Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Supply, Demand, and GDP

We're jumping around a little bit here - between culture, standard of living, and economics.  Maybe, just by reading that sentence you can see how those things all relate.  Standard of living is one of the ingredients of culture.  The economy is a fairly reliable indicator of standard of living.

Of course, a teacher can't just say "economy" and expect the kids to know what he's talking about.

Yesterday, we reviewed the 4 types of economies:


  • Traditional
  • Market
  • Command
  • Mixed
We discussed the common thread between them - they all deal with how things are made, sold or traded for, and bought.

We also looked at their differences.  A traditional economy is based off of necessity and availability.  A market economy is based off supply and demand.  In a command economy, the government dictates production, distribution, and consumption.

And of course, a mixed economy is a mix of the others.

For instance, here in the United States, we're primarily a market economy.  However, the government does tell us there are certain things we're not allowed to make.  Can you think of any?

So, although we're a market economy, we're at least partially a command economy as well.

We discussed supply and demand - the less you have of something people want, the greater the value.  To illustrate this point, I told students a couple stories about aluminum.  (Students, if you remember any of the stories, quickly retell them now.  ...If not, feel free to click this link.)

We'll be discussing the economy (and how it ties in with culture) for the next several days.  Often, we'll do this through the lens of The Hunger Games, which depicts each type of economy.

One of the last things we studied and learned about was GDP.  Yesterday, after the bellwork, we played a computer game organizing countries by GDP.  (One might argue we were also looking at the standard of living for each of those countries, but it's a little more complicated than that.)

You should check out the game, too.  In fact, students, to get extra credit today, challenge whoever it is you're reading this blog post with.  Let me know who wins.  Write it down on a scrap of paper, along with what they thought of the game.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Culture, Hunger Games, and Doubling Up

Students have homework tonight!  If they didn't finish their cultural ingredients pictures that we started yesterday - and worked on today - they need to finish them at home and bring them in tomorrow.  ...Completed.  Click the link if you lost your copy, didn't get one, had your dog eat it, or whatever...

We've been learning about culture and society in conjunction with, and through our reading of The Hunger Games.  We can see all of the ingredients of culture depicted in the world Ms. Collins has created.  We see the ingredient of values when Prim says she doesn't care about the money - she cares about her sister.  We see values and customs when the community raises three fingers in salute to Katniss.  (Incidentally, this is also viewed as an act of civil disobedience, a term that will show up repeatedly later on in the year...)  I would be that standard of living shows up as much as any theme in the book.

Perhaps I'm most excited to read the book with Mr. Ogle's language arts classes.  He will be drawing things out of the book (and students) that I won't have hit on.  Working on it together like this is essentially giving students double the language arts time, and double the social studies time.  I LOVE it!  I walked in to his room today for a little planning, and saw his board had some Hunger Games vocabulary on it.  I could only smile to myself.

What does "loathe" mean?  Hunger Games terms on the board.


As of today, every student has a book.  So, we're in.  We've been taxiing on the runway; now we're taking off.

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  If they want extra credit today, they should discuss what's been happening in The Hunger Games.  Tell how it ties in with social studies.  Discuss what you like and dislike about the story.  When you're finished, students should write a short paragraph about the conversation they had.  Have the adult they discussed with sign the paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

Again, don't forget about the homework.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hunger Games Quotes II: Ingredients of Culture

We've started discussing culture - what is it that makes a culture a culture?  What are the ingredients?

There are many ingredients of culture.  Far more than the 10 I give.  But, I give 10.


  • language
  • government
  • values
  • ethnicity
  • arts
  • food
  • dress
  • customs
  • standard of living
  • religion
I've got a bulletin board in the back of my room showing this:




We've finished up taking the notes defining and giving examples for each of the ingredients.  Tomorrow they're going to draw pictures for each ingredient.  Today, for bellwork, they had more quotes from The Hunger Games.  They had to determine which ingredient of culture matched the quote.  Here they are:

Quote 1:  "Besides, the Capitol accent is so affected, almost anything sounds funny in it."  p. 8

(You might remember that the same quote was used on Monday as an example of ethnocentrism.  As ethnocentrism is not an ingredient of culture, that cannot be the answer today.)

Quote 2:  "I notice her blouse has pulled out of her skirt in the back again..."  p. 15

Quote 3:  "At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me.  It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals.  It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love."  -p. 24

Quote 4: "He could be my brother.  Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes."  p.8

Quote 5:  "...(we) eat the rough bread made from the tessera grain."  p. 16  (This one fits 2 ingredients


If students want extra credit, they were supposed to read and discuss this post with an adult.  If they've done that, quiz the adult.  See how many ingredients they get right.  No pressure (as they weren't in class.)

When you're finished, write how it went on a scrap of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

See you soon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hunger Games Quotes

Thursday and Friday of last week, I gave the students 6 "big idea" terms, along with a definition/explanation:


  • culture
  • government
  • economics
  • standard of living
  • ethnicity
  • ethnocentrism

Today, in class the white boards around the room had a quote from The Hunger Games.  Each quote dealt with a term.  Before we started reading, the students had to figure out the term, and why it fit with the quote.  Here they are, page numbers included.

Quote 1:  "Besides, the Capitol accent is so affected, almost anything sounds funny in it."  p.8

Quote 2:  "'Mm, still warm,' O say.  He must have been up at the crack of dawn to trade for it.  'What did it cost you?'
         'Just a squirrel.'"  p.7
Quote 3:  "Since almost no one can afford doctors, apothecaries are our healers." p.8
Quote 4:  "He could be my brother.  Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes." p.8
Quote 5:  "It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves."  p.14
Bonus: Quote 6: (More than one term applies):  "No one in the Seam would turn up their nose at a good leg of wild dog, but the Peacekeepers who come to the Hob can afford to be a little choosier."  p.11


Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  If they've done this, have the students ask the adult if they can match any of the terms with the quotes.  On a sheet of paper, either write how the adult answered, or tell me how they did.  Did they get them all?  Most of them?  Did they miss any?

When you're done, have the adult sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.  Then turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hunger Games: Big Ideas

As promised, there's a blog post today.

We've started The Hunger Games!  Woo hoo!  I'm really excited about it, and I'm doubly excited that this year I get to work in tandem with Mr. Ogle, who will be teaching the Language Arts side of things.

Why The Hunger Games?

The content of The Hunger Games ties in with multiple 7th grade social studies standards.  It's a well-written, captivating story about the dangers of unlimited government.  Many of the big concepts we study are expressed in narrative fashion, allowing me to reinforce what we're learning in class.

Today, we talked about 4 of the big ideas that will show up in the book.  I had students write down a definition/explanation (in their own words) for:

  • Government
  • Economy
  • Culture
  • Standard of Living
These are hardly the only social studies topics that will show up in the book.  After students wrote down what they thought those things were, I gave them my definitions and explanations.  By page 6, each of these concepts had been brought up in some fashion.  We'll delve into it more, as we read the book.  I can't wait.

For now, here are some pictures of some things we did during the days I missed posting.  (The information on how to get some extra credit points is found below the pictures.)




If you want the extra credit, define/explain at least one of the following terms on a sheet of paper: government, economics, culture, standard of living.  If you were class, try to use my definition/explanation.  If you were absent, give it a good guess.  You may get help from a parent.

When you're done, have the parent or adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in in the extra credit tray tomorrow.



Monday, September 14, 2015

No Post Today or Tomorrow

I won't have an extra credit post today or tomorrow.

Remember that the test is on Wednesday.

It will cover everything we've done so far:

Latitude and Longitude.
Equator.
Prime Meridian.
Continents and Oceans.
Hemispheres.
TKWA.
9/11.

I've given several bellworks that I've suggested students keep to study.  If you don't have those, you can find plenty under the latitude and longitude tab.

After reviewing a little bit today, I'm confident it will be a piece of cake.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 Stations - 2015

In class today, students went from station to station looking at and analyzing political cartoons that came out shortly after 9/11.  Some of them are pretty complex, but I feel like the students are getting them.

For each one, I ask several questions - starting off with the basic, and working my way to the more complex and more abstract.

I'll give you some examples in a minute.

Before they got to that though, they watched a short video on the Pearl Harbor attacks:



A couple of the cartoons referenced Pearl Harbor.  As many of the students had never learned about this event, I thought it was only fair (and necessary) to give them some background information.

Here are a couple examples of what the class did - although, I'm giving different political cartoons.

1.  What is the heading on this cartoon?
2.  What are the three images?
3.  What happened in each of the 3?
4.  What is the Statue of Liberty doing?
5.  Did Japan or al Qaeda actually/ officially declare war?
6.  What is this cartoonist saying?


1.  Who is in this picture?
2.  Where are they?
3.  How do you know?
4.  One man is saying, "We've reached the top."  What 2 places could "the top" mean?
5.  What is this cartoonist trying to say?

1.  Who are the people in this picture?
2.  Where are they standing?
3.  What is unusual about them?
4.  The heading says, "TWIN TOWERS..."  Why?
5.  What is this cartoonist trying to say?



Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  In order to prove you were here today, choose one of the political cartoons and answer the questions on a piece of paper with the adult you read the blog with.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Turn it in on Monday.

If you want to tell them about some of the cartoons that were around the room, please do.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sept. 11, The Middle East, and The United States

First of all, sorry that the map didn't work yesterday.  It works from my computer, but not from mobile devices.  If you read and discussed, and told me about it, you still got the credit yesterday.  I've changed it, but I don't love the new map, as it is a bit difficult to read the coordinates.

For the rest of the week, we're discussing the Middle East, the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks - how they changed the world, and how they changed the United States.

Today, I tried to get a feeling for what the students have already learned.  There is a lot of misinformation out there.

After that, and a little discussion, we watch the news bulletins as they happened.  What we watch is actually a much shorter version of the clips you'll see below.  If you weren't here, check them out.












Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Ask the adult what they remember from 9/11 and the days and months that followed.  Write down a few of their responses on a sheet of paper and have them sign it.  Make sure that your name, date and hour are on the paper and turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Big Maps II

Today is probably our last true day on latitude and longitude.

I told the students on Friday that bellwork took so long, we were cutting it out today - if they reminded me.  As it turns out, they didn't have to.  I remembered.

We spent the day plotting latitude and longitude in Africa.  Most classes made it to 3 rounds, and a couple got a little further.

After we plotted the countries, we did a google search to see what those countries looked like.  Turns out, much of Africa didn't match up with what the students expected.  For instance, Dar es Salaam - check it out.  Or Cairo.  Or Addis Ababa - the capital of Ethiopia.

Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Tell that adult how you did today.  To prove that you were here (and to earn the points) use the map below to give five sets of coordinates and the countries they identify.


Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper - and that the parent you've discussed the blog with has signed it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Here are some pictures... technically, they're from Friday.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Games, Grades, and Getting Better

We tried to check grades today.  Most students were able to, but for some reason some students could not.  Mr. Ogle will work on that with students tomorrow.

I gave the students another shot at passing the continents and oceans quiz.  If they didn't pass, they played the online geography games - just continents and oceans.  If they had already scored a 12/12, I had them play the Middle East games, as some of those places will enter our discussions next week.

I'm keeping the post short again today.  If you want extra credit, you've got to play either the Middle East, or World geography games.  CLICK THIS LINK, or look at the side of the blog.

Unfortunately, they don't work with Apple products, as they require Flash.

To prove you did the extra credit, either print out the scores, take a screen shot of them and show them to me - or email them to me - or write them out and have a parent sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.  Make sure your name is on it.

REMEMBER, you may play the geography games as often as you like for extra credit.

ALSO, IF YOU HAVEN'T TURNED IN YOUR HUNGER GAMES PAPER, REMEMBER THAT IT WAS DUE TODAY!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Big Maps to Globes

We're still piecing together how latitude and longitude works, and how to find it.  Why it looks different on a flat map from a globe.

Today we broke out the globes and marker boards.  I gave students a set of coordinates, and they had to figure out the country.  It went well.

You should know that I sent a paper home that explains what's going on with The Hunger Games.  Make sure to read it, fill it out, and return it tomorrow.

Here are some pictures from today's activity.  I hope you enjoy them.

Using the Globes

Using the Globes

Using the Globes

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, you should have explained how the game we played went.  Write me a note telling me which picture was your favorite - that will prove you were actually here.  Have the adult sign the paper - that will (kindof) prove that you read the blog with them.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it, and turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big Maps: Scale, Time Zones, International Date Line

Our bellwork today dealt with latitude and longitude again.  I felt pretty good about how quickly the students could tackle it.  Of course, some are still struggling.  Either way, they should be prepared to take a little quiz within the next week or so.

International Date Line
After bellwork, we broke out the Big Maps.  One of the questions asked why the International Date Line zigged and zagged so much.  Why wasn't it just a straight line of longitude like the Prime Meridian.

I didn't have a single student who could answer that question.  So, we looked at it.  Most of my students couldn't tell me how many time zones there are in the world, (24), or why there are 24.  So, we spent some time talking about day and night.  Hours in a day.  Days in a year.  In most classes, I used the flashlight from my phone to represent the sun.  The earth was rotating on its axis and revolving around it.

I think the students understood, after we worked through it.  Either way, count on a bellwork tomorrow that asks questions dealing with time zones, the earth, the sun, and the International Date Line.

After we finished that, we continued working with the Big Maps.  We figured out the circumference of the earth at the equator, and at 60° N...  And we figured out why their answers were so far off with the 60° N question - even the ones where the students answered correctly.  (The farther north you go, the more distorted a flat map becomes...)

Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  To prove that you were here today, discuss with an adult why the International Date Line zig-zags so much.  Then, write your answer on a sheet of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  Have a great day.

Working With the Big Maps