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Here is a technology-rich Native American unit


Computers & Internet, Social Studies  




   Subject: Social Studies
Title: Technology Rich Native American Unit
Created by Sarah Coenen and Jennifer Ramsey
TOPIC: Native Americans
GRADE: 5th grade


The incorporation of Native American history, culture, and philosophy into an educational program is significant learning for children of today. This unit will lead students to higher level thinking skills and appreciation for Native Americans. Students who learn about diverse cultural activities will educate themselves and gain a better understanding of Native American people.


The students will be able to:

1. Develop a healthy respect for Native American heritage and the positive contributions it has offered the world.

2. Appreciate the legends and history that are uniquely Native American.

3. Describe elements of Native American names, games, ceremonies, and cultural symbols.

4. Acknowledge the importance of seeking peace and harmony within society and the environment.

5. Understand the basic rules of reaching consensus, working cooperatively, and making decisions among Native American people.




1. Read several stories from Joseph Bruchac¹s Iroquois Stories: Heroes & Heroines, Monsters & Magic. Sometimes when Iroquois storytellers told stories, they used a special bag of props. Make a prop bag by decorating a paper lunch bag with markers or crayons. Look for interesting items to make up stories. (stones, flowers, fossils, etc.) Practice stories in small groups to go with each item in the bag. When the stories are perfected, in small groups the students will video tape their stories. All of the stories will be viewed by the rest of the class.

2. Read Virginia Driving Hawk Sneves¹ book, The Iroquois, Break into small groups. Each group will role play Iroquois women, men, children, or members of the league. The specific group will creatively explain and present to the class (using the overhead projector) his or her roles in the Iroquois society.

3. Read Knots on a Counting Rope, by Bill Martin. Make up a story about how you got your own name and share the story with a partner. Try to tell parts of the story each day. Each time you tell the story, tie a knot in a shoelace. When you put the last knot in the shoelace, the story should be memorized. Once the story is memorized, tape record your story to share with other members of the class.


1. Read the books, Drumbeat…Heartbeat, by Susan Braine and Eagle Drum, by Robert Crum. Attend a powwow on a nearby reservation or at a local university. Experience the music, dances, foods, crafts, and costumes a powwow has to offer.

2. Bring in Native American guest speakers such as: a storyteller, a medicine man, a tribal leader, a college student, or a dancer. Allow them to share their perspectives about what it is like to by a Native American and the roles they play in society.


1. In small groups, make a time line and trace the history of the Iroquois Confederacy. Allow students computer time to create the time line on the computer if they are interested.

2. Each day choose a different quote from Words of Power: Voices From Indian America, by Norbert S. Hill Jr. Type a journal entry explaining the meaning and your reaction to the quote. At the end of the week, have the students e-mail their journals to you.

3. After the field trip to the powwow, type a 1-2 page essay on the computer about what you liked most about the powwow and what you learned.


1. Hold “talking circles” during storytelling or discussions. Whoever holds the feather is allowed to speak.

2. Read the book, Dreamcatcher by Audrey Osofsky. Discuss good dreams and bad dreams. Make dreamcatchers out of vine, beads, waxed string, and feathers.

3. The students will learn to distinguish between the terms hearing and listening. Good listening habits can increase awareness and understanding of other points of view. The instructor will begin by generating sounds such as clapping and stomping. The class will identify the sounds. The instructor will play a short statement containing factual information on a tape recorder. The instructor will ask the class how hearing sounds differ from listening. Then the instructor will play a musical selection and ask if music involves hearing sounds or listening. The instructor will then ask the class to remain perfectly still and silent for a minute. Students will then list sounds they heard in the environment. (lights, people in the hallway, etc.) The class will then identify important components of good listening. Then they will create a bulletin board picturing people who are listening, and those who are not.

4. Prepare an authentic Native American feast. Foods might include: Fry bread, corn soup, wild rice, popped corn, roasted pumpkin, or sunflower seeds, and beef jerky.

5. Make a compare ad contrast list of the similarities and differences between the League of Nations and our American form of government. This can be done on the computer. A chart or graph could also be created.

6. View one of the following videos:

Native Wisconsin (1996) Green Bay WI: HVS Productions.

A tour video through the eleven Native Wisconsin nations.

A History of Native Americans (1995)

A video on the present culture of Native Americans, their contemporary and historical struggles, and their relationship with a non-native society.

Now that the Buffalo¹s Gone (1992) Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities

This video deals with how Europeans who came to America to find the freedom of speech and religion forgot that these same freedoms should apply to Native Americans.

With a partner, or alone email a journal response to the teacher.

7. With a partner, visit a web site of your choice or the following:

Create a 5-8 minute multimedia presentation for the class based on your web site findings.

8. As a center activity, play the biographical card game, A Time for Native Americans. There are four games of varying difficulty that can be played with the cards which give brief biographies of 49 Native American leaders/ The cards fit together to form a map of North America showing when and where the individuals lived.

9. Begin or end the unit with an interactive simulation entitled Collision: A simulation of conflicts between Native Americans and the U.S. government.


The students will be evaluated based on a portfolio assessment. The daily assignments will be put in a folder and compiled into a specific order at the end of the unit. The students will have the option of putting their best work into the portfolio. Daily assignments such as the journals on the computer will be e-mailed at the end of the week to the teacher, the best entries may be printed out and placed in the portfolio. Small group or partner projects will also be part of the unit grade. If the students meet the criteria (developed by the class) the students will receive a passing grade. To determine the final grade the students will fill out a self-evaluation and meet with the teacher for a 5-10 minute exit conference.

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