Author:
Sandy Benton, Tammy Moncel, Rick Erickson
Subject:
Environmental Literacy and Sustainability, Life Science, Environmental Science, World Languages
Material Type:
Primary Source, Reference Material, Teaching/Learning Strategy, Unit of Study
Level:
Middle School
Tags:
  • Connect-explore-engage
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Education
  • Middle School Science
  • Place-based Education
  • Place-based Learning
  • Science
  • Storytelling
  • Text Sets
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Winter
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Aadizookaan (Winter Only)

    Overview

    Storytelling is an important part of traditional Native American culture. It is important to remember that some stories can only be told in the Winter out of respect for the names that can only be told when the snow is on the ground. Please use the references shared on this page in accordance with the respectful practice of Winter only storytelling. As always, it is best to have the guidance of an experienced elder and / or storyteller when planning best use in the classroom. 

    This unit blended the use of traditional knowledge with textbook based science concepts to show the interconnection between them. Many traditional stories give an explanation of plant and animal adaptations that have a scientific benefit for the organism.

    Aadizookaan Storytelling in Science- Teaching about Adaptations (Winter Only)

    Tammy Moncel, Science Teacher 6-8 & PLTW 6-12

    Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School

    Middle School Integrated Science

    Grade Level(s): 6-8

    Content Area(s):  Science

    Environmental Literacy Standards Addressed:

    ELS.C1: Students develop and connect with their sense of place and well-being through observation, exploration, and questioning.

    ELS.EN6: Students analyze the dynamic balance between natural and cultural systems.

    ELS.EX5: Investigate and analyze how change and adaptation impact natural and cultural systems.

    Wisconsin Science Standards Addressed:

    Standard SCI.CC1: Students use science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and patterns to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.

    Standard SCI.SEP4: Students analyze and interpret data, in conjunction with using crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas, to make sense of phenomena and solve problems.

    Standard SCI.LS4.B.m: Both natural and artificial selection result from certain traits giving some individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing, leading to predominance of certain traits in a population.

     

    Standard SCI.LS4.C.m: Species can change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions through adaptation by natural selection acting over generations. Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common.

     

    Standard SCI.LS4.D.m: Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources and ecosystem services they rely on.

    Context:  

    Storytelling is an important part of traditional Native American culture. It is important to remember that some stories can only be told in the Winter out of respect for the names that can only be told when the snow is on the ground. Please use the references shared on this page in accordance with the respectful practice of Winter only storytelling. As always, it is best to have the guidance of an experienced elder and / or storyteller when planning best use in the classroom. 

    This unit blended the use of traditional knowledge with textbook based science concepts to show the interconnection between them. Many traditional stories give an explanation of plant and animal adaptations that have a scientific benefit for the organism. The Keepers of the Animals Chapter 12 started with a story, “The First Flute” from the Lakota and continued with a Woodpecker Ojibwe story. Many of my students had heard the Woodpecker story, so it created a sense of understanding and familiarity from the start. The chapter continues with bird adaptations including beaks, feet, feeding, songs / communication and seasonal adaptations. There are many pictures of birds for reference and one activity included the research of local bird black and white pictures to add color for comparison. Most students recognized over 50% of the birds with the color added. Another activity included the “pin the beak on the bird” game which led to a discussion of beak shape and the relationship to the diet of the bird. Another activity that my students enjoyed was an “Avian Adaptations Match-Up on page 150. There were solid black pictures of 11 birds and descriptions of the adaptations / shapes of the birds for matching. 

    We continued to talk about other adaptations blended with traditional stories. For example the UW OshKosh has a site for the Closing the Math Achievement Gap project that related stories to mathematical word problems. Some of the stories fit perfectly into the efforts of this unit. There is a story on the site, “How the Birch tree got its burns” which was a perfect starting point to discuss the advantage of the black of the birch tree in relation to temperature and gas exchange. I also used the youtube video, “The power of a tree” to reinforce the importance of the tree to people in our area. 

    We used the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary website, but instead of searching for words in Ojibwe or English, we used the “search cultural connections” search option to search for living things to find more information about adaptations with a cultural perspective. For example, a search of “Birch” will give a variety of links with pictures and descriptions that further demonstrate the cultural and scientific connection. A search for “Beaver” will show a picture of the beaver and describe the tail as an adaptation. The UW Oshkosh link also has a Native American story about how the Beaver got his tail. 

    The stories are a way to relax the learning atmosphere, provoke imagination and relate the learning to something familiar. I notice the retention rates and vocabulary use increase when I use culturally relevant text sets in the classroom. I have learned that the amount of resources available to blend into classroom environments continues to grow and enhance the educational experiences of students. A live storyteller will always be the best practice when incorporating stories in the classroom, but a text or video version can substitute if it is not possible. 

     

    Annotated Bibliography:

     

    Caduto, M. J., & Bruchac, J. (1997). Keepers of the animals: Native American stories and wildlife activities for children. Fulcrum Publ. 

    A book with excellent integration of storytelling and science. Chapter 12 was a base for the unit described above. The books listed below follow the same format with stories, questions, activities and ideas to further explain concepts in child friendly ways. 

     

    Caduto, M. J., & Bruchac, J. (1997). Keepers of the earth: Native American stories and wildlife activities for children. Fulcrum Publ. 

     

    Caduto, M. J., & Bruchac, J. (1997). Keepers of life: Native American stories and wildlife activities for children. Fulcrum Publ. 

     

    Using Native American Legends to Teach Mathematics. (n.d.). Www.uwosh.edu. http://www.uwosh.edu/coehs/cmagproject/ethnomath/legend/legend1.htm

     

    A link to some short Native American stories with mathematical word problems. 

    Some of the stories relate to scientific adaptation discussions from the unit described

    In this document. 


    “The Power of a Tree: Why Birch and Its Bark Are so Important to Anishinaabe Culture | 

    Wiigwaasabak.” Www.youtube.com, 19 Mar. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQE4g35nRRk.

     

    A video about the Birch tree regarding the importance, value and use of the tree.

    Anishinabe women speak about the trees as teachers and useful materials that can be

    made with the bark. 

     

    Ojibwe People's Dictionary. (2012). The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary. Umn.edu.
    https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/

     

    A dictionary with the option to search for words in Ojibwemowin or English. In this unit, the search option “search cultural collections” connected visual and written descriptions of animals and plants in the search.