Tuesday, September 9, 2014


By: Jackie Taypotat, Aboriginal Education Instructional Consultant

What started out as integrating Aboriginal content into Air and Water outcomes with Erin Toppings, a Grade 2 teacher at Dr. Perry School, ended up being much more. After collaborating with Erin, she decided it would be beneficial and necessary for her students to learn background knowledge, in order to understand the Indigenous teachings or Ways of Knowing that were to be presented. After emailing her unit, we were able to communicate back and forth with ideas and resources.

Erin was unsure of her students’ knowledge of First Nations and Metis peoples, so exploring stereotypes seemed to make sense. This was introduced at the beginning of the unit, by asking students to draw a picture of a First Nations or Metis person.   

Next a definition of stereotypes was introduced, and examples were generated.

Modeling took place to support that learning. A chart was used to have students sort images of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples and then deciding as a class, if the images were positive or negative.
This was an opportunity for discussion, questions and at times explanations of why the images were accurate and positive or inaccurate and negative.

 A “poison box” was used to discuss and understand stereotypes.  The items are all commonly found in grocery stores, gift shops, teachers` stores, etc.  We discussed why and what made them stereotypes.  The students quickly discovered how the items are misappropriations, why they are damaging, and how they perpetuate stereotypes.

Worldview seemed to be the next logical concept to present. The following outcome was used:  RW2.2 Analyze various worldviews regarding the natural environment.  It not only made sense in teaching about air and water, but as an important piece of background knowledge. Out of Worldview came such teachings as: Turtle Island, diversity, Mother Earth, and the Sacred Number 4. 

The Aski series of books and Teacher`s Guide were used to support the teachings of this unit.  Story bags or theme bag were also used to teach a Creation story, Worldview and Turtle Island.   A game was used to help students understand diversity on Turtle Island, showing the similarities and differences amongst Nations. Students are then able to make connections about contemporary First Nations peoples.  For the game, visit my blog at: http://jackietaypotat.blogspot.ca/p/blog-page_1903.html

Elder Betty McKenna visited the classroom to share her knowledge and tell traditional stories about air and water. Connections were also made to the following Treaty Outcome: TR2.1: Examine how the Treaties are the basis for harmonious relationships in which land and resources are shared.

For students to make connections to First Nations and Metis Ways of Knowing, it is important to provide them with background knowledge. This background knowledge is also the foundation of the Treaty Essential Learnings. The students’ work speaks for itself. Students have a better understanding of how stereotypes affect perception. This is a sample of what students drew at the end of the unit of study. To access Erin's unit, Air & Water In Our Environment, click here. https://drive.google.com/a/go.rbe.sk.ca/file/d/0B1lIizYRM-hjWTY0TnVLYUtFWFE/edit?usp=sharing

A big thank you to Erin Toppings and her Grade 2 class for their outstanding work!

Here are some of their comments:

Erin Toppings:

“Incorporating Treaties and FNM Ways of Knowing has been a daunting task within my first two years of teaching. I have felt the struggle of wanting to incorporate FNMI content into my teaching but wanting to do so in a culturally sensitive and accurate way. In the planning stages of this Air and Water inquiry unit, I knew that I wanted to incorporate First Nations worldview as part of the study. Jackie Taypotat has been fantastic in sharing primary-appropriate resources and ideas to help my students and I understand the FNM Ways of Knowing. The worldview map visuals that we constructed together really allowed my students to understand the differences between FN worldview and European worldview. With this background knowledge, we were able to tie everything back to worldview. We tied every environmental issue today back to the differing worldviews. Learning about worldview also helped us understand treaty relationships (i.e. how FN and Europeans viewed and understood land/ownership).

My favourite part of this unit is that my students are continuing to challenge FNMI stereotypes. Students continue to bring items into the classroom that they believe depict stereotypes and then we discuss whether they portray FNMI people positively or negatively. This has also allowed me to take a closer look at my own perceptions of FNMI culture and the information, visuals, and literature that I present to my students.

“I learned that the Creator is at the top and the humans are at the bottom.”
-Madison Brentnell

“Mother Earth can live without humans but humans can’t live without Mother Earth.”
-Paraskevi Nagel

“North America is called Turtle Island by First Nations people.”
-Salsabeel Hmer

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.