Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Case Study of Aboriginal Content

     One of our assignments that we worked on completing while student teaching was a case study of Aboriginal content in our schools. Was Aboriginal perspective being incorporated, was education inclusive to Aboriginal students, what would we have changed, what did we do, etc. For the most part, we had free reign in regards to what topics we discussed but it had to be within five pages. This did limit me to what I could cover but I tried to touch on as much info as I could. Here is what I created:

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Where I Was
            I completed my third student teaching practicum at a Kindergarten to Grade Twelve school in a small rural community approximately thirty minutes west of "E/F First Nations". The community itself is just under two-thousand people and has primarily an agricultural background. Approximately forty percent of the students at the school have an Aboriginal background and a few students used to attend school on-reserve in "E/F".
            I had some previous substitute teaching experience in the school and I knew that one of its school-wide goals was for teachers to incorporate Aboriginal perspective lessons at least three times per semester. This was a goal that was transferred over to this school year as well and it, in addition with others, was displayed in the front hallway as soon as you enter the school. The display also has open spots for teachers and students to write down their accomplished goals for all to see.
Grade 11/12 Global Issues (Formally World Issues)
            One of the classes I was part of was the Grade 11/12 Global Issues class, formally referred to Grade 11/12 World Issues class. Based off the inquiry nature of the curriculum, I had a lot of flexibility in regards to what subject areas I covered and how they were approached. After discussion with my cooperating teacher it was determined that I would be teaching a unit on Indigenous Peoples of the World but had free reign in regards to what type of information was covered. When I began discussing my plans with my cooperating teacher, she was quick to state that she was happy I would be covering this unit because, “It would meet the school’s Aboriginal goal requirements and she wouldn't have to do it later on.”
Global Issues, Manitoba curriculum
This is the title slide of the PowerPoint presentation I created for our unit.
I found my cooperating teacher’s reaction quite odd as she is very well traveled and had  previously taught in "P-Town" (an Aboriginal community) as well. It seemed strange to me that she would be hesitant to incorporate Aboriginal perspective when I had assumed it would be something she had a lot of experience in.
Grade 11 Canadian History
            In addition to Global Issues I was also part of the Grade 11 Canadian History class, which actually had eight out of nine of the same students from my Global Issues class. Due to the chronological nature of the new Grade 11 Canadian History curriculum I was automatically assigned the next unit which would be, British Colonial Rule following the fall of New France. This was a topic that I had some experience teaching from a previous student teaching experience but I did need to adapt it to appropriately reflect the new curricular outcomes.
This is the title slide of the PowerPoint presentation I created for our unit.
Talking the Talk
            While I have only mentioned two classes above, I was actually in four different classrooms throughout the day and with four different teachers. My placement covered Grade 4 through Grade 12 and gave me an opportunity to work with teachers from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. What I found during my student teaching practicum was, that although there was a lot of talk about First Nations inclusion and Aboriginal perspective, the teachers I was with did not go out of their way to meet these goals. It was not as if I witnessed anything that I would blatantly label as racist or oppressive, but the goals were just not being addressed in the manner that I expected.
            What surprised me more, was that the Grade 11/12 Current Topics in Native Studies class had never been offered at the school before. It is, however, a very small rural school and Social Studies based courses unfortunately have to be slotted against upper years Science courses in order to make the schedule work within the staffing restrictions. Although students had been given options in regards to scheduling in the past, the upper years Science classes hold priority based on their university entrance possibilities.
While I Was There
            I absolutely loved my time student teaching at this school and I feel very confident about the units that I covered during my time there. Using information from this course, as well as Professional Development sessions that I attended during the MTS Fab 5 Conference, I felt like I was able to create lessons that were inclusive to all students without specifically labelling a lesson as, “Aboriginal”.  Here are some examples of projects that my students completed during my student teaching placement:

The Seven Grandfathers, seven teachings classroom resources
To learn more about this project, read this post.
Seven Teachings Collaborative Poster
Each student was responsible for appropriately depicting a specific teaching (outside wedges) or for the Seven Teachings in general (center circle portions). In addition to creating a visual representation, students were also asked to complete a written portion explaining what the Seven Teachings meant to them and 

how it affected their life. This project was part of a virtual“competition” over Twitter with another teacher's Native Studies course as they were completing a similar project at the same time.

Post Secret Post Card Project
Negative treatment of Indigenous groups are often referred to as that country's "secrets" because they are not often discussed openly. Based off of the Post Secret public art project, students created post cards depicting one of these secrets. In addition to creating a visual representation, students were also asked to complete a written portion explaining the significance behind their secret choice and why they believe it should be shared with others.

TRCM, speakjers bureau, TRCM speaker in your school
Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba Speakers Bureau
A central focus of traditional First Nations education involves Elders and community members passing information to younger
generations through story telling. This photo is my Grade 11/12 class with Mark Young, a guest speaker I brought in from TRCM. Mark not only spoke about treaties but also introduced information on First Nations world view and challenges that First Nations people can encounter.


Community Resources Comparison Poster
Why do reserve communities have less available resources than other communities of similar populations? After completing online research, as well as personal communication with community representatives, 
students created posters comparing available resources in two different communities of similar size. In addition to creating visual depictions, students also handed in their written research.

Historical Perspectives
A central focus of my teaching philosophy is to provide students with an opportunity to learn history from different points of view. When learning about the period of British Colonial Rule, my Grade 11 class created posters depicting the major events as they were seen from the perspective of the British, the French, and the First Nations citizens. We learned that different groups can interpret history quite differently!

Bibliography

Houle, Wade. (2012). Teaching Aboriginal Topic Conference Package. MVSD: 
Dauphin Regional Comprehensive School.

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