Thursday, April 30, 2015

Protests to Revolutions

Let me see if I can get this right.  Tell me what I've left out:

A man was harassed by the police, and he was hit.
People protested - mostly peacefully.
Some were not peaceful - some people were killed in the protests.
They wanted change.
The government tried to stop the protests.
The man died.
The protests increased.
The people wanted change.
Some say the protests happened because of the man who was hit by police.
More people say that the protests happened because of the economic inequality in the country.

What did I leave out?

Perhaps most importantly, I left out that the man set himself on fire.  He did not die due to being hit by the police - the accounts I've read say he was slapped in the face.

I also left out the who: Mohamed Bouazizi.  The where: Tunisia.  And the when: 2010-2011.

That was the catalyst for change in much of North Africa and the Middle East.  Some of the change was good, some of the change was bad.

The government, for its part, tried to quell the revolution, but it was too late.  I remember seeing pictures of President ("President") Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali visiting Mohamed Bouazizi in the hospital before Bouazizi died.  But by that point it was already too late.  The people of Tunisia were fed up with the injustices perpetuated under his watch.

Students worked with partners again today.  They read an article about the Arab Spring, discussed it, and answered some questions.  One of the captions that was under a picture read, "The U.S. has walked a fine line in responding to protests, encouraging demands for democracy while trying to maintain good relations with longtime allies."  Many students were unfamiliar with the term, "walked a fine line."

I asked them if they've ever had a friend who was making bad choices.  Did they want to confront them on the issue?  What might make someone hesitate to bring it up?

The issues in the lives of nations often mirror issues in our own lives.  A lot of good discussion today.

I'd love to hear what you think about it.  You know the drill: students, write me a note with a couple lines from the discussion.  Have the adult you discussed with sign the paper.

Anybody else, feel free to comment.  I do moderate the comments, since I have many parents and students who read the blog, but in general as long as there's no swearing and your avatar isn't offensive, it will be posted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Arab Spring

The protests of the Arab Spring are fading from our memory.  Maybe you can recall that 4 years ago, a Tunisian fruit-vendor set himself on fire in protest of his government.  This, in part, led to protests in other countries - many of which overthrew their governments.  Some worked toward practical reform.  Some are continuing to fight today.

The test we took on Friday included a short map portion.  While many students did well on this, a fairly large section did not.  Since we're studying the Arab Spring - and then moving on to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, I thought it be a good idea to make sure students know the region of the world we're talking about.  So, yesterday they started working on a Middle East Map.  (If you weren't here, you may get one from the link.)

Tomorrow and Friday, we'll finish up our discussions on the Arab Spring Protests.  I would encourage you to keep following along with everything that's going on in the world.

If you want the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss the blog with an adult.  Tell them what we did today.  Tell them what you know about the Arab Spring.  Tell them how you did on your map.  When you're finished, write the phrase, "Keep on keeping on" on a scrap piece of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign that paper for proof you were here and discussed the blog.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bucket List

I don't have a lot of time to post right now.  I just finished grading all the essays.  They're entered, in case you're wondering.

We did 2 main things today.  We talked about the earthquake in Nepal, and we read and discussed an article about a former Concord student.

If you weren't here, watch and discuss the video, then read and discuss the article.

Make sure you watch the video from 4/27/15.

Here's the article.

Among my favorite lines which tie into this class:

"The Concord High School graduate hopes he can use his travels to show others how human consumption impacts Earth’s resources, and how a ripple effect connects people all over the world."

If you're aiming to get some extra credit, discuss other ways the article ties in with our class.  Write down some thoughts from your discussion on a piece of paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Quiz Day

Students took the Hinduism/Buddhism/Indian Independence Movement Quiz today.  I'm hoping to have all of the scores posted in the grade book by the end of the day.

I was surprised by how much some students struggled on the map portion.  We've gone to the computer lab several times, but it has been a while.  We've also done some other map work.  I'll want to look at that a little more closely to see if I can figure out what students are missing and why.

You should also know that I counted the essay as extra credit.  I graded these myself, and everyone scored well - well, at least out of those that I've scored so far.

Since we just took the quiz, I don't have anything vital to post.  But I do have something interesting.  If you remember back to Wednesday's post, I had students challenge adults to a game of Pictionary.  I received quite a few back.  I thought I'd post my favorite answers:

In case you couldn't get that, here are their answers along with the pictures:

Mom: Shrimp with arms
Tyler: Brahmin
Correct answer: Brahman.  The judges are still out as to whether or not Tyler should get the credit for this.  As a teacher, I don't grade for spelling when I'm trying to assess whether or not they know social studies.  I'll grade for spelling if I'm assessing spelling.  The problem is that "Brahmin" refers to the priestly caste within Hinduism, Brahman refers to the God of Hinduism.  The eternal spirit, if you'd prefer.

 Mom:  Pacman eating a garbage can full of money on fire.
Tyler: Suffering
Correct answer:  Gandhi.  Yeah... we were going for Gandhi on this one.  He's burning the passes.  Although, now I can only see Pacman eating a garbage full of money on fire.
 Mom:  A balloon wearing sunglasses next to a worm and the number 9.
Tyler: The making of salt.
Correct answer: The Ganges River.  In class, the artist drew the river first, and when the class couldn't get it, added Gandhi.  Then, when they still couldn't get it, he told them it began with the letter "g."  In Tyler's defense, the making of the salt is a fantastic guess.  In India, the making of salt was illegal, only the British could make it.  So, he famously marched to the sea to make it in defiance of the British.  It's something we talked about in class.  We have never talked about balloons wearing sunglasses...  But in Mom's defense, she's never been in my class, so I expect her to know none of these.
 Mom:  An old man looking at a melting ice cream cone.
Tyler: Gandhi
Correct answer: India.  Though, that is supposed to be Gandhi standing beside it.
 Mom: Man yelling at a boy who is getting hit by lightening.
Tyler: Karma.
Correct answer: Karma.  Good job, Tyler!  You've taken the lead 1-0.
 Mom: Four bullies w/ mohawks who are mad at three little siblings.
Tyler's answer: Oligarchy.
Correct answer: Oligarchy.  Tyler!  You'll pulling away!  2-0.  An oligarchy, is an unelected group of leaders who rule with dictatorial power.  It's one of the unlimited governments we studied about earlier in the year.  ...The crowns are deceiving.  It might lead one to believe it's some form of monarchy.  It's not.  But neither are they mohawks.
 Mom: A dog walking toward his owner.
Tyler: dead man.
Correct answer: Reincarnation.  Tyler is close.  But the arrow is supposed to mean that the spirit of the dead man was reincarnated into another living being.
 Mom:  A funeral.
Tyler:  Siddhartha Guatama.
Correct answer:  Siddhartha Guatama.  3-0 Tyler.  And a funeral is one of the things Guatama saw on his walk.
 Mom:  A rich man and a poor man.
Tyler:  Wealth.
Correct answer:  Standard of living.  The judges almost gave each of the contestants a point for this answer, but in the end decided against it.  It was very controversial, even though it wouldn't have affected the game's outcome.
 Mom: A farm
Tyler: Urbanization
Correct answer: Urbanization.  4-0

 Mom: Ranking of the classes of people
Tyler: Caste system
Correct answer: Caste system, however we're giving mom a point on this one.  5-1!

Tyler gets the prize for most correct answers.  Mom gets the prize for the most humorous answers.  In fact, part of me likes her answers more.  ...You know on those standarized tests where it always say, "choose the best answer...?"  This game is really making me second guess that.  Luckily, those tests are multiple choice - so we'll never see answers this good.

My students can get extra credit if they read and discuss this blog with an adult.  Ultimately, I just think it's important to discuss social studies outside of the classroom.  The more you do that, the better.  Maybe tell your parents (or whoever you're talking to) how you did on the test.  Or how you think you did.  Maybe you could check the grades to see if I've posted them yet.

When you're done, write a couple sentences telling me about your conversation.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in to me tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

*EDIT*  To the other students who asked me if I could post what your parents put, sorry for the let down.  I didn't have a chance to give them a call to get permission.  Also, I don't have time to add them to this post.  But you're right: there were a lot of good responses.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pictionary Part II

We've got a quiz on Friday.  It shouldn't be too overwhelming... just overwhelming enough.

As you know, the quiz will deal mainly with Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Indian Independence Movement.

One of the portions of the quiz will have a list of terms: beliefs, ideas, people, places, etc...  Students will have to place them with Hinduism, Buddhism or Both.

Here's a quick list:

  1. Karma
  2. Gandhi
  3. Moksha
  4. Eternal Spirit/ Brahman
  5. Siddhartha Guatama
  6. India
  7. 4 Noble Truths
  8. Reincarnation
  9. Nontheistic
  10. 5 Pillars of Faith
Today we finished up our quick discussion on banking, then we played some Pictionary.

If students want some extra credit today, they can get it by challenging an adult to the Pictionary game here on the blog.  Find a scrap of paper.  Adults have to write their guesses first.  Then students write their answers.

When you're done, have the adult you challenged sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

No Computers

We gave up the computer labs today for the practice ISTEP test.  Still, I feel like the lesson went pretty well, even if we didn't get to work with google drawings.  We'll get there.

Yesterday's video dealt with Mexico and Cambodia, among other things.  One of the questions on the google doc asked students to tell me which continent the countries were located on.  (The video showed them on a map, so I thought it wouldn't be too difficult.  Also, ...Mexico.  I mean, we know what continent Mexico is on, right?)

Turns out a lot of us don't.  I know what you're thinking: Mexico is not in your jurisdiction.  It's not a 7th grade standard.  Well, you're right.  But still.

Today, I gave students a pop quiz over the continents and oceans.  It was the same quiz they all had to pass at the beginning of the year.  It's interesting that almost everybody earned a perfect score, and almost everybody could place Mexico on the map, but so many students still named Mexico as being in South America when the map wasn't in front of them.

Well, hopefully we cleared that up.

I'm also trying to go over any of the smaller standards that I've missed.  Some standards are huge.  Religions?  Ancient civilizations?  Governments?  Economics?  Those take a lot of time.

Banking is pretty straight forward - at least for what 7th graders need to know.

Here's the 3 minute video we watched on that.  We discussed quite a bit as well.

We talked about allowances, and doing chores.  Keeping money in a jar, versus keeping it in a bank where it can collect interest...  the irony of having a savings account while also having a mortgage.  

Students may earn extra credit by reading and discussing this post with an adult.  Discuss money a little bit.  Talk about saving versus spending.  Talk about buying now and interest rates.  When you're done, students should write a couple sentences about their discussion.  The adult they discussed the blog with should sign the paper.  That will prove that they've been here.

Turn it in next time you see me.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review and Google Docs... Reviewgle Docs... Heh...

Alright... that title needs a little work.  It's been a long day in the classroom.  I'm still trying to figure out how google docs will work for me.  For us.  For everyone.  (Kudos to those of you out there that already have all this down!)

We've got the ISTEP coming up, so I thought it best to review a little bit while also figuring out this technology piece.  Fellow Hoosier and all around awesome person Mr. John Green (et al) helped us out with that today:

After 11 minutes of historical brain candy, students had to work together on their google docs answering questions from both the film and the school year as a whole.  Some of the questions were factual recall.  Some asked for discussion...  If you want to know what I asked, here it is:  RIGHT HERE.  (I capitalized that in case you got lost.)

Here's some stuff the youtube video addressed (directly or indirectly) that may show up on the final:
  • ancient civilizations
  • water 
    • drinking
    • agriculture
    • sanitation
  • standard of living
  • code of laws
  • natural resources
  • theocracy
  • Hamurabi
  • system of writing
  • human capital
  • empire
  • religion
  • culture
  • architecture
  • Great Bath
  • Asia 
  • South America
  • ...Yeah...  that's already a lot, and I haven't had to stop and think yet...

Students, you can access your own files from home if you have a computer and the internet.  Or maybe a phone.  I haven't tried google drive on my phone yet.  I should.

In case you've forgotten your new email address, it's  Go ahead and send Firstname Lastname some letters.  He really wishes he'd been named differently.  Don't forget the s when you type in your password.

If you came to my blog for the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss it with an adult.  If you did that, write down a couple sentences from your discussion.  Tell me what you talked about.  Hopefully you told them how google docs went today.  (It was much better from my vantage point.  Students were working in smaller groups instead of the whole class working on the same document together.)  Have the adult sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow.

You might take the time to show them your group's google doc.  You could even change it a little bit to show them how it works, if they're not familiar with the technology.  ...I get that most of you probably have your own google account...

Also, if you want to change your profile picture, go for it.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Google Docs in the Classroom

I hope you're all having a great weekend.  I know I am.

Yesterday we tried something new.  I knew it would be chaotic.  I knew it had every chance of going poorly.  And it did.  It was awful.  But knowing that in advance made it okay.  (I'll add that I warned the kids of this potentiality as well.)

If you haven't heard, our students all have their own school google drives now.  I've been using my own personal drive to make up tests and quizzes that they could take online - but now that they have their own there is so much more we could potentially do.  The problem is, never having used it myself with the class, it was a little overwhelming.  I thought, why not jump in and see what possibilities are there.

(I had watched several videos on the subject, but they only go so far...  If there are any teachers out there reading this blog and thinking of using google docs in the classroom, you know what I mean.  Sometimes you just have to jump in.)

After setting up their google accounts - which took longer than I thought it should - we started off by watching this video:  (It's good.  You should watch it.  Seriously.)

Then, I had them answer some questions.  But answering questions on google docs is different than just answering questions...  In first hour, I ended up with this:  

And that was after about 5 minutes of typing.  I learned a lot.  And the students learned a lot.  It's true, they may not have learned a lot about social studies, per se, but about collaboration and technology.  And the sooner they get that, perhaps the sooner we can incorporate it into the classroom more effectively.

That's not to say they didn't get anything social studies related out of yesterday's lesson.  The video alone is powerful.  So often I teach about globalization as something happening somewhere else.  That the British colonized India.  And Japan invaded Manchuria.  And America fought the Revolutionary War to be free of British colonization.  When I was in China and I felt guilty about eating the occasional Big Mac, it was easy to see America's influence "Americanizing" another country.  Sometimes I think it's easy to lose sight of the fact that America is still Americanizing America.  ...If you know what I mean...

But that (as I said) wasn't the only point of the lesson.  Integrating technology, and just figuring out how it works was yesterday's push.

Did I have a student delete the entire document before I learned how to secure it?  ...Yes.  More than once?  ...Yes...  (I thought the students would be on my side on this, and help me out.  Help us all out.  ...There's always one though, right?  You'd think after 9 years of teaching I would have lost some of my naivety.)  

Did I have a student write in all caps, THIS THING IS ANNOYING ME after the first question because having 30 kids collaborate on the same document at the same time is perhaps a little overwhelming?  ...Yes...

I mean, in her defense, people kept typing in the middle of where she was typing.

Finally, in 8th hour, I set the parameters to "view only" instead of "able to edit" or "able to comment."  Students downloaded it and worked on it individually and then shared it with another student who could comment on the work.

Ideally, I would share this in smaller groups.  Then they could still have the collaboration piece without being overwhelmed.  I could make up a rubric for how much each student participates within that group, and I could see the comments they leave.  ...That may be enough of a disincentive to keep students from deleting the whole page.

I see a lot of potential here.  A lot.  This is, as they say, the tip of the iceberg.

If you're here because you want extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, you should have read and discussed the post.  Tell the adult how you think the lesson went.  What did you think about the video?  What did you think about having the whole class type together at the same time on the same document?  

When you're finished discussing, write down at least 3 sentences from your discussion, which will prove you were here.

Then, have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in to me next time you see me.

If you're interested in seeing the questions from the video, here they are. If you're a teacher from somewhere else and want to copy that, feel free.  Be aware there are some questions that are tailored specifically to my class.  All the best.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Pictionary

We've got a lot to review for: ISTEP, our Hinduism/Buddhism Quiz, and the Year-End Final.

We'll use a variety of styles to review.  Today, I gave students a couple minutes to look over their notes - especially some of the charts we've filled out throughout the year.  Then, we started the game.

The students were in groups.  Each group had 2 dry-erase boards.  Every group starts the game with 3 points.  One member of each group came up to me.  I wrote down a word - a term, concept, idea, name, etc... that we've learned this year.  (Today, I focused mainly on Hinduism and Buddhism, but I threw in a couple other items as well.)  The students went back to their desk and drew a picture of what I wrote.  Other members of the group tried to figure it out.  They couldn't shout out the answer, though.  They had to write it down and hold it up on the second dry-erase board.  The first group to hold up the correct answer earned 2 points.  The second group to hold up the correct answer earned 1 point.  Every other round or so, I'd choose 1 student to draw in front of the whole class on the SMARTboard.  Scoring was the same - 2 points for the first group with the correct answer, 1 point for the second.

Every once in a while, I'd ask students a bonus question.  It is offered first to the group with the lowest score, then works its way up to the group with the highest score.  For instance, after they drew a picture of "suffering," I asked them why I would have them draw that picture.  What did it have to do with social studies?  Or, after drawing "the middle path" I asked them to recount the story of Goldilocks.  ...And for an added bonus question, I asked why I would ask them to recount that tale.  Anybody?  Anybody?

Occasionally, students would complain that I should let everybody try for the extra credit questions.  I told them that they could change their strategy.  They could play for last place in order to get the questions...  Why not try that?  :)

The winning team got Jolly Ranchers.

That was our day in class.  If you weren't here, you missed out.  You totally would have been on the winning team.

If you want to make up the participation points, play the game here.  (Or, if you want extra credit points, you can play it.)  Write down what you think each of these pictures are supposed to represent.  Before you judge on artistic ability, remember that in Pictionary, one must draw fast.  If you don't know the answer, you have to give a guess.  Ask your parent (or whoever you're reading with) to guess for one before you give the answer.  They'll probably be wrong, since they weren't in here.  Write their guess next to your guess for at least one picture.  If they want to try all of them, that'd be great.

When you're done, turn it in tomorrow.  Make sure your name is on it.  Here are the pictures;

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Comparing Buddhism and Hinduism

We'll be wrapping up our studies on Buddhism within the next couple of days.  ...Come to think of it, that means we'll be completely done with religions for the year.  Wow.  I feel like I just met this class.

We did a Venn Diagram today comparing Buddhism to Hinduism.  If you were absent, I'll post a copy here in a little bit.  I'll also upload a copy to the H-Block Assignments page.

Again, the religions share a lot of similarities, but they are not the same.

Over the winter break, I watched the Scorsese  film, Kundun.  I watched it to see if it would be worth showing in class.  I had never shown it before, but I had briefly taught about the China/Tibet conflict, as it ties into the Indiana standards.  It's a good movie, but we just don't have time for it.

We DID have time for the trailer today, though.

We see a lot of Buddhist thought in the trailer.  We also get a little glimpse of history: finding the Dalai Lama, the China/Tibet conflict.

The last thing we did today was grade the China map practice from yesterday.  Because that map came from Junior Scholastic, I only have copies here in the classroom.  If students want (or need) to make it up, they'll have to get a pass from me and come in during CAP class.

Students in my class can get extra credit from reading and discussing this blog with an adult.  In order to get the extra credit today, watch the Kundun trailer and discuss it.  See if you can identify any Buddhist beliefs from the trailer.  Then, students, find a scrap piece of paper and write a few sentences about your discussion with the adult.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Up To Date

I hope you're all having a fantastic Spring Break.

I just thought I'd let you know that I updated the grades.

Don't forget, if you're missing something, you can generally find it on the H Block Assignments page.  A couple of you are missing your India Map.  It's there if you need it.

We'll finish up Buddhism when we get back to school, have a quiz over Buddhism and Hinduism, then review the year as we prepare for the ISTEP.

You've still got quite a bit of Spring Break though, so keep relaxing for now.