Friday, February 26, 2016

Documentary - Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian

Today we watched the Documentary "Reel Injun" and we learned that Hollywood has had a lot to do with how Aboriginal People are viewed around the world and the stereotypes that are associated with them. 

Afterwards we had a class discussion talking about some of the stereotypes and things that we saw in the movie and asked each other if they have witnessed these stereotypes before.

If you want to watch the whole video go to the following link.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"How Names Were Given" an Okanagan Story

The other day we sat in a circle and together we read the Okanagan story "How Names Were Given".

The students learned how the animal people received their names from the Great Spirit and we also learn a bit about coyote and how he was given his name and unique job/abilities. Coyote is usually portrayed as a trickster and in this story Coyote wants to try and be one of the great chiefs of the animal people. Then on his mission to become of of the important animal chiefs he tries to stay awake all night so that he can be the first one at the naming ceremony so that he can be given the best job. The great spirit sees what he is trying to do and decides to make him sleep in and as a result he is the last one to go to the naming ceremony. Coyote was sad and disappointed that he didn't get any of the names/jobs he wanted but the Great spirit already had plans for coyote and gave him a special job of protecting the people to be and gave him some special powers to do so. 

Afterwards the students worked in groups to talk about what they learned from the story and shared their view/opinions with the rest of the class.

An example of what one of the groups wrote down about the story.

Afterwards I asked the students to find the meaning of their names and ask their parents why they received that name. As an example I told them that I was given my middle name Warren after my great uncle Warren.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Snowshoeing at Mt. Baldy

This Wednesday was the day we were waiting for to try out our snowshoes that we made and see how they faired in the snow.

We walked without our snowshoes for a bit first so that the students could compared the difference of just walking in your boots compared to walking in the snow with your snowshoes.

After helping all of the students tie up the snowshoes we were finally off on our way for our snowshoe adventure. 

Students were a little tough on their snows instead of just going on a leisurely hike, which resulted in some of the snowshoes to tear a little bit on the plastic meshing. Another problem we noticed was that if students didn't tied them up as tight as they could they sometimes would slide off but other than that for the students going at at slower pace they worked fairly well. Another thing that I might change if I do this in the future is add another metal cross beam below your heel of your boots which might alleviate some of the stress on the plastic meshing. Another idea might be to do use something else instead of that plastic meshing maybe get the students to lace the snowshoes themselves like you would see with a traditional pair of snowshoes.

A couple of the students taking a break laying in the snow. They look pretty comfy laying there.

Me with my snowshoes.

Group picture with all of the students and their snowshoes.

We came to an opening in the trees and after taking our group photo we played some ultimate Frisbee in the snow. Some of the kids really like how the snow was deep enough to dive and fall with it cushioning their fall.

After playing ultimate Frisbee we decided to take lunch and after we had lunch we headed back to the bus and back to the school. We would have stayed longer but it had been lightly raining most of the morning and was gradually getting worse. This resulted in the students getting colder and wetter much sooner than expected but we still got some fun while it lasted.

Students posing with their finished PVC pipe snowshoes

This past Tuesday we finished making our PVC pipe snowshoes. Here are all of the students posing with their snowshoes in front of the school. Then on Wednesday we will be taking them up Mt. Baldy to try them out and see how they hold up.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

CBC Radio interview with Chris Walker asking me about the EPIC Program

This past Tuesday my Principal came to visit my class and told me that CBC radio would like to interview me and talk about what I am doing with the EPIC program. I was excited/nervous that CBC wanted to interview me and what made me feel even more nervous was that it was going to be a live interview. Then on Thursday Feb 11, 2016 around 6:40am (little early for me) CBC phoned and I had my Interview with Chris Walker on the CBC Radio 1 show Daybreak South. The interview was fairly quick and Chris had some great questions to ask and I was excited to be apart of his show that morning. Talking to some people afterwards they said my interview sounded great, which made me happy hearing that I had good things to say about the EPIC Program.

Students building their PVC pipe snowshoes

Here are the students in various stages of building their pvc pipe snowshoes.

Building PVC Pipe Snowshoes

After not having any success with building wooden snowshoes I came across several sources online that said you can build some sturdy and functional snowshoes out of PVC pipe. With all of the research that I did this is what I came up with.

Making the wooden form to bend my PVC pipe using a heat gun.

Using the Heat gun to bend the PVC pipe to the same shape as my form.

Making the crampons that will sit on a metal rod and then be attached to my snowshoes. They were made from 18 gauge sheet metal then cut to shape on the beverly shear, holes made on the whitney punch, and then bend to shape on the pan and break. Gotta love being a shop teacher having access to these kinds of tools :)

My finished pair of snowshoes and me wearing them to show how big they actually are. For the lacing instead of using hide or rope I used plastic mesh fencing.

Trying them out in the snow and they worked better than I expected.

Me experimenting on making snowshoes out of wood

At first I was going to try and make some wooden snowshoes using supplies that I had in the wood shop (Pine and Fir) and I tried a couple of different designs.

My steam bending set up. Instead of the kettle shown in the picture I went and bought a Earlex Steam Generator specifically made for steam bending wood. It is a very cool tool to have in the wood shop will have to experiment with it in the future possibly with my other wood shop classes, just need to be careful it can be very HOT.

Huron and Ojibwa Styles
The one on the left is made from pine and the one on the right was made from fir. The one on the left was made by laminating several thinner strips of Pine and gluing them together and the one on the right is made from steam bending thicker strips of Fir. These are softer types of wood and I found that they are not great for making snowshoes. It was more noticeable for the steam bend Ojibwa style as the wood was prone to cracking :(. It could also be partially due to my inexperience in making wooden snowshoes given these were my first few attempts. To have better success next time I will have to try Ash, which is the recommended wood of choice to use when making traditional wooden snowshoes.

Maybe in the future for the EPIC program after I have had more practice building snowshoes we can try building some traditional snowshoes out of wood.

At the end of our first week we had a Winter Survival Day up Mt. Baldy where the students had to imagine they were in a survival situation and create shelters and make a fire so that they could survive a cold winters night.
Beginning to build our shelters and get the fire started

Wandering around in the snow trying out the snowshoes.

One of the students had disappeared for awhile and we found out he was sleeping in one of the lean-to shelters that his group created. Glad to see it works.

Group picture of everyone

For field trips we wanted all of the students to have water bottles that they could bring and my Aunty Char Baptiste was kind enough to have a class set donated from Nk'mip Vineyards.

Thank you Aunty Char.

On Feb 3/16 for our Geography Unit we went for a little hike part way up the mountain beside our school. While we were up there we could see the entire valley, so we sat there for a bit and talked about the local geography and discussed how it is unique to the Okanagan Valley and the rest of Canada.

With this class students are with me and each other all day and everyday for the entire semester, so to get to know each other we did a lot of team building in our first week. Here are a couple examples of what we did.

Mrs. Goncalves is teaching the class about the Google Apps for Education and how students will be able to keep track of their assignments and class updates online.

Students are adding a little life to the walls of our classroom by creating some Epic Posters.

Welcome to my EPIC blog

Welcome to my blog for the EPIC program that I am teaching at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.

I hope that this will be a new and exciting semester for me and my students. A place where we will get to try some new things, meet cool people, build projects, and learn in a completely new/different way than what we a typically used to. As the teacher I am excited for the thing we plan on doing together.

Heres a little description for the EPIC program:

EPIC (Experiential, Project-Based, Indigenous, and Community) is an inclusive program designed to engage students in a variety of challenging learning experiences.  The program emphasizes project-based, experiential learning for all students who will come to understand the First Nations Principles of Learning.  EPIC takes place in a variety of venues including the backcountry, community venues and school. Learning occurs through group discussion, group and individual projects, outdoor pursuits, skill development sessions and peer teaching.  Hands on learning will focus on the four courses: Information Technology, Physical Education, Social Studies and Woodwork, delivered in a cross curricular model.  Upon completion of the EPIC program, students will receive 16 credits for the above mentioned courses along with an invaluable learning experience in high school.

Time to have an EPIC semester.