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Cedar Wood Elementary school students connect with First Nations cultures

Cedar Wood Elementary School students connect with First Nations cultures
Dianne Lundberg, David Jones, and Kelly Moses

From an Everett School District news release.

Year-long social studies initiative culminates in festive event

Cedar Wood Elementary students learn how the cultural and physical environment in which they live impacts their lives

Cedar Wood Elementary teacher Dianne Lundberg’s vision of a year-long social studies initiative for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade came to life this year. She designed the program with a goal of students understanding that the cultural and physical environment in which they live impacts their lives. “I knew that they could learn more about themselves and gain respect for others by better understanding these influences,” explained Lundberg.

The initiative was funded by a $7,500 federal grant and made it possible for students to also research the cultural and physical impacts on the lives of the First Nations peoples of the Northwest.

On June 14, the culminating event drew a standing-room-only crowd to Cedar Wood. Cedar Wood’s drumming group played and sang a song in the Tulalip language. One student shared the legend she had written as part of the project. First Nations storyteller Kelly Moses retold ancient stories handed down through his grandmother and uncles.

Every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade student displayed a storyboard depicting the results researching family culture, with samples of Native American weavings and a copy of the personal history each wrote, titled My Story. Each storyboard was based on the Cultural Connections Classroom Based Assessments (CBAs) created for the project, which can now be used across the district to satisfy the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) social studies requirement for intermediate grades.

Before the culminating event, students visited the State History Museum in Tacoma, the Hibulb Cultural Center on the Tulalip lands, and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. Teachers worked alongside staff from OSPI and the Tulalip Tribes to plan the year-long project. Students learned from a Living Voices presentation on the Navajo Code Talkers and the U.S. government schools established for Native American children.

Cedar Wood Principal David Jones commented, “There is no way to measure the life-changing impacts of this year-long social studies initiative, other than to relay the hundreds of comments from parents as they recounted how intensely their children were investigating their family traditions, cultures and influences.

“None of this would have existed had Dianne Lundberg not had the vision, the energy and the patience to guide this massive effort. As one of our third‑grade teachers commented at the end of the culminating event, ‘I now see how all of this fits together. Dianne created so many rich and meaningful experiences for each of our students. We can do this again next year even better.’ That’s the definition of second order change.”

For more information please contact Mary Waggoner, 425-385-4040.