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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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Lessons Taught, Lessons Learned Vol. I

RABBIT SNARING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

  

by
Judy Hoeldt
Kaltag

 

The following teaching unit on rabbit snaring is based on notions of prior knowledge and student participation, because in a rural classroom, instruction must build upon the students cultural background and the knowledge they bring with them. The teaching unit employs a process-oriented approach to curriculum and a project-centered approach to teaching and learning. The unit is aimed at the early elementary level and incorporates the following subject areas: language, math, science, art, writing, and social studies.

The practices that will be described are based on the theme of connecting oral and written language and reading. All of the ideas build upon the student's prior experiences in order to advance the children's reading and writing skills to foster their language development. Perhaps the greatest advantage of this approach is that the teacher serves as a facilitator, encouraging the students to explore their creativity, to discover their environment, and to apply their problem-solving skills. I believe that this unit will foster student learning by building on the students' cultural background. In addition, these lessons will encourage students to develop their individual learning methods to accomplish educational goals that cannot be achieved through a structured, traditional, subject-oriented curriculum. In all of the following methods and techniques for teaching reading and writing, the student is the "doer." There is complete student involvement in each of these activities.

I plan on teaching several different units in the kindergarten-first grade classroom throughout the year. All of these units will be centered around pattern books; books written by students; independent reading; and group discussion before, during, and after reading. In the past, I've done a lot of writing with my students-now I want to take that writing a step further and have the students use their own inventive spelling and read their own writing. This year, my role as a teacher will be that of a facilitator and an observer. My students will be helping each other in the roles of peer tutors. I wish school started tomorrow for I have several units and projects I want to explore with my students.

I intend to teach my students a unit on rabbit snaring. I chose this particular unit because my prior knowledge on this subject matter is very limited. Therefore, the unit will offer a challenge for both my students and me to research and explore the different aspects of the subject matter together. I'm an enthusiastic teacher and a dedicated learner, and I hope that this enthusiasm and dedication will spread to the students throughout the unit. My intentions are to develop the students' writing, reading, and language skills with this unit. This can be done through different activities such as reading stories about rabbits and snares, writing our own hunting stories, writing creative rabbit stories, discussing the uses of snares and rabbits, identifying rabbit tracks, making our own footprints, drawing pictures of rabbits, participating in hunting trips and field trips, and making rabbits Out of different art materials.

As resources I will be using some of the Native trappers in the village, several books (from science books to pattern books), materials for rabbit snares, audio-video equipment, outdoor environments, writing and book-making materials, and art supplies. My students and I will be visiting trappers, going on field trips to look for rabbit tracks, making rabbit snares, writing recipe books for preparing rabbit dishes, studying biology books, interviewing family members about rabbit snaring, and reading our "Big Book." 

UNIT ON RABBIT SNARING

1. LESSON

Objective:

To determine the students' prior knowledge of rabbit snaring. To familiarize the students with rabbit snaring materials.

Resources:

Wiring for rabbit snare and pictures of rabbits.

Lesson:

Students will be in groups of four and five investigating wiring used for rabbit snares. Students will ask each other questions. After student groups have discussions about the wiring and its uses, the teacher will encourage each group to brainstorm different possibilities of using the wiring. The teacher will write student ideas on the board showing each group pictures of rabbit snares and rabbits. The teacher will guide the discussion using the following three steps: first, asking students, What to do you think of ...?, What might you see, hear, feel...?, What might be going on...?; second, having students think about their response (What made you say that...?); and third, asking students if they have any new ideas. After these group discussions, students will ask questions about what they want to learn about rabbit snaring. The teacher will write the questions on a chart and the students and teacher will read the questions.

Evaluation:

After mapping out the students' responses, adjust instruction accordingly.

2. LESSON

Objective:

Students will participate in making a snare. Students will observe how the snare operates and comprehend how it is part of their culture.

Resources:

Snare equipment, local hunter, teacher aide.

Preparation:

Visits with the local trapper asking him to demonstrate a rabbit snare and to tell stories about rabbit snaring.

Lesson:

Local trapper will arrange students around him in his home so all the students can observe the demonstration and listen to stories. Local trapper will show how to make a snare, where to place it, how it works, how it is set up, etc. After the demonstration, students will make their own snares with assistance from several local trappers. When the students have completed this task, the local trapper will share stories about experiences with rabbit snaring. Students will ask questions about snaring.

Evaluation:

Teacher will record which students were successful in making rabbit snares. This record will be useful to designate peer tutors later.

 

3. LESSON

Objective:

Students will get acquainted with rabbit habitat.

Resources:

Film from state library, film projector, books on rabbit habitat.

Lesson:

After watching the movie, students will join in groups and ask each other questions. The teacher will facilitate by asking questions from the focus unit on the basic story. Some of these questions would be: Where do you think this film took place? What time of year is it? What did they do first in the movie? What happens later? Students can be offered the opportunity to role play a trapper snaring rabbits. Then students can draw pictures of themselves snaring. rabbits. Students can use inventive spelling to write about what is happening in their picture.

In the next step, the teacher will read a story about what rabbits eat and where they live. Before listening to the story, students will predict its content. The teacher will write student predictions on a chart where they will be checked off during the reading. After the students have discovered a certain amount of information, they will relate these facts to the teacher who will print them on a "big book." When reading is completed, the students and the teacher enter more information in the "big book." Then the teacher and the students will read the "big book" together.

Now the students will join in groups discussing and drawing two more pictures for their picture book on rabbits. One picture will feature the rabbit in its habitat and the other showing the rabbit eating-inventive spelling will go below each picture. After this activity, the teacher will lead a group discussion, reading the questions on the chart and determining which questions were answered and then writing the answers on the chart.

Evaluation:

As an observer, the teacher will record student responses during discussions, and check student progress in reading along in the big book."

4. LESSON

Objective:

Students will research and explore subject matter in many books.

Resources:

Several books on rabbits.

Lesson:

The teacher will encourage students to check out and read different rabbit books and to share and discuss the books. Then the teacher and the students will discuss the students' discoveries and questions and enter them into the question chart.

Now, teacher and students will read two more segments on the habits of rabbits, their physical characteristics, and their reproduction, using the same format as before-predicting, questioning, and recording facts in the "big book." Then theteacher and students will read the "big book" together, possibly several times.

Evaluation:

Teacher's observation of student participation in group discussion and of students' ability to read along in the "big book."

5. LESSON

Objective:

Students will identify rabbit footprints. Students will make their own footprints.

Resources:

Clay, paint, book on rabbit footprints, shallow pans, sponges.

Lesson:

The students will view rabbit footprints, then duplicate footprint patterns on paper and in clay. Now, students will take turns stepping into shallow pans with paint and printing their own footprints on butcher paper. The students will write their names next to their footprints which will be displayed on the classroom walls. As a whole class, they will create a poem about footprints. The teacher will give a starting line and the students can brainstorm about the rest. The teacher will write the poem on a chart and the class will read it together on a daily basis.

Evaluation:

Observation of rabbit tracks made in the clay.

6. LESSON

Objective:

Students will draw a community trapping expedition and write an accompanying story.

Resources:

Butcher paper, markers.

Lesson:

Each student will use a certain area on the butcher paper to draw a scene of themselves and their elders trapping rabbits. After the mural is completed the students will write their inventive spelling sentences below their drawings to tell the viewers what is happening. The mural will be hung in the hallway.

Evaluation:

Analyze the students' association between picture and writing.

7. LESSON

Objective:

Students will practice making wire snares.

Resources:

Enough wiring for all students, rabbit pattern, cotton and glue.

Lesson:

Previous arrangements will have been made with the junior high teacher and sufficient time scheduled for this event. Junior high boys will demonstrate and talk about the making of a snare. The junior high boys will assist the kindergarten and first grade students as they are making a snare. After each student has completed the rabbit snare, the junior high boys will demonstrate how to use snares and where to put them. After the boys' demonstration, students will ask questions. Then the students will write about the project using their inventive spelling and draw pictures to go along with the writing. An art project to go along with the lesson can be cutting out a rabbit pattern and gluing cotton balls to it.

Evaluation:

Examine the quality of the snares.

 

8. LESSON

Objective:

To expose students to the Native language and to Native stories.

Lesson:

The bilingual teacher will practice with the students the Native word for rabbit and snare. Then s/he will tell stories about rabbit snaring and explain that it is part of the community's subsistence way of living. After this, the students will discuss in groups and will add more information to the "Big Book." Rabbit patterns and fasteners will be available for students to make swinging rabbits.

Evaluation:

Students usage of Native words and the retelling of the Native stories.

9. LESSON

Objective:

Students will set up snares for rabbits and identify rabbit tracks.

Preparation:

Arrangements through the principal and the trappers for a field trip to set up rabbit snares.

Lesson:

Students will take their rabbit snares and follow trappers to set up the snares. Students will be looking for rabbit tracks. Students will be silent to demonstrate their respect for the hunt. Trappers will show students where and how the snares need to be set up. Students will follow the trappers' order in setting up their traps. Arrangements will be made with the trapper for the students to check traps.

After the field trip, students will write thank you notes to the trappers and ask them when they need to check their snares.

Evaluation:

Students ability to set up snares and quality of writing in theirthank you notes.

 

10. LESSON

Objective:

Students will check rabbit snares.

Resources:

Trappers

Preparation:

Arrangements with trappers to accompany us on our trip to check the rabbit snares.

Lesson:

The students will draw a map of the area where they set up their snares before we set out to check them. The trappers will show students how to find the snares, how to repair the snares, and how to release the rabbits. Then the trapperswill take the students to their homes and show them how to skin the rabbits and how to prepare them for eating. The students will write stories about their trapping experiences and draw pictures of their trapping excursion. The students will read their stories and ask each other questions. The students' stories and pictures will be displayed on the wall.

Evaluation:

Students participation in activities and evaluation of trapping stories for content and reading ability.

11. LESSON

Objective:

Students will create and write invitations and make necessary arrangements for a potlatch.

Resources:

Invitation cards and materials to make bunny-ear hats.

Preparation:

Inform the principal about the potlatch.

Lesson:

The students and teacher will make plans for the potlatch.

  1. Who should we invite? Write names of local trappers on the board and assign each student to one name.
  2. What should our parents bring? Write a list on the board and assign a dish to each student.
  3. What should we write on the invitation card?
    1. time
    2. place

Students will now write two invitation cards-one to a trapper or community member and one to a parent. In the card for the parents, the student will ask for a dish for the potlatch. Students will decorate their invitation cards and deliver them. Students will make bunny-ear hats and other decorations for the potlatch.

Evaluation:

Observe students' decision making skills and the readability of invitation cards.

 

12. LESSON

Objective:

Students will be able to measure ingredients and read recipes for a rabbit dish.

Resources:

Cookbooks, recipes, rabbit, skillet and necessary ingredients.

Preparation:

Students bring Mom's, Grandma's or Auntie's best recipe for rabbit stew.

Lesson:

The teacher and students will read the recipes together, select one, write it on a chart and talk about the measurements on the recipe. Students will try to figure out words that have been masked on recipe chart. As a sequencing task students will discuss in groups what needs to be done first, second, etc. Before cooking starts, the students and teacher will play a little game called "What If." In this game the teacher asks the students to imagine what would happen if the various cooking steps were carried out in a different order or what would happen if something was left out. Then the students will cook the rabbit, following the directions.

Evaluation:

Students ability to measure, read, and sequence. Also, seeing how the rabbit turned out!

After the rabbit is cooked, students will make all the necessary arrangements for the potlatch. Each group will be responsible for one aspect of the potlatch. After the trappers and parents have arrived, students will thank the trappers and then recite their rabbit poems and read the "Big Book." The students' picture books and their trapping stories will be on display for everyone to see.

I will determine what my students have learned through this unit by evaluating their progress in writing and inventive spelling. This is a rough sketch of a unit and many more reading and writing skills will be addressed than could be included here. For example, I expect my students to ask for the correct spelling of the word "trapping" when they write on the mural. Through close observation, I will be able to tell which skills my students will be ready to learn and will then incorporate these skills in my lessons.

Past and Present by Oral Hawley
In reading the "Big Book" I will use word cards and sentence strips which will help me to evaluate whether the students are learning the words in the book. By masking certain words in the "Big Book" I will be able to tell whether the students have learned to infer these words by using contextual clues and phonic skills. However, the best approach to determining what my students have learned will be my own observations.

The above teaching unit will be accompanied by several classroom activities that are unrelated to the subject matter of the unit. One of these activities will be dialogue journals in which the students write to the teacher about anything they want to share. Another activity will be called word-a-day." In this activity, the students pick out a word they want to learn and the teacher spells out the word for the students. Then they copy it and it becomes their word. After the students have gathered a certain amount of personal words, they read their words to their group and trade them with group members. Sometimes word cards are mixed and the students sort out the cards with their personal words before reading them to each other and placing them in a personal file.

While designing this unit, I asked myself whether it was culturally acceptable for girls to learn the art of rabbit snaring and for boys to learn how to cook. However, I came to the conclusion that this question will have to be asked in each community, since what is acceptable will vary from place to place. The unit is filled with so many reading, writing and other activities that it should be beneficial to all students.

 

Foreword

J. Kelly Tonsmiere

Introduction

Ray Barnhardt

Section I

Some Thoughts on Village Schooling
"Appropriate Schools in Rural Alaska"
Todd Bergman, New Stuyahok

"Learning Through Experience"
Judy Hoeldt, Kaltag

"The Medium Is The Message For Village Schools"
Steve Byrd, Wainwright

"Multiple Intelligences: A Community Learning Campaign"
Raymond Stein, Sitka

"Obstacles To A Community-Based Curriculum"
Jim Vait, Eek

"Building the Dream House"
Mary Moses-Marks, McGrath

"Community Participation in Rural Education"
George Olana, Shishmaref

"Secondary Education in Rural Alaska"
Pennee Reinhart, Kiana

"Reflections on Teaching in the Kuskokwim Delta"
Christine Anderson, Kasigluk

"Some Thoughts on Curriculum"
Marilyn Harmon, Kotzebue
 

Section II

Some Suggestions for the Curriculum
"Rabbit Snaring and Language Arts"
Judy Hoeldt, Kaltag

"A Senior Research Project for Rural High Schools"
Dave Ringle, St. Mary's

"Curriculum Projects for the Pacific Region,"
Roberta Hogue Davis, College

"Resources for Exploring Japan's Cultural Heritage"
Raymond Stein, Sitka

"Alaskans Experience Japanese Culture Through Music"
Rosemary Branham, Kenai

Section III

Some Alternative Perspectives
"The Axe Handle Academy: A Proposal for a Bioregional, Thematic Humanities Education"
Ron and Suzanne Scollon

"Culture, Community and the Curriculum"
Ray Barnhardt

"The Development of an Integrated Bilingual and Cross-Cultural Curriculum in an Arctic School District"
Helen Roberts

"Weaving Curriculum Webs: The Structure of Nonlinear Curriculum"
Rebecca Corwin, George E. Hem and Diane Levin

Artists' Credits

 

 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


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Last modified August 14, 2006