She, of course, has moved on to reading Shakespeare right now and my "Renaissance and Reformation" group is choosing chapter books from their time period as well. Most of the books I checked out from the library are about Henry VIII and his many wives. All of the book reports and presentations will happen in the last week of school. It works so well that Leah will be presenting her projects for Hamlet right when my other group reaches the chapters about Shakespearean England in their History book.
Prior to the Renaissance & Reformation, my seventh graders took a brief detour into U.S. History with the Dust Bowl. Surprisingly, a few days ago I was re-reading Torin Finser's School as a Journey: The Eight-Year Odyssey of a Waldorf Teacher and His Class as part of a book study with a friend and, in his chapter on 8th grade, Torin explains that he ties Ecology and Nutrition in together in a study of the Dust Bowl. What an interesting combination!
Personally, I decided to do the Stock Market as a Math block (Jamie York suggests computer programming in grade 8; I liked doing the Stock Market with my group) and we tied in the Great Depression there. So many places and ways to find connections! I just finished reading a book with my Philosophy club for the topic of Humanity -- A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote -- which took place during that time period and was a perfect fit.
My students who studied the Stock Market also read Out of the Dust and Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp.
They wanted to publish their Friendly Letter and Recipe Poem assignments:
Imagine YOU are living on a farm in Oklahoma in 1935. Write a letter to your cousin in New York, telling what life is like for you and your family.
- Dear Richy Richguy,
My life is terrible right now. My home is covered with dust and everyone is starving, going blind, and exasperated because of the amount of dust. We have no alive crops and we are always coughing. My family is tearing apart. The stress of having no money or crops has made us all distant. We think that these dust storms will stop but we're not sure. Some people believe it is the end of the world and that it started here. I personally want to get out of here. There is nothing left for us here.
Can you help us get out of here? We don't want to live this life anymore. My friends are constantly dying and I am beginning to lose my will to live. I can't exit the house because of how much dust there is and I can't have a pet because I couldn't feed it with the money we have left.
I wish those rich people wouldn't have told us to move to Oklahoma to cultivate. It was a bad idea to listen to them. The dust storms wouldn't have happened if the market didn't crash and we in Oklahoma didn't freak out and plant crops so fast. If only we could've handled it better than we did.
Please help us.
P.S. Did you get through the Wall Street Market Crash? A lot of people didn't so I was just wondering.
I wish I was the bringer of good news but alas I am not. The new baby died at only 3 days old of dust pneumonia last night. He was such a sweet little thing. The wind howled in the night as if mourning his death. I am writing from the dust cellar for there is the fiercest of storms today. The wind and Ma both howled though not for the same reasons. Pa, Billy, and I are staying out of her way because we cannot help the grief. The day before Frank died it was so beautiful and sunny, Ma thought it was a good sign so we opened up the house and went to have a picnic. That was the worst mistake of our lives. At around noon Billy noticed the cloud. It was about 3 miles away so we ran quick as we could back to the car and started back to the house. We had not gone but a mile when the storm hit. Dust rattled the windows and wind rocked the car. Dear little Frank didn't complain when we pressed a wet rag to his mouth. He was quiet as could be. After the storm passed we made it back home and that night he was dead. Ma's good sign turned to a bad one. We are considering going to California to get away from the dust but we're afraid we won't make it. The dust is bad but some people say the road is worse. I think we should try it; anything is better than the dust. I hope things are better in your town that in ours; I don't want you to suffer.
- Recipe for Dust
lots of available land
people in need of food
new farm equipment
stock market crash
lots more land
Put one war, lots of available land, and people in need of food in a bowl and whisk together. Add new farm equipment and marinate for 10 years. Mix stock market crash, costs shrinking, lots more land, and lying newspapers in a bowl and set aside. Put the marinade in a pan and top with second mixture. Put in oven and let cook for 5 more years.
You have achieved Dust!
Recipe for Sadness
1 natural disaster
2 tragic deaths
1 reason for blame
1 family tension
To fix this meal you need to take the father, mother, daughter, and mix them up with a natural disaster until worried. Then add in a pregnancy. Let it set, then beat it finely with a beater when mixing in the 2 tragic deaths. Leave the mix some time to mourn. After fully mourned, add 1 reason for blame and 1 family tension. Then put in the oven at 450 degrees. When done you should definintely have your fine dish of Sadness.
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