The Learning 2.0 School

Shifting Perceptions of Teaching and Learning in and out of the School Library

Critical Thinking and U.S. History Texts

Posted by Michelle Torrise on September 17, 2011

Teaching and learning about American Indians can be challenging, especially because of the many misconceptions about the American Indian culture and the lack of a balanced perspective on the experiences of Native American people in U.S. History texts. While many text books have been edited to eliminate stereotypes of American Indians, there is still a great deal of misinformation out there.  The following article, while of value to us as teachers, would be a great critical literacy assignment for students, who could select a literary or information text and critically evaluate the resource.  See> Evaluating American Indian Textbooks and Other Materials for the Classroom (Montana Office of Public Instruction, 1996).

I thought it very pertinent in today’s time to uncover some of the new research on the retelling of Native American History.  For ideas and lesson plans, you might be interested in The Westward Expansion: A New Curriculum, published by The Choices Program.   See > The Western Expansion: A New Curriculum (1st Ed.) .

I came across this website on the American Indian Mascot Issue and thought it a relevant current tie in between the current protest unit and the start of the unit on Native Americans.  There are some great articles here that students could read and analyze in class.  See > Understanding the American Indian Mascot Issue: A Collection of Writings on Team and Name Logos. (STAR, 2003).

Another great resource for tying in to the social protest movement is this lesson plan on Dramatizing Native American Resistance Movements.   See > Dramatizing Native American Resistance Movements (Freedom Archives, n.d.)

Here is an article that outlines important teaching strategies when teaching about Native Americans.  This would also be an interesting uncovering activity with students.  See > Appropriate Methods to Use When Teaching About Native American Peoples (, n.d.)

This is a Great Article about the Myths of Native Americans.  This would be an excellent supplemental text and a great way to introduce a mini research project.  Ask students to pick one myth and make a connection with another culture that has experienced a similar disconnect. See > Myths of Native Americans (Flemming, 2006).

For other lesson plans on teaching Native American culture.  This document contains some great opportunities to make connections to Native American literature.  See> American Indian Culture and Language: A Curriculum Framework.

To find additional information search the following terms:  alternative texts for teaching U.S. History;  alternative perspectives for teaching about Western expansion; alternative perspectives on American Indian History.


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