Lesson Plan: Native Americans — Stereotypes and Reality


This lesson plan was compiled by participants of the Teacher Training Seminar Media and Teaching English as a Foreign Language at the Center for United States Studies in Wittenberg.

Grade:  This lesson plan is suitable for grades 8 – 11;
Rationale:  To develop an understanding of the life and the culture of contemporary Native Americans and to correct stereotypes about Native Americans;
Time: 3 lessons á 45 min.
Materials:  cartoon or picture and/or story and/or video tape, fact sheet
Fact Sheet: The Navajos (PDF)
An Interesting Story from a Navajo (PDF)

Lesson 1

1         Cartoon or story as introduction
1.1      Cartoon


warming up/getting students to talk

Assignment: Look at the cartoon/picture, what comes to your mind? Describe the picture

The picture should be a rather stereotypical image of a Native American, e.g. on a horse, with a headdress, in front of a tippi, etc.

Assignment: Find a suitable caption for the cartoon/picture.

1.3.      Talking about traditions/revision

Assignment: What do you know/remember about the traditional way of life of the Native Americans?

Expected answers/notes on board (left column):
  • lived together in tribes
  • lived on tribal land
  • moved around from place to place
  • older ones taught younger ones
  • lived on hunting, gathering, fishing
  • battles and wars with other tribes
  • clichés: piece pipe, medicine man, war dance
  • strong beliefs in their gods
  • close relationship to nature


2.         Story “An Interesting Story from a Navajo”
2.1.      Listening only
2.2.      Reading

Assignment: What is the story about? Who is confronting who in the story? What ist the underlying message of the story?

Expected answers:

A number of issues can be raised here, e.g.:

  • Navajos as inhabitants of a region that looks like the surface of the moon (deserted, unfertile, etc.);
  • NASA (technology) and Native American (nature) confront each other—two worlds meet;
  • humor used to describe the colonialization of Native Americans by Europeans/Euro-Americans;

Assignment: underline the key sentence and give reasons for your choice

Expected answer: last sentence (see text)

Assignment/speculation (note on board/right column): What do you think life is like today?

Expected answers:

  • reservations
  • families, poverty
  • ordinary jobs/badly paid
  • school
  • relationship to their traditions
  • problems with alcohol and drugs
Choose topics for research/suggestions:
a) education
b) tradition
c) economy
d) environment

Homework/assignment: Collect all information about the following topics. Use the local library, reference books, media, or the internet.

Lesson 2

1.         Brainstorming

Assignment: What do you know about the Navajos (or some other tribe)?
If brainstorming does not provide enough information use the worksheet for reading.

2 .        Video on Native Americans1 (“Navajos”)
2.1.      Watch a video on Native Americans (about 30 min)

Assignment: Contemporary life (see worksheet): Add as much information from the video presentation as possible and put results on board.

Lesson 3

1.        Organizing group work

Assignment: Use your own material and the material you get from the teacher and search for information to the fixed topics:

a) education
b) tradition
c) economy
d) environment

2.        Group work

3.        Presentation of results

After your research, present the results to the class (poster, transparency, flip chart)


1 English teachers in Germany may rent videos in English from the Video Library – Amerikazentrum Hamburg e.V., Am Sandtorkai 5, 20457 Hamburg, Telefax: (0 40) 43 21 87 80, www.amerikazentrum.de. The Amerikazentrum has a wide range of videos on different topics of American history, culture and traditions.
This lesson plan first appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of the ASJ (no. 46).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email