BellaCoola_2012_01On November 13, 2012, Central Coast School District (SD49) officially unveiled and launched its First Nations K-12 Literacy Program. Norma Hart, Superintendent, and Lela Walkus, Coordinator of Aboriginal Education presented on the importance and goals of the reading program to a group of interested parents, teachers, and community members.

In preparation for the launch, SET-BC staff worked tirelessly to prepare and provide the first 60 titles in Clicker 6 and PowerPoint formats. These accessible books include a scanned image of the book pages along with wonderfully narrated texts. There is still much work to be done and the staff at ARC-BC and the volunteers at UBC Crane Library continue to produce the remaining titles in appropriate alternate formats.

The Bella Coola First Nations K-12 Literacy Program has 260 carefully selected books designed to teach the language, culture and history of Aboriginal Peoples. The goal of the program is to foster a love of reading for students using quality literature, instill a sense of pride and awareness of Aboriginal People’s culture and history, and increase oral language and reading fluency. A major component of the literacy project is the audio book support. Students struggling with reading will be able to listen to an audio book on a computer and follow along in the book to get a sense of language and narrative. With practice and gained confidence, the student will later read aloud the text to a teacher or a peer. Because of the rich oral tradition of Aboriginal Peoples, it is hoped that these audio recordings will enhance and support student reading progress.

After the presentation, parents were invited to visit the reading room at Bella Coola Elementary School and were encouraged to look through the books on the custom made bookshelf, have a listen to the accessible books provided by SET-BC and ask questions. A few students got a chance to try out the accessible books and they really enjoyed the beautifully narrated books.

As part of SET-BC’s support of this project, the school district also received several licenses for Clicker 6 and Kurzweil 3000. Over 2 days, teachers in the district participated in training sessions on how to support students struggling with reading and/or writing tasks using the software and resources from ARC-BC. The two teachers from the two outlier schools, Oweekeno and Shearwater, located in the remotest parts of the district were flown in especially for the launch and training. It was a great professional development and sharing opportunity for all involved.

We are excited that the Bella Coola First Nations K-12 Literacy Program is in full swing. SET-BC, ARC-BC and UBC Crane Library are proud to be supporting the students of the Central Coast.