PICTURE BOOK LESSON PLAN
GUIDED ANTI-BIAS/ANTI-RACIST READING | GRADES K+
This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I Campbell. Lesson content, written by Al Rose, a student in the Social Justice in K12 Education course was designed to start or deepen anti-bias conversations in families and other learning communities.
SUMMARY & PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE LESSON PLAN WRITER AL ROSE
This post is personal for me as an Indigenous womxn! In my K-12 education, my history was erased. Native Americans are talked about in past-tense, and our history is painted as a fantasy derived from white settler dreams. Throughout my K-12 experience, I felt like I was constantly fighting for recognition of my Nations’ existence and berating teachers for ignoring my presence in the classroom. This was my history and a telling story of where I came from, and in a similar way, it was the history of my peers and educators as well.
In Shi-shi-etko, we get a glimpse of what life should be for a child. Shi-shi-etko takes in her home and spends valuable time with her parents and grandmother. She gets to play in the woods and river by her house. She is able to speak her own native language with her community. Most importantly, she gets to be a child! While this particular children’s book does not provide insight to what boarding schools were like, it does provide the very tangible reality of what was robbed of Indigenous children across the North American continent.
LISTEN TO THE READ ALOUD
This is a read aloud version of Shi-Shi-Etko narrated by 7th and 8th grade students. We recommend that you also purchase or check out a physical copy of the book if you can.
This short film directed by Kate Kroll envisions Shi-shi-etko’s days at home before she’s taken away to boarding school. The video highlights her relationship with her family, her natural environment, and her resiliency to remember those relationships.
LESSON PLAN OBJECTIVES
This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning for the student and the facilitator. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and opportunities for action around racial equity in our communities. We hold the belief that being anti-racist is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time.
The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (focused on Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) serve as guides for our work.
TEACHING TOLERANCE STANDARDS REFERENCED IN THIS LESSON
The Teaching Tolerance Standards and Domains referenced during discussion question development in this lesson are for Grades 3-5. This book, however, can be used with a wide range of ages. Here are the domains used to create the discussion questions.
Identity Domain #2 I know about my family history and culture and about current and past contributions of people in my main identity groups.
Diversity Domain #8 I want to know more about other people’s lives and experiences, and I know how to ask questions respectfully and listen carefully and non-judgmentally
Diversity Domain #10 I know that the way groups of people are treated today, and the way they have been treated in the past, is a part of what makes them who they are.
Justice Domain #15 I know about the actions of people and groups who have worked throughout history to bring more justice and fairness to the world.
After reading or listening to Shi-shi-etko, ask yourself and the young person/people you’re reading with these questions. Answer them together.
What do you know about your family’s history? What cultural groups do you and your family most identify with? Where are those cultural groups from?
Where do you live? Do you know about the peoples who lived on the lands before you? Where are they now? Look up the history of the land, plants, and people of your area. How have you experienced the nature surrounding you and how have you interacted with it?
In Shi-shi-etko, Shi-shi-etko talks about remembering as much as she can. What are some of your most memorable positive moments? What happened in those memories?
Have you ever been away from home? What was it like? Describe how you were feeling to be far away from everything you know. Can you imagine what it would be like to be away from your family for an entire school year?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM AL ROSE
Teaching Respect for Native Peoples - A helpful tool to engage children with their relationship to folx of different backgrounds.
Native Knowledge 360° - Native perspectives on Native American history and cultures by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM ZAPOURA NEWTON-CALVERT
In Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to officially task the government with compiling information, stories, and data on residential schools and the harm they caused to Indigenous communities over decades. In the U.S., while boarding schools for Native American children functioned in the same way and with similar violent impact, this country has not taken official measures to truth tell or to reconcile. Therefore, it’s up to us to tell the truth, share the information, repair harm, and never forget.
Orange Shirt Day (September 30) was established in Canada as a day to remember and honor students of residential schools. Learn more here:
Orange Shirt Day Organization (website; includes excellent resources for teachers grades 5+)
National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (website; U.S. organization)
The Heard Museum’s “Away from Home” Exhibit (a photo tour)
How and Why to Talk to Kids About Residential Schools (video interview with David Robertson, author of When We Were Alone)
Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola Campbell
When We Were Alone by David Robertson
You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith