Friday, December 20, 2013

Government Video Pop Quiz

I gave a pop quiz today.  It was pretty fetch.  I gave them a little time to complete their government pictures and then study for it.  Here's how it went - I showed them a short video clip, and they had to write down the name of the type of government I was showing.  I'll post them up here so you can see what I showed.  For the record, there was some feigned controversy over whether I was showing R-Rated movies in class.  I wasn't.  I did show previews for The Kings Speech as well as The Last King of Scotland, but the previews were NOT rated R.  (I haven't even seen The Last King of Scotland... but it looks good.)

When I post them here, I'll tell you the type of government.  Consider it my gift to you:

The King's Speech - Constitutional Monarchy:

Mean Girls - Oligarchy:

Napoleon Dynamite - Representative Democracy (Republic):

Alice in Wonderland - Absolute Monarchy:

Gilmore Girls - Direct Democracy:

The Last King of Scotland - Dictatorship:

The Prince of Egypt - Theocracy:

If you want some extra credit - yes, it will still go on the 2nd 9 weeks if I get it right after break...  Then, discuss these clips with an adult.  Tell them (and write down) why each one shows the type of government it does.  If you need a to use your government chart to help you, you may.  If you don't have one, don't forget you can find it on the blog.  Once you write them down, have your parent sign it.  Turn it in when you get back.

Have a great break.  Get some rest.  Read some books.  See you soon... but not too soon.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I have a dentist appointment, so I have to duck out of here right away today.  (And I missed my last one because of school meetings, so I'm a little worried I'm going to have a cavity.)

The problem is, I know that TODAY OF ALL DAYS, you're checking the blog - as it's your last chance to get extra credit before the end of the semester.

So, here's what I'll do.  Go back and read a post from last year.  It can be about anything, but it has to be a legitimate post - not a post that says, "I have a dentist appointment, there's no extra credit today."

On a piece of paper, tell me what the post was about.  Tell me if we've covered it this year or not.  Discuss it with the adult you read it with.

Have them sign it.

Turn it in tomorrow.

SHAZAAM!  Extra credit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Malala Part II

One of the things Ms. Yousafzai says in her interview with Jon Stewart is:

"We are human beings, and this is part of our human nature.  ...That we don't learn the importance of anything until it is snatched from our hands."

Yesterday, when we read the Junior Scholastic article, I noticed several ears perk up when we got to the part about education being made illegal.  "Whaaaa?..." I could hear my students say, "That doesn't sound like such a bad thing..."

Today we watched the first 6 minutes of the interview and talked about learning the importance of something after it's gone.  How many of us have felt that way about school?  I imagine most of my students have probably thought from time to time: "Man... I don't want to go in today!  The covers are so warm.  The floor is so cold.  Seriously, just a couple more hours of sleep..."

I imagine very few of them - no, very few of all of us - realize what a good thing (or good things) we have going for us.

There was a lot we discussed today.  Why she continued going to school - why she wasn't homeschooled by her father.  Women's rights here in America, and all over the world.  Education.  Human capital.  Human rights.

This all ties in with governments of course.  And I gave students a paper to draw pictures of each of the governments we're studying.  It's not homework, mind you.  Just remember to bring it back tomorrow with your colored pencils.

We'll have some map practice tomorrow on Malala's home country, and then we'll finish those pictures up.

I'm including The Daily Show interview, in case you're interested.  You don't have to watch it to get credit for reading and discussing the blog, but it is very good.  And we didn't watch the whole thing in class.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, make sure you read it and discussed it with an adult.  Maybe thank them for reading and discussing this with you.  It's very nice of them.  You've got a good thing going - you wouldn't want to lose it.

To earn the extra credit, find a scrap of paper.  Write a short thank you note to the person who is reading and discussing the blog with you.  Let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to help you raise your grade.  It may be a good time to thank them for a couple other things as well...  Just a thought.  When you're done, have them sign it.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Governments and Malala

Students reviewed the types of governments today, and we also read an article about Malala Yousafzai.  You may have heard of her - or her book: I Am Malala.  I asked for this book for Christmas.  I don't know if I'm going to get it or not though... And now I'm a little annoyed that I asked for it, because that means I can't start reading it RIGHT NOW, and I'm ready to start a new book.

...First world problem, right?

You may be able to view the article by clicking on this link.  I hope somebody tries it and tells me what happens, because I'm not sure what it will look like from your end - and I want to know.

I had a meeting during my prep - when I generally write the blog - so I'm going to cut this short.

If you're reading this with an adult, discuss the Malala article we read today.  Discuss what happened to her and why it happen.  When you're done, find a piece of paper and write a couple sentences about your discussion.  What do your parents think about it?  Compare that to what you think.  Would you have continued to go to school if you were in her shoes?

When you're done, have your parents sign the paper.

If you weren't in school today, google Malala and see what you can find.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Thoughts on the Test

Maybe you heard we took the test using google forms.  Overall, it went really well.  One of the best features of giving the test online is the amount of viable data I receive.  Not only that, but it's all created for me.  For someone who always seems to be pressed for time, this is a huge bonus.

Let me give you some examples:

-This chart shows us that the majority of students know their continents and oceans.  I say majority because this is only one continent from one class.  Most classes had 2 or 3 students who missed 2 or 3 continents and/or oceans.  But overall the students knew their stuff.  At any rate, all the kids from this class could tell me where Africa is.

Similarly, almost all my students aced that latitude and longitude portion of the test.  Again, there were about 3 or 4 students who still don't get it.  This data helps me see that clearly, and maybe I can work with them during lunch or after school to find out what the problem is.

More students missed these next questions about ancient civilizations.  But, that may have been because they needed to know multiple components to be able to answer each question - more like math than social studies.

When I saw this one, I had to look twice.  If you're saying 76% got it right... sorry... 76% of my students got this one wrong.  So today, we spent a lot of time on questions like this one.

And then, you get questions like this one...  This tells me at least 4 people had given up by this point.  Or they didn't read the questions, and were just clicking.  Or maybe both.  Maybe they saw the throw away answer and thought I'd think it was funny if they answered that way.  I don't know.  For the record, Mr. Krescmar is a teacher.  ...I knew that answer sounded familiar...

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, discuss the difference between cultural borrowing and cultural diffusion.  Discuss how you did on the test.  Discuss any of the other questions we went over in class - maybe the one about private business ownership.

When you're done discussing, find a scrap of paper and write the difference between cultural diffusion and cultural borrowing.  Then, have the adult you discussed it with sign it.  Turn it in tomorrow.  See you then.

(If you have facebook or twitter or whatever, and are friends with others who are also my students, you could remind them that this is an easy way to get some extra credit.  If any of them come up to me tomorrow and tell me they did the extra credit because you reminded them, I'll give you some sort of treat for helping them out.)

*Also, apologies for spelling Mr. Krecsmar's name wrong, not once - but twice.  Hopefully he doesn't grade on spelling.  Maybe I'm just ethnocentric against Hungarians.  Bonus bonus points if you write a p.s. at the bottom of your extra credit and give me a definition for "ethnocentric."*

Friday, December 13, 2013

And They're In!

We finished Part II of the test today.  And they're already all graded and in the gradebook.  ...Both parts!  Go ahead and check if you don't believe me.  Actually, you may want to check even if you do believe me.

I bet you already know this - but the semester ends at the end of next week.  (All y'all who read the blog are pretty up with what's going on...)  So, if you notice you didn't fair so well on the test, now would be a good time to do some extra credit.

I guess that's why you're here, right?  Well, I'm going to make it easy for you, because we all worked our tails off the past two days.

Just tell me something fun that happened - or is going to happen this weekend.  Write it down.  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in on Monday.  (Also, it might be a good idea to check your grades.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Study For the Test.

Study.  Study.  Study for the test.

Here's how I want you to do it: get your review guide - OR A NEW ONE, if you must.

At the top of this webpage, on the left-hand side - there's a search engine.  Use it to search for the topics you need to study about.  Try typing Ancient Civs, Ancient, Ancient Civilizations, Economy, Economics, etc...  Let your study guide guide you.

When you're done, write down 5 things you searched.  For each one, tell me one thing you found.  Have the adult you studied them with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Limited and Unlimited Governments

We finished filling out the chart today.  If you didn't get one, you should.  You can find them HERE.  Fill it out using the chart below:

You'll want to study it eventually, but since this stuff won't be on the test Thursday and Friday, I'd wait until that's out of the way.

Study for the test.  Study, study, study for the test.

So, hopefully you now the difference between limited and unlimited governments.  You need to know the difference between each one of these governmental systems.

I hope this one helps you remember absolute monarchy:

If you want credit for reading and discussing the blog tonight, write the following quote on a piece of paper: "I think the power went to her head...  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Intro to Governments

I've got to get working on the test, so it'll be a super-short post today.

We started off class by doing a little more of an in-depth comparison of Yertle and The Hunger Games.  Similarities between Snow and Yertle, Katniss and Mack.  What the turtles represented, why they listened to Yertle... etc....  

We also compared Yertle to Saddam.  So many places in the book we hear Yertle saying, "Oh marvelous me," and by the end he's no longer "king of all he can see," but rather "king of the mud."

If you weren't here today, make sure you get a governments chart when you get back.  Also, make sure you define "rule of law" on the back.  The definition we gave was "rule of law = everybody must obey the law, no matter who you are."

If you read and discussed this blog post with an adult, you can get some extra credit.  If you want it, write the following quote on a scrap of paper, "It must be a very fragile system if a handful of berries can topple it."  Then, turn it in tomorrow.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Yertle and Nelson

SILENCE!  We're discussing governments.  I think we have the concept of power and absolute power down.  So, next week we'll get into limited and unlimited governments.

We read the story of Yertle the Turtle in class today.  If the adult you're reading the blog with hasn't yet read the book, explain it to them.

We discussed it as well, but we've barely scratched the surface.  Yertle will be the subject of Monday's bellwork.

I'm sure many of you heard of Nelson Mandela's death last night.  We usually don't study his life and influence and Apartheid South Africa until later in the year, but I didn't feel right about going through the day without mentioning him - so we put off going in depth about governments until later.

Here are the clips we watched today, if you're interested.  ...27 years...

If you want the credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult... well... as always, you have to read it and discuss it with them.  When you're done, write the following quote on a scrap piece of paper: "I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.  We turtles can't stand it.  Our shells will all crack!  Besides, we need food.  We are starving!" groaned Mack."

Make sure your name's on it.  Put it in the extra credit tray on Monday.  Have a great weekend.  ...Two weeks?  For real?  That's nuts.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Bellwork question of the day:  "Should students have the same amount of authority as teachers?  Why or why not?  What would happen if students and teachers had the same amount of authority?  Answer in complete sentences."

So, we introduced the concept of government.  While they were working on the bellwork, I played a video from youtube:

The class was pretty well split, slightly favoring the teachers maintaining their authority.  (It's nice to know my job is safe.)  (...For now...)

The students don't know it yet, but I've introduced the political concept of rule of law, and limited and unlimited government.  We talked about the people who have the most power in our government - and whether or not that meant they got to do whatever they want...

But it was just an introduction.

We spent the rest of the time reviewing the ancient civilizations and filling in our Venn Diagrams.  (If you need one, click on the link - if you want to know what goes in them, check out yesterday's post.)

I also passed out the REVIEW GUIDE.  It'd probably be a good idea to study.  The test is a week away.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, you've got to read and discuss it with them.  Tell them what you think about the student/teacher authority question.  Maybe study for the test for a couple minutes.

When you're done, find a scrap of paper and write the following quote:  "I!!!  HAVE!!!  THE POWER!!!"  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Did we also watch this clip?  ...Yes... Yes we did.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ancient Civilizations Venn Diagram... And Cuneiform

We're almost finished with ancient civilizations - and we're having a test over them next Thursday.  ...Not tomorrow, mind you, but Thursday the 12th - and we may extend it to the 13th.

So, we worked on a Venn Diagram today.  Students took it home, but they didn't actually have to do it for homework.  The diagram will be handy when it comes to studying for the test.  In fact, it's the first part of the review guide.  They'll receive the second one tomorrow or Friday.

I made some pictures to help you with the diagram.  And to help you study.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Indus River Valley Civilization

Ancient Mesopotamia

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.  ...Yes, these are basically the answers.  Again, this would be one of the posts to come to if you want to study.  I'll tag it as "Study 2013" that way if you type that in to the search bar in the upper left of the webpage, it will bring you right to this post.  (Also, if I missed anything important for any of the civilizations, let me know either in class or in the comments.)

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, have the adult quiz you over the various civilizations for about 3-5 minutes.  Have them ask you what each item on the list means.  Have them ask you which language goes with which civilization - NO PEEKING!  Etc...

When you're done, write down the word "architecture" and then write a quick definition for that word.  (If you don't know the definition, look it up.  If you don't have a dictionary, google it.  The adult can tell you, if that's easier - but you have to be the one to write it.)  Then, write down an example of architecture for each of the 3 ancient civilizations.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

We also wrote in cuneiform (SUMERIANS!) today.  So, if you want to check out some pictures (and maybe a video) from that, feel free to keep scrolling.  ...You might be in here.  


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Graded Some Maps

I'll keep this blog post short today.  Yay!  Free time!

We graded maps, which is why the post will be short.  ...Your free time = my time entering those grades.  They should be up by 4:30.

We also messed around with Google Earth today.  Although we're studying ancient Egypt, and the 1860s hardly qualify as "ancient,"  the Suez Canal was on the map.  So we looked at its purpose.  Students were also having some trouble with scale, so most classes zoomed in on a baseball diamond.  And we looked at how different it looked the farther away we got from it.  ...How different everything looked.  How small we are from outer space.

I told you I'd keep the post short, so in keeping with promises... If you read and discussed today's post with an adult, go check your current grades in all your classes.  Write down your grades.  If you're missing any assignments, write them down.  If you're missing anything for me - get them and complete them.  (Other than bellwork, of course.)  Once you have the list, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

(If you're doing all your assignments, this should be really easy.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ancient Egypt

The first half of class today, we worked on our Ancient Egypt maps.  You can download it HERE.  You can do most of it without the book.  In fact, to help you out I'll post a map here where you can get most of the information:

Now, that won't get you everything - but it will get you started.  If you don't know where to go from there, CLICK ON THIS LINK.

...Seriously, people...  ...Yes you'll have to do the work of clicking the "images" icon at the top...

We'll finish it up during the bellwork time tomorrow, and then we'll grade it.  It should be done by then.

We also watched the Egypt Crash Course - or most of it at least.  I should add that John Green pushes the envelope in these - so when he uses a substitute word for donkey to keep the attention of the students, I turn it down.  If the kids aren't allowed to say it, he shouldn't be either.

Of course, you won't be able to turn it down at home, so watch at your own risk.

If you want extra credit you're supposed to read and discuss the blog with an adult.  If you did this, find a scrap of paper and write down one similarity between Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia.  Then, write down one difference.  When you're finished, have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Make sure your name is on it, and turn it in tomorrow.