Indigenous People’s Day 2020

Happy Indigenous People’s Day! ❤️

I began my career as a seventh grade English and Texas History teacher, and throughout those years I had the privilege to learn all about the many diverse and rich communities of Native Texans — the Karankawa, when I have lived almost my entire life, spanning the lands between today’s Houston and Galveston; the Coahuiltecans in the Rio Grande Valley; the Caddo of East Texas; and the Apache and Comanche in the plains of the Hill Country and the west. (And there are even more tribes!)

I loved learning and teaching about their architecture and their crafts and their religions and their political structures. The land that makes up Texas had been full of complex and meaningful human civilization for thousands of years by the time that Spaniards set foot on it. (And it was full of the descendants of those Native people when the United States annexed it following the Mexican-American War.)

And because I am a teacher in my truest heart, I would like to share some of my favorite facts about these great cultures!

🌎 The Coahuiltecans could CHASE DOWN A DEER ON FOOT. They would just run after it until it became exhausted.
🌎 The Caddo were part of the Mississippi mound building cultures. They built these enormous earthen structures, but their purpose is a mystery (to us).
🌎 The Karankawa had pet dogs!
🌎 The Comanche could, using only the strength of their legs, swing their bodies underneath their galloping horses and shoot arrows upside down!
🌎 The real first Thanksgiving (the first instance of Native people offering Europeans assistance and hospitality) actually took place centuries before the Pilgrims in West Texas.

Of course, there’s so much that we don’t know about the history of these people, but I think it’s important to take a moment to sit with what we DO know. And I think it’s even more important that we apply those understandings to solving issues of inequity that Native people face today. (For example, Native women are assaulted, murdered, or disappeared at rates higher than any other group in America.) After all, who could disagree with teaching and learning about “our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation?”

Tuesday, March 31/Wednesday, April 1

Hello, students!

I’m sending you all positive vibes and hopes that you’re finding some silver linings in your social distancing.

Tuesday, March 31/Wednesday, April 1 will be our first official online instructional days (I’m posting this on Monday evening so that those of you who are up bright and early tomorrow can get a jump start).

For now, we’re not going to do anything “live” (I’d like to try that out later, but for now, I want to ease into all of the different platforms that we’re using). You are welcome to do you work for English during your assigned “period” or any other time that the mood strikes you so long as it’s in on time.

Some announcements:

1. Italian Pen Pals — I just today heard back from our teacher in Italy — she apologized for the delay for some of you in hearing from your pen pals. It just took her a little while to get in touch with all of her students, which is understandable given that they’re in the same sort of situation that we are. You should be hearing from your pen pal very soon if you haven’t already! She said that of her students who have already started talking to you, they said that it was very meaningful to them to get to talk with real American students (they are from a very small town and probably only know of our country from TV and movies). If you hear from your pen pal, please do not leave them hanging — give them a response!

2. The Hot Zone — The other Pre-AP English 1 teachers and I talked about this a lot, and we decided that we do want you to finish reading The Hot Zone. We know that it has become all too relevant right now, but ultimately, that book has a powerful message about how people can come together to defeat an epidemic, which is exactly what’s going to happen here. One week from now (next Monday/Tuesday), you will have an open book quiz over the last sections of the book that we did not get to go over in class. The reading guides should be helpful to you in preparing for that, but since it looks like we’re not going to be meeting in person any time soon, you will not need to turn those in. (Period 1, I know that you never got those from me, so I’m attaching them here.) ***If you checked out a copy of The Hot Zone, please do not lose or discard it — when we come back to Bellaire, even if that’s next August, I am going to ask you to return it!

3. This Week/Big Picture — We’re going to readjust a little in light of some of these new challenges. Our primary focus for our online learning time will be mastering (or getting closer to mastering) a fluency of Shakespeare. If you’ve ever felt a little intimidated by Shakespeare’s works, our goal is to make it so that you feel confident in your ability to read and understand any of his plays (although we will eventually be primarily focusing on Romeo and Juliet). We’re also going to continue doing some grammar stuff that you will need in preparation for Pre-AP English 2 next year.

Your To-Do List:

1. Over the next week, if you have not done so already, finish reading the Hot Zone.
2. Complete the Quill appositives activities that I posted last week (by Wednesday evening).
3. Complete the Shakespeare-related tasks that I post on Google Classroom (by Wednesday evening).

Monday, March 23

Hello, students! Please watch the short video below on what’s happening with English class this week:

So — if you signed up for an Italian pen pal, you should be hearing from him or her very soon. If you no longer want a pen pal, let me know ASAP so that your Italian counterpart is not left hanging. Your email replies to your pen pal will count as a free 100s in the gradebook (assuming that you follow the directions), which will boost your overall 5th cycle report card average.

Here are those assignments (which you will submit to Google Classroom):

Reply #1: Tell your Italian pen pal about yourself using at least five prepositional phrases. Take a screenshot of your *sent* email (you have to go into your “sent” folder). To take a screenshot, go to the Windows button at the very bottom left of your laptop screen. Click on Cortona (the big circle) and search for “snipping tool.” Once you have opened the snipping tool, click the “New” button, which has a pair of scissors. Drag it over your email — you will now get a picture of your email. Use the yellow highlight tool to highlight your five prepositional phrases. Use the write pen tool to label each preposition and the object of the preposition. You can see a walkthrough of how to do all of that below:

Reply #2: Talk about how the United States might be different from and similar to Italy using at least five appositives.

Again, make sure to screenshot and annotate your email and submit it to Google Classroom.

Reply #3: Discuss whatever you and your pen pal would like using three gerunds and three participles.

Again, make sure to screenshot and annotate your email and submit it to Google Classroom.

Let me know if you have trouble with any of this!

Please respond to this short survey about video access

For our upcoming unit on Shakespeare, I would like for you to watch some related films. Please fill out this form so that I know which streaming services you have access to.

And if you have not already done so, please fill out this form so that I can match you with an Italian pen pal!

Finally, please text @d7d4g9 to 81010 to join our Pre-AP English 1 Remind! I’m going to start sending out some information on our e-learning assignments on Monday, and I don’t want you to miss an important announcement!

IMPORTANT — Coronavirus Updates

Hello, students!

Well, what a time we are living in. I hope that you are safely ensconced in your homes and practicing social distancing with a large package of Oreos.

The rest of this semester is not exactly proceeding as I had expected, but we are going to make the best of it, and we will even have some opportunities for learning that we would not otherwise have had.

Although our e-learning will not technically start until next week, I wanted to go ahead and get a few things set up. I need a number of things from you:

  1. Please make sure that you are in THE CORRECT Google Classroom for your period. If you switched classes at some point and did not switch Google Classrooms, you are not in the correct period. Those class codes are as follows:
    1. Period 1: 67nie5s
    2. Period 2: p7du4m3
    3. Period 4: 6f47zan
    4. Period 6: kjdqzxl
    5. Period 7: nkthbxl
  2. I have some good news — for one of our assignments, we are getting virtual pen pals from a high school in Italy! Those students are all quarantined right now and are looking for an opportunity to practice their English. You will have an assignment to interview them and practice your writing skills. You must sign up for a pen pal here. (If you are uncomfortable having a pen pal, email me and I will give you an alternate assignment — but everyone is required to do something for this grade.)
  3. Please also join our class Remind by texting @d7d4g9 to 81010.
  4. Finally, please spread the word that there’s an announcement on this class website to other people in your class.

I’ll be in touch shortly with more of what the next few weeks are going to look like!

Tuesday, March 10

Today we 1) talked about The Hot Zone Vocabulary List 3 (your quiz will be the Monday we return from Spring Break) and 2) read an article about Ebola and answered some multiple choice questions (please come in Friday if you were absent to make those up).

Friday, March 6

Today, we 1) went over HZ RG 2, 2) had time for vocabulary study, and 3) went on a virtual field trip to the sites of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in Sierra Leone.

Homework is HZ RG 3; you will have a quiz over Hot Zone Vocabulary List 2 (with review words from 1 but no grammar) on Monday.

Wednesday, March 4

Important Announcement: I am postponing our Contagion film viewing until next Friday (March 13) because apparently World Geography also has a film going on at the same time.

Today in class, we went over the first Hot Zone reading guide — please come get a paper copy of RG 2 (due Friday).

We began prewriting for an essay about altruism, which you will write tomorrow in class.