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First Nations People - Project Planning

"By being on the land, you develop an understanding of who you are in the world, you develop a sense of place, belonging and security."

Initially one of our primary objectives was to utilize technology to breakdown the classroom walls, which historically have isolated teachers from one another. We wanted our students to be able to share their learning and discover new learning together and thought it might be made possible by using the information conduit of working online. Once we embarked on our journey we quickly realized that the project was taking us into areas that we had never anticipated.

During the preplanning stage, we realized that we did not know these native people at all. We had no stories that would help us relate to them. Initially we approached the unit in the traditional way by first trying to plan activities. After a long and arduous process we realized the traditional ways of teaching were leading us nowhere and instead the project was becoming unmanageable and had no sense of direction just "activities" with teaching to connect them. It wasn't until we established our focus and an essential understanding that we wanted the students to reach about the First Nations People, that everything fell into place. We realized that it would take an incredible amount of time to create our story of how we came to know these people before we could bring it to our students. We formally outlined our philosophical understanding, and began to make headway in developing our project.

After 3 months of weekly planning and discussion with our mentor teacher from the Galileo Educational Network, our project started to take shape. At this point we realized that we would each have to follow a separate path to get to know our own native groups. Our quest was for authenticity. We branched out to research the native groups through museum visits, study of archival resources and listening to the voices and stories of various native people. Our paths would then again converge as we began to introduce our students to the First Nations People. We hoped that our students would come away with a sensitivity to another culture and perhaps be able to appreciate and understand another point of view. We also wanted to develop a depth of understanding and empathy that would take them beyond sweeping generalizations.

View the resources that we used for the planning and the project.
We planned various supplemental activities and visits that would extend the understandings of the students beyond the classroom walls:

  • a visit to the Glenbow Museum (teachers accessed the archives, students and teachers spent a full day at the museum exhibits)
  • One Day School (a coordinator from the museum came out to two of the schools to work with the students)
  • visits from local guest speakers from the Stoney, Blackfoot and T'Suu Tina
  • Ghost River Rediscovery (Native Awareness week)

Copyright for student work remains with the authors.
All else copyright © 2002 Pam Irving, Lorraine Flavelle and Galileo Educational Network Association