Summer Institutes Recap
Students may have been on holidays, but August was a very busy month around MFNERC. Teachers, principals and other staff from our First Nations schools were invited to attend MFNERC’s annual Summer Institutes. These informative, multi-day events cover a wide range of subjects, and are yet another way that our staff and specialists aid in the development of Manitoba’s First Nation schools, education boards and communities. Additionally, many participants are eligible to receive accreditation towards post-secondary certificates.
As we begin another school year, here is a recap of just some of the intriguing topics and engaging activities that were covered in August.
School principals kicked off the month with a 5-day institute centered around the theme “Mino-Pimatiziwin” (Heart of the Matter). Elders and other professionals spoke about how to achieve desired outcomes for ELA, math and social studies; reporting; data collection and student assessment. But perhaps the highlight of the week was a trip outside the city to a site near Birdshill Park. Science Specialist, Wilfred Buck presented some traditional teachings, as well as how to incorporate land-based programming into school curriculum. It was the perfect reminder of how important learning from and on the land is for our First Nations students.
The first week of August was also jam-packed for special education instructors and education assistants. Guest speakers, as well as MFNERC staff, presented a variety of workshops on everything from using smartboards in the classroom to improving reading comprehension. One highlight of the week was a workshop presented by Clinical Psychologist Sirppa Sterling entitled “Yoga for Regulating Students in the Classroom.” Participants took hands-on learning to a new level as they practiced a variety of yoga poses and stretches, as well as modeling how yoga can be used as an interactive tool when storytelling, hint: it involves doing a LOT of actions while a story is being told. At the end of the institute, participants who attended all 5 days received 30 contact hours of accreditation towards a Special Education Teaching Certificate, as well as a two-day training PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) certificate.
Heading into the middle of the month it was time for the literacy, and language & culture institutes to get underway.
Our Literacy Summer Institute focused on early childhood education. Participants in the 5-day session learned how to record the reading behaviours of young children, learned to analyze the errors and self-corrections made by the readers, and used this information to design an instructional program for students. The program utilized materials provided by the MFNERC’s classroom library project. The Language & Culture Institute taught language instructors – both immersion and subject – a myriad of different tools and techniques to use in their classrooms. Everything from songs to smartboards from puppets to pictures was examined as means to teaching First Nations languages. Guest presenters such as Wanda Barker from Hollow Water were on hand to provide expertise.
Overall, our Summer Institutes were a huge success, and we’d like to thank all the presenters and participants for their contributions.