In what has become a humanities tradition over the past eight years, the 7th graders engaged in an interdisciplinary journey through their family history in both English and social studies: Stories Along the Bosque. From picking a family artifact to investigate to considering which version of a family tale to tell, this process included family interviews, background research, brainstorming, writing, peer feedback, and revision.
In social studies, the 7th graders put their primary and secondary research skills to the task of learning everything they could about a family artifact. Pulling quotes from their interviews and transferring them onto museum-style artifact placards, these young historians discovered the layers of history woven into the fabric of photos, clocks, books, jewelry, and needlework.
When reflecting on what she learned from her interview about her great-great-aunt’s Human Anatomy and Physiology book, Abby commented: “I like how each story has more stories underneath.”
In English, students had already taken a deep dive into the genre of writing memoirs, studying mentors ranging from Sandra Cisneros and Ellen Oh all the way to the likes of Kwame Alexander and Dave Barry. The final challenge presented to these young authors was to take everything they knew about the genre to tell a memoir about their treasured family artifact.
Connor used a catchy lead to introduce a favorite family recipe: “My Great Great Aunt Sue: she was as grumpy as a crab before their coffee, but everyone loved her cherry bars.” At the exhibit, everyone loved the cherry bars Connor brought in using his great-great aunt’s recipe!
Working in her love of all things Hamilton, Maggie composed a poetic memoir about her great-great-grandmother’s handkerchief:
“All the proper young ladies had one
My great-great-grandmother must have been one of them.
The most time
spent on something in your pocket.
Something that barely gets to dance in the sun’s warm bath,
Only for a handkerchief
One piece of fabric.
But an eight-year-old decided to make one.
When she was eight.
She always loved violets,
We never knew why.
They always danced
In her home
117 years later,
I am here
With Violets singing her story.”
Over two days, the students shared their memoir pieces and artifact projects with the community, including with visitors during It Takes a Village Day. People walked through the exhibits, reading and asking questions of the author/researchers, and in the middle school classrooms, family stories came to life!