Shelley Stagg Peterson : We're going to be working with teachers in Northern communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario to develop tools to assess young children's oral language and writing development in play settings. And we are going to be working with teachers, kindergarten and Grade 1 teachers, as well as people who work in daycares and also some parents and guardians as well, because we're hoping that the tools that we develop will be applicable across all those settings, classrooms, daycares and also in homes.
Shelley Stagg Peterson : Children are not doing well on the provincial achievement tests in literacy, especially aboriginal children. We feel that reading has been the focus of early literacy instruction and writing has sort of been neglected. And we feel that if you have more of the productive aspects of language, the actual oral language and the writing, that that is going to support children's overall literacy development.
We're working in northern communities, and so we will have aboriginal children and non-aboriginal children in our schools.
Brandon University is also involved, the school districts in the North—Alberta all the way through to Ontario—will be involved, and then we also have the First Nation Student Success Program and the Seven Generations Education Institute, as well.
Laurie-ann Hellsten-Bzovey My background is in measurement and evaluation. We're really looking to get right involved in the development of those locally, sort of, produced assessment tools.
Shelley Stagg Peterson: We believe that Canada as a whole will benefit from this research, because there are many young people today who are not finishing school because they don't have the literacy skills to be able to carry out the tasks in today's society, both in the work world and just in their general life.
Laurie-ann Hellsten-Bzovey: I think benefits for the college of education at the University of Saskatchewan include strengthening our academic ties with Brandon University and with OISE. In addition, I think it gives us an opportunity to strengthen our existing ties with some of our school, community partners. I think it also gives us an opportunity to develop new partnerships in Saskatchewan and with their Saskatchewan school partners.
Shelley Stagg Peterson: It wasn't difficult at all once I got started to find other organizations that were interested in being involved. They were practically contacting us, because it seems like it's a very important issue to anyone who is working with young children in Northern communities right now.