Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Nations & Metis Content in Math

by: Jackie Taypotat

The following Grade 6 Math outcome about quantity is confusing to say the least! Outcome: N6.9 Research and present how First Nations and M├ętis peoples, past and present, envision, represent, and use quantity in their lifestyles and worldviews. 

Ashley Luce at Douglas Park and Mindy Derkatch at Dr. Perry, were both curious about how to explore this with their students. After meeting with each teacher and unwrapping the outcome, we came up with a hands-on, inquiry-type approach for the students. Each class began with brainstorming for types of quantity and quantity words we use today. Elder Betty then came in and told a traditional story about quantity.
Students identified the examples of quantity from Elder Betty’s story & had a chance to ask questions about how First Nations and Metis peoples used math long ago. Classes then reflected in their Math Journals to record what they learned about First Nations and Metis traditional quantity.
In lesson 1, items were set up from the Buffalo Kit, personal items and images, for students to explore. Their role was to rotate through the stations and begin by identifying and recording how the items were used long ago or today. Exploration was done with their classmates in small groups.

In the second class, their brainstormed quantity words were displayed. Now their role was to decide how quantity would have been used or would be used for each item. Students were then ready to present their findings. If they were unsure, the rest of the class or the teachers helped them out. Depending on their First Nations and Metis background knowledge, some of the teachings were brand new. The idea was to make predictions in an authentic and meaningful context.

Ashley’s class, decided to each choose one item to represent, and record their findings in a class book about quantity. This gave a chance for students to explore more in depth and get a deeper understanding.

Thank-you to Ms. Luce and her Grade 6 students for being such a pleasure to work with.

The class thoroughly enjoyed having Mrs. Taypotat come into the classroom and put a new spin on math! At one point, I had a young girl comment, “Gee, Ms. Luce, we are probably really behind in math now, because of all the math times that Mrs. Taypotat has been coming in to help teach us.” This was enlightening to me, as the student enjoyed learning about traditional quantity so much, in fact, that she did not realize she was meeting grade level outcomes. Having Jackie Taypotat in the class was a great experience. As a new teacher, I learned that teaching math in different and fun ways is very valuable and enriching for the students. 

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