Helping Antle Find His Voice in Nova Scotia
Mi’kmaw Kina’matneway’s Holistic Assessment, Antle Finds His Voice, aims to bring cultural relevance to learning opportunities and assessment among young learners in Nova Scotia. By leveraging technology to provide access to real-time results, educators, caregivers, and the community have the tools they require to influence real and measurable change among the students in their lives.
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey are a unified team of chiefs, staff, parents, and educators based in Nova Scotia who advocate on behalf of and represent the educational interests of their communities, and protect the educational Mi’kmaw language rights of the Mi’kmaq people. As a leader in the Canadian Indigenous education space, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey works to ensure that children within their community feel a strong connection to their traditional culture, and are well supported for high student achievement.
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey faced a familiar challenge – the lack of relevant tools to assess oral language proficiency within their community, and even further gaps when it came to influencing real and measurable change. Traditional early childhood assessments failed to take into account the unique aspects of learning and culture in their community, and isolated the child being assessed from their context. Further, the targeted age group (three to five years old) were too young to complete surveys without the help of an assessor, and this one-sided view of early childhood learning often led to assessor bias and skewed results. Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey approached Ebou Learning and bv02 in search of a holistic approach to early childhood assessment – one which incorporated results from the child, the educator, their caregivers, and when possible, the community.
To meet the needs of early childhood assessment among Mi’kmaq students in Nova Scotia, Ebou worked in collaboration with the community to develop a localized version of our Holistic Assessment Platform. The collaboration process brought Ebou’s team together with educators, parents, and Elders who guided and informed the design and cultural elements of Holistic Assessment in their community. Success meant that the final product was both familiar to the young learners and reflective of the Mi’kmaq way of life – a tool built for the community, by the community.
Community collaboration brought forward the star of the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey assessment: a friendly animated moose character named Antle. Antle was not only a representation of common fauna within Nova Scotia, but the graceful giant is also considered a sacred icon among the Mi’kmaq people. The assessment, titled Antle Finds His Voice, featured the moose as the central figure across all classroom materials and helped ensure that students were engaged, comfortable and familiar with the assessment. Taking the form of both storybooks and a real-life puppet, Antle’s friendly face helped to frame the questions of the survey within the context of his story. Our proprietary method of adding conductive mechanism to the tip of Antle’s nose helped young learners complete the survey themselves directly on the iPad, while Antle stood by as a friendly face to help along the way, address student questions, and introduced an interactive layer between student and assessor to further reduce the risk of assessor bias.
Antle Finds His Voice collects data for each child and presents it through a data portal to show where opportunities for improvement exist in the child’s learning, taking into account the influences of their individual educational stakeholders (Educators, Caregivers, Elders). It literally puts the child at the centre of his or her own learning and presents tangible learning resources and activities to overcome them. As a child moves through the exercises, you see the data shift the balance for the child as well — across his/her entire learning spectrum: home, school and community.
Antle Finds His Voice is scheduled to pilot in the fall of 2016. The excitement around their initiative is also echoed by the Province, who plan to further pilot the assessment in provincial schools at the same time.