Positive momentum follows workshop for Indigenous Language Instructors

(Dec. 21, 2016) – Indigenous Language Instructors for Northland School Division No.61 (NSD61), Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council (KTC), Bigstone Cree Nation and High Prairie School Division participated in a workshop during the week of December 5, 2016. This professional learning opportunity primarily focused on unpacking the Cree Language Program of Studies and learning how to translate the information into teaching moments.

The Cree Language Program of Studies is a legal document approved by Alberta Education that outlines what students learn and what outcomes they should achieve. The outcomes allow teachers to involve Elders and community members in learning process for topics like local community history, local family dynamics or storytelling. Linda Pelly-Landrie, who teaches Indigenous Language Education courses at the University of Alberta, guided instructors through the unpacking journey.

 “Linda was able to show them what to do so they can see how they teach Cree Language to students using the Program of Studies,” said Pearl Calahasen, First Nations, Métis Pedagogical Supervisor for NSD61. “The work was really intense but they [Cree Language Instructors] truly enjoyed it because they were learning something they can apply in their work.”

Group photo following the

Group photo following the Cree Language workshop for Indigenous Language Instructors at Northland School Div. 61


The workshop provided a perfect venue for instructors to share and learn at the same time.

“Some instructors brought their ideas to the table to show how they teach Cree Language,” said Calahasen. “One showed how she teaches Cree as a first language for all levels and others talked about developing posters using the words and changing things so spelling is consistent. We also reviewed resources currently used and new resources to support the program of studies.”

As a group, instructors developed a better understanding for the Total Physical Response (TPR) theory. TPR is a method of teaching language or vocabulary concepts by using physical movement to react to verbal input. In the attached video below, Indigenous Language instructors participated in an engaging activity to see how this technique can be used with students.

 Following the TPR exercise, the workshop concluded with a talking circle which allows instructors to reflect on what they learned and to provide feedback for future professional development. Calahasen says the talking circle taught her that instructors are hungry for more learning.

 “During evaluation, they [instructors] told us they want to learn more about the Cree Language Program of Studies, how to build long range plans, learn more about classroom management and what kind of resources are we going to be using, so we can deal with it as a group,” said Calahasen. “We [NSD61 First Nations, Metis Education] Team know the areas we have to concentrate on for workings moving forward.” This was the second workshop organized for Indigenous Language Instructors. Upcoming workshops will be announced in 2017.

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