Friday, April 3, 2009

Red River Valley?

The Red River Valley

From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you taking the sunshine
Which has brightened our pathways awhile.

ome and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the one who has loved you so true.

Won't you think of the valley you're leaving
O how lonely, how sad it will be?
O think of the fond heart you're breaking
And the grief you are causing to me.*

As you go to your home by the ocean (Pacific)
May you never forget those sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley
And the love we exchanged 'mid the flowers.*

Now our valley has been underwater
Snow and ice make our Red River white
How I wish I could leave my dear
Fargo, (N.D.)
And Go Far your warm coast tonight.*

Two days ago I subbed in a third grade class. I asked them if they had ever heard of the Red River Valley?...the place or the folksong? Nope! Nobody had. They might get exposed to it in fourth or fifth grade when they are supposed to study California and U.S. Westward Movement. So...I gave them alittle "pre-lesson" in U.S. geography. Yes, they had a map, which is unusual. I pointed out the Red River in North Dakota and how it flows north to Canada. I should've also pointed out another Red River, flowing southeast on the border of Oklahoma and Texas going through Lousiana to the Mississippi. I then taught them the old folksong "Red River Valley" and we acted it out. They squealed with delight at the suggestive words and how we picked two popular kids, a boy and a girls to go from the east side to the west side of the room. (sitting, waving, throwing kisses) They wanted to do it again with other people. They seem starved for this kind of teaching/learning. Role playing, acting it out, kinesthetic modalities are now mostly neglected in our classrooms. Singing for fun and leaning about our folk history is superfluous. This is part of our cultural history!

We discussed, at length, the current situation in Fargo, North Dakota. How it might feel to have your home and school flooded with icy river water 43' above its normal level. We recalled the news pix of human chains filling and stacking sand/dirt bags to make a levy around the town. These California kids have no idea of what it might be like living in the midwest with the constant threat of flooding, tornados, hurricanes etc. Yes, we have earthquakes but they don't seem as devestating. (We did discuss why I must know where they are at all time in case of an earthquake ie. at the library, computer lab, restroom) We talked about the loose tiles over the recessed lights in the ceiling and how they could fall and slice one up.

The song, I always associated with a more southern/western region such as the lower map. (Tex.Ok. La) I'm sure our pioneers came west from both North Dakota and Oklahoma. They left loved ones behind. I asked how many had ancestors/relatives from the midwest. Not many, maybe two or three. I told them about mine from Nebraska, Minnesota and Kentucky and how they came west for better jobs etc. They were only one generation back. This folksong probably goes back even further. If I had been their teacher, and/or they were in the fourth or fifth grades I'd assign them a research paper/project to find out about their ancestors and where they came from and why. I'd ask if they had any songs they the blues, lost loves etc. How many would have asked about relatives from Mexico or Canada. This is a workable rubric, don't you think? RRR

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