Monday, November 18, 2019

How to Teach about Thanksgiving in a Culturally Appropriate Way

"Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun."
-- Tecumseh, Shawnee leader and warrior

As Thanksgiving in the U.S. approaches, I’d like to resurface a couple of my previous blog posts about the holiday, share some articles and websites about celebrating the holiday, and bring your attention to 3 of my TpT resources about Thanksgiving and Native words that are now commonly used in English.  All the articles, websites, and resources mentioned in this blog post can be used to teach about Thanksgiving in ways that respect Native American opinions about the holiday.

This roundup of resources helps educators teach about Thanksgiving in culturally appropriate ways | The ESL Nexus
Clockwise from top left: Euro-American Thanksgiving dinner, Native American stew, landscape around Wampanoag Homesite near Plimoth Plantation; source: The ESL Nexus
First, my Blog Posts:
Shortly before I moved to Arizona, I visited Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and took lots of photos that I subsequently shared with my students. 

* This blog post includes a few of those photos that you can use to compare and contrast the cultures of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people.  You can read it HERE.

* This blog post is an annotated list of books about Thanksgiving that are appropriate for English Language Learners at different language proficiency levels.  It categorizes them by proficiency level and gives a brief summary of each book.  You can find this post HERE(The links to the books are affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  That means that I receive a small commission if you buy any of those books but it is at no extra cost to you.  I appreciate your support!)

Second, the Articles and Websites:
Americans’ ideas about the origin of Thanksgiving have changed as more scholarship has been done and Native opinions have become more visible.  The articles and websites listed below offer a perspective about Thanksgiving that is different from the one many people of a certain age grew up with.  Even now, teaching students about Thanksgiving from the Native American viewpoint or in a culturally respectful manner is not the norm in all schools.  But all students should be exposed to Native voices about how the arrival of the Pilgrims affected the indigenous people in what is now the United States.  The first 2 links are articles and the last 2 links are websites and all will help provide that perspective:

* The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story.  The Wampanoags were the people who met the English settlers in the 17th century and this article offers their perspective about Thanksgiving. 

* Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving? This article discusses what happened in 1621 from a Native perspective and how many Native people do or do not celebrate Thanksgiving nowadays.

* Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools.  This website includes letters you can send home to parents, links to resources, and books about Native American cultures that you and your students can read.

* November is National American Indian Heritage Month. This website offers resources from The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Third, my TpT Products: 
I have created a couple TpT resources about Thanksgiving.  One is for math practice and the other is about Thanksgiving-related vocabulary words.  I’ve also created a resource about English words that come from Nahuatl and Algonquian languages.

* Thanksgiving Word Search and Crossword Puzzles.  There are 3 word searches and 1 crossword puzzle in this resource; all the puzzles use the same 20 words.  The word searches are differentiated according to the level of difficulty needed to solve them and a word bank accompanies the crossword puzzle for students who need extra support.  For more info, please click HERE.

* Thanksgiving Math Task Cards.  This is a set of task cards, differentiated at two levels, that teach students about a Thanksgiving meal while giving them practice solving fraction word problems.  They are particularly helpful for ELLs who are new to the holiday because the word problems are all about the kinds of food eaten at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  You can find this resource HERE.

* English Words with Nahuatl and Algonquian Origins.  These posters and flashcards present 30 English words whose roots are in indigenous American languages.  The Wampanoags, the Native people who met the English now known as the Pilgrims, spoke an Algonquian language.  You can use this resource when teaching about Thanksgiving to show one way that Native cultures impacted the settlers. For more info, please click HERE.

I hope these ideas help you teach about this holiday in a more accurate and objective way.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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