Friday, February 27, 2015

Gandhi and MLK

We watch 2 legitimate movies every year: Gandhi and Promises.

Right now, we're watching Gandhi.  If you haven't seen it, it's quite good.  It won best picture in 1982.  (Incidentally, a lot of good things came out that year: E.T., Rocky III, Halloween III, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Poltergeist, Tron, Annie, ...Me...)

As we close out Black History Month, I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the similarities between Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  (We don't do this in class, so my students may not be familiar with it.  I just thought it might be a good addition...)

  • Both Civil Rights Leaders
  • Both believed in and practiced civil disobedience
  • Both were practitioners of non-violence
  • Both are seen as the key leaders of movements that were much, MUCH larger
  • Both exemplify one side of a a movement that had many sides
    • (See Martin Luther King vs Malcolm X, Or Booker Washington vs W.E.B. DuBois)
    • (See Gandhi vs any of the not so non-violent movements for Indian independence)
  • Both spent substantial amounts of time in prison
  • Both were gifted public speakers
  • Both were also known for their religions
  • Both have made significant literary contributions
  • And of course, both were assassinated

While they both had their differences as well, it is interesting to see what all they had in common.  If you can think of anything else, feel free to write it in the comments.

Students in my class may get extra credit if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Students, please give the adult a summary of what's happened in the movie so far.

Then, write a 3-5 sentence summary on a scrap of note paper.  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in on Monday in the extra credit tray.  Make sure that your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review (Specifically Geography and Globalization)

Students could argue for a better grade, if they didn't like the one they got on their "Shooting an Elephant" summary.  Hopefully I have those changes entered today, but I stayed late yesterday, and I think it's important to spend time with my family.  (Students, if you're reading this with an adult right now, tell that adult how much you appreciate them.  ...For real.  It's really nice of them to read this with you.)

We took a quiz today as well.  (More grades to enter...)  Based on what I've seen so far, it went pretty well.  It was mostly review.  I took screen shots of Google Earth and asked students to identify various continents, oceans, regions and countries.

After that, we watched this sweet video.  If you weren't here today, watch it:

If I had time, we would have looked at the cost to cross the Panama Canal.  Or compared it to the cost of crossing the Suez Canal.  ...But something's gotta give.

If you read and discussed this with an adult, write 3  sentences telling about your conversation.  If you have trouble with that, you could write 3 sentences about the video.  Have the adult sign it, then turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Great, Great, Great, Grade, Grade Day

Today students are reviewing some of the concepts, ideas, and terms we learned a while back: GDP, infrastructure, globalization/trade, industrialization, etc...

But we're also grading some of the stuff we haven't graded together yet.  Since we're not taking the social studies ISTEP, I'm giving the students a little time to review and grade their Shooting an Elephant summaries, which they wrote a while back.  They were very good.  The essay, if you recall dealt with the effects of British Imperialism.

Lately, we've been discussing Japanese Imperialism.  We'll probably jump back to British Imperialism in a little bit, and specifically look at India's independence movement.  #Gandhi  #HumanRights  #CivilDisobedience  #FirstTimeUsingHashtags

I'm sorry that I haven't been quite as consistent in posting the blogs.  As I've said, the past couple days we've been studying Japanese Imperialism, and World Wars I and II.

I'm keeping today's post short.  If you were here the past couple days, discuss some of the reasons for WWI.  Then discuss what happened to cause Japan to switch sides between WWI and WWII.  What were they doing?  What did they want?

Write some answers to the questions you answered in your discussion.  Then, have the adult you discussed the blog with sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it, and turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

ALIENS!!! (and colonization, Japanese Imperialism, and possibly some elephants...)

Today students walked in and completed a couple maps on Japanese Imperialism.  For some reason, American culture is so hung up on Germany, and Hitler's invasion of Poland in World War II, that we skimp over the ambitions of the Japanese.  Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931.  Germany invaded Poland in 1939...  Wouldn't that make 1931 the true start of WWII?

So, Japan invaded Manchuria for it's land and natural resources.  (These are pretty much the same reasons all empires are built.  There are others as well, but lets roll with that for now.)

We graded the maps, and watched this video:

It got me thinking though, (and it's true I've thought of this before...) isn't this the theme of every alien invasion movie ever?  I mean, H.G. Wells was British.  In my mind, much like Orwell, he wasn't thrilled about British Imperialism.  His book, War of the Worlds, written in 1898 is often cited as being a story about British colonization.  

So, we watched this trailer:

Right around 1:05, we hear the speaker say, "When you invade a place for its resources, you wipe out its indigenous population.  Right now we are being colonized."

To get the extra credit today, you should read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Instead of writing me a note to prove that you were here, I'm asking you to post a link to a different alien movie where the aliens are invading to take over our land and our natural resources.  (Preferably one that includes aliens with superior technology...  ...Has Hollywood put out a movie where the aliens have inferior technology?)

Post the link in the comments section of the blog.  You only have to post once.  Also, write a sentence or two explaining how it ties in with what we're studying in class.  If it doesn't show up, it's because I moderate the comments on the blog, and I have to preview it first.  Make sure you identify yourself somehow.  Either put your first name and hour, or your initials... Something.

Parents/adults: you can help them think of movies if they can't think of any on their own.

Good luck.

Stay warm.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hand of God and Shooting an Elephant

I nearly didn't post the extra credit today, because of lack of time... but here's a short post anyway...

If you weren't in class today, I asked students to write me a one-page summary of Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant."  After they did that, they were to tell me the main point of the story.  If you did not do this, do it now.

Turn it in whenever you get back.

Here are two hints:  "One day something happened which in a roundabout way was enlightening.  It was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than I had had before of the real nature of imperialism - the real motives for which despotic governments act."

The second hint:  "I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom he destroys."

Several classes also got to watch the "Hand of God" goal, scored by Diego Maradona in 1986.  Keeping in mind that "Shooting an Elephant" was written in 1936, read the following lines, "When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter.  This happened more than once."

Now, if you haven't seen it before, watch the goal:

A couple things to consider:
  • This game was played in 1986.
  • It was played between Argentina and England
  • The Falklands War was in 1982
  • The British won the war against Argentina, maintaining control of the islands
  • The 1986 World Cup was played in Mexico
  • If you missed it, Maradona scored that goal with his hand, and didn't get called for it
My hat's off to those of you who can put the pieces of this puzzle together.  Spoiler alert: the feelings toward British Imperialism started well before Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant," and lasted well after its publication.

In order to get the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult today, write two sentences from your discussion.  Have the adult you read it with sign on the paper you wrote your sentences.

As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shooting an Elephant

Today in class we read on of my favorite essays of all time - perhaps my favorite.

Instead of writing a new blog post about it, I'm going to send you to one I wrote a couple of years ago.  I'll probably be asking some of the questions found there in class tomorrow, so you'll have a head-start.

If you want the extra credit, Go HERE to get it.

Adults, if you've never read Shooting an Elephant, I highly encourage it.  You can read it HERE.

Again, I think it's one of the best pieces of writing in the English language.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I don't have time for a full post today, but I want to let you know that some students have homework.

In class we worked on a map of the British Empire - which you can download HERE if you were absent.

We also worked on our writing skills to prepare for tomorrow's reading of Shooting an Elephant.  Students were to write sentences with some of the words that will show up in tomorrow's text.  Most finished it, but if they didn't, it was homework.  You can get that HERE.

Tomorrow we read one of my favorite stories of all time.

To prove you were here today, you just have to write a code phrase on a piece of paper, then have the adult you looked at the blog with sign the paper.

Here's the phrase:  "I listened to Cameron Bradley's album, and it was great."

Alright... if you haven't finished the homework, you should probably get working on that...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flags and Culture

The colonization simulation is full of symbolism.  The play-doh represents natural resources.  Changing styles of dress represent the different styles of dress in various cultures.  The chant/cheer/song can represent the arts, or customs, maybe even religion...

But what does the flag represent?

The American Flag - although a good-looking, and artistic piece of cloth, does not represent American cultural arts.  Rather it symbolizes everything we stand for as Americans.  It represents our government, and (I would suggest) more importantly, our values.  It represents our culture as a whole.

When students made symbolic flags for their continents, they were supposed to keep this in mind.  And when those flags were destroyed, it was to represent that in all areas, their culture was gone, and replaced by another.

To hammer the point home, we watched John McCain tell a story of his days as a Prisoner of War.  You can watch the video here:

Most classes also played the listing game.  We used natural resources as our topic.  If you want the extra credit today, you have to do two things.  First, rewatch and discuss the video.  Write a couple sentences telling about your discussion.

Second, you have to challenge the adult you read the blog with to the listing game.  The topic is, of course, natural resources.  Write a sentence telling me who won.

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

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Natural Resources and Colonization Simulation

We started today's lesson with a bellwork on the natural resources of Asia, and infrastructure.

After that, we began discussing the colonization simulation from last week.  Students had to answer some questions.  They'll get a chance to finish answering them tomorrow for bellwork - then we'll go over the activity in earnest.

Most of my classes also watched this clip.

If you want the extra credit, watch it and write down an explanation telling how it ties in with the colonization simulation.

Have the adult you read the blog with sign your explanation when you're done.

Turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name is on it.  (I've been getting quite a few extra credit papers with no identifiers...  You don't get credit for those...)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Colonization Simulation 2015

Yesterday my classes worked on developing indigenous cultures on the continents I placed them.  You see, I split my room up into 4 sections; each section represented a continent.  Three of the continents were large, spacious, and had untold natural resources.

The fourth was smaller, but no less proud.

Groups were tasked with developing flags, chants and songs, changing their style of dress, and coming up with other ways that could symbolize their particular cultures.

It was a fun day, yesterday.

Then came today: exploration, conquest, colonization, disease, defeat and shame.

The small continent with few natural resources had the opportunity to explore the other continents.  The people of the other continents decided whether they wanted to fight, or work with those who were invading their land.

If you're reading this at home, discuss what happened, and what it symbolized.

If you weren't at school today, tell what you think happened.  When you come back, find out if you were right or not.

When you're done discussing it, write a few sentences about your discussion, and have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Here are some pictures:

First, a map of the world:

This next one is a close up of Saia.

I call this one "Negotiations."

And perhaps my favorite, "To the victor go the spoils."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

TKWA = Music (and Natural Resources)

I'm sorry it's been a few days since I've posted.

We started a simulation today.  But I'm not going to write about that.  If you're reading this as a student/adult partnership, ask the student what happened.  Specifically ask about the tape represented, how they changed their style of dress and why.  What did the chant/song represent?  What did their flag look like?  What did it represent?

If you don't get through all of those questions, that's fine.  The big day is tomorrow.

The past few days we've talked about exploration.  Why did explorers explore the world?  What were they after?

Gold?  Sure.  Silver?  Check.  Fame?  No doubt.  Furs?  Yes.  To spread their religion?  Definitely.  (We really focus on the age of exploration - which deals mostly with the spread of Christianity, but there were some very notable explorers who weren't Christian.  We've mentioned Ibn Battuta in the past - who was Muslim.  Benjamin of Tudela was Jewish...)

There were a lot of reasons explorers explored.  But many of those reasons fall under one category: natural resources.  If it was here before people, it's a natural resource.  Wind.  The sun.  Gold.  Silver.  Fur.  Spices.

Yesterday we worked on a map of land use in Asia - which dealt with natural resources.  Many students remembered to TKWA the map before they started answering the questions, but some did not.  (TKWA = Title, Key, What's the point/purpose of the map?  What's it trying to show?  Answer the questions.)

There are lots of things that can be read.  We read books, music, people, maps.  Sight-reading a map is more like sight-reading music.  If you play music and you're going to start sight-reading it without having practiced it before, you can't just jump into it.  You have to look at the key.  Are there any sharps or flats?  What's the time of the piece?  4/4?  2/4?  6/8?  And then you should look through it without playing.  Finally, you can give it a shot.

When students TKWA a map, it's the same thing.  You can't just jump in and expect to understand it without looking at the title, key and thinking about the purpose first.

Students:  If you read this with an adult, find a scrap of paper and write 3 sentences from your discussion.  When you're done, have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Still Here, Quizzes In

I just wanted to let you know that the essay portions of the quizzes have been entered for every hour except 8th hour.  I must have left those at school.

So, tomorrow I'll grade those and enter them.

As such, it may be another day before I post to the blog.

Don't forget that there are other ways you may earn extra credit.  If you read/watch/listen to the news and tell me what's going on - that will earn you some points.  If you play the online geography games - that can get you some points as well.

Unfortunately, since it runs on Flash, you can't play those on iPhones.  But, if you have an Android, or desktop computer, you should be able to play.


See you soon.