Current Events at the Middle School: The Situation in Ukraine
Over the past two weeks, teachers at the Middle School have been responding to current events by incorporating content into their classes to help students better understand the situation in Ukraine.
The sixth-grade students in Ms. DiMarco’s Social Studies class have learned throughout the year the various governmental systems in ancient civilizations such as an empire, dictatorship, dynasty, monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, republic, etc. This understanding of the governmental systems in ancient times provides students with the tools to help interpret modern-day governments. Mr. Lucas offered a question and answer session so students could write questions on note cards to share their immediate concerns regarding the situation. Part of the discussion revolved around compassion in times like these and considering our community members who may have familial connections to either Ukraine or Russia.
The seventh-grade US History classes explored and investigated the theme of world governments early in the second trimester. Given the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, this new knowledge about governments types assisted students in grasping a deeper understanding of the conflict as much more than just military action. The students used notecards to write their questions of personal inquiry. Mr. Lucas facilitated several class discussions that revolved around their interests and curiosity, and students had the opportunity to research to find answers. Examples of students' queries were related to the Russian government's motives, the concept of national power, NATO and EU; the purpose and structure of each, NATO's Article 5, US involvement, economic sanctions, and weaponizing of the Internet.
Additionally, earlier this week, Mrs. Andriana Turcotte was our guest speaker. She provided background and perspective from her own life experience of how Ukrainians have their own unique identity, culturally with music, food, dance, art, dress, and religious observations. She shared numerous Ukrainian artifacts to enrich the student experience during her presentation.
The eighth-graders have experienced a coordinated effort of Social Studies and English classes. Mr. Walp facilitated daily discussions on Ukraine while making connections to recurrent curricular themes of human rights and spheres of influence (such as NATO vs. Russia). He also collaborated with Mr. Laubscher to incorporate media literacy skills to help students identify and navigate through proper sourcing, fake news, fact vs. opinion articles, and more.
Mrs. Riker used a quick read of Animal Farm to make students aware of Russian history and to illustrate propaganda and a dictatorship action. Mr. Laubscher visited English classes as well to dovetail with a discussion of examples of propaganda strategies at work in the novel by highlighting past and current propaganda in Ukraine and Russia. The eighth-graders synthesized their learning by creating their own political cartoons.
Students have also been participating in the fundraiser to raise money for Ukraine. Such connections to the real world create extremely meaningful learning opportunities, empowering our students to be critical thinkers and global citizens. Parents are encouraged to be in an ongoing dialogue with their children as the circumstances of current events evolve.