Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Natural Barriers

I'll keep most of my opinions on ISTEP to myself on here. It's probably not the place. There's was an interesting article in today's Truth though...

In class we discussed natural barriers and man-made barriers. They had to complete a map for bellwork. We also went over some geographical terms - for instance, the majority of my students didn't know what a plateau is.

 When we finished the map, we went over some topics that we studied earlier in the year: human capital, economic spillover, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and Gross Domestic Product.

(Some classes didn't make it through everything.)

Yesterday was a long post, so today I'll post a short one. I'm going to try to put some grades in. If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog with an adult. Adults, maybe you can question my students on some of the topics we've discussed. ??? Sound like a plan?

If you've read and discussed it, write the following quote on a piece of scrap paper: "The opposite of love is indifference."  - The Lumineers.

And in case you wanted to see some geography mapped out, here you go:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Skatistan and Graduation

As you may have gathered, I wasn't here at school on Friday.  I was increasing my human capital by continuing my education.  Go me.  I graduated with a 4.0 from Indiana Wesleyan University over the weekend.  Pictures will be included at the bottom of the post - if you're interested.

Today we studied GDP (gross domestic product).  We also graded some of the work from Friday and reviewed some of those topics as well.  Most classes watched a video on "Skatistan" a skateboarding program currently going on in Afghanistan.  The video is really well done, and I'm including a link here in case parents want to watch it, or if students want to watch it again.  It's short.  (Ok... at least I think I'm including a video.  The site that hosts it - vimeo - is blocked here at school.  I already have to mess around with the html when I embed videos from vimeo, now it's doubly difficult since I can't see if it worked or not...)

At any rate, if the video shows up, great.  If not, I encourage you to google search "Skatistan Vimeo."

SKATEISTAN: TO LIVE AND SKATE KABUL from Diesel New Voices on Vimeo.

There was quite a bit to discuss after watching this - globalization, war, standard of living, unlimited governments, human rights, etc...  but 45 minute classes go fast.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, here's how you can prove you checked it tonight.  Tell the adult you're with what "human capital" is.  (It's been a while since we've discussed it, but there's a hint in the opening paragraph.)  Write down what you think it is, and have them discuss it.  If you're in my 7th hour class, I'd like you to watch the video as well, since we didn't watch it in class.

And, here are some pictures from my graduation.  Proof that I'm a life-long learner, as they say.  You can be one too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Done With the Test

So, we finished going over the test today.  I posted some long blogs recently, and I don't want to take up too much time.

Here are some questions a lot of students missed; questions we discussed today.

"Globalization is not a new phenomenon.  Give some examples that prove this."

"What is the difference between cultural diffusion and cultural borrowing?"

"What are some indicators of standard of living?  Explain them."

"What is the difference between limited and unlimited governments?"

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, discuss those questions with an adult.  Then, find a piece of paper and write a short paragraph telling me how the discussion went.  Were you able to recall and explain everything?  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Have a great evening.  If it's nice, go outside and do something fun.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Successful Review

We continued reviewing for ISTEP today by going over our last test.  Again, most of my students did a good job.  Today we focused on the questions a lot students missed.

Before going on, I'd like to explain something - should it come up tonight:

One of the questions a lot of students missed asked was "Which religion could be categorized as monotheistic, polytheistic, or pantheistic?"  The answer is Hinduism.  It's true they believe in many gods - such as Hanuman, Vishnu, Krishna, Kali, Ganesha, etc... which would make them polytheistic.  But they believe those gods make up the God/God Spirit Brahma.  This is somewhat similar to the Christian concept of The Trinity - except that there are more than three parts to the Godhead.  Either way, because of this Hinduism is sometimes labeled as monotheistic.  And since Brahma is part of everything Hinduism is often designated as pantheistic.

I mentioned that this is partially where the idea of karma comes from - that Brahma keeps the universe in balance.  Much like the scientific idea of homeostasis.  I thought students learned about homeostasis in science this year - but it must be next year.  ...ANYWAY, homeostasis is the body's way of keeping itself in balance.  For example, if you get too hot - you  sweat.  If you get too cold, you shiver and get goosebumps.  I mentioned that if you try to drink a gallon of milk in an hour, you'll end up throwing up.  I had a couple students who were adamant that they either a) could accomplish this, or b) had already accomplished this.

At any rate, I told the kids they could believe what they want, but I was advising them not to try it because 1 - vomit is disgusting, and 2 - it's potentially dangerous.

Ultimately, the point was - like homeostasis, Hindus believe karma keeps the universe in balance.

Students did a great job on the economics section of the test, but most needed to work on the religions section.  So, in order to get the points for today's extra credit - discuss 3 questions that were asked during the game today.  Write down the questions on a piece of paper.  Then have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

If you weren't at school today, write something about each one of the 5 religions we've studied this year, and have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Evaluating the Data/ Reteach/Retest

I'm sure you're all aware that the purpose of this blog is to reinforce what we do in class, and to keep parents and guardians up to date with what we're doing.

Occasionally I'll branch out from that, giving you all some insight into some of the other aspects of being a teacher.  (A collective groan goes up from the students reading this post...  'BORING!')

This is how the graded test spreadsheets came back to me:

The spreadsheet's actually really, really large - so I'll break it down a little bit.  It gives me student names, total points, percentages, etc...  If students scored below 70%, their names appear in orange.  In general, students did well on the test.

As you can see, it also gives me a breakdown by question.  If a student has a "1" that means they got the question right.  If you see a "0" that means they got the question wrong.

This is helpful because I can see deficiencies in learning.  For instance, in general the students fared well on the continents and oceans portion - even though I haven't really taught that since the beginning of the year:

If you look at the bottom of each column, it tells me the percentage of students who answered the question correctly.  Again, it's obvious that students know this section.

However, questions like #15 pose a problem:

Only 52% of my students answered it correctly.  It's easy for teachers to say, "well, the student just didn't study enough."  And that may be true for some questions - but when the majority of students miss the same question without bombing the test there's a good chance there's more to it than a simple "they didn't study" answer.  Perhaps I didn't teach the concept well enough.  Perhaps the wording of the question was ambiguous and could be misinterpreted.  Was it only one class that missed the question?  Was there a day that class missed due to a convocation, delay, etc...

For question #15 the problem was that the question had multiple parts.  Students had to locate a physical geographical feature using latitude and longitude.  If they didn't know how to use latitude and longitude, they got the question wrong.  If they didn't know what a peninsula was, they got the question wrong.  Since most of the students could answer the other latitude and longitude questions, I could deduce that they were/are weak on physical geography.

So, we spent the day going over the test.  I tried to focus on questions a lot of students missed.  I tried to identify why they missed those and address any issues they had.

Tomorrow we're going over the second portion.  Wish us all luck.  It was a big test.  It's a lot of data to review.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, find a map of Iraq or Afghanistan online.  Write down the names of the countries that border Iraq.  Then write the names of the countries that border Afghanistan.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Test and Africa

We have finished our tests, and I'm hoping to have the grades in today.  I haven't graded them yet, but I'll be interested in finding out how the kids did.  This is the first time I've made and given a test through google docs/ google forms.  It seems like there's a lot of potential for using these sites.  If there are any parents or adults out there who use them often and want to give some pointers, please feel free.

After the test, the students read and responded to an article on Africa.  (You can read the article HERE if you want.  The layout isn't nearly as nice as it appears in Junior Scholastic...  There's nothing I can do about that.)

The article contained a lot of information that we've covered throughout the year that the students would have to piece together if they wanted to understand it - for instance it dealt quite heavily with the economy.\

It also introduced organizations we'll be discussing next week - such as the IMF.

I hope you're all ready for a fantastic weekend.  I know I am.  It's been an interesting week.  If you want the extra credit, discuss the blog with an adult.  You can determine what you want to do to prove that you did this.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

If you weren't here

We took the test today.  If you weren't here, be ready to take it tomorrow.  I won't grade them until I have them all.  If you put in your email address, your scores should be sent to you - but I've never done this before, so I don't know if that will happen.

Since it was a test day, there's not much to write about.  Of course, I don't want to think that I'm not posting the blog anymore.  I am.

You can get extra credit if you discuss how the test went with an adult.  Tell them all about it.  When you're done, find a scrap of paper and write two sentences about the discussion.  Have the adult sign the paper.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


If you want extra credit for visiting the blog tonight, study for the test.  If you forgot your review guide at school, that's fine - it's probably a better idea to touch up on Middle East geography, or practice latitude and longitude.

Also, you can get a copy of the review guide by going to the schools website and clicking on "Grade Level Resources."  Go to Block-H.  Even if you don't have a printer, you can still study from the computer.

When you finish studying, write me a note and tell me what you did.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Carrying On

Well, here in class we're on to World War II.  We're focusing on Japanese Imperialism, but the Queen's poster showed up during the Crash Course video:

I can't imagine how difficult it was for the British, but I'm glad they didn't panic.

We spent quite a bit of time working on the bellwork.  You can get a copy of it HERE.  It's called Japan Invades Manchuria.

As a class, we didn't go into great detail about the horrors of the Japanese invasion - and it was horrific.  I did point out that the stemmed from a demand of natural resources.

If you weren't here today, you should probably watch these two videos:

and this one - your favorite.

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss the blog.  If you weren't here today and you want the extra credit, you need to do the bellwork.  If you were here, you should discuss today's entry with an adult.  If you've done that, write two sentences from the discussion.

Either way, when you're finished turn the paper in tomorrow.  Put it in the extra credit tray.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Holy Test on Wed, BATMAN!

On my way to school this morning I heard that the ORIGINAL Batman costume worn by Adam West had made it's way to Elkhart.  If that isn't a piece of awesome news, I don't know what is.  You can check it out at the Hall of Heroes Museum.  (Here's an article too, if you want to read it.)

In far less exciting news, my classes have a test coming up on Wednesday.  You may want to consider studying for it over the weekend.  Study the review guide.  You may also consider playing the online geography games - there will be some questions over countries in the Middle East, continents and oceans, and maybe a couple others as well - China, India, South Africa, Japan, Egypt...  You'll want to know where those are.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, play THE MIDDLE EAST three times, and play THE WORLD twice as well. It might be fun to challenge the adult you're reading with.  Their turns can count if you stay there while they play.  Write down or print out your score and have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign it.

Have a great weekend, people.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Map of Japan

You have homework tonight.  Make sure you get it done.

If you weren't at school today, or you lost your map of Japan, you may download it HERE.

I put a map of Japan on the board today while the students were working since Hiroshima can't be found on any of the maps in the book.  Here it is:

Photo credit: GoJapanGo

Don't forget that you have a test coming up as well.  It would probably be a good idea to study for that as well, but I know you have a lot going on.  If you want the extra credit for checking the blog tonight, you don't have to discuss anything.  Just have the adult you read the blog with sign your completed map - that will prove to me that you were here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WWI, Review, and Toe Teeth

Lets talk about the review first.

Students: you have a major test coming up.  Really, you'll have 3 major tests before the end of the year - Wed. is the first one, then the ISTEP, then a summative test at the end of the year.

You should take 10 or so minutes every night and review the material I gave you.  The charts and graphs from earlier in the year might also be helpful.


We finished talking about WWI today.  I think the students completely understand the arm-wrestling analogy from yesterday.  We also watched the WWI crash course video.  I'm posting it below if you feel like watching it.  A word of warning: I edited a couple parts out when I showed the class.  They weren't that bad, but edging closer to the line.  If you want to watch it on your own time, that's your business.

At lunch yesterday I had the thought: what if people had toe-teeth.  I mentioned this while passing out papers.  Weird, I know.  And it has nothing to do with social studies, but here you go:

Students: if you want extra credit, study the review guide with an adult for at least 10 minutes.  When you're done, find a scrap of paper and write down 5 things you studied, and have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name is on it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Decolonization and WWI

Welcome back to the extra credit blog.

Today we finished discussing decolonization, and started looking at World War I.  Listen, WWI isn't really in our standards, but WWII is - and if we're to pretend like we understand anything about WWII, it's probably a good idea to have some background knowledge on WWI, right?

First though, for bellwork I asked students to draw pictures of the cause and effect sequence I gave yesterday.  I thought I'd post Steve's, because it was very good:

He really captured what I was going for.  You know what, I'm going to break that down into its parts:

Seriously, I'm often impressed by how much can be accomplished in very little time.  I gave between 5-10 minutes for this.  Students had to come up with what to draw, and get it down on paper.  My stick figures are pathetic.

We also discussed what happened when the European nations left the places they'd colonized.  They had made nations out of warring people groups.  While the Europeans were there taking the natural resources, they were able to maintain order by force.  However, once they left there was only chaos.  I likened it to siblings who don't get along.  For instance, I would occasionally argue with my brother.  One day my mom went out to buy a gallon of milk.  We fought.  He ended up breaking the plate-glass window in our back door...  While my parents were around to maintain order, we didn't fight.  But when they left, the power structure was a bit more precarious.

Finally, I introduced World War I.  Man...  I wrote so much already though.  I don't want to bore you.  If you were in class, you should be able to tell your parents a little bit about WWI.  If you can't, at least tell them about the arm-wrestling match, and why more and more people kept joining.

If you want the extra credit, you should have read and discussed the blog with an adult.  To prove you did this, write two sentences telling about the discussion you had.  Focus on the arm-wrestling part since I didn't write about that.  Have the parent or adult you discussed it with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow. 

Monday, April 8, 2013


I hate days where I only have time for a mediocre post.  Apologies to anyone out there reading this.

Bellwork took quite a chunk of time today.  Here was the question:

Think about Gandhi, and other lessons or examples from class to explain this cause and effect sequence.  Give examples of each cause and effect.
Demand for natural resources – exploration – colonization – human exploitation

Most of the students were able to answer it.  In some classes we reviewed and redefined "natural resources," or exploitation.  However, most classes were able to answer the question with few hints.

Even more encouraging was when students gave examples I hadn't thought of - though perhaps I should have.

For instance, one student's responded: "So, the British wanted indigo.  They were exploiting the Indians for the indigo, right?  Because the British were using them in order to get that natural resource."

Yes and yes.

Then we watched the first half of Crash Course #40.  You should check it out.  As always, it's very good.

Here it is:

John Green's a funny guy.

If you want the extra credit, read and discuss this post with an adult.  Then, to prove you read it and discussed it, write the following quote on a scrap of paper: "Life isn't fair.  It's just fairer than death.  That's all."  Have the adult you discussed the blog with sign it.  (Adult, please only sign the paper if you really did discuss the blog.)