Author Archives: smagnussen

Literacy Resources …

  1. Incorporating digital media into our classrooms can help Aboriginal Legends come to life. Using a QR code, teachers can help to safely guide students to specific stories and legends without lengthy web searches. Using a QR code reader, such as Qrafter, scan the below bar code. You will be immediately directed to open up the URL and there will be Grandmother Spider Brings The Sun. This is the narration of the book by the same name by Navajo author Geri Kearns. ( You can get to it through this link too, but have fun and try the code!)img_6609




This was an interesting website to come upon. Please take the opportunity on the site  to listen to this interview by Margaret James. She talks about children coming into school with Aboriginal English, which is what  I have been writing about in my paper; we call it English as a Second Dialect here in BC (ESD). She emphasizes that students need to learn to read in their first language, then will transfer the skills. These books will be not focusing on the gender or pluralizing of words. I am curious to get my hands on one to take a look.



I am so pleased to have found the work of Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse. This video is called How Can Literacy Be Fostered in Aboriginal Kids? She reveals the research that no matter the mother language of the student, English or French will be their second dialect. The child has picked up nuances embedded in their language and bring these to the classroom. These differences need to be valued, even if standard English is the goal. This can be confusing for the child when taught with an emphasis on gender, punctuation etc. The students really have to be “bi-dialectical”, that is having the ability to function in 2 worlds. A variety of resources and exemplars in the classroom will help to create  a positive learning environment.




If you want to get connected on Twitter and become more informed about the issues of importance for Aboriginal people, check out this link. You can follow groups such as @Reconciliation Canada or @IENearth, a group of Indigenous people fighting for environmental justice or follow individuals such as @UrbanNativeGirl, From the Tsilhqot’in Nation, Lisa Charleyboy is the Editor for Urban Native Magazine. She’s a well known thought leader in the Aboriginal community and keeps up to date on events and news.


5.  Indigenous Education in Canada PSA. In the below video,a 17 year old Indigenous youth in Nunavut talks about her history. She reflects on screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-9-43-17-pmthe 51% drop out rate and the importance of heritage and culture being taught in the schools as part of change. Encouraging more Aboriginal People to go into the field of education would support our children in their schools. Relationships between educators and Aboriginal Peoples must be strengthened as language and culture comes into the classroom, with an emphasis on the importance of this for all students.










Module 3 Literacy Journey Continuing

  1. What is First Voices ?

“FirstVoices is a group of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching & culture revitalization”. It offers materials in over 60 languages as well as in May, 2016 launched a keyboard which can be downloaded in Mac or Android to offer Indigenous youth the ability to type and communicate in their own language! This was a request I just had in our own school district so I am thrilled to find this and look forward to hearing about it’s possible success.

2.  This guide, found at contains information concerned with promoting literacy and language development in young Aboriginal children. Links to many online  resources are available, as well as resources from the Aboriginal Childcare Society are available to borrow or purchase. Links to programs such as PALS, teaching information on literacy and language for young children and a link to the First Nations language building guide in BC are some of the many resources found here.screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-1-31-50-pm


3. screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-1-32-01-pm


This paper summarizes what is currently known about language and literacy development for Aboriginal children under the age of 6 in Canada. Although I am focusing my literacy research on school aged children, the background of speech –language development and its relationship to literacy later on is integral. We must be aware that Aboriginal children often do not speak in traditional home dialects of English or French, but that these dialects be recognized and respected, not looked at as speech impediments or learning disabilities. Again, this one won’t link directly but needs to be copied and pasted into your browser.



This article is a qualitative research study of Indigenous youth in public education in Canada. Background research describing the difficulties facing aboriginal youth in our public school system is outlined, highlighting poverty, effects of residential schools and difficulties in the relationships between Aboriginal families and the schools. “Accordingly, the present study focuses on a qualitative exploration of the perspectives of small groups of Aboriginal students (Grades 4 through 8) as well as teachers at their schools, regarding facilitators and barriers to school success, including self-concept and academic aspirations. Although this is a small study, capturing the views of a few students and teachers, it is novel in terms of its multi-reporter approach as well as its focus on the voices of Aboriginal students that are rarely heard in the research community”.



Its Not an opinion: It’s A fact (You Tube),  looks at the facts surrounding Indigenous people in Canada, mostly in percentages rating the differences between Native and non-Native Canadians in everything from poverty rates, school completion, job opportunities and incarceration statistics. The film ends with the statement, ”There is hope”. Hope, I believe, lies in the relationships between First Nation Canadians and non-First Nations Canadians, relationships which are gaining strength through reconciliation, understanding and an improved BC Curriculum. It was heartening hearing the stories of youth in the videos at the end of Module 3.

Indigenous Literacy & Language

As I continue on my journey exploring  language and literacy development of Aboriginal children in Canadian schools,  I have benefited greatly from our forum discussions and the following websites, videos and literature.

  1. The following video  is a wonderful place to start when thinking of literacy as communication and the blend of traditional literacy and digital literacy to empower human connectedness and literacy, in any culture.




2. This document, Fostering Literacy Success for First Nations, Metis and inuit Students,screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-7-36-14-amreflects the importance of a bilingual approach to literacy, recognizing that many FNMI students communicate in non-standard forms of English/French “For these students, literacy success is cultivated by individualized programs that support their identity; experiences and relationships to the world”.  The below link does not work here on this blog but paste into browser and it links fine!




3. First Nations 101 a basic starting point for exploring the history of the First Nations People of Canada. It aims at supporting true reconciliation between First Nations and non-First Nations people. It was published in June, 2011 to celebrate National Aboriginal History month and in the Sunshine Coast School District was given to all teachers in 2013.



This website   screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-7-46-16-am

focus’ on the need for literacy development in digital media as well as traditional reading, writing and numeracy. “Although the number of literacy models that exist are extensive and sometimes confusing, researchers agree on a few key principles:

 Parental involvement in literacy initiatives is invaluable – the younger the child, the higher the value First Nations children need instruction and literacy development in their own traditional language just as much as the mainstream language. Orality is a traditional literacy skill that has endured since time immemorial in First Nations communities and continues to be an important one. Children should be encouraged to both listen to and tell stories and express themselves orally from a young age. Connecting with Elders can help children and adults develop traditional literacies”



Do You Speak My Language – Mi’kmaw at First Nations School in Nova Scotia is a video focusing on why young aboriginal students are losing their traditional language. It is based on interviews with elders discussing the influence of television in their communities in 1954.

Let me find my talk so I can teach you about me.

Students interviewing elders in their community end up being interviewed themselves about the importance of their traditional languages and how to preserve them for future generations.



Building on literacy

Here are my first 5 websites/resources all with a focus on literacy, literature and storytelling with a digital lens:)


This website was created as a resource highlighting the history of storytelling and how using digital stories can bring storytelling into the digital age. Storytelling has always been a means to pass knowledge and teaching to the younger generation in Indigenous communities.

With the release of the findings and recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, these teachings are even more important to preservice Indigenous cultures in Canada to teach youth about ethics, concepts and practices found within each nation. screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-44-10-pm

Although this website celebrates many different books by Canadian authors, this link is directly to a celebration of literacy through picture books honoring the heritage, achievements and cultures of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. It was created to celebrate National Aboriginal History month.


This is the website for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Here we can find many classroom activities for young children to reinforce the culture of Indigenous groups in Canada in public school classrooms. With an emphasis on storytelling, the 6 major regions of First Nations in Canada are represented. Audio clips of First Nation legends are available for the teacher to use in her learning environment.


The annotated listings provided in this guide identify currently available authentic First Peoples texts that students can work with to meet provincial standards related to literacy as well as a variety of specific subject areas.

The guide is intended to help BC educators introduce resources that reflect First Peoples knowledge and perspectives into classrooms in respective ways. The inclusion of authentic First Peoples content into classrooms supports all students in developing an understanding of the significant place of First Peoples within the historical and contemporary fabric of this province and provides culturally relevant materials for Indigenous learners in British Columbia.



This resource examines the importance of Storytelling as the foundation for literacy development for Aboriginal children. There is substantial evidence that Aboriginal youth face serious challenges in schooling, in general, and in literacy development, specifically. Thus, it is essential to design early literacy programs that engage Aboriginal children and produce positive outcomes. In this article, the authors propose that such programs include oral storytelling by teachers and students because it is a precursor to reading and writing across cultures and a traditional Aboriginal teaching tool. Links   to research could support an exploration of literacy development in the Aboriginal population.