16 Books for National Native American Heritage Month

By Kasey Short

November is National Native American Heritage Month, and as the month approaches I am considering how literature has the power to broaden my students’ understanding and appreciation of Native cultures and traditions. Whether your students delve into fiction written by Indigenous authors or discover nonfictional accounts of Native history and figures, all students’ learning can be enriched by exposure to Native American cultures. The books below represent a range of Indigenous experiences and include short story anthologies, poetry, novels, picture books, and nonfiction. As an 8th grade teacher, I am always looking for middle grade and young adult books to recommend to my students, but I have included books across the K-12 range. My 8th grade students enjoy having picture books read aloud to them and those I have listed below are not only suitable for elementary classrooms but also offer opportunities for deeper conversations with older students. I also include at the article’s end some free online resources that provide further insight, information, and suggestions for effectively engaging students with National Native American Heritage Month.

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Three Poetry Final Projects for National Poetry Month

By Sharon Kunde

Marianne Moore argued that good poetry fashions “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”: worlds created of words in which toadlike reality crouches and springs on us, eliciting clenched hands, dilated eyes, “hair that can rise/if it must” (24, 5-6). Like good poetry, good pedagogy invites students into the world of ideas and allows them to create useful, authentic experiences and artifacts with those ideas.

While poems are easy to integrate into units on longer prose works, I strongly recommend devoting an entire unit (or more!) to poetry. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some suggestions for final projects around which you can build an engaging poetry unit.

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The Power of Teaching Contemporary Poetry

By Melissa Smith

Imagine my student’s surprise when Elizabeth Acevedo complimented her analysis of her poem , or when Nate Marshall tweeted that a student’s blog on his poem was “dope” and “fresh.” Students feel recognized and validated, and these interactions are one of the most rewarding benefits to teaching living poets.

The #TeachLivingPoets movement started as a simple hashtag—a way for me to share my favorite poems and ways to teach them on social media. In 2017, after Skyping with poet R. A. Villanueva, whose poems we had read in class, my students begged me to set up another call; they wanted more. We ended up Skyping with him three times and the reaction I saw in my students was pure teaching gold. They were enthralled. They wrote guitar songs set to his poems. They wrote poems responding to his poems. They were excited—about poetry! The following year, social media interaction and Skype video calls quickly morphed into poetry readings and classroom visits.

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