Category Archives: EC&I 831 Major Digital Project

EC&I 831 – Major Learning Project Summary

An Overview

My Major Digital Project for this Semester of EC&I 831 was to learn more of the Michif Language than what I already knew in order to teach my Kindergarten students. For the most part – it was a success! I can certainly speak to my students in short (3-5 word) sentences, and they can respond in 3-word sentences to some of our daily routines! I have also learned how to introduce myself in Michif – and even had the chance to practice this at parent-teacher conferences this November. That being said, I greatly underestimated what I would need to do to make those goals a reality.

In my first few blog posts, I shared the resources that I was able to create in order to try and make language a more authentic and intentional part of my classroom. Ways to use language in spontaneous moments, and as a response to student learning. These labels and cheat sheets changed my everyday practice. I am so grateful that thanks to this course I took a closer look at what was standing in my way to making the classroom atmosphere I envisioned a reality. I am equally grateful that I was pushed to try and look for resource people and resource sources outside of where I would normally search. I set out on this journey of language learning thinking there would not be a lot of sources for me to turn to when it came to my Heritage Dialect of Michif. As it turns out I learned that social media, with its casual nature, was actually a place where a lot of language work was being done, and honestly shared. I was once again reminded of the power of networked learning.

Final Thoughts

Social Media and Open Education. Two terms I did not realize would turn out to be completely integral to the reclamation of a language so rarely spoken, and so closely cherished by those who still do. I am admittedly, an extremely fortunate person. As a Michif person, I grew up in a family of Michif speakers and spent a part of my childhood listening to the language before I was even aware that Michif language was – or what it would mean to me as an adult learner. Although I was not provided with the chance to learn from language carriers in my own family – today I work in a Pilot Program with The Metis Nation of Saskatchewan and Regina Catholic schools – aimed at the reclamation and promotion of the Michif language. I have cupboards full of resources on Metis Culture and history – I have a shared drive and a network of other Michif Teachers and learners.

Most importantly – I have access to not one, but two Heritage Michif Speakers to guide my learning. I would be lost without Noohkoom Jeanne and Noohkoom Erma. Like I said, I am very fortunate.

I also acknowledge that in all of this learning I have realized something – not every prospective language speaker is nearly so fortunate.

It is with that thought, I decided on how to wrap up my Major Digital Project.

Taking all that I have learned and transferring it to a webpage, licensed with Creative Commons so that others can view resources, download and edit my work, share it with others, and complete language “lessons” I created from my learning this semester.

Visit my webpage and explore it for yourself here.

Kiishchii Maarsii for following along with me as my journey continues!

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Major Project Update #4 – Inspiration!

Just a very quick “reading week” update to my initial Major project plan!

To review my initial plan for learning the Michif Language is below:

Now, in my professional life – I would like to be more conversational. More specifically:

  • I would like to speak enough Michif to have a short conversation with our resident Noohkoom when she visits the children can hear a conversation.
  • I would like to be able to instruct my students in full sentences, without pausing to check my lesson plan notes or dictionary app.

I also have a couple of goals for my personal life:

  • I would like to be able to introduce myself in Michif, the language of my grandparents. Something along the lines of “I am, ____, My name is____ I am from,____”. Which sounds simple but I have been working on that for over two years and I still cannot for the life of me recall the order in which to do so as Michif often follows the structure of French sentences.
  • I would like to make the project more fun and personal by going through some items of my grandparents (specifically my grandma’s cookbook) and use my language learning to decipher some of her recipes.

I am happy to report that last week I made some progress finally on one of my personal goals – working on learning how to introduce myself in Michif. This goal was important to me for a few reasons, most specifically so that I could use language to identify myself to Old Ones – but also to use it as my own decolonization in meetings and large gatherings that we as educators have to attend all the time. I met with an Old One (Noohkoom Irma) over zoom this week and we practised a simple introduction. We recorded the session which was helpful but I do not however have permission to share that recording widely – only for my own practice! I am not completely fluent but I did practise and make a recording of my progress to post on my blog to keep myself accountable.

Finally, I have also had some inspiration! In my last blog, I had explained that I was having some difficulty with how to incorporate some key aspects of this course, social media into SHOWING my learning. In a way that feels authentic to me that is. I had explained in that post that although social media almost entirely makes up my how for language learning – it is not necessarily a way in which I am sharing what I have accomplished (outside some tweets of course). But last week’s class in regards to open education reminded me that there is more than one focus for this course. Then – it clicked! I said myself in that blog that I was relying on many different types of open education resources for my own learning journey – so why not create my own – and share that openly?

I looked around and I decided that while I could compile a feedly (new learning from this course) or a wakelet (older discoveries from ECI 832) I didn’t feel either of those platforms allowed me to present context for the content for others learning Michif. I thought about simply creating a PDF that I uploaded to this blog with an open Creative Commons License, but to be honest that idea felt a little boring considering all that I have learned. I decided on creating a webpage – set up like a blog but with menu items for “lessons” and “resources” and a place where I can upload the content that I have created for others to take, use and modify.

Next week I will get to work on making that open source platform a reality!

Major Project Update #3 – Twists and Turns

I have continued work on my goals, and I am not going to lie – writing this update was very difficult.

I have been feeling quite guilty as I work on the project. It’s not that I am not learning michif, (the other day thanks to my new labels and cheat sheets – I was able to conduct our entire morning routine and circle time completely in michif) or that my students aren’t learning michif (they respond to all of our morning circle prompts with 1-3 words in michif) It’s just that I have struggled to find a way to express my learning progress through social media.

I am certainly using social media to enhance my learning, in fact, the many Facebook Communities I have joined that focus on Metis culture have become my go-to source for inspiration or to connect me to virtual events where language might be spoken. Some of the professors and PhD students I have followed on Twitter I have been able to connect with, for help with small translations rather than reaching out to an Old One with a single question. My students LOVE Sam’s Facebook and Instagram lessons because they love to see another teacher speaking words they recognize. I aspire to get my life together enough to make some videos to respond to him!

I am also utilizing technology (if not exactly a social media platform) to continue my learning. I am only halfway through the Michif Lesson’s App I shared on my last project update, but I have to admit the app is not what I initially thought. There are really no “lessons”, instead, you have tab called “Review” with a vocabulary list in English and Michif with voice recordings so you can listen and then repeat each term. From there, it is a very simple multiple choice quiz on a variety of topics – with voice recordings of every term. You are provided with a word in Michif, and then you simply take a guess as to the English translation (or not a guess if you study well unlike me). It tells you if you are correct or incorrect, and although you can’t redo a question in the middle of a quiz – you can click on any of the topics and take any of the quizzes as many times as you like. There is really no progress to make as nothing is saved from each attempt. I appreciate the organization of the terms into categories for practice, and the little quizzes for aiding in memorization. I have not completed the app yet, but I am hoping as I progress I will see some sentences to translate in the quizzes. I am a little disappointed, it turns out I enjoy the challenge of something I need to progress through and have my progress recorded when I am learning.

Technology, especially social media has shaped my learning, and my progress in Michif thus far. I have spent nearly half as many hours locating and vetting sources with Noohkoom as I have actually practised language, but I feel comfortable with that knowing that I now have sources of knowledge to tap into when needed. It has certainly made this learning project feel less lonely, as well as renewed my hope by seeing how much work is being done in all of the dialects of the language in order to attempt to recover and reclaim it. I attended a Michif language Zoom last week where one of the guest presenters described the variety of dialects as “proof the language is strong and will endure” and I felt very ashamed of myself in that moment, for all the frustrations I have had sorting through sources that were incredible – but not helpful to me in my dialect.

For example this website from Metis researchers across British Columbia, so many resources! Lessons and units! Not in my chosen dialect! Should not have made me frustrated because I could not use it for my needs, it should have made me grateful that it exists for the needs of those attempting to do the exact same work I am with their own ancestor’s language dialects.

I am still stuck with how to finish this project off in a good way. I am not certain how to best utilize social media to communicate learning in a way that is authentic. Leave me your thoughts, your comments – any ideas are welcome at this point!

Major Project Update #2 – Continued Work, Continued Mistakes

It’s been awhile since I have updated my learning journey – but rest assured, I have been busy! The past few weeks I have been working on my goals of language learning with a continued push to create resources (in collaboration with Li Vyeu [Old Ones]) that will help me to be more fluent in my speaking when it comes to addressing my students. I have also been working to learn some more conversational sentences on my own as my students are not yet ready for that type of interaction – but more on that later.

When last I left you I was working on the classroom components of my plan. I am definitely still working on that section. As always with my Major Projects, I have set my sights really high and it turns out learning a second language quick enough to instruct others in full sentences that come fluently (without checking or pausing) is really difficult!

To review: I plan to work on becoming conversational in the Michif Language. Conversational to me means enough language for a fluent, short, friendly conversation and enough language to instruct my students throughout the day in sentences for our routines and procedures. The goals as written were:

·  I would like to speak enough Michif to have a short conversation with our resident Noohkoom when she visits to the children can hear a conversation.

·  I would like to be able to instruct my students in full sentences, without pausing to check my lesson plan notes or dictionary app.

As I wrote about in my last update, this second goal is where I have been spending a lot of time doing the work of this project so far.

To be clear, this is the second year of this Pilot Program and my second year teaching it. It’s not that I am not familiar with the Michif Language (I can count to twenty with the best of them AND tell you all the colours of the rainbow no problem !!)

These were recorded for my parents to use at home, and shared via our Seesaw and class twitter.

However, when we laid out a vision for this classroom the intent of the classroom is stated to be an culturally responsive, authentic learning environment. I am extremely proud of the work we did last year, it’s just the simple fact that I feel as though I wish the majority of the instruction were in the language to foster more authentic learning. We know that children have much better second language acquisition and I want very much to give them every advantage I can to pick up the language while they are in this very special environment. So that’s where my goal comes in.

The labels around the classroom, visual schedule, and toy labels have been extremely helpful. The kids now remind ME of the names of the toys when I am asking them:

Kaywy nohtay maytawayen anoosh?

What do you want to play today?

They will respond sometimes in English – sometimes in Michif (they think “en sharr” – trains is hilarious to say) but usually one or two kinders pipe up when I say “Okay go play with the doll house.”

“NAMOYA MAA TAANT!” They might not remember what the doll house is in Michif but they do remember I am supposed to respond to them in Michif.

“I mean…. Oui, doo mataway lii mazoon di katayn”.

I have found that I need a reminder for the times where there is a variable. Thanks to the room being labelled within an inch of it’s life, and a visual schedule to assist with my morning routine, I have gotten pretty good at using the language in full sentences during predictable daily routines and events. Things we say or do every day. I am not always the best at using the language fluently when the students respond to me – because our centers change so often I have not memorized all of the various rotating center names. Additionally, it is easy in my lesson plans to prepare sentences for task directions ahead of time in Michif. It is not so easy to prepare what to say to students while they are in less structured times, like engaging in play. I would really like to authentically engage the students in language while they are in play – but the issue for me is their play takes a different shape each time they choose a center and decide what they would like to do.

Again, I got a great idea from my PLC. Russell Fayant, instructor at SUNTEP Regina joined me over Zoom (SUNTEP Regina provided my program with some incredible language resources) and he shared with me that when the Undergraduate Bachelor of Education students attend SUNTEP’s culture camp as a course – they carry around “cheat sheets” of little words or phrases so that they can engage with one another and with the Old Ones in Michif more readily. The idea being if you do not have the language memorized – it’s easier to have a premade set of responses or questions to flip through as a physical copy than it is to pull out the online dictionary and translate one word at a time.

I thought this idea was perfect for my needs! Once again however I was at a loss – Phrases in Michif of course don’t follow the same rules as English, so simply using my trusty dictionary app was not a possibility.

I looked through my Noohkoom Meeting notes from last year and found some sentences and a few zoom recording videos that had been translated (I don’t have permission to share them here) and I started there. Then, over the last few weeks through phone calls, and visiting with Jeanne I have FINALLY created my own version of the SUNTEP resource, for use in the classroom. I have also again shared this with my partners in Regina Public who then responded with options for sentences they use in their classroom.

I have these slides printed, laminated and cut, then put onto a keyring that I carry around the classroom with me. I have another for a TA/IA should they be in the room and a third in my substitute binder. There are different slides, with phonetic spelling for different circumstances. Depending on what is happening in the classroom I can flip to the slide that hopefully has some options for responses or play prompts for me. The above slides have phrases for encouraging students, and greeting them.

We also have options for speaking to students when it comes to routines and procedure like going outside, eating lunch, my morning routine and instructing students for learning tasks. This section took a very long time as I made lots of mistakes when trying to translate on my own – and when I read the phrases to my language speakers they would tell me how they would actually say the phrase – then I would have to go in and make edits.

And finally – what I feel will be the most useful we have translations for the different types of play students often engage in, so that I can interact with them in Michif and hopefully attain that all important goal of increasing their receptive language acquisition.

Finally, I have done some research and I have located a new app to work on my second goal of being able to carry on a short conversation. I am very excited as this app – originally designed for the iPad, has now been made available for iPhone! An update and review to come.

This has been an interesting journey, and my progress has been much slower than I had hoped considering how much work I have undertaken – but for the moment I am trying to be okay with not knowing how the end result will look as I continue.

Major Digital Project – What do I want to learn?

In the beginning…

When I first turned my attention to our Major Digital Project for this semester I was pretty confident I would choose option A, to either integrate social media in my teaching practice or create some type of open educational resources. Mostly this option was attractive to me because in the past I created a similar project for my EC&I 832 final project, called #MichifMonday. I had really enjoyed using twitter with my students to promote language learning and connect with a community of speakers as a casual project with my class of grade 4/5 students. I then created a mini-unit of 5 lessons that others who were partaking in our project could access openly, joining us in our learning journey in a more meaningful way. As my summary of learning I made some videos to lead users through the shared drive, and how to use it and participate in the project year round.

I recorded these videos from home, around Midnight, while having allergies – forgive my increasingly stuffed up voice if you ever watch all of these.

As I planned what I wanted to accomplish with this course, I took a browse at some of my colleagues ideas, and found to my surprise not only that they were mostly choosing Option B – Choosing to learn, and share their learning online. As I read I realized how personal others were making their learning. For example, Leigh choose to explore ASL and Deaf Culture based on her teaching experiences and people in her life, Riley is learning to crochet as a project that is just for her, and Curtis is embarking on the most delicious learning journey ever (and willing to sacrifice a lot for it if you take his title seriously). It made me reconsider – if the point of graduate work is to continually improve oneself and your professional practices, why shouldn’t take advantage of having the option to choose a project aimed at exactly what I want to learn? I decided to undertake a personal learning project rather than an integration project.

The Details

This is what I have come up with so far:

  • What is relevant to my needs? Currently I am in a (somewhat) new role. I am fortunate to teach a Pilot Program in conjunction with the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan. The project is aimed to combat the fact that Michif – the language of the Metis, is fast disappearing. As of 2016 less than an estimated 2% of Metis peoples spoke an indigenous language – not all of those respondents actually spoke Michif (which itself is a mixture of mostly Nêhiyawak verbs, French nouns and the odd English words). My program aims to protect and promote the language of Michif. Which, while extremely rewarding – is also extremely difficult as I am not a fluent Michif speaker. In fact, my #MichifMonday project, and my SUNTEP education helped me to earn my role – not a fluency in the language. Over the past year I have been lucky to work with Li Vyeu (Old Ones) who graciously guided me so that I had the correct knowledge to instruct and communicate with my students in the language. Now, in my professional life – I would like to be more conversational. More specifically:
  • I would like to speak enough Michif to have a short conversation with our resident Noohkoom when she visits to the children can hear a conversation.
  • I would like to be able to instruct my students in full sentences, without pausing to check my lesson plan notes or dictionary app.
Image Via RCSD.ca

I also have a couple of goals for my personal life:

  • I would like to be able to introduce myself in Michif, the language of my grandparents. Something along the lines of “I am, ____, My name is____ I am from,____”. Which sounds simple but I have been working on that for over two years and I still cannot for the life of me recall the order in which to do so as Michif often follows the structure of French sentences.
  • I would like to make the project more fun and personal by going through some items of my grandparents (specifically my grandma’s cookbook) and use my language learning to decipher some of her recipes.

The Role of Social Media

Of course in order to satisfy the course goals I will need to use online sources to guide my project. This is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, Michif as stated above is not widely spoken – therefore time and resources have not been put into many online sources for the language. Previously I have used the Michif Dictionary curated by the Gabriel Dumont Institute as an online resource. Although this is a one way source, and not necessarily helpful for someone aiming for conversational skills as opposed to singular words. Additionally, Michif like many languages has multiple dialects. The Social Media Michif resources I may use all have to be checked that they are in the “Heritage Michif” dialect that I am learning.

Via the Metis Nation of Alberta Youth Facebook Page

Thus far for online sources I have discovered:

  • The Metis Nation of Alberta Youth Facebook and Instagram Accounts share words of the day that include sentence structure.
  • The Manitoba Metis Federation has a Tik Tok account that features language speakers.
  • The St. Albert Higher education offers distance learning courses in Basic Heritage Michif.
  • I am building a PLN of Michif speakers on twitter.

Additionally I hope that I can use a form of social media to share and document my journey as a method of creating a new resource for others on the same type of journey as myself. On this front I need to spend more time looking into the different forms of social media to assess which one is best suited to sharing my learning. Do you have any recommendations for me of ways I can share my learning on Social Media in a way that is open to others, but still appropriate for learning?