CRT/Place-based Education @JDHS

My host teacher is a part of the C.H.O.I.C.E. program and the Early Scholars program at Juneau-Douglas High School – 2 programs that incorporate culturally-responsive teaching and place-based education as a norm so I’m pretty lucky to be a part of it and have my own experiences and perspectives I can bring to the classroom valued and validated (which I think is one of the most important parts of CRT).

English 10 read ‘Into the Wild’ together, I was able to bring in my brother-in-law’s moose rack to show the students (the moose was taken in Kake so there was a great connection to the Petersburg bumper sticker reference in the book) to get an idea of how big a moose is and explain how difficult it is to process.  Hopefully they’ll never forget one of the pivotal moments in that book.

Mr. Hopkins’ Outdoor Biology class then used the Moose rack to do an activity where they had to learn to measure and apply hunting regulations to determine if the moose was legal, and where it would not be legal.  I think everyone should be required to take this class – the teacher incorporates more CRT/Place-based teaching than you will ever see in another classroom.

English 10 got to do a field trip on the last day that the Shakespeare First Folio was in town.  That was pretty awesome, there was lots of great information and student generated questions.  It will serve as a great reference point for them to bring in personal experiences when they attempt to grapple Shakespeare in the future.

An English 11 class in the CHOICE program is reading Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which has been routine for years upon years, but got some great supplemental CRT when the Hoopa Valley High School team (from Northern California) was in town and staying in the HS.  The teacher invited the students and a coach/art teacher in to talk to explain their reservation and their thoughts on the book/Sherman Alexie.

I coordinated a couple days for our US history class to talk about Indigenous history through oral narratives.  Instead of just touching the surface on some of the indigenous groups pre-columbian history, we focused on Southeast Alaska knowing we will be able to go into more depth throughout the semester with other indigenous communities.  We focused on history, values, oral narratives, songs, etc. to give students a deeper understanding of the history of the Tlingit and how history is learned through the culture (which is similar for many indigenous communities).  We were lucky enough to have Heather Powell (Chookaneidi – Eagle) give approval to show a video of the story of Kaasteen and the glacial advance that forced clans to migrate to the Hoonah area.  We did a google hangout teleconference with her HS Tlingit class and had Michelle Martin (T’akedeintaan – Raven) in the classroom to introduce, wrap things up and give some personal examples about learning history.  I created a worksheet with the southeast tribal values and the students worked in small groups to link the story and what the guest speakers talked about to pull meaning and connections to those values.  I’m happy to say that most can now appreciate, understand and look at our regalia and designs as HISTORY instead of just a piece of art.  It was hard at times, and a stretch for some, but we’ve definitely been able to pull from that small unit ever since as we have reviewed colonization, land rights, and talked briefly about the Dakota Access Pipeline (that barely made CNN student news last week finally!).

We also spend some of time in our classes reviewing the internships that students do as part of the program as well, every thursday afternoon sophomores and juniors are out in the community working at a variety of non-profit or government entities.

That’s all I can remember off the top of my head.  My course load at the school is tough but it’s definitely worth it for learning/teaching experiences like this.



One thought on “CRT/Place-based Education @JDHS”

  1. Wow Mischa! This post definitively illustrates that culturally responsive teaching is alive and well at JDHS! You are fortunate to be in a program that values CRT and validates all that students bring to the classroom. The CHOICE program is fortunate to have you on board as well. I think the unit you developed on Indigenous history through oral narratives was above and beyond what would have been possible without you. Your connections with Heather Powell and Michelle Martin bring another dimension to play. Great job!

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