In Grade 2, Cluster 2 social studies, students learn about Canadian Communities. This year I was fortunate on two accounts. Firstly, our speech pathologist, who also works at Norway House, helped me connect with a grade 2 teacher (April Anderson) in HBOIERC School; therefore, we studied that community. April and I discussed our unit of studies and decided to write a book modeled after David Bouchard`s book, If You`re Not From the Prairie. Hence If You`re Not From Norway House and If You`re Not From Elm River were born. We did our projects in the form of a PowerPoint, so it would be easier to send to each other`s schools. We also completed a comparison chart on our own community with information based on the Learning Experiences outlined in the grade 2 curriculum.
LapbooksAfter receiving the PowerPoint and comparison chart, I decided to have my students create a lapbook to record some of the facts and interesting details about Norway House. This was the first time I`d worked with a lapbook. There are oodles of ideas and templates available on line; however, it seems to me that most of them require tons of photocopying, cutting and pasting, not to mention hordes of scrap paper in the end. I wanted to avoid all of that, so I did my own version of it using paper cut-offs which a friend gets from a printer, and made various foldables and booklets. We included a comparison chart, "brochure" on Norway House, travel and education info, and a section on what we learned from Mrs. Boychuk. (See below for more information about her.) The library pocket contains a temporary National Aboriginal Day tattoo and bookmark.
Secondly, my supervisor helped me connect with the librarian at La Verendrye School in Portage la Prairie. She grew up in Norway House and graciously agreed to prepared a PowerPoint presentation (with the help of her husband Mr. Scott Boychuk) and display especially for my class. Mrs. Ila Boychuk even volunteered to bake bannock for us! We were invited to the LVS library for the event and it proved to be a wonderful culmination to our unit on Norway House. Having this presentation at the end of the unit was great as the students already had some knowledge and had prepared some questions of information they still wanted to learn about Norway House. All of us left with a new awareness and appreciation of this northern Manitoba community and a longing to visit it someday.
An Aboriginal craft activity my class also did was create simple dream catchers. I combined ideas from two different Pinterest sites: Dream Catcher - 1 and Dream Catcher 2. What I liked about the second link is the instructions on creating the web section of the dream catcher - it`s similar to string art.
National Aboriginal DayOne of the events celebrated in Norway House is National Aboriginal Day. I believe each school receives a package of information on this celebration each spring which includes activity booklets and bookmarks. I still had mine from a previous year, so it was much more meaningful to my students when I handed them out as we were studying about an Aboriginal community. They felt the booklets and bookmarks were sent to them directly from Norway House!
Having the above mentioned connections enabled me to teach this unit in a real-world, meaningful manner. No matter how great books, websites and videos are, it`s the human connection that makes all the difference in the world!