First graders produce astonishing academic results from Misaabekong program at Lowell Elementary

Andy Xiong
Dec 1, 2016 · 2 min read

The little first grader and kindergartner leaped joyfully up and down on a small trampoline.

Taped on the white wall in front of them was colorful papers. Written in a nice orderly fashion on the paper was the Ojibwe alphabet.

The little first grader guided the kindergartner through the alphabet. Pointing and pronouncing the vowels for the kindergartner to follow and repeat.

They read through the papers gleefully while laughing from the tickle bumps of the trampoline.

Gordon Jourdain teaching the first graders how to say and count shapes in Ojibwe.

This was one of the many strategies Gordon Jourdain, one of the teachers involved with the program, used to get the students to learn.

“This program helps students become one with their mind, body and spirit,” Jourdain said.

The first graders, who had gone through the program already, led the newly kindergartners through each of the learning physical activities.

If there was a kindergartner who was struggling, Jourdain would help them or a first grader would.

The most intriguing aspect of the physical activity part was that the students were learning how to be leaders at an early age.

Jourdain was teaching them how to be humble and servant leaders.

“In Ojibwe, nobody is more and nobody is less.” Jourdain said.

“Because of this the students respected one another in the classroom.” He said.

Inside the classroom, Jourdain reviewed multiple math problems on paper and shapes on the smart board.

Most of the words spoken by him was in Ojibwe. Yet, the students can follow along with what he was teaching.

Bezhig, niish, niswi (one, two, three), the students would count aloud in Ojibwe without assistance.

“They could explain the math problem back to me and show me how they got it.” Jourdain said.

“What’s important is not that they know the answer but how they come to getting it. They know seven subtracted by two is five because five plus two equals seven. And they can explain this to me,” he said.

“You need to know mathematics because it is important for further education and their results is astonishing. There is a student here, she is a first grader, and she can do fourth grade math. It is unbelievable,” he said.

“The program has been active for three years now and I do expect it to expand.” Jourdain said.

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