Many know Kate Taluga from NTPRS. She works with preserving Myskoke language in Florida and is part of the Oklahoma group as well, since her People were one of those native groups split between those two states. Her kids are showing growth with the language as expressed below:
Yesterday my kids performed on stage in front of the school and parents, the Brown Bear story. Now I know that it was forced output – though by doing it chorally I hoped those that were ready would speak up (and they did) and those that weren’t would mumble along (and they did). There are only 8 of them. I had done lots of hands-on strategies over the 6 times we met before doing this showcase using materials I found from the link you had provided on the blog (yep, 6 times on Friday afternoon at 4:30 with parents picking up willie-nillie – it’s a bit of a challenge). We weren’t doing the whole book by ourselves. Spanish had a section and Russian had a section. But I did do the whole book in teaching with my class. Here were the outcomes:
I had given each student a CD to listen to at home. I had done the reps, the slowed down auditory, and left room for them to repeat if they desired. I had also put in encouraging comments, a few chants of difficult phrasing, etc. Most of the kids listened at home. The ones who didn’t do their listening, didn’t really speak up. The ones who did were confident and spoke out. No microphones and carried a room of 325. Yes, I was proud…. These kids are predominately kindergarten and first graders. There were three older kids (3rd-8th) in my group. so, it was a cute little show, gave my staff a direction to move in as they planned their classes with their students (cause they weren’t doing much except discipline as they had NO plans).
But here is the kicker –
Later that afternoon in after school, my Master Speaker from Florida came and taught my class. He had no idea what the kids knew. But, he launched into a drawing session and just winged stuff out of his head. The tree is next to the house. We hadn’t done any of those words. They were with him! They were confident enough to suggest a guess, They were excited to interact with this 70 year old man. One boy kept saying “I’ve only been here 3 times but I am getting this.” Another boy said, “I don’t understand.” He never speaks up in class, but he had got the idea finally that it was okay to ask for help. And they were on fire for “their” language.
And my Master? Oh, he was excited too as he played with them. So, I’ve had a real success where the students have had some confidence building. I am looking at our next structures to build off what we know. And soon we will begin recording our own stories I am sure. The reality is once a week for 45 minutes is a slow build (we have had only 13 classes – that isn’t even 2 weeks in your schools). The parents that talked to me last night as they picked up their children (yes they had listened to the CDs – the homework had a parent participation part – that is what makes it HOMEwork), said they didn’t think their child was getting anything out of the class or listening to the CD until they did the homework with their children and the children knew it all. They asked for more CDs because now they want to learn.
This is huge! Not because they want to learn another language. But, that it is Mvskoke in an area where the names all around them of our landscape are in Mvskoke, but no one speaks the language.
So thank you. I’d have kept plugging along in my own way – and I am, but now I have more tools to my box. I don’t worry so much about grammar – let it happen naturally. I see progress.
Thank you Ben! Miracles happen every day. Keep your eyes open and your heart reaching out.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could