Hello again from north Ontar-i-o,
In the classrooms this week we focused on personal hygiene, nutrition, and physical activity with grades K4-6. The kids loved our games of hygiene and sports dictionary as they got a chance to show us their drawing skills and laugh at our lack of drawing skills. Everyone was fascinated by the giant set of fake teeth that one of the teachers at SJMEC lent us for our toothbrushing lessons and couldn’t wait to get their turn to brush the teeth! On top of physical health, we were able to start working with our grade 6/7 split class on recognizing and managing all of our different emotions! Next week we will be introducing the topic to all of our classes and will continue building on this week’s work by discussing coping strategies and emotional health. The school has a separate classroom for students with exceptionalities and we’ve been lucky enough to get to work with two wonderful girls on a more personalized schedule and lesson plan. We’re thrilled to be able to work with as many students as possible.
In the high school we had the opportunity to talk with our grade 9 students about identifying peer pressure and ways to say no. We also began a conversation about mental health and mental illness, which gave us an opportunity to connect with a lot of the kids in a different way then we had been able to before. It was just the beginning of an important conversation that we hope to continue on! In our grade 10 class we are focusing on identity and how we identify and talk about ourselves. This week’s lesson involved the reading of a short story, creating our own identity webs and activities that got us thinking about how we label ourselves and others. We are so excited to have the opportunity to work with these students on such an important topic and are really looking forward to working with them over the next few weeks.
This week was a special week for us because the community hosted a picnic for all community members, students, and teachers out at West Caribou! We walked out mid-day with our lovely grade 3 class and got to enjoy the sunshine and blue skies. At the picnic we had hot dogs, marshmallows, goose and bannock and we could NOT get enough!! On top of stuffing our faces with all the goodies we had also played in the bush with a group of students. We taught them camouflage – they were WAY better at hiding than Carly! After a few impossible-to-win rounds of team tag where of course Carly was it, we wrapped up the afternoon around 3:30 and headed back to the school to finish up some lesson planning. The picnic was a great way for us to get to know some of our students better outside the classroom, to meet other community members and to learn more about wonderful Webequie! It was so refreshing to run around outside with students from a range of grades.
After school has been just as busy as during school, just the way we like it! We’ve joined in on quite a few community workouts and our muscles are DEFINITELY feeling it – today will (thankfully) be our rest day. We also hosted our very first Girls Club for girls in grades 4-8 to come hang out with us and do some bonding and self-esteem building activities! This week we all treated ourselves to strawberries dipped in chocolate and some popcorn, we did some drawing, listened to music, and got to know each other better. We will be continuing Girls Club throughout our stay and already can’t wait for next Thursday (we’re hoping we can watch Moana because JJ still hasn’t seen it!!). All of students are wonderful but it is especially nice to get to spend more time with the girls. On top of community workouts, Girls Club, and lesson planning we’ve been putting our athletic skills to the test by playing soccer baseball and frisbee baseball (can you tell baseball type games are a favourite around here?) with a group of students after school. Things we’ve learned 1) the kids are REALLY good at anything baseball or hockey related 2) it’s really hard not to slip when you’re running for a base (we’re in mud season right now!) 3) we need to do some serious practicing of our frisbee skills this weekend (okay – only Carly needs to work on it, JJ has a wicked throw).
Branching out from the school we’ve been able to meet a lot of incredible community members. This week we met with Bob at the Band Office who taught us a lot about Webequie’s unique culture and traditions, which was so helpful and interesting for us. We find the more we understand and know about the community the more effective our teaching and after school programming can be! We’ve also been lucky enough to have a few community members share their own personal stories and experiences, and to have some conversations about steps to take moving forwards in the healing process that so many First Nations communities in northern Ontario are now experimenting with (like language immersion).
Happy Mother’s Day to all the fabulous Moms, Aunties, and GoGos out there and happy Sunday to everyone!!!
CarlO and JoJo (these are the new names we’ve been given by our students)