Thursday, March 28, 2013

Student Work

All late work was due today, so there's no extra credit.  I thought I'd post some of the civil disobedience pictures the students drew.  If you read this and have a favorite, leave a comment telling me which one it is.

I captured the pictures with a doc cam, so the qualities not THAT great.  The lighting in my room wasn't ideal for it either.  You should see some of them in person.  They're great.  I just chose them randomly.  If yours made the cut, congrats.  If it didn't... sorry.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Irony

Oh, the irony.  It's the end of the marking period - the time when most students are checking the blog for extra credit... and I don't have time to post because I was hosting the talent show.  (Nice job, everybody.)

I'll post this though - if you weren't here today, you have some work to do.  The Civil Disobedience Picture can be downloaded HERE.  You don't have to print the second page, but that's where you can find the directions.

It must be turned in tomorrow - unless you aren't here.  In that case, turn it in after spring break.  ...You guys know who I'm talking to...

Finally, I'll also link to this post.  Read that post if you want extra credit tonight.  Remember the marking period ends tomorrow.

...Huh... I guess it's also ironic that I called this post "the irony" because I didn't post it... but then I posted it after all.  It works on so many levels.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gandhi's End

I told my students there were a number of things I hoped they took from Gandhi, among them:

  • The vastness of the British Empire
  • How India gained its independence, and how it was different from other movements
  • Civil disobedience
  • The Hindu/Muslim rift
  • Outlawing the caste system
  • Social studies is about understanding people and seeing multiple sides of an issue
  • India's independence movement was also Pakistan's independence movement
  • ...which means it was also tied to the Bangladeshi independence. (Though that's a story for another day)

Again, there's a lot we could discuss.  We could compare independence movements - Gandhi's nonviolence to the American Revolution, for instance.  Or Gandhi to Martin Luther King.

Today though, I'll ask you to discuss two questions.  The end of the movie claims Gandhi believed he was a failure.  Why?  Do you think he was a failure?

Second, why did Nathuram Godse assassinate Gandhi?  If you don't know, discuss some possible answers.

If you read and discussed the blog today, you can get some extra credit.  When you're done discussing, write down this quote given by Gandhi 2 days before he was assassinated: "If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips."  Then, have an adult sign the paper.  Only have them sign it if you really did read and discuss the blog with them.

Also, and this has no lasting value for class...  I just thought you might be interested in learning that Ben Kingsley - the man who played Gandhi - will be playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.  Crazy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Make Up Work

We'll finish learning about the Indian Independence Movement this week.  I promise.  But today I needed to post about make-up work.

The quarter ends Thursday.  All make-up work must be in by then.

If you're missing something, it's up to you to get it and turn it in.

Here's a link to almost all the assignments you can make up.  If you don't have a printer, print them out at school.

 Finally, if you never read and discussed the February 14th blog post with an adult, here's a link for that as well.

Alright.  If you read the post today for extra credit, tell me what your grade is, and if you're missing anything.  If you ARE missing anything, you won't get the extra credit points until you turn that in.

Also... someone owes me a cupcake.  Yes, person from 5th hour, you know who you are:

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Pinch of Salt

The British Empire wasn't built in a day, nor did it fall in a day.  Gandhi (and many others) kept provoking and provoking.

I had planned on being finished with Gandhi by today, but I keep discussing the movie instead of watching it straight through.  I apologized for that today, and was encouraged by the number of students who appreciated the pauses.  I don't want to watch it for the sake of watching it; I want the students to understand what they are seeing.

It's true, Gandhi has taken a while.  We've been studying the Indian independence movement for more than a school week now.  And I just want to be finished with it.  You know what that reminds me of?  Gandhi.

Patel, Nehru, Jinnah, and other Indian leaders pushed for independence.  They seemed impatient for it.  (This is of course, from the movie - and the actual events are no doubt more complicated.)  Gandhi wanted independence.  He fought for it his whole life.  But he didn't want it at the cost of violence.  And he didn't want it before India was ready for it.  He wanted a peaceful transition of power - and he knew that would take time.  More time than others would have been willing to give, had they been in the lead.

So, taking a page from Gandhi's campaign notebook, we're taking our time.  There may come a time when I feel pressured to rush through lessons, but I haven't reached that point yet.

If you're reading this post for extra credit, thanks.  Way to take some initiative.  You still have to discuss it with an adult.  Here are some things you could bring up:
  • Gandhi said the role of a civil resister was to provoke.  What did he mean?
  • How did Gandhi provoke the British?
  • What might have happened if Gandhi's followers resorted to violence?
  • Would you have been brave enough to march on the salt factory?
  • Explain what happened in the salt factory march.
When you're done, find a scrap piece of paper and write two sentences about your discussion.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper.

Have a great weekend!  Spring break starts next Friday.  :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Sorry.  No post today.  I was cleaning up from the show.  If you went, I hope you enjoyed it.

If you want extra credit, you'll have to play the online games.  I'd say play Asia since we're studying Gandhi and India right now. 

Have a great afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reginald E.H. Dyer

We're still making our way through Gandhi, and we will be for the rest of the week.  Today, we got to the Amritsar Massacre - also known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.

I've thought a lot about General Reginald E.H.Dyer from this scene.  He was the one that wanted to teach all of India a lesson: "Look what happens if you don't obey the law."

It is a deeply troubling scene, but I wonder if it is over-simplified.  More on that tomorrow.

To get the extra credit tonight, students you have to have read the blog with an adult.  Discuss today's portion of the film with them.  Explain what happened at the Amritsar Massacre.  What did General Dyer do?  Why did he do it?  What was Gandhi's response?  How did you feel?

When you're done, write the following quote on a piece of paper: "There is violence that desensitizes, but there is also violence that resensitizes."

I hope to see you at the show tomorrow.  The subs have been ordered.  If you still want a ticket, too bad.  You missed your chance.  (Although, if you really want in - you may be able to bring in $7 and give it to Mrs. Gowdy tomorrow.  ...If you look really sad, she might cave.  I'll give up my lunch tomorrow if it means one more student can attend.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Ok... That picture would have been a lot better if I had
  • more time
  • better software
  • mostly more time
Also, thanks to and Fanpop for the images.

We started out the day comparing Orwell as a police officer in Burma (as described in "Shooting an Elephant") to a British police officer in the movie "Gandhi."

You can see the scene were talking about in the clip below.  It starts about one minute into the video.  (Pardon some minor offensive language.)

I can't figure out why the embed codes won't work.  You'll have to go HERE to watch it.

 There are a number of similarities that may be observed here:
  • They're both British
  • They're both police officers
  • They must act like they are in charge
  • The crowds are immense and add pressure to an already tense situation
  • They both (apparently) give in and do something they don't want to do
...I wonder if the police officer above is secretly on the side of the Indians.  I wish I could ask him.

 We watched a little bit more of the film today.

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  When you're done, write something about the portion of the movie we watched today, or write what you thought of the Orwell/Gandhi comparison.  Then, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I know this is the social studies blog... I get that.  I mean, I write the thing.  But I thought it might be worth reminding you that tomorrow is the last day you (dear students) may purchase tickets for the lunch/concert on THURSDAY.

It probably goes without saying that all the money we make goes toward Make-A-Wish.

Something else you may consider: tell friends from other blocks.  H-Block will be well represented, but I'm not seeing to many names from anywhere else.  If you have friends from other blocks - encourage them to come check it out.  Chances are some of their teachers will be performing as well.

As for the extra credit, discuss what happened in today's portion of Gandhi.  Find a scrap of paper and write down three things that happened in the movie today, and have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign it.

If you haven't told your parents about the CJHS Make-A-Wish fundraiser, now would be a good time to do that as well.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gandhi, Parks, King

Yesterday we started watching Gandhi.  The movie is about the Indian independence movement, (Indiana Standard 7.2.1 - for those of you who care...), but it also ties in with a lot of other concepts and topics we've looked at throughout the year:  I won't list the standards... if you really want them, just ask.

  • Colonization
  • Imperialism
  • Human Rights
  • Religions (Mainly Hinduism and Islam, but others are in as well)
  • Geography
  • Government and Law
 Gandhi also ties in with U.S. History quite well: Dr. King said of Gandhi:  "India's Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of non-violent social change."  Indeed, the second scene of the movie shows Gandhi being kicked off a train for refusing to give up his seat.  This was in 1893 - more than 60 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.  There are numerous parallels between these two movements, but I have limited time.

It also ties in with U.S. History because the United States was once a British colony as well.  The United States fought for its independence, so tracing the paths of resistance and forms of oppression by the British is worthwhile.

If you want the extra credit today, bring your parents up to date with what is going on in the movie.  Parents (or whatever adult is reading this) ask your kid some questions about it.  Ask them to tie it in with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement.  Then, when you're done, write at least three sentences about the discussion.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in on Monday.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I've been in meetings all afternoon, so there is no extra credit tonight.  Think of it this way: you have five minutes of free time.  HOORAY!!!

It will be back tomorrow.  I promise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Had a Dream Last Night

I had a dream last night that India was the lost continent of Atlantis.  It was a pretty intense dream.  Just thought I'd share.  Pangea and what not...

So, there were several students who didn't finish the map last night.  Shame, shame.  If you're one of them - look at yesterday's blog.  That should help.

Today we spent time grading the maps.  We discussed India's population woes, as well as China's - and how China has dealt with them.

We're starting Gandhi tomorrow.  That will last until the end of next week.

If you want the extra credit tonight, (and I know there will be several more of you on here checking this out), you can get it by telling the adult you're reading this with how you did on the map.  Talk about the way China is handling population, and compare that to India.

Then, find a scrap of paper.  Write the following quote: "If it WAS a conspiracy, it was a lousy one.  After all, they told at least 14 people, and there's no record of anybody telling anybody else to keep it quiet."  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

India Map

First of all, if you didn't finish your map in class - go finish it. Secondly, if you were absent today, you can download today's map by going HERE.  Click on "India Map."

I know, the directions tell you that you need a blue book to complete it.  Come on, problem solvers - this is only partially true.  You can look up a South Asia Map online.  It's a piece of cake.  Look, I already did it for you. ...And HERE'S another one!  (In case you want to see the cities...)

You know what?  I'll even go above and beyond for you guys.  I'll link them as images, although they might be easier to see if you click on the links themselves.  I guess that depends on your browser.

Alright.  You're welcome.  If you were absent, you may also notice you have to answer three questions from the book.  Yeah... you're on your own for that.  Don't miss school next time.  (Just kidding, friends.  As soon as you're in here tomorrow, get a book and answer the questions.)

For the rest of you, who are scouring the blog looking for extra credit.  I don't know what to tell you.  We discussed Buddhism a little bit more, and we worked on the map.  If you got that done and you read the blog and discussed it with an adult, I guess you get extra credit for it.  I'd show the completed map to whoever you read and discussed this with.  Then, find a scrap of paper and write the capital of India and the capital of Pakistan.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Banksy and the Foundations of Buddhism

The first Noble Truth of Buddhism claims everyone suffers.

It's the question of suffering that drives Buddhism as a religion.  Suffering - and how to overcome it.

I started out class today asking if students agreed with the premise that everyone suffers.  I then shared a story from last night.  After dinner, my kids had a choice of dessert: ice cream or a brownie.  Gwennie chose ice cream, but changed her mind to brownie and threw a fit.  ...Needless to say, suffering ensued.  She was suffering because she had a bowl of ice cream.

As a class, we discussed whether or not her suffering was valid.  Most students said she wasn't really suffering.

Next, we looked at a picture by the graffiti artist, Banksy:

Obviously, there's a lot to discuss in this painting.  I brought up John Green's comment: "Can we take a moment to pause and consider that most t-shirts see more of the world than most of us?"

So, we discussed globalization.

And irony.  Most students are familiar with the word, but they don't understand it yet.

And we discussed suffering.  Would this child be justified in saying that my daughter doesn't understand true suffering?  That's obviously Banksy's point.  How can someone look at this without having their first-world problems put in perspective?

But, does that negate the Buddha's claim?  I'm sure many of us have heard of people with extraordinary wealth who were not happy.  Does this picture negate their suffering?  Is the person on earth who suffers the worst torments the only one who truly suffers?

I think Banksy's point was clear, and it is valid.  And if nothing else, the picture makes us stop and think.

Buddhism teaches that suffering is rooted in desire.  As a class, we examined this as well.

Most classes re-watched a two minute crash course segment on Siddartha Guatama and the origins of Buddhism/ how he discovered the Four Noble Truths and became The Buddha.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism:

1: Life is suffering
2: Suffering comes from desire/wanting
3: Suffering can be ended by ending desire
4: The Eight-Fold Path helps people overcome desire

Students, if you want extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then, once you've done that, write the following quote on a piece of paper and turn it in tomorrow:  "Woe to me and my first world problems."

And here is a video of Kino Klub:

Friday, March 8, 2013


That's MAW - not to be confused with MWahahahahaha.   MAW.  As in Make-A-Wish.

I figured it's probably a good idea to alert you to the fact that we had our Make-A-Wish kick-off today.  (Maybe you were already aware of this...)

Every two years, CJHS tries to teach its students about philanthropy:

Thank you, google.

You know, philanthropy - doing something to help others.  Finding a good cause.  Giving time and money.

Concord Junior High has raised over $250,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation.  It has granted a lot of wishes for kids in Northern Indiana.  If you can think of a way to help out, I'd like to encourage you to do so.  I understand budgets are tight.  I understand there's little time.  But at least consider it.

As for the rest of the school day - today was pretty big when it comes to 7th grade social studies.  You guessed it, it was ISTEP day.  I'm pretty sure the entire school breathed a collective sigh of relief, the students, staff - all of us.  I only wish I could see the scores today!

And we finally learned about the Mongols.  Here's the Crash Course video we watched:

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, tell your parents how you thought you did on the social studies portion of the ISTEP.  Then, draw a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down on a scrap piece of paper, and have them sign it.  (Don't spend more than 30 seconds or so on the drawing... I mean come on, it's the weekend.)

Turn it in when you show up on Monday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

L'Istep: That's French for The ISTEP.

Today was our last ISTEP review day.  It wasn't a lot of fun, but it was a lot of reviewing.  A.  Lot.

*But not excessive.  In case you were wondering.*

We finished going over the major concepts: religions, civilizations, governments, economic systems, international organizations.  If your kid took his bellwork home, it'd be a good idea to review it with him.  The test is first thing tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow we'll learn about the Mongols.  Finally.  And after that, we'll start Gandhi.

This was another day without much to talk about in the blog.

If you want the extra credit, read the blog with an adult.  Adults, ask the students to discuss 3 topics that we reviewed today.  See what all they can tell you.  If they're capable of having a reasonably articulate conversation, write down your fondest memory of standardized testing and sign your name at the bottom.

Students turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name is on it as well.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

T minus 43 hours

Of course, if there's a crazy snow storm, the launch may be delayed.  I'm not sure how that works.

Classes today were only 25 minutes, due to the LA and Math ISTEP tests.  Tomorrow classes will be a little longer, so we have a better chance at getting some good old fashioned learning accomplished.

Most students today were able to get their bellwork started and then we went over the questions we didn't get to yesterday, and began going over today's questions.

If you want the extra credit for this blog study the following charts for 5 minutes each with an adult:

To prove that you studied these charts for 5 minutes a piece, write and answer two questions for each one.  Then, have the adult you studied with sign the paper.


Thanks for taking the time to study with your child.  Or your nephew.  Or your grandkid.  Or whoever it is you're studying with.  Thanks.  I know you're probably pretty busy and tired too.

Monday, March 4, 2013

T minus 67 Hours

67 hours until the social studies ISTEP.  ARE. YOU. READY.?!?!

I like to think we are.  We spent today (and will spend the next couple days) going over a light review.

Today we went back over the ancient civilizations and the religions we studied earlier this year.  ...In the case of the civilizations, much earlier.

Teaching is crazy.  Sometimes I'm shocked by what my students forget, other times I'm shocked by what they remember.  Shocked, I tell you.

We spent some time looking at synonyms and various ways of wording questions.  It's probably a good skill to have in general.  And it always frustrates me when students act like I didn't teach them something because the question uses the wording "Nile River Valley Civilization" instead "Ancient Egyptian Civilization."

If you want the extra credit today, read and discuss the blog.  In the discussion, students, tell the adult some of the types of questions that were given today.  What all did you compare?  (If you have the paper, it'd be handy to go over it...)

Then, find a scrap piece of paper and write the following quote on it: "Stupid people are dangerous." -Katniss Everdeen, from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I'm not offering the blog for extra credit this weekend.  I just don't have the energy right now.  You're welcome for how often I do post it.  :)

How about this: if you didn't read yesterday's post, read it.  If you did, discuss two different bullet points.

Happy Casmir Pulanski Day - it'll be on Monday.