NDSU students visit Turtle Mountain High School

In celebration of the National Day of Writing

English Education students Katie Breidenbach (L), Amanda Nelson, Tanisha Topinka and Liberty Colling pictured with Darrick Fredrick a high school student at Turtle Mountain High School.

North Dakota State English education students taking the “Methods of Teaching Writing” course, went on a trip to Turtle Mountain Reservation this past month to celebrate the National Day of Writing.

With the partnership between teachers at Turtle Mountain High School and the Red River Valley writing director; a professor at NDSU, Dr. Kel Sassi, students from the NDSU English Education Department and high school students from Turtle Mountain High school were able to partake in a four-hour workshop. The four-hour workshop was funded by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and allowed students to have a space to write, create art and discuss complex topics together.

The primary topic of discussion was; helping students from Turtle Mountain Community High School applying for scholarships with the topic being about climate change. Questions of “how climate change affects the wildlife and environment around the globe, along with North Dakota” were further discussed and answered.

“Students were engaged in writing poetry, editorial cartoons, personal reflections and more.” According to Darrick Fredrick a senior at Turtle Mountain High School he learned, “a lot about new types of writing.” Other students echoed his response with enthusiasm for the workshop. Mijajo Martin another teen at the high school wrote, “I really enjoyed this and hope more students participate.” and Clayton Houle stated, “I liked how down to earth and friendly the NDSU students were.”

Overall, the trip was a success with further conversations of cultural connections of climate change and how North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings correlates with it. An English Education major Tanisha Topinka, who went on the trip highlighted how important this experience was for her, “it was an awesome experience to be in a place with students who have differing cultural backgrounds than myself.”

She also gave examples of how art and poetry were implemented in the workshop, “Some groups presented general information about climate change. I myself had a poetry station where different examples of poetry about climate change were laid out for the students. There were also articles about climate change at the station that students could use to create blackout poetry. Another station used art to further the students learning of climate change, they drew pictures, comic strips and thought about sculptures that could represent climate change.”

Overall, NDSU students were able to undergo a new experience by having the ability to work with students and the students were able to communicate and write in different styles then what is conventionally known. This workshop may have proved to many that climate change needs to be addressed but, at the same time showed a bond between students and future English teachers.

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