An AMAZING resource I discovered this year is the Strong Stories Series published by Strong Nations. I instantly fell in love with the Strong Story Series because I could see its incredible learning potential. I got right to work and made resources to support it!
Strong Nations’ website describes the series:
“Our Strong Stories focus on different First Nation territories from across Canada and the United States. These stories reflect the belief that our stories are the roots of our people, our lands and our cultures. It is from our stories that we grow and become strong and proud.”
Strong Stories include six book sets: Coast Salish Stories, Dakelh Stories, Kanyen'keha:ka Stories, Kwakwaka’wakw Stories, Métis Stories, and Tlingit Stories. Each set contains eight books. You can find the series here at: Strong Nations Strong Stories
How I Used This Amazing Resource:
I created student response booklets to support the stories in the Coast Salish and Tlingit series. These response booklets have students critically think about the information presented and create connections to their lives; creating a deeper understanding of the content. This can be done as a teacher directed lesson or in independent learning groups of three or four students.
Learning Groups: One Book at a Time (sets of 6 per title, a more costly version)
I live and work on the Coast Salish Territory, so naturally I began with that series. I organized my students into groups of 3 and 4 students. (In hindsight, I would recommend groups of three, so when they read, they can sit knee to knee with the middle person holding the book.) I would recommend one book per group, so ask your librarian, PAC or finance committee to purchase a set of 6 per title. (A cheaper approach is described further down.)
I assigned roles: Taskmaster, Reader, Detective, and in the case of a fourth person, Quality Control. The description of the roles are as follows:
Taskmaster: Reads the task sheet out loud and discusses with the group what information they are looking for to complete the assignment.
Reader: Reads the book or section aloud to the others in the group.
Detective: Looks and listens for clues; information important to the response sheet.
Quality Control: Makes sure everyone in the group has the correct information written in their booklets, is on task and completes the task to the best of their ability. (This can be a shared responsibility when there are only three people in the group.)
Again, this approach works best when there is a book per group. For my group of Grade 2s, I would initially read the book aloud, pointing out where to find specific information. Then I would get students to identify bolded topic titles and pictures while I read. After, the students would go off into their groups and read the book or section again in their assigned roles and complete the task.
Learning Groups: Stations (One book of each title - a cheaper version and better suited for older grades: 3,4, 5 and 6)
Again, I would create groups of 3 or 4, and assign roles as described above. The group members never change, but the roles would change every rotation. The groups would receive a different book each day; meaning every group would be working on a different book. Depending on your students’ independent learning abilities and the amount of adult support you have, this approach could be more difficult to achieve a meaningful response if students are unclear of their responsibilities. I would do a few practice tasks before attempting this station rotation, ensuring that this method is successful. (For example, use the groups and roles for a one off reading comprehension sheet.)
Students learn so many valuable skills from this method, above and beyond the actual content. It’s a slow but rewarding process; cultivating life-long learning skills for young students.
I would recommend inviting an elder to your class who can bring the content to life. Topics such as: smoked salmon, the importance of cedar, traditional stories, taking care of Mother Earth are all wonderful opportunities for your students to connect with elders in your area and learn of the traditional teachings.