Correcting the Textbook!

This week in Social Studies we’ve been learning about government policies in the second half of the 19th century that deprived Native Americans of their land and culture. Students first read a commonly used textbook – Washington: A State of Contrasts – that says this about why it happened:

“By the start of the 20th century, tribes around the country were forced onto reservations. They were taught the white man’s way of life. The Native Americans lost control of their land. Their way of life was lost due to the expansion of a country.”

In thinking about this line, students commented that the fault (according to this account) seems to lie in either the Native Americans themselves (who “lost control” of their land) or to some amorphous “country” that simply absorbed land in its path. To learn more about what actually took place, they then learned about 2 critically important congressional acts: the Donation Land Act (1850) and the Dawes Act (1887). The policies contained in these acts led to the reservation system, boarding schools and the transfer of any un-used land in the west to white settlers.

Students looked at ten commonly held myths about Native Americans and learned the facts that disprove each myth. We watched a documentary clip (PBS: Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools) and listened to a podcast from the NPR series Scene on Radio (Little War on the Prairie). Finally, we read primary accounts and examined photos from boarding schools in the Library of Congress collection.

Students next week will be using all of these sources to write their own chapter summaries to correct the record! The assignment:Setting the Textbook Straight on Indian Policy

What surprised them the most about what they’ve learned?

  • That it didn’t surprise me at all!
  • That people in charge admitted that education in mission schools was not a priority.
  • That someone took the time to condemn Indian schools in a government report.
  • That of the people who called themselves “educators” in mission schools, only 1/10 said the primary mission of the schools was academic.

Be sure to ask questions of the historian/activist in your house!

What’s Happening in LA Class!

In Language Arts class, 7th graders have been busy reading Pacific Northwest Native Myths and Legends and reflecting on the different cultures’ creation myths, important deities and animals, and the location of ancestral lands.  We will be connecting this knowledge of the past with the present by investigating the stories of contemporary Native American youth and families and writing our own creation myths related to local indigenous plants, animals, and natural landmasses of the Pacific Northwest.

Students have also been given their next Choice Book Assignment which will be in the format of a newspaper. While some class time will be given for reading and working on this task, students should also be prepared to work at home, too!  Students are required to provide information regarding and bring their selected books to class on Monday, April 2nd (the same day as the next vocabulary quiz).  

It has been lots of fun helping students select new books because I love reading and talking about books!  If anyone needs suggestions, just let me know.

Special Guest from the Seattle Times

Last week the 7th grade had the opportunity to host Seattle Times environmental reporter Lynda Mapes.  Students have read some of her articles on dam removal at the Elwha, in advance of our trip to NatureBridge.Her series can be found here.

Lynda shared her experiences over the years meeting with tribal elders, the two sole employees at the dam, scientists and various community members who managed to come to consensus.  Their decision to remove two dams in the interest of preserving salmon (and all the species they impact) and restoring the Elwha-Klallam tribe’s access to sacred sites was unprecedented.

Scientists have been monitoring dramatic changes as the Elwha River – having found its natural path – heals the environment and communities. There was truly no manual for destroying a dam, as it’s never been done like this. There is likewise no record of how an ecosystem recovers from the trauma of dam construction in an era with no rules to protect species. (The dams were built in 1911.)

Lynda Mapes was under deadline when she came to SGS. Her front page story in this past Sunday’s issue of the Seattle Times is here. She was about to leave to cover news of the proposed Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain oil-pipeline, planning an expansion from Alberta to Burnaby. The article is about the thousands who marched last Saturday to prevent this expansion.

Students did a beautiful job of appreciating her in person for coming. Here’s what a few recall:

“She knows a lot and was very informative.” Hannah S.

“I discovered another path of career which is environmental journalism. This would mean being able to go into the wild to see it with my own eyes and document it so everyone knows about it.” Mathilde

“It was inspiring and made me really excited to go to NatureBridge.” Eden

“She knew a lot about the topic and I really like the quality of the pictures.” Helen

“Lynda Mapes was really informative and it was really easy to pay attention to.” Landa

We are all very excited about our upcoming trip to NatureBridge, March 26 – 28, bordering on Olympic National Park. We will see in person the sights and history Lynda spoke of, and will physically take part in bringing the ecosystem back to life.

What’s Happening in 7th Grade Science and Tech

In Science class, 7th graders have been busy creating profiles of their chosen energy source.  On March 8, we will have our Energy Source Speed Dating event where students explain their source of energy, including diagrams of energy conversion, fun facts, and pros and cons.  Their profile posters will have the following information:

  • Where does your Energy Source come from?
  • What is it made of/from?
  • How is the source gathered and refined for human use?
  • How is your Energy Source used? In power plants, cars, fireplaces, etc?
  • How is your Energy Source turned into power for humans to use?
  • What waste products are produced after using your energy source? If so, what are they and how harmful are they?
  • How expensive is the Energy Source?
  • Are there any harmful environmental impacts of your Energy Source? If so, what are they and how harmful are they?

In Tech class, we are starting to design our own web pages!  Students will be designing their pages to display their Pay It Forward content.  Here are the guidelines for the design:

Your final Pay It Forward website should have a minimum of the seven distinct pages detailed below.  Think of each of these pages as sections of a report.

  • Main page that summarizes your PIF issue
  • Background Information – Root causes, Impacts, and Solutions
  • Interview (transcript, notes, and/or main takeaways)
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Poem
  • Action (lesson plan, essay with survey, or public service announcement)
  • Bibliography (using proper MLA formatting and hyperlinks)

The following elements should be on each of your web pages:

  • Title and your name (first names only!) that is styled to look the same across all pages
  • Navigation bar hyperlinked to all pages
  • At least one cited image on each page (other than Bibliography).  Note:  your images should be your own or be licensed for Creative Commons use
  • At least one hyperlink that is not part of the Navigation bar
  • At least one ordered list and one unordered list on your website (not on all pages)

Your CSS style page should have the following elements:

  • Consistent layout across your pages
  • Various font sizes across the headings and paragraphs
  • Borders (text and/or images)
  • Rules for one styling class

Pulse Check on the 7th Grade

7th Grade Pulse Check, Feb. 8. 2018

Yesterday in class, students reflected on four questions, and the following are themes from their anonymous responses:

What is stressing them out lately:

  • Finding friends who understand them
  • Peer pressure to be a certain way
  • Staying on top of homework
  • Doing well on quizzes and tests
  • Family dynamics
  • What comes next: doing well in high school and beyond!
  • Having a really busy schedule and wanting to do well at it all

What has brought them joy lately:

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Pursuing interests (dancing, knitting, horseback riding, reading, playing games, watching Youtube and Netflix, snow, dogs)
  • Good meals and snacks
  • Having unstructured time
  • Being able to be goofy
  • Their parents’ humor
  • Getting sleep
  • Being engaged in school

What are recent challenges:

  • Dealing with interpersonal issues involving peers
  • Understanding math concepts
  • Completing particular assignments
  • Focusing in class
  • Keeping track of binder/planner/backpack/laptop
  • Meeting parents’ high expectations
  • Friend drama
  • Finding what they are passionate about

What they’d love adults in their lives to know:

  • Homework can be stressful
  • Parents’ stress can make them feel more stressed
  • They appreciate that you do know all there is to know – sometimes even more than they know!
  • When to back off, when to step in
  • They need to learn from their own mistakes
  • They are grateful for all the support you give them

As one student aptly summed up: I’m responsible, but I am also just a kid. Kids can change the world, though.” 

And another: “I wish they could know that I’m not always having the best day, and I stress out way to much over even little things.”

Advice?  Keep doing what you’re doing. Embrace their many sides at this age, ask questions, be present, let them know you love them with all of their gifts – and their areas for growth – and find your own joy. It is infectious.