A Bridge Made of Stories

“Seventh grade is a bridge made of stories." This is the theme that 7th grade humanities and English teachers—Sean Etigson, Sky Jenkins, and Anne Gegg—have adopted this year to guide their curriculum, assessments, and teachings as our school moves from English and social studies to humanities. “As a new staffulty member joining the Bosque School team during these exciting changes, it's been great to dive in headfirst and adapt the 7th grade curriculum to reflect Bosque School's new mission,” expressed Ms. Gegg, 7th grade humanities teacher.

Ms. Gegg believes that by helping students realize that history is a story, it will help students realize that history and the story being told is not set in stone, but can change and evolve. “I love explaining to students that history is truly a lot of stories woven together. So much of history is based on perspective or who controls the narrative, which has both benefits and hindrances,” she explained. 

So far this year, students in Ms. Gegg’s class have engaged in projects that encapsulate the storytelling theme. They started the year by taking a critical look at who tells our news stories and how to evaluate sources to ensure they can be a better media consumer. “In the era of ‘fake news,’ social media, and misinformation, it's incredibly important that our students understand how our news media needs to be analyzed critically,” said Ms. Gegg. Through this project, students were able to ask questions and dig deeper into potentially biased news stories to find out the “truth.”  Students selected a current event that happened in 2020 and then selected two news sources that discussed that event. They evaluated them by finding where the origin of the source, why it was created, as well as the value and limitation of that source. Using that information, they wrote informative paragraphs discussing what source was more valid and why. Ms. Gegg shared, “As this was my first unit of the year with the students, I loved it as the current events they chose to investigate really helped me understand their interests and passions.”

In a recent project, students investigated the Spanish colonization of the Americas and were challenged to find the stories that were missing and had never been told. After identifying whose perspectives were missing, they told the stories in the form of a historically accurate, yet highly creative, dramatic script. Many of her students chose to tell the stories of various conquistadors from the perspectives of the indigenous peoples with whom they interacted. For example, a few told stories about Oñate but from the perspective of the Acoma people. “I was so impressed with the students' work,” said Ms. Gegg. “This task was a tough one as it pushes them to think outside of what has been written in textbooks and on websites. It's a delicate balance to respect the facts that exist while also taking creative liberties to retell and revamp the story.”

Ms. Gegg is passionate about going outside of the "normal" perspective of history. “As a female who loved history growing up, I chose to study it in university and while I enjoyed it, I always felt like there were parts of the story that were missing, most especially from those that are often marginalized.” She continued, “I remember thinking why do we always discuss men...specifically white men, what did the females think?” Those questions propelled her to keep me pushing for more of a diverse perspective in her study of history. 

There are more exciting projects to come this year in 7th grade humanities, with many stories that will be evaluated and told. Ms. Gegg emphasized, “As stories are crucial eyes to history, we hope that we inspire the 7th grade to investigate all perspectives and share those stories to make positive changes in the world.”