Learning Outside the Classroom

In my ERDG 425 class, we are working one on one with a student from Ranch Ehlro.

Ranch Ehrlo’s vision is “to be a model of excellence in the development of community services for Saskatchewan and beyond , by providing a continuum of quality preventative, restorative, and advocacy programs that facilitates individuals and families achieving their full potential”.   

This organization is truly unique to Saskatchewan and Canada. They do wonderful work and truly impact the lives of children in positive ways. They work with the kids there to change their lives for the better and to turn negatives into positives.

We are working with them to improve their reading and comprehension skills. These students used to reside out on the main campus in Pilot Butte, but have moved to schools in Regina where they are integrated in mainstream classrooms but may still spend time in the school’s Ranch Ehrlo room. So today our class and our students had the opportunity to out to the Pilot Butte campus and to see the students there. We toured the main building and then went into the gym. In the gym there was a presentation about Hoop Dancing and Hip Hop Dancing.

keepr by Gendoo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Gendoo 

The presentation incorporated the First Nations culture and teachings and we viewed wonderful dancing. Then, we also learned a little bit about Hip Hop  dancing. The presentation was serious but also entertaining. It was wonderful to see all of the kids from the Ranch, and the students we are working with interacting with one another, listening and showing respect to one another and the presenters. Once the presentation was done, everyone had the opportunity to learn some basic Hip Hop dance moves and then the beginning of a Hoop Dance, complete with hoops for almost everyone who participated. I had a great time watching the student I am working with interact with his peers, be respectful and engaged and to see him laugh and smile. And for someone who told me he didn’t like to dance, he caught on very well when participating in the Hoop Dance. 

Here are a few things I learned today:

  • Men perform hoop dances
  • You don’t pick up the hoops with your hands off of the floor, you use your feet.
  • Each hoop dance you see by the same performer will not be the same.
  • The hoops represent unity
  • They also represent the four directions, the four winds and the four seasons
  • The hoops can create images of the Earth, the Eagle, the Turtle, the Butterfly
  • Hoop Dancing honours Mother Earth

It was a great day and a great experience. It was nice to learn more about the First Nation’s culture and perspective and it was good so that I can connect more to my student and can bring my new understandings into my teaching.


6 thoughts on “Learning Outside the Classroom

    1. Thanks for the feeback on my portfolio! I believe that Ranch Ehrlo is a wonderful place that does great work with youth who are at risk or who have been in trouble. They make remarkable achievements and this organizations is truly an inspirational place.

  1. It’s awesome that you got to see a Hoop Dance! I taught an Arts Ed unit on First Nations art during my internship and dance was one of the strands that we covered. I would have loved to have a First Nations dance troupe come in and do a performance for us, but it was way too expensive. I think your experience will serve you well once you start teaching, particularly when it comes to incorporating First Nations content into your lessons. All the best!

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