Friday, December 19, 2014


Many people in Northern Indiana will be celebrating Christmas next week.  Perhaps you're one of them, perhaps not.  Many are already celebrating Hanukkah, which started Tuesday evening.  Perhaps you are lighting your Menorah.

Here in social studies, we're closing out 2014 by introducing a topic.  It may be counter-intuitive, to start something that I'll have to reintroduce in a couple weeks, but I think it's worth it.

Teaching about religions in the United States can be a little bit tricky.  But there they are in the 7th grade standards.  Standard indicator 7.1.2 to be exact.

So, we're trying to foster understanding: what do we believe?  What do other people believe?  Why?

Students will need to be familiar with some terminology early on in this unit:


Whether you're celebrating a holiday or not, I hope you enjoy the break.  It'll be 2015 when we get back.  Hopefully we have some hoverboards.  

If you want some extra credit when you return, discuss what you believe with an adult in your house.  Have them tell you what they believe about God or gods or the supernatural.  Write down 4 sentences from your discussion and have them sign it.  Turn it in when we return.

Until then, take it easy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No E.C. Today

I'm trying to get as many grades entered as possible, so there's no post today.

Go relax.  Read a book.

Maybe this one?

...I just finished it.  I'll give beau coup extra credit if you read it and write a review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gold Salt Trade - And a Map

Most of the day, we worked on finishing the map we started last week.  If you recall, I wanted the students to have a vague idea of the location of historical Ghana.  So, we started the Africa map.

If students didn't finish it in class, they may - as always, download it HERE.

Don't forget, if you're missing any assignments for my class - you get them from "H Block Assignments."

If you want the extra credit today, tell your parents whether or not you finished the map.  If you did, great.  If not, finish it up for tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quiz Today

Three things happened in class today:

1.  We took the economics quiz.
2.  We played the opening round of the geography bee.
3.  We played an online game that Miss Short made up.

I'd never made or played a game like it before.  It was pretty fun.

If you weren't in class today, remind me on Monday that you need to take the quiz.  We'll finish our maps then, and go over the Gold/Salt trade simulation.

I hope to have all the quizzes graded and entered by the end of the day.  We'll see how that turns out.

If you're here for the extra credit, write me a note telling me what you thought of the game we played.

Turn it in on Monday.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gold Salt Trade

Yesterday and today, students participated in a simulation trading gold for salt.

Make It Rain

The activity tied together a lot of our studies.  The civilization/empire of Ghana originated around the Senegal and Niger Rivers.  (Can anybody guess why?)

It was in the middle of the trans-Saharan trade, which allowed it to become rich.

The students traded gold for salt - bartering in a traditional economy.  Each aspect of the activity was intended to represent actual aspects of the trades that happened hundreds of years ago.

The king (so it's a monarchy) tightly controlled the supply of gold.  All of the gold nuggets, or chunks, found in the kingdom had to be given to the king.  (Sounds like an absolute monarchy...)  (pg. 146)

People from one country are trading with people from another country: globalization.

Again, we're tying a lot together.

If you want the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss this with an adult.  Tell them about the activity.  What did you think.  How did you do?  Did you end up with more than when you started?  How did Ghana become so rich?

After you discuss it, write two sentences from your discussion.  Turn it in tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Africa, Economy, Ancient Civs, and Dunk a Chicken

We'll be tying a few things together tomorrow...  geography, history, economics, etc...

We'll be trading gold for salt in the trans-Saharan trade.

Today we worked on a map looking at that.

We started off the class, however, by watching a video.  (It started playing just before the bell, and ended just after the bell.)  If you want extra credit, watch it again and tell the adult why we watched it in class.  What did I want you NOT to forget?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quiz Friday

We're having an Economics quiz on Friday.  I sent home a review guide today.  If you weren't in school today, you can view or download the review guide here.

We spent a good portion of the day reviewing.  Part of that review was reading and discussing THIS ARTICLE about Elkhart County's GDP.  There was also a 10 point worksheet that went along with it.  If you weren't here, I'd download it and turn it in.  You can do that here.

If you weren't in class today, read and discuss that article with an adult.  If you were in class, you may summarize it and discuss it with an adult.

To earn the extra credit, write two sentences from your discussion, and ask one question about the article, GDP, or economics in general.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

*Update/Edit*  A couple ladies from my 7th hour class watched Frozen over the weekend.  They pointed something out to me...  Extra extra credit to anybody who tells me how this clip ties in with what we're studying.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#Money #GDP

A good quiz for my students: what is the economy?  Whenever you see or hear the word economy, what should you think of?

Production, distribution, and consumption of goods.

Every. Time.

So, when they see words like economic spillover, they know that it has something to do with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.

I taught economic spillover yesterday, but didn't have time to post.  Economic spillover - which is now being called externalities - are the unintended positive and negative consequences of economic development.  When someone decides to build a factory, why do they build it?  Profit.  To make money.

Some by-products may be air pollution or noise pollution.  Maybe a Starbucks around the corner popped up to sell the workers coffee in the morning.  Did the factory owner build the factory because he wanted to pollute and drink Starbucks?  No.  He wanted to make a profit; those are externalities - they happened anyway.

GDP = Gross Domestic Product.  When my students see the word product, it should now be linked to economics, or the economy.  Things made.

What's the Gross Domestic Product of the United States?  16.8 Trillion.  What about Indiana?  246.4 Billlion.

So, if you took everything the U.S. made in a year and added the profit for all of it, you would get 16.8 trillion dollars.  Not bad.  We're #1 baby.  (That is, if you go by country...)  If you figure GDP per capita, then we're ranked 10th.

GDP and money are difficult to visualize.  I mean, a trillion dollars?  I can't really conceive how much a billion is.  Honestly, when I bought my house I had trouble understanding the high thousands...

This chart really helps with that:

I'm not sure if my blog will let you zoom in on the chart as much as xkcd does.  If it doesn't you should check it out there.  Each little green square represents one dollar.  Each little orange square represents $1000.  Yellow = $1,000,000,000.  Gray/purple = $1,000,000,000.  Blue = $1,000,000,000,000.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing today, start by asking this question: what is the economy?  Then discuss GDP.  Finally, look at that chart for a couple minutes.  On a scrap of paper, write down 2 things that stood out to you on that chart.  Write them down.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Working for Beans

Last week we discussed the economy: the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

Early this week we'll be discussing how that happens.  I teach that there are 4 basic economic systems: command, market, mixed, and traditional.

A command economy is controlled by the government.  Maybe they force people to produce specific goods - or severely limit what people may buy.  If you're familiar with The Hunger Games, you know what I'm talking about.  The Capitol forced District 12 to produce coal.  District 12 didn't have a choice.  Command economy.

A market economy is based on supply and demand.  (Demand being something people want or need... this always confused me as a kid...)  In a market economy, if someone thinks they can make money selling something, then they should sell it.  Again, from The Hunger Games, Peeta's dad was a baker.  He wasn't forced to bake bread, but he thought he could make ends meet by doing so.

A traditional economy is based on need and, well... tradition.  When Katniss went hunting in... yeah... The Hunger Games... she didn't know what she would bag.  If she shot 3 squirrels and a rabbit, that's what she traded.  The hunting skills were passed down from her father.  There is still an aspect of supply and demand, but it's based on availability and necessity rather than profit.  And generally, the skills are passed down by tradition.

In all actuality, the only true economic system is a mix of these three.  And it's uninspired name is a "mixed economy."

We looked at the different types of economic systems today using beans.  In one scenario the government highly regulated what students could produce.  In a second scenario, there were no limits, profit was the only motivator.  (And it proved to be a big motivator.)  The third was a mix of the previous two.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, write a sentence about your discussion.  Include which method of putting the beans in the cup worked out best and why.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it and turn it in tomorrow.

Some pictures:

Monday, November 24, 2014


The test grades were sent out.  Shazaam!  (They were a little late... I had some issues with technology.)

I'm impressed by the report though.  If you didn't sign up to have your grades emailed to you, you should next time: tre cool.

We're in to economics now.  This is the definition I gave the kids:

After that, we simplified the definition.  (I also added services in after goods...)

So, we could say, "the economy deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services."

Or, we could say, "the economy deals with the making, selling, and buying of stuff."  

I prefer the former, but for 7th graders the latter is easier to understand.

We discussed the difference between a good (or healthy) economy and a bad (unhealthy) economy:

And of course, we discussed Black Friday just a little bit.

I'm not a big fan of rampant consumerism.  I'm worried it's destroying our country.

But, of course, I'm glad people buy things.  If they didn't, where would we be?  It's because people buy that allows us to have jobs and a higher standard of living.  The problem comes in when "stuff" becomes more important than people.

To get the extra credit today, you should read and discuss the blog with an adult.  On a sheet of scrap paper, write a paragraph about your discussion.  Write your thoughts about the paragraph from above.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Why?  What should we do about it?

Some classes also watched some videos about this topic.  Watch if you want to, but you don't have to for the blog credit if that's what you're here for:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fear and Tests

Students took the test today.  I think it was pretty easy.  I'll put the grades in Monday, although I might grade it tonight.

If you were absent today and need to make up the test, email me about it, or ask me about it on Monday.  If you are absent - say you went to visit relatives in some far-away country or something: make sure you email me.

While the students are taking the test, I've gone through and graded a lot of their writing assignments from the past couple of days.  If you recall, we read an excerpt from The Epic of Gilgamesh.  (Click the link if you want to read it.)

*EDIT*  By the way, as with all ancient texts, there are many, MANY translations out there.  If you've never read The Epic of Gilgamesh before, may I suggest that you try Stephen Mitchell's translation?  It's very good, although this note is more for the adults reading the blog than the students...  *END EDIT*

If you remember from the excerpt, Gilgamesh is looking haggard, desolate, and emaciated.  He has begun to fear death because of the death of Enkidu.  (Spoiler alert, sorry.  You've had 4,000 years to read the thing, don't blame me too much...)

I know this was my point from the last blog post, but it was really hit home for me when I read what the students wrote.  I asked the question, "what are you afraid of?" to the students.  Four of the most common answers I received were death, loss of someone they love, being alone, and clowns.  (That last one doesn't really have anything to do with this post... it just showed up a lot...)

When Gilgamesh lost Enkidu, those are the same fears he had: he now feared death, he was now alone, and he had lost someone he loved.

I asked my students to answer that question before they knew anything about Gilgamesh.  For how far humanity has advanced, we are still people, after all.

If you want the extra credit today, talk about the blog post.  But also tell the adult you're reading with how you think you did on the test.  Write a sentence or two about the discussion, and have them sign the paper.  I realize it's not too different from Wednesday's post... but there was no lesson today.  Just an assessment.  I hope they all aced it.

*Extra: Some of the student writings about what they feared are really good.  I asked if I could post a couple up here, and they said yes.

"My fear is to be alone. I am alone all the time and it is not that big of a deal.  I am not afraid of being alone, I'm afraid of being alone for a long period of time.  Sometimes I babysit my sister while my mom and dad go shopping.  They usually take about an hour, but if they take longer I start to get worried.  Or when my mom is working and I have to watch my sister.  She always comes at the same time for lunch.  Sometimes she has a meeting and forgets to tell me, so she's late."

"I'm afraid of poisonous things.  I'm afraid of poisonous things, because I don't want to die.  I'm not afraid of spiders or snakes,  I can even touch one, but if it's poisonous it will send shivers down my spine and I would scream so loud I could wake the dead.  I don't even know why I'm afraid!  All I know is I'm terrified of poisonous things.  I can pick up a daddy long leg and not be afraid, but if I see a tarantula in a pet store I run the other way.  I see a garter snake, and I'm fine, I see a rattlesnake at the zoo I run around the corner and cry."

"Personally, I'm afraid of losing all my friends, but that's a natural fear everyone has.  (Well, I take that fear a lot more seriously than other people, I think about that every day.)  My absolute worst fear though, is the stupidest fear you will ever hear.  You know the movie company THX, who helped make Bambi and The Incredibles, right?  Well when I was little I used to watch Bambi A LOT!  And every time that one stupid THX thing came on before the movie, I would scream, I'm still afraid of the THX trailer thing today!"

"My worst fear is losing my brother.  I realized that this was my worst fear over the weekend.  My brother was going somewhere to practice for a band competition.  This was with a bunch of people he didn't know.  He told mom that he'd find a ride home.  My friend was spending the night that night.  My brother was supposed to come home at 7:30 PM.  At that time he still wasn't.  I went to my mom's room to get something and she said, "**** isn't answering his phone.  I'm scared he got in an accident."  I walked out and cried on my friend's shoulder.  At 1:30 AM my mom went out to find him.  She came home and told me he was at a friend's and fell asleep.  This is my worst fear because I don't know what I'd do without ****."

*EDIT: 9:17 PM 11/21/2014*

Guess what just happened.  It was rough, but I made it.  Students, you can fill in your parents if you want to.  I was very brave.

Oh no... There are two bags...

Nothing to worry about.

What was that noise?

Maybe if I run back inside fast enough she won't be able to catch me!

*Whew*  MADE IT!

Heh... La Llorona.  ...I don't even believe in her.  And I'm not a kid, so... whatever...  I wasn't running because I was scared... I was just exercising. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Fate of Mankind; The Issue of My Friend

The Epic of Gilgamesh is almost always credited with being the oldest written story in the world.  It's a fantastic story, and if you've never read this - mankind's first piece of writing - I highly recommend it.

We've been studying ancient civilizations, so it's only appropriate that we take a peek inside Mesopotamia's most famous book - and their most famous super-hero.

Since the book was written in Cuneiform, it was written on clay tablets.  We only read a portion from Tablet 10, the translation of which comes from San Jose State University's webpage.  You can read what we read HERE.  It's only a page, and it will give you some context for this post.

In the portion we read today, Gilgamesh is afraid.  Gilgamesh - this EPIC warrior - is afraid.  Terrified.  The guy who challenged the gods.  The guy who killed Humbaba (the body-guard to the gods), the guy who killed the Bull of Heaven: he's afraid.  The text says his cheeks are emaciated, his expression is desolate and his features are haggard.  From fear.

We've all dealt with fear before.  Sometimes it's embarrassing, right?  I shared this picture with most of my students:

Most of us aren't as fearless as Gilgamesh.  Why is he afraid?  What is he scared of?  What is "the fate of mankind" that so terrifies him?  And why does it terrify him?  And if it's something that scares one such as Gilgamesh, is it something I should fear as well?

If you were in class today, you know your job: read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Tell them what we talked about in class.  What was it that Gilgamesh feared?  What was the fate of Enkidu, his friend?  Is it a legitimate fear?  Why or why not?  After your done discussing, write a short paragraph about your discussion.  Have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

If you weren't in class, read the section of the story we read today: found here.  Then write me a paragraph telling me what it is Gilgamesh fears.  Give me 3 examples from the text that support your conclusion.  You don't have to do all this with your parents or an adult.  Just turn it in when you return to school.  

Not to show my hand too much, but this is what we'll be talking about tomorrow as well.  Part of the point I'm trying to get across (aside from teaching ancient texts from the civilizations we're studying) is the commonality humanity shares across both time and cultures.

The fears of Gilgamesh are the same as the Pharaohs.  The same as Emperor Qin, who drank the mercury and jade.  The same as Juan Ponce de Leon - or at least, the legend of him which says he was searching for the Fountain of Youth.  ...And it's the same as one of our newest heros: Augustus Waters.  This is one of the major themes of The Fault in Our Stars, right?  Raise your hand if you've read it.  The point is, maybe we're not so far removed from the Mesopotamians after all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Again: Test Friday

Like I said yesterday, check to see if you're missing anything.  You can download assignments for my class HERE.  I put the date of the assignment as well as the name - so that should help make sure you're getting the right one.  Occasionally, some of the names get switched around because the online grade book gives me character limits.

I used all my blogging time looking at someone else's blog.  If you want the extra credit today, you should check it out.

To get the points for today's post, play one of the games, and write a note telling me what you think.  You only have to play it for 5 minutes to get the credit - though if you want to play it longer go for it.

In class we reviewed for the test.  I also asked students what they were struggling with, and what they knew.  This will help me know what I need to hit in the review.

Again, to get the extra credit today, you have to play one of those new online games and tell me what you think.  Make sure you tell me which one you played.

If you want to study for the test - and I hope you all do - (What else would anyone possibly want to do on a Tuesday evening, he seriously asked himself...) - I would definitely check out yesterday's blog post.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ancient Civs Venn

Students completed a Venn Diagram of the ancient civilizations today.  It was classwork, and we graded it already.  The grades should be entered by 3:30 today.

If you weren't here, you can download it and print it from THIS PAGE.  Actually, if you're missing anything, it can be downloaded from that page.  If you don't have a printer - don't fear: there's one in the Media Center.  Just ask your CAP teacher if you may go during CAP.  Ask early, CAP teachers only have 2 passes a piece.

We reviewed the ancient civilizations, and I tried to reinforce some of the more minor differences.  Since we do have a test coming up on Friday, it might be a good idea to review these:

If you've read and discussed the blog with an adult, write two sentences telling me about that discussion.  Then, have them sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.  If they're not, you won't receive the credit for it.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Test Next Friday

We graded the Egypt map today.  The grades should all be entered by 3:30 today.  If you see that you're missing it, you should consider doing that.  Progress reports are coming out soon.  It might be a good idea to check your grades.

I also passed out the review guide for the test on ancient civilizations - which will be next Friday.  You can view or download the review guide HERE.

I'm keeping the extra credit simple today: study for the test with an adult for at least 5 minutes.  Let them quiz you.  Then, on a scrap of paper, write down 1 thing you knew, and one thing you struggled with or didn't know.  Have the adult you studied with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date and hour are on it and turn it in on Monday.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Egypt Map

Students worked on a map of Egypt today in class, while I read ancient Egyptian myths and legends.  (I was told they are the "multi-tasking generation," though my reading may have just been background noise for some.

If you weren't here and need the map, you can get it HERE.

If you want the extra credit today, read and discuss yesterday's post.

Have a snowy day.  Stay safe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Egypt and Regions

I'm sorry that I didn't have time to send out an email about the blog post today.  Chess is meeting in my room.

I'll just quickly post what we did in class.  As always, my students can earn extra credit if they read and discuss it with an adult.

I asked a couple questions based on this map:

See if they can explain what this map is trying to show.  If they can't, please feel free to help them out.  States and countries have fixed boundaries.  Regions, not so much...

We also watched John Green's Crash Course Ancient Egypt.  Mind you, it does have a light curse word at the beginning.  I turned the volume down in every class, except 8th hour where I was distracted.  ...Students... Am I right?

He does point out that it's not cursing since he's talking about a donkey.  ...Maybe...

Feel free to watch the video:

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, write down two or three sentences from your conversation.  Then, have the adult you read and discussed it with sign paper.

If you have time to remind your friends via facebook or instagram or whatever that there is an extra credit blog post today, they might appreciate it.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


To any veterans that stumble across this page, Happy Veteran's Day, and thank you for your service.

We will be studying ancient civilizations a little while longer.  I'm debating whether I'll try to finish before Thanksgiving or not.  We have yet to talk about Ancient China, but the concepts students have learned about the other civilizations may be enough for now.  (Ancient China began by a river for it's silt, irrigation, drinking water, fish, and transportation/trade.  They had their own code of laws, specialized workers, cities, and written language...  You know...)

Today the students worked on a map, reviewed the Indus River Valley Civilization, and watched a short (2 minute) video on Egypt.

The map was 20 points.  If you were absent, you can download it HERE.  (It's pretty easy.)

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, define "architecture" and then draw a picture of the most famous piece of architecture for each of the 4 civilizations we've studied.  Don't spend more than 1 minute on your drawing.

Have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nothing Today

It's been a little crazy around here today.

Don't blame me.  Blame hackers.

I'll be sure to post tomorrow and tell what we did both days.  Don't forget you can always play the games for extra credit.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Micah Helmuth

Mr. Helmuth had his last day with us today.  He was a fantastic student teacher, and will be missed.  We had a lot to cover, but I made time in the agenda for group pictures.

Again, we all really appreciate the time, work, and effort he put into the class, and we wish him the best of luck as he continues working to become a full-time teacher.  He's going to be great.

If you're here for the extra credit, I'm sorry that didn't have time to post a full-fledged blog today.  Tell the adult what we did in class today and discuss it.  Write down 2 sentences about what you discussed, then have them sign it and turn it in on Monday.  If you're having trouble remembering, some of it doubles in THIS  POST.  - Although, we also talked about values (the story about my daughter Gwennie...)  We went more in depth on how language works, and how it developed, and I  listed the languages you needed to know for this class.  You should be familiar with Mesopotamian/Sumerian Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Indus Script, and Chinese Calligraphy.  More on those on Monday.  See you then.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Geography Games

We were in the computer lab today.  When students entered, they were greeted by my daughter, Gwennie.  It's her birthday.

They spent most of the hour playing geography games.  We're studying ancient civilizations.  I want them to know that the land we're studying still exists today.  In fact, many of the present day countries are countries of key interest to U.S. foreign relations.  (Did I mention the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia, is present day Iraq?)

I won't write a long blog post.  Instead, I want students to play the games again.  Don't forget that they can get unlimited extra credit by playing them as well.  They just have to prove to me that they played.  Screen shot their scores and email them to me, or print them out.  Something.

Here's my big question though, how many of you can play these games from a Smart-phone or tablet?  That's what I want to know.  If you have one, HERE'S THE LINK.  Have the kid you're reading and discussing the blog play it once.  Then, on a scrap of paper, have them write down whether it worked or not, and tell me what device they played it on.  If you don't have a Smart-phone just play it on the computer.  Then, the adult that's reading and discussing the blog should sign that paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

I'll write a little bit more, but don't feel like you need to read it or do anything about it.

Towards the end of class we looked at this map.  (I made it based off a map I got from eduplace.)

Hopefully, by the end of the day, they know which countries these are - along with all the countries in the Middle East.  It might be helpful to quiz them over this, as it will show up later as well.

It was a good day.  :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Start Writing

Today's lesson was mainly about writing.  How did it originate?  How does written language work?  What ancient languages should students be familiar with in this class?

I started the lesson by connecting it to previous learning.

Students came in and had to quickly draw two pictures.  One picture depicted the reasons ancient civilizations were found near rivers.  The other picture showed some of what helps anthropologists qualify a civilization as a civilization.

Here are the pictures.  We're all artists:

If you weren't here today, you should draw these and show them to me tomorrow.  If you were here, don't worry about it.  That's not the requirement for extra credit.

Hopefully most students already knew this - as Mr. Helmuth taught it to them.  I know they spent quite a bit of time checking out Hammurabi's Code.  You know - the code of laws for Mesopotamia.

Written language (a system of writing) is crazy.  It's like magic.  Most of you are probably reading this right now.  RIGHT NOW.  You just read that.  I wrote this a while ago, and you're reading it now.  That's a big deal.  And you can read it again if you want to.  (Ok... rereading this paragraph might seem a little pointless...  but I'm sure some of you just did...)

Obviously, when writing first came about, not everyone could do it.  Scribes must have looked like magicians.

We discussed writing coming from ideograms and pictograms.  Hieroglyphs.  We looked at the move to symbols representing sounds.  Phonetics.   The Phoenicians.  We discussed how ancient languages started as a mnemonic device - and that we still use ideograms, pictograms, and mnemonic devices today.

Obviously, we covered a lot more in 45 minutes, but I don't want to overwhelm you - you were here.  I just want you to talk to the adult you read this with and tell them how class went.  You could also mention the maps we looked at (on population/ population density) or what we read on the SMARTboard.

If you've read and discussed the blog and want extra credit.  Write a sentence or two from your discussion.  Then, have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

See you then.  What a great day!  Am I right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Population vs Population Density

Welcome, first timers!  My students can earn extra credit by reading this post and discussing it with an adult.  Read, discuss, then follow the instructions at the bottom.

What is the difference between population and population density?

Population = total number of people.  Population density = number of people in a certain area; how tightly packed together people are.

When my students came in today, we took the population of the class.  They began working on a short bellwork I made up.

I asked questions like what's the population of Box City, what is the population/ population density for each quarter, and what's the population density for Box City...  Pretty simple.

In the middle of working on this, we took a time out and changed the population density of our class.  Generally speaking, it's pretty even.  We decided to concentrate it in a box.

I like to tie things together, so I pointed out that ancient civilizations were almost always found near rivers - population density is higher around rivers.  So, Tito was our river first hour.  You can see him forming a delta with his arms in this picture:

Tying it together even further, I mentioned that to be recognized as an actual civilization, that civilization had to develop cities.  More and more people moved to these cities by rivers.  The movement into cities is called...   EVERYBODY NOW!!!  ______________________.  (Remember this blank, you will need it later...)

So, students moved into the city - concentrating our class's population density in this box.  As of 10:31 AM, first hour has the 2014 record with 29 people in the box:

Yeah...  second hour didn't even have a chance:

Notice in that first picture - all the empty desks.  Although the population of the class didn't change, the population density did.  Our population density increased around the Tito River because of the silt, the water for transportation and trade, water for our crops and animals, for fishing, and drinking water of course.

If I remember to take pictures throughout the rest of the day, I'll post them on here around 3:15.

Students: if you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you were to have read and discussed it with an adult.  Explain to them the difference between population and population density.  Tell them about the map we looked at as well.  Explain to them why India was shaded darker than China - even though China had more people.

Then, find a scrap of paper (I wouldn't print anything out... ink is expensive...)  Write down the word that goes in the blank above.  If you don't remember that word, write two sentences from your conversation.  Then, have the adult you discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

See you then.

*Alright - here are the rest of the pictures, sorry it's after 3:15.*

Fifth hour broke 1st hour's record: 30.

Sixth hour did not break fifth hour's record: 29.  The first picture shows a town with a low population density...  Well, right now it's really low...  0 people per... square box of tape...  And behind it, the town with the much higher population density.  31 people per square box of tape...  (That's counting the river.)

Seventh hour: Helmuth makes a cameo.  They had 28, I believe.


Hopefully by concentrating our population into that box of tape the students understand the difference between population and population density.  I guess we'll find out on the test.  (Don't worry, it's not for a while.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Welcome to the blog!

For some of you, this is your first time here.  If you're bored, surfing the web on your phone at conferences while waiting for your social studies teacher to finish up with the parent in front you you, I encourage you to look around the site a little bit.  Look at previous posts.

For those of you who have been here for a while, you know how it works: students in my class may read and discuss blog posts with an adult and earn extra credit for it.  This will reinforce what we're learning, keep parents up to date, and get students some extra credit as well.

In class, Mr. Helmuth is finishing up teaching about Mesopotamia and Egypt.  They discussed the ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife.  You know that old saying, "you can't take it with you?"  It seems as if the Egyptians didn't believe that.  So, one of the questions Mr. Helmuth asked his students was, if you could take 5 things with you to an afterlife, what would they be?  He had them write a paragraph explaining why the students made the decisions they did.

Another thing he had them do was write in Cuneiform.  He gave each student some play-doh and a stylus, and put a phonetic translation of the Cuneiform alphabet on the SMART board.  He then had the students write.  Obviously, it was a different form of clay, and no doubt the styli that the Sumerians used were more appropriate for the writing the scribes did, students were still able to get an idea of writing in clay.

If you came to the blog today and want extra credit - or want your kid to get extra credit, students have to read it and discuss it with an adult.  Students, tell them how class went.  What did you say you're taking with you?  How did the writing in clay go?  Does Mr. Habecker need to buy new play-doh?  What language to the Egyptians use?

Then, when you're done discussing, find a scrap of paper.  Nothing new.  Just a scrap.  The inside of a junk mail envelope.  Anything.  Have the student write down two sentences from the discussion.  Sign the paper.  That is meant to be proof that you read and discussed the blog together.  I'm trusting that if you made it this far, you also took the 5 minutes and discussed it.

Make sure that the student's name, date and hour is on it as well.  Then turn it in tomorrow.  No!  WAIT!  TURN IT IN AFTER BREAK!!!  WOO HOO!!!!  FALL BREAK!!!!

Have a good one.

Monday, October 27, 2014


We have conferences tonight, so Mr. Helmuth and I are busy preparing for those.  And you'll get a chance to ask us tonight - or tomorrow night - about class in person.

So, we won't spend any more time here.  Thanks for checking in.

If you want the extra credit, find a scrap of paper and tell me how conferences went.  If you're going to go tomorrow, tell me.  If you're not going, write that down then tell me why not.

Have the adult you read and discuss the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in whenever you're back in school.

See you soon.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Mr. Helmuth is having the students mime presentations.  It's more or less a review over several topics we've covered.  Students could present the reasons ancient civilizations were found near rivers, or cuneiform.  They could present Hammurabi's Code, or agriculture.

They had yesterday to prepare the presentations, and today to present them.  Mr. Helmuth said overall he was pleased with how they performed, and that they understand the concepts he's been teaching.

Here are some pictures of the presentations:

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, tell the adult you are reading this with what you did for your presentation.  Tell them whether you thought it went well or not.  Then, find a scrap of paper and write a sentence from the discussion.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in on Monday.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We've Got Spirit

It's "Red-Ribbon Week" here at Concord Junior High.  Several of us are participating.  I feel kindof bad, though.  Yesterday we told students what we were going to wear for twin day, and we invited them to join in: blue shirt, blue tie, black pants, black shoes.  But, I forgot that we were double booked.  Mr. Helmuth and I had a curriculum development meeting.  So, we went there dressed like twins - and received some fun looks.  (It was not what I would call a "shirt and tie" meeting.)

So, this is my formal apology to all the students who were let down because they felt stood up: I'm sorry.  We're sorry.  And you were still our twin even though we were in a different building.

...Also, we probably should have clarified the shade of blue.

Today was "wacky day," so we were at it again:

Tomorrow is "Color Splash Day."  Each quad is supposed to wear their designated color:

I'm not sure what the colors are for the other quads, but H is white.  Which, I guess is technically the absence of color... so... I'm just not going to ask about that...

In class Mr. Helmuth has been studying ancient civilizations - right now he's focusing on Mesopotamia.  Yesterday, the students worked on a map while we were away.  It was due today, and it will be graded and turned in tomorrow.

It was interesting.  At the meeting yesterday, we found out that the 6th graders started incorporating Mesopotamia into their curriculum last year.  So, thanks for the help, 6th grade teachers!

If you didn't complete the map, you can print one off on the school website.  Just go to H-Block Assignments.  (Or click THIS LINK. - You'll need to use maps on the internet to label it.)

To prove that you were here today, find a scrap of paper and write a sentence telling me what you learned about the Mesopotamians last year.  Then, write a sentence telling me something that Mr. Helmuth has taught you about them so far this year.

Then, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the scrap of paper.  Put it in the extra credit tray tomorrow.