VICTESOL ECE SERIES- Prof Shelly Stagg Peterson: Story Drama, Talk, and Writing in Northern Canadian Rural and Indigenous Classrooms
In this presentation early childhood educators will hear stories from collaborative action research projects taking place in remote northern Canadian communities. Two projects involve Indigenous teachers engaging young children in the Niichii Project, where a puppet named Niichii (Friend) is sent by Nookomis (grandmother) from a southern city to learn cultural practices and gain an Indigenous cultural identity. Early childhood education practitioners, their students, together with community Elders and Indigenous Culture teachers, bring Niichii along on cultural activities outside the classroom (e.g., fishing for suckers in a local river or picking blueberries in the nearby bush). Later while in the classroom, children’s learning is reinforced and extended through dramatic and other kinds of play, talking, drawing and writing. Through these activities, children show and tell Niichii the knowledge they have constructed about their Indigenous community’s world views, culture, practices and language.
Another project involves a rural northern non-Indigenous parent who finds that her pre-school-aged children engage in many real-life activities involving writing in their mother tongue. Her action research shows the wealth of information that early childhood education practitioners can gain from opening up two-way communication with children’s parents and other family members to support young children’s language and literacy learning. Reflections on early childhood education practitioners’ collaborative action research will highlight ways in which the important resources of family and community can be honoured and folded into classroom activities to support young children’s language, cultural and literacy learning across early childhood education contexts.
Professor Shelley Stagg-Peterson (University of Toronto, Canada) is a former primary teacher in rural Canadian schools who currently conducts research and teaches graduate literacy courses at the University of Toronto.