Friday, March 25, 2016

Letter From the Chinook Nation

A month ago as we were brainstorming ideas for our play. Ada shared a Chinook Creation Story that she had found while researching the Chinook Tribe.  She brought it to the group and we acted out the different scenes during our Drama Workshop with Emily Stone.  

Shortly after that, Ms. Hill visited from Washington County Historical Society shared about the culture of another local tribe, the Kalapuya.  She told us about a local Kalapuyan storyteller, Esther Stutzman.  The children were curious to hear the Kalapuyan Creation Story, so we searched for it online.  

We found an audio version along with this recommendation...

"This is a family story that I learned from my elders. I was given permission to tell this story in public as long as it remained the same and not changed. Because stories are private family property, I only tell stories from my family. To do otherwise, a storyteller could sicken and die. The story relates the coming of the first human being to the world … "Le-lu," who dreamed of two babies. When they came to her, she walked down from the stone mountain and gave the babies to Quartux, Mother Wolf to take care of them. When she strapped the babies to a packbasket, she strapped them around their head. When she came back and removed the straps, the foreheads of the babies were flattened. This became the custom of flattening the foreheads of children. Stories must be used and told exactly as they are spoken. To change the story to fit modern ideas is bad luck and considered to be disrespectful. This story should be an instruction on how the reverence for the Wolf came to be and also how the custom of forehead flattening came to be. Because the Kalapuya believe that the world began of stone, it also refers to several stone outcroppings in the Willamette Valley of Oregon that are still considered sacred to the Kalapuya."  -Ester Stutzman

After reading that and listening to her story, the children wondered if we needed to make sure the Chinook Creation Story we were using for our play was the correct version. The children decided to write a letter to the Chinook Tribe. Here is the letter that we wrote as a class...

March 10th, 2016

Dear Chinook Tribal Members,

Room 36 3rd Graders at OES in Portland, Oregon just learned that some native cultures feel that their stories are precious to them. We heard a story told by Kalapuyan storyteller, Esther Stutzman. She said that Kalapuyan stories are not called myths or legends, but called truths.
We wondered if the same is true for the Chinook.

We are writing a play about Oregon History. We don’t want to make any stereotypes or assumptions about your culture, but we’d like to have your permission to share some of your culture in our play.  We have a few questions for you:

  • What is the Chinook rule about passing on stories?
  • What stories do your people want told about your culture?
  • Are other people trying to hide your stories?
  • Can we have your permission to tell one of your stories if we keep it exactly the same?

A member of our class stumbled upon a version of the Chinook Creation Story. We think this is a valuable story, do you?  If you will give us your permission, which version would you like told?We are looking forward to hearing back from you soon.


Room 36

We were delighted when we received this amazing, detailed filled response so quickly after sending our letter. 

Letter From Chinook Nation

The children felt honored to be given permission and worked diligently then to convey this message in the beginning of the writing of our scene.  As their teacher, I was beyond thrilled that the children had used what we had learned about stereotypes an applied it to our research.  One demonstration that children have learned something deeply, is when you see them apply it in a real life situation on their own.  This sort of research and application embodied how they listened to the advice they had written at the end of the stereotype project:

Uma said, "You should always ask the tribe." Then Flynn added, "You have to be careful when you make an inference because it might not always be true!"  Then Peter summed it up when he added, "Check your facts!"

Embedded in the link below is a quick video that shows how the children are beginning to incorporate these ideas into the beginning of our play. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Exploring the World Around Us Through a Historical Lens

Monday we visited Champoeg. This historical settlement was the meeting of many different cultures; the Kalapuya, the French Canadian Fur Trappers of the Hudson Bay Company, and American Fur Trappers. Eventually, the Pioneers would arrive from the Oregon Trail to be welcomed by the new settlers. Many of the fur trappers married native women, blending cultures and settling the land to grow wheat now that the beavers had been over trapped.  Champoeg makes the perfect setting to tell our story of how different cultures met in Oregon in the 1800's.

Link To Champoeg Website

The children have been synthesizing our learning this year as we think about the message we want to include in our play.  Here is what all of the children crafted together as our message for the play.  Then four of the children presented our ideas to the other 2 third grades....

Ada- We have been talking about who lived in Oregon First.  Some of the first people in Oregon were the Kalapuuya and the Chinook. We learned yesterday from Mrs. Hill that there is evidence of the first people in the Willamette Valley from 12-15,000 years ago.
In studying about the Chinook I found a creation story that the Chinook tell about how they came to be created and live along the Columbia River. (Ada reads short summary of story)

Aaren- Long ago life was a lot harder than it is now. People had to really work together and be prepared so that they could survive in the wild. You couldn’t just wake up and have a waffle everyday. We have learned that many of the stories about how people survived long ago are hidden stories that haven’t been told. Like did you know that Sacagawea had another child other than Pomp? She had a little girl named Lisset Charbonneau!

Quinny- All of these stories are important to knowing about history. They are like a missing puzzle piece.  These hidden stories tell about different perspectives. Like Native Americans and Fur Trappers think different things because they grew up in different places, with different backgrounds, cultures, and genes. If you have always done something the same way, it can be hard to imagine how to do life differently. They can then make stereotypes about other people and their culture.

Flynn- Stereotypes are  when you think something is like something but you don’t have proof about it like, all girls like pink. Some schools are stereotyping Native Americans. Some of their mascots are offensive to Native Americans because they are thinking that they look like something that they aren’t. Like all Native Americans have red skin. When you hear a story from long ago you may make a stereotype like in this painting called the Fur Trapper’s Bride. How can we know how the bride feels? Is she happy to get married or does she feel like she is being traded. Acting out history helps find hidden stories. Then we can experience what people of the past might have done or said.We don’t want to make any stereotypes in our play.

Champoeg Field Trip and Wetlands Walk

We were blessed with some beautiful days last week and this week. The children and I were eager to head back to the wetlands as we hadn't been there for quite a while due to our rainy winter.  We headed out with questions, wonderings, and a connection to history.  

By Charlotte
By Aaren

I asked the children if they felt any poetic inspiration as we basked in the sunshine and flowers.  I invited them to wonder about what had happened to all the oil we had seen floating on the surface of the pond in the Fall, some of the children wondered if the wetlands was what it used to look like in the 1800's along Fanno Creek.

Here are some of their inspired words....

Native Poetry
By Victoria S. Bonar

Along time ago, Native Americans and animals roamed this land called Oregon. Oregon Grape, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and many other plants are native to this land. Just imagine, if you were a Native American, an Explorer, or a Fur Trapper, how would you feel about owning this land, and what would this land look like to you?

Spring Poem!
by Leoni

Spring is here! The flowers have bloomed in the bright light sun. Let’s have some fun!!!

Wild Waters
by Quinny

The wind and the water makes the water ripple and shine.

The light makes a perfect shimmer on the water.       
If I was the water I would soar and dance across the water.        

Friday, March 11, 2016

Perspective Plus Perspective = Hidden Story

Last week the OES faculty had two amazing opportunities to think with experts in the field about inclusivity and race. Rosetta Lee focused on the importance of doing this work with young children, and Walida Imarisha spoke about African American History in Oregon.
Rosetta Lee, a leader in research around inclusivity in the early years from Seattle, presented and worked with OES faculty on our curriculum. 
Also, Walida Imarisha, a historian from Portland, who has researched the history of race an inequality in Oregon presented about, Why Aren't There More Black People in Oregon? 


Having time to collaborate with my colleagues, and reflect on how our 3rd Grade curriculum incorporates more diverse perspectives and encourages students to challenge societal stereotypes was rewarding and thought provoking. One of the things that most struck me was research Rosetta Lee shared emphasizing the importance of talking about race issues with young children.

Age 5 :children desire to categorize self and others, they are curious about meaning of difference and aware of biases

Age 7: they can regulate biases versus behaviors, they are starting to parrot adult messages

3rd Grade: they are aware of societal stereotypes

5th Grade: they internalize stereotypical messages

If you are interested in learning more here are some interesting links...

After attending Walida's presentation I learned remarkable facts about Black History in Oregon that I had never heard before.  One important fact I learned was in regards to York, who traveled with Lewis and Clark on the Corps of Discovery.  York had been Clark's slave in Virginia. On the expedition he played a vital role in more than one way. Due to his skin color many native tribes welcomed the whole group out of curiosity about how his skin became so dark. They had never seen a black man before. They were more trusting of York. York rescued Captain Clark as well as quite a few other members of the expedition. 

What I didn't know is that was that upon returning to the United States, Clark told York he still had to be a slave and return with him to Virginia.  Originally, Clark had promised York his freedom. York was angry and wanted to be free. Clark now told York that if he did not cooperate he would sell him. I was shocked to hear such a different version of the story and I shared this different perspective with my students. Here is their reaction...

Aaren: Wait! Remember in the movie we saw it said that Clark gave him a choice! Why would it not tell the truth? 

Ms. Baker: I don't know which version of the story is true. Ms. Imarisha shared that there are actual letters that were saved that Clark wrote to his brother telling his brother that he did not intend to free York and that he intended to sell him if he struggled.

Catherine: Sounds like there are two different perspectives about what happened.

Will: A lot of people think Clark was great. It is a hidden story. Sometimes people don't want you to know when important people do bad stuff. 

Ms. B: Why would they hide a story like that?

Ben: That is how hidden stories are made. No one wants other people to know things so they don't tell it or say its not true.

Soren: Maybe they want Clark to be perfect because he was a hero. 

Victoria: But we've heard how great he is. Everyone makes mistakes though.

Will: But people don't want heroes to make mistakes.

Ben: I think it's like this perspective plus perspective = hidden story.  It's not which perspective is right or wrong. It's about which one you believe in and think is right. When you see 2 different perspectives that helps you find what might be hidden that people don't want to tell for some reason. 

Photos of The Week

Friday, March 4, 2016

Editing Machine

The past two weeks we have focused on crafting paragraphs and editing our work. I introduced the children to a technique that supports them to focus on one editing skill at a time, The Editing Machine. This allows the children to not get overwhelmed by so many things to fix when editing.  It also creates an opportunity to share a skill you are strong in, or practice a skill that you have not yet mastered. 

Each piece of writing makes a trip through each station of the editing machine. There is a Punctuation Station, Capitalization Station, Organization Station, and Spelling Station.  At least 2-3 editors will look at each paper for the skill they are focusing on, sign their name at the bottom, and then pass the paper on to the next station. 

The job of the writer is to evaluate all of the corrections, fix mistakes, and then to write a final draft.

Editing Machine Slideshow

There are many ways to address specific writing skills in the classroom. We often have mini lessons before writer's workshop in which I model or inquire with the children about things such as: what makes a sentence, what is a noun, what are the rules of thumb about paragraphs... These short lessons, and time to practice the skill, work for some children during one workshop when they are in the zone of proximal development for that particular skill. 

The zone of proximal development is when the skills a student is encountering are too difficult to learn on his/her own, but can accomplish with guidance and encouragement from a knowledgeable person, adult or peer.

After children, who are in the zone, hear it, see it, and then begin to use that skill they are able to acquire it fairly quickly. Other children, at varying times in their development, may need to see it, hear it, touch it, do it, and then repeat that process many times in order for the skill to stick. Depending on the child and the skill it varies widely. One child may be ready to learn the steps for paragraphing and at the same time not be in the zone to learn telling time. That is why we introduce various skills over many years and repeatedly revisit them in different ways within one year.

The Editing Machine is a way in which those kids who have had success with a skill get to support others to accomplish the skill with guidance and encouragement.  It is one strategy, of many, that creates high engagement, encourages collaboration, and requires the children to act with courage and compassion to share their work within a trusting community. Ask your child to tell you more about his or her experience with the Editing Machine.

Photos of the Week

Videos of the Children's Historical Fiction Research Presentations