Case Study 2

16 Feb

Revisiting this case study has brought out both celebration and a few hesitations in terms of moving forward with this merger. First the celebrations: I am very pleased to see that the grade 11 teachers from each school have been collaborating and working together toward this merger. It is uplifting to hear them speak to the other teachers in both schools, encouraging them to move forward with this merger and to embrace it rather than fear it. I also think it’s wonderful that students from both schools worked together to come up with a new school name, that Elders have been working toward setting principles and values for the merger, and that grade 11 students from both schools will begin spending two days a week with each other.

It is pleasing to see that some of the recommendations I made in the initial case study are coming to fruition in the new information we have been given. I am particularly pleased that efforts have been made to try and integrate students from both schools prior to the actual merger. I think that this is key in order to try and bring these schools together.

Unfortunately my greatest fear regarding this merger is also being realized. It is clear that even now there is a lot of tension building between the students of each respective school. Prairie View School students seem to be suffering under the racism that is often (unfortunately) present in most small rural communities in Saskatchewan. This racism is absolutely something that needs to be dealt with prior to the merger. Buffalo Ridge, for their part, is also struggling with the racial tensions and is more justified in being so. While they learn the same information around treaty rights, they are noting the inherent injustices that have taken place on part of First Nations and Metis over the years and struggle with the idea that they are still being misrepresented in the minds of so many in Saskatchewan.

Clearly there needs to be some quality Treaty education happening, particularly in Prairie View School. I think that the students need to be guided into making connections between other racial injustices (ie: the Holocaust, Rwanda, etc.) and the plight of local First Nations groups. I think that using some of the videos the students from Buffalo Ridge are making around First Nations issues are a great way to introduce the students from Prairie View School to a different perspective.

When I was in high school, my school division was very small and contained only four schools. My school (North Valley, in Lemberg, SK) was the only school without a First Nations presence. The other three schools (Balcarres, Wolseley, and Grenfell) all had students from local reservations in attendance. Once a year all four of our schools would gather for Treaty Awareness Day, a daylong event where we would learn about First Nations culture and Treaty issues. Facilitating this sort of event would be a great way to spread a lot of information and could be tailored to hopefully reach all students on a deeper level.

My group was in agreement on the idea that there should be more mixers happening between the students and staff of each school. It is good to see that the staff has begun mixing as well as the grade 11 students from each school, but more definitely needs to happen in this regard. Practice makes perfect.

In terms of providing differentiated instruction for the students that need it, my staff group came up with a few ideas. Firstly, there are some students that miss a lot of school because of athletic obligations. The idea was posited that perhaps we could allow these students to Skype in whenever possible so that less material would need to be caught up on later. The use of a class blog or wikispace was also promoted as it allows students and parents to access school work that may have been missed and to upload assignments from home if needed.

General ideas around differentiated instruction were also explored and expounded upon. Providing instruction in general terms free of larger words that are easily tripped up on is an easy way to involve this idea. Providing content in various ways is another easy way to differentiate for these diverse learners and can be done by providing visual aids along with written and oral instructions. Coupled with this is a need to allow for varied instructional strategies including co-operative learning, inquiry, and direct instruction. From the information that Selena Fox provided, it is easy to see that the grade 11 students from Buffalo Ridge are used to creating products that take on various shapes and forms; particularly the use of video-making. The varied representations of learning are something that should definitely be kept in place after the merger so that all students will be able to successfully exemplify proof of learning.

This merger is important on so many levels. It is an opportunity to show the province and the nation that change is possible and that differences can be embraced. Because of this, the merger has a lot riding on it. I personally know that I would be very anxious to see how everything turns out and I know I am not the only one. In the end, if everything is followed through with correctly, the Pasqua Moostoos Community High School has the potential to become a beacon of possibility for the entire surrounding area.


One Response to “Case Study 2”

  1. Emily Mann February 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I am very excited because I just discovered a great resource that I think naturally fits with the ideas coming out of this case study! One of my aunts lives in the North West Territories and she sent me a link to the following site: Canadian Roots is a program that focuses on providing “exchanges that unite” First Nations, Metis, Inuit and non-Indigenous students ages 18-30. Because many of us feel ill-prepared to teach about Indigenous ways of knowing, this sort of exchange program could have amazing benefits, not only for us but for our students as well. This idea of “exchanges that unite” also speaks to the importance of uniting the students in the case study (all from different backgrounds) in a meaningful way. Contained in the Canadian Roots homepage is a link to a documentary video entitled “Shielding Minds” that highlights the first Canadian Roots Exchange program. I believe that watching this documentary and examining the work of Canadian Roots with the students involved in the merger could help to bridge the racial gaps that exist between the students at present.

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