Saturday, September 26, 2009

Love Medicine Big Read Book Selection

The YMCA Writer's Voice and The Parmly Library are two of the sponsors for this year's Big Read. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of the American culture.

I learned yesterday that the Big Read has materials available for classrooms that want to participate. I also learned that the Big Read will be part of the High Plains BookFest in Billings, MT on Friday October 2, 2009 at the Western Heritage Museum.

"The Native American theme of this year's High Plains BookFest is derived from Love Medicine. Concurrent with the Parmly Billings Library Book Awards is the 7th Annual BookFest sponsored by the YMCA Writer's Voice. For information on the BookFest contact Corby Skinner The Bookfest and the Big Read are designed to engage new audiences, and foster conversations about how literature addresses the challenges, rewards and many unique aspects of Native American life."

Louise Erdrich book Love medicine is about two Chippewa families living in North Dakota struggling to balance Native American tradition with the modern world. This book is considered a modern classic. The National Endowment for the Arts developed the teacher's guide as part of the classroom materials.

"Love Medicine" is written for "YA (high school)/Adult audience. The Big Read is working to have community discussion about the book. The Big Read has teaching materials as well as copies of the book available for classrooms that want to participate. As an adult if you want to sign up for the book discussion call 657-8258.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Loss In the Lives of Children

Jennifer Greene tells the story of the Bitterroot Salish's forced removal from their homes in 1891. Her story is in the Fall edition of Teaching Tolerance; it is titled Connected to Everything. She tells the story of one family who lost their home.

Many of our students today are also dealing with loss: foreclosures, death, divorce, moving. In the Extension Activities she shows ways to constructively cope with loss. She gives some concrete examples of connecting what happened to her ancestor's in the Bitterroot Valley and our students today.

The quarterly magazine Teaching Tolerance is a project from the Southern Poverty Law Center; I have found it to be timely and very thought provoking. The article and lesson ideas by Jennifer Greene I believe will provide classes with the opportunity to discuss what happened in the past as well as what is happening to our students in contemporary America.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Corps of Discovery and Blackfeet Encounter

This summer I had the good fortune to be a part of the Laurel Montana Writing Project, one of the other members, Kari Leibel, did a great lesson on point of view. She used the Lewis and Clark Journals "July 3 - August 12, 1806" and the DVD "Two Worlds at Two Medicine" by Curly Bear Wagner and Dennis Neary (Available from Going-to-the-Sun).

We examined what the journals said and watched clips from the video narrated by tribal elders discussing the tribal experience with Lewis and Clark. This allowed the students to grapple with interpretive problems helping the class develop the process of noticing and acknowledging difficulties in understanding text. (The Literature Workshop by Sheridan Blau)

Another book that describes Native Americans meeting the Corps of Discovery is the "Bad River Boys" by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve; describing the meeting between the Lakota Sioux and Lewis and Clark. This event is written in the Lewis and Clark journals dated 23 - 25 September 1804. Sneve writes about the experience from the Lakota Sioux point of view.

When students examine historic events from different points of view it helps them develop critical thinking and higher level thinking skills.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Can't Have Bannock But the Beaver Has a Dam

Author: Wheeler, Bernelda (Cree/Ojibwe/Metis)
Illustrator: Herman Bekkering
Publisher: Peguis Publishers, Limited (1984)
ISBN: 13: 978-1895411485, pbk, black & white, 32 pages
Source: Oyate
Price: $11.00

A young boy is told that he can't have bannock because there is no electricity for the oven. This is a great book to use predicting strategies with for K-2 students. The pictures give great clues about what is happening. In my school, my students did not know what bannock was. Using predicting strategies and listening to the classroom responses; the lesson took about 20 minutes. If you just read the story it takes just a few minutes.

At the end of the story the author includes a recipe for traditional bannock.

My students loved the story and eagerly tried to predict what bannock was and what the beaver had to do with the story. In later library story times I read about beavers. The original story acted as an anchor story for our discussions.

Bernelda Wheeler was the first female aboriginal journalist in Canada. She was known for her work with CBC radio, interviewing First Nations people, issues and events. Sadly she died from cancer Sept 10, 2005.