The strategies and methods in this curriculum unit vary to ensure inclusion of all learning styles. Included are:
Essential Question: How does where we live affect how we live? Keeping this focus in mind and returning to it as the learning develops build meaningful knowledge. Throughout the unit, this question will serve as a foundation.
Experiential Learning: The major strategy for this unit is to engage students in hands-on learning. They will actively participate as historians through exploration and enjoyment of the process of research and learning as well as the products that result from those activities.
Differentiated Instruction: The students use a variety of approaches, working sometimes individually and in small groups, determined by the complexity of the activity and skill level of the students. As they develop close reading skills, the students will be grouped as they design and develop their summative projects on American Indian life.
Cooperative Learning: The students are given opportunities to work as cooperative groups to complete assignments and activities. This strategy allows students to collaborate and take on various roles necessary to complete the work, with a focus on success for all.
Strategy / Activity 1: Close reading
As a literacy strategy, student will use close reading, which is defined as reading something enough time so you can understand it, explain it to someone else, and ask and answer questions using evidence from the text. Throughout the teaching of this unit, the following format for close reading guides the process. As texts are selected, whether from the curriculum bibliography or from student or teacher choice, this step-by-step structure helps with planning for each book.
Step 1: Ensure the complex text addresses the focus standards. Texts can be complex based on quantitative measures (readability levels), qualitative measures (knowledge demands), reader characteristics (abilities and motivation), or other learning purposes. Decide which portion of the text to use or if it should be used in its entirety.
Indians of the Eastern Woodlands
by Rae Bains and Mark Hannon serves as the first text to introduce the close reading strategy. The initial focus is a qualitative measure to build knowledge. Specifically, pages 7 – 15 cover the Algonquian tribes with fundamental information for students to begin their learning.
Step 2: Create text dependent questions. Questions should progress from promoting general understanding of the text to understanding vocabulary or aspects of text structure. Finally, questions should require the formation of opinions and arguments. When beginning the reading, do not frontload information about the text; students need to gather such information from the text. Chart and record questions and responses.
What information in the text lets you know the main idea?
What are some new pieces of information you discovered?
Why do you think the author wrote this book?
Why are there only drawings and no photographs?
Where do you think the author found the information?
Step 3: While reading, students can make notes in a reading journal or use sticky notes to place in the text. Text-dependent questions can be answered as a whole class or in small groups, with annotations for support. These responses and notes can serve as assessment of student understanding.
Strategy / Activity 2: Place-based Learning: Get out into the Community!
Take a pre-trip to the museum or gallery. This is an important step to take to prepare for the students to gain the most from their trip. Go to the location and plan out the trip specifically, timing the experience and finding the art and artifacts most appropriate for the objective. If possible, engage for a docent or tour guide to help with content and expertise. New Haven locations and programs are as follows:
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History – Connecticut Indians
The Peabody’s mission is the advance the understanding of earth’s history through geological, biological, and anthropological research and to communicate the results through the widest possible audience. This includes publication, exhibition, and educational programs. (Peabody.yale.edu)
The students will prepare for the trip by generating questions for the docent about Connecticut Indians.
The students will learn about the daily life of Connecticut’s original inhabitants through the exhibits and artifacts. Topics will include attitudes toward the land, tool-making and materials and the arrival of the settlers. In their sketchbooks, students will draw their choice of exhibit or artifacts and take photographs for future discussion and research in preparation for their final projects.
Yale Art Gallery – Place and Time: Understanding History and Culture Through Art
Yale Art Gallery’s education department focuses on expanding the classroom to include the Gallery. The objectives for the trip would be to increase critical thinking, observation skills, and close reading of objects and paintings. Students would prepare questions generated during close reading of texts on American Indians. In their sketchbooks, students will draw their choice of exhibit or artifacts and take photographs for future discussion and research in preparation for their final projects.
New Haven Museum – Who Were the Quinnipiacs?
Through the museum’s outreach program, a member of the museum’s education department will bring resources, including reproduction artifacts and documents to the school. Based on close reading experiences and classroom discussions, students will prepare questions about the Quinnipiac Indians to ask the visiting docent. The class will spend about 40 minutes with hands-on objects, images and activities. During the visit, the students will draw and write in their sketchbooks about what they are learning. Students will take photographs of the objects for future discussion and research.
Strategy / Activity 3: American Indian Research Projects
This is the culminating activity for the curriculum unit. Throughout the course of the entire curriculum unit, students will be accumulating information to use for this assignment. The duration of time for completing this project is somewhat open, but it will probably take most students one week. To accommodate all students, extra time should be allowed for differentiation. Students will demonstrate their learning through a project of their choice, with some form of writing included in all projects. Students will be offered some options but are encouraged to be creative and design a project that best demonstrates their knowledge. In the Appendix of this curriculum unit is the complete rubric for assessing the students’ work. Students will have a copy of this as a reference for earning points for each component of the project. They will be responsible for scoring themselves prior to turning in the completed project. They will need to include the name of the tribe they have researched, questions that inspired them to choose this tribe, information on family life, clothing, and home structures, life throughout the year for this tribe, and the region or area the tribe calls home. The conventions of writing and neatness are part of the assessment as well.
I named the American Indian tribe I am reporting on.
I included the questions I was wondering about that inspired me to research this tribe.
I included information on: ____family life
____ home / house / shelter
I described life throughout the year.
I included well-done, complete illustrations with labels.
I described where the tribe lives.
I included additional important and interesting information that I learned.
I used capitalization and punctuation in my complete sentences.
My work is neat, well written, has illustrations and is complete.
The following are options for students to choose or they may design their own presentation format:
Design a 3-D presentation to show an aspect of American Indian life
Write a play about an American Indian family
Write a letter to an Algonquian family comparing your life in the 21
century to their life
Make a book about American Indian life for the class to use for close reading exercises
Write a collection of poems and include illustrations about American Indians