Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spanish Lunch

We're at the end of the school year.  Everyone has taken the final.  They are graded, and the grades are entered.  We're winding down, and really, the kids are ready to be done.  I want to start off this post by thanking all the students and parents for pushing me to be an even better teacher.  It's been a good year, and that's on you as much as it's on me.

As it's the end of the year, I don't have anything content related to share, per se...  But I wanted to give a shout out to some students who have been helping me out.

If you remember the beginning of the year, one of the big topics of our class was culture.  We listed 10 ingredients of culture: food, dress, religion, language, customs, etc...  You get the idea.  The past nine weeks, I've invited some of my students who are fluent in Spanish to help me learn.  Any student who was fluent, or was interested in learning Spanish (and had 3rd lunch) was invited to have lunch with me.

The rules (though they were sometimes broken) were that they could only speak Spanish unless I asked them for a translation.  I had to speak Spanish as much as I could, and English when I couldn't.

I invited students who weren't fluent as well.  But I didn't want them to just show up with no intent to learn.  They had to prove they were trying to learn as well.  I've been using the free app, Duolingo.  It's not perfect, but it's really helped as well.  Alas, only a couple students started to learn, and they quickly dropped out.  No hard feelings though, we're all busy.

Still, in a class where we discussed culture, language, loss of language, and increasing human capital, I thought it was worth sharing that I'm trying to practice what I preach.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, tell me if you've ever considered learning another language.  Are you planning on taking one next year?  How do you plan on continuing to increase your human capital over the summer?  Write your responses on a scrap of paper, and have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Put your name, date, and hour on it.  Turn it in tomorrow or Thursday.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review For The Final, Too

I'm going to copy and paste yesterday's entry.  Hopefully I don't sue myself.

At the end, I'm putting up 4 new topics to choose from.

I just want to put this out as an all-call.  We've got a final coming up.  We're going to start our review tomorrow started our review today, as well as finish finished up some thoughts on Japanese Imperialism and WWII.

In honor of the final, choose one of these topics.  Pick a previous year's blog post from one of the topics.  (You don't have to read every post.  Just scroll through until you reach one that interests you.)  Read it and discuss it.  Treat it as a regular extra credit blog post.  The only thing to add along with your name, date, and signature of the grown up you read and discussed with, you need to add the date and title of the original post.





Good luck.

The Test to End All Tests

So, we're finishing up our brief introduction to World Wars I and II.  And if WWI was billed as "the war to end all wars," may I bill my final as "the test to end all tests?"

I just want to put this out as an all-call.  We've got a final coming up.  We're going to start our review tomorrow, as well as finish up some thoughts on Japanese Imperialism and WWII.

In honor of the final, choose one of these topics.  Pick a previous year's blog post from one of the topics.  (You don't have to read every post.  Just scroll through until you reach one that interests you.)  Read it and discuss it.  Treat it as a regular extra credit blog post.  The only thing to add along with your name, date, and signature of the grown up you read and discussed with, you need to add the date and title of the original post.

Ancient Civilizations

Agriculture

Monotheism

Globalization


Good luck.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

World War I: The Teenagers

I've talked about the arm wrestling match in previous years.  It's one of those lessons I'm pretty proud of, so if you're here as a teacher and looking for it, click here.

We did that, and we also read how the system of alliances played out.  We looked at a section from THIS PAGE, starting at the line, "One Thing Led to Another."

This year, we did a close reading of that section.  Our school has been trying to build a common language and incorporate "close readings" in all content areas.  Students put a box around words they don't know, question marks for things they don't understand, exclamation points for things they find interesting or want to come back to, and they underline main ideas, key points, etc...

I told the student they had to write their thoughts in the margins at least 4 times.

As we discussed it, I tried to translate some key points into junior high metaphors.  That's what junior high teachers do, right?  We try to take these complicated subjects and simplify them - indeed, oversimplify them - while students are being introduced to them.  Then, in high school, they get to make them complicated again.

A couple analogies I used that are oversimplified.  (You already know the arm-wrestling and jolly rancher...)

Ultimatum: Charlie is going out with Sierra.  They've been going out for 2 weeks.  They're in love.  It's frfr.  Sierra tells Charlie, "You need to unfriend Veronica.  Now.  If you don't unfriend her, we're breaking up."  #ultimatum

Neutrality:  You are friends with Charlie, Sierra, and Veronica.  (Actual friends, not just on social media.)  You don't want to lose their friendship. Charlie starts talking to you, "Can you believe Sierra?" he says.  "I can't believe she made me unfriend Veronica.  Is that crazy, or what?"  ...If you say she's crazy, you're taking her side.  Sierra won't be happy about that, and she finds out everything.  If you say that maybe Charlie's over-reacting, you're taking Sierra's side.  And Charlie's sitting right in front of you...  You continue eating your takis and pretend you didn't hear the question.  #neutrality.

On the war starting in 1914 and the U.S. entering in 1917:  You have a dentist appointment, and miss the first half to three-fourths of gym.  You get back at the end.  The kids are playing basketball.  Winning team gets ice cream sandwiches.  The good kind.  Mrs. Kelly says that with this much time left, you can just go wherever you want.  The score is 45-12.  You join the team with 45.  When they win three and half minutes later, you congratulate yourself on helping win the game.  You did take an elbow to the chin, but the rest of the team thinks you're giving yourself too much credit.

(Again, let me reiterate that I'm really over-simplifying these today...)

On Japan being on our side in WWI, and bombing us a mere 20 years later - not long in the lifespan of nations:  Do you know anybody who was friends with someone in 5th grade, but then wasn't friends with them anymore in 7th grade?  ...If that happens, you may ask yourself, "What happened?"  Indeed, when you did the close reading, and you saw that Japan was fighting with us in WWI, you should have realized they bombed us at Pearl Harbor and said, "I wonder what happened in those 20 years..."

There are plenty more thoughts to think, and I'd love to hear them.  Can you think of any better analogies?  Can you think of more I should share that would help us understand WWI or WWII?  Where do these analogies fall apart?  (The basketball one, for instance has what I believe to be a glaring problem.)  Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss this with an adult.  When they're done, they should write some thoughts answering the questions from this paragraph.  Have the adult sign the paper when they've finished discussing/writing.

*Edit* Also, if you notice any typos, let me know.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Seven Point Five

Mr. Cowells shared a website with me the other day and told me the world population was about to break 7.5 billion.  The website is fantastic.  You can see world population over time.  Countries by population and population density.  It tracks births today and deaths today.

It's a little depressing if you imagine yourself devalued down to just a number.

But there's another way to look at it: think about all the experience and value each one of those numbers has.  The knowledge and skills, the love, the will.  There's something to be said for the notion that nothing is new.  That the sun rises and the sun sets on empires, let alone human lives.  And that there's nothing new under it.

But there's also something to be said for individuality, innovation, freedom of thought, and human capital.  That right now, in this moment, I exist.

To get the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult today, students have to check out this website for at least 5 minutes.  (The adult can look at it with them, or they can go scroll through their phone or do whatever they want...  They were here for the blog part...)

THEN, students have to find a scrap of paper and write five things they found on the website.  Discuss those five things with the adult, and have the adult sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit spot.