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First Nations Living History: Learning to Write in Style

First Nations Living History: Learning to Write in Style

by Dan Soberg, 2004 Recipient of the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching.

View Lesson Plan


Grade 4, but adaptable to all grades / Social Studies, Language Arts, Creative Writing, Visual Arts


First Nations history, environment, salmon run, eco-system of rain forest


Students will:

  • write in a variety of forms after a field trip, guest speaker or unit conclusion
  • learn poetry styles including Haiku, Cinquain, Diamente, couplets
  • write descriptively which has an experiential base summarizing events, feelings or observations
  • write a biography after interviewing the oldest member of your family, a neighbor or friend
  • conduct research for a project, followed by an oral presentation to class
  • write and send thank you letters to guest speakers


Ongoing throughout the year; several shorter poems can be written in one lesson.


Read some writing examples of former grade 4 - 6 students. Put some examples on board to show format, especially when doing poetry. It takes several periods to complete the writing process:
(1) brain storming to summarize experiences and create lists of words
(2) first draft written in creative silence, do the best they can with spelling on their own
(3) proof-reading on their own, in pairs or small groups
(4) editing, then submitting it to the teacher for a final look
(5) good copy in pencil then in fine point black felt pen
(6) illustrate in a variety of ways: on edges in felt pen or pencil crayon; over top of writing with soft pencil crayon


Models of different styles are displayed on board and different student examples are read to the class. As a class we may do one together.

  • Appendix A: Student samples of different styles of poetry, including Cinquain, Haiku, Diamente
  • Student samples of descriptive writing
  • Outline of research project for explorers, timetable to parents
  • Questions for interviewing an elder in family, neighbor or friend
  • Giving “Native” names to students
  • Model longhouse project - letter to parents, sample designs
  • Sketching and mounting cedar samples

About the Educator

Dan Soberg shares his passion for Canadian history with his Grade 4 students through his interactive, child-centred teaching methods, which shine in the delivery of his unique and vibrant living First Nations curriculum. His classroom is a place where Canada's past is brought to life through field trips, guest speaker presentations, art projects, creative writing and storytelling. Parents and former and current students delight in their letters of recommendation at Dan's ability to make Canadian history exciting and memorable.


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