Our class reads from Scholastic magazines such as Scope, Junior Scholastic, and Choices. The articles are relevant to current events and that alone is motivating. They learn how the world is and how it could be; they think and discuss about the issues with their ideas mixed in. Sometimes it’s hard to grow and change your mind.
When its about you, though, something happens. The questions are deeper, their responses are emotional and packed with their opinions. The November issue of Scope includes an article, Would We Be Killed? It’s paired text spread that discusses the attempt to wipe the Native from Native Americans; it’s about living in two worlds, because the people would not let it happen. Since most of my students are Native American, most of them know this history and are personally touched by its devastation, and their hope.
My units start with a focus statement, in this case:
Thousands of Native American children were taken from their families and sent to boarding schools to “Learn the ways of the white man.” Today, Native Americans live in two worlds, the world of their tribe and the world of mainstream America.
Students create lists of questions — brainstorm. One group’s questions:
- O Why did this happen?
- C When did it happen?
- O Why did they separate families?
- C Is this still happening today?
- O Why didn’t they fight against the white men? *
- C Do all schools teach culture?
- O Why were they sent to boarding schools? *
- C Did they abuse the Native Americans? *
They star the three top questions. Next we turn the headings and subheadings into questions.
Finally, before we investigate, research, and respond, student choose an audience for their response, and ways to share their information.They can choose any tool and product that fits their audience. They are ready to do family interviews and interviews of themselves. They are excited to share their worlds; this is their life.
I’m excited to see what they share; I know I’ll learn as much as they will. When it’s about you, you’ve a lot to say.