Explorations in Integration
First Nation's ways of knowing and the history of the First Nation's people was woven across the curricula throughout my final practicum in a Grade 4 class.
For Language Arts, we completed a novel study on "The Birchbark House", by Louise Erdrich, which is the first book in a four book series known as The Birchbark series. The story follows the life of Omakayas and her Ojibwe community beginning in 1847 near present-day Lake Superior. The Birchbark House has received rave reviews and was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for young people’s fiction.
The children completed their choice of final project to demonstrate their learning, which ranged from dioramas to stop motion animation.
We were privileged to attend a Metis cultural day at a neighbouring school, and I was able to document the visit to produce a video for the children on our learning. We discussed what we saw and experienced, and how it was similar or different from what we have learned of the Ojibwe culture.
The Nanaimo Museum was able to attend our school with an excellent presentation on the local First Nation's artifacts and how the settlers changed their way of life. I created a presentation for this learning as well which was posted to Freshgrade for the parents, however it is not able to be shared publicly for privacy reasons.
The Blanket Exercise
Our learnings about First Nation's culture culminated with the Blanket excercise. Together with my Sponsor teacher, we adapted the original KAIROS script to differentiate and engage our young learners. I now have a wonderful script designed for grade 3-4-5 that is able to be presented to younger children to discuss the First Nation's experience with Colonization and Assimilation.
Cross Curricular Novel Study
BIRCHBARK HOUSE Grade 4 Novel Study UNIT PLAN
Overview of Unit Topic/Theme: This 20 lesson unit of 45 min lessons is based on a novel study of the book The BirchBark House by Louise Erdrich.
This unit is cross curricular, focusing on both Language Arts and Social Studies.
We will be experimenting with inquiry based learning by having the learners choose one of 5 final projects to focus on. Guiding questions will be profiled by graphic organizers and note taking from oral stories will be the central exercises. We will be focusing on comprehension strategies for the literary elements of Character, Plot, Setting ,and Cultural Study. We will be using graphic organizers, and we will be applying what we have learned and our reflective thoughts on our learnings to our final projects. Criteria for our final projects will be co-created, and we will be self reflecting on our finished projects. Final projects will be used as summative assessment tool for understanding/appreciation of First Nations culture and comprehension of oral stories.
This unit plan is designed for a grade 4 class with a wide variety of literacy levels. It incorporates graphic organizers with multiple ways to express learning for differentiation. Each chapter is read aloud for learners to comprehend, and 'so basically' summation discussions will be implemented at story breaks for learners to go deeper into their understanding. “Stop and Jot” protocols will be introduced allowing learners to request time to write down or illustrate key points. The use of exit tickets will encourage metacognition about the learning process. The creation of a final project to express their thoughts and deep learning about their inquiry question allows for diverse representations of their learning.
Final Project Options:
Culminating Task(s): Culminating task will be the presentation of their final projects in a gallery walk, and a self assessment based on the co-created criteria. Projects will be marked on demonstrated depth of knowledge of the culture studied, attention to detail, and creativity of the project.
Karina Strong is currently a full time Education student at VIU in the Post Bac program. Her undergraduate degree is in Social Work and Small Business Management. She is a professional Circus performer and owner of Vesta Entertainment, a multifaceted entertainment company on Vancouver Island.