Hood River Middle School becomes Arctic Living Museum

See the Gallery for More Photos

Sarah Segal, a teacher at Hood River Middle School in Oregon, attended the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Seattle, WA this year for the wonderful professional development opportunities offered there. New content standards were being adopted by the Oregon Department of Education and it included a unit on the Inuit. After participating in a pre-conference clinic at NCSS called "Who Owns the Arctic? Arctic Peoples and Global Change" presented by the National Resource Centers on Canada, Ms. Segal returned to her school inspired to implement a 6th grade-wide cultural unit exploring the Inuit Nations of the circumpolar north. An excerpt from a local newspaper describes the cross-curricular undertaking and the photos shown in this gallery display the studentsí enthusiastic participation in the culminating activity, a Cultural Fair about Inuit Peoples of the Arctic Council.

In 2011, indigenous arctic peoples came together to create the Arctic Council. Six permanent participants were established by the Arctic Council to assess, create reports, and inform the general public about trade routes through the arctic, the extraction of natural resources, and how global weather changes is effecting individual country's environments along the Arctic Ocean.

The entire 6th grade has spent the last month working on a 6th-grade wide Arctic Cultural Fair. In 6th grade, students discover elements of culture through studying 8 cultural universals. These are: Communication, Arts & Aesthetics, Recreation, Family Structure, Political Organization, Attitudes Towards the Unknown (+ Rituals), Economics, and Food/Clothing/Shelter. Every student in the 6th-grade (180+ students) will be dressed to represent their culture, in addition to a variety of presentations and visual models of the cultural universals. These will include dancing, games, foods for sampling, murals, informational posters, student-generated and original artifacts, and much more. In addition, students in Michael Becker's Family and Consumer Science class will be smoking meat in the native plant arboretum. Furthermore, students researched their culture in regards to environment. For example, most of these cultures find significance in the northern lights; meat such as salmon, caribou, and walrus are used extensively in foods/clothing/shelter; and the festival of Christmas, with Santa Claus arriving on a sleigh and entering the home through chimneys' (because doors are buried under snow), comes from the Lapland Saami of Scandinavia.

6th grade developed this unit in regards to newly adopted ODE Content Standards for teaching Inuit. Integrating science to investigate how cultures develop due to their environment led to expanding this unit to include ALL regions in the Arctic Circle. Comparing pre-1900 life-ways (prior to arrival of traders) to modern-day life-ways, further led to investigating environmental, social, economic, political, etc. changes that have taken place in the last century.

Further Arctic Council information can be found at: http://www.arctic-council.org/index.php/en/about/maps

The MPR will be sectioned into 6 geographic regions (regarding the cultural groups), within the MPR. These 6 Permanent Arctic Council Participants are divided among the 6th grade teachers to research and prepare a 'living-museum' for public viewing, this Friday, February 1st - from 1-2pm.

Six Arctic Council Members
Inuit - Mrs. Norton
Athabaskan - Ms. Wilson
Gwich'in - Mr. Turner
Aleut - Mrs. Kuykendall
RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North) - Mr. Smith
Saami - Ms. Segal

The NRC on Canada presenters, Nadine Fabbi (UW), Tina Storer (WWU), Betsy Arntzen (U Maine) and Amy Sotherden (SUNY Plattsburgh) were delighted by this impressive outcome of their outreach. It is wonderful to see the impact of Ms. Segalís newfound knowledge on her students as well as the entire 6th grade class at Hood River Middle School.

Congratulations to Sarah Segal, her fellow 6th grade teachers, and the entire class of students at Hood River Middle School for a job well done! You have not only met but exceeded new content standards and your successful approach will undoubtedly inspire others in the state and across the country to use your unit as a best practice model.