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Ideas for Classroom Use

Native Measles Epidemic Letters

Classroom Discussion

Use the letters to start a discussion with students about epidemics. Ask them why an epidemic would be an issue for the people of the Mackenzie District and other indigenous populations.

Common Core Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 9 – Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject

Speaking and Listening, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Engage in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Standard 2 – Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the evidence.

Standard 3 – Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g. how a bill becomes a law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

Writing for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Research Project

Conduct a short or involved research project into what life in Alaska in the early 1900s would have been like. Use as many primary sources as possible, such as letters, journal entries, and photographs. Consider how maritime culture contributed to the development of Alaska as a state.

Common Core Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Writing, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 - Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. 

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 3-5

Standard 4 – Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount and experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Writing, Grades 6-12

Standard 7 – Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

Standard 9 – Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Creative Writing Assignment

Use the letters as a basis for a writing assignment.  Write as if you were an Inuit in the Arctic in the early 1900s and a measles epidemic broke out in your area. What would your life be like? Remember they were not familiar with Measles and they did not have hospitals. How do you feel about the newcomers (explorers) coming into your villages? (3-4 paragraphs) 

Common Core State Standards Connections

Writing, Grades 3-5

Standard 3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Standard 4 – Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount and experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Writing, Grades 6-12

Standard 3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well structured event sequences.

Worksheet Activity: Document Analysis

As you read this letter, fill out the Document Analysis worksheet located in the sidebar.  As you read further into the letter, do you find your answers change?  Allow students to analyze the letter as though they are detectives, taking one page at a time to figure out more and more information about the author.

Common Core State Standards Connections

Reading for Informational Text, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Standard 2 – Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 3-5

Standard 1 – Engage in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Standard 2 – Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Speaking and Listening, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Standard 4 – Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

Reading for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-12

Standard 1 – Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the evidence.

Standard 2 – Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.