Teaching Joy Harjo: Full unit for An American Sunrise

As we continue to navigate teaching this year, we find hyperdocs to be one of the most useful and effective resources for teachers and students alike. Illinois educator Kristin Runyon has created a FULL unit hyperdoc for U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise (W. W. Norton & Co, 2019).

Click HERE to access the hyperdoc.

Learn more about Kristin’s creation of this incredible unit:

Teaching Joy Harjo’s Collection An American Sunrise

From the Eastern Illinois University History Department: “We recognize and honor the land upon which we gather to share stories as part of the traditional territory of Native American peoples: the Peewaareews (Peoria), Kaahkaahkia (Kaskaskia), Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw), Waayaahtanwa (Wea), Myaamiaki (Miami), Mascoutin, Odawa (Ottawa), Sauk (Othâkîwa), Meshkwahkihaki (Mesquaki), Kiwikapawa (Kickapoo), Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi), Anishinaabe (Ojibwa), Mamaceqtaw (Menomonee), and Hoocąk-waaziija-hači (Winnebago) peoples.  Telling the stories of first peoples is an obligation the present owes to both the past and the future. We further wish to acknowledge the land’s sustained historical stewardship by indigenous peoples across North America and their ongoing struggles against injustice and oppression.”

In January 2020, I was asked to be part of the committee to apply for an NEA Big Read grant for Eastern Illinois University, our local university in Charleston, Illinois. I represented high school teachers; our first decision was to vote for a text from the list provided by NEA. Honestly, I voted for Station Eleven in two rounds of voting thinking it would be more immediately interesting to high school students. Once An American Sunrise was the final choice, I offered to present to teachers as part of the grant, which provided books for each teacher.

As I have read this text multiple times since the voting, I now know that once students dive into the collection, they will find so much to work with and appreciate.

My initial presentation was a combination of why we #TeachLivingPoets, a brief introduction to Joy Harjo and some other poems by her, and a break down of the poems in the collection by motif. It was a packed (but social distant while wearing masks) 2 ½ hours, and I am thankful to those teachers for their participation. But that presentation was more for teachers to decide how to incorporate Harjo’s work, especially individual poems from the collection, rather than teaching the collection as a whole.

I have spent the weeks since creating a Google document that is a blend of a hyperdoc and notes for teachers to teach this collection as a whole. This has been a learning curve for me because my school district does not use Google Classroom, and this is my very first attempt at a hyperdoc.

The unit reflects my teaching interests, which are connecting history to the texts. I have chosen 12 poems to teach in the unit, with a couple suggestions for selecting from similar poems.

Kristin Runyon is now sharing her passion for literature and poetry in the Charleston High School Library as the librarian for her remaining few years before retirement.

See more hyperdocs like this one by visiting our Hyperdocs page!

2 thoughts on “Teaching Joy Harjo: Full unit for An American Sunrise

  1. Pingback: Teaching Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez | #TeachLivingPoets

  2. Pingback: Indigenous People Literature - Much Ado About Teaching

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