Jon's Weekly Update 4-10-14

posted Apr 14, 2014, 9:27 AM by Cynthia Friedman
IMPORTANT DATES 
Friday, April 11, 8pm, Room 100, Willamette Hall, University of Oregon: Science Circus Performance by Ridgeline Parent Stan Micklavzina

Tuesday, April 15, 3:15-4:15: Ukulele Rehearsal
Tuesday, April 22, 9-10am: Ukulele Performance: Hult Center
***Tuesday, April 22, 3:15-4:15: NO AFTER SCHOOL UKES!***
Tuesday, April 29, 3:15-4:15: Ukulele Rehearsal
Thursday, May 1: Canopy Connections DAY Field Trip
Friday, May 23, 5:30-8pm: Ukulele Performance: Aloha Friday at Cozmic Pizza
Thursday, June 5, 6:30-8:30pm: 8th Grade Graduation
Monday, June 9-Thurs., June 12: MS Adventure Trip to Honeyman Park 

Dear Middle School Family, 
I have to be honest: I took a bit of a leap of faith, using Steven Spielberg's "Into the West" mini-series as the jumping point for our investigation into Westward Expansion. It's so easy to get sucked into the story itself that it's easy to overlook the history lessons, the humanities lessons, in the story. It's easy to just consume it and miss the overwhelming multitude of insights and invitations for further investigation. 

Your students have blown me away with how seriously they've taken the task of mining this story for veins of interest. It's been a time investment, for sure, but the way we explored slavery in U.S. history has really paid off. The students have known from the get-go that the point of watching the film was to provide them with a big picture understanding of what was happening in 19th century North America. The students' job is to find a story they want to explore more deeply. 

Like the story of the railroad, for instance, or the buffalo, or the "Trail of Tears," the California Gold Rush, or the economy at the time, or the role of women in Native American society vs. "Civilized" society, or the "lawless" West... These kids are so smart, so savvy, so incredibly insightful and justice-minded. I've made notes of my own, of course, but the students' collective list of possible lines for deep study far outnumber mine. We brainstorm topics after every 45 minute viewing, and I'm blown away every time. Flat-out blown away. 

The group is smarter than any individual in the room. 

Next week, each student will choose the piece of this massive story that is most interesting to them and explore it in more detail. (Much like what we did with the Slavery timelines.) Their job will be to fill out their portion of the story for us all, so we all have a better, more personal understanding of the big story. Important work. 

Outdoor Classroom
If you need fill dirt or gravel, please come take some! We've got to get that stuff out of there! We should have the gravel, sand, and pavers we need to put in the floor some time in the next week or so. Once it's all here, the middle schoolers are going to put in the floor! I'll keep you posted. If you'd like to help out, please let me know, and I'll put you on my "Last Minute Notice" list. 

8th Grade Graduation
Thanks to Janene (India's mom) and Mackenzie (Finn's mom) for volunteering to lead the Ice Cream Bar for the 8th Grade Graduation. They'll be pestering ya'll later for some support. 

Mini Concerts Downtown After the Oregon Children's Choir Festival

We have to be at the Hult Center at 9am on Tuesday, April 22. We will be finished by 10:15am. I need help! We're going to have 27 kids with ukuleles in the middle of downtown Eugene. Carrie and I are working to set up mini-concerts at office buildings and businesses close to the Hult Center. If you are available between 10am and 2:30pm and would like to join us, we could certainly use the extra support lugging gear and chaperoning the students. If you work downtown, and would like to schedule a 12 minute mini-concert for your workplace, let me know ASAP and we'll schedule you in! 

That's all for now! Watch for permission slips for the April field trips early next week. 

Best,
Jon and Carrie
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