Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Little More Reviewing

Well, I guess that's all she wrote.  Tomorrow will be the ISTEP.  I'm pretty confident.  Make sure you get a good night's sleep.

Here's how you can review.  Choose an old blog post - preferably on a topic you feel a little weak on - you can search my blog.  Just go to the top left hand corner  - that's a search engine just for this blog.

So, if you don't remember the civilizations, type "civilization."  If you're weak on the apartheid, type that.  If you don't remember much about Hinduism or Buddhism look for that stuff.

Or just go over to the sidebar, and click on a previous blog entry.

It might be beneficial to check out a post from a previous year.  I don't always teach things the same way.  I like to think that my teaching is improving, but maybe you would have learned the material better in the way it was presented last year.  (Every kid is different, you know?)

Whichever post you choose, do whatever that post tells you to do.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Well, here we are again, reviewing for ISTEP.

Today, I gave out the exact same bellwork I gave back in November (I think) before one of our big tests.  It covered a multitude of topics: human capital, standard of living, ancient civilizations, etc...  And then, we spent the rest of the time reviewing governments and religions.

We played a game with the marker boards.  I gave questions, and students wrote down the answers.

I'm not writing more, because I've got other work to do, and this is all review.  Here's how you can prove you were here, though: write at least 3 sentences telling me what Hinduism teaches and believes.

Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign it.

Then, turn it in tomorrow.

I hope the ISTEP was cake.  I hope you aced it.  I'm sure you did.

I hope you ace it tomorrow, and I hope you ace it Thursday as well.

Monday, April 28, 2014

In Honor of ISTEP

We went back and brushed up on latitude and longitude.  We gave it a shot on paper, then moved to globes.  After we practiced on the globes, we reviewed globalization a little bit.  You guys all remember that, don't you?  Banananovia and what not?  If not, you should click on the link.

We reviewed the positives and negatives of globalization, once again referring to Banananovia.

Most classes got a chance to watch this video, although some did not finish it:

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, tell the adult reading with you whether 30°N is a line of latitude or longitude.  Then, tell them what the driving force behind globalization is - and whether it is good, bad or both, and why.

After you discuss it, write a simplified version of your answers on a scrap of paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

See you then.

Don't forget your calculator.  Seriously, post something to facebook reminding everybody to bring one tomorrow.  And get a good night sleep.  You owe it to yourself, and to Mrs. Gowdy.

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Am Become Death

I thought we'd go over a quick bellwork and then finish up learning about Japan in WWII, but then... some classes really struggled with charts and graphs.  I feel hesitant to just plow through the material when students don't understand, but I'm also being pulled to move on because there's so much to teach...

I'm not going to discuss the charts on here though.  Students, you can show them to your parents if they want to see them.  (Unless you threw them away...)

Here's one of the enduring questions of U.S. History: Should The United States have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of/ to end World War II?

Most classes watched these three short videos, some only saw one or two.  Here they are:

The test/ I am become death:

Truman warns the Japanese that they need to surrender:

America drops Little Boy on Hiroshima.

There's a lot to talk about when dealing with these actions.  They were brought up in the 40s, and they're still being brought up today.  Pearl Harbor was a naval base, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were cities containing many civilians.  Dropping the atomic bomb brought a swift conclusion to the war.  We haven't had to use atomic bombs in wars since, so that seems like shady justification to use them in World War II.  The Japanese would have kept fighting if we didn't drop them: they continued fighting after Hiroshima.

Again, the arguments are far too complicated to go into detail in a 7th grade classroom, but we can hit the basics.

In order to get credit for reading and discussing the blog, write a couple sentences about the discussion.  Do you think America was justified in dropping atomic bombs on Japan?  Why or why not?  What do your parents think?

Turn it in on Monday.

-Also, the library has a fantastic book on this topic.  A couple students have read it.  You can check out my review HERE.

Hey, if you happen to check this for extra credit, do you mind reminding your friends that they can get extra credit too?  Seriously, your friends are so forgetful.  All of them.  And yes, I'm talking to you.  Post it to facebook, or something.  Check it out, there are no ads on this site.  I'm getting no ad revenue from you.  I'm just doing this because I want you to learn more.  Geez...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Charts, Maps, and the Mother Lode

We reviewed the difference between population and population density today.  QUICK!!!  If you're reading this with an adult for extra credit, turn to them and tell them what the difference is.  Right now.  Seriously.  GO!

Hopefully you said something like, population is the total number of people, whereas population density is how tightly they're packed together.

We also spent some time looking at a map of the United States, and and the percent of people over 25 who have completed high school.  The map is interesting, because it only gives numbers for the graduation rates, but doesn't detail how many people are in each state.  The percent for Alaska given on the map is 88.9-91.1.  I had a very astute student 1st hour who said, of course Alaska has a high percentage.  There are only 4 people living up there.  4 out of 4.  It should be 100%.  
The last question read, "There is not enough information to answer the question, 'which state graduates more people, New York or Montana?'  What information would you need to answer that question?
The student mentioned above got it right.

That was the bellwork, and that was all fine and all, but what I REALLY want to write about is the mother lode.  British Pathé just uploaded 85,000 newsreels to youtube.  85,000.  (Mrs. Buchanan pointed out that I had initially misspelled mother lode, by the way.  I had spelled it "motherload" not knowing it was incorrect.  Good catch.  She came back, though and said that since this was an "upload" to youtube, perhaps now would  be the perfect time to misspell it.)

There are so many videos in there that I could use to review as well as teach new content.  For instance, we used this one today, tying it in to Gandhi and civil disobedience:

We're finishing up Japan during WWII, so these videos were also fitting:

I imagine it will be a treasure trove of primary sources for my class.  If I search Gandhi, here's what I get: CHECK IT OUT.  WWII.  Suez.  I can't type any more, because each time I do, I get sidetracked watching the videos.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, read it and discuss it.  Tell me what you thought about the videos.  Did you watch any other ones?  The homepage IS HERE.

After you answer the question, have the adult you read it with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Terms and Japan

I finally displayed the Gandhi pictures in the hall.  It takes a while to put them up, but they're up.  Check them out:

Can you find yours?  If you didn't finish it, don't forget that you can still turn it in for credit.  Actually, if you're missing anything, it might be a good idea to look into that.  You can download most stuff from H Block Assignments.  Turn it in before it's too late.

I'm hoping to have all the Japan Maps entered before the day is over today.  If you didn't turn that one in - get it done.  

We went over a bunch of geography terms today for bellwork: peninsula, archipelago vs. island, strait, canal, etc...

Michigan is a really peninsula-heavy state, huh?  

I might have changed that picture a little bit, so that it adds this:

I guess you can't have everything.  But seriously, it's a state of peninsulas within peninsulas.  

We also watched (or in some cases started watching) the Crash Course video on Nationalism and Japan.  It's very good as well, but boy does Mr. Green talk fast.  I'd link to it, but this post is already longer than I thought it would be.

If you want the extra credit, write the difference between an island and an archipelago.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Also, tell me if you could find your Gandhi picture in the panoramic picture above.

...Don't forget to check your grades.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Samurai and WWII

Today we read a little bit more about the Samurai in WWII, then we finished our maps.

If you didn't finish your map, get it done.  If you don't have it, print out a new one HERE.

Use google to help you figure out where everything is.

We're grading it first thing tomorrow.

I'm not offering extra credit through the blog tonight.  If you want it, you'll have to play the geography games.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Japan and Grades

I just finished putting in a bunch of grades, so you may want to look over them.

If you weren't here today, we started working on a map of Japan.  You can download it from the H-Block Assignments folder or click the link.  It's not homework, but you should come to class tomorrow with everything labeled.  And bring your colored pencils.

I was anticipating writing a much longer blog post, but grades took too long.

Get that map done.  We're finishing it in class tomorrow.

Today we discussed Samurai and honor in class.  We also talked about gender roles in Japan in the 12th and 17th centuries.  Women had quite a bit of independence in the 12th century, which diminished over time - until you got to the 17th century when women in the Samurai class had very limited freedom indeed.

We discussed whether or not men and women are treated equally in America today.

If you want the extra credit today, discuss that with an adult.  Search the internet with them to see what it has to say on the topic.  Tell me what you find, and what you both think.  This assignment shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.  If it takes longer, you can feel free to continue - but if you're busy: stop.  Being in school an hour longer makes for a longer day: approximately an hour longer.

If you do this though, and want credit: write a couple thoughts on what you found, and have them sign off on it.  If they want to put their thoughts down too, I'd be glad to have them.

Turn it in tomorrow.

See you then.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We're learning about the Japanese invasion/colonization of Manchuria as well as Japanese imperialism in general - but I wanted to take a break from that for a moment.

(Oh, but first - if you weren't here - or didn't finish your map you can download it HERE.  It's due tomorrow.)

Today while we were in the computer lab, I wanted to remind the students of all the extra credit policies I have.  There are quite a few: this blog - you know about it... you're here.  The geography games, watching/ relating the news and current events to what we're studying, etc...

At the beginning of the year I try to hammer in the point that social studies touches everything.  Everything.  It is ubiquitous, yet we often have a hard time connecting our lives to social studies because... you know... who does that?... 

I tell the students, "hey, if you're watching TV or a movie, reading a book or playing a video game and you see something that relates to this class, write me a paragraph telling me about it and I'll give you some points."

I want students to take some initiative - and ultimately I want them to take what they're learning in here and connect it to their lives.

I'm sure many - maybe all - students do this anyway, but I don't often get told about it.

After spring break Anna turned this in:

Not only that, but she wrote a rough draft first and asked Mr. Ogle to look over it - which he did.  (Seriously, this school corporation is fantastic.  It seems like everyone always goes above and beyond the call of duty.)  Check it out:

I thought it'd be worth sharing what she wrote and giving her some kudos for it:

Futurama to Social Studies

     Mr. Habecker, over spring break I watched this show called Futurama.  The whole thing reminded me of Gandhi's act for equality among people.
     At the beginning, the first thing I noticed was a meeting of the rich people who were talking so badly about the mutants.  It's how the priests treated the untouchables.  The priests treated them like dirt.
     Next, the mutants had to carry around passes given out by the mayor that only lasts one day.  They would have to carry it around to go anywhere.  It was like when the Indians had to carry passes around in South Africa.
     A guy named Fry jumped into the lake that turns you into a mutant in order to see what it's like in their shoes - like when Gandhi dresses and acts like a poor person to see their point of view.
     Next, they had civil disobedience because they just sent the sewage back up - not harming anyone, but just to show what they think is wrong.  Gandhi used all kinds of civil disobedience acts like: burning the passes, he wouldn't pay court fines, and all of those freedom walks.  He did this to show that what was going on was wrong.
     Lastly, all the mutants took a march for equality/freedom.  This reminds me of when Gandhi has that march to the Indian Ocean to gather salt.  They both were for freedom.
     That's all the similarities I saw.  If you think you might want to see this, it is season 7 episode 11 or 12.

For an assignment that's supposed to be rather low-key, I thought she did an exceptional job.  There are so, SO many connections to what we've been studying.  Nice job.

To get the extra credit for reading the blog, you're supposed to read it and discuss it with an adult.  If you did this, find a scrap of paper and complete the following: tell me a connection between my social studies class and a show, book, movie, video game (or whatever) that YOU like.  It doesn't have to be a long paper, just a connection or two.  ...Think about everything we've been talking about since the beginning of the year.

When you're done, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

See you then.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

World War I (Great... War...)

The Indiana State Standards for social studies are very good...  overall.  For real.  But there are several standards dealing with World War II, and not one standard on World War I.  I think it's difficult to gain any understanding of one without at least some background knowledge of the other.

So, yesterday I taught my yearly WWI lesson.

I grew up learning that WWI was fought over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand II.  And that's partially true.  But I teach that the war was more about the (faulty) system of alliances that were in place.

Before class (during bellwork) students are going around gaining alliances.  They're supposed to get 4: a friend, someone of the opposite sex, someone they don't know very well, and someone of their choice.

Then, I start off by asking if any student wants a Jolly Rancher.  Of course, a thousand hands go up.

I'll call on a rather delicate young lady to take the Jolly Rancher.

When she comes up to the front and sits down, I then ask if there's anybody who thinks they can beat her in an arm-wrestling match for the Jolly Rancher.  I'll choose one of the strongest guys in the class to go against her.

Now, when she volunteered, she didn't realize she was going to have to arm-wrestle someone...  In one class, she actually just tossed the Jolly Rancher at the guy in a huff of defeat.

I'll say, "now hold on.  I'll tell you what.  You can call on a couple of your allies to come and help you out."  So, she then brings up several of her friends to help in this arm-wrestling match.

Now, the guy feels like this isn't fair either.  He thought he was arm-wrestling a petite little girl, not her and 4 friends.  So, I say he can call some friends as well if he wants to.  And he does.

Things escalate quickly.

The Jolly Rancher represents the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  When viewed against all of WWI, it's a relatively minor incident.  You wouldn't expect 15 million deaths (and many, many more recognizing that WWI set the stage for WWII)  to come from this one assassination.

And you wouldn't expect a class to fight an armed conflict (get it? ...Armed...?  ...heh... seriously...)  over a Jolly Rancher.  Just like Serbia called Russia to come to her aid when attacked by the Austro-Hungarians, the girl called her allies to her aid.  

And Austria-Hungary wasn't expecting to fight against the Russians, so they dialed up the Germans as well.  And next thing you know: BAM!  WWI.

If nothing else, I hope the students understand the concept of how the system of alliances escalated a minor incident into WWI.

I took some pictures too.

I hope you like them.

If you want the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss the blog post with an adult.  If you did this, find a piece of paper and write down two sentences telling me what they thought about the activity.  Then, have them sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Civil Disobedience


Spring Break!!!

We worked right up until the end!  Students turned in their civil disobedience pictures today.  (Download them HERE.)  I'll have them in the grade book before too long, but my wife asked me to get home as soon as possible today.  She's probably going to roll her eyes at me when I told her I typed up a blog post before leaving.

I took some pictures of students with their pictures.  Check them out:

I'd like to say thanks to these students for letting me post their work to the blog

...I'd like to, but I won't.  Just kidding guys: thank you.

I hope everybody out there has a fun, safe spring break.  If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you were supposed to have read and discussed it with an adult.  To prove you did this, find a scrap of paper, and write down which of the drawings is your favorite.  Then, have the adult sign the paper.

Turn it in Monday.  Not THIS Monday - NEXT Monday.  ...But you already knew that.

(Bonus extra credit if you share this post with your friends.  And double bonus if on your scrap of paper you explain what each picture is showing - and how it shows civil disobedience.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

No Extra Credit Today

Students answered some final questions about Gandhi.

Then they started working on their Civil Disobedience Pictures.

Sorry this post is so lame.  I'm entering a bunch of grades.  Be sure to check them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

If You Weren't Here

We graded our India maps today - the ones that students finished on Friday.  (So they're entered in the grade book as work from Friday, even though I only entered them today.)  If you weren't here, or didn't do it, you can get it - as always by going to student resources, and then "H Block Homework" on the CJHS page.

I also put today's bellwork on there in case you weren't here today.  Students may make that up as well, HOWEVER, if you were here today and were messing around, I'm not going to give you credit for it.  You have to have been absent.

We discussed Gandhi's assassination at the end of class for a little bit.  Godse, the assassin was executed, even though Gandhi's sons and Prime Minister Nehru argued for clemency.  They thought it was another slap in the face of a man who had spent his entire life arguing in favor of nonviolence.

That's where we left class.

To get the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss the blog with an adult.  So, it was an easy one today.

To prove you were here, get a scrap piece of paper and write a question about Gandhi - his life, death, what he stood for, something you didn't understand... whatever... but make it something we haven't covered yet.

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

See you tomorrow.

What is it?  Two days until spring break?

P.S.  I linked to the assignments if you're missing them.

I haven't finished entering the grades yet, so if yours aren't in there, check tomorrow after school.  It's 4:00 and I am going home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gandhi: Seeing Both Sides

After taking a couple breaks for geography, we've finished up Gandhi.

For the blog post, I only want to discuss a little section today.  There's a scene where Gandhi is in Calcutta, staying at the home of a Muslim friend while the city is rioting.

Below him, chanting up to him, people are chanting "DEATH TO MUSLIMS!!  DEATH TO MUSLIMS!!"  They look up at him and yell at him, asking him how he can stay there.  Muslims have killed their families.

Gandhi can't bear to listen, and turns away.

Throughout his life, Gandhi has been an advocate for nonviolence.  For toleration.  Even now, in the midst of the Hindu/Muslim rioting in Calcutta, Gandhi wanted to prove that people could get along.  We can see his intentions.  We know what he was doing.

But the Hindus in the city don't have the benefit of seeing the big picture played out on a screen in front of them.  They only know that Muslims have killed their families - and now Gandhi is in the home of a Muslim.  They're not reading his message as, "Look we can all get along."  They're reading it as, "Look, I'm a traitor.  I'm staying with the people who have murdered your families."

Social studies is all about seeing as many sides of an issue as possible.  Here we can understand why Gandhi acted the way he did, and we can understand the reason the mob was mad at him.

To get extra credit in my class, read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Then, find a scrap piece of paper, and write 2 sentences from your discussion and have the adult sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.