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IMGALTTAG Volume II: Changing Family Structure


Digging at Our Roots: Examining Our Family Through Creative Nonfiction
Mara Cregan
The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts

Digging at Our Roots: Examining Our Family Through Creative Nonfiction will examine the structure of the American family and its migration from the home lands during the past 100 years as a means to coming to conclusions about one’s own place in terms of family and neighborhood. This course will culminate for students in a series of family themed essays that examine the students’ family and the roots their family has made in their city neighborhood. The intention of this course is to develop students’ research and writing skills; provide an overview of how the American family has changed and developed over the last 100 years; and to make connections between the world at large and their own unique family structure.


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Families in Literature
Amber H. Dean
Arlington Accelerated Academy

This multidisciplinary unit will focus on the ever-changing American family. The students will examine family life in 1930’s, 1960’s, and present day 2007. The years selected complement novels being read in literature and historical units studied in social studies. This unit is designed for middle school students; however it could be adapted for high school students. This Unit will take 6 class periods to complete.


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Looking out for our future
Where Have All the Brothers Gone?
Carlton Heywood
Westinghouse High School

In the latest report of the National Urban League, The State of Black America, 2007 there is a tremendous focus on the current status of the African American Male. In fact the subtitle of this document is “Portrait of the Black Male”. On this book’s cover there is an emphatic illustration of a troubled young black man with his hands partially covering his face. This image sends a powerful message to those that understand that though quantum leaps of progress have been achieved throughout the years, the quality of life for too many African American men is not where it should be when compared to the rest of America.

This especially holds true for the city of Pittsburgh. The city of Pittsburgh has recently been voted the coveted title of “the most livable city”. This title however does not reflect the desperate condition that one of the city’s major groups of citizens is living through. In this case it is the African American males who are the most unemployed, uneducated, and therefore at the highest risk for having the lowest quality of life.

The purpose of this unit is to get our school system to examine the history of this situation and to take measures to ensure that all students, and particularly the young African American males, reverse this phenomenon. It is hoped that if this unit is utilized in part or in it’s entirety, that it can be used to bridge the academic achievement gap and that all students will be empowered to become successful citizens in their homes and their communities.

The emphasis will be threefold. Students will examine the history and biographies of several African American men that have themselves turned the tables of adverse conditions to become successful. The students will learn about individuals that are both famous and those that are on a local level. Students will read and report on the individuals to make the connection with the positive leadership and personality traits that caused the individuals to persevere through life’s struggles. The results of their findings will be used to enhance primary research and writing skills. Students will use the reports and readings for English and Social Studies class requirements and curriculum.

Students will establish and maintain a mentor relationship with local individuals that have earned success in their respective fields. It is believed that one of the major missing elements within the African American community is the lack of positive male role models. It is hoped that the students will be able to connect with the local individuals to enhance their academic and social skills. Students will also analyze a nature documentary that demonstrates what happens when young elephants are left to raise themselves. Students will be expected to make comparisons to the current state of African American males.


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What Makes Us Human
Kellie Malone
Oliver High School

This year’s seminar series that I attended was lead by Tim Kelly of Saint Vincent College. The series was titled Family History and based on information researched and collected by Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg titled Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. The information covered in the book looked at the family role in the community and within its own structure through the decades beginning with the pilgrimage from Europe and immigration of different cultures and religions around the world there after up until the 1980’s.

The Biology class I presently teach is based around the BSCS curriculum A Human Approach. Rather than teaching about the biological world from the smallest unit, the cell, this course looks at the unifying characteristics all living things share and the qualities that are unique to the human species solely.

The unit that I have created is designed to supplement the information and discussions about the human capacity for learning and our lengthy childhood. Childhood has been redefined over the past 400 years and has continued to change and adapt depending on the economic status of a community, the technology available, and the cultures and ethics held by a variety of populations.

I hope that this unit will stimulate my students to look at the family as a type of “Cell.” A working unit with unique organelles with each having a niche and characteristic that adapts to the environment of the present. Those that adapt positively will succeed.


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SOCIETAL EFFECTS ON THE CLASSROOM
Kathleen McHugh
Pittsburgh Gifted Center

American families have undergone dramatic transformations in the past few decades and those changes affect the climate in our classrooms. The make up of family members is different. Social activities for children athletics, musical, social, religious, and their travel opportunities have expanded. Parental activities and social events have increased. More acceptance is given of single parents, same sex parents, and step-parents. Increased income, the education level of parents, computers, internet access in the home, advanced technologies in the home, have all changed the way we do things. As a result of all these changes, teacher expectations, parental expectations, and the accountability of who is to educate/socialize the child, changes in its focus.

I do not plan on teaching this subject matter as a subject, but rather include the main elements into how I manage my class, relate to my students and what expectations are reasonable and appropriate, and my accountability in the scheme of things. Also, using the content and expanding the research to include data and statistics from the US Census Bureau, I will develop lessons using this data, and how it can be used to understand change. Looking at our society and the family and how it has evolved, does have an impact on our students and how they learn, so we as educators must adapt to the changes, or risk becoming ineffective, doing the same things in the same way.


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Creating a Family Documentary
Melissa A. Pearlman
The Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts

This unit is designed for the 9th grade English classroom. At the conclusion of the semester, students will revisit a theme that has been consistent all term: the role of family. Students will explore the origins of their own family/community history in an effort to identify the importance of the family unit in today’s society. After a variety of research and investigative activities, students will gain a broader sense of their own family’s history and patterns of migration. The final product will be for students to create an iMovie that depicts the evolution of the students’ individual family. The aim of this unit is for students to view a sampling of documentary critically, and be able to explain how verbal and visual features are used to construct a version of reality, to support a point of view and/or to persuade an audience to a particular point of view.


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Investigating Family Changes
Thru the Eyes of Statisticians
Paula Shaffer-Roche
Taylor Allderdice High School

The unit will cover general aspects of the concept of the family throughout centuries. The bulk of the unit, however, will focus on the nineteenth century and the variety of changes existing within the family. Mainly, students will investigate these changes statistically and make predictions for the future based on their findings. Part of my paper will concentrate on the research related to how the idea of family is drastically changing in society.  I would also like my paper to cover the strategies/lessons that are going to facilitate students’ statistical understanding. Many studies indicate that one of the best ways for promoting student learning is to give them opportunities to develop ownership in the process of education. Hence I would like to provide educators with lessons that encourage students to create their own areas of investigation. They will write papers, use software to analyze data, and communicate their findings and predictions for the outlook for tomorrow. I expect the unit to be covered within a two week span. However, I feel educators can shorten or lengthen this time span in order to meet time constraints placed by their own district.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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