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Jill Heininger
Andrea Coffey
EDUC 2025 Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms
Assignment 3 Learning from Native American Stories
Why are Native Americans an involuntary minority group?
Involuntary minorities are defined as groups whose ancestors suffered slavery or colonization in
the United States and who have been historically denied true assimilation into U.S. society. They
are keenly aware of the intergenerational oppression received. The extreme oppression and
colonization experienced at the hands of the dominant culture in North America led to Native
Americans becoming an involuntary minority group. (pg. 83-84)
Why is the circle such an important symbol for Native Americans?
A key concept of Native American philosophy is holism, and one of the most important symbols
is the circle, or hoop of life. When traditional Native Americans gather as a group, they meet in a
circle depicting the importance of all present, equality distributed to everyone, and the belief in
loyalty to the group that keeps them whole. Traditional Native Americans see themselves as
extensions of the tribe. The individual is part of the whole, and the wholeness of the tribe
provides strength and gives meaning to life. (pg. 88)
Describe the language differences and the communication style of Native Americans.
Traditional Native American speech patterns are often slower and softer than dominant-culture
speech patterns, with few interjections into the conversation of others. Intense eye contact is
avoided, as it can be perceived as a sign of rudeness. Native Americans may exhibit limited
facial expression and may appear guarded, aloof, or cold. In addition, responses may seem
delayed, if they occur at all. Native Americans consider silence to demonstrate self-control,
courage, patience, dignity, and reverence. Nonverbal communication through rituals, signing,
drumming, and dancing are highly prized, as they are perceived to be more in line with nature
and others. Traditional Native Americans learn through observation, listening, and practice.
Children are often taught through demonstration rather than verbal communication alone. (pg.
Do you think it is appropriate to call a sport’s team a name associated with Native
Americans? Think Washington Redskins… Defend your answer.
No. Associating a sport’s team name with Native Americans present stereotypes that are hurtful
to Native Americans and humans in general. Team names and mascots often portray Native
Americans as savages or battlefield warriors perpetuating a false stereotype.
Native American students seem to do well until the fourth grade. If you were a
fourth-grade teacher, what are some of the strategies you would use to make sure
your Native American students do not fall behind the other students?
As a teacher I would become more aware of Native American cultural values. I would use
demonstration, modeling and coaching during hands on instructional activities. Tailor readings,
activities, and illustrations to students’ experiential backgrounds. Integrate Native American
literature into the classroom as well as Native American history and governance into social
studies. I would also do more cooperative group work as opposed to individual classroom
activities or competition within the classroom. (pg. 93)
Comment on the following strategies:
Incorporate the history of accomplishments and contributions of American
Indian people.
I fell it is important to incorporate the history of accomplishments and contributions of American
Indian people into classrooms, as with all cultures. One goal of the classroom is to create a
supportive and comfortable environment that embraces all cultures and allows students to
express freely themselves.
Promote positive self-images and cultural images for the students.
This is a vital strategy. Students need to connect their background knowledge to the subject
matter to learn most effectively. Students need to be exposed to positive self-images and cultural
images, to both educate them to become open-minded individuals as well as build their own self
Adapt teaching styles (hands-on instruction).
Traditional Native Americans emphasize learning through observation, listening and practice.
Adapting your teaching style to incorporate demonstration, modeling, and coaching rather than
verbal communication alone will be a more effective strategy.
1. Comment on this activity (What do you think about it for one of the early
elementary grades): Ask children to draw a picture of a favorite food, favorite game,
favorite sport, or some other favorite. Ask the children to explain their pictures or just look
at them. They may see similar pictures from different members of the group. Make a
collage of the pictures.
This activity is great for an early elementary grade. It allows students to share a part of
their culture with their classmates. Using this activity as a lead in to a cultural lesson plan,
having the collage of pictures on the wall to refer back to would make the lesson more effective
as the children connect it with their background knowledge.
EDUC 2025 Creating Culturally Responsive Classrooms
Assignment 3