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Special projects producing results at Naujaat school

October was a busy month for special initiatives at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat, including one that focused on Canadian geography and another that focused on reading and literacy.

Martha Uttak reads with Grade 7 student Diane Uttak during Literacy Day activities at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Oct. 12, 2018. Photo courtesy Julia MacPherson
Martha Uttak reads with Grade 7 student Diane Uttak during Literacy Day activities at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Oct. 12, 2018. Photo courtesy Julia MacPherson

Vice-principal Julia MacPherson said a day dedicated to activities around a giant map of Canada provided by Canadian Geographic Education was a big hit with students.

"It was an excellent resource and the kids really got into it," she said.
MacPherson said the free resource offered to any class or school from kindergarten to Grade 12 came with curriculum-linked activities and supplies.

The activities were run by senior high social studies teacher Shona Stacey and the students in her class, she said.

"The map was set up in the gym for the day on Oct. 10, and it took up almost half the size of the gym floor," said MacPherson.

"Classes visited the map with their teacher and participated in various activities lead by Shona and her class.

"It was a major highlight of the month, which both students and teachers really enjoyed."

MacPherson said school staff came across the website highlighting the program this past year and applied to have it sent to Naujaat.

She said they received the OK from the organization this past August, and were even able to
select the best time to have it sent
to Tuugaalik.

"It came with all kinds of different lessons and activities the lead teacher could select for the students to work through, as well as different types of materials such as little pylons, chains and colour co-ordinated supplies.

"There were no labels on the map. So one activity Shona selected was to label every community in Nunavut, which was really neat.

"Then there was an activity where they were going on a Ski-Doo trip, so they had to map out from point A to point B and then use the little chains to show the route they would go and guess how far it would be.

Another activity had them going from one end of Canada to the other and figuring out what was in the exact middle. Some of the students were surprised to learn it was the Kivalliq community of Baker Lake.

MacPherson said she would really like to see other schools reach out to Canadian Geographic Education and obtain the project.

She said it's a simple process to obtain the giant map of Canada, and students really enjoy the experience and learn a great deal from it.

"We had it here for one day and did the activities, but we could have continued with it for a few more days.

Two days after the giant map of Canada, Tuugaalik held its annual Literacy Day activities on Oct. 12.

The event sees parents and guardians come to the school to hear readings from students, or do a little reading out loud themselves.

MacPherson said it's mostly the students who read to the adults, but they can switch back and forth if they like.

She said the senior school has been holding some form of Literacy Day activities for at least the past seven years now.

"As one school, of course, we were kindergarten to Grade 12 and, when we moved to Tuugaalik, we continued to incorporate it into our schedule, especially with our younger grades.

"The students read in both languages, and we have some really great programs now for guided reading in English and Inuktitut.

"So our students are working through those, as we're trying to incorporate a little bit more into the lessons while also getting that support so that they can work on increasing their reading, writing and comprehension levels.

"We've received some really great feedback and remarks from some of the students our learning coach, Bernadette O'Brien, works with – they have a real sense of pride with this and it's something they really want to work on and improve their skills, so we really support that."

MacPherson said there was a great turnout for this year's Literacy Day.
She said emails were sent to the hamlet SAO and various other organizations in the community to remind them of the importance of parents or other guardians dropping in to read with one of the students on Literacy Day.

"The community is great at assisting with Literacy Day.

"In fact, it's something Aubrey (principal Bolt) and I have spoken with Bernadette (O'Brien) about – instead of just doing it once a year, we're going to try and do it at least once a month," she said.

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