News and Events of the Bering Strait School District
Sunday February 18th 2018



BSSD and Character Based Literacy

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By Leah Stanek

Saint Michael, AK

While people may not all agree on values or what is most important, rarely will people disagree that respect, responsibility, self-control, integrity, and effort are important values that shape our character and ultimately our destinies. BSSD has adopted a high school, language arts curriculum (Character Based Literacy) that combines classic and contemporary American, world, government, and Alaskan literature with a research-based framework that allows students to explore these values, thoughts, and skills in context with their own unique culture. Students are meeting the state’s grade-level expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and social studies with this enriching curriculum.

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Saint Michael students at Anthony A. Andrews School have been enjoying using both art and technology to enhance their language arts learning experiences. After reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, high school students created brochures that showcased their research skills and understanding of the Great Depression and other social issues that they had been learning about.


Other students were simultaneously reading Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, also a novel that is set during the Great Depression. Students created a word wall that highlighted the vocabulary that they were learning and a timeline that tracked the novel’s main events. Students listened to famous jazz musicians from the Great Depression and Harlem Renaissance and discussed poetry from Langston Hughes, all in context with one of the novel’s themes: Change Requires Effort.

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All high school students contributed to a rock-wall poster that they will proudly hang in their school hallway. Each student created 10-15 rocks of various sizes, shapes, and colors. On each rock students wrote a positive character trait that was being exhibited by a character in the novel that they were reading. They also added an example from their texts to support their findings. The lesson helped them to understand symbolism with a concrete example. The end result was a visual work of art that they created, and it will serve them as a reminder of symbolism as well as the value of character:



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Watch your thoughts; they become words; watch your words; they become actions; watch your actions; they become habit; watch your habits; they become character; watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”  ~ Lao Tzu ~