Author Archives: tracy evans

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.

Digital Stories and Making the Languages Heard

This module’s blog posts are mainly what I have found in support of my final Web site project, where I will focus on digital storytelling and how it can be used in the classroom. It’s an exploration of stories told both through print and through digital media. The following links provide an opportunity for learners to explore story and to hear languages spoken.


  1. Indigenous Screen Cultures in Canada explores the roles of First Nations peoples in telling their own stories through film and television. I intend to highlight some of the science stories from APTN’s Coyote Science for students in an attempt to make classroom practice more culturally responsive, so I think exploring some background information for teachers is important.
  2. Culturally responsive teaching means including stories. Many of the print books I have found so far include text written in a language other than English (Cree, Blackfoot, Michif) but without a pronunciation guide, reading them aloud feels more harmful than good. For that reason, I think it is essential to include examples of spoken language such as David A. Robertson’s When We Were Alone pronunciation guide and Blackfoot app. I am still looking for other examples of multi-lingual digital stories.
  3. Regina teacher Aaron Warner and the @Treaty4project are working to use 100 days of Cree in the classroom and I think this is a good example of how a language comes off the page and a pronunciation guide is available online. It is essential for students to hear the words being spoken, especially for cultures that primarily teach through an oral tradition.
  4. Archibald’s Indigenous Storywork explores the importance of story in making classrooms more culturally responsive. I look forward to exploring this resource further after Week 9’s reading and exploration of culturally responsive classrooms. I think the role of making space for stories in our classrooms is highlighting the role of perspective.
  5. Wapikoni offers multilingual examples of First Nations stories told by First Nations peoples. Some stories are traditional stories while others are simply “a day in the life” slices of regular life. The production bus offers the opportunity for remote communities to participate in digital storytelling.

Aboriginal Voices: The Importance of Storytelling in Math and Science

Having narrowed down my research question onto the use of Aboriginal voices in digital media in classrooms, I have been able to focus my research a little better over the past couple of weeks. This week I have been looking particularly at how story fits into all strands of the curriculum; there are many teachers who feel the Aboriginal perspective doesn’t fit into their curriculum because they “don’t teach that unit”. Rather than a “one and done” approach, I would like to look at how stories told from the Aboriginal perspective in the voices of First Nations peoples can be woven through our classroom work particularly in science and math. The resources I have found this week include:

  1. Highlighting Aboriginal perspective in the classroom seems like an easy first step for teachers. Some of the unease for teachers remains in differentiating between when we are highlighting culture and when we are teaching religion, an uncomfortable distinction for many teachers, which often leads to simply ignoring the topic. An easy first step seems to be the integration of the Aboriginal perspective in the science classroom. APTN Kids provides teachers with bilingual links to powerful, research-based programing like Coyote Science and here that demonstrate that including the Aboriginal perspective in classrooms is as fundamental as the characters in the story. When Coyote helps to explain science concepts, includes a joke of the week and the medicine wheel is included in the set design, students see a valuable perspective. This is a good example of what happens when the First Nations perspective is woven through the resources used in the classroom.
  2. Show Me Your Math is a site developed by Lisa Lunney Borden and supported by her doctoral research that highlights the Aboriginal perspective in math learning. It highlights inquiry learning for students related to math that begins with authentic artifacts and continues through the use of authentic voices in telling the stories of the artefacts and the related math.
  3. My former board of education, the Regina Board of Education developed a list of resources related to an Indigenous calendar. The thinking being that teachers weave First Nations teachings into the curriculum throughout the year rather than viewing it as a stand-alone unit of teaching. The book Aboriginal Success in the Classroom highlight the fact that a First Nations perspective is just that: a lense for viewing classroom work.
  4. Two Eyed Seeing in the Classroom is an analysis of how the Aboriginal perspective can be highlighted in science classrooms. The paper explores how “Indigenous Sciences are underlain by the perception of multiple realities at that reality perceived by our five senses is but one of those.” (Cajete, 2000)
  5. Aboriginal Perspectives in Teaching Science from the University of Regina highlights the importance of First Nations stories and the role of Aboriginal Elders in the science classroom as essential guides for teachers in integrating this approach. The paper discusses the importance of understanding the philosophical underpinnings of the story and how story can be misunderstood and the lesson miscommunicated if the teller doesn’t fully understand the story.

In the next few weeks, I will continue to seek examples of stories told digitally and how they are being used in classrooms.

Module 1: Seeking a direction

I have not yet decided on a direction for my research in this class, but am sharing what I have come across so far as I consider the readings we have done so far and am beginning to look forward to my own research project:

In this together; Fifteen stories of truth and reconciliation


This collection of essays from indigenous and non-indigenous writers in Canada explores ideas related to the recommendations for truth and reconciliation. It is an eye-opening look at assumptions about first nations and colonization.

Metcalf-Chenail, D. (2016).  In this together; Fifteen stories of truth and reconciliation. Victoria: Brindle & Glass Publishing.


This website showcases Tedx-style conversations by members of first nations and settler allies, attempting to shed light on historical and present-day first nations. I particularly like this one because, in addition to sharing first nations perspectives, it also is shared online in a Tedx style that has become familiar to anyone who spends time online: a short, single-camera lecture by one person in front of an audience that then lives online to be shared. The short duration of each video makes them more palatable to online viewers.

Redx Talks and facebook

A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red is a Juno-award winning group of artists who mix traditional First Nations music with techno, hip-hop and electronica. They are active on social media platforms, interacting with audiences online and selling music via various online platforms. They are leveraging technology to share a modern iteration of First Nations culture

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Open Minds

Open Minds is a collaboration between the Calgary public and catholic school boards and private enterprises. Teachers work collaboratively with facilitators to use community sites as a classroom for a week of place-based learning with the intent that the work will form a year-long project.

Open Minds:

Cree in an App

Many schools with high First Nations populations now offer Cree as a language of choice for students rather than French. This seems to be a logical step in engaging students who have a much closer connection to Cree than they do to French. It’s a way of valuing a culture and allowing students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. These schools engage aboriginal elders who work in the schools. The Calgary Public Board of Education will be formally taking on initiatives to meet the calls for the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In planning for this, Learning Leaders acknowledge that this may lead to a bottleneck in terms of needing aboriginal elders and experts to work in classrooms where demand exceeds the supply. Some tools that may allow classrooms to make first forays into learning include online access to Cree dictionaries and language.

Cree Word a Day

Cree dictionary

Cree word of the day

Cree app 

I am interested in the ways first nation cultures live today and how we can share that in our classrooms as we look towards meeting the recommendations of the truth and reconciliation commission.