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Success Stories

Success Stories 5
First Nation Student Success Program uccess tories S SInformation contained in this publication or product may be reproduced, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, without charge or further permission, unless otherwise specified. You are asked to: – Exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced; – Indicate both the complete title of the materials reproduced, as well as the author organization; and – Indicate that the r eproduction is a copy of an official work that is published by the Government of Canada and that the reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada. Commercial reproduction and distribution is prohibited except with written permission from the Government of Canada’s copyright administrator, Public Works and Government Services of Canada (PWGSC). For more information, please contact PWGSC at: 613-996-6886 or at: 1-800-567-9604 TTY only 1-866-553-0554 QS-Y372-000-EE-A1 (Online) Catalog : R3-169/2012E-PDF ISBN : 978-1-100-20921-0 © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, r epresented by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, 2012 This Publication is also available in French under the title: Programme de réussite scolaire des étudiants des Premières Nations – Exemples de réussites.Introduction The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that First Nation students have access to the quality education they need to build a successful future for themselves and their communities. In 2008, the Government moved forward on this commitment by launching the Reforming First Nation Education Initiative, which set the foundation for long-term improvements in First Nation education on reserve. As part of this initiative, the Government introduced the First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP). This program was created to provide support to First Nations to develop school success plans, implement student learning assessments, and put in place performance measurement systems to monitor and report on school and student progress. All activities are focused on three priorities areas of literacy, numeracy, and student retention. Currently, more than 90 per cent of band-operated schools and students in Canada are supported by the FNSSP. In 2011-2012 alone, 35 First Nation recipient organizations participated in the program, representing 472 First Nation schools across Canada and implementing a multitude of innovative initiatives. These initiatives ranged from libraries and career fairs to professional development seminars and online learning systems. The Government of Canada has been working with First Nation partners across Canada to deliver tangible and lasting results for First Nation students through successful programs like the FNSSP. The following stories illustrate the early results of individual recipients of the FNSSP with the support of the program. Each story speaks to the contributions of educators, parents, school administrators and other community members. The information found in the stories was provided by the recipients and highlight the types of initiatives implemented, and the measurable results recorded, along with the positive effects that students, schools and communities have experienced. Introduction iImproving educational outcomes is a shared responsibility. Governments, First Nation organizations, parents and individual students all have a role to play in achieving real results.Table of Contents Introduction ...............................................................................................i What is the First Nation Student Success Program? ....................................2 A Formula for First-Rate Teachers ..............................................................4 Fulfilling a Vision ......................................................................................6 Partners in Learning ..................................................................................8 Occupational Inspiration .........................................................................10 Community Tutors Inspire Young Learners ..............................................12 Dedicated Teachers. Stocked Libraries. Engaged Readers. .......................14 Cook. Eat. Learn. ....................................................................................17 Crunching the Numbers ..........................................................................18 From Support to Inspiration ....................................................................20 Teaching the Teachers .............................................................................23 Math and Fun: A Perfect Equation ...........................................................26 Raising Literacy. Strengthening Comprehension. Improving Behaviour. ...28 The Sweet Sounds of Success .................................................................. 31 Conclusion .............................................................................................33 Table of Contents 1 What is the First Nation Student Success Program? The First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP) is a key component of the Reforming First Nation Education Initiative, which stems from Budget 2008. The program helps First Nation educators on reserve plan and make improvements in the three priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention. Through this proposal-driven program, participating schools develop success plans designed to increase efforts in the three priority areas. Structurally, the program is comprised of three complementary components similar to those of many provincial models: 1. School success plans ar e three-year strategies for improving students’ literacy and numeracy skills, and rates of retention. With a detailed success plan in place, educators are able to implement consistent and comprehensive initiatives. Specifically, the plan enables educators to determine the types of activities, timelines and targets that will lead their students to success, and to assess and revise their programs to achieve the best results. First Nation Student Success Program 2The FNSSP values the firsthand experience 2. Student learning assessments require of educators and provides the flexibility all pupils to participate in provincial to create the types of programs that can standardized tests. bring about change in on reserve schools. Together, school success plans, student These tests help teachers identify learning assessments and performance areas for improvement. In so doing, measurements help to give First Nation the assessments also help educators students the support they need to succeed. develop specific initiatives and goals, and deliver more customized lessons Since 2008, the Government has invested and other learning programs to address approximately $141 million in the FNSSP. their students’ needs. This funding, along with the projects developed through the FNSSP, will help First 3. On-going performance measurements Nation students realize their potential and to monitor the progress of students. develop the skills they need to succeed in the labour market. FNSSP recipients are required to track a variety of indicators, including the literacy and numeracy test results of their students. These indicators ensure that the program is achieving the desired outcome. What is the First Nation Student Success Program? 3 A Formula for First-Rate Teachers Math teachers Nova Scotia Teachers that are engaged, confident and knowledgeable provide at Mi’kmaw a learning environment that promotes growth and development in their classrooms. With the help of the First Nation Student Success Kina’matnewey Program, educators of this type are becoming increasingly plentiful in the mathematics departments at the 11 Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) schools in Nova Scotia. schools receive To get their teachers more engaged in—and enthusiastic about— mathematics, the MK schools partnered with Saint Francis Xavier the professional University to offer a post-secondary certification program that gives teachers a firm footing in the principles of the discipline. Through the development they program, teachers refine core skills, explore teaching strategies and develop the confidence they need to take command of a classroom. need to instill in Educators eager to learn students a love A cohort of 25 MK teachers enrolled in the Certification of Elementary Math when it was first offered in July 2010. Not even a month later, the program was in such demand that the university looked to expand for numbers. enrolment to include non-First Nation educators from across the province. Bob Crane, the MK numeracy consultant in Membertou, is thrilled with the program’s obvious and immediate popularity. First Nation Student Success Program 4“I strongly believe that if we can develop math teachers who exude confidence and mastery of their subject, this outlook will Tried, tested and true. be passed on to their students,” says Crane. “Eventually, math comes to be seen as a subject of opportunity and not one where Developed in Canada by people apologize that ‘I was never very good at it.’” Dr. Marian Small, the Primed for success former Dean of Education Teaching teachers math is only half the battle. It is critical at the University of that educators also learn to explain numerical concepts and operations in a manner that is practical, personal and even New Brunswick, PRIME fun. The MK schools complement the certification program with research-based Professional Resources and Instruction emphasizes grade-specific for Mathematics Educators (PRIME). professional development in Charting a positive path subjects ranging from basic Teacher feedback on both the certification and the PRIME training arithmetic to advanced has been overwhelmingly positive. MK educators are teaching with more cond fi ence and energy than ever, and student geometry calculus. More specifically, scores, identified early in 2010 as an area of concern, have climbed as a result. Specifically, the literacy scores of students PRIME encourages teachers in Early Elementary Mathematics have risen 1.4 per cent, and the scores of students in Elementary Mathematics jumped to address children’s 6.7 per cent. learning requirements Meanwhile, the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey schools have promoted professional development for teachers of other grades and in through a wide variety other curriculum areas as well. Of nine mathematical disciplines, of customized, kinesthetic grade 6 students achieved higher scores than in previous years in eight of Nova Scotia’s provincial standardized evaluations tests. teaching techniques. Similarly, the schools’ grade 3 students performed better than their predecessors in five out of six categories. “Things are on a positive path, and I expect to see significant improvement across the board within five years,” says Crane. “Within ten years, I hope that we will be facing a new challenge: non-First Nation parents wanting to enroll their kids in our MK schools!” A Formula for First-Rate Teachers 5Fulfilling a Vision The First Nation Quebec When the First Nation Education Council (FNEC) was established in 1985, the association aspired to build on the collective strength of Education Council Quebec’s First Nations to help Aboriginal children in the province receive a quality education. Today, with the support of the First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP), FNEC is continuing to do just that. gets Quebec kids As part of the FNSSP requirements to share lessons learned and best learning through practices, the Council hosted its fifth Gathering on the School Success of First Nation Students on March 22, 2011. Nearly 75 educators—from part-time teachers to principals—presented strategies to promote local involvement. literacy, numeracy and student retention in FNEC schools. Hundreds of connections were made. Dozens of ideas were shared. These ideas ranged from study programs and meetings with tribal elders to school plays and haunted houses. Most of the proposals included a strong element of community involvement, and many were so well-received that they have already been implemented in First Nation schools. First Nation Student Success Program 6plan literacy initiatives, pitted class against Our projects, our pride class in a friendly rivalry. Eager not to be outdone, each grade assembled a giant In the Micmac community of Listuguj, construction-paper thermometer to track bordering Quebec and New Brunswick, its progress and show off its achievements children are now preserving their cultural to the rest of the school. Community traditions and learning real-life applications members, parents and Elders participated of academic lessons by studying the local in the younger grades by volunteering to salmon stocks. Students visit salmon read to the students. hatcheries and even raise salmon eggs in the classroom to discover the value and “It was tremendous. The kids had so much fragility of the Micmac’s natural resources. fun,” says Brenda Ross Jerome, the Interim Director of Education. “You could see their In Mashteuiatsh, near Lac-Saint-Jean, eyes widen as they realized just how many administrators are using literacy and books they had read.” cultural activities to promote retention. There, students are getting involved in Mapping the future Innu culture through an innovative French immersion program at Kassinu Mamu Afforded these exciting new retention Secondary School. By writing material for strategies and ways in which to learn, the school newsletter, the local newspaper students are now attending schools on and even public radio, the teens improve reserves in Quebec and are beginning their fluency in French. And by volunteering to understand the personal rewards of for charities such as Meals on Wheels, the a good education. The province’s First students learn job skills while developing Nations children, however, are not the a sense of civic pride. only beneficiaries of FNEC’s participation in the FNSSP. Teachers within First Nations Approximately 250 kilometres away, fifth are also getting excited about learning and sixth graders at Ts8taïe school in different approaches to teaching literacy, Wendake are jump-starting their scientic fi numeracy and community involvement. educations through experiments that apply classroom lessons about local rivers and “The new activities are getting the kids the medicinal uses of Indigenous herbs engaged like never before,” says one to real-world settings. The 2011 class teacher. “I’m already looking forward presented its findings to great acclaim to next year’s School Success Gathering. at the annual Quebec Aboriginal Science I only wish that we had started meeting Fair in Kawawachikamach. like this years ago.” Honing skills of another kind, students in grades 1 through 8 at Wejgwapnieg School in Gesgapegiag challenged themselves to read as many books as they could during the Read-a-thon. This exciting contest, which was part of the school’s success Fulfilling a Vision 7Partners in Learning Quebec An innovative All children have a right to basic quality education geared to their needs and aspirations. The Innus in Quebec mainly speak French as the second language. For young Innu, success largely depends on their program helps Innu mastery of French. A subsidy granted to the FNSSP enables the program to explore children discover their innovative alternatives to support the mastery of this language to students at the Innu schools. The innovative program to teach literacy love of reading. entitled Apprendre à lire à deux [Paired Reading] is a program that has been tested since October 2010 in eight Quebec Innu schools that are members Tshakapesh. The teachers receive continuing training and a consultation committee was formed in order to support exchanges between the teachers who tested this program. The testing of the Innu bilingual students is conclusive. Indeed, the participating schools, the teachers and remedial teachers, ar ffi m that this program contributes to young students’ reading ability and also positively inu fl ences their interest in reading. A solid foundation Apprendre à lire à deux is an adaptation of the very popular teaching Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (STAKES) program established by Douglas and Lynn Fuchs at Vanderbilt University. The fruit of more than ten years of research and development, the teaching approach of PALS is deceptively simple. First Nation Student Success Pr First Nation Student Success Program ogram 8A culturally adapted program Tried, tested and true According to a study by Tshakapesh, the Innu community is for the most part more oriented towards visual experience, movement, Apprendre à lire à deux and nature. It is a community that is more simultaneous non-verbal than sequential. According to this portrait, the approach of the consists of pairing each Apprendre à lire à deux program encourages young Innus to learn to read by taking into account the students’ learning style. pupil with a partner; The program offers more than 70 visual, auditory and kinesthetic students who are struggling activities, as well as matching games, inspiring stories and phonetic exercises. From 2005 to 2007, Eric Dion, professor are placed with students at the Department of Education at the Université du Québec à Montréal, carried out an experimental study including nearly at a higher level. The 60 classes and one hundred pupils from different backgrounds. children carry out three The results were astonishing. The program helped reduce the number of pupils having great difficulties in reading by two- half-hour exercises per thirds and to generally increase the literacy level. week, during which they Year of experimentation read out loud and work Since 2010, Tshakapesh has been working in collaboration with two specialized teachers at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi together to memorize the and Mrs. Catherine Roux for teacher training and the creation of standardized tests for the pupils of the first cycle of primary sounds formed by various education, grade 1 and grade 2 in the Innu schools. The results of these tests allow a satisfactory analysis of the young people’s combinations of letters. development in reading, beginning with the first school years. Tshakapesh will be able to publish the results of the analyses Unknowingly, the stronger next year with the third rendition of the tests. pupils play the part of tutor. To date, the teachers express their satisfaction with the students’ The teams are rotated progress in reading, the interest of young people in reading, and especially the positive contributions of the learning-to-read regularly so that each program by pairing the young people. Moreover, the Innu students who took part in the study expressed much more interest in books, child can be a helper. libraries and reading. Expansion of the project The teachers at the Tshakapesh Institute already intend to continue this project. As of the 2011-2012 school year, all of the grade 1 teachers have integrated Apprendre à lire à deux into their teaching program. The program has also been extended to grade 2, proposing new activities centered on vocabulary enrichment. “The students are looking forward to doing the activities, they always ask about them,” states a grade 1 teacher. “I hope that they will preserve the interest for reading and learning for the rest of their lives,” she says. Partners in Learning 9Occupational Inspiration First Nations students Quebec Every school lesson reinforces diligence, but what about motivation— the other factor of success? Students in Lac Simon and Wemotaci, learn job skills and Quebec now have more than enough to go around thanks to captivating career days made possible by the First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP). the value of education The inaugural event—La Journée carrière—in Wemotaci was a student at annual career days. retention initiative organized as part of the school’s success plan under the FNSSP. The aim of the fair was simple: to give students in grades 9 through 11 a chance to learn about—and be inspired by—the careers of accomplished members of the community. Hoping that at least a majority of students would want to attend, coordinator David Lefebvre of Nikanik Secondary School invited local professionals to get involved. The community gives back The response was overwhelming. More than 90 per cent of eligible students enrolled for workshops, and dozens of professionals transformed the gym into a Career Centre. Through a combination of activities, booth displays, and question-and-answer forums, students learned about the challenges and rewards of countless occupations, including several in the Canadian Forces and in the fields of mining, forestry, agriculture, construction, health care and human resources. First Nation Student Success Program 10by solving a crime in their own school! Making the connection to the classroom, Interrogating suspects, verifying alibis and many presenters strongly emphasized the applying for judicial warrants, the teens importance of skills learned in high school had a fun and engaging look into the to succeed in the workplace. world of law enforcement. “One professional explained a mathematical Not to be outdone, Wemotaci’s Fire formula he uses frequently in his work,” Department timed students to see how says Lefebvre. “It was the same formula quickly they could don the protective gear our students had just learned in math of a fire fighter and roll up a real fire hose. class, and you could see them realize the Wearing oxygen masks, students then importance and practical value of what they charged into a smoke-filled house to were learning in school.” save the victims inside. Learning outside the classroom A new sense of direction Of course, there’s no substitute for hands- Flooded with positive comments from on experience, and Wemotaci’s police and presenters, Lefebvre was even more fire departments rose to the occasion impressed by the student reaction. with a variety of exciting and educational activities. Granted access to real equipment “Our best results were the smiles on and facilities, students were treated to students’ faces and the enthusiasm in an inside view of the exciting duties of their eyes,” says Lefebvre. “By walking in Quebec’s first responders. the shoes of someone important, students came to a better understanding of what The police workshop began with a local they want from their community, from constable giving an overview of the their school and from themselves.” training, procedures and duties of a peace officer. Students were then called upon to put into practice what they had learned Occupational Inspiration 11 Community Tutors Inspire Young Learners First Nation Student Ontario The enthusiastic educators at Curve Lake First Nation School, in Ontario Success Program are continually looking for ways to help the school’s 56 students— from junior kindergarten to grade 3 excel academically. Among the educators’ most recent ideas, the one that showed the most promise boosts the literacy was a community reading tutors initiative. and self-confidence In its first cycle, the 10-week customized tutoring program offered the one-on-one support so important for struggling students. Second graders in the small community school north of Peterborough of second graders engaged in weekly tutoring sessions with trained volunteers from the community, and after just one hour weekly tutoring over 10 weeks, all made notable scholastic progress. Some even improved their literacy in Curve Lake. levels by as much as 20 per cent. Beyond the impressive academic gains, students also developed a con- fidence in learning that will undoubtedly serve them for years to come. “Students definitely benefitted from the one-on-one tutoring,” said Louise Musgrave, the Manager of Education for Curve Lake First Nation School. “We couldn’t believe how much more confident the students were within the classroom setting.” Building community support The initiative is based on the research of Dr. Deborah Berrill, Professor and Founding Director of the School of Education and Professional Learning at Trent University. Berrill puts forth a vision in which parents First Nation Student Success Program 12Student Office (EQAO) testing the following year and people in rural and remote communities and the tutoring program ensured they take an active role in their children’s received additional support.” learning and, in so doing, eliminate the need to hire outside teachers or tutors. Each session started and ended with shared or independent reading, and incorporated Before the Curve Lake school could launch stimulating literacy activities and games. the program, however, it had to first find A 20-minute debriefing after each session committed volunteers—a task that proved enabled the tutors and support staff to challenging in the tiny community of share their successes, challenges and ideas roughly 1,000 residents. Ever persevering, for improving the program. Berrill, Fleguel educators succeeded in recruiting eight and Katie Wakely, the FNSSP Literacy and community members by advertising in the Numeracy Initiatives Facilitator, were local newspaper and sending notices home also there to offer professional guidance. with students. All of the volunteers received four hours Moving forward of literacy-specific training, and spoke with the children to get their ideas on favourite Volunteers will work with the same books and activities. Meanwhile, classroom students as they enter grade 3 in the teachers conducted reading assessments fall, Meanwhile, Berrill will begin handing to identify the students’ respective literacy over the reins to the Curve Lake school; levels and reading needs. specifically Katie Wakely who will facilitate the program for the grade 2 students. Putting the program into place “The First Nation Student Success Program has really made so many things possible “The teachers and the principal at the Curve for this school that we would not have Lake school saw grade 2 students as having the funding for otherwise, such as the the greatest need,” said Aricka Fleguel, the tutoring program. It has really enabled program coordinator liaising between the us to build capacity in our school and Curve Lake school and the FNSSP. “Students in our community.” begin Education Quality and Accountability Pre and Post PM Benchmark Levels for Grade 2 Students 22 20 18 16 14 12 10 Jan 2011 8 Mar 2011 6 4 2 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Community Tutors Inspire Young Learners 13 PM LevelDedicated Teachers. Stocked Libraries. Engaged Readers. Newly hired Literacy Ontario More students on Manitoulin Island, in Ontario are now readers. Resource Teachers And the Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute, a First Nation Regional Management Organization, attributes the development to Literacy Resource Teachers (LRTs) hired with the help of the First Nation Student promote readership Success Program (FNSSP). The LRTs work in 10 participating schools to train classroom teachers, in 10 schools on develop lesson plans and introduce efficient methods for recording and tracking performance-measurement test results. The educators also Manitoulin Island. provide guidance on how to improve literacy levels within classes. “Because of the LRTs, teachers are inspired with greater confidence and the desire to know more about literacy teaching,” says Debbie Debassige, the Director of School Services in the Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute. Equipping classrooms for literacy learning The LRTs work directly with principals and school directors to deliver Literacy Plans tailored to each school’s unique needs. The Literacy Plan at Lakeview Elementary School for example, involves collecting a variety of new literacy resources and building classroom libraries. First Nation Student Success Program 14“Good books are expensive!” says Karen McColman, Literacy Resource Teacher at Lakeview School. “We’re grateful to FNSSP “ Seeing the excited faces for funding the school’s purchase of high-interest books. Seeing the excited faces of students as they use their new libraries, and of students as they use listening to their eager reading is a true delight.” their new libraries, and McColman works individually with classroom teachers to choose appealing books from different genres. She organizes the books listening to their eager when they arrive and labels them for specific reading levels. She also assesses the ever-changing literacy needs of the students reading is a true delight.” and continues to expand the school’s Bookbag Program. Linking school and home The Bookbag Program is a lending library for students, which matches children with books that are of an appropriate reading level. Black-and-white photocopies that were once the school’s only literacy resources have been replaced with new books that have glossy covers and colour pictures, and now more than 45 students bring books home regularly. The program teaches pupils how to select appropriate books for themselves, and motivates young readers to challenge their skills and experiment with different genres. As such, the program helps students avoid the frustration of reading stories that are too easy or too difficult. It also encourages parents to help their children read, retell and summarize stories at home. “Through the FNSSP initiative, we have been able to double the amount of books we have in our Bookbag Program,” says McColman. “Now, the students are reading books that are just right.” Getting parents involved To further promote reading in the home, Lakeview School hosts regular family literacy workshops. Just one family attended the first event, but organizers were not discouraged. Each workshop Dedicated Teachers. Stocked Libraries. Engaged Readers. 15now draws between 25 to 45 people, participants how children learn to read, including parents, grandparents, friends what happens to children’s brains when and students. they enter school, and some of the roadblocks students face. Everyone engages in literacy activities designed to promote involvement, reading “More importantly, we teach how kids can enjoyment and parent and child learning. work through those obstacles and learn And each participant leaves with books and to love reading,” says McColman. “With games to improve reading skills at home. the support of the FNSSP, LRTs have been able to get teachers, parents and the whole Educators from Lakeview School community on Manitoulin Island involved and Frontier College teach workshop in improving the literacy of our children.” First Nation Student Success Program 16Cook. Eat. Learn. Ontario Manitoulin Island The Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute Secondary School can now continue its weekly nutrition initiative thanks to support from the First students are keen Nation Student Success Program. The Lunch and Breakfast program is part of a school success plan aimed at keeping teens in school, and the Institute’s whole student population is involved. to stay in school to Through the program, students receive the healthy food they need to concentrate on tasks, achieve success in class and stay motivated prepare and enjoy to complete their education. Nutritious snacks such as muffins, yogurts and fruits are available each day and, on Mondays and Wednesdays, the high school students enjoy a soup lunch. healthy soup lunches Feeding a sense of community and continental The benefit of the program is obvious to everyone in the community. So obvious, in fact, that the M’Chigeeng Elders’ Group has offered its breakfasts. services. The Elders prepare lunch for the school on Mondays and, in return, students help them plant and harvest the community garden. On Wednesdays, students and staff prepare a soup lunch themselves with recipes found on the Internet and ingredients purchased from the local store. Students request their favourites and continually put forward new ideas to try. “There is always a lot of anticipation in the air!” says Brian Bisson, the Education Counselor at the school. “Teens are excited about what they’ll learn next.” Fostering an appetite for learning Staff seize opportunities each week to teach students new cooking skills—life lessons that will serve the young people for years to come. Small groups of students take turns cooking and cleaning up each week, and all students are responsible for cleaning their own bowls and spoons after the meal. “It’s a great opportunity for students and staff to spend time together,” says Bisson. “They get to know each other better and become more comfortable with one another as they share stories about trying different recipes at home.” Encouraged by these new relationships, students are more interested in school-related activities and more motivated to apply themselves in the classroom. Even those who struggle academically now have a compelling reason to overcome their challenges and stay in school. When hungry, a student can have a healthy snack, and there is always delicious soup on Monday and Wednesday to look forward to! Cook. Eat. Learn. 17Crunching the Numbers Streamlined data Manitoba Every minute an educator devotes to administration is 60 seconds not spent teaching students the skills they need to succeed. To maximize management lets learning time, therefore, the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) partnered with the First Nation Student Success Program to give teachers tools to track student attendance and teachers attend performance easily and immediately. to students, Picking the right program In 2010, the MFNERC assembled an advisory committee of First Nation not paperwork. school administrators to research an appropriate data-management system for Manitoba’s First Nation schools. After an extensive selection process, the advisory committee selected the software suite that offered the strongest combination of flexibility, functionality and customization. This new data-management system developed by Maplewood automates the management of school data efficiently and accurately. Educators can access student records instantly on a centralized web database, and monitor and update timetables, performance reports, attendance sheets and information on special education initiatives in a matter of minutes. As a result, teachers can quickly get back to what they do best: nurturing young minds. Putting the pieces together Implementing the program in all of Manitoba’s First Nation schools has proved to be a major undertaking. Rural areas frequently have limited Internet connectivity, and some schools do not have internal networks or computers in the classroom. Despite these challenges, an increasing number of schools are eager to get on board. The MFNERC’s directors have set an ambitious goal to bring the system online in every Manitoba First Nation school by 2013. The system is already helping in the administration of 20 First Nation schools, and will be installed in 15 more by the end of the year. Mitigation risks in the data management project has focused on providing appropriate supports to schools. On-site and remote training for staff is now available to the schools free of cost. Hardware and equipment have been upgraded and upgrades to internet access and negotiations with local internet service providers has contributed First Nation Student Success Program 18to improved database performance. These Reaping the rewards basic elements of training, computer equipment, and effective connectivity Thanks to the MFNERC’s initiative in will limit any exposed risk. adopting the new system, federal and provincial reporting is accomplished in To ensure schools get the most from a matter of hours, instead of days or even the sophisticated software, the MFNERC weeks. This acceleration of administrative specialists travel to every First Nation tasks has contributed to a sharp drop community to train local community in teacher turnover. School administrators catalysts. The MFNERC has also assigned will use the data management system each school a local ‘information worker’ to make data driven decisions for school who is intimately familiar with the improvement plans. Data driven processes application’s functionality. As a result, are a key component in the school the few issues that arise are usually improvement process. resolved promptly on site. Students are benefitting as well. Students In the rare event that a user on records migrated from school to school location cannot find a ready fix, the contain all pertinent student data. Students MFNERC technicians are available for can transfer between schools with full troubleshooting and repairs. Schools can confidence that not a day of learning also call MFNERC’s helpdesk in Swan Lake. will be lost. “The support staff are just outstanding,” says one Director of Education. “They’re there to help with whatever we need, whenever we need it, no matter what.” Crunching the Numbers 19 From Support to Inspiration Battleford Agency Saskatchewan Funding provided by the First Nation Student Success Program Tribal Chiefs celebrate (FNSSP) has enabled the Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC), in Saskatchewan to purchase much needed material and equipment, achievements in and even more importantly, invest in rigorous and ongoing teacher training. classroom literacy “The number one indicator of student success is teacher expertise,” said Lynn Semchuk, the literacy consultant for BATC. “Now, through the FNSSP, we’re able to invest in teacher training—an area guaranteed and engagement to pay substantial dividends.” thanks to the First Through monthly sessions with a board-appointed reading specialist, teachers master innovative teaching methods, such as inquiry-based learning and repeated reading instruction. Between meetings, Nation Student teachers receive ongoing support from education assistants (EAs) who work one-on-one with students to improve their reading skills. Success Program. Consequently, teachers can now devote more time to professional development, whereby they learn to identify students’ challenges as they arise. First Nation Student Success Program 20Early intervention is critical Tried, tested and true “Research has shown that early intervention in reading can boost a student’s overall learning success,” said Semchuk. The Picture Word Induction Assisted by EAs and on-going professional development, teachers Model uses pictures of use the Picture Word Induction Model (PWIM) and a stimulating library of new culturally relevant books to address the needs of familiar objects, actions the many students who read well below their grade levels. After and scenes to prompt the first cycle of this initiative, some students gained as much as three grade levels in comprehension. students to use their At the same time, EAs round out the students’ literacy education full vocabularies. through weekly one-on-one instruction in the Repeated Readings Program (RRP). Only in place since spring 2011, the program has already changed students’ attitudes toward reading significantly. Success in every school At Ahtahkakoop School in the community of Shell Lake, for instance, students who were previously nervous and self-conscious are now confident and excited about reading. In fact, the RRP here has become even more popular than some of the school’s recreational activities. From Support to Inspiration 21One reason for the popularity of the program at Clifford Wuttunee School is that students feel they are part of a team with their Tried, tested and true EA. This interactive relationship has improved not only their self- esteem, but also their school attendance. Through the Repeated An hour away at Moosomin School, a number of students are Readings Program, students already reading books at their level. During a three-month period, an enthusiastic student improved her literacy by eight colour levels read short passages aloud (out of twelve colour levels), which represents three full grade levels, and is now reading at her grade level. and receive immediate feedback from a tutor on The students at Saulteaux Heritage School are also improving daily as a result of the RRP and the EAs’ one-on-one instruction. pronunciation, speed and Their dedication to the program has resulted in a newfound joy for reading. accuracy. Students then “I’m excited the RRP happened,” said a grade four student from re-read passages until Sweetgrass School, “It’s fun to read, and it makes me feel good.” they achieve a satisfactory Many students across the BATC share the same sentiment, and the improved attitude towards literacy has translated into learning level of fluency. success. The BATC is confident that, as students and teachers continue to gain self-assurance and skills, the region will have even more successes in the classroom to celebrate. First Nation Student Success Program 22Teaching theTeachers Saskatchewan Educators enhance Some teachers are natural motivators. They convey knowledge, captivate their classrooms and instill within their students a genuine literacy programs in enthusiasm for learning. Fortunately, the skills of these exceptional educators can be learned. And the Northwest Nations Education Council has figured out how. Saskatchewan schools Enabled by the First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP), the Council developed a Catalyst Mentor Program to cultivate the through the Catalyst professional development of teachers. The program brings skilled educators into eight area schools to demonstrate pedagogical Mentor Program. approaches, acquire effective teaching tools, mentor school staff and act as catalysts for innovative literacy initiatives. “Since the Catalyst Mentor Program was launched, I’ve noticed a change among faculty and students,” says Cheryl Larry, a catalyst from Eagleview Comprehensive in Onion Lake, Saskatchewan. “The teachers are engaging, the students are focused and the classroom is dynamic.” Educators at the seven other participating schools across Saskatchewan are equally enthusiastic about the program, little wonder. Teaching the Teachers 23“The Catalyst Mentor Program is probably the most valuable asset to our school’s learning culture,” says Sherry Detchon, Principal Tried, tested and true of Pewasenakwan Primary School in Onion Lake, Saskatchewan. Through the intensive A collaborative approach to teaching Levelled Literacy From Duck Lake to Cut Knife, catalysts such as Elva Krushelnitzky at Chief Napew Memorial School in Pierceland work hand-in-hand Intervention Program, with teachers to develop approaches tailored for each classroom. educators apply specific The educators evaluate students’ needs, refine teaching practices, share success stories and work through challenges. methods to small groups “The program has been a remarkable support for teachers,” says of students in the beginning Lois Cameron, a catalyst mentor at the Willow Cree Education Complex in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. “Every day I witness the stages of their education progress that teachers and students are making and I feel a sense of fulfillment in my job.” to accelerate their progress In fact, as school staff become aware of best practices, implement in reading, writing, new literacy programs and take part in on-site training, they pronunciation and listening. experience a renewed sense of accomplishment. Current skills are boosted “My love of teaching is rekindled,” says Jeanette Head, a grade 4 teacher at the Willow Cree Education Complex. “I’m eager to use up to standard grade the approaches and tools presented to me by the catalysts. And because I’m motivated, my students are motivated.” level and early learning Students’ reading levels soar difficulties that lead to long- term deficits are prevented. This heightened sense of motivation among teachers has translated into scholastic improvements among students. Attendance has risen. Grade levels have climbed. Case in point, grade 5 students at Willow Cree Education Complex scored a full grade higher just five months after catalysts led teachers through the Levelled Literacy Intervention Program. A steady rise in students’ grade levels can be seen across the other Saskatchewan communities as well. At Eagleview Comprehensive in Onion Lake, students’ reading skills jumped an average of 2.7 grade levels in the first semester. Across town at Pewasenakwan Primary School, grade 2 students improved an average of 3.3 levels (out of 4 Diagnostic levels in their grade), and grade 3 students achieved an average increase of 3.2 grade levels. First Nation Student Success Program 24“That is the closest we have ever come to Many schools have also indicated that provincial standards,” says Principal Sherry parents are bringing more books into their Detchon. “We are very excited about the homes and that they spend more time progress that our students are making reading with their children. In 2010, in Literacy.” 20 percent of families with children in Chief Little Pine School read books at home Such precise measurement of student and just 10 percent ordered books. A year progress is itself a signal of the Catalyst later, the number of people reading at Mentor Program’s success. “Before we home and the numbers of book orders belonged to the First Nation Student both increased by 15 per cent. Success Program, we didn’t have a commonly used, school-wide testing “The programs are extremely rewarding tool,” says Lois Cameron. “Now, all of and are warmly embraced by students, our teachers use the Developmental staff and parents,” says Ray Wanhella, Reading Assessment to evaluate students’ an education consultant from Beardy’s progress. Not only can we see pride in and Okemasis First Nations. “The FNSSP the faces of our students, but we can has provided our existing programs also track their scholastic achievements with a tremendous boost. We witnessed through facts and figures.” the students accomplish incredible advancements in their reading levels and the staff is more positive and Extending literacy to the home vibrant than ever before.” Not all achievements take place in the classroom, however. Since the First Nation Student Success Program enabled the schools to hire catalysts and introduced top-flight literacy initiatives, educators have noticed more parents are involved in school activities and their children’s education. “We have far more parents coming out to our monthly fun nights,” says Detchon. “What’s more, the number of parents who pick up report cards has increased by 47 per cent.” Teaching the Teachers 25 Math and Fun: A Perfect Equation Students at Morley Alberta Early in 2011, the Morley school launched Mathletics—an online Community School program for students of all ages. Not only have young scholars increased their speed and ability to perform a range of mathematical functions as a result, but they have also begun to feel success in math, experience success many of them for the first time. in math with the “I’ve heard only positive comments from the students about the Mathletics program, says Danelle Oosterveld, a member of the Stoney Education Authority. “They have all been sharing in the excitement of help of a dynamic, progressing to new levels of skill.” online program. A modern approach to math education Launched with the help of the First Nation Student Success Program, Mathletics enables students to work at their own pace through 750 online numeracy tutorials and activities. Colourful graphs track students’ progress, and visually stimulating animations break operations down into easy-to-follow steps. First Nation Student Success Program 26“Because of the program’s personalized approach, our students are thriving. They’re solving harder problems and performing faster “ Because of the program’s calculations,” says Oosterveld. “More importantly, they’re tasting the excitement of advancing to new levels of skill.” personalized approach, Now, parents have taken notice of their children’s progress. In our students are thriving. fact, adults now approach teachers at the school to learn more about the program and how they can help their children continue They’re solving harder to advance their academic skills in school and at home. problems and performing The parents’ involvement is paying off. faster calculations...” Making rapid progress Ten children at the Morley school have been recognized as some of the top students in Canada based on their skills and participation in Live Math—an interactive portion of the Mathletics program that tests students’ math abilities against those of other students in the same grade level around the world. By correctly answering math problems, the Morley school students beat out national and international opponents to earn progress certificates and gain recognition on the Mathletics website. The Morley school students have done so well that even 3P Learning, the distributor of Mathletics in Canada, is impressed. Several students were able to make it onto the top 100-list in only a few months. “FNSSP and the Mathletics program have enabled us to work within the Alberta curriculum, as well as according to the ability level of each student,” said Oosterveld. “We’ve seen the students make some really impressive academic gains, which will only become more evident with time.” Math and Fun: A Perfect Equation 27 Raising Literacy. Strengthening Comprehension. Improving Behaviour. Treaty 7 schools Alberta The impact and success of the participation of the Treaty 7 partner with First Management Corporation in the federal First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP) is obvious. The participation has enabled Treaty 7 Nation Student schools to implement an array of literacy projects that have improved the performance and behaviours of students of all ages. Success Program Raising the bar for literacy to maximize the A number of Treaty 7 schools, including Napi’s Playground Elementary School, Morley Community School and Chiila Elementary School, have adopted READ 180. This interactive reading program incorporates learning potential group and individual reading assessments and instructions. Students work through learning modules to improve their spelling, diction and reading. Meanwhile, educators use dedicated software to track of young Albertans. pupils’ strengths and weaknesses, and provide specialized lessons and targeted assistance to each child. First Nation Student Success Program 28One particular grade 6 student who attends Napi’s Playground Elementary School provides a prime example of the program’s Tried, tested and true. effectiveness. During a three-month period in sixth grade, he received 35 incident reports for a variety of offences such as Touted as one of the most profanity, threats and bullying. After enrolling in READ 180 in December 2009, however, he was able to refocus his energies effective systems in North on education. America for raising reading By June, he had improved a full three grade levels. Equally important, he had developed a renewed love of learning and a achievement, Read 180 willingness to cooperate with staff and other students. In fact, involves three stages of he went through the rest of the school year without receiving any incident reports. age-appropriate reading “He has made a truly remarkable transformation,” says Brad intervention for students in Kropinak, the student’s teacher. “And all of this from a kid who was on the verge of being expelled just six months ago.” grades 4 through 12+. The Effective reading initiatives comprehensive curriculum with instructional learning A second FNSSP-funded literacy program at Treaty 7 schools has generated similar positive results. is combined with individual Chief Jacob Bearspaw School, located in Eden Valley just West assessments of students and of Calgary, has been running the Fast ForWord phonics program since 2009. Students are excited by the modern, technology- professional development based approach, and teachers are raving about students’ improved literacy levels, increased attention spans and for teachers. positive behavioural changes. “The teachers also continue to comment on how their students’ listening and comprehension skills are improving with time spent in Fast ForWord,” says Danelle Oosterveld, a member of the Stoney Education Authority. Educators at Chiila Elementary School, who also run the Fast ForWord program for their students, can relate to this success. One individual fourth grader always had difficulty with reading during the 2010-2011 school year. As a result, he often acted out in class, avoided doing his work, picked on fellow classmates and walked the hallways with a downturned head. Raising Literacy. Strengthening Comprehension. Improving Behaviour. 29Since working with the Fast ForWord program, the student has shown noticeable improvement. His behavioural issues have Tried, tested and true. decreased, he participates in class activities more and he is proud of his scholastic accomplishments. Based on 30 years of A perfect complement scientific research into To build on the success of both the READ 180 and Fast ForWord how the brain learns, Fast programs, several Treaty 7 schools have adopted a third literacy initiative: Discover Reading. The program uses classroom ForWord helps students in instruction plans and progress charts to help educators prepare kindergarten through grade their lessons and provide students with the support they need to work through booklets and exercises targeted to the pupils’ 12 develop the cognitive respective ability levels. capacities essential for Another example of the success of this initiative, as well as several other programs run throughout the Treaty 7 schools, is a Chiila reading, including memory, Elementary School student who began Fast ForWord in September 2010. The young scholar quickly advanced to Discover Reading, attention, processing and since his preliminary assessment four months ago, he has improved nearly two grade levels. His self-esteem has increased speed and sequencing. significantly, and he enjoys working hard and learning new things The program supports an every day. He has since moved on to the READ 180 program. existing curriculum to help “The first three years of the FNSSP has benefited our First Nations schools,” says Maggie Nielson, Project Manager, on behalf of Treaty young scholars achieve 7 Management Corporation. “It has enabled them to obtain literacy programs like Read 180, Discover Reading and Fast ForWord, along goals and become with supporting the infrastructure to implement them. For example, computers, teacher support and Smart Boards. The students have better readers. achieved success with improvements in their reading levels and overall literacy, which in turn have increased their confidence. By encouraging community engagement, the FNSSP has benefited not only students, but teachers, schools and entire communities.” Tried, tested and true. Discover Reading is an 80-hour program that makes new and struggling readers more aware of the language system of sounds and, in so doing, helps students learn to read and spell more effectively. First Nation Student Success Program 30The Sweet Sounds of Success Stoney Education Alberta To improve the scholastic skills of their students, three Stoney Authority uses Education Authority schools in Alberta focused their attention on the subject of music. music to increase “Music education enables teens to build the self-esteem they need to succeed in the classroom,” says Irfan Pirbhai, a former FNSSP students’ attendance coordinator and special projects coordinator at Morley Community School. “As such, music programs are also literacy programs and numeracy programs.” and academic Improving confidence performance. The Stoney Music Factory program, made possible by the First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP), has pupils at Morley Community School, Chief Jacob Bearspaw Memorial School and Ta-Otha Community School take private guitar lessons, participate in after-school band practices and engage in recording sessions each week. Each month, more than 80 students from the three schools come together to perform in youth concerts and attend music-related workshops organized by the Legacy Children’s Foundation. The Sweet Sounds of Success 31“Our musically inclined students now have a creative outlet,” says Pirbhai. “What’s more, they have an opportunity to experience “The success stories from success in school. Through their involvement in the Stoney Music Factory, they’re given a whole new perspective on their potential.” the Stoney Music Factory Making a musician are numerous and unique... they demonstrate the The story of a student who came to class teary-eyed, desperate and clearly distracted one day is a particularly telling example of valuable effect music has the positive impact of the Stoney Music Factory. on the well-being and To engage him in class work, his teacher gave him a book about the music industry to read. When she returned to check on his scholastic engagement of progress a short while later, she was surprised to hear he was not enjoying the book. students in our schools.” “I was sure you’d like it because you’re a musician,” she said. But the student was amazed she thought of him as such. “Do you play the guitar? Do you play in a band? Have you performed in front of an audience?” the teacher asked encouragingly. The student answered, “yes.” And in that moment, it struck him. For perhaps the first time, he experienced a sense of identity. He was happy for the rest of the lesson. More importantly, he comes to class more often and earns higher grades. He has ambition for his future and hopes to have a career in the music industry someday. “The success stories from the Stoney Music Factory are numerous and unique,” says Pirbhai. “Yet, they all have one common thread. They demonstrate the valuable effect music has on the well-being and scholastic engagement of students in our schools.” First Nation Student Success Program 32Conclusion According to the FNSSP recipients, the projects and initiatives established under the program have helped to empower teachers on reserve to address student needs, develop comprehensive plans to promote scholastic excellence and measure students’ progress. Educators have been able to implement promising new ideas through strategies that improve literacy and numeracy, and help young members of First Nation communities achieve success. First Nation schools also reported that students were more confident and more engaged learners and they participated more often and more actively in social activities both inside and outside of the classroom. As well, students attended school more regularly, read more proficiently and developed more quickly the skills they need to improve achievement in mathematics and other disciplines. Many of these initiatives could not have been possible without the financial support provided by the FNSSP, which builds on the Government’s long-term goal of providing First Nation youth on reserve with access to a quality education that encourages them to stay in school and graduate with the skills they need to enter the labour market and pursue their career aspirations. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada would like to thank the educators, parents, school administrators, and other community members who have contributed to the successes of the FNSSP. Through their innovative ideas and unwavering dedication, they have helped improve the educational outcomes of First Nation students. Conclusion
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