Published On: Fri, Apr 16th, 2010

Making Cultural Connections in the Social Studies Classroom at CMS

By BETTE FITZGERALD

CHEROKEE MIDDLE SCHOOL

An example of a student-made exhibit of Cherokee clan masks. (Photo courtesy of Bette Fitzgerald/CMS)

Seventh grade students at Cherokee Middle School take a break from the textbooks to apply the concepts they are learning about world geography to Cherokee culture.  Coach Sam Lambert takes a creative and engaging approach to the social studies curriculum by incorporating art in the classroom. 

With the artistic guidance of Susan Lanier, Gear Up coordinator, and Frosti Adams, teacher assistant, students sculpted clan masks and beaded pencil holders.  Students compared the Cherokee masks to the African masks and the Cherokee beadwork to Asian artwork. 

Students also researched their family heritage to create family trees to supplement their study of Cherokee culture.  Coach Lambert based these unique classroom experiences on the North Carolina standard course of study. 

“I am thrilled to see the mini-clan mask projects continuing and expanding to beadwork this year.  It is so important to have creativity in the classroom to meet the needs of our diverse learners,” said Mrs. Bette Fitzgerald, who developed the clan mask project with Coach Lambert through support of a Learning Links grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina in 2009. 

CMS Students participating in the Clan Mask project include: front (left-right): Olivia LaCombe, Peri Wildcatt, Nesta Bradley, Elicio George; middle - Makayla Pheasant, Christian Driver, Kendall Toineeta, Robert Maney, Cole Wildcatt, Gerald Kekabah; back - Allie Brown, Sunshine Toineeta, Destini Paugh, Christine Davis, Chan Lossiah, Brandon Buchanan, Jace Girty, and Jared Panther. (Photo courtesy of Bette Fitzgerald/CMS)

Coach Lambert commented, “Applying classroom studies to our local Native American history helps students to value their heritage and make meaningful connections and comparisons to the world in which we live,” He said he is very proud of the student effort on the projects and the wonderful support from Lanier and Adams.

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