In mid-November, Bosque’s Middle School building became a museum for two days. In this museum, 7th graders each presented a family artifact and a short book of memories. This project, named “Stories Along the Bosque,” combined activities from both English and social studies classes.
In social studies, the project gave the students a chance to interact with their heritage and create their own primary source. They achieved this by conducting a family interview about the artifact, which they then had to transcribe. Through this process, they were able to interact in a meaningful way with family members, learn interview and transcription techniques, and better understand their family and heritage.
When students delve into learning their family stories in the English portion of the project, they learn that there are many layers of these stories and learn to dig deeper into the layers. Mr. Etigson, Middle School English teacher, shared, “In the process of writing, they’re realizing that being a writer is like being a movie director. They get to choose the angle from which they want to write, choose how to focus the audience’s attention, and learn revision in a meaningful way.” He added, “What we know about writers is that they need to have ownership over what they write, they need to find their voice, they need choice. Because of that, this project can take a long time.” Mr. Etigson explained that the students wrote a lot more memoir pieces than they presented.
7th grader, Mason, shared more about the writing process. “Mr. Etigson gave us prompts and we wrote 10 to 15 stories about a lot of different things. We then picked our top 5, then top 3, and then polished them really well, and edited them over and over again.” It was hard work, but Mason was really happy with how his memoir pieces turned out.
Through the writing and editing process, the students also learned to be discerning, choosing their memoir pieces carefully. “I like to think that it’s an opportunity for students to write for an audience that is not the teacher. They have to think about the broader audience and how they want to represent themselves and their family,” said Mr. Etigson.
This year was full of interesting stories and artifacts. Students brought in a myriad of objects, including old cameras, origami cranes, family photos, figurines, quilts, books, and the list goes on. Max ‘25 shared a photo of two paintings done by Andy Warhol that feature his aunt as the muse. Another student, Ruby ‘25, brought in a photo of a 1932 Chevrolet Phaeton that has been in her family since the year it was released. Her great-great grandfather bought it for her great-great aunt as a college graduation gift. Her great aunt went on to become the first female sheriff in a small town outside of Tucson, Arizona. Maddie ‘25 brought a large tiled sign that used to hang in her grandfather’s shop. She shared, “It was really interesting interviewing my family about this because it has a lot of meaning to them.” To learn more about it, she talked to her grandfather, grandmother, and mother.
Mr. Etigson shared why he feels this project is so important. “In order to hear other people’s stories, you need to know your own. In order to understand that stories have subtlety and perspective, you need to have investigated the perspectives in your own.”
The 7th grade class presented their artifacts with poise and were happy to share their memoir pieces with everyone that was interested. Great job to all of the 7th graders!