Category Archives: curriculum

Teaching for Reconciliation

I am a citizen of Saskatchewan and a member of Ms. Eyre’s riding. I acknowledge that I live on Treaty Six territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. I feel I must make you aware of my dismay at the statements made by the Minister of Education with regards to Treaty Education and its place in the curriculum of Saskatchewan schools.

Treaty Education is a fundamental piece of Saskatchewan and Canadian history. The impact of treaty on the settler and the First Nation’s peoples is undeniable. We live in its shadows.

As a descendent of settler people, I have needed to find my way to a place of hope for the future while understanding the complicity of my ancestors in the mistreatment of First Nations and Métis people in the past. I am proud of the resilience, strength and capacity of my settler ancestors. My great-grandparents worked land in Osler and near Edmonton. They worked to raise families and hoped for a future of prosperity for their children and grandchildren. They believed in education as a fundamental tool in the lives of their children to bring about that prosperity. Their children are business owners, teachers, and community development workers. They have university education and have had access to political leaders, community leaders and policy makers. While they came to this country with nothing but their work ethic and family connections, they were given access to land and opportunity. I am proud of the stories which they have given me and the virtues and values which live in me because of those stories. I am glad to be a citizen of Canada and a prairie person. I am the beneficiary of Treaty agreements.

I live with the guilt and regret of the mistakes of the past. I wept at the protests in front of the Manitoba Legislature in 1990 at the recognition of my colonial ancestry. I have wondered what is within my capacity to do and change to make a difference rather than hide from the injustice. As a result of my turbulent feelings, I have worked to improve my own understanding and stand up for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada. I participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Saskatoon as a volunteer. I must lend my voice now to speak for the continued importance of Treaty Education and the full integration of indigenous ways of knowing as one of the pieces in the Truth and Reconciliation process. We are called through Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take action to improve the education of indigenous peoples including Treaty Education and integrating indigenous history as our shared history is a part of this process.

It is incumbent on the Minister of Education to be aware of the current context of education in Saskatchewan and Canada. She must know the obligations we have to bring about reconciliation between settler peoples and the indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan. We cannot change our history and keep to a view of it, in which we, the privileged, have been right and good through all of time. Minister Eyre needs to take some time to learn and develop her understanding of what it means to be a Treaty person and a person of privilege. She needs to learn about cultural responsiveness and see where she is on that journey. The Minister of Education is the key policy maker for Education within our province, if she is unable to begin this journey, she is not fit to be the Minister.

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Making Thinking Visible – Part Three

What can a teacher do to help create a classroom where thinking becomes visible?

Question. Listen. Document.

Question:

Good questions help students to construct their understanding.

Questions need to be thought through to help students think about the content not simply to outline the facts.  I think asking good questions is one of the toughest parts of good teaching.  This is at least the second time I’ve read about the importance of questions in creating teaching excellence.  It seems strange that something so simple can be so difficult.  It’s easy to ask who, what, when, where questions but to ask questions which ask them to make interpretations, make connections, focus on the big ideas requires thoughtful planning and deep understanding of the content and intent of your lesson.

Listen:

Once a teacher asks the good questions, what do they do with the responses?  Really listening to the responses students give and figuring out what they mean and what they might have missed in their understanding is another task which takes care and deliberate thoughtful preparation.  I’m not sure I’ve figured this one out.  Often I listen for the answer I think I want as opposed to listening for the thinking the students are doing and learning about them from those responses.  I think the third part of this trio probably would help me with that.

Document:

Recording what students say during a class helps track what has been said, demonstrates the value of the students’ ideas,  gives an object for further discussion and reflection.

 

Three simple actions to take in order to make thinking the work of the classroom and learners within the classroom.

I know I’m going to use this.

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Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Excalibur
This novel is a well-written, funny and though-provoking adventure.  Our hero, a boy named Rigg, is given a strange commend and inheritance by his father as he lies dying.  “Go to Nox.  She will give you what belongs to you.  Take it and find your sister”.  And thus begins his quest to find out, who he is, who his sister is and what his abilities and skills might be good for.  Card creates a fascinating world full of political intrigue as the setting for his Pathfinder series.  This book starts the tale and sets us up for a coming series of dilemmas and conflicts within the series.  The series premise reminds me a little of Anne McCaffrey’s Freedom books or Monica Hughes’ Isis books with the inter-stellar technologically advanced societies coming into contact with less technologically advanced ones.  Not a must-have for the school library but definitely a good purchase for grades 7-12.

Within the Saskatchewan curriculum, it would fit grade 6 Language Arts units on Fantastic Fiction, Science Fiction, Heroes, Grade 7 Imagined Worlds, Grade 8 Adventure and Survival.  It would be a good novel for challenging your more advanced readers.

Fantasy Book Review

Kirkus review

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The Jewels of Sofia Tate by Doris Etienne

This book is a fair take on the mystery genre.  I enjoyed the main characters and watching them develop.  I found the villians a bit ‘pat’.   The ending was a little too neat and tidy.  Teacher librarians need to be aware of the embedded Christian perspective within this story.  The plot hinges on unraveling a set of  clues which are passages of scripture engraved on items in an old woman’s house.  I would be reluctant to add this book to a public school library.  I would definitely consider it for a Christian school library particularly if I wanted to ‘beef’ up the Christian fiction section.  Not a bad read but not a must.

Rating  #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 #3✓ #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 6+  Reading Level:  6+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: mystery, family history

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Skellig by David Almond

Dark and creepy are the words which come to mind when reflecting on Skellig.  This is a book with boy appeal.  Michael is moving into a new house after anticipating this event as something wonderful, something unexpected intervenes.  Michael’s mom has a very premature baby.  Now he is living in a run-down house with preoccupied parents and his own worries and grief about the baby, then he meets Skellig.  What Skellig is both Michael and we are never completely sure but it is definitely life-changing.  Skellig is a well-told and dramatic tale.  Definitely worth adding to the K-8 collection as a pleasure read.
Oh, what the hell...
Rating  #1 (Highly Recommended  ✓#2 #3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: grades 4+  Reading Level:  5+

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: self discovery, identity, fantasy, love, grief, family

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Matthew’s Dream – Leo Lionni

Matthew is a mouse. His parents have high hopes for him. He wants to see the world. One day, while at school, his class visits the art museum. Matthew is entranced with the paintings. He meets a mouse there named Nicoletta. She shares his love of fine art. That night, Matthew has a dream of a beautiful painting and Nicoletta. When he awakes he is disappointed but finds he can still hear the music of his dream and the music reminds him of the painting in his dream. He knows he will become a painter and works hard to become famous and prosperous.
Rebellion! - Forced feeding - Suffrage Series
Rating ✓ #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 #3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: 1-3 Reading Level: 2

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: self discovery, dreams, becoming, identity, biography

This book would be suitable for ✓ Lit Circles ✓ Kit Materials

✓ Read-Aloud (Gr.) 1-3
Matthew’s Dream is semi-autobiographical.

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Pezzettino – Leo Lionni

Pezzettino (little piece) believes he is too small and must be a part of something which is bigger.  He looks everywhere and asks all his friends if he is a part of them.  They believe they are whole and tell him so.  Finally, Pezzettino asks the wise-one how he can find out if he is someone’s little piece.  The wise-one sends him to the Island of Wham to find out.  While at the desolate Island of Wham, Pezzettino breaks into smaller pieces.  He suddenly discovers he is like the others, he has small pieces and is himself whole.  He returns happily to his home.
Diagonal
Rating ✓ #1 (Highly Recommended) #2 #3 #4 (Not acceptable)

Interest Level: 1-3 Reading Level: 2

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Themes/Topics: learning about ourselves, identity, self, discovery

This book would be suitable for ✓ Lit Circles ✓ Kit Materials

✓ Read-Aloud (Gr.) 1-3

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