The lesson will begin with a creativity activity to show students not only how creative they are but also how different their ideas can be. The point of the activity is to encourage students to use their creativity during the presentation phase of the assignment and to transition to the concept that Native American tribes were very different from each other. The teacher will then go over some common myths of Native Americans and provide a brief overview of major tribal regions in the United States. Students will then conduct research in groups before putting together a presentation. You can conclude with presentations several ways, but I generally put together a museum type of feel where students can showcase their work based upon the region they studied. The lesson can last anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on how deep you want to go.
Rationale for the lesson
This lesson keys on several aspects of Native American study in the United States. First, it clears up some misconceptions, both positive and negative. Second, the assignment helps to drive home the point that Native American tribes were as different from each other than European countries are from each other. The lesson also brings in some critical thinking for students who try to answer questions that are typically glossed over in most classes. For example, if taking land from the natives was wrong, what should Americans have done? Also, students will make some modern connections to the groups such as the issue of Native American mascots.
Prerequisite knowledge and skills
As per usual, none required. You can use this lesson to teach about Native Americans with your students’ base of knowledge being non-existent. If your students do have background knowledge, you can firstly clear up misconceptions they likely have about the groups, and you can secondly push them deeper. The links to tribal research go into significant depth and no matter how much students know, there is always more to understand.