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How to Teach This Book
- After reading Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code, work as a class to create an “I Am” poem. Challenge students to share their ideas about how they think Chester would complete each part of this structured poem that typically begins I am, I wonder, I feel, I hear, etc. Then challenge students to create their own anonymous “I Am” poems that describe their special, unique qualities and express the way they feel, what they hope, think, dream, etc. Share poems by reading them aloud to the class, highlighting how each student’s unique identity makes the community richer and more diverse.
Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing
- How is your school similar or different from the boarding school that Chester and other American Indians attended?
- How would it feel to have your name changed, your hair cut, and your own clothes taken away?
- How would it feel to be forced to speak a language that wasn’t yours?
- What do you think life was like for families with children at the boarding school?
- Why do you think the boarding schools wanted to eliminate American Indian languages and cultures?
- Why is it important to understand and value other cultures?
Additional Resources for Teaching About the Native American Experience
- Albert Whitman & Company’s Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code Teacher’s Guide
- Native Knowledge 360° from the National Museum of the American Indian
- Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools from KUED
- I am Poem project from inspirED
- Navajo Code Talkers – Living History Videos
- Native Words, Native Warriors from the National Museum of the American Indian
- Reading Is Fundamental support materials
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