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Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education
University of Idaho
Moscow, Idaho 83844
Phone: (208) 885-6587
Email: teached@uidaho.edu

Creating a New Chapter With Dual-Language Books

 second grade book cover    Fourth grade book cover    fifth grade book cover
By Allison R. Stormo

Assistant Professor Margaret Vaughn was instrumental in a project that created the Nez Perce Tribe’s first dual-language textbooks for the Lapwai School District.

Kindergarten Book coverVaughn developed the project through professional development with a small cohort of Lapwai teachers, in which she met with monthly during the 2012-13 school year to help develop cultural responsiveness in their own teaching. Several of the teachers are recent graduates of the prestigious Wright Fellowship Program for educators working on their master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction. The lead Lapwai teacher on the project was D’Lisa Pinkham.

Lapwai Elementary School kindergarten through fifth-grade students participating in the “Summer Youth Writing Project: Cultivating Stories, Writing Within an Indigenous Perspective” wrote and illustrated grade-appropriate texts relevant to Nez Perce culture that were translated by Nez Perce elders in the Nez Perce Language Program. The six dual language books – which will be used as curriculum to enhance reading and writing skills – were published by Blue Earth People Group publishing company owned by Arthur Taylor, University of Idaho’s Native American Tribal Liaison.

“The goal of these books is to keep true to teachers, the tribe and the students — above all,” Vaughn said.Third grade book cover

The books are the first of their kind, said Pinkham, who in May 2013 received her doctorate of curriculum and instruction from the College of Education. She said there were no culturally responsive books for Nez Perce students that took learning and connected it to the rich and diverse history of the culture.

“A lot of research shows that making a culturally responsive school increases academic success,” she said.

The books were written and illustrated during the three weeks of summer school. Pinkham and Vaughn worked together to gain community support by having Nez Perce elders, members and employees come into the classroom and share cultural artifacts, stories and artistic and scientific relevant information as a foundation for the books. The classroom teachers then built on that and helped the students develop the stories, illustrations and layouts for the books. The final product will be used as curriculum in future classes.

First grade cover picture of book“It’s a first for our children and community,” Pinkham said.

The writing project and research was supported by grants from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, a University of Idaho Seed grant and the Office of Community Sponsorship.