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.

One thought on “Culturally-Responsive Lesson Plan”

  1. This sounds like a great lesson! I really like that Elders are such a central part of the lesson, and that you’re working to show students the links between traditional Inupiaq music and the other musical content they’ll be learning from you. I really get the sense, from reading this lesson, that you’re presenting traditional music as central to the students’ education.

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