• Alaska native studies unit for fourth grade using place-based education, project-based learning, cooperative learning and indigenous knowledge

      Thompson, Katy Celeste; Vinlove, Amy L; Topkok, Sean S; Green, Carie J (2019-08)
      As a fourth-grade educator who was responsible for teaching social studies, specifically meeting the Alaska Standards that focus on Alaska’s history of Indigenous peoples it is incredibly important that I teach accurately and genuinely. This has been a weak area of mine, since I am not from the state of Alaska. Therefore, it is an area that I wanted to further develop in my teaching practices. I developed an integrated social studies quarter long (nine weeks) unit for fourth grade that focuses on the history of Alaska from the Indigenous viewpoint. There are countless atrocities that occurred to the Indigenous population of Alaska that often get brushed under the rug. It is a disservice to not educate my students on these things. Another issue when teaching Alaska history and culture is that stereotypes and biases are often unintentionally taught as well. It is necessary that I understand my own perceptions and beliefs as a White female with little exposure and understanding of Alaska Native culture and education. Being a white female puts me in a position where I am not able to share my own experiences and knowledge as someone who is Alaska Native and grew up with the culture and language, because of this I needed to seek resources outside of myself to be able to accurately and relevantly teach a unit on Alaska Native history, knowledge and culture. I included place-based learning, cooperative learning and project-based lessons into my unit which allows students to explore the local environment and incorporate Alaska Native knowledge. This unit goes beyond social studies, because teaching must be open and welcoming to diversity and differences. Classrooms must be accepting and understanding so that students feel safe to share their own knowledge and stories with one another, and listen with respect and kindness