Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No blog ec

No blog extra credit tonight.  I'm busy grading tests.

Don't forget the essay portion is tomorrow.  If you want to check out the questions, look at yesterday's post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Here are the essay questions for the test tomorrow.  (The essay portion will actually be on Thursday.)

Students have to choose two of the four.

When we hear that the economy is bad, we know it has to do with people who are unemployed, and it has to do with money.  For this essay question, explain what the economy is, and how it relates to employment and money.  Furthermore, explain the differences between a strong economy and a weak economy.

Being as thorough as possible, explain globalization and its positive and negative impact on cultures.  Furthermore, explain how technology is speeding up this process – how technology is “shrinking the world.”

We have discussed standard of living at length in this class.  Two indicators of standard of living are infant mortality rate, and literacy rate.  Explain what these are, as well as how they indicate standard of living.  When giving examples, make sure the evidence and quantity are substantial.

What is a culture?  Give some (at least 5) examples of various aspects of culture, and explain why they are important and relevant.  

Students received this today along with a scoring rubric.

To get the extra credit for reading the blog today, discuss two essay answers.  Then, write one essay.  Read it to the person you discussed the blog with and have them sign it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Is it too late to make up 9 weeks worth of work?

You can always check your grades on STI.  Tonight might be a good time to do this.  The marking period ends Friday.  If you're missing anything - now would be a good time to turn it in.  This goes for all classes.  Monday will probably be too late.  In fact, Wednesday may be too late in some classes.

Don't forget about the test coming up on Wednesday and Thursday.  Here's the review guide, in case you lost it.  We'll review tomorrow.  I'll also tell you the essay questions ahead of time.

Today we read about Ibn Battuta.  I can't imagine getting lost in the Sahara and having to slaughter a camel to get to the water its stomach.  ...Talk about your bad days.

Here's a map comparing the travels of Battuta to those of Marco Polo:

I'm not sure why Polo gets all the props as far as explorers of the day.  Probably because he got back from his trip like 30 years before Battuta started his.  And Marco Polo's book was a huge success.  You can find out a little about our old friend Ibn here.

If you want the credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then make up 3 questions from the Battuta/Polo map.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper with the questions.  (Questions could be anything: Which is the western-most continent shown on this map?  Which exploerer traveled the farthest?  Which explorer traveled through Africa?  Which explorer started in Europe?  What mountain range is north of India?...  The only problem is now you can't use any of those questions.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Who Does the Gold Belong To? And What's a Matrilineal Line, Anyway?

We debriefed the gold/salt trade simulation today, and talked about some of the symbolism in it.  For bellwork, students had to explain what went on, then I asked some more pointed questions: what did the crawling represent?  Why was the trade silent?  Etc...

I didn't expect the students to know everything, but they could at least wager a guess.  Of course, if they didn't guess... no credit.  (And if they were here yesterday, and couldn't explain the activity - well... I don't know what to say about that.)  :)

We read a little bit.  The king of Ghana was really rich.  All the gold in Ghana belonged to him.  So, if you found gold on your property - it's not your gold.  It's the kings.  We talked about how crazy this is, but I didn't mention that it's pretty much the same today in much of the United States: check it out if you don't believe me.  I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure what happens if you find a gold mine under your house.

That led to a little discussion on tax evasion, and cheating... 

A lot of classes asked about the "matrilineal line."  In Ghana, the throne passed from the king to the king's sister's son...  Like this:

I didn't draw the diagram until students asked me about it, and we didn't discuss it in every class.  But in case you're wondering why your son or daughter is asking where babies come from... this might be the reason.  Some classes asked why the throne didn't just pass down to the king's son.

It has to do with proof of royal blood.  No one doubts the maternity of a child.  ...  ...  ...  I summed it up this way: if you have 20 women and one is 9 months pregnant - can we tell who is going to have the baby?  Yes.  And if, on the other side of the room we have 20 men, can we tell who the father is?  The answer is no.

There were some other questions, which I answered cautiously.  But if they got too detailed I told them to talk to a parent, or wait until February in Wellness...

Last thing:  BIG TEST COMING UP WHEN YOU RETURN!  It'll probably be Wed./Thur. or Thur./Fri.  If you forgot the study guide at school, you can download it HERE.  It doesn't give answers.  It only gives topics.  You should have the answers in your notes, or in your brain.

I hope you all have a great break.  If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  When you're done, write two sentences telling me how you're planning on spending your 4 day weekend.  Have the adult that you discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ghana's Gold Salt Trade

Well, I have the second round of parent teacher conferences tonight.  I hope to see a lot of you there.

As such, I don't have a lot of time to post a lengthy blog today.  I'm just going to post some pictures from the simulation.  I'll tell you how to get the extra credit points at the bottom.

To get the extra credit today, students have to read and discuss the blog with an adult.  I'd also like the students to tell the adult what was going on in this simulation.  There was gold, there was salt, and there was the Sahara Desert.

I haven't explained all the symbolism yet, but maybe you could tell your parents how a trade was made.  You could also guess as to why it was silent.  What did that symbolize?  Why do you think I had you crawl across the Sahara?  Tell your parents who ended up with the most gold.  Hint: It wasn't one of the traders...  And, where is Ghana anyway?

If you've done all that, write a sentence telling me your favorite part of the simulation.  (I know, the whole thing was great, right?)  After you've finished the sentence, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Salt and Gold

I introduced Ghana's gold/salt trade today.  Start up question from History Alive!:  "Is salt worth its weight in gold?"

It's always fun to do something out of the ordinary.

We didn't get a chance to play the game in earnest today, but we will tomorrow.

Either way, when you're discussing the blog tonight, you could ask what they remember about the gold/salt trade.  What continent are they trading on?  Why was salt so important?  What (landform) did the salt traders have to cross?

When you've finished reading and discussing, write the following quote on a piece of scrap paper: "All that glitters is not gold, but gold is..." Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Remember, you're signing it as proof that you read and discussed the blog.  Please don't sign it unless you read and discussed it.

I'm hoping to meet a lot of you at the conferences tonight.

See you soon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rivers, Population Density, and Civilizations

Yesterday we talked about the importance of agriculture, and the reasons ancient civilizations were found near rivers.

Today we looked at that a little bit more closely - including population density, and river terms.

Here's a picture we drew 7th hour.  It's not the best, but I erased the other ones.  I don't generally have the river snake eating someone, but whatever...  I had a little time while the students were working.  (Apologies to the family of the stick figure man being devoured.)

We talked a little bit about why a river's delta is called a delta.  I didn't teach them the entire Greek alphabet, but I did also point out that's where we get the term "alpha, bet..." (αβ)

We also looked at the difference between population and population density.  I put students in taped in areas at the front of the room.  One was over a desert... well, we changed it to The Sahel - not quite so dry... Another had a river running through it.  (A student wearing blue was the river.  He had to make a delta by raising his arms in the air.  Good jobs to all rivers.)

I think most students understood the difference before the end.  It's always encouraging when they struggle with something at the beginning of class, but then completely get it at the end.  (Or at least appear to...)

Here's the last picture from the day:

YO!  STUDENTS!  If you want extra credit, read and discuss this blog with an adult.  Tell the adult about the boxes of tape, what did you think about the activity?  Did you go in either box?  Were you a river?  What did you have to say to get to go into the box with the river?  Why?  Etc...  I'm sure you can think of plenty more to talk about.

When you're finished discussing, find a scrap piece of paper and write me your favorite part of the activity.  Then, have the adult you discussed it with sign the piece of paper.

Have a great weekend.  I look forward to meeting a bunch of parents on Monday.  Students, make sure you come too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


There's a scene we're probably all familiar with... at least if you're one of my students reading this.  Indiana, oh Indiana.  Thank you for your corn.

What did we learn today?  2 main things: agriculture is a big deal historically, and ancient civilizations are found near rivers.  The 7th grade social studies department lists it as the most important/influential discovery or invention of all time.  How do we quantify that?  Well, it's just a difficult algorithm - we went with the consensus majority of the department.  Sure, there are others out there who would disagree, but other academic sources agree with us as well: the lexile's a little higher, but feel free to check it out...  Granted, any time you a list like this is created it's up for discussion.  And we did discuss it for a while.

It was a lot of fun hearing the ideas the students came up with.  Some of their answers were right on with the majority of academia - the wheel, fire, the internet, language, books, guns, math, etc...  Granted, some were probably jokes... like the group that came up with hair straighteners.  Probably important.  I wouldn't know.

I also gave 4 reasons ancient civilizations were found near rivers: transportation, agriculture, drinking water, and silt.  I promise: that is going to be on every test from here on out.  Promise.

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Talk about why agriculture was so important.  What did it allow people to do?  Do you agree that it was the most important invention/discovery of all time?  When you're finished, write 2 sentences about the discussion.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Welcome Back.

Welcome back, and thanks for reading.

A lot has happened since I've been away.  We're studying a large swath of Africa right now.

So, the Sahara desert is pretty big.  We're looking at 3,320,000 sq. mi. of desert there.  That's getting close to the size of the United States - in desert.  Now, keeping in mind the scale we're dealing with here - the U.S. is roughly 3.79 million square miles (This is counting Alaska of course.  ALASKA!  YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU!)  The Sahara is around 3.32 million.  But if we're looking at just land, the U.S. drops to about 3.5.  Some of you are arguing - quite rightly - that there's a big difference between 3.5 million and 3.3 million.  Agreed.  But when we're looking at a map that's drawn at a scale where 1 inch = 500 miles, you can understand what I'm saying.  California's falling into the ocean soon anyway.

The Africa maps have been entered into the grade book.  Chances are, the homework from last night will be added by the time you read this as well.  You may want to check your grades.  Just saying.

At any rate, we're also looking at Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.  We've looked at how family units become villages, villages become cities, and cities become kingdoms.  And a lot of it has to do with economics - which is why we studied that first.  Different geographical regions produce different goods, so people meet in cities to trade.  And we looked at these pictures:

busy highways

I asked the question, "If someone is going to open a McDonald's, which is a better location?"  Granted, most students answered, "The second one," because they thought they were being funny...  But I think they all got the point.

The same rules applied in the ancient world.  Rivers were used as the method of transportation, and you wanted your business where it would get the most... uh... business.

It's late.  Half of you are zoning out while you're reading this.  I'm sorry.  Thanks for reading.

If you want the extra credit today, discuss the blog with an adult and play the African Landscapes Geography Games at least 5 times.  Then either print out, or write down your scores and have that adult sign it.  (Thank you, adult for taking the time to talk to my student about social studies nonsense.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

I'm sorry. You're welcome.

No extra credit today.  The maps have all been entered into STI.  You can check your updated grades if you want.

Have a nice weekend.  Seriously, do something fun.  Read a good book.  Watch a good movie.  Travel to southern Indiana to hang out with your best friend from college.  Just make sure you take some time to yourself and enjoy life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I passed out books today.  If you have a chance, please get them covered.

Our bellwork was a review of economic spillover - you know, the unintended consequences of economic development...

And then, we worked on the Africa map.

Those are not homework, and we'll be finishing them up tomorrow.

It's another short post.  (I guess it's been a while since that's happened...)

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, review and discuss economic spillover.

Then, write the following quote on a scrap piece of paper, and have the adult you discussed the blog with sign it: "Philadelphia, Philadelphia - there's something I just gotta tell ya."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Economic Spillover 2012

I wrote about my economic spillover lesson last year in this post.

You can see some pictures from the lesson there.

I have 2 meetings to get to today, so I'm keeping the blog post short.

I thought it'd be worth putting the definition up here though:

Economic Spillover: The positive and negative unintended consequences/outcomes of economic development.


Negative: pollution, loss of land, increase in population may lead to an increase in crime

Positive:  higher standard of living, higher population leads to more opportunities for business

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  You should discuss economic spillovers of course - but also discuss the pictures you drew, and how they relate to the concept.  Remember, you drew pictures of a pitcher and water...

When you're done, write the phrase "Poppy heads up that I found on the ground." on a scrap piece of paper, and have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

*EDIT*  I just finished grading the Technology is Shrinking the World Pictures that I assigned last week.  I figured I'd post a couple on here.  Feel free to tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Economy

7th grade students are good about knowing the basics.  When it comes to the economy, they're able to tell me that it deals with jobs, and the government, and money... But that's about it.

We're studying different types of economies right now.  First we had to define what is meant by the economy.

We put this on the board:

After that, I added some more definitions.  It's easy for teachers to throw the lesson out there to the students and say, "HAVE AT IT!"  Sometimes though, the students don't get it.  Even when we think they should.  So, here's me breaking it down even further.

Yes.  I know.  I used the word "stuff" in my definition.  Please go easy on me.  The students told Mr. Ogle, and I'm already expecting to be reprimanded quite severely.

At any rate, we looked at the process:
And we noted how the process can either portray a good economy (as above) or a bad economy:

So far, I think the lessons have gone well.  We've actually incorporated some other stuff in here as well, such as types of economies: command, market, traditional, and mixed.  We've brought up urbanization and industrialization.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, explain the cycles pictured above to them.  Then tell them the difference between the types of economic systems - they're mentioned in the paragraph above this one.  Finally, answer any other questions they have.  When you're done discussing it, write two sentences from the discussion on a piece of paper and put it in the extra credit tray tomorrow.  Please have the adult you discussed the blog with sign the paper as well.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cromarty Fisherfolk, Farewell

Bobby Hogg died.

 I'm tracking with you. You don't know who Bobby Hogg was, or how he relates to my class. Well, Bobby Hogg (according to this CNN article) was the last speaker of a Scots dialect known as Cromarty Fisherfolk.

As a class, we've been studying globalization, the economy, and the effects of technology on both.  My Banananovian story spoke explicitly about a nation that - due to globalization lost its culture.  It was a fictional story.

This is true.  Some points from the article:
  • When a culture becomes technologically advanced, it loses its culture faster.
  • Industrialization and trade spurs this on.
  • Languages (it is estimated) are disappearing at the rate of one every two weeks.
  • 96% of the world speak 4% of the worlds languages.
This was the point the Banananovian story was trying to hit home.  I'm not sure if it was accomplished or not.  But I know my students got something out of it.  One student made me a children's book.  I'm publishing it here:

(Text:  The students on the bus are saying, "An island over there," "I see it," and "Me too.")

 (Text: Arrow pointing at man: "Mr. Frizzile White Becker" - He is thinking about money, and telling the students to follow the Banananovians.  The Banananovians are saying, "follow us.")

(As they follow the Banananovians: Mr. FWB is complaining about the bus breaking down.  They pass the statue of the Big Banana.  Some Banananovians are bowing down to it.)

(Mr. FWB: "Lets take some bananas back to our country."  - Backstory: Up until this point in human history nobody has ever tried bananas before...  -  They load the bananas on the bus.)

(Text: "Mr. Frizzile Banana Becker: 'I'm Gonna Be rich'"  The sign says: "By some Bananas.  10$ Really Good!"  People: "I'll take some."  "Me Too."  "So will I.")

(The text is a little out of order on this picture, but essentially Mr. FBB/FWB tells the students they made $10 Million.  Everyone is excited.  One student suggests going back and paying the Banananovians for their bananas.)

(Back on the bus.  The Banananovians are saying, "They're Back.")

(We give money to the Banananovians, they're grateful.)

(Banananovia 40 years later.  Notice Mr. FBB/Mr. FWB's hair isn't what it used to be.  He's saying, "This place looks GOOD!"  But of course, their culture is no longer the same.)

To get the extra credit for the blog, read and discuss it with an adult.  Then, write 3 sentences base on your discussion.  You may want to include a comparison of the Banananovian story to what happened to the Cromarty Fisherfolk.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Check Back In

Check back in later in the weekend if you want extra credit. I had a pretty busy day. Feel free to leave a comment letting me know that you stopped by. I'll be sad if I post something tomorrow and there are no comments...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How'd You Explain THAT... Gotta Love 1902

As we discussed how technology is shrinking the world, along with globalization, I asked the kids to explain the internet to someone - my grandpa Roy, actually - from 1902.  (Maybe I mentioned this yesterday...)  I turned it into our bellwork.  They had to write using dialogue, so it was good practice for English/LA as well.

The point was twofold: one, it showed how much technology has connected the world, and two, it showed the underlying difficulty inherent in teaching.  Rote teaching, doesn't teach for understanding.  The kids could have given Roy a definition including words like "digital, pixel, computer, microchip, mouse, screen, facebook, google, etc..." and Roy could have memorized what they said.  But he would haven't have understood what the internet is.

Teaching is the same way.  Mrs. Gowdy knows far more math than these 7th graders.  It's easy to explain, but it's difficult to teach and explain in a way students will understand and learn.

To get the extra credit points tonight, take that challenge.  Explain the internet, and how it has effected the world, increased the rate of globalization, etc... Explain that to someone from 1902.  Kids, I'm suggesting you be from 1902 first, since you already did this.  Then reverse roles - adults, you're from 1902.  Tell me how it went on a piece of paper.  Then, have the adult sign the paper.

I know this is 1901, and 1902... but I really like this band:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More Pictures

Dear Earthlings,

We're finishing up globalization and moving on to economics in general tomorrow or Friday.

Students today did some *shock* book work.  ...Yes, it still exists.  After that, we continued our discussion on technology's impact on globalization and society in general.

My grandfather was born in 1902.  My father in 1941... hopefully they don't mind that I'm publishing that online...  You'll have to look up the history of the automobile on your own - and what constitutes a horse-less carriage that was accessible to the majority of the world...  For all intents and purposes, my grandfather was born before the car.  True, Oldsmobile was producing in 1902, and there were precursors to that - history builds on itself as does technology.  But the Ford Model T didn't come around until 1915, and in Lancaster County Pennsylvania in 1902, automobiles were still a long way off.  My grandfather went from walking, to driving, to flying, to seeing the U.S. put a man on the moon.  (We think, right?)

I asked my 7th hour class to imagine my grandfather at their age.  They've somehow found themselves back in time 1914 or so... They're tasked with explaining the internet, and how it's impacted the world.  It's tough, given they couldn't use words like "digital, computer, pixels, etc..."

Anyway, maybe I'll make that tomorrow's bellwork.  Currently, I have it set to be, "Finish the picture you started in class yesterday."

We'll see.  The students started a visual representation of "Technology is Shrinking the World."

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing this, write three sentences about how the discussion went.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper with those sentences.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Would You Do?

You own a factory.  (Congratulations.)  An opportunity has arrived that will allow you to relocate your factory to Nicaragua.  Because you can pay your workers less, and you won't be burdened with paying over-time or benefits, etc... you will end up making quite a bit more money.

However, moving the factory will not gain you a lot of friends here in the United States.  You have been in business for over 25 years, and many people that work for you have been with you since the beginning.

Will you move your factory or not?

Here are some aspects of globalization we've hit upon so far

  • development of world culture/ loss of individual culture
  • benefits of trade: goods, services, technology, possibility of higher standard of living
  • possibility of exploitation
  • learn about other cultures
  • technology's impact on globalization
  • outsourcing/ loss of US jobs
We won't talk about it too much longer, but as you can see it is very easy to go into great detail on one standard.  And, as the ISTEP often asks very specific questions, this is necessary.  Of course, this means that we can't cover all of the standards...  C'est la vie, I guess.

If you want extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Tell them whether you would move your factory to Nicaragua or not. And tell them why.  Then write the following quote on a scrap piece of paper: "What's wrong with me?  I've just been layin' around."  Then, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the scrap piece of paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Outsourcing and Globalization

It's unfortunate, but some days I just don't have time to write a decent blog about what we accomplished in class.

Today is another one of those days.

We reviewed some terms: globalization, interdependent, ethnocentrism.  We also looked at positive and negative consequences of globalization.  Now, we're not done studying it, so the list isn't exhaustive.

We watched a short clip on outsourcing, and read about technology shrinking the world.

Your blog points today will come more from your discussion than from the reading.  Discuss what is meant by the phrase, "technology is shrinking the world."  Ask what the biggest technological advancements have been during their lifetime.  Also, discuss how you feel about outsourcing.  Finally, define the three words for the adult you're discussing the blog with.

When you're done, write down three thoughts your parent (or whoever you discussed the blog with) had about technology shrinking the world and outsourcing.  Have them sign the paper as proof that you discussed it with them, then bring it in for extra credit.