Monday, December 27, 2010

Final Project


Objectives
  • Present a view of Native history that acknowledges its validity independent of Western ideals
  • Provide examples of Native history-keeping that elevate oral tradition from charming lore to authentic record

Goals
  • To transform the image of the intellectual capabilities of Alaska Natives and American Indians as it is currently communicated in popular culture and education
  • To renovate the methodology of persons responsible for communicating those images



 http://www.history-map.com/picture/000/fields-Alaska-gold-The.htm

Rationale

In many ways, Alaska, with its recent history, is still a model of colonialism. Among the consequences of that circumstance is the abysmal dropout rate for Alaska Native children from the education system in its current manifestation, which leads to predictable effects inflicted upon the recently colonized Native people of the region: poverty, violence, infirmity. Given that government-defined Indian Education was built with the purpose of assimilation, teachers today must ask themselves two critical questions:

Is what I teach done for the purpose of edifying or assimilating my student?

What can I learn from my students?

Discussion

Almost every source describes the long record of Native use and occupation that took place before European contact as  “pre-history.” Indigenous groups, however, possess a history of thousands of years of occupancy and exodus, relocation and settlement, exploration and discovery, embedded throughout the generations in legal process, artistic declarations, symbolic regalia, and oral tradition at least as accurately and in many cases more accurately than the European system of writing that was used for many years after contact to remove rights and appropriate lands. We must always remember that before contact, Native cultures possessed vigorous legal systems, effective educational systems, efficient health systems, elaborate social orders, sophisticated kinship systems, complex languages, profitable trade systems—every social institution needed for a culture to flourish for thousands of years.

Because of the eradication of those systems and institutions, we are left with written records that begin in 1741. However, it behooves us to try to learn about the original people of what is now Alaska from a less Euro-centric perspective.

Before this:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/home/tongassmap.shtml


Was this:


 http://www.akhistorycourse.org/articles/article.php?artID=149


Art or Craft?

Known for its elaborate formline designs, Northwest Coast art is among the most sophisticated in the world. As with any art, specific conventions control line length, width, and color, but contemporary artists experiment with new media and forms, keeping this dynamic tradition alive and ever-changing.


The photograph above, available at http://vilda.alaska.edu, demonstrates the richness of Northwest Coast Art forms and the variety of materials used and upon which designs were traditionally inscribed. Bentwood boxes, Chilkat blankets, masks, house posts, and screens are well-known examples of Northwest Coast art, but the most widely known manifestation of Northwest coast art is the totem pole. Totem poles are exhibited worldwide, and examples of the form are held in museums in many countries.

Teacher’s Tip:

Let's not make the mistake of having children “craft” a totem pole or other object with cultural meaning until we fully understand its significance.

Compare:

http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/treasures/html/T/sitk5231.htm                    http://www.dltk-kids.com/canada/mtotem.html
Compare:













Food for thought: Did Native people have “education” before colonization?

Cultural exchange is a characteristic that typifies all human cultures. Trade is not limited to material goods, but also includes such things as language and song. The exchange of new words, entertainment, fashion, recipes—everything tangible and intangible—contributes to the development, change, and progress of every culture and has done so throughout human history. In our part of the world, coastal people were historically known as efficient and profitable traders, taking advantage of the proximity of the ocean and its riches to trade with inland peoples. With regard to the Native cultures of Alaska and beyond, how did children learn to be master traders? How did children learn to be master carvers, weavers, or seafarers?

How did children learn about the history of their clan and that of others and about the social responsibilities expected of them?

History or Myth?

Oral tradition performs essential functions in all societies and in all cultures. Until very recently, most literary works originated as oral works. It’s just been since mass production of books that stories can be told on the page to great numbers of people. Common sense tells us that the bible, fairy tales, first-person accounts, ballads—most human knowledge—was preserved almost exclusively by oral tradition until books became commonly available. 


Visit "Oral Traditions" at Teacher's Domain:











Absolute fidelity to the written word carries with it a predictable distrust of the spoken word. Add to this the European-based system of conferring legality upon written documents, and the stage is conveniently set for the disregard of the history, art, and beliefs of cultures that are based on oral tradition—especially when they occupy coveted land.

Let’s take a moment to note the important difference between the passing on of knowledge—conventions, history, beliefs, worldview, traditions, convictions, truths—and storytelling as it has come to be understood from an alphabet-based perspective that privileges the written word and undervalues the spoken word.



Visit "The Raven's Story" at Teacher's Domain:














We acknowledge that Native cultures and social systems were sophisticated and complex before European contact and remain so today. In the same way, we acknowledge that oral tradition is far richer and more complex than a glance through the modern lens allows us to recognize.

We do well to remind ourselves that the widespread bias for the written word is a product—and in fact a function—of modern Western-European power. History that has been kept by oral tradition has been shown in many cases to be reliable and more accurate than the written histories associated with certain events.


Food for thought: A history lesson

We’re familiar with the Chookaneidi history of how a glacier’s rapid advance forced the people of a village to flee from the area that is now Glacier Bay. That clan history, handed down from generation to generation by oral tradition, tells the story of what is now called the Little Ice Age, conservatively dated at several hundred years.


Here’s an example of two accounts of the same historical event—the meeting between the Tlingit and La Pérouse in what is now termed the 1700’s:

The Tlingit oral history version:


The Explorer's written version:



These websites provide models for lessons that can be adapted to an Alaska classroom. Let’s remember our two important questions

Is what I teach done for the purpose of edifying or assimilating my student?

What can I learn from my students?

Thanks to all for such thoughtful blogs over the weeks and to Clay for challenging lessons. I’ve learned a lot, and I have truly appreciated the opportunity to explore new resources and expand new knowledge. 

Gunalcheesh!



Note: Here are some resources for those who wish to "dig deeper." Many of them you're already familiar with, but one or two may be new. Thanks again!

Scroll down for elders’ stories: 

More information about the Yupiaq world view, relation with nature, and consequences of adaptation:

Examples of Native Leadership:

Example of Yupik traditional story by Elise Mather and Phyllis Morrow:

Scroll down for Section IV Frank Hill’s article “Passing on Traditional Knowledge”:

If you decide to read this short article, please pay particular attention to Hill’s list of the differences between Native worldview and Western worldview. Hill discusses cultural characteristics such as beliefs, social structure, language, and worldview and goes on to compare three essential components of indigenous and western worldviews. Later, he lists challenges to passing on traditional knowledge in a modern world.


Again, thanks to everyone. It's been a real learning experience for me, and I appreciate everyone's generous sharing of knowledge. A final gunalcheesh.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

MODULE NINE

EXPLAIN

I found much of this module's information interesting and challenging. Beginning at the very first part and continuing all along the way, I had to stop many times to think about what I'd just read. The earliest instance was the explanation that terrestrial ice is made up of “frozen fresh water instead of saline sea water.” This made me go back and review our earlier module, and it connected with me that sea ice forms at the surface when the saline content decreases. Of course! I can see how that would be true! It's a small epiphany, but for me an important one, as is every new thought and new understanding, especially in regard to the uncharted waters--pun intended--of science.

http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Re-St/Sea-Water-Freezing-of.html

The text also says that there is a “different set of variables” that impacts time scale, and goes on to list those variables, most of which I could apply to the sea as well as to land. Again, it brought me back to the salinity of water.
According to the Water Encyclopedia:

"Salty water freezes below 0°C (32°F): this is why salt is used to melt the snow or ice on a road pavement. The saltier the brine , the lower its freezing point. This is also why salt traditionally was added to the water–ice mixture used to make ice cream." 

Yes! Scattering rock salt on ice to melt it is an old practice. And I when I lived in California and my children were small, I had an ice-cream maker with a compartment surrounding the bowl, which I filled with a salt mixture before we started cranking the mechanism, just as the quotation above points out.
http://www.leehansen.com/coloring/Parties/index.htm

Our text says that “changes in temperature along with changes in latitude, altitude, precipitation and the different heat capacities of land and water all interact to create the dynamic realm of terrestrial ice; glaciers, permafrost, rivers and lakes.” In addition to raising the questions I mentioned above
(Do these variables not affect sea ice? What are the differences?), this section sparked quite an interest in inland lakes. In response, I found a very informative study titled "Advancing Landscape Change Research through the Incorporation of Iñupiaq Knowledge” that acknowledges the importance of indigenous knowledge and contains an emphasis on lakes. As they say, their research "demonstrates that indigenous knowledge can reveal a new understanding of landscape changes on the Arctic Coastal Plain in general and on lake processes in particular."

As for permafrost and its effects, I found lots of good information at this website – be sure to scroll down to the 2003 video clip of Ron Bower, Sr., where he "describes the very rapid sediment erosion taking place along the bluffs near his cabin on the Meade River Delta. Ron has had to move his cabin away from the bluff as the bluff face continues to erode." A good talk from a knowledgeable man that clearly illustrates the impact of climate change happening on a personal level.



http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/forest_facts/resources/geology/mendenhall.htm

I had thought that the Taku Glacier was pretty much the sole glacier still advancing, or rather, not retreating, but I learned that quite a few glaciers in Alaska are not retreating, including Lamplugh, Aialik, and Harvard Glaciers. The Juneau Icefield Research Program is busy collecting data about the Juneau Icefield, and provides good information and descriptions of their projects and the results of their research.


EXTEND


The Drop in the Bucket quiz challenging the reader to estimate distribution of Earth's water supply was fun, as was the quiz on 1000 Snow Flakes. I'm happy to say I did better than I expected at both quizzes. Both quizzes also reminded me of the Village of 100 and Village of 1000 exercises I once used in freshman seminar, and still try to work into other class activities now that I no longer teach that original class. Brain-teasers! Or rather, Brain-stretchers, I suppose. 


http://xweb.geos.ed.ac.uk/~mhagdorn/glide/glide-doc/num/figs/basal_bc.png

Finally, I also made a connection to something I learned long ago when I was constantly studying and researching for my job as a summer shipboard interpreter on the Alaska State ferry: the relatively thin layer of water underneath glaciers that allows them to “flow,” termed basal sliding. At such high pressure, things apparently turn into their densest form, which in the case of water, is its liquid form, creating a thin sheet of water under the glacier upon which the ice slides. There's no doubt that this would make a great activity, as would the data on the Nenana Ice Classic, something I can remember everyone in my family guessing even when no one had an extra dollar to buy a ticket. Does every Alaskan family have a story about a favorite uncle who guessed the right time but didn't buy the ticket?
 
EVALUATE

Well, I've already said my piece about "discovery," so I'll limit my critical remarks this week to one: In the Timeline of Human History, the section titled “Prehistoric to Present” seems quite brief, sending the plain message that it's "prehistory" (what is oral history if not recorded history?) and therefore not important. If people in authority are actually taking oral history seriously, it does seem as though a conscientious person would put a bit more thought and far more acknowledgment of the indigenous records of history into the design. 

Beginning in 1741 with Chirikof, the descriptions are far less perfunctory, giving the unspoken but clear cultural message that we've come to the important part. What do we suppose children--Native and non-Native alike--are receiving from this treatment of history?

I've already expressed my evaluation of the good parts--all the rest!--of the module. I enjoy learning, and I know I will make good use of my new knowledge. Gunalcheesh!



BLOGS

Amy not only points out excellent information about permafrost, but she relates meaningfully it to the students in Gambell and provides an example of how Teacher’s Domain is an excellent resource for her students.

Tyler also related this week’s lesson to local concerns, specifically his involvement with building a hydroelectric project to serve Sitka.

Tracy’s blog had lots of good information and links. I know I will benefit from the information and added thoughts in others' blogs as well as in the lessons.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

MODULE EIGHT


Explain

It was interesting to me to see earth’s systems related to the human body. I was able to visualize the white-hat/arctic icecap analogy, but I have to admit I did get stuck trying to figure out the Antarctic analogy. I tried to make it click when I saw the video of the polar bear boots with sealskin bottom that a man’s mother had made for him: big white hat, big white snowboots…but the boots are to keep his feet warm, while the hat is to reflect the heat of the sun. Clearly, I still have a way to go before I’m able to teach it to anyone—luckily, when I offer Alaska Studies, we’re not quite so detailed in the science. But information about the importance of sea ice was not difficult to understand. 

I appreciated being able to concentrate on the Bering Straits region. Some years ago, I visited Savoonga for a couple of days in February. Doing a bit of research on the village of Shishmaref reminded me of that visit.  




People who live in the region of study are most often the best authorities, whether the subject is sea ice, climate change, history, cultural practices, weather…any subject. When preparing lessons, I often have to remind myself of the difference between theory and practice, and allow myself to remember the many times that practical knowledge has illuminated, completed, and occasionally even trumped theory. But for the topics at hand, everyone seems to agree. Here's a link to the testimony of the Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition given to the U.S. Senate in 2004:


I have to say that I very much enjoyed the Steven Maclean video, especial his comment that we must “never separate the people from the natural systems.” Brilliant and profound. That concept alone can fill my thoughts for days.


Extend

 

I found a Noaa report card with a short video that illustrates the great cause for concern. This report could be helpful to lessons about sea ice, especially with its plain format and relatable title.

But many times, it’s all about fun: I clicked the “for beginners” button on the "Great Graph Match" and got first one wrong. This activity asks the participant to match the data to the correct biome.

 
But I got the first two correct for the second activity (“To Plant or Not to Plant”), which asks participants to match the plant with the climate, giving me a 2-1 record and the chance to take a break while I was ahead.

And I found this video not only fun, but proud and meaningful as well: The First Dance. Someone might wonder what relation these sites have to sea ice and the rest of the cryosphere. But since our first lessons emphasized that everything is connected, I feel pretty good about including them here this week. Finally, this site on outreach and education was very helpful to increasing my ability to develop lessons, especially the “other resources” at the bottom of the page.


Extend (extended)

As I was studying these concepts, it occurred to me that I learn more easily when I study the process first and am told the label for it after I understand how it works. I realized that I sometimes do that in my own courses, where I offer students information on technique but sometimes don’t worry about telling them if it’s called a predicate or a nominative.

Of course, many times the name of the concept or process is helpful—coordinating conjunction and thesis statement jump to mind—but not in every case. I wondered if sometimes it’s more natural to learn how something works and then to learn its label, much like when we give children a taste of something and then tell them what it’s called. Halibut cheeks! Pumpkin pie! Albedo!

http://on.yakimablogs.com

Evaluate

While I was researching the Bering Strait communities and school district, I was struck by my own memories of Savoonga and by some of the research on the consequences of recruiting authority figures from outside the cultural area to be served. Sometimes it seems that there’s a practice of assuming and actively expecting that village teachers will be moving to Alaska--from somewhere outside Alaska. How, I wondered, does that assumption impact the teacher turnover rate, and how does that turnover rate impact the education that village students receive? Yet there's lots of information available on how best to serve village students and to honor local cultures, e.g., on the website for the Alaska Native Knowledge Network. My hope is to see information such as this on cultural standards included in info-sheets for prospective teachers who are not from the local area.


Blogs

Konrad provides helpful explanations, especially for someone who finds the subjects challenging. I really liked the virtual tunnel pic!

Janet raises interesting question about Alaska snowfall & vegetation that sent me on a very interesting, long web journey. She also includes lots of information on helpful projects & student activities.

Alicia had me at her title, and the rest of her blog is just as good. Creative, helpful, and interesting!
 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Module Seven

Explain: What new learning or reflections have you taken from this module?

When I’m mired in science and math (easy to do), I find illustrations and graphs very useful to my understanding; because of that, the Nasa graphic energy budget helped me immensely, as did the other illustrations, including the carbon cycle, with its percentages that I spent a few minutes adding up, if only to assure myself that I’ve kept at least enough of my grade-school level math to look for 100%. My high school math is non-existent, and my college math is locked up somewhere in a graphing calculator, stuck there like one of the rocks we studied in Cathy Connor’s geology class, having sunk to the bottom when I hit the wall during finals week, fighting Ron Seater’s Math 107 to a draw and vowing never to go back.

http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=20186

As for whether I found other helpful Nasa illustrations, indeed I did, including the one above that reminded me of the summer a few years ago when we had lots of clear skies and smoke coming through the Chilkat Pass and making its hazy way down the Lynn Canal to our own air here in Juneau, which happens only now and then. The source under the image links to a Nasa article that explains the phenomenon. 


Extend: How might you use this week’s information and resources in your lessons?

http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ems/ems.html

The electromagnetic spectrum is somehow fascinating, and Teacher’s Domain, with the interesting and not –too-long videos and the clear informative background essays make it feasible that I might look at the world and see its factual manifestations. Learning and reflection are only complete when they embrace every aspect, I suppose. And any resistance to dry science in favor of elaborate sentence structure is no more than a reminder to me that my own students have their preferences as well. Off I go to teach composition and creative writing, with a new appreciation for those students who say they didn’t have time to revise their essays because they were too busy studying for their math tests. Or geology. Yes, I’ll say. Has an equation been formulated for the complex linkages between the lithosphere and the cryosphere?


Lawrence Berkeley National Labratory http://www.lbl.gov/MicroWorlds/ALSTool/EMSpec/EMSpec2.html


Evaluate: How useful, insightful or relevant are this module’s information and resources?

Although we have a number of chapters in our oral history describing the way that people came to the coast when the ice that had covered most of the land almost up to the water’s edge was retreating, there were always people already here to greet them. I don’t think it can properly be said that Tlingit people (a redundancy that’s rapidly becoming quite acceptable) “discovered the region,” implying that the Tlingit experience with this land—this land from which the culture, the language, the people emerged—is somehow comparable to the European explorers that our children are forced endlessly to study.

 
"The American Flag on Wrangell Land, Near East Cape"
The Cruise of the Corwin, 1917
http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/books.html

Insightful, perhaps not so much. Working its way toward a realization that everything is connected, more so. Scientists are only now being compelled to realize what Native people knew before the Euro-American “discovery” of their lands: everything is indeed connected. Everything has life and all life is equally important. Man is not supreme, nor is he above the animals, the plants, our earth, other people, as the 2005 fourth-grade winning artist for the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies illustrates so well:

http://www.strategies.org/education/index.aspx?sub=education&sub2=student&sub3=2005

Native people some time ago noticed that lakes were going dry, plant cycles were changing, animals were waking early. Students benefit when Native elders teach them, but even more will teachers and scientists benefit from the same opportunity. To be taught by Native people, not to collect their “lore.” To be taught.

 3 Questions & 3 Colleagues

I enjoyed Tracy’s relation of weather in Fairbanks, his gardening, the Chinook wind to our lessons. It seems to me that it’s exactly how humans are meant to learn.

Dougs blog was helpful as well, with an understandable explanation of the scientific principles I need to review several times a day to keep in my head.

I found Cheryl’s comments about ways of understanding  insightful and reassuring. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MODULE SIX

Explain:
What new learning or reflections have you take from this module?





This week, my learning or reflections are probably more renewed than new. From the beginning of the lesson, with the words “In a sense, we're like lobsters living at the bottom of an immense ocean of air, trying to understand the invisible medium in which we dwell, usually obliviously,” I was reminded of one of my favorite books, The Spell of the Sensuous, by David Abram. Abram’s experiences are remarkable, his understanding impressive, and his eloquence masterful. The fact that he is not an indigenous person gives testament to the fact that our relationship with the world is not limited to indigenous people but is part of our common human condition.

Abram observes that people of the modern world consider the “unseen depth between things” as “empty space.” For modern people, air isn’t really noticed until it becomes brown, or it begins to stink, or it carries a visible or otherwise noticeable irritant. For the rest of the time, as Abram says, it’s simply empty space.

But in the indigenous viewpoint, air and breath are estimated quite differently from the way they are perceived in what has become the modern world. There are no rules and laws that guarantee someone the right to say anything they want for the most part without consequence, and words are the audible manifestation of our interaction with the air. We breathe the same air as do trees and dogs and the leavening bread. As Abram says,

Phenomenologically considered—experientially considered—the changing atmosphere is not just one component of the ecological crisis, to be set alongside the poisoning of the waters, the rapid extinction of animals and plants, the collapse of complex ecosystems, and other human-induced horror. All of these, to be sure are interconnected facets of an astonishing dissociation—a monumental forgetting of our human inherence in a more-than-human world. Yet our disregard for the very air that we breathe is in some sense the most profound expression of this oblivion.

Picking up one of my favorite books to refresh its lessons, I was struck by the shared perceptions among this philosopher and the scientists who contributed to this module’s information.



Extend:
How might you use this week’s information and resources in your lessons?

I’m sure that much of the information will be useful one day. I especially like this video that my research led me to “Land is Breath: respecting nature in Altai






Evaluate:
How useful, insightful or relevant are this module’s information and resources?

I have to say that I was also reminded of the colonial phenomenon wherein the colonizing culture creates crises that wound the colonized culture, and then devises would-be solutions to inflict upon the wounded culture, usually doing more harm. I first described this syndrome to a Fetal Alcohol conference at which I was invited to speak. The circumstances seemed so plain to me: a culture had destroyed all values, standards, and ties from the old culture, generating cultural trauma and its aftermath, not the least of which is fetal alcohol syndrome, and then arranged studies and conferences and laws and foster care systems to confound the problem even more. 

A character in my book by the name of Young Tom is hired to go up to Prince William Sound and clean up a bad oil spill but could not bear to stay there. In his mind, the same system that allowed—created—caused—the catastrophe in the first place was now sending people to tell everyone how to clean it all up.
 
As I told the conference, Young Tom’s experience was a metaphor for many other experiences: the system that removed children and took land and ridiculed beliefs was the same system that was now telling everyone how to clean it all up. My hope is that this is not the case for the pollution and global warming and so many other consequences of the consumer society in which we now find ourselves:

Clean Air, Healthy Villages: Diesel Emissions




Clean Air, Healthy Villages: Diesel Emissions




Colleagues:

I appreciated Tracy’s mention of Chinook winds—because I was able to relate to that, I went on to read the whole article with great interest.

Dave’s blogspot is nicely formatted—quite professional looking—and I was gratified to read that he, too, finds some things puzzling. 

I found Sandi’s blog helpful—I like her tip that she starts with weather—and her graphics are very well done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Module V

Explain:

The movement of Earth and the movements on Earth are like a symphony. My favorite visual was the one where we could see the changes in plant life over six years. Of course my eyes kept being drawn to what is now Southeast Alaska, but in this and other videos, the movements of plants and currents and winds on the land and waters of Earth made plain that this planet corresponds and harmonizes with the greater symphony of the solar system and the galaxy whose images weve all seen. It made me want to think about the music created by all these movements, and about how suitably everything fits.

 Available Hubble.org
Helpful Links:

Here’s a great link to Nasa multimedia educational material—watch out! The live space video link made me dizzy.

As far as scientific subjects, I’m afraid that my speed is more suited to websites and explanations such as this one explaining tides, found at Oceanlink.island.net. But I did take a studious look at Ocean News’ History of Climate Change, and together with Module V’s information, I was able to overcome the dizziness that usually befalls me when thinking about the magnitude of our world, and scratch the surface of understanding.
 
The second video from this page of Encyclopedia Britannica online was a helpful reminder for me as well.

Personal Meaning:

As a child in Juneau, when I would run and play all day long from one end of Juneau to the other, climbing mountains, exploring gold mines, splashing in pools, fishing off the docks, I do remember wading in the warm shallow water of the Gastineau Channel and being told that the water was warm because of a special current called the Japanese current that brought warm water all the way to our shores.
  
Encyclopedia Britannica Online Available http://www.britannica.com/bps/media-view?1 

 It turns out that the childhood pleasure of dipping my toes in warm water is related to the Kuroshio current, Western boundary currents, climate changes, and intertidal biodiversity. Somehow knowing that adds to my sense of the harmonics of creation.


Extend and Evaluate:

I’ve recently decided to explore ways that I might spend at least one more summer on the water, and all of these lessons will greatly contribute to my ability to answer questions and communicate with visitors to Alaska. In previous years, I managed to master the elements of long days and glacier movement and plate tectonics, but I’m confident that this series will increase and strengthen my knowledge and understanding.

There are two specific places along the Inside Passage where when we sailed by, the inevitable question always arose: what is that line of brown water? I would explain to the best of my ability that the brown water didn’t go all the way down, but in fact was fresh silt-bearing water from the Stikine or the Katzehin rivers floating on the denser saline water. Temperature and salinity! Thanks to this module, my understanding is stronger.

Three Colleagues:

I enjoyed Sandi’s blog for presenting a clear understanding of the science in this week’s module. The graphics in Kevin’s blog, along with his discussion, were also very helpful to me. Kenai Kathy’s blog was interesting and helpful for the same reasons.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Module Four

The massive area of land now called Alaska has been the location of many sorts of cataclysmic events, some within recent history that allow us to learn about the events from the stories of people who witnessed the events, some within generational history that allow us to learn about the events from the stories of people who have kept that history, whether in writing or by oral tradition, and some within a history so distant that it is the earth alone who tells the stories. These stories of cataclysmic events help students learn about geosciences and cultures by viewing those natural events from a human perspective.

For the most part, volcanoes are classified as active, dormant, and extinct, and that they occur mainly at the edge of geologic characteristics known as plates, which was the subject of earlier study. Here’s a regional map of Alaska volcanoes that shows that volcanoes appear in every part of Alaska. According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, more than three-quarters of the volcano eruptions in the United States in the last 200 years have occurred in what is now the state of Alaska on an average of about one eruption per year. Stories of volcanic events are less common in Southeast Alaska, but there’s no surprise that in areas such as Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands, these stories figure more prominently in a culture’s history. 

The new learning that I’m taking away from this week’s module have to do with more specific information about underwater hotspots, and, of course, even more Google Earth. Another new bit of information I’m taking is the measurement tool known as smoots. I’m happy that I now know not only the history of the measurement, but also its practical application to bridges. It would be fun to use this information as a learning tool in a project that asks students to measure certain areas—their rooms, the distance from their front door to the sidewalk, the width of the playground—and perhaps extend that to large distances that connect communities and cultures, all in the name of it being fun to learn.

The TD tools are invaluable, and I plan to build a sizeable file. Applying new knowledge to the classroom is an ever-challenging task, but for the generation of students who are movie-goers, here’s a fun website that connects volcanoes and popular culture.

Doug’s blog mentions human stories, an important connection. Dan’s blog offers something I found irresistible—a corny volcano song. I found Janet’s writing about images and sounds of earthquakes and waves evocative. And Alison’s restatement of lessons on P waves and S waves was also very helpful.