Gr. 3 La Loche Project


For two weeks in February 2016 my grade three class worked on a special project for the staff and students in La Loche.  This project came together because of two events that occurred around the same time. We had also been discussing current events in our classroom and the shooting in La Loche came up, along with some questions about the safety practices in our own school. A student wanted to know if what happened in La Loche would increase the number of  lock down and secure the building drills that we would be having here.  I explained that we practice these drills so that we are prepared in the event of an emergency and that we would continue to practice them as usual. I also received an email from someone that volunteered to go to La Loche right after the shootings. I was impacted by this person's courage and wondered if there was something that we could do to support this community. 


We talked about how people cope with tragic and stressful situations and discussed ways that people can come together after a tragedy. I explained that an important factor in healing from a big tragedy or loss is having the support of other people.  Although we can not change what happened in La Loche we can choose to respond in a kind, loving, and supportive way. 

Following this a boy in our room suggested that maybe we could do something for the teachers and students there. Many students responded enthusiastically and this is how our project began!

Day 1

We began with a list of ideas from various students who offered suggestions about what we could do for the staff and students.  This was our list. 


#1) WRITING A LETTER

We decided to write letters to the grade three students in La Loche. We had a lot of good discussions about how you can encourage someone with a card or letter when they are going through a difficult time.  


Our research on the school also began at this time. We learned that there were 60 students in grade three, so each child wrote three letters. 

This led to a discussion about the population of the school and community.  It also led to questions about the demographics of La Loche.




During the  following days we had many discussions about what we could do for the teaching staff there.  


The more we learned about this community, the more we learned about First Nations culture.  We had an awesome opportunity to learn from a student in our room who shared her knowledge and expertise. This was a HUGE highlight for all of us!

 We learned how to do a Jingle Dance and 
Round Dance.




#3) DESIGNING THE GIFT FOR THE STAFF 

After we read about the significance of the circle in the First Nations culture, some of the students suggested that we make a gift that has the shape of a circle. This was a very exciting discussion and led to the idea of making a bracelet for the staff there.



The circle represents important principles in Aboriginal worldview and belief systems, such as interconnectedness, equality, and continuity. According to traditional teaching, the seasonal pattern of life and renewal and the movement of animals and people were continuous, like a circle, which has no beginning and no end. 

Circles suggest inclusiveness and the lack of a hierarchy. They are found throughout nature – for instance, in the movement of the seasons and the sun’s movement from east to west during the day. 

Circles are also used in the construction of teepees and sweat lodges; and the circular willow hoop, medicine wheel, and dream catcher are powerful symbols. 

After this we had an inspirational art session to design what this bracelet might look like. We learned that the people in La Loche were wearing blue ribbons to show solidarity and support.  Many of the students included this ribbon in their designs.

In math we were studying data management so we organized our thoughts on a line plot graph. 

Some of the boys thought we should reconsider giving the males on staff a bracelet. This bar graph represents a vote we had about which gift we should give the males teachers. The students overwhelmingly voted to give them a lanyard with words of encouragement.  









It was difficult to come to an agreement about which words to put on the bracelet, so we held another vote - this time learning about tally marks and how they could be used to collect data.  
The words STRENGTH, HOPE AND COURAGE received the most votes.
In science we spent a few days comparing the prairies to the boreal forest.
                              
     
In language arts the students also wrote a short persuasive essay on why they chose the words they did. 

We were able to find a company that could create our designs in a very timely manor. It took about ten days from when we submitted the order until the bracelets and lanyards arrived at our school.





SENDING A TREAT 

Being that it was so close to Valentine's Day our class thought the students in La Loche might like to receive chocolates and candies. We included these with the letters. 



A few of the girls also made some necklaces for the grade three teachers and assistants. 



After adding the treats it was time to mail all of our letters to La Loche!

How did the students feel about doing this 
project?



On Friday, February 12, 2016 we had a special visit from Mike Walter, Deputy Director of School Services for Regina Public Schools, whose own trip to La Loche helped inspire this project. The students prepared a short presentation for him to show our gratitude. He was moved by what the students had done and thanked our class for their effort.


A HUGE thank you also goes out to    Mr. MacKenzie!!  His Random Acts of Kindness Fund will be funding this project!


THANK YOU GRADE 3!!! ๐Ÿ’— I AM SO PROUD OF EACH ONE OF YOU!๐Ÿ’— YOU GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT AND LOOK FORWARD TO EACH AND EVERY DAY!! I REALLY ENJOYED WORKING ON THIS PROJECT WITH YOU!! ~ Love, Mrs. Gilroy-Beck


This past week was an exciting one in our classroom! On Tuesday I found these two envelopes in my mailbox.  We had fun guessing who they were from. 

We opened the envelopes together to find that the Grade 3 students from La Loche had written our class back!  



As the students read their letters, I could tell from their expressions that they were reading something pretty interesting. I invited the students to come up to the Reader's Chair one at a time to share their letter with the class. This was an unbelievable experience to be part of. 


The students in La Loche shared their hobbies, culture, traditions, language and daily life experiences. Their way of life is very different from ours and their stories were nothing short of INCREDIBLE! I couldn't have taught my students what these letters taught them about life in La Loche or First Nations culture with a book or a video. For that matter, no resource out there could come close to getting our class as excited about learning as they were!




After we finished reading the letters, my students couldn't wait to write their Pen Pals back!  I handed out paper and for the next forty minutes you could have heard a pin drop in our room! ...ALL OF MY STUDENTS were engaged in this process! The opportunity to express themselves and purposefully connect with someone that has such a diverse background excited and motivated them.  Even students who are at times reluctant writers were hard at work, carefully crafting their stories. Some students wrote more in this letter than I have seen them write all year!

It was quite a day! I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to go to work and be part of something so rewarding!



La Loche Students and Teachers!

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