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Inuit Peoples

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Lesson 1

Lesson Question: How do Inuit on Baffin Island live, and how does Arctic life resemble and differ from ours?

Standards Met:

Performance Expectations for Middle Grades: Theme 1: Culture, from EXPECTATIONS OF EXCELLENCE: CURRICULUM STANDARDS FOR SOCIAL STUDIES, developed by the National Council for Social Studies.

The learner can:

A.. compare similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures meet human needs and concerns;
B.. explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference;
C.. explain and give examples of how language, literature, the arts, architecture, other artifacts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behaviors contribute to the development and transmission of culture;
D.. explain why individuals and groups respond differently to their physical and social environments and/or changes to them on the basis of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs;
E.. articulate the implications of cultural diversity, as well as cohesion, within and across groups.

Students will be able to:

  • create an accurate representation of Inuit life on Baffin Island in one of several ways that use a specified "intelligence";
  • cooperate in small groups on learning tasks;
  • create a rubric for assessment and peer evaluation;
  • give and receive peer evaluation;
  • reflect on the learning experience for future improvement.
Time Required: This lesson may have to extend over several days for quality preparation to occur and all groups to present their work.

Group Formation: An important consideration in cooperative learning, as we have seen, is how groups are formed. For these lessons, students are grouped in a way that reflects multiple intelligences theory (see our workshop on MI for more information on this topic). Groups represent each of the eight "intelligences." Give students some choice about which intelligence group they choose to work in. Ideally, groups should have no more than three members. Throughout the term, all students will eventually participate in groups for each of the eight intelligences. They should keep a record of which intelligence they represent for each lesson topic.

Group 1: consists of three people who enjoy words and activities involving the capacity to use language effectively.

Group 2: consists of students who enjoy numbers and math activities.

Group 3: consists of students who enjoy art and design or graphic mapping of their ideas and concepts.

Group 4: consists of students who enjoy movement and activities that involve the use of one's body. Problems might be solved through use of hands, fingers, arms, and legs to make something or perform a dance production.

Group 5: consists of students who enjoy music (including listening to musical patterns, recognizing beats or rhythms, remembering chords, or manipulating notes).

Group 6: consists of students who enjoy people and social interactions.

Group 7: consists of students who enjoy thinking or time alone and self-awareness activities that might involve personal reflections about questions posed. A person's worldview and prior knowledge might be expressed here, as well as personal insights and critical questions.

Group 8: consists of students who enjoy nature and activities that involve one's natural environment and concerns similar to those of farmers, botanists, biologists, or geologists.


1.. Show a video clip on life in the Arctic.
2.. Invite students' input on how Inuit life is similar to and different from ours.

Teaching and Learning Tasks: Groups are devised to represent each of the eight intelligences. Ideally, groups have no more than three members. Topics (listed below) to research and present to the class are matched to that intelligence. Students should have some choice about which group and topic they represent.

Students would need to have some guidance ahead of these presentations so that they can do the research and preparation required to present quality work on each topic.

1.. Research and describe the legend of the Inukshuk.

2.. Write an Inuit song, using Arctic themes based on songs you have listened to and analyzed from Inuit culture. Either sing or have another person sing this song.

3.. Use numbers, statistics, and graphs to describe and represent Inuit populations and resources.

4.. Recreate some aspect of Inuit life and culture through art or photography. Or, create a poster story of Inuit art and artists to show how Arctic art describes Inuit life and culture.

5.. Research an Inuit who made a positive contribution in Canada's Arctic over the past two decades. Create and produce a mock radio or TV interview to introduce that person to the class.

6.. Write a one-week journal as an Inuit teenager. You should have at least seven entries, and these should describe life in an Inuit community.

7.. Describe the seasons of the Arctic, explaining and/or demonstrating why the Arctic is so cold, dangers of the Arctic seas, reasons for the long periods of dark and light, damages to the Arctic land, and summer and autumn colors from tundra blooms. You can do this through a poster display or through collages; but careful research should be evident in your work.

8.. Create a dance to represent Inuit people, life, and culture. Include both modern and traditional Inuit practices.

Assessment: Each group creates a rubric listing specific criteria by which they wish to be assessed and presents this as a guide to peer evaluation of the work .

Sample Rubric:

A project that receives an A would include:

  • a clear, well-focused question
  • eight ways of knowing and exploring the question
  • a solid rough draft and outline
  • evidence of peer editing
  • excellent teamwork and collaboration
  • excellent research included and cited
  • high accuracy of facts and graphics
  • creativity evident
  • coherent and thoughtful responses
A project that receives a B would include:
  • a question identified
  • at least six ways of knowing and exploring the question evident
  • an outline prepared
  • some input from others
  • some teamwork and collaboration evident
  • evidence of some additional sources used and acknowledged
  • most facts and graphics accurately represented
  • some creativity evident
A project that receives a C would include:
  • one main theme evident
  • at least four ways of knowing and exploring the question evident
  • some pre-preparation evident
  • a range of collaborative ideas evident
  • at least one outside source used and cited
  • some facts and graphics accurately represented
Closure: Groups present their topics to the class, demonstrating as much as possible the relevant intelligence. The other students evaluate according to the rubric.

Reflection: Students and teacher consider problems encountered and resolve to learn about improving lessons and work.

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Workshop: Cooperative and Collaborative Learning
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