Utilizing Interactive Learning Tools to Teach our Past Today at 2012 NIEA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Utilizing Interactive Learning Tools to Teach our Past Today at 2012 NIEA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Georgiana Lee, a member of the Diné (Navajo) tribe in Arizona, has been the organization’s Assistant Director since 2009.

Date Posted: 
2012-10-25 00:00

Blog Series:


The 2012 National Indian Education Association (NIEA) 43rd Annual Convention and Trade Show officially kicked off in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. The theme for this year's convention was "Maintaining Traditions in a Digital Era.” It was a conference filled with exciting dialogue, inspiration, and sharing of innovative ideas for use in the classroom.

This year's trade show was full of bedazzling jewelry, inspiring recruiters, innovative organizations, and more. Here are several vendors worth noting:

Cherokee Nation Education Services displayed their mobile language app on several iPads. The app allows users to hear the spoken language then record their voice to compare the two for accuracy. It also features games and categories such as Money, Animals, Numbers, etc. (langagugetech.cherokee.org).

With the 69th Annual Convention and Marketplace around the corner, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was still able to make it to NIEA and make an effort to raise awareness about the importance of civic engagement and increase Native voter participation. Native Vote is organized by NCAI (nativevote.org).

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is clearly committed to education. At the San Manuel Learning Resource Center’s table, you would find games, curricula, Girl Scout badges, and more. The goal of the San Manuel Learning Resource Center is to provide San Manuel Tribal members with the necessary tools and skills needed to successfully navigate their educational career endeavors (sanmanuel-nsn.gov/education.php.html).

The Native Learning Center (NLC) offers free courses and training to Native Americans and Indigenous people with an emphasis on the educational needs of tribal members and their communities. NLC featured their online service for learning, Kerretv Online. It allows individuals to actively engage with educational materials based on five focus areas: Celebrating Culture & Language, Financial Wellness, Grants Education, Housing Strategies, and Tribal Government. Kerretv Online is now live, and you can now create your free online profile (kerretvonline.com).

Broken Arrow Public Schools presented “Empowering Native Students in a Digital Age” and brought new ideas and inspiration to a room full of teachers. Utilizing technology, organization skills, leadership skills, and culture in the classroom is highly encouraged at Broken Arrow.

Bill Ferguson encouraged teachers to utilize readily available technologies in the classroom. Bill sends an engaging, informative weekly e-blast to parents that inform them on school and classroom activities. This opens doors for parents to voice their opinion on how teachers and schools can continue to improve their children’s education. Ferguson also shared success stories by sharing profiles of his students’ success, measured through academic performance and life achievements. It is teachers like Ferguson that serve as role roles for many Native students today.

Sherry Bogart makes an effort to build a relationship with her students inquiring on how much sleep they were able to get and encouraging them to confide in her. Bogart encourages her students to utilize technologies in the classroom to spring them into action and inspire them to complete their work. Utilizing technologies like the iPad and cameras can make learning about languages, genealogy, and literacy engaging.

The UNL College of Journalism and Nebraska Department of Education continue to develop teacher resources for integrating the Native Daughters magazine into curriculum to increase high-quality cultural experiences for all American-Indian students. “The ongoing story of Native Daughters” was presented by Carol Rempp with the Nebraska Department of Education, Kristine Earth with Winnebago Public Schools, and Kim Soper with University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) - Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA). You can visit the Native Daughters website http://cojmc.unl.edu/nativedaughters to read the collection of stories, profiles, multimedia projects, and a link to the free downloadable curriculum.

Steven Haas with the Gifted Development Center presented “Respecting Traditional Learning Styles in a Digital World: How it Works.” This workshop presented dramatic new evidence to show how respect for the traditional visual-spatial learning style of Native American children can springboard those children into success in the digital 21st century. Haas made an excellent point in that we are “preparing students for fields that aren’t invented yet.”

The traditional visual-spatial learning style shatters the old deficit-model programming in favor of strength-based programming driven by appropriate digital technologies. Teachers are able to provide a way of learning that stops widening the learning gap with traditional learning models. It opens opportunity for teachers to teach more innovatively than the way they were taught. “It’s not about technology, it’s using technology in context in the classroom."

At the end of an inspiring conference, I am left with reassurance and confidence that we can maintain traditions in this digital era.

At Vision Maker Media, we support and assist Native documentary films for national broadcast on public television. From streaming video to mobile application development to video production, we also develop educational curriculum and digital learning objects for teachers to use as tools in the classroom for each film we support. You can find these resources at nativetelecom.org/education.

Vision Maker Media shares Native stories with the world. We advance media that represents the experiences, values, and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives. That's our mission as an organization. We strive to engage and inspire students and continue to advocate for excellence in and outside of the classroom.

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