Tribal Group Research

Overview and Objectives

Overview and Objectives

This Learning Center can be adapted to any classroom by choosing topics which relate to the chosen Native American tribe.

Time required

12 class periods (50-minute periods)

Learning Objectives

This learning center is designed to give students practice with the research process by working in small groups.

Students will give a group research presentation and work as a small group to create a gameboard and cards that cover state and/or national standards and objectives in the area of research and inquiry.

The idea of research can often cause reluctance among students who look upon it as endless mounds of boring information and time-consuming busy work. This learning center's objective is twofold:

1. Introduce the learner to a "group" method of research to entice him/her to feel more comfortable doing independent research in the future.

2. Broaden students' knowledge about their own tribe or cultural group.

Materials Needed

  • 3" x 5" index cards for each student
  • computers (or Internet research if computers are not available)
  • a file folder for each group
  • envelopes or library pockets (five to six for each group)
  • books on Native Americans
  • encyclopedias and other reference books
  • research guidelines
  • Guidelines for Creating Board Games (download and print by clicking HERE).
  • boards for creating game boards

Topics to be researched:

1. If you work with Choctaw Tribal Schools, possible topics may include any of the following.

    A. Ceremonies (e.g. weddings, funerals, spring festivals)

    B. Crafts (beadwork, basket making, clothing for ceremonies, etc.)

    C. Dances

    D. Food

    E. Traditional sports (stickball)

    F. History

    G. Storytelling

    H. Famous Choctaw (chiefs, authors, artists, actors, etc.) people

2. If you live in a different part of the country, you may choose similar topics as those listed above and add your own topics which relate to your area.

Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies


Divide students into groups of five to six students. Form as many groups as needed to cover the topics of research. Supply the materials listed in the Overview and Objectives section (Materials Needed stanza) of this Learning Center.


Group Research: The group decides on the categories for their research. Use five to six envelopes or library pockets per file folder to categorize the research.


Possible topics might include:   

  • Legends/tales
  • Traditional ceremonies
  • Traditional foods
  • Crafts
  • History of the tribe
  • Government of the tribe
  • Education
  • Traditional dress

Step 2

Form three groups with each group having five to six members. Encourage each student to choose one of the above topics. (This may have to be adjusted to fit the class size.) Each student will only research his/her topic following these guidelines:

A.    Write only one fact per card and write the bibliography entry on the back of the card. As each card is completed, slip the card into the pocket labeled with the chosen topic.

B.    Use at least six different sources on researching that topic (Internet sources, encyclopedia, books, magazines, etc.).

C.    Create a bibliography page on the chosen topic.

D.    Write a mini-report on the chosen topic by pulling out all the note cards of facts and placing them in a logical sequence.

E.    Have group members give suggestions for revisions to the mini-report.

F.     Have group members proofread and edit the paper.

G.    Once revisions and proofreading have been completed, the student may type his/her paper for presentation.

Students will usually need three to four class periods to complete Step 2.

Step 3

Once each group member has completed Step 2, the group should decide the sequence of presenting the group report to the class. (Decide the order of presentation of the topic.)

Step 4

Activities that may be used with the research project could include:

  1. Group presentation of report
  2. Group works together to create a Choctaw Tribal game board covering the research facts about the chosen tribal topic. The game board on the right was designed by Shauna Lewis; photo by Penny Hardy. To download and print guidelines for a game board, click HERE.
  3. Group creation of a poster that illustrates at least  seven different text features (photographs, illustrations, side bar, captions, titles, etc.).
  4. Accordion book of research information, photographs, illustrations, etc.
  5. Group scrapbook of research

Step 5

Any of the activities listed in Step 4 may be used as an assessment.







Books (specifically about Choctaw topics; teachers in other parts of the country will need to find books appropriate to their regions)

Baca Keith. Native American Place Names in Mississippi. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of

     Mississippi, 2007.


Ditchfield, Christin. The Choctaw. New York: Children’s Press, 2005.


Mould, Tom. Choctaw Tales. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.


Sonneborn, Liz. The Choctaws. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2006.


Swanton, John. Source Material for the Social & Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians.  A Reprint of

     Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 103. 1931.


Tingle, Tim. Crossing Bok Chitto. El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 2006.


Tingle, Tim. Walking the Choctaw Road. El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 2003.


Turnbaugh, William and Sarah  Peabody Turnbaugh. Basket Tales of the Grandmothers. Peace Dale, Rhode Island: Thornbrook Publishing, 1999.

Internet sources 

Assessments and Checking for Understanding

Assessments and Checking for Understanding

Assessment for group research game board

The rubric below is an example of using Humanities II objectives to assess the research done as it related to the objectives. Teachers can substitute their own standards/objectives for the playing cards or game board spaces.To download and print a copy of this rubric, click HERE.



Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Game




(card or space on game board

Points possible




























































































Playing pieces (represent tribal symbols or ideas)




Instructions (typed)







National and Mississippi Academic Standards

National and Mississippi Academic Standards

National Language Arts Standards

  • NL-Eng.K-12.1 Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of the cultures of the United States and the world to acquire new information.
  • NL-EnG.K-12.4 Students communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • NL-ENG.K—12.5 Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements
  • NL-ENG.K-12.7 Students conduct research by gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing data from a variety of sources.
  • NL-ENG. K-12.8 Students use a variety of technological and information resources.
  • NL-ENG.K-12.9  Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic  regions, and social roles.
  • NL-ENG.K-12.11 Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • NL-ENG.K-12.12 Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.


National Technology Standards

  • NT.K-12.1  Students are proficient in the use of technology.
  • NT.K-12.3 Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.
  • NT.K-12.5  Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.


National Geography Standards

  • #17 How to apply geography to interpret the past

Humanities II Objectives

  • 1 – Explain how geography, economics, and politics have influenced the development of selected societies
  • 1a – Examine the geographic factors that shaped the formation of contemporary cultures.
  • 1b – Apply economic concepts and reasoning to evaluate social and political developments and issues of selected contemporary societies.
  • 2 – Describe the impact of science and technology on the historical development of selected contemporary and future societies.
  • 2a Explain the effects of social, political, and religious movements in various contemporary societies.
  • 2c – Evaluate the role of the media in contemporary societies.
  • 3 – Describe the relationship of people, placaes, and environments of selected contemporary societies.
  • 3a – Evaluate the role of environment and location in the creation of music, art, drama, and literature in selected contemporary societies.
  • 3c – Identify significant people and their roles in the development of the fine arts associated with contemporary societies.
  • 4 – Demonstrate the ability to apply and interpret social studies tolls (e.g. timelines, maps, globes,etc.)
  • 4a-Use a variety of maps to locate places, regions, and topographical and demographic features of contemporary societies and their impact on culture.
  • 4c – Interpret special purpose maps.
  • 4d – Analyze information on graphs, charts, tables, and timelines.
  • 4e – Use primary and secondary sources
  • 5 – Explain how civic responsibilities have been important to citizens for the development of their contemporary societies.
  • 5a  Identify citizens or groups of citizens who have made significant changes in their contemporary societies.
  • 5b – Describe political movements relevant to selected political units.
  • 6 – Introduce, recognize, and trace the development of major forms of fine arts and literature in selected contemporary societies.
  • 6a – Identify the major art forms and artiest in a selected contemporary society. Give examples of exemplary works in each form or technique.
  • 6b – Assess how the various forms of art have been affected and influenced by contemporary geographic, economic, and religious events and movements.
  • 6c – Compare similarities/differences in art forms of selected civilizations/societies.