Friday, August 29, 2014

Studio D 11 Introduces American Studies

Studio D 11 combines U.S. History and English 3 American Literature, so naturally the theme for our exploration and research this year is the "American Dream."

But what is the American Dream? A 9 to 5 job, home ownership, a white picket fence and 2.5 kids? Is the American Dream the same for every American? And does every American truly have equal access to success? These are some of the questions we will be discussing and debating as we begin our year.

We started our discussion with several related readings, including Langston Hughes' poem "I, Too, Sing America" and Sherman Alexie's short story "Indian Education." These readings and our early discussions not only introduced us to some of the stereotypes different Americans encounter but also to some of the historical events that have led to our perceptions and bias today.

Student groups have selected topics related to Native American history and present day life. This week they have been researching their respective topics, specifically exploring how various historical events, such as the Dawes Act or the Nez Perce War, have led directly to present day conditions, laws, and beliefs. Throughout this research experience students are instructed in specific research skills, including how to use preliminary readings to formulate relevant research questions and arguments and how to evaluate sources for relevancy, accuracy, and bias. One surprising aspect of our week has been how much students love using books! It's true, not all the best research is conducted online - sometimes a good old-fashioned book is where it's at for informational reading!

Next week, we will focus on the skills of critique and revision, and students will critique each other's presentations.

Just as a P.S., at home students should be finishing or revisiting their summer reading assignment, Hiroshima.