Tag Archives: Christy Jordan-Fenton

Orange Shirt Day: A Day of Remembrance, Memory Bags, and Anchor Books

September 30th is Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day of remembrance: a day to acknowledge and honour the victims of the Canadian residential school system. Leading up to this day, it is important to begin the conversations around Truth and Reconciliation, no matter what grade you teach. As with many classroom conversations, picture books provide an access point into the discussions.

Here is a short video by CBC Kids News to explain “indigenous” that might be helpful to support the conversation. https://youtu.be/CISeEFTsgDA

The Inspiration

While not all the books on residential schools may be age appropriate for younger students, Nicola Campbell’s book Shi-Shi-Etko is a gentle way to begin the conversation. It is a beautifully told and illustrated story about the four days before a young Indigenous girl must leave her family and go to residential school. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember, while Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories to remind her of home.

Shi-shi-etko | CBC Books

Shi-Shi-Etko – Nicola Campbell

The Lesson

Part 1

• Write the word “home” on the board. Invite students to think about the word – ask them what connection, feeling, and visual image do they think of when they see this word. Invite students to share with a partner or share out with the class.
• Ask the students if they have ever been away from home? Discuss going away from home with your family vs. going away by yourself.
• Introduce the book Shi-Shi-etko by Nicola Campbell. Tell the students it is a book about an Indigenous girl who is leaving her home to go away to school. But she is young and she doesn’t want to go and she is going without her family. Ask the students what that might be like? What feelings would she be having?


NOTE: At this point, you may want to introduce the subject of residential schools. This would depend on your grade level. If so, explain that many indigenous children were sent away to school. In the schools, they were given English names, their hair was cut short, and they were not allowed to speak their own language or talk about their culture. Discuss what that might have been like.


• Explain that before Shi-Shi-Etko goes to school, she is trying to collect memories of her home. Her mom, grandmother, and father are telling her to remember her home, her land, laughter, dancing when she is away at school.
• Invite the students to listen carefully to the way the author uses the senses to help us get a feeling about the girl’s home and what are some of the memories she collects.
• Read the story.
• Discuss some of the “memories” she was keeping. Explain that a memory is a connection she makes between an object and something from home.
• Draw a large “bag” on a shared screen or chart paper. As students respond, draw and label the items inside the bag: fireweed, paintbrush(flower), sprig, leaf, columbine, sage, pinecone. (If possible, show images of these plants on your ipad or smart board)
• Pass out “Memory Bag” paper. Invite students to draw Shi-Shi-Etko’s memories inside the bag. (see sample below)

Download the Memory Bag Template HERE

Lesson – Part 2

NOTE: You will need to prepare for this lesson by gathering objects from your home that you would put into your memory bag – to help you remember home. If possible, hide them inside a paper or drawstring bag.


• Review story of Shi-Shi-Etko. Remind students that in order to remember her home, her land, her family, Shi-shi-Etko collected “memories” for her memory bag.
• Ask the students to imagine having their own memory bag to store things to help them remember their home.
• Explain that you have collected some items from your home that you have strong connections to. They help you remember your home. (If possible, bring real objects from home for this lesson) Take each item out of the bag and explain why you chose it and what it reminds you of.
Example:
 sprig of lavender – my grannie’s favorite flower and the smell reminds me of her
 knitting needle – reminds me of my mom because she loved to knit
 maple leaf – reminds me of the maple tree in my front yard which was a wedding gift (reminds me of my husband)
 piece of fur – from my dog to remind me of her
 heart shaped pebble – reminds me of my sons


• Have students talk with a partner about some of the things they might want to put into their memory bag. Discuss how a toy may be something fun to play with but may not help them remember their home.
• Pass out the blank memory bag (same as part 1) Invite students to draw and label things inside their Memory Bag.
• On the back, they can list their items and why it is special to them.

Download the Memory Bag Template HERE

End the lesson
• Ask the students to compare their memory bags with Shi-Shi-Etko’s. What do you notice? All of Shi-Shi-Etko’s memories are connected to the land. Explain to students that Indigenous people believe that the land connects us all.

Other books to support Orange Shirt Day:

The Orange Shirt Story – Phyllis Webstad

The original book that started the Orange Shirt Day movement. Geared for older students. Watch the author, Phyllis Webstad, talk about the book. (As always, please preview the video before sharing with your students) https://youtu.be/E3vUqr01kAk

Phyllis’s Orange Shirt – Phyllis Webstad

An adaptation of The Orange Shirt Story for younger students.

The Train – Jodie Calleghan

Secret Path : Downie, Gord, Lemire, Jeff: Amazon.ca: Books

The Secret Path – Gordon Downie

Tragically Hip front man, the late Gordon Downie collaborated with illustrator Jeff Lemire to create this graphic novel picture book that tells the true story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died trying to walk home after fleeing from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. Gordon Downie wrote 10 powerful songs to go along with the book. Recommended for older students.

When We Were Alone – David A. Robertson

I am Not A Number – Jenny K. Dupuis

When I Was Eight – Christy Jordan-Fenton

I Lost My Talk – Rita Joe

I’m Finding My Talk – Rebecca Thomas

Speaking Our Truth – A Journey of Reconciliation – Monique Gray Smith

You Hold Me Up – Monique Grey Smith

NOTE:

When I was a student in elementary school in the early 70’s, I had never heard of residential schools. None of my teachers mentioned it. In my early years of teaching, I didn’t talk to my students about residential schools because it was not in our curriculum, and no teacher mentioned it. Hard to admit that, but it’s true. Thank you to all of you for mentioning, acknowledging, and honoring this important truth. Every child does matter.

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Filed under Indigenous Stories, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Orange Shirt Day, residential school, Truth and reconciliation

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

top 10

Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

Inside Out & Back Again

7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada, Content links, Links to content, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Read-Aloud, Science, Top 10 Tuesday