Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Natural Barriers

Oh, Katniss Everdeen, how you tie in to social studies - let me count the ways:
Governments, standard of living, culture, customs, civil disobedience, economic systems, ...  Today, in most classes, we got to the part where... (dang it... I don't want to give away what's happening in the book...)  Ok, some people have to travel through some mountains.  This is what is said:

 "I realize we must be in the tunnel that runs up through the mountains into the Capitol.  The mountains form a natural barrier between the Capitol and the eastern districts.  It's almost impossible to enter from the east except through the tunnels.  This geographical advantage was a major factor in the districts losing the war..."

Man, that hits so many standards.  (Granted, the standards apply to Asia, Africa and Australia - but I'm more concerned with the concepts they're teaching rather than the facts about places themselves...)

For instance:  "7.3.10: Describe the limitations that climate and land forms place on land or people in regions of Africa, Asia and the Southwest Pacific.

Example: Deserts in Africa, Saudi Arabia and China; the islands of Japan; mountains of Iran and Afghanistan; northern regions of China."

Yes, that deals with those specific places, but the concepts are the same for all of them.  I took a break from reading to discuss this with the kids - the difference between natural and man-made barriers.  My hands were the cow people and the lettuce people, separated by the Adidas Mountain range.  ...

It looked something like this:
We talked about why having a mountain range between these two groups of people might be beneficial - if the lettuce people try to attack the cow people, they have to cross the natural barrier - the Adidas Mountains.  That would make it more difficult.  Of course, if the lettuce people wanted to trade with the cow people, that would be more difficult as well. ...  I kept mixing up my voices... I couldn't keep them straight - which voice went with cow, which one went with lettuce... 

Anyway, we then discussed other forms of natural barriers, and types of man-made barriers as well.  Every class came up with the Great Wall of China as a man-made barrier.

Of course, we're still studying religions.  (You remember, standard 7.1.4 - which I mentioned in an earlier post.  I can't see how you can adequately teach a religion in a meaningful way - a way the kids will remember it, connect it with other religions, understand it in a way that is relevant to them and their world -  in less than a week.  (Classes are 45 minutes...)  The idealist in me says 3 days per religion...

We did go a little cross-curricular in one class today and use some algebra to figure out what year we're in on the Muslim calendar...

At any rate, it was a good day today.  If you're in my class and want extra credit - or if you're reading this and you want your kid (the one that's in my class) to receive extra credit, discuss the following questions:

1. What is a natural barrier?  What might be some positives and negatives from natural barriers?
2.  What does "standard of living" mean?  Can you give any examples from today's reading that Katniss had a relatively low standard of living in district 12?
3.  What is Islam?  What do you know about it so far?  Is there anything you don't understand about it?

When you're done discussing those, write the following phrase on a slip of paper: "It looks like you were ready for a flood in that picture Mr. Habecker..."  In order to get the extra credit points, the paper must be signed by the adult that discussed this stuff with you.  Adults, by signing it, you're saying that yes, so-and-so really did discuss those questions with you last night.


  1. I got one turned in this morning! ^.^

  2. Awesome! Because of this blog I now have several kids who have more than 100%.