Indigenous Perspectives

I am not a number

Author(s): Jenny Kay Dupuis and Gillian Newland


Social Justice focus: Racism against Aboriginal peoples in Canada

Synopsis: This book is based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’s grandmother, who was removed from her First Nations family at the age of eight. The book revolves around her struggles at the residential school that does not even allow her to use her own name, rather a number is allocated to her. Later, when she visits home during summer vacations, her parents decide to never send their children to these schools.

Lesson Plan: Jaabir Patel

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Language Arts Social Studies—Heritage and Identities – Social Justice Picture book

Grade: 6

Lesson: What is the focus of this lesson in relation to the unit?

Curriculum Areas: What are possible connections to other curricular areas?

Curriculum Expectations: What Overall and Specific Expectations will be addressed?

1. listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes;

Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts

1.5 interpret oral texts by using stated and implied ideas from the texts

Social studies:

A3. Understanding Context: demonstrate an understanding of significant experiences of, and major changes and aspects of life in, various historical and contemporary communities in Canada
A3.7 describe significant changes within their own community in Canada (e.g., their ethnic or religious community, their local community, their region)

Learning Goal(s): What are students expected to know, do and understand? We are learning to….

We are learning how the Aboriginal people struggled with maintaining their identity with the presence of residential schools

We are learning to empathize with the thoughts and feelings of the main character in the book

Success Criteria: How will students know they have met the learning goal? I can….

  • I can make real world connections
  • I can understand why residential schools are problematic
  • I can identify what a human right is

MODIFICATIONS / ACCOMMODATIONS: How will I meet the needs of my students? Have I addressed any IEPs?


  • To optimize time on task, teacher will assign students to look up words in the dictionary. Assigned students will also read definition aloud to the class.

Students will be given sentence starters to help frame ideas:

  • The story made me feel…
  • Irene (main character) is different from me because..
  • I think privilege is…
  • The story is sad/good/upsetting because…
  • Summary of the book will be given beforehand to Students X, Y, and Z to help aid their comprehension and direct their focus more towards the thoughts/feelings of the characters

Minds-on: How will I connect to prior and future learning? How will I engage students and set the context for learning?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

3-5 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  • Students will be asked the question “What am I thankful for in my life?”

Emphasize freedom

Students will have 10 minutes to write a brief response

Take 2 minutes to think about what you are thankful for with your eyes closed.

Where do you think this book takes place? (setting)
Why? (Students will provide evidence via details in picture)

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

Teachers should be looking for observations made by students about the cover, what prompts them towards making those observations, and how they explain their thought process

Action How will I introduce new learning / reinforce prior learning / practice learning / scaffold learning?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

50-75 minutes

Reading (20-30 minutes)
Community circles (20-30 minutes)

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

Begin reading I Am Not A Number (TEACHER LED READING)

*Questions will be minimal throughout the story to maintain continuity and flow. Periodical questions on the plot will be asked to ensure students are following along

  • Examine pictures, body language, facial expressions, word choice
  • Review vocabulary

*Teachers may focus on pictures only to create a story OR may read an image only story then reading the text during the second reading*


  • What do we notice about the pictures? Is it like Canada? Could it be Canada? Why/why not
  • What is a right that the Irene (main character) don’t have that we do?
  • What seems different about this school compared to ours?
  • Why do you think the father lets the children go with the agent?

Community Circles Activity:

This activity is designed to promote discussion and expand on the emotionally charged events in the book. The open-forum discussion is meant to remove structure from the learning environment to evoke a sense of authenticity within the classroom.

  1. Teachers will ask students to create a circle with their chairs
  2. Teachers will read a prompt and one by one students will respond with anything that comes to mind (students may pass)
  3. Teachers should lead by example and express their own thoughts to serve as a participant in the conversation
  4. Offer opportunities for students to facilitate a conversation

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

  • Assess how well students are engaging with the main themes and ideas in the book
  • Assess engagement with the book and participation within the community circles activity

Consolidation How will I reflect on the learning goal? How will I have students reflect on the learning goal?

Minutes: How much time will I allocate?

5-10 minutes

Task: What will I be doing? What will students be doing?

  • Think again: A response to the initial question: What are some things that you appreciate about your life that you value?

Students will be given 10 minutes to reflect and write the 2nd response.

  • Class discussion on what students wrote and how it changed from their first entry to the second

Assessment: What is the Nature and Purpose of assessment?

  • Collect responses from students and assess how responses changed. Their responses should reflect their engagement and exchange of ideas while discussing the book

MATERIALS: What resources and materials do I need? Where can I find them? In a perfect world what other resources might I need?

  • Projector
  • “I Am Not A Number” book
  • PowerPoint (time permitting)
  • 3-4 copies of teacher selected images to help modified students look at the visuals more carefully


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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