Cape Breton's Magazine


Grade 6 Curriculum Unit

Focus: Natives of Nova Scotia
Unit 6 Social Studies
Canada- A Multicultural and Multiracial Mosaic

Outcome 6.6.1  demonstrate an understanding of how cultures from around the world have participated in the development of  Canadian Culture. 

Lesson Plan:

Magazine Volume Issues:
Annie & John Battiste
A Mi’kmaq Family History

Volume:64 Pgs. 23-42

Front Loading Activity:

Ask students if they were ever told stories orally by parents or grandparents about their family’s history. Talk about why it is important to learn about one’s family past. Brainstorm a list of questions you would want to ask your grandparents about their lives growing up. Do we have any responsibility for learning and remembering our own family’s history? A possible extension could lead to an interview process with a family member, relative or family friend who knows a great deal about their family’s past.

Focus on memory of older people as they age and the necessity to document things as they know. Eventually their death will bring a conclusion to stories once so vividly remembered.


Talk about how the Native people enjoyed telling stories to explain things in nature and to pass on stories from generation to generation. This story you will hear is about Annie & John Battiste and their family.

Focus Vocabulary:

small pox     peddling     quarantine   scarlet fever    shanties

gregarious    possessions   charity   spirituality    consecutive

diagnosed     ridiculous     mastoid     Residential School

sobriety        recuperate     fete     frolicked     appendicitis

Notes to teacher:

This article is one that is told in the third person and one that is truly easy to read. However, because of its length we would recommend that you read the biography aloud to your students or use it as a jigsaw reading.

Article Reading…….. Read the article to the students or break it up into sections for the students to read and report. This can be done in a jigsaw format if you prefer to use this strategy.

Jigsaw Strategy:
See Below.

What is Jigsaw?

Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy that enables each student of a “home” group to specialize in one aspect of a learning unit. Students meet with members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect, and after mastering the material, return to the “home” group and teach the material to their group members.

Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece--each student's part--is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. If each student's part is essential, then each student is essential. That is what makes the Jigsaw instructional strategy so effective.

What is its purpose?

Jigsaw learning allows students to be introduced to material and yet maintain a high level of personal responsibility.

The purpose of Jigsaw is to develop teamwork and cooperative learning skills within all students. In addition it helps develop a depth of knowledge not possible if the students were to try and learn all of the material on their own. Finally, because students are required to present their findings to the home group, Jigsaw learning will often disclose a student’s own understanding of a concept as well as reveal any misunderstandings.

How can I do it?

In its simplest form, the Jigsaw instructional strategy is when:

1. Each student receives a portion of the materials to be introduced;
2. Students leave their "home" groups and meet in "expert" groups;
3. Expert groups discuss the material and brainstorm ways in which to present their understandings to the other members of their “home” group;
4. The experts return to their “home” groups to teach their portion of the materials and to learn from the other members of their “home” group

In more detail, and written from a teacher’s perspective, to conduct a Jigsaw in your classroom:

1.    Assign students to “home” teams of 4 or 5 students (generally their regular cooperative learning teams). Have students number off within their teams.
2. Assign study topics to “home” team members by giving them an assignment sheet or by listing their numbers and corresponding roles on the board.
3. Have students move to “expert” groups where everyone in the group has the same topic as themselves.
4. Students work with members of their “expert” group to read about and/or research their topic. They prepare a short presentation and decide how they will teach their topic to their “home” team. You may want students to prepare mini-posters while in their “expert” Groups. These posters can contain important facts, information, and diagrams related to the study topic.
5. Students return to their “home” teams and take turns teaching their team members the material. I find it helpful to have team members take notes or record the information in their journals in some way. You may want them to complete a graphic organizer or chart with the new information.
6. Involve the class in a whole-group review of all the content you expect them to master on the assessment. Administer an individual assessment to arrive at individual grades.

Issues to focus on:

With the following Character Map have the students mark in Annie Battiste’s name in the center and record the findings about her life. Focus on her life growing up as a child, as a teen, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and finally as a giving member of her native community.


With this emotions web we can begin to look and discover the life of Annie Battiste. Be sure to use descriptive words that you feel describe Annie after reading the story about her and her husband’s life. On the back of the paper write supporting evidence about the trait you give her.


List 6 important events in her life. Tell what you think she felt about each evident, and why you stated these suggested feelings.

Residential School Issue:

On page 35 of this article it talks about Annie and John’s decision to move to the United States. They did this in order to pay off debt they incurred while living in Eskasoni. They now were faced with a big decision about their daughter Eleanor who was aged 7 at the time.

Read page 35 and record why they felt it was okay to send Eleanor to the Shubenacadie Residential School. Why did Annie and John finally make the long journey up from Maine to collect their daughter?

Further exploration:

Residential School Issues: CBC Information about Native Residential Schools throughout Canada.

Literature Review:

You could take this even further by exploring journal or poetry writing. Have children write entries as a child placed in the school and conversing with their parents.

An example of Rita’s Journey through the residential school.

  1. Consider the following poem by Rita Joe, a Mi'kmaq poet, about attending the residential school in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia:

I Lost My Talk
I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my world.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.

Write a brief essay discussing what you think this poem means. What is the poet's opinion of the residential school? What type of emotions is she expressing when she remembers the school? What does she feel she has lost? How does she hope to change the future?

Student Olivia Gowan of Sydney

Brookland Elementary Grade 6 writes


I am a native Mi’kmaw girl

Taken from my family,

Far away I traveled

To school in ‘Shubenacadie.’

They dressed me in crisp cotton,

Colors of blue and white,

No leather, fur or beadwork,

The clothes were oh so tight!

I was taken to a classroom,

Tears rolled down my cheek,

For the language they were saying,

I knew not how to speak.

Dare I say a word in mother tongue

I was hit hard with a stick,

Fed food that tasted strange and bad,

Which often made me sick.

I could not find my sister

Amongst all the crowded halls,

I missed running through the woods with her,

Swimming through waterfalls.

Little Bear, my younger brother,

Oh how I miss him so!

All the games we used to play,

All the places we would go!

I slept in a room of many,

Bunk beds all around,

No drums I heard at nighttime,

No mother’s voice was found.

Now I don’t wear pigtails,

English books I read,

Customs of the Mi’kmaw,

Parent’s ways, I’ll never need.

I was a native Mi’kmaw girl,

I had a native family,

I lost my native ways

To a place in ‘Shubenacadie’.

By: Olivia Gowan
For: Mr. Linden
Nov.17th ,2005

Further reading in Cape Breton Magazine:

Out of the Depths Issue# 63   page 53

Quoted by Rita Joe

“I DON'T REMEMBER ever receiving any rewards from any nun for anything I have ever done except for the laundry. I helped in the laundry and the nun there was very good to me and every morning she would give me one piece of candy or chocolate. She just did it I think from the goodness of her heart and I always did my work whether I received a
reward or not. I think the Sister was trying to get a good relationship based on good terms love, respect and admiration which I gave her. When I went to visit her, she was eighty years old exactly and she was so glad to see me and she just cried and held out her arms and I went into them and we hugged each other and our tears mingled. I
went to visit that Sister because of that friendship established many years ago. I saw the favorites and pets get rewards of ribbon, candy, bread and jam, medals and holy cards. And to children who never received presents at Christmas time those things meant a lot. One thing I can say about the Sister on the girls' side is that she let me have skates when I was fifteen, one year away from going home for good.
During summer vacations, she tried not to be as mean as during the school year. She held back her anger and didn't scold as much. She let us get away with little things like sleeping in. They took us to Grand Lake once. We had to pick blueberries. When we had a bowl full of berries, she rewarded us with candy a B.B. sucker— one candy a B.B.
sucker. I have to think really hard to remember the rewards.”




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