Thursday, October 31, 2013


I view all classes as an extension of language arts.  If my students can't read, and express their ideas clearly, they will not be successful in social studies.  (Or science, or math, it will also make life in general much more difficult...)

Today, the bellwork question asked whether they would have cut open the camel's stomach and drank the water if they were in Ibn Battuta's predicament.  I also asked them to write about a time they did something they didn't really want to do.

The responses were fantastic.  My goal has been to focus on literacy throughout the year, promoting reading and writing, and developing a common language with Mr. Ogle, the language arts teacher.

Today, we also read a little more about the gold/salt trade.  The West Africans kept the secrets of their gold well hidden.  Sometimes northern traders would kidnap them, and threaten them with death - but they didn't cave.

So, I asked my students a second question: if you were a Wangaran being threatened with death, would you give the location of the gold mines?  We discussed how this question was very similar to the bellwork question.  In both cases, you're choosing to do something you don't want to do in order to live.

We also looked at the differences.  In this case, sure you're giving up money - but it's not the same as someone threatening to kill you if you don't hand over your wallet.  What would have happened to the Wangarans if they gave up the gold mines?

If you want extra credit, here are some things you can discuss:

  • What would have happened if the Wangarans gave up the gold mine?
  • What would you have done?
  • Would you drink water from a camel's stomach?
  • What about your parents?
  • Would they drink water?
  • Give up the gold mine?
  • Would you give up your wallet if someone was mugging you?
  • Would you give up state secrets that could destroy the United States?

...Lets hope we're never in any of those situations.  

If you want the extra credit, pick two questions from above, and write the answers your parents gave.  Have them sign it, and turn it in tomorrow.

If you're looking for a copy of the classwork: Reading Notes 13.4-5 you can find it by clicking on the link, or going to the "H Block Assignments" on our school webpage.  It's under "student resources."  You'll need to borrow a book.

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