The foundation of a twenty-first-century American community is shared respect among individuals who come from different backgrounds, places, and experiences. Native Americans take that concept even further by valuing all the inhabitants of the earth and sky—animal, vegetable, mineral, and spirit. As first inhabitants of our land, they set a model for inclusiveness in light of diversity. In her poem “Remember,” Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation, reminds us to pay attention to who we are and how we’re connected to the world around us.
The following sequence of lessons is designed to level the playing field among diverse learners by including multiple ways to enter, experience, and explore the meaning of the poem. Feel free to adjust them to meet the particular learning styles and needs of your students.
A Note about Vocabulary
Have your students keep a running list on the front board of the words they have read and heard that they do not understand (not counting the Western Shoshone words to “Water Song” unless you, one of your students, or someone in your community understands the language). You can either conduct a separate vocabulary lesson on these words where students try to figure out their meaning from context and connections or review the vocabulary as you progress through the other activities.