First Nations Students – All Students!

Thank you to our cohort colleague, Jasmeet for sharing with me Learning styles of American Indian/Alaska Native Students: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Practice.  This article published in the Journal of American Indian Education included an impressive list of resources worthy of further investigation. Also significant to this article was the urging that a study of FN learning styles was not intended to further stereotype FN people but to encourage educators to develop sufficient knowledge of, understanding of, and relationship with their students to be able to better support their learning.

“In order to provide a viable educational environment for American Indian/Alaska Native students, teachers should try to identify the learning styles of their students, match their teaching styles to students’ learning styles for difficult tasks (Lippitt, 1993), and broaden “deficit thinking” learning styles through easier tasks and drills. All students, regardless of ethnicity, stand to benefit from an understanding of different cultural values.” (Pewewardy, 2002 p. 34)

Would that educators followed these wise words for all students. Our current British Columbian school system is not designed, organized, employed to meet the needs of our FN students. Is it designed to meet the needs of any of our students? This article calls for personalization of learning for all students.

“This research indicates that curriculum or educational models that select one body of information to be presented to all students at a set time and at some forced rate cannot possibly accommodate all learners.” (Pewewardy, 2002 p.) Anywhere, anytime learning? Sound familiar?

Personalized Learning in British Columbia This just out on Friday Oct. 27 .

Pewewardy, C. (2002). Learning styles of american indian/alaska native students:a review of the literature and implications for practice. Journal of American indian Education, 41(3), Retrieved from

October 29, 2011   No Comments

Aboriginal Students – Off Reserve

As I have stated before, the area that encompasses my school district has no reserve, no band school, no officially recognized territory. The numbers of students of aboriginal ancestry attending our schools is steadily increasing. The numbers of students of aboriginal ancestry graduating from our schools is low.

I decided this week to investigate education of aboriginal students off reserve. From my last posts and the direction that these posts will be taking it must be obvious by now that I am unsure as to my focus for research.

I stumbled upon a 2004 report by the C.D. Howe institute titled, Aboriginal Off Reserve – Education:Time for Action. The report focuses on British Columbia and uses Foundation Skills Assessment results to compare achievement of aboriginal and non aboriginal students. Also provided in the report are proposed reforms for Aboriginal primary and secondary education.

This publication was followed in 2008 by Understanding the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Gap in Student Performance.

Richards, J., & Vining, A. C.D. Howe Institute, (2004). Aboriginal off reserve education:time for action. Retrieved from

Richards, J., Hove, J., & Afolabi, K. C.D. Howe Institute, (2008). Understanding the aboriginal/non aboriginal gap in student performance:lesson from british columbia. Retrieved from

October 18, 2011   No Comments

Statement Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a keen interest in the aboriginal support system employed by my school district. Continuous within my district is the cultural vs academic support debate. There are those who would see aboriginal support workers provide mostly academic support with only the occasional opportunity for students to engage in cultural activities. On the other side of the spectrum some education community members believe that cultural enhancement is key to academic success and must be maintained and developed further. Who is correct? Is the best chance for success a more equal opportunity to both academic and cultural support? What does the research indicate?

If research and inquiry does provide some insight to the above questions, what next? And . . . how might technology benefit and/or hinder support? As with all of our posts and responses to date in ETEC 521, question after question presents itself.

As I embark upon this study, I can’t help but be grateful for the relationships that are developing within this cohort and within my own educational community that will help guide me. This week I am completing the Inquiry Grant Application provided by the BCTF (BC Teachers’ Federation). The purpose of securing the grant would be to involve others in an inquiry based learning opportunity similar to that outlined above.

September 25, 2011   1 Comment

Technology Support for Aboriginal Students

It is my hope to investigate research that provides insight into the benefits of cultural and/or academic support for our indigenous students (with a technological connection). To limit my search field, I am looking to the Western Canadian Governments – BC Ministry of Education – Alberta Ministry of Education – Saskatchewan Aboriginal Education Research Network(AERN)

There are many links contained within the above sites that link to research.


September 25, 2011   No Comments

Success? And the definition is?

I apologize for the clumping of my posts but it was not till last night (at the hockey game after a conversation with a local principal) that I decided upon a possible area of focus for investigation and perhaps research. Will academic or cultural support for our aboriginal students best increase their chances for success? And of course the next question is “What is the definition of success?”

Week 2 of Module 1 had the cohort question ” . . .based on the readings, how are Indigenous communities different from other ethnic or mainstream communities with regard to values about progress, tradition, and technology? ” Does the definition of success differ between Indigenous and Mainstream culture?

The CMEC Summit on Aboriginal Education spoke of success as “eliminating the gaps between the educational achievement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in Canada.” Within the document was reference to the socioeconomic factors and cultural needs that need to be addressed within the context of furthering academic achievement.

Interestingly, I am having more success finding cited/peer reviewed research on this topic from an Australian indigenous perspective. (I find the same in the area of mathematics.) It was finally in an Ontario, What Works, Research into Practice, publication where I found not necessarily answers but the beginnings of a web of research.

Cmec summit on aboriginal education:strengthening aboriginal success. (2009, February). Retrieved from

Integrating aboriginal teaching and values in the classrroom. (2008, March). What Works? Research into Practice in , (11), Retrieved from

September 25, 2011   No Comments

In Support of Aboriginal Students

Is my district similar to others? My school district encompasses land that has no reserve, no band school, and for that matter no “officially” recognized nation. I live and work in the Kootenay Columbia (Kutenai) area of British Columbia. Slightly to the north of us, the Ktunaxa Nation is recognized but here, just north of the border, the people of the Sinixit continue to struggle for recognition.

Ten percent of our student population (four hundred) are of aboriginal ancestry. One percent of our teaching population are of aboriginal ancestry (two). The numbers of aboriginal students who are successful in our school communities is unacceptably low. To that end, targeted aboriginal education funds help provide our aboriginal students access to aboriginal support workers (all of whom, I believe, are of aboriginal ancestry).

It is here that the problems begin. With what should the workers be supporting our students? Cultural support? Academic support? In the  past clear beliefs have been identified between cultural and aboriginal but lately I see a blurring of the line.

As I first began to investigate cultural vs academic support for our students, my first findings took me to websites where support for both culture and academics is provided for university students. UNBC (University of Northern British Columbia) website was an excellent location for my first visit. It did not answer the question academic vs culture, it provide a unique perspective re supporting both and access to further research.


September 25, 2011   No Comments