In the beginning…
When I first turned my attention to our Major Digital Project for this semester I was pretty confident I would choose option A, to either integrate social media in my teaching practice or create some type of open educational resources. Mostly this option was attractive to me because in the past I created a similar project for my EC&I 832 final project, called #MichifMonday. I had really enjoyed using twitter with my students to promote language learning and connect with a community of speakers as a casual project with my class of grade 4/5 students. I then created a mini-unit of 5 lessons that others who were partaking in our project could access openly, joining us in our learning journey in a more meaningful way. As my summary of learning I made some videos to lead users through the shared drive, and how to use it and participate in the project year round.
As I planned what I wanted to accomplish with this course, I took a browse at some of my colleagues ideas, and found to my surprise not only that they were mostly choosing Option B – Choosing to learn, and share their learning online. As I read I realized how personal others were making their learning. For example, Leigh choose to explore ASL and Deaf Culture based on her teaching experiences and people in her life, Riley is learning to crochet as a project that is just for her, and Curtis is embarking on the most delicious learning journey ever (and willing to sacrifice a lot for it if you take his title seriously). It made me reconsider – if the point of graduate work is to continually improve oneself and your professional practices, why shouldn’t take advantage of having the option to choose a project aimed at exactly what I want to learn? I decided to undertake a personal learning project rather than an integration project.
This is what I have come up with so far:
- What is relevant to my needs? Currently I am in a (somewhat) new role. I am fortunate to teach a Pilot Program in conjunction with the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan. The project is aimed to combat the fact that Michif – the language of the Metis, is fast disappearing. As of 2016 less than an estimated 2% of Metis peoples spoke an indigenous language – not all of those respondents actually spoke Michif (which itself is a mixture of mostly Nêhiyawak verbs, French nouns and the odd English words). My program aims to protect and promote the language of Michif. Which, while extremely rewarding – is also extremely difficult as I am not a fluent Michif speaker. In fact, my #MichifMonday project, and my SUNTEP education helped me to earn my role – not a fluency in the language. Over the past year I have been lucky to work with Li Vyeu (Old Ones) who graciously guided me so that I had the correct knowledge to instruct and communicate with my students in the language. Now, in my professional life – I would like to be more conversational. More specifically:
- I would like to speak enough Michif to have a short conversation with our resident Noohkoom when she visits to the children can hear a conversation.
- I would like to be able to instruct my students in full sentences, without pausing to check my lesson plan notes or dictionary app.
I also have a couple of goals for my personal life:
- I would like to be able to introduce myself in Michif, the language of my grandparents. Something along the lines of “I am, ____, My name is____ I am from,____”. Which sounds simple but I have been working on that for over two years and I still cannot for the life of me recall the order in which to do so as Michif often follows the structure of French sentences.
- I would like to make the project more fun and personal by going through some items of my grandparents (specifically my grandma’s cookbook) and use my language learning to decipher some of her recipes.
The Role of Social Media
Of course in order to satisfy the course goals I will need to use online sources to guide my project. This is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, Michif as stated above is not widely spoken – therefore time and resources have not been put into many online sources for the language. Previously I have used the Michif Dictionary curated by the Gabriel Dumont Institute as an online resource. Although this is a one way source, and not necessarily helpful for someone aiming for conversational skills as opposed to singular words. Additionally, Michif like many languages has multiple dialects. The Social Media Michif resources I may use all have to be checked that they are in the “Heritage Michif” dialect that I am learning.
Thus far for online sources I have discovered:
- The Metis Nation of Alberta Youth Facebook and Instagram Accounts share words of the day that include sentence structure.
- The Manitoba Metis Federation has a Tik Tok account that features language speakers.
- The St. Albert Higher education offers distance learning courses in Basic Heritage Michif.
- I am building a PLN of Michif speakers on twitter.
Additionally I hope that I can use a form of social media to share and document my journey as a method of creating a new resource for others on the same type of journey as myself. On this front I need to spend more time looking into the different forms of social media to assess which one is best suited to sharing my learning. Do you have any recommendations for me of ways I can share my learning on Social Media in a way that is open to others, but still appropriate for learning?