The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.library.books
    MACK DICKSON takes a book off the “blind date” cart at the Fayette library. Patrons can choose a book without knowing what’s inside other than a general category. The books are among those designated for removal so patrons can consider them gifts. In Morenci, new books and staff favorites were chosen from the stacks and must be returned. Patrons get a piece of chocolate, too, to take on their date, but no clue about their “date.” One reader said she really enjoyed her book for a few pages, but then lost interest—so typical for a blind date.

Mayan Pot project 2009.03.11

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Not all of the young archeologists succeeded in their quest to interpret stories recorded on shards of broken pottery.

In one case, drawings of wolves were seen as turtles. A camping trip evolved into the classic race between the tortoise and the hare.mayan.starting_pots.jpg

That was all right with Morenci Middle School teacher Doug Rupp. It’s a writing class that he’s teaching; not a study of ancient cultures.

Mr. Rupp got the idea from a colleague at Clinton’s middle school and reworked it for his sixth grade classes.

“The Mayans [of Mexico and Central America] were great story tellers,” Mr. Rupp said in the introduction to the assignment.

The project began with a fictional narrative. Each student wrote a story that included dialogue and incorporated elements of creativity such as foreshadowing, flashbacks, similes and metaphor. Students were urged to keep the main idea of their tale to themselves.

This was followed by a trip to the school computer lab to view samples of Mayan art on websites.

Next, each student received a Mayan pot—a terra cotta flowerpot that would soon be transformed into a centuries old piece of decorated pottery.

With paints and brushes, each student retold their story by drawing it onto the pot—no words allowed.

When complete, each pot was placed in a grocery sack and stapled closed. Then came a step that was a little difficult for many students. Holding the sack high, they dropped it onto the sidewalk in front of the school.

After all that work, there was some hesitation to break it into pieces, Mr. Rupp said.

He had a different form of anxiety. He never tried out this step of the project ahead of time and he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. mayan.it_broke.jpg

Three students lined up, lifted their sacks and let go. Mr. Rupp scurried over to check the damage. It was perfect. Complete destruction. There were only a few cases where he had to give an extra crushing blow.

Bags were traded and reconstruction got underway. Piece by piece, each pot was glued back together so the painted story could be read.

“I didn’t know how the gluing was going to go,” Mr. Rupp said. “Some were really difficult to reassemble.”

There were three or four kids in each class who couldn’t get the pot back together—much better than the 50/50 split Mr. Rupp feared might happen.

At this point the project was about three-fourths complete. Now the archeologists became writing students once again. The pots were reconstructed; now came the reconstruction of the story.

By looking at the painted drawings, students had to put the tale back into words, trying to interpret what they saw into another fictional narrative.

“The challenge was to be more elaborate than what was on the pots,” Mr. Rupp said. “Some kids gave a lot of detail and ended up with a longer story than the original.”

The final segment of the assignment was a comparison between the original story and the reconstructed tale.

Many stories matched up fairly well. Others—like the wolves that became turtles—provided a good laugh.

“The kids were rolling,” Mr. Rupp said. “We had a good time with that one.”

In Mr. Rupp’s opinion, the Mayan Pot Project was a complete success. He sees the assignment as a lot of fun, but also as a meaningful way to approach writing.

Attention, fifth grade students: You will experience this project next year when you move into Mr. Rupp’s English class. This one is a keeper.

• The Mayan Pot project was funded by a grant from the Morenci Education Foundation.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016