By Tim Leeds
Students from Rocky Boy Elementary School were teaching students at Montana State University Northern Monday.
Marie Jam, reading specialist at the school, brought 20 students from kindergarten through third grade to the university for the Young Authors' Conference.
Susan Reddoor, who teaches in the College of Education, said one goal of the conference was to give the education students exposure to the students from the Rocky Boy school.
"It really helps my education students on issues of cultural diversity," she said. "The best way to do that is to bring the kids here and work with them."
Jam said a goal of the university's education department is to have interaction with as many types of students as possible, and the conference was a good opportunity for them to work with the Rocky Boy students. She said it's also a good learning opportunity for the elementary students.
"I wanted an activity that the Rocky Boy students could participate in, so they could learn about the university and what it's all about," she said. "We're working to help them become independent readers and go into higher education."
The elementary students and members of the College of Education at the university worked together to learn from each other. Stories written by the children were displayed on a table for the university students to read. In the first group session, Robert Black Dog Jr. read "A Boy Called Slow," the story of Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, then the elementary students read traditional Native American stories. Black Dog, a graduate of MSU-Northern, is working on his master's degree in counseling and is a reading tutor at the elementary school. Lisa Russette, who holds an associate's degree in education from Stone Child College and is a tutor at the school, also attended the conference.
After a break, members of the AmeriCorp reading team read to and played games with the children. They then gathered with a second set of education students from the university, and Black Dog read the Sitting Bull story to that group.
Afterwards, the entire group of elementary and university students and the AmeriCorp team members danced a round dance to celebrate the conference. Reddoor said a round dance is part of Native American culture to honor journeys people have made to be together and to socialize and get to know each other.
She said the round dance yesterday was to celebrate the journey the Rocky Boy students made to come to the conference and learn, and to celebrate the journey the university students are making in their education to become teachers. Diana Weasel Boy, whose son Michael participated in the conference, led the second part of the dance where the dancers came together to shake hands in the dance.