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This week students are spending the first half of class attending a sexual education program put on by Epic. During the second half of class students read A Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe and will be reading two biographies on Carlos Santa and Bob Marley. Our purpose in reading these stories is to learn about first and third person point of view.
We are beginning our studies of American history by going back to the basics. Rocks, soil, water, and all those forces (kinetic and potential) that have shaped our land and early history. Students created a map of Pangea and we then read and watched video clips about homo sapiens sapiens (modern man) migration to the Americas during the Pleistocene. This week we shift our focus to more modern migrations to the Americas and will be reading a little bit about Columbus.
Students will be traveling to the Natural Resource Center (NRC) this week to explore, discover, and write. Our first trip will focus on creating a field journal. When Lewis and Clark headed across the country for the Pacific Ocean their journals were not only filled with text but also images of various plants and animals. We will be taking two trips a month minimum to explore our local watershed and investigate its impact on our history. On these trips it is important that students record their observations which is why we are creating field journals.
Our second trip will focus on poetry. We will read Ode to Fish by Ellen Bass, The Oak and the Rose by Shel Silverstein, and The Wind by Dee Mcdonald. Students will then have the opportunity to go off and create their own poems inspired by the plants, trees, and animals which they find at the NRC. The goal for this activity is to begin recognizing another way to experience and explain or part in the world.
Our first week back we made Album Covers for our life's soundtrack and turned in a getting to know you survey. In addition to communicating through writing, it is important that students are able to critically evaluate images and other media. The albums require students to select songs, symbols, and images that represent who they are, where they are from, and where they are going. The albums are now hanging in the room and will be displayed for the coming school year.
On Friday students read the short story Ghetto Girl by Lasandra Lamboy. After reading the story they are to write a short response to the following two prompts.
Part 1: The author, Lasandra Lamboy, asks why? Why do you think talented youth with so much potential throw it away? Do they think they have no alternative? How much of your life is chosen by you? And how much is forced on you by circumstance.
Part 2: Where do you see yourself in the future? And how do you plan to be the better person that gets you there?
Also attached is a final copy of the syllabus for this course.
What does it mean to be an American?
How much influence do we have over our lives and the world?
How does nature influence who we are as a people or who we might become?
How do we tell stories and why does it matter?
These are some of the questions that we will grapple with this year in American Studies. I am very excited to teach this course because of the tremendous amounts of opportunity we have to explore our world. This class is a combined Social Studies and Language Arts class composed of seventh and eighth graders. Throughout the year we will use Social Studies as a context for reading, writing, and expanding our Language Arts skills. This class will begin with the formation of North America, its early settlement by Asiatic peoples followed by its colonization by Europeans. Then we will learn about the American colonies their revolutions, governments, and will continue to study American history up through Reconstruction and the retrenchment of white supremacy. With these historical events as a backdrop, we will read, analyze, and create literature, poems, plays, short stories, films, and much more. This class will support you as you build academic skills such as critical thinking, reading, research, writing, and public speaking.