help redirect their learning away from everyday characteristics (clothing, religion, homes, etc) we referenced Article 33 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to help think of some important issues that may be common among Indigenous groups from various parts of the world.

     We quickly realized that this unit could quickly become overwhelming if we were to try to cover as many as Indigenous groups as possible. There is SO much diversity among Indigenous groups... how do we even start? I thought that if, as a class, they could determine four main indigenous groups that really interested them then we could center our learning just around those specific groups. So here is where I really wanted to try and bring in some inquiry-based learning. I introduced our class to the Intercontinental Cry website (I featured it in this post) and had them explore the almost 500 indigenous groups featured in their Indigenous Peoples Directory!

After having a class period to explore the directory I had each student submit their top three choices (we all agreed that the First Nations groups of Canada had to be one of our choices). After tallying all of the responses, here were our choices:
1 ) The First Nations groups of Canada
2 ) The Maori of New Zealand
3 ) The Suri of Ethiopia
4 ) The Ariaal/Rendille of Kenya

We also decided that we are going to center our course on:
1 ) Ethno-diversity
2 ) World View
3 ) The Effects of Assimilation
4 ) Indigenous Rights

     As we stand right now, our students are working on research projects that will help cover various topics that contribute to our section on Ethno-diversity.
- Food
- Clothing
- Homes
- Employment
- Celebrations/Traditions
- Social Structure
- etc
The students are responsible for teaching their section to the class and will be presenting their information next week. I am pretty excited to learn more about all of these groups and see what kind of presentations they come up with!

     What I am most excited about, however, is that our class will be hosting a guest speaker from the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba on Tuesday! I am very excited that our students have an opportunity to learn directly from a prominent member of the First Nations community. I am hoping that next week I can update you all and let you know how it played out :)

speakers bureau
Would you like to have a representative from Treaty Relations come speak to your students? Contact the Speaker's Bureau at

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