Friday, August 30, 2013

Quizzed Out

Well, we took the quiz today, and from walking around the room and monitoring, it looked like most people did fairly well.

Of course, if you don't think you did well you could always go to the blog to try to get some extra credit.  Ah.  There you go.  You're here.

We also worked on some reading comprehension.  I was impressed with how many students understood fact v. opinion v. opinion based in fact.

We read a story about a British Admiral who misgauged his longitude.  Two of the fact/opinion questions were pretty tricky:

Should the Admiral have listened to the unnamed sailor?


If the Admiral had listened to the unnamed sailor, the ship wouldn't have sank.

Historians LOVE playing this game: WHAT IF?  But we can't assert as fact that if we didn't bomb Hiroshima, WWII would have lasted forever, or if we stayed out of Vietnam, America would be Communist, or if Abraham Lincoln wouldn't have gone to see Our American Cousin he wouldn't have been assassinated, etc...  MAYBE some of those things would have happened.  And true a major axiom of history is that we should learn from our mistakes (and success and everything in between).  But we can't go back in time and switch things around.

At any rate.  I hope you did well on the test.  Tell your parents what happened in the bellwork story today.  And have a great weekend.  And a great Monday.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog write a sentence about the discussion you had and have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2 Out of 3

We took 2 little quizzes today.  One was actually a pre-test and won't count towards a grade.  The second was the continents and oceans retake - which could only improve a grade.

But we've moved the latitude and longitude quiz back to tomorrow.  I think everyone is ready for it, but in case you're not, look at the picture below:

(Photocredit: docstoc and enchanted learning)

See if you can tell me which states are located at the following locations:

A)  27°N, 82°W
B)  30°N, 100°W
C)  40°N, 90°W
D)  43°N, 85°W

Then, see if you can plot points for California, Indiana, and Maine.

If you do all that on a scrap piece of paper and have an adult sign it, you'll get extra credit.  Turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name, date and hour are on it.

If you CAN'T do that.  Yikes.  Looks like tomorrow's quiz is going to be tough.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Welcome to the blog!!!

You're probably here because I showed my students how to get to it.  And you know I post one everyday.  Well, every school day.

As I said on the paper I sent home, I offer unlimited extra credit.  One of the ways my students can get extra credit is by visiting this blog and reading and discussing the content with an adult.  ...I guess that's why you're here.

Hopefully it will help them do well in my class, and it will also let you know what we're doing.

And we tackle some controversial topics from time to time, so this affords you the opportunity to give you're input as well.  (For instance, should we get involved in Syria?)

Furthermore, the blog will often give some insights into what's coming up in class.  For instance, tomorrow we're going to (re)take the continents and oceans quiz.  If you're unsure of your skills, it might be a good idea to practice again.  And you can even get more extra credit by doing that!

Now, you have to actually discuss the blog too.  So, adults: ask your kid some questions.  How'd they do on the game today?  Can they show you how to get there?  (Concord Jr. High webpage, students, grade level resources, geography games).

If you've read and discussed the blog with an adult, get a piece of scrap paper and write the following sentence:  "I have read and discussed the blog with ______________________.  It was definitely worth it."

Have the adult sign their name on the line.  MAKE SURE YOU PUT YOUR NAME, DATE, AND HOUR ON THE PAPER BEFORE YOU TURN IT IN!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fake Quiz

My students took a fake quiz today, and ACED it.  Seriously.  They aced it.  It was great.  After I gave it, I thought that I probably should have just given the quiz today - that they were ready for it.

The problem is, I'm moving at a quicker pace than I generally do - so I wanted to make sure they were prepare.  The good news is they are.  (This would be a good time to ask the child you're reading the blog with how they did on the fake quiz.)

We also read The Hunger Games.  I'm reading it at the beginning of the year this year for a number of reasons.  Mostly, I want to be able to use it as a reference point throughout the year, but also because the second movie is coming out in November.  I thought it would be decent of me to finish it up before then.  That way, it might give an added incentive to read the sequel.  I like to promote reading whenever possible.

However, it's backfiring on me a little bit.  I want to use it as a reference point, but when topics come up - I can't point out how they tie in with this class because we haven't studied them yet.  We've already had several concepts come up in the book: ethnocentrism, human rights, human capital, economic systems, etcetera.  And we've had several terms come up.  Today we read the word "decade."  It's a simple enough term, but one that a surprising number of students don't know.  And it's a 7th grade social studies word.

I stopped in a couple classes and asked if anybody knew how long it was.  Definitely worth it.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then, when you're done, find a scrap of paper and write the following phrase: "We're rocking out."  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maps and What Not

Today the students practiced their latitude and longitude skills a little more.  I'm feeling a little better about how they are doing.

They actually plotted points on a map now instead of just a grid.

Here's a little warning: we're going to have a quiz fairly soon.  I would guess it will be by the end of the week.  If you're still having trouble, please see me.

For now, if you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, find a scrap of paper, let me know you were here, and have the adult you read it with sign the paper.

Friday, August 23, 2013


It's been a crazy week, and nobody turned in the extra credit yesterday.

So, if you want extra credit over the weekend, read yesterday's post.  :)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Critical Thinking

Our bellwork today focused on problem solving and critical thinking skills.  It had a list of latitude and longitude lines that had to be placed around a globe.  I didn't tell students how to place them, they had to figure it out on their own.

If you understood what to do, it was REALLY simple.  If you didn't get it, it looked really confusing.  Basically, if you knew that 45° came before 90° you could figure out which line was which.

We also played latitude and longitude battleship - but the true battle will come tomorrow.

I'm confident I will win.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, find a piece of paper and write, "AHOY!" on it.  Then, have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bell... The Bell Rang.

Yikes.  Volleyball season makes it more difficult to post to the blog.  And it's picture day.

So, sorry this is short.

Today, we worked on latitude and longitude a little bit more.  By the end, most of our graphs looked something like this:

We also read a little of The Hunger Games when we finished.  If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult tonight, explain to them how you plot points of latitude and longitude.  Tell them where you start.  And then see if they can do it.  Give them some coordinates and see if they can figure out where they go on the grid.

On a scrap of paper, write down the coordinates you gave them.  Have them sign the scrap.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Latitude With Attitude

We took a little quiz today over the continents and oceans.  I let the kids study for a little bit, so I think it's all good.  I hope to have the grades in today, but we'll see how much I get done.

We also started discussing latitude and longitude.  I'm never sure whether the students have studied that before.  Some seem to have it down already, while others... well... others need a little bit more work.

We'll continue on tomorrow.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, list the continents and oceans for them.  Then tell them the names of the 0° lines of latitude and longitude.  If you remember how to plot points, talk about that too.

Then, on a piece of scrap paper, write down the name of the line that separates north from south.  Have the adult sign it.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, August 19, 2013




Some of us have made a lot of mistakes in our lives.  Hopefully we've learned from them.

Social studies looks at the interactions of people, countries, and society as a whole and tries to make sense of it all.  Can I apply the lessons learned by my country to my own life?  What about vice-versa?  Can I apply the lessons of the past to our current situations today?

We touched on all these topics today.

We also went over some basic map skills: cardinal directions, compass rose...

And then we started reading The Hunger Games.  We'll probably read 10-15 minutes a day.  You wouldn't believe how well it ties in with this curriculum.  (You might start to believe if you search Hunger Games in the search engine for this blog...)

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, tell them a mistake you made, and tell them what you learned from it.  Then, find a scrap piece of paper and write the phrase "You let laws be your guide."  Have the adult sign it.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Have you ever been overwhelmed with a job?  The task at hand or the issues or problems seem so insurmountable that you feel like giving up before you start.  ...Has that ever happened to you?

When you think of how expansive the world is, the number of people alive today, the number of people who have ever lived, the places they've lived and the nuances of their cultures - it can be overwhelming.  Where do you begin to study it all?

Today we began by making observations on a paper clip, and then breaking the world into groups of land.  Almost all my students could name one continent - which is good.  If we break social studies into disciplines, and then focus on one area of those disciplines - we can start to tackle the problem of where to begin.

Like any problem - we have to take it a little bit at a time, not all at once.

If you read and discussed the blog today, you can get extra credit if you challenge the person you read it with to a continents and oceans geography game

On a scrap piece of paper, tell me who won.

Have the adult sign it.

Turn it in on Monday.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vini Vidi Vi Read the Blog

Today consisted mostly of getting to know the students and going over the procedures.

Unfortunately, I spent my entire prep putting grades in the grade book, so I don't have time for a full-blown post.

I did promise my students that they could receive extra credit by reading this blog though.

Parents, I'll be posting every day.  Students, you can get 5 extra credit points every night by reading this with an adult.

If you read it tonight, find a scrap of paper and write the phrase: I came, I saw, I read the blog."  Then, have the adult you read it with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How Did You Find This Site?

The school has a new web server, so there's currently no link to my blog.  ...So I'm not sure how you found it - especially since I didn't hand out my papers on it yet.

Granted, maybe you've been here before...  If you're a previous student: welcome.  If you're a current student or parent - you must be a genius to have found this site...

We've completed our first day of school.  Introductions and procedures in every class.  Good times were had by all.  Good times were had by most.

I'll explain this blog later.  Essentially, you can get extra credit if you read and discuss the blog with an adult - preferably a parent.  For instance, if you want extra credit tomorrow, talk to an adult about your first day of school.  Tell them how it went.  Tell them about your favorite class.  Then, find a scrap piece of paper and write down 2 things that happened today.  Have the adult sign it.

Turn that scrap of paper in tomorrow in the extra credit tray, and BAM!  Extra credit!