November has been celebrated as Native American Heritage Month since 1990, although different states have been celebrating the contributions of the first Americans since 1916.
Native students, a significantly rural population, historically have been under-served by schools, and the American Federation of Teachers recommends using this month to teach all students about Native American history. The AFT has a resource for educators with related activities.
Federal agencies have created a comprehensive Web site on Native American Heritage Month month, and it has a section specifically for teachers. One final place for classroom ideas is Indian Country Today Media Network, which includes stories, photos and information.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education released the National Indian Education Study that showed American Indian and Alaska Native students were lagging their non-Native American peers in reading and math.
The National Indian Education Association said that’s because few Native students get the kind of cultural programming that research suggests can help them.
The association is looking at more options for its students, such as charter schools, and they published a 91-page report that looked at three public charter schools serving Native American communities.
“Studying successful charters serving Native students is key to gaining the knowledge to helping our students achieve academic, economic, and cultural success,” according to the association.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.