Friday, May 30, 2014

Thank You Sanabel!

We made a thank-you video for Sanabel.  Go ahead and watch it:

Pretty good, right?

I'd like to point out that I did pretty much nothing when it came to editing the video.  That was all Mr. Jerlecki's class.  A special shoutout goes to B. Westfall and J. Razo.

We should probably make them a video to thank them for making the video.  The only problem is that they would have to edit it...  Which means we'd have to make them... nevermind.  The joke was funnier in my mind.

If you're one of my students and you're here to discuss the blog with an adult, sorry that the post isn't really content oriented today.  Just watch the video, write a sentence telling me what you thought about it, and have the adult you watched it with sign the paper.

Don't forget that we're giving our Ancient China presentations on Monday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bouncing Back

You want the truth?  Honestly, it's been a little hard to bounce back into daily blogging after having such an important post the other day.  Seriously, it's not every day something like that happens.  At least, not to me.

We are nearing the end of the year - like I need to tell YOU guys that...

We're going to finish up with Ancient China.  We've been working on presentations for the past two days.  We'll finish preparing them tomorrow, and then we'll present them next week.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, explain to the adult you discussed it with who Qin Shi Huang Di is.  Then tell them about your group.  What are you presenting?  What do you know about it?

Write a paragraph about your group's topic, and have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Update from Sanabel

Sanabel age 9... or 12....
I should probably look into that...
Every year, for the past 8 years I've watched the Oscar nominated documentary film,  Promises six times.  You would think it would get tiresome, but it hasn't really.  The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict remains as relevant today as when the movie came out in 2001.  Although much has changed, much remains the same.

The film follows Israeli and Palestinian children around, interviewing them and exploring the conflict through their eyes.  It is very well done.  (Did I mention, "Oscar nominated?")

After we watched the film this year, I wondered if it would be possible to get in contact with any of the children from the film, to see what's going on in their lives now, and if/how their views had changed.  With all the various social media out there, we had to have a shot, right?

While a few of my students liked to say this bordered on stalking (creeper, in their words) most of them said I should go for it - so I did.  I found many of the (no longer) children of the film and asked them if we could ask them some questions, and get an update.  There is an update in the film - and my students love it.  After seeing the kids as kids, it clips to several years later, and they're teens.  Sanabel starts off by re-introducing herself and her father in English.  But that update was done in 2004.

We weren't sure if anyone would reply - in fact, I wasn't even sure I had sent messages out to the correct people.  I'm pretty weak in both Arabic and Hebrew - and since many of their profiles are in those languages... you know... What could we do besides wait around and learn something else for a while?

Many of my students were naysayers, but it didn't take Sanabel long to respond.  It took me a little while to get back to her, because I wanted to make sure I gave my students time to ask her questions.  Junior High kids sometimes get a bad reputation - but they came up with some fantastic, FANTASTIC questions.  True, I had to sort out some - many students had the same questions.  Some asked things that were answered in the movie.  One student (apparently not realizing that Sanabel is no longer a teenager) asked her for a date.  Even with taking out the redundant, excessive, redundantly excessive, and pointless questions we still had dozens.  I was worried that if I sent them all she would be overwhelmed - especially given that she was reading and responding in a second language.  But, she was ever so gracious.  I broke up the original questions (I tricked her into answering follow ups as well) into 3 sections.  LIFE, CONFLICT, MOVIE - here is what she had to say, with my thoughts and questions in italics:


First, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, my classes have come up with several.  How are you?  How is your family?  Do you have your own family now?  How has your life changed since the update in the movie?

I am happy to answer them.  When I first filmed Promises, I was 9 years old.  My father was in prison.  Again, we filmed when I was 12.  On June 16th, I will be 27 years old.  I am now married, and have 2 children - a girl and a boy... Natalie and Marcel.

I graduated from Bethlehem University as a social worker.  I spent two years working in the UN.  I now work for the Qader Association - which works to empower women in economically disadvantaged families.

Do people often contact you about the movie?

I am in touch with a lot of people who have watched Promises.  Schools, families, universities...


Should 12 and 13 year old children be more or less optimistic about peace?  What would you say are the major developments in the conflict since the update?  I'm writing this in Indiana - close to Chicago, in the United States.  We live far away.  Do you have any suggestions as to what we can do to work for peace from here?*  (We come back to these questions later.)

My thoughts on peace are still this: the two-state solution is the only solution.

Peace means the cancellation of checkpoints.  Peace means the freedom of movement between towns.  Peace is not killing Palestinian children, the young, the elderly.  Peace means freeing the Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.


I've always wondered some of this stuff, even if it doesn't really have to do with the conflict.  You and Faraj and Ahmed and Motasem were all from Deheishe Refugee Camp.  Did you know any of them before the filming began, or did you meet them all with the filming?  Also, have you maintained contact with any of them?  (Don't worry if you haven't, as we both know, children grow up.  I don't really even keep in contact with the childhood friends I was closest to...)

I knew Ahmed and Motasem from the dance group before the filming took place.  I don't have contact with Faraj, Yarko, Daniel or Mahmoud.  In fact, I never met Mahmoud, Shlomo, or Moishe.

In the 2004 update, you expressed hopelessness and anger over the fact that Yarko and Daniel joined the army.  Earlier, however, the film had mentioned that military service in Israel is compulsory.  So, if they had no choice, and had to join the army, why were you so mad?  Or did they have a choice we didn't know about?  For instance, could they have served Israel in some other way?

I expressed anger about Yarko and Daniel joining the military because I imagined them being stationed at the checkpoints.  I imagined them invading our area, killing people.  They could have refused to join the military, but they would have gone to prison for 20 days.

*** Interlude***

Now, there was actually some lag time between when I wrote the questions and when Sanabel had a chance to answer them.  That's not really made clear in the blog post.  *I'd like to clarify here that I am in no way a reporter.  I've never taken a journalism course.  So, if this interview seems disjointed, you're just going to have to deal with it.*

During that lag time I was driving home from school, and I heard that The Pope was going to be visiting... Deheishe Refugee Camp.  Now, I don't know if I've ever heard of Deheishe outside of Promises.  And I was in the middle of this correspondence with Sanabel.  I don't know if this ever happens to you - where you see or hear something, then suddenly it's everywhere?  We had already asked her TONS of questions, which she said she would respond to soon, but I figured I could press my luck and ask a couple more about her views on The Pope's visit.

***Technically, that was more of an interruption than an interlude, but it's over at any rate***

I heard on the news that The Pope will be visiting Sunday.  What are your thoughts about this?  They mentioned that it was right after Pope John Paul II visited that the Second Intifada broke out.  Does this concern you?  Are you going to go see him?  Would you even want to?

We Palestinians welcome people from all over the world, for we want them to come and see the reality of what life is like here for themselves.  So, we await the arrival of Pope Francis.  The head of the Catholic Church will confirm the right of the Palestinian people to "have a sovereign independent homeland" as well as Israel's right to "exist and live in peace and security."

***Me Interrupting Again***

This is, perhaps the best part.  Although I tried to make this interview look like it has some sort of cohesion, our correspondence was rather piecemeal.  We're both rather busy people, so we would respond when we could.  But I happened to be online the last time she was responding, so it looked more typical of what I've always imagined an interview should look like.  Albeit I was typing my questions into my phone, and I'm really, really slow.

Regarding the question mentioned above, "Should 12 and 13 year old children be more or less optimistic about peace?"

Palestinian kids - and especially those who live in camps like Deheishe Camp where I live - still suffer the invading from the Israeli soldiers every day and at nights.  Israeli soldiers invade our camp and arrest Palestinian youth from their homes while they are sleeping.  They used to shoot while entering our camp, so nobody would try to get out.

I have a story to tell:

When I got married, I got married to a man from our camp who I loved for 3 years.  When I got married, after 6 months the Israeli soldiers invaded my home and arrested my husband while I was pregnant with Natalie.  I remember them as the hardest two years of my life.

He was released when Natalie was one year old.  She didn't accept her father for months.

Me:  I'm sorry to hear that.

Sanabel's husband, Raed and daughter Natalie.

Sanabel:  Yes.  I graduated from the university when he was in prison.  I had my first anniversary when he was in prison.  And Natalie had her 1st birthday when her father was in prison.  It was a very difficult time, with all this added responsibility.

Me:  It's interesting that as a child you lived through YOUR father being unjustly imprisoned - and then had this happen too.  (*In the movie, Sanabel's father is imprisoned and waits more than 2 years before he's even given a trial...)

Sanabel: Yes.

Me:  It must have given you an added perspective on what your mother went through when you were a child... sorry... I said I wouldn't interrupt.

Sanabel:  Exactly.  That's what I wanted to say.  So thank you.  Children at Deheishe still feel like this.  They always talk about the moments when their fathers or brothers were arrested.  Deheishe Camp, where I live is one of the camps that suffers most from the occupation.  Many people from the outside - from the United States, or from Europe come and live here to know exactly how it is.

Me:  That's interesting.  I wonder though, it's still not the same.  Because in the back of their minds, they know that they're not going to be there forever.  They can get out.  Palestine was never their land, so they don't have the ties to it...  But it would still give them an added perspective and a deeper understanding of what's going on.

Sanabel:  Yes.  It's one thing to see it from the movie, but it is another to live there.  It helps to understand.

Me:  Other than going there ourselves, because this would not be feasible for my students, do you have any suggestions of how we could work for peace?

Sanabel:  I think Promises is the best way to let the people over there know about what is going on in the West Bank.  Because, the people ware are in the film are children, and children see the world truthfully and simply, and speak out about what they see.

Me:  It is interesting that in my class the solutions the students come up with are always a simplified version of what the most highly educated people in the International Relations community come up with: share, get along, we are all people.

Sanabel:  One more thing: I hope that in the future sometime you can come to Palestine.  You and your whole family, your students.  We will welcome you.  I will welcome you into my home.

Me:  Thank you for the invitation.  I will let them all know.  Although, my students are 12 and 13.  But as you know, 12 and 13 year olds grow up.

Sanabel:  I hope that sometime in the future, when they are grown up, they can go all around the world.  I want them to know that we will welcome them any time.  Someday they can come and see things here on the ground, and they will understand very well how people are living in the camps.  They will see the Palestinian Apartheid Wall, the checkpoints, the prisons, everything... and maybe they will understand Promises very well.

Me:  Thank you.  I will pass that along.  I think that the Israelis are worried that if they give the Palestinians a little, the Palestinians will want a lot.  Should they be afraid?

Sanabel:  Why?  We are living here now, as our families have for generations.  We need security, rights, freedom.  Our children have the right to sleep in security, as their children do.  We're not calling for miracles - we're calling for equality.

Me:  You make very good and honest points.  Thank you.  And thank you for your time.

Sanabel:  Thank you.  I want you to also send my thanks to your students, because they are searching for reality, and truth, and sorting through the facts.

Me:  I will do thank.  Thanks again.  And have a nice evening.  In my mind, I'm saying goodbye in Arabic - but since I don't know Arabic, I'll just say goodbye.  

Sanabel:  Ma asalama.

Me: Ma asalama.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Social Studies Propaganda

We've moved on from propaganda and North Korea.  Our lesson today actually dealt with happiness.  Or the lack of it in Iran.  (I guess, really it still ties in with North Korea - our lesson was about human rights, free speech, unlimited governments, modern political conflict...)

I also mentioned the Pope's visit to the Deheishe Refugee Camp.  I mean, we just finished watching Promises.  I've been corresponding a little bit with Sanabel.  I feel like I've heard a lot about Deheishe in the past couple weeks.

I also answered another one of the questions I received in that letter the other day: why isn't Israel considered to be part of Africa?  ...Because when we have a short amount of time to teach, and many students struggle with the basics - the basics is all you get.  But you're right - it's subjective.  But you've got to get the basics down so that you don't look foolish.  (No offense, Bieber - you know we love you.)

So, each one of the above paragraphs could be an entire blog post.  That's problem with keeping a classroom blog - there is so much that goes on in class every day.  There are so many different things I want to write about.

But I promised my students (and my brother) that I would post some of the Social Studies Propaganda Pictures my students made.

In our discussions of North Korea - and how the country uses propaganda to its advantage, I started wondering, why don't I do that?  Why don't I have my students make "Social Studies Propaganda?"  I mean, it would give them a better understanding of what propaganda is, how it works, and why it's used.  Also, maybe I can get some cool artwork for my classroom.

Mission Accomplished:

For those of you reading/discussing the blog with an adult, find a sheet of paper and write down which of the pictures is your favorite - then tell me why.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Put it in the extra credit tray when you get back.

In the meantime, have a great 3-day weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

North Korea

We've been intermittently watching Inside North Korea this week.  Ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there.  We finished it up today.  If you've got an hour to spare and haven't watched it, here you go:

It's very good, and fostered a lot of discussion.  I would guess it's the reason for the letter I posted on yesterday's blog - which garnered quite the response on my personal facebook page, I might add.  So, kudos to the student who wrote it.

We compared North Korea to The Hunger Games - something I've already written about extensively in the past.  Most students were able to write a page and a half in no time comparing the two.

Unlimited rulers.  All the money gets funneled into the capital - which is even called The Capitol in The Hunger Games.  Energy shortages outside the capital.  Low standard of living.  No/limited freedom of movement.  No/limited freedom of speech.  No/limited freedom of thought.  Constant surveillance.  State of fear.  An electric fence keeps you inside.  There's propaganda that is mandatory viewed... 

There's a lot.

But I won't post about all that right now.

I'm most excited to post the propaganda posters my students made.  But I'm going to go to the high definition scanner to convert them to digital format.

In case you didn't know, my students made "Social Studies Propaganda."  It's hilarious.

Hopefully it's posted by tomorrow.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, write the phrase, "Social studies is the best class in the world" on a scrap of paper.  Have the adult that you read the blog with sign the paper and turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Deal With Propaganda

The other day, if you recall, I taught about bias, product placement, and propaganda.  I've been trying to show both how North Korea uses this to their advantage, and how even here people are trying to sell us philosophies and ideas as well as products.

At the end of the day yesterday, a student gave me this letter:

I'll transcribe it, in case you can't read it in the image.

Dear Mr. Habecker,

     I have a question, aren't us students being brain washed?  I was thinking, maybe all History teachers brain wash students.  Is there a way that is fake about history?  Are you telling students to lie?  Is someone telling you what to teach, and what to hide?  If so, why?  Why can't you tell the truth?  Do you know anything about changing history?  Isn't Israel connected to Africa?  As I look at the map, it connects to Egypt.  Which connects to Africa.  I don't understand.  Anybody could say, "oh its connected to Africa," or "oh, it's connected to something else."  Is there something the history teachers are lying about?
     Also, you say Gandhi is Indian.  Well how come in the movie about him, when he is on the bus, the man tells Gandhi there are no colored people allowed on the bus.  Well what did they call black people?  They called them colored people.  Is Gandhi black?

...Ok, so there's a lot in there.  A lot, right?  I won't have time to address every question, but let me address the first couple.

Are students being brain washed?  Maybe.  But I'm not intentionally brain washing you.  There's a big difference in how I am educating you here, and how you would be educated in North Korea.  You can go to a library.  You can search the internet.  Anything you want to look up, look it up.  Find out if I'm lying to you: I'm not.  At least, not intentionally.

It is true - I have my own biases and prejudices.  One thing I love about social studies is that I'm forced to come to grips with what my own biases are  - to address them, and not teach to them.  That is why I'm teaching you about bias and propaganda - so that you can identify it in yourself and in others.

Next question/series of questions:  Is there a way that is fake about history?  Are you telling students to lie?  I'm not sure what you mean about "a way that is fake about history..."  Sometime people invent histories, or embellish histories to make themselves look better.  This is true of people throughout history that we generally categorize as "good" as well as those we categorize as "bad."

For instance, Hitler and Stalin both revised their histories to make them look better, to scapegoat others, and to make their opponents look bad.  Most of us would agree that neither Hitler nor Stalin were "stand-up guys."  In fact, most people categorize them as evil.

But take our very own George Washington.  Maybe you heard the story of him chopping down the cherry tree.  His father came home and asked if he did it, and his response was, "I cannot tell a lie, for it was I."  Yeah... that whole story is probably a lie.

And this isn't a new thing...  Most historians believe that the entire Xia dynasty of China is fictionalized to give the Shang dynasty some legitimacy.

So, I suppose yes.  There is a way that is fake about history.  But I'm not telling my students to lie.  I'm telling (or asking, if you prefer) them to think.  Here in the United States (is this US propaganda?...?) you can go to the library and look up whatever you want.

True, there may be a lie that is so deeply ingrained into our society that the truth is no longer there - but if that's the case, I guess there's nothing we can do about it - except continually try to find the truth.

Next question: Is someone telling you what to teach?  Yes.  Yes and yes.  I took the picture with the camera angled so you can see the Indiana State Standards for 7th Grade Social Studies in the background.  The state of Indiana tells me what to teach.  I can't teach whatever I want.  This makes sense: I'm not qualified to be your math teacher.  So, if you came in to my class and I said: "Alright, lets learn us some fractions..." You would probably have a weird/annoyed look on your face.

The state (and school) give me quite a bit of freedom on how I approach and teach what they ask me to teach.  For that, I'm grateful.

They're not asking me to hide anything - but they do ask me to stick to 7th grade social studies standards.  If you prefer to think of me not teaching math as "hiding something," that's ok.  But I'm not.  It's just that Mrs. Gowdy is a WAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY better math teacher than me.

The next really new question is, "Isn't Israel connected to Africa?..."  And then the assumed question, "Why isn't Israel considered part of Africa?"

You're right: the Middle East is tricky.  Most people in the United States qualify the Middle East as part of Asia, but it's tricky.  Just like at the beginning of the year we discussed whether or not the "Southern Ocean" should be considered an ocean.  We break the world into continents to make it easier to categorize them in our minds.  So when somebody says, "it's in South America" we know the general area they're talking about.  That doesn't mean the system is perfect, or that there aren't other proposed systems.

Since we have a very limited amount of time in here, I try to teach you the basics.  Hopefully at some point, you get a chance to look into it more.

As for Gandhi, he considered himself Indian, so that's what I'm going with as well.

If I didn't answer the questions well enough - or if you have additional input, let me know in the comments or in your note for extra credit.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, write a short paragraph telling about your discussion, then have the adult you read it with sign the paper and turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


What?  11 days left?  How does this happen?

We don't have school on Monday?  What?  Didn't we have basically every day off this winter?

Here's the way I see the rest of this year finishing up:

We're done with North Korea tomorrow -and we start Ancient China.
We finish up Ancient China next week and review for the final and tie everything together.
Take the final.

Go on summer break.

...How does that sound?

The only change I can hope for is that I can still get my friend in here to speak.  Also, that Sanabel replies.

The questions I want you to discuss today:

  • What type of Government does North Korea have?
  • What was that cartoon about in class?  Explain it.  What was it trying to say?
  • Overall, do the people in North Korea have a high standard of living or a low standard of living?

After you discuss those questions, write one of you answers down on a scrap of paper, and have the adult you discussed it with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tying Together

I'm trying to tie a lot together here: Israel/China/Japan/Bias/Product-Placement/Propaganda/Governments/Religion...

I like to think it's working out, but it might not be.

We've moved on to North Korea - which means we're discussing a lot of the topics from earlier in the year.  Am I crazy for having hoped all you students would have remembered what an unlimited government is?  Especially a dictatorship or a theocracy?

Am I crazy to have hoped that you would remember Japan colonized the Koreas?  Or that propaganda is intentional bias - and that we're all being sold differing opinions or ideas?

The year is winding down, but we're not there yet.  There's still more to learn.  There will always be more to learn.  That's not meant to be defeatist - that's meant as an encouragement.

Come on people!  Lets go out and finish strong!

If you read this and want some extra credit, tell what you know about North Korea - so far.

Then, on a piece of paper write the following quote: "Per capita consumption of chickens in the US correlates with total US crude oil imports - they must be related."

Then, have the adult you read and discussed it with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Promised a Post

I promised a post today since I didn't post one yesterday.

But now, here we are: late.  Late, late, late...

All grades are up to date.  The extra credit tray is empty.  All the late work you turned in is in the grade book.

Most importantly, the quiz grades are entered.  You might want to check them out.  I don't know why it didn't email out the grades.  ...Maybe it still will.  I took the quiz too, so see how the emailing thing works.  (I aced it by the way...)

Also, know that Holocaust should be capitalized, since we're talking about THE Holocaust.  I even told you on the quiz that I would spell/capitalize it for you if you came back and asked me about it.  So many of you did, and then went on to spell it wrong.

C'est la vie, right?

You should know that I still gave you the points for it - even if you spelled it wrong or didn't capitalize it.  I wasn't evaluating whether or not you could spell The Holocaust, I wanted to know if you knew what it was.

Also, I made a mistake on the test: I readily admit it, and humbly ask for your apology.  Checkpoint is one word, and I asked for it as two words.  Here to, I accepted both.  It took longer to grade, but still... having the computer grade them, and going back to change these two minor things is still SO much faster than grading them on my own.

To get credit for reading and discussing the blog tonight, go check your grades.  Write down your score from the quiz, and have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Then, turn it in on Monday.

See you then.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Product Placement

Product placement is one of my favorite topics.  Ask my wife.  I think she gets really tired of me talking about it all the time.

In our discussions about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict we looked at this map:

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we talk all about bias - and how this map was biased in favor of the Palestinians, and doesn't tell the whole story.  The bias is subtle, and maybe not intentional - but it's there.

I searched online to find a copy that was already hosted, and I came across this one as well:

It's pretty clear that this version of the map is biased against Palestine...

Both maps are trying to sell us a point of view.  In that way, they're a lot like product placement.  We may not even be aware of the fact that we're being sold something.

It's difficult to accept that we're constantly being manipulated - intentionally or not.  I'm not sure if being aware of it is enough... but it's a start.

You were supposed to read and discuss this blog with an adult.  If you've done this, ask them if they've noticed product placement anywhere.  Write down where they've noticed it, and have them sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

In case you're missing this, here's a link to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Map.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bias and Propaganda

We're finishing up our discussions on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.  One of the difficulties in teaching this is finding material that is not heavily biased on one side or the other.  Also, it's sometimes difficult to identify my own hidden biases.

(At this point in reading the blog, students, tell the adult you're reading with what "bias" means.  If you forget, look it up...)

We discussed intentional and unintentional bias.  I defined propaganda as "intentional bias."  Maybe I should have taken it further and said, "information with an intentional bias which is shared with others in some media fashion, while purporting to not contain a bias."  We discussed it though, so I'm happy with my definition.

I had the students watch two video clips.  One is biased in favor of Israel, one in favor of Palestine.  Students had to be able to identify the bias, and cite evidence from the video to justify their claim.

Here are the videos:

Both sides are trying to sell you one version of the story.  And that's what bias does.  We're going to talk about bias, and being aware of it even more tomorrow when we look at product placement.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you need to have read and discussed it with an adult.  Discuss where you see bias in your own life.

When you're done, draw the J, circle, rope, and peanut to make Israel.  If you can't remember how to put them together to make Israel, just draw them.  Have the adult you read this with sign the paper (now a map) and put it in the extra credit tray tomorrow.

*I know I'm late getting this in here, but here's a link to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Map*

Friday, May 9, 2014

5 Big Questions

We'll see if I hear back from any of the Promises crew.  Honestly, I'm not counting on it... but who knows?  Maybe I should have promised to plug Justine Shapiro's new...ish... documentary...

We'll see.  They're all pretty busy.

In order to get the extra credit, answer the following 5 questions about Promises with them.

1.  What are the check points, and how do people feel about them?

2.  Do you feel like you are more alike or more different from the kids in the film?  How so?

3.  Why do you think the movie is called "Promises?"

4.  Why do you think the last scene featured babies?

5.  Was it worth watching?

Discuss all five questions.  In order to get the extra credit, write one answer down, have the adult you read and discussed it with sign the paper, and turn it in on Monday.

See you then.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Also, the post for May 7th:

So, I keep coming up with great questions, but I want to use them for bellwork.

Again, instead of posting a long post - tell the person you read this with what happened in the movie today.

Then, write 2 sentences about it.

Also, ask them what they think about me contacting the kids from the movie.  Should I do it, or not?  We'll have an informal vote.

Monday, May 5, 2014


We stared Promises today.  (You can check out the trailer if you go to Friday's post.)

I'm keeping today's post short.  In fact, I may do this for all the Promises posts.  I guess we'll see.

If you want the extra credit, tell your parents the premise of Promises.  Then choose 3 of the people the story is following, and tell your parents one thing your remember about each of them.

Yarko and Daniel






When you're done, write 3 sentences about your conversation, and have them sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

(I know this particular post doesn't help you very much if you were absent today.  ...Sorry...  Let me know you were here, and I'll see what I can do...)

FYI, the Middle East Map is in H Block Assignments, if you need to download it.

Friday, May 2, 2014


We're moving into the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

We just had a brief introduction to it yesterday and today.  Yesterday we watched a video of the Teapacks performing the song, "Push the Button."

You can watch it here:

It's pretty good.  I had hoped we could go over the lyrics in class a little bit today, but we didn't get that chance.  Well, not reall... at least not in most classes.

We spent the time today grading our Middle East maps, and discussing the basics of the conflict.

I've got 3 young daughters.  At any given moment, one is trying to steal a doll-baby from another one.  It's a problem when 2 people independently think they are the sole owner of a possession.

We're going to start watching Promises next week.  Here's the trailer.  (Some classes also watched this.)

Well... this post is a little disjointed.  I'm sorry about that.  I've been called away from the computer a couple times to help out some other students and teachers.  Also, to receive help myself.  The problem with posting this blog is that it doesn't leave time to edit.

For instance, the bell just rang.  I've got to go monitor the hall...

...I'm back... and you didn't even know I was gone.  Weird, huh?

I've got so much work to do, I'm going to end the post here.

If you want the credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, explain or at least discuss the baby doll analogy with them.  Or the car.

...Ok... I'll tell it...  Really fast:  If your car gets stolen, and it's found a day later, would you want it back?  What if the thief said, "Oh come on, I've had it for a day already... it's practically mine, right?"

What if he had it for a week?  Two weeks?  A month?  A year?  10 years?  ...Also, it's a Ferrari.

The police find it 20 years later in mint condition.  Do you want it back?

Students, if you remember, you could explain what that has to do with the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

Write down 3 thoughts from your conversation, then turn it in on Monday.  See you then.