People, Plains and Prairie Institute
1995-96 School Year in Review

Carolyn Mathews
Glenpool Middle School
P.O. Box 1149
Glenpool Oklahoma 74033

This is my third year at Glenpool as library media specialist. I realized early on that I had to be the one to create a secure program, one in which a relatively small school could keep me.

Our school district has a total of 232 employees, mostly younger than me. There are 139 teachers Pre-School through twelfth grade serving 2,277 students. The number of families that are employed that have children attending this school district are 76. Being a “people person” I enjoy making new friends and after moving from Tulsa and purchasing a new home to be nearer my father, and across the street from the school campus, I set out to establish my “sense of place” by attending city council meetings, focusing my interest on the City Park Board and faithfully reading the Glenpool Post newspaper. I truly wanted a bonding relationship with my new neighborhood.

By the time school started I was settled in a weekly routine and assigned myself to design activities that could possibly be incorporated into the elementary and middle school curriculum. I especially wanted to make friends with the newly assigned teachers at each level. I made sure that the lesson plans, books, and additional resources that I had collected during the KSU summer institute were placed in display cases with additional copies in the teachers’ mail boxes.

I came across an article in the Tulsa World (August 8) released by the Lt. Governor’s office announcing a $1.5 million Canada Geese sculpture project. The project was being offered to fourth and fifth grade teachers. A fund drive began September 21 at Lake Murray State Park to complete, restore and preserve the hidden treasures of Tucker Tower. The 46 geese sculpture will symbolize Oklahoma as the 46th state, noting the Canada geese migration to the park each year. Being a native Okie, and needing money to operate my yearly library media projects I was seriously interested in the $1,000 offered for students to name the sculpture. In fact, I was haunted by Canada geese as I shopped bookstores, gift shops, and clothing outlets! After several dreams of wild geese in flight, my heart and mind decided to take the lead. I first began with the exploration, then followed through with the research and finally presented the proposal to the fifth grade teachers in early February. They supported me 100 percent and we were delighted with their students’ responses and the whole project continued for the rest of the school year. Parts of the curriculum will be used again for a week-long summer program which will include speakers from the Nature Conservancy, Tulsa Audubon Society, and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

So began my 95-96 year of activities that helped me integrate environmental history of people, plains, and prairie. Here is how it developed and was successfully carried out.


Encyclomedia XV: Oklahoma City SDE Conference
From Possibilities To Opportunities: Sept. 14, 15, 1995
Program Presentation: “The Vision/The Process/The Celebration: Unpuzzling Your Past”
Edna Biggs, Sylvia Hill (Reading), Carolyn Mathews.

Program Presentation: The Green Snake Ceremony.
Author Illustrator: Kim Doner and Sherry Giles (Art) 4-8) and Carolyn Mathews

Program Presentation: Three Minute Magic: Teaching the Dewey Decimal System using T-Shirts with visual illustrations of persons and places in environmental history. (Students added magazine pictures.)


Bugs and More Bugs: Judging the seventh grade bug collection.
Greta Hurt (Science) and Carolyn Mathews, LMS. Awards and display. Boxes of bugs later used for fourth grade science.
Students used the library for researching their bug collection.

Happy Birthday, October 12, Robert S. Mathews. Library and Art classes celebrated Mr. Mathews’ 95th birthday. Early day stories were shared of what it was like living on the prairie in Woodward County from 1900 to 1921. Antique tools and quilts were displayed. Dress style for the occasion was a prairie skirt and sunbonnet.


In Class with Oklahoma Author/illustrator, Kim Doner. Two weeks of water color instructions for seventh grade students. Open House and Book Signing Party. Library activities included students researching snakes of the Great Plains and their habitats.

Happy Birthday Glenpool: Celebration for the 90th birthday anniversary of the first Gusher. Events held during the week were held at the Sports Arena with special guest and local residents. Pictures and photos were displayed of the town during the early years. Lorrie Bolton, High School Librarian, was chairperson with teachers and administrators helping to make the occasion a Very Happy 90th Birthday.

Turkey Challenge: Food Drive for Needy Families. Classes competed to bring the MOST canned food. Ann Figart, Library Aide, was chairperson with library and teaching staff helping to keep the class food records.


Christmas on the Prairie. Games, memorabilia, and greeting cards displayed in the middle school library. Old fashioned card games and stories told by Robert Mathews, father of the librarian.


A Quilting Connection to Oklahoma’s Past. Students in fifth-grade classes each made a quilt block depicting a scene from Oklahoma’s past. Blocks were sewn together to make a large panel. Art teacher, Sherry Giles and Carolyn Mathews team worked with teachers and students. Guest speakers and parents were invited to take part in this project. The project lasted throughout the semester (January through May). Panels were displayed in local businesses.


Heirs Homing In: The Canada Geese Sculpture Project. Fifth grade classes (4) study of the migrating geese which are attracted to our state lakes and preserves. The three-part project was divided into Exploration, Research, and Production. The activities were integrated in Art, Language Arts (writing and poetry), Social Studies (folklore), Science (bird migration), and Library Media (information skills).


The Canada Geese project continued. Guest speakers from the Tulsa Audubon Society, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, and local law officers (state hunting laws). Students researched topics on Oklahoma wildlife, bird migration, etc.
An after school field trip was made to visit a fifth grade student’s farm where Canada Geese reside year-round and feed with tame geese on a stock pond.

The Nature Conservancy: Exhibit and presentation by Mary McIntyre, outreach and Director of Docent Program. Exhibit was coordinated through the Tulsa Office. An environmental studies curriculum for students in grades 4-6 was presented. The major concepts covered in this instructional material are taken from the Nature Conservancy’s award-winning public television program, “The Spirit of the Last Great Places in Oklahoma.” Brochures explaining the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve were handed out to provide an interest in the research work now in progress on the 36,000 acres of land located in Osage County, 15 miles north of Pawhuska.


My Journey to Kansas. This was a three-week unit with lectures, discussion, and demonstrations on the United States Civil War. A fifth-grade class of 23 students chose a “home” state, family members, a character role and a reason for moving to Kansas. They researched their character role, the settlement of Kansas towns, and the wagon trails leading to their destination. Their papers were first checked in rough draft and the final copies were typed using a word processor on Apple IIg or IBM computers.


This month was packed solid with grant writing, inventory, media equipment repair, and selecting materials for the 96-97 school year. It was also a month that language arts teachers require their eighth-grade students to write term papers.

So, one last project! One eighth-grade teacher assigned term papers using the environmental theme. Unfortunately I have not read the papers, but I did assign the topics from the outline and made ready the research materials in print and nonprint (CD-ROM and video) formats. I plan to encourage this writing project next year with added subject areas.


For over a half century conservationists have been successfully working to help protect our plains and prairies for animals, food production, and social well being. By passing along this challenge to each new generation, the future holds our “sense of place.” Our sense of “playing for keeps” gives us a feeling of kindred pride. The 1995-96 KSU institute enlightened and educated me to have a hand in caring to preserve the importance of this theme. I look forward to the 1996-97 year by selecting the theme, “The Seasons Sewn.” It is a take-off from the Encyclomedia XVI theme of “Weaving Tomorrow Into Today.” I will be presenting with the Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Our topic will be, “Spirit of the Last Great Places,” This curriculum is available through the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Oh, by the way--If you see a Canada Goose, Please HONK!

My Journey to Kansas

Carolyn Mathews
Glenpool Middle School
Glenpool, Oklahoma

Introduction: A three-week lecture-discussion-demonstration humanities program on the United States Civil War--”Living the American Civil War: An Historical Experience for Young People.”
Students: Fifth-grade students, their teacher and parents.
Setting: Middle School Library and classroom.


  1. Attract the fifth-grade students to the library media center in enthusiastic, independent pursuit of knowledge.

  2. Give those same students an insight into the conflict that determined the subsequent course of American history.

  3. Stimulate an interest in the study of history in general by giving it an immediacy and vitality that is not always apparent in a classroom setting.

Materials and Equipment:

AV Equipment: Television set and video cassette recorder, Filmstrip projector with cassette recorder.
Computers: Apple IIg (5) with Imagewriter printers and mouse, IBM (3) with Canon and Epson printers and mouse.
Software: Appleworks (word processing), Windows (Accessories-Write).

Time Allotments: Three weeks, one-hour a day.

Procedures: The three-week, one-hour a day class session featured videotapes depicting the Civil War restoration and pioneers moving to Kansas. Topics included the lasting results of the conflict and Kansas’s role. The students chose a “home” state, family members, a character role, and a reason for moving to Kansas. They researched their character role, the settlement of Kansas (towns) and the wagon trails leading to their destination.

Following the research, they hand wrote their journals. Following the teacher and librarian checking their journals, they proceeded to type their journals on computer systems either at home or in the media center.

The students as well as their parents and teachers were all affected by this program. The students experienced, many for the first time, the excitement and satisfaction of a self-motivated study. The parents, a few of whom joined in the research, expressed amazement and delight in the fact that their child was capable of immersing themselves so deeply in any area of study. The teachers obviously saw many of the students in a new light and know that they plan to build on this momentum in corresponding social studies units.

Assessment: The three-week program was judged a success because of the consistent interest of the students and because nearly all journals were read and circulated and displayed in attractive display cases in the lobby of the middle school. The best evaluation, however, came from the whole fifth-grade student body who approached the librarian and classroom teacher after the last day of school and asked them if and when the library was planning to do something like that again.

Bibliography: Books for research came from the regular library collection. Videotapes were from the media collection.

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