Stories: orality and literacy

As I work on my final project, I have been narrowing down my focus to First Nations stories and the impacts of how the stories are told and who gets to tell them.

  1. AICL is a blog that includes reviews of literature that include First Nations peoples in some capacity. It goes in depth into who the writer is, the content and perspectives and ultimately gives it a recommend or do not recommend. As I searched for children’s books to use in the classroom, I found this website to be a valuable resource.
  2. Braiding Sweetgrass starts with a story about Skywoman falling, which I found excellent for understanding context. Both Archibald in Indigenous Storywork and Dion in Braiding Histories underline the importance of understanding cultural perspective in telling stories. Nuances of story and character are easily missed by someone who is not fully immersed or at least well educated in terms of cultural sensitivity. The story of Skywoman and turtle island provide excellent context and understanding of just how different perspectives can influence understanding stories.
  3. The Literacy Seed Kit is a “seed” collection of 76 Aboriginal stories told by Aboriginal writers. It’s called a seed collection because it’s acknowledged as a place to start rather than being a definitive collection. It contains excellent links to fully-developed lesson plans and the Alberta program of studies.
  4. As a language teacher, I have a particular interest in how language is acquired and how this supports children’s literacy development. Given the importance of developing vocabulary in language acquisition, I think that the First Nations’ traditions of oral storytelling has a lot to teach us about how knowledge is transferred. Reading Proust and the Squid I was struck by the factors affecting literacy scores for certain populations, including First Nations children, who may not be exposed to oral language to the level required to prepare for successful acquisition of literacy skills. In addition, I am curious about how supporting these learners in the acquisition of vocabulary in English and in a First Nations language may support their outcomes in school. I am continuing to read specifically about orality in First Nations cultures and how the manner in which stories are shared impact the perception of the story. My concern at present as Archibald posits is that “sharing First Nations stories through Western literacy theories may violate the first nations tradition of sharing oral stories.
  5. PWIM while the method of teaching vocabulary is not specific to First Nations learners, I think that the Regina Board of Education does an effective job of integrating it into classrooms and ensuring that the images used are culturally responsive in that they show First Nations peoples engaged in activities typical of First Nations traditional lives.
  6. Lastly, and not really a source of information but more as something I am personally looking forward to, I am so pleased to have been accepted to a residency at Calgary’s Aboriginal Learning Centre, which will entail working with my staff and students with an elder in our school and making trips to the learning centre to learn. I truly feel that I have learned an enormous amount so far in this class and I used that in writing a proposal for learning that was ultimately successful and I hope will allow me to learn so much more in the coming school year.

2 comments

  1. Congratulations, Tracy! What a wonderful position for you to explore more of the themes we have discussed in this class, as well as others that we weren’t yet able to touch on. What an exciting opportunity 🙂 They are lucky to have you. Best, Paige

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