Enhancing Education with AI: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month Lessons

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George H.W. Bush designated November as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in 1990 as an extension to the 1986 celebration of American Indian Week proclaimed by Ronald Reagan. American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is now recognized annually to honor Native American and Alaska Native communities.

Although it is possible to conduct searches to find resources to use during your celebration of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, adapting the content to your curriculum and the grade level of your students can be challenging. For example, if you teach younger students, the content might be too difficult, or the opposite is true for use with older students. Today’s artificial intelligence tools (AI) make it easy to convert information that meets all students’ needs and opens the door to include a broader selection of teaching resources and materials.

Let’s look at different methods available to modify the information in this document provided by the United States Census Bureau using Claude (TeachersFirst review). Claude is an AI chatbot that allows users to add PDF and text files to the chat conversation; for each of these examples, begin by downloading the handout to your device and attaching the file to the chat area in Claude. As you use the chat feature in Claude, think of it as engaging in an ongoing discussion; after receiving information in the chat, continue asking questions in the same conversation thread.

  • Ask Claude to create a week-long unit matched to your content standards and grade level based on the handout’s contents. The fact sheet contains information that is better suited for middle and high school students, so we are requesting modification for fourth graders. This example used the prompt, “Create a one-week unit using the information on the handout and correlate it to NSS-USH.K-4.2.” Here is Claude’s response:
    • Here is a one-week unit plan using the information from the American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month fun facts handout, correlated to the National Social Studies Standard NSS-USH.K-4.2:
    • **Week 1: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage**
    • Day 1
      •  Read aloud a children’s book about the history and culture of American Indians. Discuss the diversity of tribes and traditions.
      • Introduce the term “heritage” and discuss what students’ own cultural heritages are. 
    • Day 2
      • Share statistics from the handout about the total American Indian population and the largest tribal groupings. Locate these regions on a map.
      • Discuss how sovereignty allows self-governance for Native tribes. 
    • Day 3:
      • Examine photographs of traditional clothing, housing, food, and customs. Compare different tribes.
      • Discuss how American Indians lived sustainable lifestyles connected to the land. 
    • Day 4:
      • Read selections from Native American folktales and legends. Discuss morals and lessons.
      • Introduce wampum belts and potlatch ceremonies as ways of passing down history.
    • Day 5:
      • Learn simple words in a Native language. Discuss how languages connect people to their heritage.
      • Make dreamcatchers or other Native crafts using natural materials. Discuss symbolism.
    • This covers NSS-USH.K-4.2 by looking at traditions, folklore, and contributions of various indigenous peoples, including the early explorers of the Americas. Students are exposed to diverse tribal identities and cultures. Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this unit plan in any way.
  • Follow up on your initial prompt to ask for resources or activities. Using the prompt, “Share student activities that meet UDL frameworks,” Claude responds with suggestions incorporating representation, action and expression, and engagement. Recommendations included sharing audio versions of folktales, creating symbolic drawings, and using choice boards or menus for student engagement.
  • Ask Claude for suggestions to modify content for English Language Learners. The chat suggested using cooperative learning activities, visual supports, and alternative methods to demonstrate comprehension.
  • Find ideas on how to adapt lessons and information for struggling and gifted students. If the suggestions don’t meet your needs, ask again with more specific information, such as asking Claude to create a 10-question quiz, a short writing prompt, or ideas for posters.
  • Continue your conversation to ask for assessment suggestions, include your content standards and objectives if desired, and clarify what you need. If you want some multimedia options, mention them in your request.

When using chat tools such as Claude, it is essential to use prompts that guide your AI assistant toward providing for your specific needs. AI for Education shares a helpful framework for educators: The 5 “S” Model. This model offers guidelines on how to get the most out of your prompts when using any AI chat resource.

Instead of limiting teaching materials to those created for your grade level or content area, use the many resources available to develop new and engaging experiences for your students by adapting any materials to fit your needs while still meeting your required standards and objectives. Be sure to use your professional judgment to ensure that the suggestions are appropriate for your needs and that all information provided is accurate.

Do you have suggestions for helpful resources for  American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month? Please share your thoughts in the comments below as we learn together.

About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.

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