Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Overwhelmed: People and Time

I've written about this before, and it's worth checking out.

I was driving home on Sunday and my wife asked me if everything was okay.  I had been staring out the window of the van.  My kids were in the back.

I was really trying to see Goshen in a way I hadn't before.  Notice all the businesses.  All the houses beyond houses on the streets I've never driven down, because... why would I?

So many people I've never met, and probably never will.  Houses beyond houses beyond houses.

I asked my students to think about what they did yesterday.  Then think about what they did Sunday.  Then Saturday.  Friday. Thursday.  Wednesday.  Just one week - but they had to really think about it.  Could they remember what they did every day?  It was taxing for them, as it would be for many of us.

Imagine if we could think about the days before that.  If we could remember the days of our 6th grade year.  And 3rd.  Preschool.

How many days before we were born?

And to think, that looking around the room, there were 30 different Wednesdays of last week.  Different students with different individual lives.  Different individual concerns and different individual victories.

Social studies is all about people.  We have government to try to create order.  The economy deals with people making things.  Our culture is who we are.

There are a lot of us: more than 7 billion.

There have been a lot of us for a long time.  It's a bit overwhelming to go back a week with 30 people.  We're tasked with making sense of a world that has more than 30 people, and has been around for more than a week.

We watched a couple videos.

If students want extra credit, they should watch one of these with an adult.  Discuss it.  Write a 3 sentence response to the video, and have the adult sign it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Population Density Around Rivers

We covered a lot of material today:

  • Started by studying for TOMORROW'S GOVERNMENT QUIZ.
  • Labeled the parts of a river:
  • Had a student act out the river.  (Mouth at the end... delta formed at the mouth)
  • Had ancient civilizations formed around the river
  • Discussed the difference between population and population density while students were in the taped off boxes.
  • Did some population/population density (basic) math problems
  • Watched a video about a snake: point?  The mouth is at the end.

So often, students confuse source and mouth.  Which one is the beginning?  Which one is the end?  The mouth is at the end.  The source is at the beginning.  (Think of the source of a problem...  You're trying to think of the beginning of a problem.)

If you've read and discussed this post with an adult, explain to them the difference between population, and population density.  Then, write down your explanation.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

Here's the winning group for the year: 4th hour.  We fit 30 people in here.  The all-time record still stands at 33.  We almost had it, though.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Biggest Discovery/Invention of All Time

Every year, we discuss the agricultural revolution.

I tell the students that agriculture is the most important invention, or discovery of all time.

It would be worthwhile to scroll through some old blog posts.  Like I said, I've taught this every year.

Agriculture = farming.

Think about what all farming has given us.  I ask students to think about how hungry they are.  They're all hungry.  Pretty much all of them.  All the time.

A burger from McDonalds or Burger King?  How much of that come from farms?  Wheat.  Lettuce.  The cow.  ...Pretty much every part of it, right?

If we had to chase our food down (as in, we couldn't grow it ourselves, or have others grow it for us) we would be in trouble.  

I can just imagine that first person who came up with the idea.  ...Why not bring the food to us?  The crowd slowly lowering their spears.  Each person thinking, "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?"

Students today discussed inventions and discoveries that were game-changers.

Agriculture tops my list.  And we're leading into ancient civilizations.  Most all ancient civilizations were found near rivers.  Any guesses as to why?  #agriculture.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, ask the adult you read and discussed it with what they think the most important invention/discovery of all time is.  Write it down with a brief explanation telling why.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Then, turn it in tomorrow.

Don't forget, we've got a government quiz on Friday.  We have a quiz over the Middle East next week.

I'd study.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Linking to a Better Post

I'm not going to have time to write a post today, but rather than skip out on the extra credit students may go to THIS POST to earn their points for the day.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Human Rights: What Are They? How Are They Protected?

Yesterday and today we spent some time focusing on human rights.  Yesterday I asked them what human rights were.  I gave them a couple of examples and asked them whether they were human rights or not.

The most common definition I got was, "rights all humans have."

I thought it would be obvious why this definition doesn't work... but when I looked it up on google, it was a little surprising how unhelpful it was:

Hasn't google ever heard that you're not supposed to define a word with the word you're trying to define?

So, I asked students to define "rights."

The definition I gave was, "something everybody deserves to have or to be able to do."

Even this definition has it's problems, though.  ("Deserves" for one...)  Still, it's not a bad start.

We talked about the differences between rights and privileges.  A couple years ago, our school started allowing students to chew gum.  If students said, "at this school, we have the right to chew gum," would they be wrong?  Or is chewing gum still a privilege?

At any rate, we came up with several examples of human rights.  I showed them the first part of a prezi I made a few years ago:

It has a lot of information on human rights in it at the beginning.

Today, though, I asked the question: how does America protect the human rights of its citizens?

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing this post with an adult.  I would definitely ask/discuss what are some human rights?  Also, how does America protect the human rights of its citizens?

When you're done discussing, write the answer to those questions on a scrap of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed it with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Governments: Big Questions, Easy Questions, Video Quiz

I hope you all found some time to relax during our time off.

For bellwork today, I gave the students some questions that were pretty easy.  But, they were questions that made the students think - not just factual recall.

I asked them to answer in paragraph form.  Here are the questions:

"Which government do you think would be the most likely to have a command economy?  Why?"

"Which do you think is the government where the people are freest?  Why?"

After that, students took a video quiz.  I made it a couple years ago, and you can find it HERE.

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Perhaps you could ask the adult those two questions.  Maybe give them some hints.  Maybe let them check out the chart:

When you're done, write down a couple sentences about the conversation.  Did they answer the questions correctly or not?  What'd they say?  Have them sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it and turn it in tomorrow.

Oh hey!  I gave students ATATU last week.  Here it is in case you've forgotten:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Government Picture Quizzes

We've been looking at the different types of government.  We filled out a chart with the types of governments we want the students to know.  Make sure you have a copy:

(That might actually be an older version, but the one we're using today will be very, very similar.)

Today students made quizzes for each other by drawing pictures of each government.

In order to get the extra credit, you need to take one of these quizzes.  Discuss the pictures with an adult.  Tell them why you think it's the type of government you think it is.  You may use the chart (above if you left yours at school) if you want.  I've posted 3 today.  You can choose which one you want to take.  You only have to take one, but I won't stop you from taking them all. Here they are:

Monday, November 16, 2015

Unlimited Governments

The questions at the beginning of class were "Is the government of Panem limited or unlimited?  How do you know?  What would life be like under the authority of President Snow?"

I also asked what students had heard about Friday's attacks.

We spent the day looking at the birth of ISIS.  We compared Syria's "President" Assad to Panem's "President" Snow.  We looked at the similarities and differences between the rebel groups.

We watched a 5 minute video on the Syrian Civil War, but in truth, the video took a lot longer than that, because I paused it and talked every 5 seconds.

If students want extra credit tonight, they need to watch and discuss the video with an adult.  Hopefully there's an adult around that has 5-10 minutes to watch and discuss.  If not, maybe an older brother or sister will do.

Here's the video:

After you're done watching and discussing, write me a paragraph about your discussion.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper, then turn it in to me tomorrow.

If you have any questions, be sure to include those as well

Friday, November 13, 2015

Test Today

If you weren't here, you missed out.  We took the test today.  :)

If you didn't take the test, make sure to remind me of this fact.  You'll need to make it up when you get back.

I'm hoping to have grades entered over the weekend.

If you want to earn extra credit tonight, write me a letter telling me what you think it would be like to live in a country run by President Snow.  Or maybe, imagine that you live in that country.

Turn it in on Monday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Studying for the Test

Make sure you are studying for Friday's test.

Today we spent the majority of class coming up with questions from the review guide.

When you study for the test, don't simply re-read the review guide.  Ask yourself questions as you go.  Try to make connections between what's on the review guide, and your life.  Make connections between parts of the review guide.

Here's a very good, fairly short article on how to study.  It's worth checking out.

Here's the review guide.  Make sure you're studying it.  Don't just re-read it.  If you want extra credit today, write 4 good questions from the review guide.

(Here's another review guide.  It has some of the definitions and things on it, in case you've lost your notes.)

Then, have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.  (Maybe have them ask you the questions to see if you know the answers or not.)

Monday, November 9, 2015


We introduced government today.  It would be worth checking out this blog post.  ...Or maybe this post.

I'm not going to write about that though, because I want to make sure that you realize we have a test on Friday.  It will cover everything we've learned so far this school year, but especially focus on culture, economics, and globalization.


If you want the extra credit today, you need to study for at least 10 minutes - preferably with an adult, but you may also study on your own.

If there's anything on the review guide you feel like you cannot adequately explain, look at your notes, or search through this blog.  Type whatever it is you need help with into this blog's search engine (upper left hand corner of a desktop) and it should give you all the help you'll need.

When you're done studying, find a scrap of paper and write 5 things you brushed up on.  Have the adult you studied with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Juxtapositions: The Hunger Games and Banksy

Juxtaposition:  The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.

Throughout The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins has juxtaposed the life of the Capitol with that of Katniss and District 12.  We see it in the clothes, the food, the dress, the customs, the arts; every aspect or ingredient of their culture seems to be placed side-by-side for our comparison.

It should be obvious to readers that she is doing it intentionally.  And, she does it whether Katniss is living at home in District 12, or not.

Here is a paragraph from the chapter we just read today: chapter 26.

     "I slump down on the floor, my face against the door, staring uncomprehendingly at the crystal glass in my hand.  Icy cold, filled with orange juice, a straw with a frilly white collar.  How wrong it looks in my bloody, filthy hand with its dirt-caked nails and scars.  My mouth waters at the smell, but I place it carefully on the floor, not trusting anything so clean and pretty." (p. 347)

The difference between these two worlds is intentionally jarring, meant to illustrate the "let them eat cake" attitude of the Capitol.  (For the record, Marie Antoinette is supposed to have said this, but there's little evidence to support that.)

Of course, after having read the article, "The Real Cost of Clothes" or watching "The Deadly Cost of Fashion" or reading the article "21st Century Slaves" this juxtaposition hits a little harder.  It is impossible to read The Hunger Games after that and not put our own culture into it.

I'm here in my fancy classroom, with clothes, and shoes, and posters on the wall.  Coffee I can have at essentially the push of a button.  A computer in front of me that connects to a SMARTboard on the wall.  Both of which are connected to the internet that connects to computers all over the world.  I don't have to worry about the electricity going out, or not having clean water.

Juxtapose that against the life of a 7 year old child working 17 hour shifts 7 days a week.  (As mentioned in the Junior Scholastic Article on slavery.)

It's evident that The Hunger Games is a warning for all of us.

Art (an ingredient of culture) reflects the culture.   The message we find here in this book, we find in other pieces of art as well.  Banksy is one of the kings of unexpected contrast, and he (or she... or they) is giving the same message:

Collins also does this to show us the horrors of the Capitol, and perhaps what we could become if we're not careful.

     "When I manage to pull my eyes away from the flickering fabric, I'm in for something of a shock.  My hair's loose, held back by a simple hairband.  The makeup rounds and fills out the sharp angles of my face.  A clear polish coats my nails.  The sleeveless dress is gathered at my ribs, not my waist, largely eliminating any help the padding would have given my figure.  The hem falls just to my knees.  Without heels, you can see my true stature.  I look, very simply, like a girl.  A young one.  Fourteen at the most.  Innocent.  Harmless.  Yes, it is shocking that Cinna has pulled this off when you remember I've just won the games."  (p. 355)

In case you didn't catch it, Cinna is using a juxtaposition here as well.  He is showing the Capitol what Katniss really is: a young girl.  The Capitol, for entertainment, sees her as a Tribute; a killer.  Cinna, by dressing her this way shows that she's no monster, or rather it draws attention to the fact that now she is - because the Capitol made her so.  That being the case, those living in the Capitol must ask themselves who the true monsters are.

And as a reader of the book, and viewer of the arts, we must ask ourselves, who do we represent, and what should our reaction be?

If you're a student and you read and discussed this with an adult, write a couple sentences in response to the post.  What did you think?  Did you agree with it or not?  What did the adult think?  What parts did you agree with?  What parts didn't you agree with? 

Have the adult sign the paper when you're done.

Turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.  For real... double check this.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Malala and Kailash and Externalities

In class, we've been really focused in on globalization and its consequences.  Consumers pay less for goods, but cheap labor is exploited.  We have exposure to more cultures, but many cultures are dying out.

Every action has positive and negative consequences.  Economic development is no different.  Today we learned the term "externality."  It used to be called "economic spillover."

An economic spillover (externality) refers to the unintended positive and negative outcomes of economic development.

You can see why we have to teach what the economy is before we can begin teaching about externalities.

Countries (and states, and cities) want economic development.  They want people in their area to have jobs making and selling goods.  They want to have money to buy.  Often, they'll come up with incentives to bring companies or factories in.

When those factories come in, they're coming in because they want to make money.  THAT is what they care about.  Money.

The economic spillover would be the positives and negatives other than that money.

Does the factory take up space that used to be a park?  Negative economic spillover.
Did building the factory encourage others to check out the town?  Positive economic spillover.
Does the factory pollute?  Negative economic spillover.
Did the factory increase the standard of living for the town?  Positive economic spillover.

This idea of unintended consequences touches many areas of our lives.  Students wrote me a paragraph about it this morning.  Many were quite interesting: holding the door to be nice resulting in a piece of candy; play-fighting resulting in getting in trouble; forgetting to close the gate leading to the dog getting out of the yard and getting hurt.

Yesterday we read about Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his efforts to end modern slavery.  This was an unintended consequence of his actions.

He shared the award with Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the face for speaking out in favor of education.  Being shot; winning the award - these were both unintended consequences of Malala's actions.

Their paring for the Nobel Peace Prize makes sense.  They were both fighting for children to have the opportunities they deserve.  No child should be forced to work 17 hour shifts 7 days a week.  All children should have the right to an education.  

Perhaps an unintended consequence of globalization is that children are being forced to work long hours so first-world nations can have cheap clothes.  But another unintended consequence of globalization is that we all have the opportunity to speak up and speak out - and our words have the potential to be heard all over the world.

If you are interested in how you can raise money for education - and specifically girls education - worldwide, check out The Malala Fund.  They've got some really interesting ideas.

If you are interested in Kailash Satyarthi's organization BBA, check this out.

As always, students in my class may earn extra credit if they read and discuss this post with an adult.  To prove you did this, write a paragraph about your discussion and have the adult you read it with sign the paper.

Here's the trailer to He Named Me Malala.  We watched the trailer in class today.

Friday, October 30, 2015


We're still tying everything together, and looking at the pros and cons of globalization - and there are a lot of both.  We worked on understanding some of the terms that tie in to globalization:

  • GDP
  • Economics
  • Interdependence
  • Industrialization
  • Standard of Living
...All things we've talked about before.  We added two today: developing nations, and urbanization.

To teach urbanization, I had students draw flowers on their bellwork.  They were in their groups, as they always are.  Each group represented a village, or town.  I told them I'd pay them in construction paper for the flowers they were drawing.  And I did.

But one group was a city.  They drew cars instead of flowers.  ...And I paid that group in Starburst.

At the end of the week, I offered students the opportunity to move to the city, if they wanted to.  Many, MANY students did.

Some students still did not move.  Maybe they liked drawing flowers more than cars.  Maybe they didn't feel like moving their desk.

This is like real life: maybe moving to the city is worth it to get a higher paying job.  ...But it may not be worth it for everybody.

Hopefully this sent home the idea that urbanization = moving to the city.  It usually happens because the person moving is looking for a higher paying job.

If you want the extra credit, tell the adult you're reading and discussing this with what you thought of the activity.  Then, when you're done, write a couple sentences from your discussion on a piece of notebook paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in on Monday.

There are some pictures below the page break:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tying Things Together

So many of these big, BIG concepts that we've been learning about tie in with other big concepts we've been learning about.  The term and idea of globalization encompasses so much.  Economy is the production (making), distribution (selling), and consumption (buying/using) of goods - but we could go off on lessons about standard of living, and human capital, and banks, and economic spillover (externalities), and jobs, and industrialization, and urbanization...  And each one of those terms/concepts/ideas/whatever you want to call them is another lesson or series of lessons.

Yesterday, we discussed the factory collapse in Bangladesh.  We talked about people who lived in countries with low standards of living, where they worked for so much less than the U.S. minimum wage.  And how, consumers possibly share the blame for the deaths of those factory workers.

In a way, globalization has led to the exploitation of those workers.  Our desire to have well-made, inexpensive clothes led to that.

But globalization is also strengthening the economies of these countries.  Their production is getting them money, and getting us the products we want.  This is a case of everybody elevating everybody else.

Today, we showed this with a trading simulation.  We formed groups of countries.  Each country had a main export.  All the other countries wanted that export.  Yarn represented a trade deal between two countries.  If there was talking, the trade deal fell apart, and I cut the string.

Ultimately, by trading, everybody

  • Got better stuff and a variety of stuff
    • because certain goods only come from certain areas
    • i.e. if you could only eat bananas grown in Indiana, you probably wouldn't be eating too many bananas
  • Got cheaper stuff
    • people can focus on producing what they're good at producing and make a lot of it
    • i.e. if I had to make my own telephone, I would have no telephone
    • also... cheap labor is driving globalization

We still haven't really tied all these things together, but we're going to try to.  Maybe tomorrow?  Maybe next week.

Here are some pictures of today's activity.  Instructions on how to get the extra credit points will be below them.

If students want extra credit, they should read and discuss this blog post with an adult.  When they've finished that, they should find a scrap of paper and write 2 sentences telling what they thought of the activity.  Have the adult that they read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Then, turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit turn-in tray.

...One more thing, for those who care.  I try to conserve.  You know, reduce, reuse, recycle.  So, I spent a lot of my free time winding up the yarn.  But boy, there were a lot of knots.  Several times, I thought of the Gordian Knot.  Alexander and I... we're two of a kind.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Outsourcing - A Couple Older Posts

I don't generally link back to previous posts, but I thought these were good.

If students want extra credit today, read this post: Globalization: The Good, The Bad, The Guilty.  Do what it says at the end of the post to earn extra credit.

If they want a couple bonus extra credit points tonight, they may read and discuss this one as well:  Outsourcing and Slavery.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We're Back, BABY!

I hope you all had a great 4-day weekend!  I worked straight through it.  It felt good to feel like I was making progress on something, you know?

So, an update: Students should have read through chapter 21 of The Hunger Games.  (They should be ready to go with chapter 22 tomorrow.)  I keep thinking of Rome, and the Colosseum.  I keep thinking about how so many of us love watching football, knowing about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, yet we push it to the  back of our mind, because... football.

Maybe I'll write a post on that (and how The Hunger Games mirrors many other aspects of our culture) later.  For now, I want to give you a term we learned today:

URBANIZATION:  Moving to the city - usually for jobs.  (Also, the growing of cities)

We talked a little bit about why cities grow, why some people might want to move to the city to get a better job, and why others might not want to.

Throw in economy and globalization, and you've got yourself a lesson.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, you should have read and discussed this short little post with an adult.  Tell them about Ms. Urias.  Explain why Ms. Urias moved to the city.  Tell them what you would have done if you were her.  Why would Ms. Urias's job not have been ok in the United States.  ...That's the type of stuff I want you to discuss.  Have at it.  If you don't get it all, that's ok.  Thanks for stopping by.

To prove you were here, find a scrap of paper, and write two sentences from your discussion.  Then, have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Have a great evening, everybody.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


The bellwork today asked students to TKWA a map.

This map, actually:

Barack H. Obama (D) 
Electoral 365
Popular 69,456,897
John S. McCain (R)
Electoral 173
Popular 59,934,814
D (Democratic)
R (Republican)

TKWA is all about order.  When students are answering questions about a map (or a chart, or graph, or newspaper article, or whatever...) they often jump right into the questions.  I tell them they should always look at the title first.  Always.  Read the title.

If the map they're looking at doesn't have a title, move to the key.  Look at the key second.

Third, ask yourself: What is the point?  What is the purpose of this map?

Only after a you do these simple things should you go on to answer the questions.

If students want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, they should find a map online and TKWA it.  Maybe google image search "world map interesting" or something.  Have the adult you TKWAed the map with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in in the extra credit tray tomorrow.  See you then.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Human Capital: People With Skills

Mr. Gingerich, from Goshen College, came up with a great lesson that we used today in class.  He introduced the concept of "human capital."

First off, he had students write down five unique skills.  They went around the room sharing them.

Then, he shared a unique skill: saying the alphabet backwards, while hopping on one leg, rubbing his tummy and patting his head.

We agreed that skill probably isn't going to land him a teaching job...  at least, not that skill alone.  It was a nice transition into talking about human capital, however.  Here's the definition he gave:

We may or may not have watched a 22 second clip from Napoleon Dynamite at this point...:

Then, the students worked at various stations around the room where they wrote examples of the human capital different jobs would require.  After 2 minutes, the groups rotated to the next occupation.  At the end of class, the papers were full of examples of human capital:

Essentially, human capital is your value to an employer.  All the skills, knowledge, creativity, life experiences, etc... that will make you good at your job.  And it's at your job that you convert that human capital into financial capital.  And we could all use a little more of that.

Students may get extra credit by reading and discussing this blog post with an adult.  Once they've done that, they should write a couple sentences about how their discussion went.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Death of Language, Death of Culture

At the end of our fictional Banananovia Story, there are a couple ladies who are walking down the street clinging to their culture even as it is disappearing around them.

They are mocked by young Banananovians, but they do their best to maintain their dignity.  Heads held high, they continue down the street.

Even though they continued wearing the traditional clothes, and speaking the old language, there was nothing they could do to stop the onslaught of globalization.

It reminds me of a scene from The Matrix.  "You hear that, Mr. Anderson?  That is the sound of inevitability."

Sometimes, there's just nothing you can do.  (Granted, the Matrix analogy doesn't completely pan out if you've seen the movie... but you get my point.)

While Banananovia was fictional, we are becoming a world culture (or monoculture.)  Yesterday we discussed the Columbian Exchange.  Globalization was already happening before Columbus, but boy did he speed things up.

We read an article from 2012 which states, "There are some 6,000 to 7,000 languages in the world and it is estimated that they are disappearing at a rate of one every two weeks..."

Here's the article.  If you were absent today, make sure you read it.

We also watched this short video.  If you were absent, watch it:

If you were absent and want the points, or if you want extra credit, write a short summary of the article and the video, "Marie's Dictionary."  Discuss them with an adult.  (If the adult doesn't have time to read/watch with you, explain to the adult what the stories were about once you've finished.)

Then, have the adult sign your summary.  Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  The end of the marking period is going to be here soon.  Make sure you're keeping up.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Banananovia 2015

Well, that just happened.

I don't have time to type up the Banananovia story today.  Maybe I'll get this year's iteration down sometime.  There are always some notable changes between the years.  To get the extra credit this weekend, read these two posts from last year:

Going Bananas and Banananovia Part II.

At least, if you read those, you'll get the gist of the story.

To earn the extra credit points, either complete the extra credit from one of those two posts, or tell me some differences between what happened last year, and what happened this year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ingredients of Culture Pictures (2015)

It's been a little while since students submitted their ingredients of culture pictures, but I wanted to put a couple up.  If you remember, culture is everything that makes a society unique.  It's their way of life.

I gave students 10 ingredients of culture.  Certainly there are more.  Some people might argue that a few of the ones I have listed don't belong.  Here they are again:

  • government
  • language
  • values
  • ethnicity
  • food
  • dress
  • the arts
  • customs
  • standard of living
  • religion
I'm going to post 10 pictures students drew.  Each picture represents a different ingredient of culture.  All of my classes are represented in the pictures.

In order to get credit for reading and discussing the blog today, you have to look through the pictures with an adult, and write down what you think each one stands for.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Busy, Busy Days

It's been pretty busy around here.  Grades continue to be updated.  If I were you, I would double-check them to make sure they're accurate.  If there's anything you need to turn in, well...  Get it turned in.

I'm hoping to post some of the ingredients of culture pictures here on the blog, but I might not get that done for a day or two.  We're still studying culture, but we're mixing it with economics.  We're working our way toward globalization.

Today students reviewed the ingredients of culture by writing a short story which included each ingredient.

After that, we got new seats.

Then, they looked in The Hunger Games and found examples of some of the things we've been studying.

They had to find:

    • standard of living (3 examples)
    • economies
      • traditional (1)
      • market(1)
      • command(1)
    • ethnocentrism (1)
    • ingredients of culture
      • food (1)
      • dress (1)
      • religion (1)
      • customs (1)
      • ethnicity (1)
      • values (1)
      • the arts (1)
      • government (1)
      • language (1)
      • standard of living (already listed above)

I think it went pretty well.

Students can get extra credit by reading and discussing this blog with an adult.  After you've read and discussed it, write a sentence about your discussion.  Have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Supply, Demand, and GDP

We're jumping around a little bit here - between culture, standard of living, and economics.  Maybe, just by reading that sentence you can see how those things all relate.  Standard of living is one of the ingredients of culture.  The economy is a fairly reliable indicator of standard of living.

Of course, a teacher can't just say "economy" and expect the kids to know what he's talking about.

Yesterday, we reviewed the 4 types of economies:

  • Traditional
  • Market
  • Command
  • Mixed
We discussed the common thread between them - they all deal with how things are made, sold or traded for, and bought.

We also looked at their differences.  A traditional economy is based off of necessity and availability.  A market economy is based off supply and demand.  In a command economy, the government dictates production, distribution, and consumption.

And of course, a mixed economy is a mix of the others.

For instance, here in the United States, we're primarily a market economy.  However, the government does tell us there are certain things we're not allowed to make.  Can you think of any?

So, although we're a market economy, we're at least partially a command economy as well.

We discussed supply and demand - the less you have of something people want, the greater the value.  To illustrate this point, I told students a couple stories about aluminum.  (Students, if you remember any of the stories, quickly retell them now.  ...If not, feel free to click this link.)

We'll be discussing the economy (and how it ties in with culture) for the next several days.  Often, we'll do this through the lens of The Hunger Games, which depicts each type of economy.

One of the last things we studied and learned about was GDP.  Yesterday, after the bellwork, we played a computer game organizing countries by GDP.  (One might argue we were also looking at the standard of living for each of those countries, but it's a little more complicated than that.)

You should check out the game, too.  In fact, students, to get extra credit today, challenge whoever it is you're reading this blog post with.  Let me know who wins.  Write it down on a scrap of paper, along with what they thought of the game.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Culture, Hunger Games, and Doubling Up

Students have homework tonight!  If they didn't finish their cultural ingredients pictures that we started yesterday - and worked on today - they need to finish them at home and bring them in tomorrow.  ...Completed.  Click the link if you lost your copy, didn't get one, had your dog eat it, or whatever...

We've been learning about culture and society in conjunction with, and through our reading of The Hunger Games.  We can see all of the ingredients of culture depicted in the world Ms. Collins has created.  We see the ingredient of values when Prim says she doesn't care about the money - she cares about her sister.  We see values and customs when the community raises three fingers in salute to Katniss.  (Incidentally, this is also viewed as an act of civil disobedience, a term that will show up repeatedly later on in the year...)  I would be that standard of living shows up as much as any theme in the book.

Perhaps I'm most excited to read the book with Mr. Ogle's language arts classes.  He will be drawing things out of the book (and students) that I won't have hit on.  Working on it together like this is essentially giving students double the language arts time, and double the social studies time.  I LOVE it!  I walked in to his room today for a little planning, and saw his board had some Hunger Games vocabulary on it.  I could only smile to myself.

What does "loathe" mean?  Hunger Games terms on the board.

As of today, every student has a book.  So, we're in.  We've been taxiing on the runway; now we're taking off.

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  If they want extra credit today, they should discuss what's been happening in The Hunger Games.  Tell how it ties in with social studies.  Discuss what you like and dislike about the story.  When you're finished, students should write a short paragraph about the conversation they had.  Have the adult they discussed with sign the paper, and turn it in tomorrow.

Again, don't forget about the homework.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hunger Games Quotes II: Ingredients of Culture

We've started discussing culture - what is it that makes a culture a culture?  What are the ingredients?

There are many ingredients of culture.  Far more than the 10 I give.  But, I give 10.

  • language
  • government
  • values
  • ethnicity
  • arts
  • food
  • dress
  • customs
  • standard of living
  • religion
I've got a bulletin board in the back of my room showing this:

We've finished up taking the notes defining and giving examples for each of the ingredients.  Tomorrow they're going to draw pictures for each ingredient.  Today, for bellwork, they had more quotes from The Hunger Games.  They had to determine which ingredient of culture matched the quote.  Here they are:

Quote 1:  "Besides, the Capitol accent is so affected, almost anything sounds funny in it."  p. 8

(You might remember that the same quote was used on Monday as an example of ethnocentrism.  As ethnocentrism is not an ingredient of culture, that cannot be the answer today.)

Quote 2:  "I notice her blouse has pulled out of her skirt in the back again..."  p. 15

Quote 3:  "At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me.  It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals.  It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love."  -p. 24

Quote 4: "He could be my brother.  Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes."  p.8

Quote 5:  "...(we) eat the rough bread made from the tessera grain."  p. 16  (This one fits 2 ingredients

If students want extra credit, they were supposed to read and discuss this post with an adult.  If they've done that, quiz the adult.  See how many ingredients they get right.  No pressure (as they weren't in class.)

When you're finished, write how it went on a scrap of paper.  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.

See you soon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hunger Games Quotes

Thursday and Friday of last week, I gave the students 6 "big idea" terms, along with a definition/explanation:

  • culture
  • government
  • economics
  • standard of living
  • ethnicity
  • ethnocentrism

Today, in class the white boards around the room had a quote from The Hunger Games.  Each quote dealt with a term.  Before we started reading, the students had to figure out the term, and why it fit with the quote.  Here they are, page numbers included.

Quote 1:  "Besides, the Capitol accent is so affected, almost anything sounds funny in it."  p.8

Quote 2:  "'Mm, still warm,' O say.  He must have been up at the crack of dawn to trade for it.  'What did it cost you?'
         'Just a squirrel.'"  p.7
Quote 3:  "Since almost no one can afford doctors, apothecaries are our healers." p.8
Quote 4:  "He could be my brother.  Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes." p.8
Quote 5:  "It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves."  p.14
Bonus: Quote 6: (More than one term applies):  "No one in the Seam would turn up their nose at a good leg of wild dog, but the Peacekeepers who come to the Hob can afford to be a little choosier."  p.11

Students can get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  If they've done this, have the students ask the adult if they can match any of the terms with the quotes.  On a sheet of paper, either write how the adult answered, or tell me how they did.  Did they get them all?  Most of them?  Did they miss any?

When you're done, have the adult sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.  Then turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hunger Games: Big Ideas

As promised, there's a blog post today.

We've started The Hunger Games!  Woo hoo!  I'm really excited about it, and I'm doubly excited that this year I get to work in tandem with Mr. Ogle, who will be teaching the Language Arts side of things.

Why The Hunger Games?

The content of The Hunger Games ties in with multiple 7th grade social studies standards.  It's a well-written, captivating story about the dangers of unlimited government.  Many of the big concepts we study are expressed in narrative fashion, allowing me to reinforce what we're learning in class.

Today, we talked about 4 of the big ideas that will show up in the book.  I had students write down a definition/explanation (in their own words) for:

  • Government
  • Economy
  • Culture
  • Standard of Living
These are hardly the only social studies topics that will show up in the book.  After students wrote down what they thought those things were, I gave them my definitions and explanations.  By page 6, each of these concepts had been brought up in some fashion.  We'll delve into it more, as we read the book.  I can't wait.

For now, here are some pictures of some things we did during the days I missed posting.  (The information on how to get some extra credit points is found below the pictures.)

If you want the extra credit, define/explain at least one of the following terms on a sheet of paper: government, economics, culture, standard of living.  If you were class, try to use my definition/explanation.  If you were absent, give it a good guess.  You may get help from a parent.

When you're done, have the parent or adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in in the extra credit tray tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2015

No Post Today or Tomorrow

I won't have an extra credit post today or tomorrow.

Remember that the test is on Wednesday.

It will cover everything we've done so far:

Latitude and Longitude.
Prime Meridian.
Continents and Oceans.

I've given several bellworks that I've suggested students keep to study.  If you don't have those, you can find plenty under the latitude and longitude tab.

After reviewing a little bit today, I'm confident it will be a piece of cake.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 Stations - 2015

In class today, students went from station to station looking at and analyzing political cartoons that came out shortly after 9/11.  Some of them are pretty complex, but I feel like the students are getting them.

For each one, I ask several questions - starting off with the basic, and working my way to the more complex and more abstract.

I'll give you some examples in a minute.

Before they got to that though, they watched a short video on the Pearl Harbor attacks:

A couple of the cartoons referenced Pearl Harbor.  As many of the students had never learned about this event, I thought it was only fair (and necessary) to give them some background information.

Here are a couple examples of what the class did - although, I'm giving different political cartoons.

1.  What is the heading on this cartoon?
2.  What are the three images?
3.  What happened in each of the 3?
4.  What is the Statue of Liberty doing?
5.  Did Japan or al Qaeda actually/ officially declare war?
6.  What is this cartoonist saying?

1.  Who is in this picture?
2.  Where are they?
3.  How do you know?
4.  One man is saying, "We've reached the top."  What 2 places could "the top" mean?
5.  What is this cartoonist trying to say?

1.  Who are the people in this picture?
2.  Where are they standing?
3.  What is unusual about them?
4.  The heading says, "TWIN TOWERS..."  Why?
5.  What is this cartoonist trying to say?

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  In order to prove you were here today, choose one of the political cartoons and answer the questions on a piece of paper with the adult you read the blog with.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Turn it in on Monday.

If you want to tell them about some of the cartoons that were around the room, please do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sept. 11, The Middle East, and The United States

First of all, sorry that the map didn't work yesterday.  It works from my computer, but not from mobile devices.  If you read and discussed, and told me about it, you still got the credit yesterday.  I've changed it, but I don't love the new map, as it is a bit difficult to read the coordinates.

For the rest of the week, we're discussing the Middle East, the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks - how they changed the world, and how they changed the United States.

Today, I tried to get a feeling for what the students have already learned.  There is a lot of misinformation out there.

After that, and a little discussion, we watch the news bulletins as they happened.  What we watch is actually a much shorter version of the clips you'll see below.  If you weren't here, check them out.

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Ask the adult what they remember from 9/11 and the days and months that followed.  Write down a few of their responses on a sheet of paper and have them sign it.  Make sure that your name, date and hour are on the paper and turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Big Maps II

Today is probably our last true day on latitude and longitude.

I told the students on Friday that bellwork took so long, we were cutting it out today - if they reminded me.  As it turns out, they didn't have to.  I remembered.

We spent the day plotting latitude and longitude in Africa.  Most classes made it to 3 rounds, and a couple got a little further.

After we plotted the countries, we did a google search to see what those countries looked like.  Turns out, much of Africa didn't match up with what the students expected.  For instance, Dar es Salaam - check it out.  Or Cairo.  Or Addis Ababa - the capital of Ethiopia.

Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  Tell that adult how you did today.  To prove that you were here (and to earn the points) use the map below to give five sets of coordinates and the countries they identify.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper - and that the parent you've discussed the blog with has signed it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Here are some pictures... technically, they're from Friday.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Games, Grades, and Getting Better

We tried to check grades today.  Most students were able to, but for some reason some students could not.  Mr. Ogle will work on that with students tomorrow.

I gave the students another shot at passing the continents and oceans quiz.  If they didn't pass, they played the online geography games - just continents and oceans.  If they had already scored a 12/12, I had them play the Middle East games, as some of those places will enter our discussions next week.

I'm keeping the post short again today.  If you want extra credit, you've got to play either the Middle East, or World geography games.  CLICK THIS LINK, or look at the side of the blog.

Unfortunately, they don't work with Apple products, as they require Flash.

To prove you did the extra credit, either print out the scores, take a screen shot of them and show them to me - or email them to me - or write them out and have a parent sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.  Make sure your name is on it.

REMEMBER, you may play the geography games as often as you like for extra credit.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Big Maps to Globes

We're still piecing together how latitude and longitude works, and how to find it.  Why it looks different on a flat map from a globe.

Today we broke out the globes and marker boards.  I gave students a set of coordinates, and they had to figure out the country.  It went well.

You should know that I sent a paper home that explains what's going on with The Hunger Games.  Make sure to read it, fill it out, and return it tomorrow.

Here are some pictures from today's activity.  I hope you enjoy them.

Using the Globes

Using the Globes

Using the Globes

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, you should have explained how the game we played went.  Write me a note telling me which picture was your favorite - that will prove you were actually here.  Have the adult sign the paper - that will (kindof) prove that you read the blog with them.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it, and turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big Maps: Scale, Time Zones, International Date Line

Our bellwork today dealt with latitude and longitude again.  I felt pretty good about how quickly the students could tackle it.  Of course, some are still struggling.  Either way, they should be prepared to take a little quiz within the next week or so.

International Date Line
After bellwork, we broke out the Big Maps.  One of the questions asked why the International Date Line zigged and zagged so much.  Why wasn't it just a straight line of longitude like the Prime Meridian.

I didn't have a single student who could answer that question.  So, we looked at it.  Most of my students couldn't tell me how many time zones there are in the world, (24), or why there are 24.  So, we spent some time talking about day and night.  Hours in a day.  Days in a year.  In most classes, I used the flashlight from my phone to represent the sun.  The earth was rotating on its axis and revolving around it.

I think the students understood, after we worked through it.  Either way, count on a bellwork tomorrow that asks questions dealing with time zones, the earth, the sun, and the International Date Line.

After we finished that, we continued working with the Big Maps.  We figured out the circumference of the earth at the equator, and at 60° N...  And we figured out why their answers were so far off with the 60° N question - even the ones where the students answered correctly.  (The farther north you go, the more distorted a flat map becomes...)

Students can earn extra credit by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  To prove that you were here today, discuss with an adult why the International Date Line zig-zags so much.  Then, write your answer on a sheet of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  Have a great day.

Working With the Big Maps