Tag Archives: culture

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.

Discovering Your Direction

16 Jul

The second great experience I have experienced this summer came from doing another math workshop. I was asked to put on a workshop for the First Nations University for their student conference Discovering your Directions. This event had grade nine First Nation students from local schools and school divisions. There were many great activities, and I was to lead the education and math workshop.

For the workshop I focused not only on an interactive math activity, but also speaking about my own education experience as well as the education program at the university of Regina. When the group came in I could tell they were not very excited that they had to “go to the stupid math” activity. I totally understood, everyone is aware that most people don’t have the most positive attitude towards math.

I chose to do die hard math, an activity I have done with Math on the Move before, because it was interactive and exciting. As soon as I started the clip I had them hooked and they had a much better attitude. They finished these quickly so I started my second game, the math alphabet. For this activity I put the alphabet on the board and an integer beneath it. I then put a sum on the board and they had to come up with a word that added up to that sum. This got even more of the students involved as they started competing for the longest word, or who could make the best sentence. Finally I ended with my new favourite puzzle, the rebus. I put 20 puzzles on the board and they were very competitive finding them out to see who could answer the most.

The most rewarding part of the conference was when a student asked if I was a real teacher, and if that’s what my math classes were always like, because they have never had a math class like that before. I laughed and was relieved that I could make math interesting for them.

The last part of the conference that I participated in was a student panel. Myself, along with four other university students in different areas, were asked questions about school and university. I answered questions like what my favourite subject and classes were, what my biggest struggles have been, what high school classes are important, and how my culture has affected my university experience. This was a wonderful opportunity to share things that I have learned over that past years with many young and eager minds.

I am so grateful and fortunate to have been apart of such a beneficial program for youth in our province, and would be eager to do so again.