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Backyard History - Interdisciplinary Unit

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From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Aug 01 2001 - 22:56:38 PDT


On thankful Thursday -- I am thankful for the Internet and e-mail!

I am having so much fun in my grad class "Backyard History"...I have
so many ideas now what I want to do for my art project...I took this
class because it was something I was going to do anyway this summer on
my own (learn more family history)---and it was an inexpensive
semester credit hour (great deal!).

I did find out some more of my family history these past few
days....This writing stuff? It goes clear back to Nicholas Richer in
Berne, Switzerland (GGG grandfather)-- he was a journalist. I also
found that Martha Richer (great-great grandmother) was also a school
teacher (in addition to GG grandfather and G grandfather)..so I guess
I have earned this "right" to teach school. Somehow we have to get the
kiddies interested in learning FAMILY history (or local history)---
then learning the rest of history will be more fun. Now that I have
all of these family dates - I can see how my family fit into the world
around them. I didn't like history growing up --- now I find it
fascinating (I am still awful with dates-- just kind of go for the big
picture). I have taken the bits and pieces that have been written down
by other family members and have found more tidbits by searching the
Internet. On some sites, I found names of people who would do
"look-ups" and I wrote e-mail to them. I may never hear from
them---but it is a start.

This would be a great interdisciplinary project for social studies -
language arts - and art. I know our eighth graders do a unit on
immigration in my school. I am going to try to get them on board for
some cross curricular sharing....I can see a unit on "Identity" or
"Family Heroes".
Searching the internet for bits of information is not something the
kids could do over night....I have spent hours myself (just seeing
where various links would take me..and searching all of the family
names). This would be a super project to include the parents. A word
of caution....Many of the children will not be able to find much on
their family history -- but they should at least be able to find some
local history.

Well... I have "talked" enough" and played enough for one day...

Judy Decker

P.S. I even found why I am the way I am (just in case anyone asks
"What is wrong with you?" again-- Definition Of The Surname Richer
http://www.geocities.com/thericher/ I did send that to my brothers so
they would know why they are the way they are, too...smile. Kind of
fun what you can find --- Sorry to say no royalty or Indian princesses
along the way....and can't claim any Native American blood (unless it
was WAY back on my mom's side somewhere and they kept it quiet --
Mom's side came over in the 1600's). This is really a fun way to do
research! Please...no requests to search other family names (tee-hee).

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