On March 4, 2017, Edmonds School District elementary teacher Mary Cingcade presented at the Washington State Council for the Social Studies (WSCSS) annual conference in Lake Chelan, Washington. Her session, titled “A Sea of Change for Inuit People and the Canadian Arctic,” introduced elementary teachers, museum educators and curriculum specialists to an upper elementary unit intended to develop students’ appreciation and understanding of how early Inuit–indigenous people of the Arctic–skillfully used resources from the Arctic tundra and ocean to meet their needs for clothing, shelter, transportation, and food.
In this 3rd-4th grade unit modeled on the OSPI Classroom Based Assessment Humans and the Environment, students use data sets and their own research to teach one another about aspects of early Inuit life. Integrating social studies and literacy, the second part of the unit brings students up to the present as they grapple with current issues like the effects of global warming on the Arctic, and Inuit people’s global fight for cultural survival as a human right. As students immerse themselves in a study of the Canadian Arctic using resources from the UW Canadian Studies Center, SAM online ArtStor, and a collection of books on Inuit people from Seattle’s Central Library, they come to care about global warming through the eyes of some of the people most closely affected by it. The unit pairs nicely with later study of Pacific Northwest Coast early peoples.