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Traditional Knowledge

Elementary, Middle

Description

First Nations people have always been intimately connected to the land and water that provides so much.  There is a deep understanding of the seasonal cycles of natural resources that is passed from generation to generation.  This traditional knowledge ensures that communities live in harmony with nature and respect the plants and animals that provide food.  This creative lesson introduces students to the customs and culture of the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation communities through a series of exercises where they will:

  • Describe and identify examples of traditional knowledge.
  • Compare and contrast seasonal harvest rounds from the two First Nations communities.
  • Describe how traditional knowledge is transferred between generations.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Active listening
  • Brainstorming
  • Analysis of written information

Strengths

  • Supports cross-cultural understanding
  • Connects ecosystem health to community sustainability
  • Highlights the value of Traditional Knowledge

Weaknesses

  • The lesson does not include an experiential component
  • No specific assessment strategies are provided
  • Does not include specific curriculum outcomes

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports Science outcomes related to ecosystems and the interconnectedness of nature. Students also develop an understanding of Social Studies concepts like cultural connections and traditional ecological knowledge. To extend the learning a field trip to a local natural area with accompanying members of a local aboriginal community to explore local plants and animals would provide an authentic traditional knowledge experience.

Listening to our elders is the central theme of the lesson and could form the basis of an innovative action project where students use their interviews with senior family members to create a video of a living, oral history of their community that preserves stories for future generations. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living Systems: Understandings of the living world, Earth, and space are deepened through investigating natural systems and their interactions
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories: Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous knowledge is passed down through oral history, traditions, and collective memory.
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 3
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Communities of the World: Communities of the World
    • Grade 4
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Habitat and Communities
  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 3
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Communities of the World: Communities of the World
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: Habitats
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Connecting With the World:Culture & Community
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Community Comparisons: Interactions and Interdependence
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 3
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous knowledge is passed down through oral history, traditions, and collective memory.
    • Grade 4
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 4: All living things sense and respond to their environment

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students explore this topic through video interviews with adults and children of the First Nations communities that are the subject of the lesson.  This provides a multi-generational perspective of customs and traditions.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The strong family bonds of First Nations families are connected to the respect for Earth which clearly demonstrates the dynamic relationship between community health and environmental health.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Students are encouraged to recognize that traditional knowledge incorporates ecosystem understanding, values, such as only harvesting what is needed, and rights.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

The activity supports cross-cultural understanding and recognition of traditional beliefs and customs.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The evident respect for nature throughout the lesson will foster a deeper awareness of the value of wild places.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

Although an area of British Columbia is the focus of the lesson, the core learning about traditional ecological knowledge is applicable across all Canadian provinces and territories.  A teacher could make the activities more regionally relevant by inviting an elder from a local First Nations community to speak to the class about their cultural connections to the land.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The multi-generational sharing of stories and knowledge clearly demonstrates the connection between the past and present.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Open-ended questions encourage active discussion of the subject matter and students are able to express their own opinions about how traditional ecological knowledge supports sustainability.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Poor/Not considered

  • Science
  • Social Studies

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

To further their understanding of the importance of sharing knowledge between generations students are tasked with interviewing a senior family member.  The questions and format of each interview is an individual choice.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Poor/Not considered
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

The video interviews with children from the two First Nations communities provides relatable information from a youth perspective.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.