Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Crater Lake---a Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Crater Lake was formed when a massive eruption of Mount Mazama 7700 years ago caused the mountain to collapse, leaving a steaming caldera. Centuries of rain and snow filled the caldera creating Crater Lake.  For years, it was referred to as a mysterious blue lake.  In the picture above, some early hikers take a break while a photograph is taken. 

In 1902, after letters and pictures attested to its great natural beauty, Theodore Roosevelt gave it National Park Status....the first in Oregon.   During the Progressive Era, many fundamental social and economic improvements were made.  This era also included a greater interest in providing city parks, gathering places, river walks, and designated areas of "national" beauty.

In Portland, the Olmstead firm, which had designed Central Park, created beautiful Laurelhurst Park and other areas where the "working folk" could enjoy their after hours.  Silver Creek Falls has also been considered for National Park designation, but unfortunately the early logging left the state not quite as pristine.  Most students have been to Silver Creek Falls...the most visited state park in Oregon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shaun Tan and The Arrival

Students in 9th grade history are reading a very special book...but it is a book without words,only illustrations.  The book was written by Shaun Tan, and it is called The Arrival.
In the book, he sought to illustrate an immigrant's life in a way that is both fantastic and strange, so that it closely replicates what life must have been like for someone coming to a new country.

Monsters with tentacles, and giants who vacuum up men are all symbolic of the many reasons why immigrants came to this new country.   Censorship and the wars of despotism are also included....all in a fanciful books filled with different images based somewhat on the iconic immigration photos of the late 1800's.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Nitty Gritty New York City and the Ash Can School of art

Students in 9th grade are learning about the conditions in the large cities of America.  Many of the difficult conditions of these cities prompted reforms that made life better for all Americans.  For example, we can see the "park" movement here in Salem and Portland with Bush Park and Laurelhurst Park. 

Many artists chose to document life in the big city at the turn of the century.  Life was gritty and crowded.  The ashcan artists documented this urban environment. 

One of the most famous pictures shows a boxing match...and boy, it is a pretty riveting picture.  It was painted by George Bellows and deliberately blurred to show movement.   You can't even see the man's face as he's beaten to a pulp!  It looks kind of like a blurry blob!  Yes, this iconic painting is called Stag night at Sharkey's--and is located in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Welcome back, 2014!

Hi everyone, and welcome back to another great year in Mrs. Olsen's history classes.

This year I'll be teaching freshman history and AP European history.

Every summer, Mrs. Olsen goes somewhere interesting to learn more about history and make her a better teacher.  This year, she studied the nuclear industry that developed at the Hanford site near the tri cities of Washington state.

She even got to tour the B2 reactor where the plutonium was produced for Trinity (the test site) and Nagasaki bombs.  It was interesting and sad at the same time.  I even saw where the plant was disconnected as the cold war came to an end.  Seeing a nuclear power plant up close was pretty interesting.

I don't think I received any radiation, but if my hair starts to frizz, let me know!

Though most of our work is done in class, I will be putting an update on the website, so click on the left for your class work. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Afghanistan Girl.....

In 10th grade history, we are fast approaching the end of the year.  I posted the picture of the Afghan girl from the National Geographic outside my door.  I am always surprised to see students stop and read about her.  They talk about how different she looks.

No one really can ever forget her beautiful eyes....but after twenty years, her life had exposed her to the sun and open fires, hard work and the trials that await so many women of the 'global south.'  You can read about her story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Girl

 This month, I'll be attending an Global Girl Empowerment conference up in Portland.  Last year's conference was on the African continent. 

I have also been encouraging my female students to speak up more in class.  The recent ban bossy movement promoted by Sheryl Sandberg highlighted how girls are often asked to speak less often in class.  Since I've instated a few of these changes, the BOYS are now telling me to make sure I ask the GIRLS like I committed to when I discussed this with them. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The American Indian Movement

 In Sophomore American History, students are learning about the American Indian Movement.  During this time, Indians fought for greater rights while highlighting the injustices of the past.  Reservations were barricaded and there was random violence.  Most of the protests, however, involved civil disobedience.  At the Academy Awards, actor Marlon Brando was up for an Oscar for his performance in The Godfather.  When his name was announced, we were stunned to see a beautiful Native American woman come up to the stand and refuse the award.  The short speech she read spoke of Mr. Brando's disgust with the portrayal of American Indians on screen, but also alluded to past injustices in real Native American History.  I remember seeing this happen, and there was a loud murmur and some heckling while she attempted to read her speech.  Students in my class now get to read Brando's speech from this controversial time. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crimean Peninsula

With Crimea's decision to join the Russian Federation, we have spent some time discussing border changes in class.  The other day, I stood in front of the map, during period 6, and colored it yellow (Russia).  Students asked about the dark line between the Czech Republic and Slovakia...and I explained the Velvet revolution.

Then they asked about the dark line at the bottom of Yugoslavia...again I explained about Kosovo's independence.  Now I just placed a line at the top of the Crimean Peninsula.  At Sprague, we have quite a few Ukrainian and Russian students...one of my students was even born in Yalta...the site of the 1945 conference. 

This is an exciting time for Russia, not so much for the Ukraine.  Students will be learning about other border changes---as we move in the annexations of Germany during the 1930's.  Catherine the Great was thrilled to finally get her port on the Black Sea....and I have always thought that Crimea should be a part of Russia.  Still, it is interesting to see these historic changes come about....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faberge and the lost world of the Russian Romanov family...

Students in 9th grade history are learning about World War I and the Russian Revolution.  We spend a slide show learning about the Romanovs, the last royal family of Russia.  They will also see in afilm, Rasputin, how the Tsars' bad decisions let to the downfall of the dynasty...and some brutal deaths.

Peter Carl Faberge was the court jeweler to the Romanov family.  Faberge was originally from Baltic Germany, and the Faberge firm was known for their use of precious and semi-precious gemstones, often in whimsical ways.  Since Easter was a major holiday in the Russian Orthodox calendar, eggs were made from precious materials, with different themes, and given to various members of the royal family.

Those are some fancy Easter eggs...most of the eggs are now in the Russian state museums, but Queen Elizabeth of England also owns the greatest number outside of Russia.

The Russian Royal eggs are tinged with sadness....a time when Russia oppressed its poor and communist cells plotted to take over the government. It all came tumbling down into a chaotic revolution that took hundreds of thousands of lives.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Olympics and Sports Nationalism

Ninth grade students are learning about the America's new frontiers in their Imperialism unit.  After the Wild West was tamed, America needed a new frontier.  Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were areas where America expanded in territory and influence.

Sports supported this idea of competition.  They evolved into national events such as the Olympics and the Tour de France. Since that time, many Olympics have been held.  Some have been tainted (such as the Berlin 1936 Olympics), others have been subject to terrorist attacks (Munich Olympics), while others have been boycotted...Moscow and Los Angeles.   This year the Olympics are going to be held in Sochi, Russia.  This is a fantastic opportunity for Russia to host an Olympics since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe.  Students in ninth grade will be receiving a mini-lesson on the Olympics when they begin in February. 
The first modern day Olympics was held in Athens, Greece in 1896.  It was based on Baron de Coubertin's own philosophy:

The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.