Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Have You Done?

Oh brother...  Now you've done it.

You were bored, so you decided to check and see if I've updated the blog.  And I have.

And it's reminded you that school is just around the corner - and you don't want to think about that right now.  You want to think about cookies.  And One Direction.  And the NFL.  And well... whatever else you care to think about.

And now it's ruined.

Well, here's some good news to cheer you up:

  • The world still hasn't ended.  Or if it has, I missed it and I'm not really typing this right now.
  • You still have some of your vacation left.  Enjoy it.
  • The Colts got Peyton Manning, kept him for 14 years - 13 of which were pretty good.  And the 14th was bad enough to earn a first round pick - this in the same year Andrew Luck became available.  (I know this is old good news, and it's only good news if you're a Colts fan.  And I'm not a Colts fan.  I only put it up there because it still seems pretty crazy.)
  • I'm dedicating one more day to completing the presentations.  Yes, you heard correctly.  I wasn't planning on it, but hey a little more than half the students had time to complete them.  And I know a bunch of you all don't have computers, internet, or you've been forced to show off those pink bunny PJs this entire break and have had little time to do anything else.  You're welcome.
To those of you who have finished, and wish to make all our lives easier, you can turn in your assignment by emailing it to  I realize it's not the most original email address, but whatever.

If you want extra credit for reading the blog over break, go back through some of the posts from this school year.  You don't have to read them in their entirety, but just use them as a refresher.  Discuss some of those topics with an adult.  On a sheet of paper, list 5 topics that you touched up on, and discussed with an adult.  Have the adult sign the paper, then turn it in when you get back.

Enjoy the rest of your break.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Access From Home

If you didn't finish your Hammurabi power point, you'll want to finish that over break.  You can access your files this way:

I think most people know this, but students can access their digital school work from home.  In case you're wondering how to do this, here's how:

Student File Access From Home

1.  Type in   

2. Type in your user name   (entire first and last name no spaces.)

3. The password is your lunch code number

4. Click on My Files

5. Click on the little + sign by the yellow folder. This should give you access to all your                              

For the sake of speed and the security of your file, when modifying existing files on our network, it’s a good idea to save the file to your local hard drive first. To do this, right click on the file name, choose Save Target As and put it on the desktop of your home computer. You can continue to save to this location throughout the time you work on your file.

 6.  When you are ready to put your work back on our network, use the Upload Files button near the top right of the screen to browse to the modified file. Highlight the file and click Open. It will then display the path to the modified file in the File Upload Utility window. Click Upload to put it back on our network in the folder being displayed when you clicked on Upload Files.
7.  It is very important to Sign Out of the portal when finished to avoid problems logging into the network when back at school.  

It's a cinch, right?

When you finish, send it to me via email.  I don't have access to your network drives.

Once again, here is the Hammurabi Webquest.

When you're finished, you should have exactly 8 slides.  No more, no less.

Alright.  This is not an extra credit post.  I'll post that a little later on in the break.  And speaking of the break, I hope it's a good one for everyone.  Stay safe and warm.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Did it go well?

I wonder if anybody will read this tonight...  Did it go well today?

I wasn't there, but the students still had plenty to do.  Those presentations won't complete themselves.  At least, I don't think they will.  I mean, if they did, well that would mean that computers have gained consciousness and then we're probably all in trouble.  ...Unless they were nice computers.  ...Which they must have been if they were willing to complete your assignment for you.

Ok.  Sorry about that.

Here's the picture I had up for bellwork.  Again, I'm not an artist.

Maybe it will help the students remember that all ancient civilizations had

  • A system of writing
  • A code of laws
  • Specialized workers
  • Cities
If you're reading this and want the extra credit, discuss the blog with an adult.  Just the social studies part... really you don't have to discuss the rambling at the top.  Again, I'm sorry about that.

Then, when you're done discussing social studies, write a short note telling me how the day went.  Have the adult sign it.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can't Keep Myself Away...

Well, I just can't seem to keep myself away from the blog.  I know I said that yesterday's post was going to be the last post until the break... but here I am, posting even more extra credit for all you extra credit lovers out there.

Here's today's bellwork.  Students had to draw this picture.  It lists reasons ancient civilizations were found near rivers.

Yes.  I'm an artist.  Go me.

Then, we went up to the computer lab and continued to work on our presentations.  They are coming along quite nicely.  If you haven't checked it out yet, go ahead.  I have made some minor changes to it, so if you're working on it from home - then you need to delete your cookies, and empty/clear your browser cache - at least of the questgarden page.  Either way, you should still check it out HERE HERE HERE! if you haven't already. 

If you want the extra credit, you have to read and discuss the blog with an adult.  If you've done that, draw a quick picture of Hammurabi - you can make him look however you want.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the picture and put it in the extra credit tray tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Comparing Hammurabi's Laws to Our Laws

This will likely be my last post until after the break.

Just so you know.  You can complete it any time between now and Friday.  If you've already completed it, remember you can also play the online games for extra credit.

We are still working on our presentations.

You can check out what students are supposed to do by going to THIS SITE.

And there you have it.

To get the extra credit, read and discuss the post with an adult.  Then, write the following on a scrap piece of paper to prove that you read it and discussed it: "As those of old have sung."


Monday, December 17, 2012



That's the website for the Webquest we're working on.  If you want the extra credit today, look around the webquest for a while to get a feel for it.  Discuss it with the adult who usually reads along with you.

If you do this, write the following quote on a piece of scrap paper and have the adult sign it: "Time is never time at all."  Then, turn in the paper in the extra credit tray.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hammurabi PPT

I hope this blog post finds everyone happy and healthy.

Today we continued on learning about Ancient Mesopotamia - specifically, Hammurabi's Code.  We discussed yesterday's bellwork in depth - looking at whether his laws were fair or not.  Some classes got a little out of control as the two sides of the debate were both certain they were on the right side.

For the activity, students went to different sides of the room - one side for students who thought the law was fair, the other if they thought the law was unfair.

The law most contentious law? "Law 23:  If the robber is not caught, then shall he who was robbed claim under oath the amount of his loss; then shall the community, and... on whose ground and territory and in whose domain it was compensate him for the goods stolen."

After that, we started in on the WebQuest.  If you want to check that out, you can look at it HERE. ...But you don't have to.

If you want the extra credit for discussing the blog, you have to read and discuss it with an adult.

Maybe discuss Law 23.

Then, on a scrap of paper, write the following: "5 more, just 5 more..."  Turn it in on Monday for extra credit.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Invention of Language

Written language is amazing.  I mean, if you think about it, we are communicating without speaking.  You are reading my thoughts.  I am thinking this right now.

Ok... now I'm daydreaming about going to a Pedro the Lion concert.  But I guess you're still reading my thoughts, as I'm still typing them.  I've got to stop doing that.

We talked about ideograms, and pictograms.  We looked at the development of letters, and language as a mnemonic device.

For instance:  Hey students, let your parents (or whoever you are reading this with) figure this out on their own...


Maybe you can read that?    If not, the student you're reading and discussing the blog with probably can.  (If the adults are still having trouble, give them a couple words and see if they get it...)


If you already know what that says, it's pretty easy to read.  If you don't already know... well it's pretty tough.  Chances are, when people wrote the Epic of Gilgamesh they already knew the story but were writing it as a mnemonic device to help remember it.

Hopefully this (and writing in Cuneiform yesterday) helps my students remember that all ancient civilizations have a written language.

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then, on a scrap piece of paper, write the following: "Mene mene tekel upharsin" and have the adult you read and discussed the paper with sign it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mesopotamia Map and Cuneiform

We graded our Mesopotamia maps today.  I'm sure you turned that in, but if you didn't - turn it in.  Seriously, it's pretty easy and worth quite a few points.

After we graded the map, we talked about The Epic of Gilgamesh.  (For all of you adults reading this, may I recommend the Stephen Mitchell translation?  It's very good.  I won't recommend it to my students though, as the temple prophetesses are a little... school inappropriate.)

As you're probably aware The Epic of Gilgamesh is among the oldest pieces of literature in the world.  It comes to us from ancient Mesopotamia, and was written in the language: ____________________.  (If you weren't aware of this, students tell the adult what language it was written in.  Go ahead, do that now... I'll probably mention it below.)

We didn't read any of the story.  I did give a little synopsis.  Instead, I gave my students a little tub of play dough, and a stylus.  We practiced writing the language cuneiform for a couple minutes.  I thought it went pretty well.

I snapped a couple pictures.  Have a look, and then you can discuss the blog for extra credit:

Students, if you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog tonight, you should have read it with an adult.  After you read it with that adult you should have discussed it.  I don't know what all you discussed... maybe something from the Epic of Gilgamesh - throwing the bull's leg at Ishtar, or the flood, or... whatever.  Maybe you tell how you did on your Mesopotamia map.  Maybe you discuss what writing cuneiform was like, or what you're supposed to say every time I say cuneiform...  Whatever... discuss something.  Let your parents (or whoever your reading/discussing this with) know that you're learning something in social studies.

Then, write the following phrase on a scrap piece of paper: "Utnapishtim and a snake that sssteals life."  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper, then turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Well friends, we took the acuity test today. As your probably aware, I'm not a big fan of the test. We have a TON of standards and indicators to choose from... Things that we're told to teach... So, why are we giving a test that asks questions on topics we weren't told to teach? I think this is a legitimate question... At any rate, the discussion of the blog today could detail the acuity test. If you want the extra credit, just talk about that for a while. What was it like. How did you take the test? What were some of the questions? How did you do? Etc...

I was also sent this article today: did you know that Indiana ranks 3rd in the nation in high school graduation? Go INDIANA!

I realize the  article gets a little political, so... sorry about that.  I didn't write it.  I was just happy that Indiana (and Indiana teachers) are getting some positive recognition.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult... well... you have to read it and discuss it with an adult.  Then write the following quote on a piece of paper: "Ask me again and I'll tell you the same."  

See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homework = Finish Map

If you haven't finished your map, you need to finish it.  In fact, it's probably a good idea to do that now if you haven't already.

If you finished it up, great.  Nice job, you hard worker.

We're learning about Mesopotamia right now.  Boy, that was a long time ago, huh?  Like... 6500 years ago.

We didn't do much aside from the map in class today.  We did watch this video:

If you want credit for reading and discussing today's extra credit, read it and discuss it with an adult.  Then, write your name on scrap piece of paper and on that scrap piece of paper tell me what all ancient civilizations are found near.  Then, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


It's been a pretty hectic day, so my post will be short.  Also, I'm getting some pretty crazy responses to some of my posts...  (Yes, WD... I think I agree with your grandfather on this one... maybe you should have kept those thoughts to yourself.  I'm sure you hurt both of our feelings...)

To my students: today, just tell whoever you're discussing this a little bit about timelines.  What does B.C. stand for?  A.D.?  B.C.E.?  C.E.?

On a piece of scrap paper, draw a timeline that includes both AD and BC dates.  Then have the person you discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Trickiness of Time

This will probably be tomorrow's bellwork question: which is closer, yesterday or the day after tomorrow?

Time is a tricky subject, sometimes it seems to go by so fast, sometimes it drags on and on.  Memory is equally problematic.  Things I want to remember, I forget.  Things I want to forget, I remember.  And it's all related to time.

Maybe timelines aren't as tricky as time itself - but they can be tough to get a handle on as well.  I stole this question from Mr. R. Deegan, a fantastic Middle School teacher from Goshen, Indiana.

"Mr. Zook recently got back from visiting Egypt.  He saw the pyramids and the Nile River Valley - home of the ancient Egyptians.  While he was there, someone sold him a really old coin.  It was dated 78 BC.  He showed it around school.  'But it's fake,' he said.  How did he know?"

(I drew the coin too.  Don't judge me.  I'm not an artist...)

I was surprised that so many of my students struggled with that question.

Another question I asked was this: "1987 was part of the 20th century.  1776 was part of the 18th century.  Wouldn't it be easier to say 1987 is part of the 19th century?  Why don't we?"

Students, if you want extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then, on a piece of scrap paper tell me if they knew the answer to Mr. Deegan's riddle.  Have the adult sign it, and turn it in tomorrow.  You might consider reminding your friends on Facebook or Twitter.  It's 5 easy points, and it could earn you an extra one as well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

But What Happened the Day Before THAT?

Starting tomorrow, we're going to look at ancient civilizations.

Here's a memory exercise we did today in class: think about what you did yesterday.  The go to the day before that.  Now, go back to the day before.  Continue on until you start getting confused about what day events took place.  How far back could you go?

Here is an overwhelming thought: 10 years.  100 years.  500 years.  1000 years.  2000 years.

For real.

Here is an overwhelming thought: 7 billion people.  S.e.v.e.n. b....i.....l.....l.....i.....o....n. Every person is an individual, thinking their own thoughts.  Each person has his own problems.  Dreams.  And the same has been true for the past.

These thoughts overwhelms me.  I think about them every time I'm stuck in traffic.  "Man, there are a lot of people, and there's a lot of time."

So, we're going back in time.  Way back.  Way, way, way back.  To study people.

It's easy for students to write them off because they existed so long ago.  It's easy for us to think that we're so much smarter than they were - but I don't think we are.  We're more advanced, and have a deeper understanding of the way things work as a society.  But I'm not sure we're actually smarter.  I mean, I'm using a computer right now, and I have a basic understanding of how the computer works - I press a button and the screen lights up...

Students, you can still get extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Here are some things you could discuss:
  • What do you hope to learn about ancient civilizations?
  • Why do you think the state of Indiana says they're important to learn about?
  • Do you agree?  Are they important to learn about?
Students, write down 2 thoughts that came from the discussion, then have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Consider posting this to facebook.  If it was a facebook post that reminded you to complete the extra credit blog, write down the person's name that reminded you, and they'll get added extra credit.  (If you post it as well, and you help someone else discuss social studies, you'll be rewarded as well.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Syriously, Syria...

We're wrapping up the Arab Spring over here by looking at Syria.  As an American, it's difficult to try to make sense of what's going on.  We can only rely on the reports we get from the media.  When we hear numbers like 40,000 killed though - seriously, Syria.  Get it together.

Is there ever truly a winner in a Civil War?

We worked on language arts skills today too.  Social studies and language arts overlap a lot.  Obviously, students need to be able to read.  The problem is, if a student can't read - silent reading is of no benefit.  So, we practice reading out loud.  But then, we have students who are embarrassed to read - even the good readers.  As teachers, it is our job to help them overcome this.  I'm not sure that forcing them to read in front of the class before they are prepared helps them overcome their fears.  It may ingrain them.

So, we read in small groups today, and I think it went really well.

Students: if you want the extra credit for reading the blog with an adult, guess what: you have to read it and discuss it with an adult.

Discuss the following:
  • The article
  • What's going on in Syria
  • The different paths dictators took when confronted with rebellion
  • The difference between the following sentences
    • The dictator was afraid the people would rebel.
    • The dictator found someone he thought was a rebel and sent him to prison.
Then, write two sentences about the discussion, and have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper.  OOOHHHH!  Here's something extra I want to try: post it to facebook below.  If you saw the extra credit because of someone else's facebook post, write their name on your extra credit as well.  They will receive a prize or something for every person that turns in the extra credit with their name on it.

(Thank you Wikipedia... I'll probably be sending my donation any day now...)