Tips for Successfully Using this Curriculum Guide

As you plan to use this curriculum in your classroom or program, here are some tips that are essential for the success of the program and student well-being:

  1. Make connections to the American Indian community. Because all communities are different and cultural beliefs and traditions vary from place to place, teachers must have an elder or community council advise/review curriculum ideas and projects for overall cultural appropriateness in the classroom.
  2. Create a classroom where students feel safe and willing to think outside their culture by:
    • Providing an environment which is welcoming to all students' backgrounds and respect the individuality within all cultural groups.
    • Working with other teachers, staff, or community members that are American Indian and who also know how to work with American Indian students of diverse cultures.
    • Actively participate with students in projects, instead of being an on-looker who is only observing. It is a powerful model to learn along with your students.
    • Learning about your Native students, so as not to assume you understand their culture, traditions, and beliefs.
  3. Research and teach activities that are necessary for a full understanding of each project's historical and contemporary context, along with ensuring the correct cultural background of a lesson.
  4. Find ways to collaborate with other teachers in your building with content expertise in areas other than your own.

The Seasonal Significance of Many Lessons and Activities in Ojibwe Traditions

For centuries Ojibwe people have followed a well-defined seasonal pattern as they made use of the rich assortment of resources present in the environment. Accordingly, this curriculum is organized with the four seasons in mind:

Some of the activities described in the lesson plans do not coincide with a particular season, and therefore can be used in the classroom any time of the year. Other lesson plans clearly indicate a seasonal connection and must be used during those times of the year out of both traditional and cultural respect for the Native community. For example, in most Great Lakes Ojibwe traditions, storytelling is only done when snow is on the ground. Therefore, the storytelling lesson plans of this curriculum guide are only to be taught during the winter months. Traditions vary, so it is important to be aware and respectful of your community's beliefs. The teachers who created these lessons built their knowledge from community resources including teaching artists, cultural experts, parents, and elders.

Identifying and implementing culturally appropriate practices in each season is part of becoming culturally aware and respectful. Acknowledging traditions and patterns of communities also helps build bridges between home and school for both students and families.

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