Weekly David Cluster Newsletter Blurb:
For the past two weeks, students have been invested in studying the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We have read folktales, studied maps, houses of worship, proverbs, festivals, and the histories of all three religions. After each day we have stopped to ask ourselves: What do followers of Judaism/Christianity/Islam value and believe in? Students can clearly see how connected the three religions are, and can also note the differences.
Next week we will complete our Middle East unit. We will be looking at some of the conflicts in the region, including Syria and Israel/Palestine. These can be tough subjects, so if you have questions or if any of social studies class spills over into home conversations and you’d like some clarification, please don’t hesitate to email.
Our Essential Questions
How does where you live affect how you live?
How can we understand multiple values and beliefs?
How are people and places shaped by their history?
How do activists promote change?
In what ways are we Global Citizens?
What is Civility?
Civility is claiming and caring for one's identity, needs, and beliefs, without degrading someone eles's in the process
-Institute for Civility in Government
Resources for parents of 6th grade social studies students:
The following is a compilation of resources that you might find interesting as a way to connect with your sixth grader around the curriculum they are studying. They also lend themselves to great discussions at the dinner table!
BOOKS FOR ADULTS: (topics of interest and study; books are only appropriate for adults)
Note: We have viewed most but not all of these. All come highly recommended from credible sources.
BOOKS FOR KIDS: (we will read some of these in class)
TED TALKS AND THE LIKE:
8th grade information for parents:
EIGHTH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES
I. In social studies this year we will be answering two essential questions:
II. Goals of 8th grade social studies:
III. Curriculum outline:
Unit One: Foundations of Justice
In this unit we explore the important roles governments play in establishing justice. We discuss the idea of "unalienable rights" through a close examination of the Declaration of Independence. Then, we study the layout of our national government. Finally, we learn about the Bill of Rights, paying close attention to the First Amendment. In this unit, we will debate a number of Supreme Court cases involving the rights of adolescents.
Unit Two: Fighting for Justice
In this unit we explore the ways activists have worked to create just communities. We begin by the unit by learning about the struggle for women's rights. We study the events at Seneca Falls, look at the struggle for suffrage, and explore the second wave of feminism. Then we will shift gears and examine how young and old activists fought against racial discrimination, including an exploration of the philosophy and practice of nonviolence. We’ll end the unit by looking at the struggle for equal education, including an in-depth comparison of the integration in Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957 and Boston Public Schools in 1974. In this unit, we’ll be reading the novel The Rock and The River about a young man in Chicago, who must choose between using nonviolence and following a more extreme path towards justice. We’ll end the unit by analyzing how people memorialize the fight for justice. This activity will help us prepare for our trip to D.C.
Unit Three: Justice Denied
In this unit we explore the role of ordinary people in fighting injustice and creating just communities. We examine what happens when governments and citizens fail to protect the rights of people. Our primary focus is the Holocaust, the systematic murder of six million Jews by the Nazi government and its collaborators. Our goal is to wrestle with the complex moral question surrounding this tragedy. We study the origins of anti-Semitism and the rise of Hitler. Together, we will try to understand why many Germans supported the Nazi party. Through reading a work of historical fiction called The Boy Who Dared, we will also examine the ways in which some men and women resisted the Nazi powers. Finally, we will ask who bears responsibility for the Holocaust.
IV. Assignments and assessment:
I believe grades serve two important purposes in school. First, they offer students feedback about their progress and achievement. Second, they can motivate students to work harder and learn more. Each quarter students’ grades will be computed using a total points system. I want students to master all of the skills and concepts we are learning together. Therefore, students may revise all projects in social studies class until they demonstrate that they have mastered these skills and concepts. I will only record the highest grade in my gradebook.
The most significant part of grades will be students’ performance on projects. I have found that written projects are the most effective (and most engaging) way for students to demonstrate that they have mastered teach topic we cover. Some of the projects students will work on include
8th grade newsletter:
It's been a busy time in social studies. Here's the latest news:
For the last seven lessons, our classroom has been transformed into a memorial design study. We began this topic by viewing excerpts of a documentary about Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We then examined some famous memorials, including one in Birmingham, Alabama honoring the participants of the Children's Campaign in 1963. We concluded that an effective memorial...
Students then designed an original memorial to honor a person, group, event or idea connected to the struggle for justice in the United States. They have been building an architectural model of their memorial and are writing an artist’s statement explaining the design to visitors. I've been so impressed with students' creativity and hard work this week. Next week we'll have a gallery walk, celebrating all of the students' projects. These memorials will be on display on DC night for you to see.
Over the years I've found that this project is a great way to reflect on our work together and to prepare for our DC trip. When students visit the memorials in our nation's capital, they are already fluent in the language of design.
After we complete our work on memorials, we will begin our final unit: "Justice Denied." This unit focuses on the choices ordinary people made during the Holocaust.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1) Please consider checking-in about the status of their project. Your sons and daughters should be able to describe their design and to explain what visitors should be feeling and thinking when walking through the memorial. Students have received a grading guide for their memorial and their artist's statement. As always, I encourage any students who are experiencing difficulties to e-mail me with questions.
2) Do you have favorite memorials in the area or in other parts of the country? In Wayland, there's the Veterans' Memorial at the Town Building and the Sarah Pryor memorial at Hannah Williams Park. In Boston, there are numerous memorials, including ones to the Holocaust and the Potato Famine/ Great Hunger. If you have visited these sites, why not share your interpretation? Would you consider them "effective" based on our criteria from class?
Thanks so much for your continued support.
Warm wishes and Happy Spring,