Place and culture-based curriculum development for language revitalization

Virginia Beavert
Judith Fernandes
Connie Graves
Roger Jacob
Joana Jansen
Margaret Matthewson
Greg Sutterlict
Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir

Course days, time, and location:
6/29, 6/30, 7/1, & 7/2
1:30 - 3:15
Willamette, Room 112

Course Information:
Place and culture-based language curriculum can be an important tool for language and lifeways revitalization. A place-based educational approach grounds curriculum and lessons in students’ experiences in local events and places, and acknowledges that learning happens not only in formal educational settings but also outside of school in families and communities. This reinforces connections to one’s home, family, community and world. Included components can be the cultural, historical, social, religious and/or economic relevance of specific locations or areas. (Note that the terms place-based and culturally/community-based overlap; we use place-based as a cover term here.)

While place-based learning is not a new trend within education or Native education, its emergence in Northwest Native communities as a promising resource for language teaching and revitalization is a more recent development. Legends that include landforms and locations, narratives or lessons of traditional happenings, personal accounts of events - all enhance place-based classroom lessons, both by providing rich background information and by providing classroom materials.

This workshop introduces participants to the concepts of place and culture-based curriculum, and provides several rich examples of place-based curriculum projects. The curriculum teams for each of these projects discuss their curriculum and how it was developed. Ways that linguists and documentation specialists can collaborate with speech community members to support place-based curriculum development are addressed. Then, participants will be guided through the first steps of developing a place-based curriculum unit for their own use and determining what additional resources will support their teaching. Throughout, we work from the assumption that learning is a collaborative process, and we expect that leaders and participants will share with and learn from one another.

During each of the first three sessions, we will present a particular language curriculum that has been developed. These fall in the broadly applicable categories of journeys; vessels; plants and foods; and locations and landmarks. Each day also includes a brief overview and examples of one additional facet of place-based learning. Participants will work on plans for their own speech community to collect the needed resources and develop curriculum on similar topics. The expectation is not that participants will leave with completed classroom materials but that they will be familiar with the concepts and tasks involved and will have a plan for the next steps to take when they return home.

By the end of the workshop, participants will be familiar with the concepts and possibilities of place-based curriculum. Participants will have considered place-based topics based on the presentations, will have developed a rough scope and sequence of material to be covered under one of the topics that is appropriate for their communities, and will have identified needed resources for curriculum development. Linguists will have learned how to better support such projects, since materials that support place-based or culturally-based curriculum are gathered in the course of a language documentation project. We expect that the workshops will be applicable to beginning as well as experienced language teachers and curriculum developers. The concepts presented are adaptable to a range of ages and proficiency levels of language learners. The workshop will also be applicable to linguists working with communities on language revitalization goals.

Course Documents:
Please contact Judith Fernandes for more information about the Basket Curriculum.  

Instructor Bio(s) and curriculum examples:
Each of the presenters and teams has worked extensively on curriculum development and language teaching. Some of us are speech community members, some linguists and curriculum specialists from outside the community.

Puget Salish Canoe Curriculum: Zalmai (Zeke) Zahir is a scholar and instructor of the Lushootseed language and culture. He has studied with elderly speakers for over thirty years, and has authored and co-authored a number of Lushootseed publications, including the Canoe Curriculum included here. Zahir will also facilitate participants’ activities in Session 4.

Chinuk Wawa Basket Curriculum: Judith Fernandes is a language teaching consultant and curriculum developer. Judith, Connie Graves and Margaret Matthewson have developed a multi-discipline, year-long unit on basketry of the Grand Ronde people. Henry Zenk is the supporting linguist.

Ichishkiin Cultural Resources Curriculum: Virginia Beavert is a Yakama Nation Elder who has received numerous honors for her language preservation and teaching efforts. She, Roger Jacob, and Greg Sutterlict are all members of the Yakama Nation and UO graduate students in linguistics and language teaching. Joana Jansen is a supporting linguist and and works on teaching materials development, documentation, and grammatical description. Curriculum examples include: the Yakama language Natural and Cultural Resource Field Guide, which has the dual goals of teaching language and improving natural and cultural resources management; units on Longhouse, Sweathouse, and Tax̱ús; and the entire team’s Legends units.

                                               Updated September 30, 2010 10:16 am