Friday, June 16, 2017

End of the year wrap up

Students were given detailed final exam guides to help them.   Scores are consistent with students' overall grades.

I wish all my Freshman and Sophomore students a great summer.

Mrs. Olsen will be in Boston this summer studying 17th century interactions between Indians and settlers...the best part is that she will learn more history "stuff" and great teaching hints to help her next year in the classroom.  Plus:  her ancestors lived in the same area, and one of them was killed in an Indian War, "King Phillip's War,"  so it will be of double interest for her.

Mrs. Olsen is also a member of the Library Board and is encouraging students to visit the library for some great reading books.  Teens have their own separate section of the library---and it really has wonderful selections and great DVDS.

See you in a few months!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation and Adolph Hitler

Just how far are you separated from famous and infamous people?
There is the idea that we are only separated "six degrees" of separation from other people.
Mrs. Olsen has met two people who had close contact with Adolph Hitler--so that means there is only one person between her and the famous dictator.  So, far all her students--they are only two degrees of separation from one of the most evil men of all time.
One day, several years, ago, she met a woman at a nursing home in Salem, who had met Hitler as a young woman.  He was then the leader of Germany, but World War II had not yet begun.  She had been an excellent swimmer and was the winner of several swim meets.  He came through her small town in Germany and shook hands with her and awarded the medal.   The woman was quite elderly, but she asked to remain anonymous.  Still, she said that Hitler smiled at her and made small talk.

The next man, was Arnie Lehman, who was one of the last messenger boys for Hitler when he was living in a bunker underneath the city of Berlin.  He was only 15 when he ran back and forth delivering messages from the bunker to military personnel around the city.  Arnie lived in Oregon and spoke at the Salem Public Library in 2003.  He has since died, but it was interesting to hear him talk about the last days of Germany before it was defeated in World War II.

Its kind of neat to know that history--even history about the bad guys--is not that far removed from my students who are learning about the Rise of Dictators and World War II.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harlem Renaissance

In the 1920s, in Harlem, New York, a groups of mostly African Americans gathered together to create a dynamic time of creativity in music, dance, and poetry.   The writers and musicians who participated during this time are iconic:  they include the poets Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and the Jazz Musicians Duke Ellington.  There were many other African American women and men who were known as icons of this age.  The Harlem Renaissance also influences communities in Paris, where the dancer, Josephine Baker became wildly popular.  However there were still unusual racial divides:  The Cotton Club provided all black entertainment to an all white audience.

Unfortunately, the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance did not extend into the segregated South, where African Americans faced severe restrictions, voting limitations, and limited opportunities.  Earlier, there had been waves of migration out of the South to the Northern Cities and Southern California.  The Harlem Renaissance ended abruptly with the Great Depression.  Even the great art, music, and vibrancy would not withstand the huge economic shocks that occurred.  The audiences dried up: and most of the former entertainers were left looking for work.

Still, it remains a wonderful opportunity to study how black culture flowered after the decades long struggle to establish a non-slave identity.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918-1920

In 1918, the greatest health disaster in human history unfolded.  A influenza, more deadly than any seen before circled the globe.

It was an unusual flu:  it targeted not just the very young and elderly, but the healthiest of the population.  For pregnant women it was especially lethal:  almost 70% of pregnant women who caught the flu ended up dying.

There are many books written about this flu.  Students in 9th grade just did a FACT or OPINION discussion about the flu.  They examined many primary documents about this serious event.

I remember asking my grandmother about this.  My grandmother, Mae Tigner, was born in 1902.  She told me that she was told to "stay in" and communities stopped socializing as the flu spread from city to city.

In Alaska, the Inuit or Native American population suffered worse:  the communities had to face an onslaught of the flu, measles and diphtheria.  Some communities lost everyone:  only months later when the spring thaw began did people discover whole villages that had succumbed to illness.

The flu epidemic was quickly "forgotten" compared to the disaster it was.  It was lumped into the general disaster of World War I and the Russian Revolution.  Also, the fact that so many died meant that mourning the victims was done not just privately but collectively.  As I told my students, most of them had relatives that suffered from this flu, or even died from it.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Both 10th and 9th graders are back to work at the beginning of second semester.  I just hope we have NO MORE snow days. 

Ninth graders will be learning about World War I.   This is always an interesting and sad event.  One of my favorite stories from World War I, is that of the famous pigeon, Cher Amis. 
On October 30, 1918, Charles Whittlesey dispatched messages by pigeon, when his men were trapped.  The first message, "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." was shot down. A second bird was sent with the message, "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon also was shot down. Only one homing pigeon was left: "Cher Ami". She was dispatched with a note in a canister on her left leg,
We are along the road paralell (sic) to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.
As Cher Ami tried to fly back home, the Germans saw her rising out of the brush and opened fire. For several moments, Cher Ami flew with bullets zipping through the air all around her.  She managed to deliver the message but was gravely wounded.  She healed of her wounds and went on tour to the United States.  A little wooden leg was carved for her...but sadly, her life was cut short, even for a pigeon, and she died a year later.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

FINAL EXAMS and the INAUGURATION of President elect Trump

Students in 9th grade and 10th grade have all received their final exam test guides.  These guides are very specific to the test.  Freshman students were given a blue sheet with questions and we did the review in class.   Students in 10th grade have a yellow sheet--and the review is partially on line.

Thank you students for studying hard.  I know you will do well.

I am available after  class Tuesday through Friday and finals week for make up work.

On Friday morning, 2nd period will be watching the inauguration of President elect Trump as an historical event that they should remember.  Mrs. Olsen has been careful to leave current politics out of the classroom, but it is important that students see and remember a presidential inauguration.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Animals and the places they occupy in our hearts

Well, it has happened.  Snow and cold weather has arrived.  We are out for a long Christmas break and Mrs. Olsen is home with the two cats, two rabbits and two dogs that occupy her house. 

We have been learning about the Progressive Era in Social Studies 9, and part of that Era was the formation of the Humane Society in 1866.  Earlier animal societies had been formed in Europe, but now Americans joined groups that were concerned about the treatment of animals:  including domestic pets and livestock and transportation animals.  Here is a picture of the Dorothea Dix Fountain in Boston that was created for horses to drink out of.  Dorothea Dix was a popular supporter of animal rights, but she is best known for her pioneering work with the mentally ill.

Mrs. Olsen shares her home with Joey and Bumbles.  They are not owned by her, but they live with her, and actually just kind of tolerate her.

The most famous cat was Petrarch's cat.  Petrarch was an Italian poet, who was very attached to his cat.  He actually wrote a poem to his cat, which has made that cat very famous.  It was even put on a tomb.  Mrs. Olsen did grow up in Salem, but her family dogs are buried out at the family farm near Turner.  It makes her sad to think of her animals that have passed on, but happy to think they can hear the calls of the Canadian Geese in the fall as they fly over their final resting place.  Many students also have animals and have adopted them from Humane Societies.  Mrs. Olsen's two dogs are rescues.