In collaboration with the University of California, San Diego's Center for Research on Educational Equity,
Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) and the Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association,
The Land Conversation hosts curriculum development workshops for public school teachers and tribal
educators. During these workshops teachers develop lessons for their own classrooms that focus on
community ecological restoration and cultural revitalization, while aligning instruction with state academic
content standards. Educators, please contact us if you would like to participate in or receive more information
about our curriculum and professional development workshops.
Here's an example of a curriculum outline, or "standards map," that resulted from our workshop process.
Sixth-grade Standards Map
Please Note: This example standards map shows how work with willows can be tied to sixth-grade academic
standards, but the method can be applied to other instructional activities and any grade level.
Desired understandings, or Big Ideas: Students will understand the basics of willow tree
propagation and its significance to the community. As they study willows and the trees’ streamside habitats,
they will compare the importance of rivers in Southern California cultures to the importance of rivers in other
cultures – particularly the ancient cultures studied in sixth grade history. Students might also compare many
other aspects of culture, such as myth, story, and the visual and performing arts.
Significant activities during the unit: Students will participate in researching traditional willow
management, propagation, and harvesting. They will help implement field trials of management techniques,
and they will measure, analyze, and present the results. They will create products from willow materials such as
granary baskets, cradles, shinny sticks, houses, and ramadas. They will also listen to, watch or perform songs,
stories, and dances related to willows, and compare their cultural products and activities to others. Instructors
can integrate Native language instruction with all activities.
Culminating task that will demonstrate that students have achieved associated
academic standards: Students will write, illustrate, and publish books or digital stories (in English and
Native languages) describing willows and their significance in the community. These books or videos might
explain how to propagate willows and use them in cultural products, or explore the significance of willows in
story and song.
Necessary skills that may need to be taught in order to complete the above task:
All steps of the writing process
Basic reading and research skills
Observational drawing skills
Use of visual design elements
Oral presentation skills
Native language skills
Lessons that will allow students to acquire and practice required skills:
Storytelling and story writing instruction; storyboarding, etc.
How to read and analyze informational text, and read and listen to stories and poems.
How to draft, edit, and revise in multiple genres: writing, oral performance, song, video, or illustration.
“Total Physical Response” native language lessons
Examples of California academic content standards that this unit can address (more
are possible, particularly in the areas of English-Language Arts and Math):
History standards: 6.1.1: Describe hunter-gatherer societies, including the use of fire. 6.2.1, 6.5.1, 6.6.1:
Locate and describe the major river systems of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Kush, India, and China. 6.2.9: Trace the
evolution of language. 6.6.4: Explain the significance of Greek myths.
Science standards: 6.2: Topography is reshaped by the transportation and deposition of sediment (students
will study rivers, beaches, and habitat changes). 6.5: Organisms exchange energy and nutrients. 6.6.c:
Students know the natural origins of common objects.
(Implied History and Science skills): Students will use topographic and geological maps, frame questions
and conduct investigations, analyze information, and detect points of view.
Mathematics standards: Solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems. Write and solve
one-step linear equations. Compute the range, mean, median, and mode of data sets. Analyze data displays.
English Language Arts Standards: Reading: 6.1.1: Read aloud fluently. 6.2.2: Analyze compare-and-contrast
patterns. 6.3.1: Identify forms of fiction. 6.3.4: Analyze poetry. Writing: 6.1.1: Choose the best-suited form of
writing. 6.2: Write narratives, expository compositions and research reports. Listening and Speaking: Analyze
and deliver oral presentations.
English Language Development Standards: Reading: Beginning: Recognize and correctly pronounce
phonemes. Intermediate: Apply knowledge of morphemes. Advanced: Apply knowledge of roots and affixes.
Writing: Beginning: Create simple sentences. Intermediate: Proceed through the writing process to create
simple paragraphs. Advanced: Investigate and research a topic; write a brief essay. Listening and Speaking:
Beginning: Restate and execute multiple-step instructions. Intermediate: Listen attentively to stories and clarify
important details. Advanced: Listen attentively to more complex stories and identify main points and supporting
Dance standards: 6.3.0 Analyze the function and development of dance in past and present cultures. 6.4.3:
Discuss the experience of performing personal work for others. 6.4.4: Distinguish the differences between
viewing live and recorded dance performances. 6.5.2: Describe the responsibilities a dancer has in
Music standards: 6.1.5: Analyze and compare the use of musical elements representing various genres and
cultures, emphasizing meter and rhythm. 6.2.1: Sing a repertoire of vocal literature representing various
genres, styles, and cultures. 6.3.1: Compare music from two or more cultures as to the functions the music
serves and the role of the musicians. 6.3.3: Describe distinguishing characteristics of representative musical
genres and styles from two or more cultures. 6.3.4: Listen to, describe, and perform music of various styles
from a variety of cultures. 6.5.1: Describe how knowledge of music connects to learning in other areas.
Theater standards: 6.2.2: Use effective vocal expression, gesture, facial expression, and timing to create
character. 6.3.1: Create scripts that reflect historical periods or cultures.
Visual Art standards: 6.1.1: Identify and describe all the elements of art found in selected works. 6.1.4:
Describe how balance is effectively used in a work of art. 6.2.1: Use various observational skills to depict a
variety of subject matter. 6.2.6: Use technology to create original works of art. 6.3.1: View selected works of art
from a culture and describe how they have changed or not changed in theme and content over time. 6.3.3:
Compare representative images or designs from two cultures. 6.4.2: Identify and describe ways in which
students’ culture is reflected in current works of art. 6.4.4: Change, edit or revise a work of art after a critique.
6.5.2: Research how traditional characters found in a variety of cultures are represented in literature. 6.5.3:
Create artwork containing visual metaphors that express the traditions and myths of selected cultures.