Module 4: How to Make a Drum

This site provides a lesson plan for teaching students how to make a traditional Alutiiq drum.  The really neat thing about this lesson plan is that it draws in many aspects of drum-making from an indigenous perspective.  For example, the student must learn about the various trees and animals that inhabit the area where these drums are traditionally made and used.  This is necessary if they are to select the best wood and skins for their instrument.  Students must also learn and utilize knowledge from western disciplines to construct their drum.  They must, for example, have some mathematical skill in order to make accurate measurements for the drum’s frame; they must also understand the science behind what makes drum skins shrink and stretch.

The lesson plan encapsulates place-based learning and constructivism very well.  It illustrates an holistic approach to learning, characteristic of Indigenous learning,  where students must pull information from diverse disciplines.  They must also test their knowledge by actually constructing a usable object.  The project develops metacognition and critical thinking skills because students can write about their experience constructing the drum, and can explore questions such as, “how did Indigenous peoples construct drums without the use of metal tools?”


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