The importance of including FNMI perspectives and principles in the classroom is a major focus in Ontario and Canada. The Ontario (and other provinces!) government has a multitude of documents that explore various Indigenous perspectives, strategies for the classroom, appropriate approaches with connections to the curriculum, and more. As preservice teachers, we are learning more and more that Indigenous world views and perspectives can be explicitly taught and be integrated as part of the everyday classroom culture. There is a benefit to doing both. The following is description of the lesson demonstration we did as well as a personal reflection on the outcome.
For this assignment, we were challenged to demonstrate an explicit FNMI and social studies curriculum teaching opportunity to our fellow teachers. Our target was as follows:
GRADE 8 – HISTORY
Canada 1890-1914: A Changing Society
B1. Application: Canada – Past and Present
B1.2 analyse some of the challenges facing different individuals, groups, and/or communities in Canada between 1890 and 1914 and compare some of these challenges with those facing present-day Canadians
And more?! Especially for extension activities (B1.1, B2.1)
We chose to do a puzzle activity that challenged students to make connections to the “Indian Residential Schools“. The activity worked as follows:
Students were separated into four separate groups. The whole class was given instructions to complete as many puzzles as possible. Each group was assigned a colour and used a device to access their specific group instructions. Each group was also given a different pre-determined puzzle that corresponded to their colour. The groups were unaware of each other’s instructions.
RED – received puzzle with missing pieces and was not allowed to speak to communicate.
BLUE – received full puzzle, but had to stop when the teacher said, “freeze” to complete and unrelated task.
GREEN – received full puzzle and could freely talk to communicate
After about 7-8 minutes, we would reconvene as a class and reflect on each group’s experience with the activity. The final chart presented should be completed during the rest of the activities. We suggest explicitly asking students about the differences between the past and the present situations.
This activity is a great lead for more inquiry with respect to the Residential schools throughout Canada.
The full presentation can be viewed here: FNMI Perspectives Lesson Demo
The students were able to make connections to the residential schools, but struggled to identify exactly what each variable represented. We created a chart to discuss the Indigenous education situation in the past and compare it to the situation in the present and showed it to the class earlier to kick start their thinking. Upon reflection, I would suggest pre-readings/pre-discovery about the residential schools to get students thinking critically in relation to that situation.
I also would suggest becoming very comfortable with the facts and stories surrounding the residential schools. I took the time to visit the Woodland Culture Centre in Brantford, Ontario and was completely overwhelmed and humbled by the experience. This residential school is the last remaining school in Ontario, and 1 of 8 remaining in Canada. Touring the school and hearing from Indigenous people who had relatives in the school was very informative. I wish I had visited this school before teaching this lesson so I could better answer the class’ questions. I also believe it is imperative to take students here as part of their experiential learning.
As always, please provide some feedback and tips if you read/use this lesson.