Class Discussion - Begin this lesson by engaging the students in a discussion about natural resources. You can use almost any picture from your last vacation, playing outside with your pet, or a trip to the store to jump-start this discussion. Have students list the natural resources they see in the picture. Broaden the discussion by asking these or similar questions:
- What is your favorite activity at the lake (beach, pond, pool, etc.)? swimming, boating, picnicking, sunbathing, etc.
- Now some absurd questions – Have you ever been water skiing in the desert? Have you ever been mountain climbing in Florida? We are hoping to find students’ answers that help illustrate the resources available in each area relate to the activities we enjoy in that area. Feel free to make up your own absurd questions.
- What is your favorite fruit? apples, oranges, bananas, etc.
- Have you ever picked your favorite fruit and eaten it fresh? Some students will say yes and others will say no.
- Dig deeper. Why? Hopefully, a child will share a fruit that isn’t native to their region. Explore why we enjoy so many foods today that are not native to our region.
- What was it like in the past? What did the native people of our area eat before European exploration?
Step 1: Project Introduction
- Groups should be preselected by the teacher and each group should be assigned a select region and or Native American group to research. This is the perfect time to place students in need of peer support with supportive teammates. (3-4 students per group would be optimal. If you have a very limited number of devices, group size may be determined by the number of devices available.)
- The teacher will share maps of North America illustrating the major biomes and the major Native American cultural regions.
- Whole group discussion should highlight major landforms and water systems within and surrounding North America. (Introduce or review the rain shadow effect that often occurs on the leeward side of mountain ranges or other topographic barriers.)
Web Links: If the following links become inactive, please do a simple Google search for the suggested topics.
National Geographic Native Americans by Cultural Region – Map
Study.com - Rain Shadow Video
Step 2: Research
Print and copy the Native American Project Info page (attached), Digital Presentation Rubric (linked), and Oral Presentation Rubric (linked). Each student should receive a copy of each of these documents.
Individual or Small Group (The number of students per group will depend upon the number of technology devices. 3 or 4 students per group is optimal.)
Estimated Duration: One 50 - 60 minute class period
Research Guidelines –Assign each group one of the listed Native American groups.
*Suggested Native American groups for this project:
- Northeast – Powhatan or Algonquian
- Southeast – Creek or Choctaw
- Great Plains – Sioux or Cheyenne
- Southwest – Navajo or Pueblo
- Great Basin – Shoshone or Ute
- Northwest Coast – Kwakiutl or Tlingit
Be sure to assign at least one tribe from each cultural region listed above. (Extension - If you have more than one class, it is interesting to assign different tribes to each class. You can allow each class to view the presentations from their sister class.)
Students should search for the following information about their assigned Native American Group:
• Tribe (Cultural Group)
• Climate/Environment (Biome/Ecosystem, Landforms, Water Resources)
• Cultural Region
• Nomadic or Settled
• Native animals
• Native plants
Students should record their answers electronically. They may utilize any appropriate tool within the Microsoft Office Suite for this task. A class discussion may be necessary to evaluate the tools available and their suitability for this task. (Teachers and students without access to this resources may select a resource that is available to them.) See uploaded handout for students.
Step 3: Presentation
Planning and additional research time - Review original directions and discuss time management.
If students only have Internet access at school, they must complete their research during this class period.
Estimated Duration: One 50 – 60 minute class period
Step 4: Presentation Creation
Students will create their digital presentations. They are required to work collectively within their group to accomplish this task. The presentation should include a title, public domain (non-copyrighted) images/pictures, informational text, and credits. Each item on their research list should be addressed in their presentation. Plagiarism will result in a score of “0”, so remember to review this before students begin to create their presentations. (Students may also use more advanced presentation elements to demonstrate their growing expertise utilizing technology.)
Estimated Duration: Two 50 - 60 minute class periods
Students will present and explain their findings to their classmates. They should be prepared to answer questions from fellow students and/or the teacher and defend their analysis/conclusions. Each student in the group is required to participate in this presentation. Teachers may help them break the presentation into equitable parts. Teachers may also decide to capture these presentations on video to share with parents, other students, or publish them as allowed by your school system.
Provide access to all of the digital presentations for every student utilizing the school website, teacher page, Office 365 sharing feature, etc.