What is Ownership?

24 Sep

The first assignment for my Cree 100 class is to respond to the Ted Talk given by April Charlo on Indigenous Language Revitalization.

Language is a powerful tool that is a component to the foundation of all cultures. The way we use this language is also very powerful. Language helps us communicate and it helps to pass on knowledge. Taking Cree this semester has been very important to me for numerous reasons. The first reason is that I am a teacher, and as Charlo mentions in her Ted Talk, it is important to revitalize the language so that this knowledge does not become lost to us. The second reason is that my ancestors spoke Cree, and this is a knowledge that has been lost in my family. My aim this semester is to regain some of this knowledge so I may pass it on to my students and family.

Since Aboriginal Traditions put great focus on Oral Tradition, it is obvious that the language holds much more than just literal translation. Last semester I took INDG 228 which was a class on Reconciliation and Indigenous Resurgence in Canada. Through this class I was able to listen to Willie Ermine speak on education and the Cree language. He spoke of how the language was sacred, and that there was knowledge embedded in it. When looking at learning Cree I have kept this in mind.

Resurgence and revitalization of Indigenous language is one step that can begin to repair the broken relationships we have in our country. Whenever we discuss broken relationships, immediately I begin thinking of Treaties. Everything in our society today goes back to the Treaties, and the promises that are not kept within them. When talking about the importance of language, it is easy to make connections to the Treaties. When the Treaties were created and signed, issues were much greater than just a language gap.

In the Ted Talk she speaks about how First Nations traditions did not have a concept of ownership, which in turn affects how we can use the language. It is difficult to understand, then, how Treaties could have been fully understood by both parties at the time of signing. Of course, Treaties are not the first time in Canada that land was now “owned”. The idea of ownership was introduced early with the Doctrine of Discovery, but couldn’t even be comprehended by the First Nations people.

Charlo speaks about how she learned that you cannot own things that are from nature. In order to understand Indigenous languages you also must understand the culture. You can’t merely translate words, because the meaning and knowledge that goes with those words might become lost. When listening to Willie Ermine speak, he discussed how there are knowledge bundles that encompass all things and how they relate to the world around them. There is a deeper richness to the words then, as they become more descriptive.

I am very excited to begin my journey learning Cree. Revitalization of languages, and in turn commitment to learning and understanding the First Nations culture, is an important step in Reconciliation. It is important that we begin teaching and learning these languages in the education system as it has been mandated to be done so by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles:

iv. Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.

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Cree 100 – First Blog Post

10 Sep

Hello!

My name is Samantha Douglas and I am a teacher in Moose Jaw. I am currently working on my second degree in Indigenous Studies through the First Nations University. I have been teaching at a high school in Moose Jaw for the past seven years, primarily Math, Native Studies and Catholic Studies. I am excited to begin learning Cree so that I can hopefully pass on this knowledge to the students that I teach!

As a teacher I am involved with the Student Leadership Council, the yearbook, and our school Treaty 4 club. I began taking classes next semester so I am still learning to balance my life as a teacher and as a student.

Outside of school I spend most of my time following sports. I enjoy all sports but specifically enjoy watching the Blue Jays, the San Jose Sharks and the Oakland Raiders. I also enjoy travelling – especially in the summer when I have no teaching responsibilities – and seeing live music as much as possible. I spend most of my time hanging out with my two fur babies, Beau and Luke (they were adopted from the Humane Society… I am not a big Dukes of Hazzard fan, but someone else was!).

Last year I tried to read through the 100 Days of Cree with our Treaty 4 group, and struggled not being able to learn through dialogue with others… so I am very excited to learn with everyone!

Testing Technology – Grade Nines

22 May

Testing out using more technology in the classroom.  Students, please comment with your daily 5.

What am I learning?
How am I learning it?
How do I know?
How can I improve?
Where can I go for help?
Five things from yesterdays class.

Technology Troubles

7 Mar

This year I have been working really hard to create math videos for my lessons. I started in the first semester with Workplace 20 and Foundations 10 and found myself quickly giving up. I was very overwhelmed with all my work and was disheartened when the students didn’t use them as much as I had planned. Near the end of the semester I had positive feedback from the videos looking back and studying for the final, so this semester I decided I would try again and be more diligent.

I have been making videos for Precalculus 20 using the showme app for my iPad. I have found these videos to be effective for three main reasons:
1) I make the video before the lesson, so I practice teaching the lesson out loud before with a student which helps organize my lesson better.
2) I teach very involved students who often miss for sports and other activities, and there are also students absent all the time. When they miss they know to check the video online, which goes through all of the notes and they can fill it in. So far many of the students are coming to school already having watched the video for what they missed.
3) Time. There are so many students, and even without missing, it can be difficult to assist students who don’t understand concepts. The videos help when some students just need a refresh of the lesson.

What I have been trying to gear towards is a flipped classroom. I have been posting the lesson the night before, and a couple students have watched them before hand. There are a few difficulties I have been encountering that have stopped me from flipping my classroom. First I am very worried the students won’t watch the video beforehand. It is a different way of thinking for them so it may be a difficult transition. I have been trying to slowly transition, with the videos to work towards that. My second problem is with my own preparation. I am finding it difficult to have enough hours in my day let alone being extra planned in advance. I have been working on long term planning, and am a very organized person, but I’m worried that I won’t have a video ready on time or something will go wrong and mess the entire process up.

In all, I have seen many successes with the technology I have incorporated. Many students are using the videos and it is extremely beneficial in the classroom. I need to find the extra motivation to push myself to try more with my teaching.

There’s an App for That

4 Dec

Things that I thought I would continue to do once I started teaching: blog.

Things that I don’t do know that I started teaching: blog… sleep…

I really wish I could get into the good practice of blogging more often, so today I have decided to talk about apps.  In university I thought I had found all the most wonderful apps that are amazing and useful.  Yesterday I deleted 100 apps.  Today, I took a moment to realize how many apps I have downloaded since school has begun, and how I found apps that fit to supplement what I was teaching.  As I teach a course that requires curriculum outcomes that relate to games, I have found apps that work in each of my units.  Let me take a quick second to recognize the apps that I adore.

Crossmath! – This $0.99 game has been used more than anything on my phone.  It works for teaching factoring, balancing equations, deductive reasoning… and also when you are really bored.

Hexominoes – This app works for shape and space as well as logic! It costs $0.99

Rush Hour – All of my students love rush hour.  I even have a physical copy of the board game. Working in groups really is helpful as they communicate hundreds of strategies. Cost is $2.99.

Flow Free – This game is great for shape and space as well as logic, it is also FREE!

Tangram XL Free – Works for shape and space units, deductive reasoning, and is Free!

Vault Breaker – Tests your logic and deductive reasoning skills to crack codes.  It’s free and fun.

Battleship – Used this for review for graphs, plotting points, ordered pairs, deductive reasoning and strategy.  You can play against a computer, over Wi-Fi with another device, or pass and play.  It is free.

CribbagePro – Need I say more? Oh right, it is free!

And lastly, I had this app downloaded forever and not once had I used it or even thought about it.  Then I taught Pre-Calculus and I understood why it is a must have.

Free Graphing Calculator

These are just a few of the math apps that I have been using in my classroom, and felt like I needed to share them now that I am actually using mobile learning.

Using technology to start my teaching career

8 Sep

This may possible be the best app I have ever downloaded:

ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard

You can record your screen and voice on the iPad and post to twitter, Facebook directly. I am using them to put on my class website.

This is my class website: Miss Douglas’ Class Website
And my class twitter is @misssdouglas

I chose to use a posterous instead of a wiki because each post directly posts to twitter, so all my homework directly goes on twitter with only one update to make. There is also a posterous app which lets you post from your phone. You can also upload files which instability are posted through scribd so all the documents are embedded into each post easily.

posterous

This is my showme page, I’m doing all my lessons on here, it takes two minutes to make and share a video. I am also making qr codes for each video and putting them right in my lesson so they can refer to the video if they need a reminder.

Also, I survived my first week of teaching, and posted this entirely from my phone. #lovetechnology

National Aboriginal Day

16 Jul

This year to celebrate National Aboriginal Day I was able to give a workshop to grade four and seven students in the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division in Moose Jaw. I did an art workshop on Birch Bark Biting. I am fortunate to have done a Birch Bark Biting workshop when I was in elementary school, and it was so memorable that I remembered how to do a workshop myself. I began by showing them the following video so that they could see someone in the process of biting the birch:

I then showed them some examples of art done by a Saskatchewan artist Sally Milne. Sally Milne is a Cree woman from La Ronge, you can read more about her here. I showed them some of the intricate designs that have been done by Angelique Merasty from the ArtSask website. After seeing the intricate designs that could be done, it was time for them to start doing their own. I showed them my attempt at biting:

To make this you need only three things: a piece of tracing paper, a piece of carbon paper, and your teeth! To do this you take a piece of tracing paper (which you can buy from walmart in a package for under $5) and place the carbon paper directly on top of it with the black of the carbon touching the tracing paper (I got carbon paper at staples, also inexpensive) Then you make different folds in the paper to come up with different designs. What was nice for the students was that the carbon paper could be reused many times, so many kept it and tried it for themselves later. This is not the classic birch bark biting, done on actual birch bark, but is a similar process and much more convenient to do in a classroom setting.

We discussed symmetry and how we could make different shapes. The students had a lot of fun trying different designs and trying to make shapes form. This could be easily adapted for numerous Shape and Space units in the math curriculum across a few grades. This is a lesson that has been done by some peers at the university on the Aboriginal Perspectives website.

Along with the other workshops done, and the dancers and performers that came to the school in Moose Jaw for National Aboriginal Day, I had a wonderful day, as did hundreds of students in Holy Trinity.