Blog #1: 620

What are examples of place-based and culturally responsive curriculum/instruction at your school? Be prepared to discuss in class.

The North Slope School District has implemented some really awesome cultural and place-based units through what is called “Project Umiaq.” Each quarter we have certain units to teach that coincide with the times of the year in which each event historically took place. In addition, all the units are taught at the same time throughout the district and in each respective content area class so that collaboration and discussion is possible with teachers and students all over the slope. Some of the units are taught in both Social Studies and English so that teachers have the opportunity to take the units a step further ­čÖé These units have been developed by our community’s elders and culture bearers and we have had several opportunities to listen to them speak to us and teach us about the units. The resources that we are provided with really give us the opportunity to learn about the culture, community, and the history of Inupiat people. Each unit has teacher books, student workbook and books, and some have video documentaries that were filmed by culture bearers. I’m hopeful to use these units as a jumping off point and continue to incorporate as much as I can each day in class so as not to fall into the heroes and holidays trap that we talked about this summer. We also have this really cool application called Rubicon that gives us a pacing guide and lets us search our content area for units that other teachers have drawn up which have been reviewed by the district. Each year, new teachers are required to develop a unit to submit for review. I am truly blessed to be working up here this year and hopefully for years to come. The students up here are such a good group of kids and they put a smile on my face every day. I can’t wait to be able to have a good grasp on this thing called teaching so that we can learn from each other and bring everyone’s culture and community into the classroom!

Parker Palmer

Mrs. Sanders, my senior year British Literature teacher, embodied what I believe to be a compassionate teacher both within the classroom and outside of it. She was a tiny ball of energy who began each class with “The Word De Jour”–something so simple, but we all looked forward to it every day. She connected with us on our love for Chick-fil-a (The most crave-worthy fast food place. Yes, tis better than In-N-Out hehe) and invited us to bring her a chicken biscuit and large lemonade whenever we did so please. She taught so energetically and so personally that I can still remember her explaining and drawing on the white board how the English language took shape with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Somehow learning the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English is still burned in my memory. I recite it from time to time just because. She encouraged me in the classroom with the smallest gestures such as simply telling me “Good job!” or “Study harder next time, LB”. The most impactful characteristic for me was the fact that she took interest in us outside of the classroom. She and her husband were present at mostly all of our basketball games, home and away games. By doing so, without having to say anything, she let us know that she cared about us as people. We weren’t just students in her classroom, we were young people with differing interests and an array of talents that she celebrated along side of us. And this isn’t something that ended when graduating from high school. She has encouraged me even to this day not only with her comments on my Facebook page about working toward a MAT, but also in her devotion to her students and love for teaching she displays in her everyday life. I hope to be half as influential to my students as she was to me and I’m sure countless others.

Final Reflection ALST600

Learning how to navigate iBooks was challenging at first, but luckily I had patient classmates and a super patient teacher. Being out of school for 6 years and then coming back into it and seeing the advance in technology was a bit daunting at first! I enjoyed the approach to learning; however, I didn’t like having to work in groups the entire time. I feel like I would have learned a considerable amount more had the group portion accounted for a smaller portion of the task. The teacher in me learned that not all collaborative work is helpful for every student. Smaller group work is the way I will go in my classroom. Although, I know we need to learn to work together, working together for such a long period of time to try to achieve a cohesive product is difficult and straining. I like the fact that we were not “talked at” like pretty much all of the history courses I have ever taken have played out. Project based learning is an excellent approach in that sense. I think finding the balance in group work and individual work is key when implementing project based learning in the classroom. Giving students time to collaborate with their classmates on their individual tasks to bounce ideas off of one another or reflect on each other’s approach to the assignment or have students work together to compile the final products may be the route I will take, versus having them all work together to put together one assignment.

Final Reflection 680

1. How does understanding culture and power impact your teaching?

Recognizing each student’s cultural strengths and building on them is something that I feel I have learned over these three weeks. We all have a story and each and every one of us brings something to be appreciated and reflected upon. I think the bootstrap analogy really speaks to me in regard to power. Realizing that I didn’t get to where I am today simply by putting forth effort is extremely humbling as well as infuriating. The fact that other people are not offered equal opportunities is not ok and we can do something about it. This is something that I will find the time to talk about in class once a safe place is created and I get to know my students and they feel they can trust me. Like Ernestine said, you are either perpetuating colonialism and institutionalism or you are taking a stand against it.

2. Pick three terms that resonate with you from the Multicultural Education word wall. Define the terms and discuss why you chose these three terms.

White fragility is a term that I heard for the first time a last week. White fragility “is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation” Instead of listening, many times white people turn the conversations around to “what about me” type of situations. Unfortunately, this type of behavior closes the person off when instead he or she should listen and talk through whatever it is. And this type of behavior was happening within our classroom even yesterday. This blockade that people put up is not getting us anywhere. We need to learn to be receptive and really listen to others.

A safe place is somewhere that everyone is welcome, appreciated, and is both relied upon and can rely upon others. A safe place is something I want to create in the classroom. I would like to create a safe place where students feel like they can speak up without judgement or ridicule. In order to have a productive class, this is paramount.

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. I hope that I can teach my students to believe in themselves by expressing and showing that I believe in them. I hope I can teach my students to put their hearts into everything they do. “Remember hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies.”

3. Describe your plan to teach in a culturally responsive way in the coming year. Include teaching strategies you might employ as well as content/units you will implement.

I plan to get involved to contribute to the community. I don’t want to be that teacher who just hangs out with other teachers and leaves every summer. I want to involve parents, families, elders, and culture bearers as much as possible. I think students will learn more and be more responsive to having guests in the classroom. I plan to incorporate place based practices into my lesson plans and to research ways to teach lessons with that in mind.


Involve elders, parents, and local leaders in all aspects of instructional planning.

The lesson I wanted to talk about with the students through their community of elders, culture bearers, and families is how language empowers us. A mentor at BHS told me a story that resonated with me. She told me that when she learned that one of her cousins passed away that that information was relayed in English. She said she could not feel anything and she was surprised about the lack of feeling. She went on to tell me that the word for cousin in Inupiaq loosely translates to “a part of you is in a part of me”. When she went home and thought about losing her cousin in her native language, she felt a rush of emotions. My vision for this lesson is to invite elders, culture bearers, family members into the class to talk about boarding schools so that the students can hear first-hand how the times were back then, provide them with a balanced view, and build community. I am by no means the person to teach this portion of the lesson. I would like the students to find the issues that speak to them and reflect so that they are able to answer the question: what can we do today? In doing so, I feel that their editorial articles will be authentic and written for a greater audience than our class.

LBDrake Lesson Plan_2


Our group discussed standard B: A culturally responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past but continues to grow through the present and into the future.

Our poster incorporated the progression of education by depicting representations of a Tlingit longhouse, a boarding school, and a classroom today. We illustrated the resiliency of the culture by drawing a raven on each roof of the buildings and one flying over all of them looking over the past and present and flying into the future.

Incorporating this lesson into the classroom could involve bringing elders in to share their life lessons. Also after thinking about this standard, it reminds me of time when the Inupiaq teacher took her classes to the senior center. On the way back, the class walked by one of the students’ homes. The student suggested to the teacher that they get one of the geese that their family had gotten. The students brought the goose into the home economics room, plucked it, prepared the meat, and made a stew. There was seriously a plucking frenzy ­čÖé Being grounded in the past, the student learned to hunt successfully with his family, an Inupiaq cultural value. Moving into the present, he shared his catch with his fellow classmates–sharing is another Inupiaq value.

How Raven Stole the Sun

How Raven Stole the Sun tells how Raven, through his art of trickery, was able to fool the rich chief who greedily kept the sun, moon, and stars hidden away in boxes in his home. I especially liked the portion of the story that told how Raven came to be black. ┬áRaven transformed himself into a baby who was born to the greedy chief’s daughter. Raven cried and cried, pointing to the box that held the sun, until the chief gave the box to him. When the chief wasn’t looking, he┬átransformed himself back into a bird and flew through the smoke hole in the ceiling. The sun flew up into the sky as the soot covered him from his beak all the way down to his feet.

I would give this story 3’s all across the board.┬áMaria Williams is Tlingit author, who credits her father for passing this story down to her as a child. The story was easy to follow and fun to read. I feel like secondary students would appreciate Raven’s trickster qualities. Though Raven played tricks to get what he wanted, his desire was not of selfish intent as it┬ábenefited everyone in┬áthe world. And it would be a great way to introduce a unit on mythology.