Tag Archives: literacy

Module 4 Weblog – Paige McClelland


  • So far, this is one of the most impressive resources on Canadian Indigenous literacy that I have seen. Yipee! Basically, this site is a collection of resources that the University of Saskatchewan put together to help those who are interested in understanding Indigenous history and finding credible information that can help them change policy, develop resources, or simply learn more about Indigenous culture. I am completely blown away by the collection of resources (articles, book reviews, e-books, images, media, theses, and web sites), lack of broken links, and excellent descriptions of resources. I truly feel like the University of Saskatchewan has built a collective resource for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike. I had been having a tough time finding resources that were accessible and provided accessible information. Finding resources like this one is truly exciting because it helps me to see the potential for technology to help develop effective communities of practice!



  • I found this site as I was searching for resources on local school board sites. (I had never thought to do this, but now it seems so obvious. It’s important to learn what types of resources and practices are being shared in my local community.) Because I am focusing on literacy for my final project, naturally, I gravitated toward the literacy section of this site. However, there are plenty of other interesting resources, including ones on cultural awareness and wellness. In the literacy section, I really like how there are videos that showcase both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perceptions of Indigenous literacy. It reminds me of the importance of the “two-way interaction” that we learned about the other week. Through these videos, I was able to hear from Indigenous people and also hear how non-Indigenous people worked through these teachings, voicing concerns or questions that I also had.



  • This wonderful site is maintained by First Nations, Metis, and Inuit staff of Edmonton Public Schools. Essentially, it’s a collection of reviews for resources (mostly books and movies) that share good recommendations as well as resources “to weed out.” I think these types of websites are important for educators as they decide on which books and other sources to share in the classroom. This site also connects educators (or whomever is using the site) to the Edmonton Public Library. I have been trying to find resources that link out to other local sites (either online or physical), because I think it’s really important for us to find connections within our local communities and learn about what is available, too.



  • This resource is such a fantastic idea in terms of using technology as a way for students to build knowledge rather than simply use technology as a way to store knowledge. This Google Doc provides open access to a list of recommended books to help Indigenous learners develop their language and literacy skills. For each book, the curators have provided an annotated bibliography, project ideas/activities, and curricular links, so that educators have a way to guide meaningful learning opportunities through reading, discussion, and active participation. There are so many ideas I have to link this resource to place-based learning. Literature is such a wonderful way for people to connect to the world around them, but knowing where to look for these sources is extra wonderful.



  • I have come to grow really fond of Jan Hare’s work in the field of Indigenous literacy development for children and youth. She has expanded my limited view of literacy (typically thought of as reading and writing) and opened it up to a holistic model that is not just important for Indigenous learners, but I believe for all learners. In my search for this Weblog/the final research project, I stumbled upon a UBC article in which Dr. Hare discusses the significance of having parents involved in Indigenous youths’ literacy and language learning. Prior to this finding, I had mostly been focusing on resources that could help the educator find appropriate resources for the classroom, without considering the important role that Indigenous parents could/should play. (Even though we have read about the importance of community involvement in Indigenous students’ learning, this has been difficult for me to conceptualize. Finding these resources has helped me broaden my perception of community and understand the critical role of parents or other caretakers.) In the article, Dr. Hare discusses that an effective strategy for youth to learn more about their own culture is for youth to teach their own parents. In this way, both parents and students are engaged in learning through their history. This also shows that there are “many pathways to learning,” and in that, we need to be considering more informal approaches. This led me to Dr. Hare’s article, “They Tell a Story and There’s Meaning Behind that Story: Indigenous Knowledge and Young Indigenous Children’s Literacy Learning.” What an amazing resource in terms of discussing the importance of storywork, the influence of family and other community members in literacy learning, and the necessity for Indigenous children to learn from (not just about) Indigenous knowledge.

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.

Module 2 Weblog Entry – Paige McClelland

Charlo, A. (2015, March 27). Indigenous language revitalization [Video]. Retrieved from Ted Talk website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kuC_IemiCs

  • In this video, April Charlo shares her experience of learning about her native language and its powerful connection to the land and people. She realizes that the Salish language doesn’t have the concept of ownership in regards to the natural world, by recognizing she had been using the word “my” in relation to the natural world for many years. She expresses, “What if I had been forcing unnatural concepts into the language of my people; what if my efforts were actually changing the true essence of my people forever?” For me, this was the most powerful moment of the video, because I realized the real power that language has in seemingly small exchanges. Reflecting on ancestral stories, April realizes that the concept of ownership was forged from the colonial era in which some of her ancestors were forced to own land. They had to develop an “adapt or die” mentality in order to survive, which didn’t align with their values or traditions. To April, language revitalization is much more than simply the language, but respecting and promoting the values and concepts that are attached to it. She ends with a powerful message: By focusing less on ownership and more on connection, how can one become more connected with the natural world?
  • As educators, how do we recognize when we might be forcing unnatural concepts on other cultures? I think this is an important question to reflect on when considering culturally responsive language learning.

Hare, J. (2014, April 4). A dialogue with Jan Hare: Professor in Indig. Education for Teacher Education. Retrieved from YouTube website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRfwcCxkrtg

  • In this course, I have really enjoyed reading Dr. Hare’s work, so I sought out more resources presented/written by her! Dr. Hare specializes in Indigenous education for teacher education (particularly in B.C.). At the beginning of this video, she poses the following question: If Indigenous knowledge is not just about being inclusive, then how do we center Indigenous knowledge? This is a question that I have been particularly interested in since the beginning of the term, especially in relation to advancing and preserving Indigenous languages. While Dr. Hare doesn’t state specific answers, I think she poses really important discussion prompts, such as “how do we develop new tools for interpreting old knowledge” in our practice and pedagogy? She also references the popular quotation, “It’s education that got us into this mess, and it’s education that will get us out,” ultimately arguing that we can transform our practice to integrate Indigenous knowledge and reshape curriculum in a way that is more centered. In terms of my research project focused on literacy, I am interested in ways that I can transform my current practice and help others to do the same, so that Indigenous knowledge is not only recognized and included, but also centered and grounded in language learning for all learners.

Maina, F. (1997). Culturally relevant pedagogy: First Nations education in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies XVII, 2, 293-314. Retrieved from http://www3.brandonu.ca/cjns/17.2/cjnsv17no2_pg293-314.pdf

  • Although this journal article is dated, I think it provides important information for educators on culturally responsive pedagogy. While technology has changed substantially since the publishing of this article, a lot of the issues regarding a culturally responsive classroom remain the same. It’s important for educators to provide space for both traditional and modern expressions of culture, and technology is potential way to do that. After reading this article, I was struck by the incredible responsibility that teachers have to “present complex, sensitive material in a way that helps the students understand the realities of their past and present while maintaining a positive outlook for the future.” When considering mobile education for literacy, there are certainly many options to provide material, but how do we ensure we are being sensitive in our selection of material? Is it up to us, even? Should it be?

Teaching for Indigenous Education. (n.d.). Key learning ideas [Web page]. Retrieved from http://www.indigenouseducation.educ.ubc.ca/language/key-learning-ideas/

  • Inspired by Dr. Hare’s work, I was directed to this website, which offers some fantastic resources, information, and scholarly work on 8 topics relevant to Indigenous education today. Each topic focuses on key learning ideas, Indigenous perspectives, enhancing understanding, classrooms connections, and additional resources. Since my research topic is on language and literacy, I gravitated toward that topic, but I think this whole website will be extremely valuable in this ETEC course and beyond. Under the classroom connections tab under the Languages topic, I was stunned by the extensive material provided for preservice and practicing teachers. It has been difficult to find classroom material that has been developed by Indigenous people for language and literacy, so I am really excited by these resources and its connection to the B.C. curriculum!

Walkus, J. (2015, December 11). Language is our life line [Video]. Retrieved from TED Talk website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqleT-kB6GU

  • In this Ted Talk, Joye Walkus shares her experience of learning the Indigenous language, Kwak’wala. She describes learning the language from her mother and now deceased “Gramps,” and connecting her family’s history with her present and future passion of sharing this language with her daughter and broader community. Her wish is for the language to survive, because learning a language isn’t simply about learning words in isolation–it is about sharing experiences and describing the depth of those experiences with those around us to learn and share. After watching this video, I have a deeper appreciation for the necessity to keep Indigenous languages alive, as it is a bridge that unites the past with the present and future and provides deeper meaning for all.
  • In connecting this to education, my question is, how can we bridge the “informal” styles of learning a language within the formal context of a school?

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok_b46A9hvE


2. http://honeyant.com.au/aboriginal-education/screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-44-17-pm


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.


3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbccTPEgBhs

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrUw1WYfZXc










Module 3 Literacy Journey Continuing

  1. What is First Voices ? http://www.firstvoices.com/

“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 http://portal.acc-society.bc.ca/literacy/storytelling 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 http://www.firstnations101.com/is 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 http://firstnationspedagogy.ca/FNliteracy.html   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.



First Nations Pedagogy Online


Literacy has, historically, been continually  looked at through a mainstream lens that does not typically  fit with Aboriginal culture and needs.  It has been realized that, although, there are many literacy models out there, a few key principles are true.  For example,  First Nations children require literacy development in their traditional languages as well as mainstream language, children should be encouraged to tell stories and express themselves orally as seen in First Nations culture and finally connecting with Elders can help develop traditional literacies.

During colonization,  traditional teaching styles used to teach theory and hands on lessons were repressed; however, as we push for 21st century learning and teaching, it has been realized that these styles are extremely valuable in teaching aboriginal and non aboriginal students.

Module 1 post 1


Module 2 post 5

Module 2 post 5- interactions and inter-relationships around text- Peter Martin

This article looks at one science lesson (a micro-ethnographic study)in a Bruneian classroom and observes the reading/learning practices in a classroom made up of  purely Indigenous students. The study looks at how indigenous students cross literacy boundaries inherent in learning in two foreign languages (English and Malay) while having no access to their own mother tongue in a learning environment.