Monday, January 08, 2007

Teaching Sterling's MY NAME IS SEEPEETZA and Tohe's NO PAROLE TODAY

Last night I watched a video in which a teacher engages her middle school students in a study of boarding schools for American Indian students. The study begins with the students reading Shirley Sterling’s My Name is Seepeetza and “The Names,” which is a poem from Laura Tohe’s No Parole Today.

The video is an hour long and is part of the “Teaching Multicultural Literature” series of teacher resources available on the Annenberg Media website. Here’s the annotation for this particular segment:

Workshop 3: Research and Discovery: Shirley Sterling and Laura Tohe

At the Skokomish reservation in Washington state, Sally Brownfield and her students study and connect with the literature and issues related to the Native American boarding school program through community involvement and self-examination. Students use Shirley Sterling's novel My Name Is Seepeetza and the poetry of Laura Tohe as the lenses through which they explore topics of their choosing. The class visits the Skokomish Tribal Center to interview tribal elders about the impact of the residential boarding program on the community. Author Shirley Sterling visits the class and answers student questions related to her novel, her life, and their personal research topics. Students then decide how to make their learning public.


This blog has several posts about My Name is Seepeetza, but not enough about Laura Tohe's poetry. A post about her is forthcoming.

It is hard for me to say which portion of the video is the most powerful. Listen to the students, many of whom are Native, talk about the book and their own families. Listen to Laura Tohe’s poem, as the Native teacher reads it aloud. Listen to the elders and what they say about their days as students in a boarding school. And, listen to Shirley Sterling and all that she gives to the students in that classroom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!