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HOME, PLACE, AND MEMOIR
- Growing Up on the River at Dixon text file and audio file
- Photographs of author Opal Cajune and the Lower Flathead River
- Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ (CSKT) Cultural Preservation Department narrative on the Lower Flathead River
What is home?
- Analyzing the impact of story in spoken word and written formats
- Evaluating the effect of descriptive language used by an author
- Determining a story’s power in evoking imagery of place and relationship
- Identifying story genre
- Students respond to the question “What is home?” with a five minute quick write.
- Write these sayings on the board: Home is where the heart is. There is no place like home. Discuss their meanings as a class along with their responses to the entry question.
- Share the curriculum author’s statement, “To the Salish people home was the land. Land was mother, church, doctor, food, clothing – land was everything.” In their groups, ask students to identify a specific way land could be all of the different things stated. Ask students to imagine a family history of living within a particular landscape for thousands of years. How would you feel about hunting places? Gathering places? Favorite campsites?
- Set up the listening activity for Growing Up on the River at Dixon by late Salish elder Opal Cajune. It is a concrete example of relationship with place. Cue up photographs of Opal and the river for sharing after students listen to the audio recording of the story. Play the audio file.
- Ask students to identify the story genre. In their groups students analyze the effectiveness of the language and composition in portraying relationship and affection for place. Give students text copies of the story and have them highlight descriptive passages that support imagining the place Opal writes about.
- Show images of Opal and the river to the class.
- Pass out copies of CSKT Cultural Preservation Department narrative on the Lower Flathead River. Give students time to read and mark the most potent passages. Students then compare and contrast this narrative with Opal’s.
Students complete a two-page essay that identifies and discusses the particular qualities of personal memoir using examples from Opal Cajune’s story.
Students create an illustration of an image that one of the stories evokes.
EXPLORING WORLDS THROUGH PLACE AND MEMOIR
- Student copies of CSKT tribal member quotes from interviews on aboriginal territory
- Growing Up on the River at Dixon text by Opal Cajune
- CSKT Cultural Preservation Department river narrative
- a variety of books with essays, narratives, and poems about place
- Suggested books: Joy Harjo—Becoming Human, Simon Ortiz—Woven Stone, Men on the Moon, Out There Somewhere, After and Before the Lightning, Barry Lopez – Arctic Dreams, Winter Count, Aldo Leopold—A Sand County Almanac
What writing style or techniques effectively convey a strong sense of place?
- Analyzing passages, essays, short stories, and/or poems for descriptive qualities situating relationship with place
- Citing and responding to the effectiveness of a particular passage on place
- Select several passages, essays, and/or poems to read aloud to the class.
- After reading several, discuss their similarities and differences. Ask students what language, writing style, descriptive words, or writing techniques such as metaphor or simile were particularly effective.
- Read several more selections.
- Give students copies of CSKT tribal member statements on land and have them read and discuss in their groups. Have students identify a particular statement that resonates with them and share why with the class.
Students select a passage, story, essay, poem, or statement to write a written response to. Responses should be at least one page in length.
FINDING OUR PLACE
- Personal water bottles
- garbage bags
- clipboards or student journals
- colored pencils
- snacks/lunch depending on the length of the field trip
- How do people have a relationship with place?
- What place is important to me?
Identifying and organizing knowledge, thoughts, and feelings about a particular place to develop into a memoir
- Prepare and pack materials needed for the field trip. Travel to selected site. Upon arrival, sit in a group and discuss how people in the community use or, perhaps, abuse the site. What relationships might people have with this area? Why? What historic uses might this site have had? By whom?
- If this is a site in need of care, spend an hour cleaning up. Load garbage bags on the bus (or leave in prearranged pick-up location).
- Pass out journals or clipboards and paper. Have students find a somewhat private space and free write what they see, hear, smell, and feel. Allow 10 minutes for this activity. Come together as a group and spend about 10 minutes sharing.
- Students take a minute or two to identify a place that they would like to write about. For the next 30 minutes, students create a semantic map or outline of the place they are going to write about. Support this development with prompts: Do you have a significant memory attached to this place? Has this place changed or is it the same? Do you still spend time at this place? Why is this place significant to you? What would we see, hear, smell, or feel at this place? What descriptive words come to mind when you think about this place?
- Visit informally with each student as they are developing their semantic map or outline.
- Enjoy a snack or lunch break. Return to school.
Students have identified the subject of their memoir and have constructed a detailed semantic map or outline for their writing.
Students identify illustrations or photographs that would complement their memoir.
WRITING OUR PLACE
Literacy.WHST.11-12.2a, 2b, 2c, 2e
- Books and text resources from Lesson 6
- a thesaurus for each group
- “coffee table” books on landscapes
- Memoir Rubric
- Introducing and developing a topic into a coherent three – five-page memoir
- Organizing details and descriptions of the topic in an effective sequence
- Using varied language and sentence structure that depicts style and supports interest
- Writing a powerful conclusion
- Select several passages from the essays and poems explored in Lesson 6. Some of the writers expressed feelings about a certain place; others described the beauty or attraction of a landscape. Did any of the writing speak to you personally? Could you identify with any of the writers?
- Let the class know that they will have two class periods to develop and write their essay. The required minimum length of the essay is three pages. Provide some reminders as students begin to write: Think of the reader! Create a story; don’t just share facts with us. Remember the power of descriptive language – not just what we see, but also what we hear, smell, feel (maybe taste if the favorite place is a kitchen). What do you want your memoir to do? Describe? Inform? Document? Inspire?
- Allow this class period and the next for writing. Provide each group a thesaurus and the Memoir Rubric.
- By the end of the second class period of writing, students should have a draft of their memoir on place. Edit the memoir for a final copy that will be presented publicly, displayed, and/or published.
Students complete a final draft of their memoir that meets all of the criteria from the Memoir Rubric.
Students add illustrations, photographs, or graphic design elements to their memoir.