Improving the quality of the education to which Aboriginal peoples have access is a national priority, and one with particular importance for Saskatchewan where Aboriginal people represent the fastest-growing demographic group in the province.
For that reason, Mount Pleasant Educational Services, Inc. (MPES) is partnering with the University of Regina and First Nations University of Canada to honour the classroom teacher at DreamCatching 2007: Workshops in Math and Science for Teachers of Aboriginal Students. The conference is being held on the U of R campus from May 2 to 5, 2007.
An opening ceremony will be held May 2 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. in the main entrance of First Nations University of Canada. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. with greetings by Minister of Northern Affairs Hon. Joan Beatty, First Nations University of Canada President Charles Pratt, and University of Regina President Jim Tomkins. Traditional First Nations drumming and a dance will follow the speakers.
Based in Quebec, MPES has moved this fifth edition of DreamCatching west because it believes that while policy initiatives are necessary, progress in Aboriginal education can only be realized through the efforts of front-line teachers at the community-level.
“The action Saskatchewan is taking with regard to infusing Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives throughout the curriculum is a model for other jurisdictions to follow,” says MPES President Corinne Mount Pleasant-Jetté.
An international group of facilitators will address this year’s theme, “The Arts & Crafts of Math & Science: The Art of Teaching & The Craft of Communication” in hands-on workshops, plenary sessions and panels. Sessions include:
· Greg Cajete, a Tewa from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, is the conference’s featured speaker. An educator, artist and educational consultant, Cajete was founding director of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and is currently director of Native American Studies and associate professor in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico.
· Harry Lafond and his students from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation will introduce delegates to how animals teach us about the world in “What We Can Learn from the Animals.”
· Ed Galindo, University of Idaho, will help teachers build a science program when they have no budget in “Cheap Science or Fun With Urine.” Galindo’s students have flown five experiments on the space shuttle.
· Lisa Lunney, St. Francis Xavier University, who at one time taught out of a converted restaurant, will share methods that have helped her on-reserve high school math students out-perform the provincial norm in Nova Scotia in “The Art of Making Mathematics Meaningful.”
· Florence Glanfield, University of Saskatchewan, and Dawn Wiseman, MPES, will talk about the importance of communication between the mathematics and science classrooms in “The Art of Teaching & The Craft of Communication.”
The conference will also feature a poster session in which students can showcase math and science lesson plans designed for Aboriginal students. The session will be judged and prizes awarded for the best lessons.
Delegates from Canada and the United States will attend DreamCatching 2007, which is sponsored by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (Saskatchewan Region, Quebec Region and Headquarters), Saskatchewan Learning, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Prairie Office and The Trottier Family Foundation.MPES is a federally-chartered, Native-owned, not-for-profit corporation located on the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke, Quebec. The company grew out of the Native Access to Engineering Program (NAEP) situated at Concordia University in Montreal from 1993-2006, and continues its work in policy intervention, learning resource and program development, and professional development of teachers. The original objectives of NAEP were to increase the number of Native graduates in the areas of math and science who could subsequently contribute to community economic development. DreamCatching is one of a series of MPES efforts to support teachers by providing them with practical ideas and strategies for making science and math more attractive to Aboriginal students.
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