Grade:||3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Students interview local Native Americans to learn about their history, culture, and contributions to the region.
- demonstrate oral communication skills;
- develop questions for interviews;
- use library, Internet, or other resources to research information about their regions;
- write letters using correct sentence structure, grammar, and spelling.
oral history, communication, Native American, elder, Internet, letters, interview
library resources, local telephone books, or computers with Internet access, paper, pens or pencils
(Note to teachers: Sharing oral history is an important part of Native American culture. One of the goals of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to learn about this tradition.)
- Begin the lesson by asking students whether they have asked their parents, grandparents, or other older relatives about what life was like when they were younger. Ask students to share any examples told by their relatives. (With older students, discuss the meaning of the term primary sources.)
- Tell students that they are going to learn about Native American life by talking to local Native Americans. Brainstorm ways the class might begin their research. Suggest that students check a local telephone book, town hall, chamber of commerce, or Internet sources for Native American organizations. Depending on your region, you might also contact a Native American reservation. Here are a few Internet sources to help you start your search: Native Sites, NativeWeb, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- Once your students have the name of a person, decide whether to invite the person to your school or take a field trip to visit the person. Work together as a class to write a letter of introduction and/or invitation. Work with students to arrange the visit.
- Have students brainstorm and write down questions to ask.
- After the visit, have each student write a thank-you letter to the person. Tell students to include sentences describing what they learned.
Evaluate students' participation, questions, and letters.