Community, curriculum, collaboration

I found another online community that I can use to help further my knowledge of teaching. The name of the group is NGSS which stands for Next Generation Science Standards. This one has to do with Biology teachers that are primarily in high school but there are some info and lessons that would fit into the middle schools easily as well. Within the group, there are biology teachers from around the country that help each other with standards, lessons, ideas, textbooks, labs, and lots of other great resources.

I find this very helpful for as a new teacher or a teacher that wants to mix things up and add different material. I plan on asking questions and then helping others when I can as I learn more. This expands the learning community from just the school and town that I live and teach in, to a much larger scope of assistance.

Culturally-Responsive Lesson Plan

Below you will find a PDF file of my lesson plan, Exploring Rhythm and Pulse in Inupiaq Dance Music:

Exploring Rhythm and Pulse in Inupiaq Dance Music

Below is a link to the PDF version of my lesson chapter from the Arctic section of the iBook:

Katie Kroko Inupiaq Music Lesson

Below are links to online resources and YouTube videos used in the lesson plan:

King Island & Little Diomede Dancers

on YouTube

Kivgiq 1988 Point Hope on


1987 King Island Eskimo Dancers ­ Raven Dance on YouTube

Barrow Dancers; Loon Dance

on YouTube

Barrow Dancers; Whaling

Dance on YouTube

AFN 2013 Point Hope Dancers

d9 from YouTube

Alaska Native Dance at

Echospace artice on Education through Historical Organizations


Here is a list of the Alaska cultural standards for curriculum, which my lesson plan incorporates:

  • Cultural Standard A – a culturally-responsive curriculum reinforces the integrity of the cultural knowledge that students bring with them.
    • Section 1: a culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes that all knowledge is imbedded in a larger system of cultural beliefs, values and practices, each with its own integrity and interconnectedness
    • Section 2: a culturally-responsive curriculum insures that students acquire not only the surface knowledge of their culture, but are also well grounded in the deeper aspects of the associated beliefs and practices;
    • Section 3: a culturally-responsive curriculum incorporates contemporary adaptations along with the historical and traditional aspects of the local culture;
    • Section 4: a culturally-responsive curriculum respects and validates knowledge that has been derived from a variety of cultural traditions;
    • Section 5: a culturally-responsive curriculum provides opportunities for students to study all subjects starting from a base in the local knowledge system.
  • Cultural Standard C – a culturally-responsive curriculum uses the local language and cultural knowledge as a foundation for the rest of the curriculum.
    • Section 3: a culturally-responsive curriculum incorporates language and cultural immersion experiences wherever in-depth cultural understanding is necessary.
    • Section 4: a culturally-responsive curriculum views all community members as potential teachers and all events in the community as potential learning opportunities.
    • Section 5: a culturally-responsive curriculum treats local cultural knowledge as a means to acquire the conventional curriculum content as outlined in state standards, as well as an end in itself.
    • Section 7: a culturally-responsive curriculum is sensitive to traditional cultural protocol, including role of spirituality, as it relates to appropriate uses of local knowledge.
  • Cultural Standard D – a culturally-responsive curriculum fosters a complementary relationship across knowledge derived from diverse knowledge systems.
    • Section 1: a culturally-responsive curriculum draws parallels between knowledge derived from oral tradition and that derived from books.


I feel that my lesson plan embodies the aforementioned cultural standards because it embraces and enhances the knowledge that students bring with them to the classroom, it uses the local Inupiaq language and culture as a foundation for the lesson and the music curriculum, and it fosters a complementary relationship between western classical music learned in an ensemble setting and Inupiaq traditional music learned through oral transmission.  I think that my lesson on rhythm and pulse in Inupiaq music is most clearly linked to Cultural Standard C, specifically sections 3, 4, 5, and 7.  This lesson requires immersion in the Inupiaq language in order to learn the words to the songs in the lesson plan.  It also requires cultural immersion in order to learn the motions to the dances and their meanings.  This lesson treats members of the local community as teachers, and invites local Inupiaq Elders to the classroom to conduct the main portion of the music lesson.  Traditional music and dance are elements of local cultural knowledge, and learning and honoring traditional art forms is the main focus of this lesson.  In addition, learning traditional Inupiaq music and dance can help students to learn conventional music content standards by building skills such as inner pulse, rhythmic stability, and eurythmics.  In this lesson, all activities would take place under the guidance of or with the approval of the Elder leading the lesson, and all content would sensitively convey local cultural knowledge.  The role of the classroom music teacher is to enhance and build upon the cultural material presented by the Elder and to weave connections with western classical music concepts.


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

Lesson Plan: Ethnobotany

This lesson plan intended to be used in combination with my iBook lesson “Ethnobotany.” LessonPlanEthnobotany (1)

This lesson meets various cultural standards, but the ones I focused on are as follows: 

Curriculum 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.

  1. Recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning in the principles and practices associated with that knowledge. 

Student Cultural Standard C: Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to actively participate in various cultural environments.

  1. Perform subsistence activities in ways that are appropriate to local cultural traditions.

2. Attain a healthy lifestyle through which they are able to maintain their own social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

I wanted to create a lesson that emphasized that Alaska Native (specifically Athabascan) knowledge of plants. Within the lesson, I tried to emphasize the “contemporary validity” of plants in Alaska. Plants were used for medicinal and subsistence purposes and they are STILL used this way today by many Alaska Native people and others who have learned techniques from them throughout the years. I wanted students, regardless of their own cultural background, to be reminded that the plants of Alaska are also a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. I also wanted students to be introduced to the wealth of resources available written by Alaska Native people and various tribal organizations, sharing recipes, translations, and uses for plants.

What’s a boat to do

*Don’t have a full 41 sec. to spare… jump to 24 sec. and hold your breath.

Alaska’s culture is inherently linked to boating culture. We are and have often been bound by our ability to move across or on the water. Overshadowed by air travel and often overlooked is the profound impact boating technology has on all of this state’s residents and billions of people worldwide. Here at home store shelves stay stocked only if the barge arrives on time, reaching the road system usually requires a ferry, and harvesting a winter’s worth of halibut or salmon is exceeding difficult without a boat assist. Travelers, adventurers, and rural residents today rely on boats of all shapes, sizes, and propulsion methods to reach their respective destinations. Whether it be a 18’ Lund shallow V, 35’ a bow- picker, or a 6lb. pack raft we love boats. Funny side note, boats need water; I love water, hence I love boats. Now you know.

My lesson plan has to do with our recognition of the simple fact that we are reliant on these crafts large and small for tasks for which they were designed and sometimes not. I have indicated, in my lesson, that several state standards are addressed whether it be scientific process of design, utilization of technological innovations, understanding properties of matter, developing an understanding of the interrelationships among individuals and their respective cultures, but I believe the lesson here is most closely tied to state standard F 3, which reads, “develop an understanding of the importance of recording and validating cultural knowledge”. I say this because the lesson contains an activity where students will make some comparisons between a contemporary modern kayak to a biadarka. The grandfather of the modern Kayak, the biadarka has been copied and has further evolved to meet the specific needs of people where ever they are in the polar region.
For more on this, see:

The lesson first asks students to consider boats in general and how they (students) are connected to boats and their many uses. Then the students are asked to determine what features of a given boat make it useful for a particular application and how they know that. In small groups students will be in charge of their exploration to compare and contrast the two similar and describe them using the data collected. For more on that see the attached lesson.

Our Global Boating Culture

Keynote slides- boats

Writing Activism: Project Chariot and the People of Point Hope

My lesson, “Writing Activism: Project Chariot and the People of Point Hope,” draws on Culturally Responsive Curriculum Standard E: situating local knowledge and actions in a global context.

Standard E encourages students to “think globally, act locally.” My students will learn about Project Chariot and the successful opposition mounted by the Inupiat of Point Hope. They will take on the role of Inupiat activists, and will write letters of protest directed at a specific audience. My hope is that students will come to understand that acting on a local level, even in the most remote areas of Alaska, can have global results.

Project Chariot, the 1958 AEC proposal to blast a harbor in the coast of Alaska using buried nuclear bombs, would have sent unprecedented levels of fallout drifting over North America and the Arctic. To put the plan in context, here is Dan O’Neill comparing the plan to Sedan, a nuclear test in Nevada:

A shot the size of Sedan, fired at Ogotoruk Creek, could have dropped radioactive fallout over the entire length of the North Slope of Alaska, or penetrated 1,000 miles into Siberia…The Chariot shot, at its smallest configuration (280 kilotons), would have been nearly three times as powerful as Sedan. At its largest configuration, Chariot would have been twenty-four times larger (O’Neill, 1994, p. 275).

At the time when it was first proposed, Chariot seemed very likely to go through. Without the Inupiat and their determination to defend their land rights and protect their environment, it most likely would have gone through. The consequences would have been devastating, not only for the Inupiat, but for the rest of the world as well.

The Inupiat succeeded for two reasons. First, they were willing to oppose Chariot with everything they had, even when they seemed to be the only opponents. And second, they made an effort to raise awareness and gather allies from all over the country. By the time Chariot was abandoned in 1962, it had many vocal opponents – but the organized resistance to the plan started with the people of Point Hope and their refusal to be manipulated by the AEC. I hope that the example of the Inupiat will inspire my students to see themselves as members of a global community of activists.

I’m attaching three slideshows that go with this lesson, so that the teacher can give a series of brief presentations on the history behind Chariot. The first one introduces the idea of Project Chariot, without giving any details beyond the project itself. The second one gives the history and rationale behind the project. The third – to be used at the end of the lesson, after the students have written their letters – explains how the Inupiat were eventually able to defeat Chariot.

Slideshow A

Slideshow B

Slideshow C

Edited to add: I forgot to credit Mischa Jackson for the idea behind this lesson. When I brought up the idea of doing a lesson on Project Chariot, Mischa immediately suggested centering the lesson on activism and having the students write letters. I thought it was a great idea, so I used it.

Mapping Food Availability

Middle/High School Standards-Based Lesson Plan

Teacher:_Cecelia Westman_____________ Date:__06/30/16_________________________

Period:____ _______________________ Class:__Social Studies____ ________________

Mapping Food availabilit
Standards addressed:
Alaska cultural standards B, C,
Students will examine the availability of food in their local areas from either grocery stores, subsistence living, gardening, farmers markets or any combination. Students will also look at what traditional subsistence living may have looked like in the past and assess what is more common place now in regards to daily diet in the US. Students will then in turn look at food distribution across the US and in their own communities to identify food deserts, high availability or sustainable resources that may exist in their communities.

The Student will be able to(The Big Picture):

…examine the difference between being fed and being nourished according to the community or area that you live in.

What will engagement look like during this lesson?

Students will personalize the lesson by learning how to measure how much sugar they may be eating in a day, a week, a month, and a year. available through the Standard American Diet (SAD). Project will include mapping of food sources including grocery stores, gas stations, and subsistence areas (where applicable), and if available-the average monetary costs of food.

Assessment of student outcomes: (How will you assess student learning?)

Being a proponent of open ended learning, students will be graded on their participation in “on the spot” research, discussions, group learning, problem solving, and reflection.


Internet access:

For the sugar exercise:
~2-5lb bags of sugar
~Photo copies of the nutrition labels from various popular food items such as capri sun, top ramen, coke products, beef jerky, hot dogs, white bread, jelly jars, peanut butter, etc. *Be sure to leave the names of the items off so that students are not aware of the food products that they are analyzing. Mark each list of nutrition facts with A,B,C,D,Etc.
~Tablespoon measures
~Sandwich bags
~This equation: 12.5g of sugar equals one Tablespoon


Enough Chromebooks or computers for all students to run Chrome Software.

Instructional Strategies, Accommodations, and Student activities:

For the map activity:
Exercise 1: Students will review and discuss food availability and receive an introduction to My Maps by working together as a class to create a map of food distributors in their community. To give the map more meaning, they will also create a key of demographics, listing population numbers, average incomes of the community, and average costs of commonly sought food items such as “bread, milk, and butter.” This information is usually readily available on the web by searching the city’s website or the state’s website. Depending on time availability-a second layer could be added listing restaurants, a third with farmers markets, a fourth with wholesale distributors, etc. Once the map is posted, students can then make the map available for others outside of their class to interact with.
*Teachers, if you are interested in your students expanding upon their knowledge of food availability, consider contacting a teacher from another region and having them do this exercise with their students so that both classrooms can do a comparison of food availabilities in their respective regions. The maps can be interactive by containing photos, videos, stories, and web links.

For the sugar activity:
Exercise 2: While healthy diets and exercise are important to the lives of people all around the world- wealth, poverty, and stress play major roles in health outcomes and disparities. In this exercise, students will measure the amount of sugar that people may be consuming on a daily bases due to the food choices that their families might have to make in order to stay fed. These choices may be leading to full bellies, but not nourished lives.
Share the stack of nutrition facts with the students evenly and ask the students to figure out the amount of sugar in each item per serving and then to multiply it by the amount of servings contained in the package.
Students should then proceed to place the amount of sugar measured in a baggie for each product that they did the calculation for and to staple it to nutrition fact that it belongs to.
Students should then place their actualized sugar equations onto the front board of the room with tape so that all members of the class can see them. Be sure to leave enough room above or below each item so that there is room to label each of the nutrition facts with their product name directly on the board.
Have the students go through and look at each of the sugar/nutritional representations of the products and try to identify what the product label is.
Have them sit down and as you go through each of the products one by one revealing the product after the class has had the chance to guess what it is with their peers.
Ask the class to look up how much sugar people eat in a year on average according to the Standard American Diet (SAD), why people eat that way, and if it is a choice.
Conclude the lesson by asking them what they learned and what they will be taking with them from the class.