Contribution by Milton Davis, Joseph Band Nez Perce, Language Instructor

As the saying goes, Language & culture cannot be separated. One can carry on ceremonies, but without the language, the connection to the Creator and land isn’t complete.

Being raised by my paternal grandmother, she taught me the language and our longhouse teachings. My grandmother raised me since I was 1 year old because my mother passed away when I just turned 1. My grandmother taught me the language and raised me up in the longhouse. My grandmother not only taught me titoqatimt, she also taught a little bit of ‘ichishkiin/ palus sinwit.

In my teenage years, my father passed away. Thus, language played a key role in prayers. Praying in the language has healed me, it helped me carry on in life. The language completes the connection to the Creator. When one speaks the language, not only does the Creator hear you, but everything hears your words. By everything, I mean the land, the animals, and the spirits. Like for instance, when you say (in the language) wapaytam ~help me. Everything hears you, and everything will help you.

The words in our songs also help. Understanding the language helps you learn teaching in a song, it tells you how to live your life.

I could go on & on as to what the language has done for me. But, mainly, it has helped me with going through the grief process of losing both parents. So, I guess I feel I try my best to help others in that way.

Lesson Planning

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

Depending on what type of language program you have, lesson planning strategies can vary, but there are some key items in a lesson plan that need to be addressed, such as goals and objectives, identifying the activities for the lesson, and the procedures and materials for the lesson. Another is the length of time the activities take. The lesson plan should contain enough information that if you were to call in sick that day, another teacher could provide the same lesson by reading your lesson plan.

For language classes, the goals and objectives pertaining to the acquisition and comprehension of language itself. In an immersion school, there is another layer of lesson planning because you are planning content in the language. Objectives may address social/emotional/physical/cognitive development, math and number sense, literacy, science, etc.

Immersion Preschool Lesson Plan Example

UnitWetland Animals & Habitat
Grade LevelPreschool
Learning ObjectivesLanguage Acquisition: Demonstrates progress in listening to and understanding [indigenous] language, demonstrates progress in speaking the [indigenous] language. Target Vocabulary: Frog, pond, lily pad, water, bugs, jump.Emotional/Social: regulates own emotions and behaviors, participates cooperatively and constructively in group situations.Cognitive: attend and engage in activity, makes connections, recognizes and recalls, thinks symbolicallyPhysical: Demonstrates traveling skills, demonstrates balancing skills, uses fingers and hands, uses writing and drawing tools, uses the cutting tool. Mathematics: Counts, quantifies, connects numerals with quantity. Science: Demonstrates knowledge of the characteristics of living things, demonstrates knowledge of the earth’s environment. Art: Explores musical concepts & expression, explores dance movement concepts, explores drama through actions and language.
Cultural ObjectivesRespect and connection with nature stewardship of the land
Activity & Procedure(5 minutes) Introduction: Using images and realia talk, whole group discussion on animals, bugs, and plants that you can find in wetlands. Do they swim? Do they crawl? What do they eat? Is it cold there? When we go to these places, do we leave garbage? Lead the discussion to frogs specifically. Their color, what they eat, the noises they make, etc. How do frogs help us? How do/can we help frogs? (5 minutes) Activity #1: Using cut-out lily pads, have kids act like frogs jumping over the pads. The pads have flowers on them in amounts ranging from 1-5. Kids count a number of flowers on the pads before jumping over them. Switch it up and call out a number and students need to find a lily pad with that number on it to jump over. (15 minutes) Activity #2: Make paper puppets of frogs to put on popsicle sticks. Five (5) frog puppets per child. Children color frogs cut them out, and glue them onto popsicle sticks. (5 minutes) Activity #3: Watch video 5 little frogs and sing and dance along using frog puppets.

Language Class Lesson Plan Example

UnitWeather & Season
Grade Level5th Grade
Learning ObjectivesComprehension and beginning production of the following vocabulary: Sunny, rainy, windy, snowy, cloudy.
Duration30 minutes
Cultural ObjectivesObservation of nature and the environment.
Activity & ProcedureIntroductionTeacher goes through vocabulary words repeating each word 3x while students listen. The teacher goes through vocabulary again while students repeat, again 3x per vocab. Song: “What’s the weather like today?”“What’s the weather like today? today? today? today is ____.”Repeat with each weather vocab. Bring me the…Start off with either a pile of pictures (both from your current vocabulary plus some random pictures that don’t have anything to do with it. You will need multiple pictures of each vocab word). The teacher has a puppet, and the puppet is distraught. The poor puppet is just sobbing and inconsolable and the only thing that will comfort the puppet is to bring the puppet a picture from the pile. The puppet talks about the word that will make it feel better as students search through the pile to find the picture that will soothe the puppet. Where are you? In this activity, students are broken up into groups of three or four. Each group is given one of the vocabulary words. This word is now their groups’ call/sound; like moo is a cow’s sound. Then children mix up with everyone and spread out. They blindfold themselves, then they have to find their group by calling out the word like an animal call. Once the group is back together again, you can re-assign groups with new words.
MaterialsFull-page images of all-five weather vocabularyPuppetSmaller pictures of vocabulary images. Multiple copies of each weather image, plus random non-vocabulary pictures to mix in.Blindfolds

Creating a Language Song Video

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

Teaching language can be difficult working with limited resources. A fairly simple and cheap method to creating more language resources is using PowerPoint. By inserting images, audio, and strategically modifying animations and transitions you can export as an mp4 file to have a video. Here is a step-by-step with images on how to do that. In this example, I am making the 5 frogs video that correlates with one of the lesson plans in this newsletter article.

  • Open a blank PowerPoint by choosing Blank Presentation.
    • Click on insert online images.
      • There should be a check box for creative commons only. This means that the images that generate will not be copyright and you are free to use them. For this video, I uploaded images of a pond, two different frogs, a log, and a bug. Then copied and pasted those images if I needed multiples.’
  • If you select an image that does not have a transparent background, you can select the format tab and click on “remove background.” The purple in the image is what will be deleted from the image.
  • Once you have your images where you want them you can now start to make them move.
    • Click on an image and then the animation tab.
    • To make your image move, select a motion path. You can choose a straight line, arc, or create your own custom path.
    • Be sure to also select “start with previous” if you want your animation to move automatically.
    • Or if your video requires a certain order, you can order them in the animation pane by selecting “reorder animation.”
  • To add audio, I pre-record in the program Audacity. This is a free downloadable program.
    • First, I whistle the tune of the song.
    • Then I highlight the track, click effect, and hit reverb and click ok.
      • This makes the tune sound more like a high pitch flute versus a person whistling. You can play around with the effects.
    • Next, I hit the record button again, and sing the words.
      • In my video, I created an audio file for each slide of the Power Point. Then I go into file and click on “export audio” and I export it as a WAV file and it will merge those tracks into one file. *Note: You can drum, have an actual flute, rattle, etc. Don’t limit yourself to this example.
  • After the audio for each slide has been created, then you insert it into the slide.
    • Once inserted, you can format audio.
    • It is important to select “start automatically” and “hide during show.”
    • You can also trim your audio or have it fade in or out in this section. Be sure to note how long the audio file is.
      • In this video, the audio for each slide was generally around 9.12 seconds.
  • In order for the slides to transition on their own, go into the “Transitions” tab and make sure to check “after” under the “advance slide” section.
    • On mouse click is typically the default.
    • Also, be sure to set the time to line up with your audio.
      • In this slide example, the audio time is 9.42 second so I set the advance slide to after 10 seconds.
  • Finally, test out the slides.
    • Go into the slideshow tab and click “start from beginning.”
      • It should start playing automatically and transition from slide to slide on its own with audio.
    • If you come across an issue, try going to “animations” tab to make sure images and audio is set to “go with previous”, or otherwise ordered how you need it.
    • Sometimes you will need to go into the “reorder animation” pane and also set the audio to “start with previous.”
    • If that doesn’t work, try the “transition tab” to ensure that the slides start automatically and advance after the amount of time that aligns with audio and animations.
  • Once all the kinks are worked out and your slides are transitioning and images are animated to your satisfaction, you are ready to convert to an MP4. This is very simple.
    • All you need to do is go to the “file” tab, select “export” then select “create a video.”
      • From there it will save as an MP4.
      • It can take some time to create the video so do not close the Power Point until you can see it saved in your files as an MP4.

Elder & Youth Engagement

Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director

The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) has identified “Increasing the number of projects involving youth and intergenerational activities in Native American communities” as a core goal of the agency. The level of elder and youth engagement is requested in the Annual Data Report (ADR) for this very reason. In the long run, it assists ANA in identifying best practices in regard to elder and youth engagement.

An easy way to track elder and youth engagement for in-person gatherings is to include a checkbox on the sign-in sheet for participants to check if they are a youth or an elder as shown in the example below.

First NameLast NameContact InfoYouthElderN/A

Another way to track this data is to include it as a standing question on surveys and evaluations. If you have a social media presence on Facebook (FB), you can also poll your audience.

I would recommend updating the information monthly as your project is moving along so you are not having to tally up all the engagements when the ADR is due.

A good software program for gathering your information is Microsoft OneNote. Data collection can be overwhelming, but creating strategies to take care of small bite-sized pieces makes annual reporting less stressful by the time the actual report is due.