Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Justice Scalia

With the passing of Justice Scalia, we've taken some time to go back and review governments - and particularly what makes the United States government a limited government.

Yesterday, we spent the entire time discussing the significance of Justice Scalia's passing; why it's a big deal.  We talked about how Supreme Court Justices are nominated and confirmed.  We talked about the split in the court, why democrats want President Obama to nominate, and why republicans want him to wait.

In this discussion, we framed it from the perspective of limited power.  We've got 3 branches of government.  Each of those branches limits the power of the other two.  If the chief executive (President Obama) had total power, he wouldn't be a president any more.  He would be a dictator.  If the members of the Supreme Court had total power, we would not be a democracy any more.  We would be an oligarchy.

Yesterday we watched 3 video clips.  Today we watched one more.  Here they are in their entirety.

In the CNN student news, we watched the portion dealing with the death of Justice Scalia.

Next, we watched President Obama's remarks on the passing of Scalia:

Finally, we watched a montage of some of the responses from others in leadership roles - and those hoping to attain those roles in the near future (we ended right before the former Speaker's response.)

As with everything in social studies, there's a lot to talk about here.  It was certainly worth taking a break in order to discuss it, and no doubt, we'll follow the story.  One of the main reasons we're talking about it in my class though, is to reinforce the idea of separation of power, and limited government.

Neither the President, nor the Supreme Court, nor Congress rule this country.  Law rules this country.  

Students may receive extra credit if they read and discuss this post with an adult.  If they've done that, they need to write 3 complete sentences about their discussion.  Have the adult they read the post with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Religious Diversity Within the Monotheistic Religions:Part I

First of all, we managed to stave off any snow days and keep our 4-day weekend. ENJOY IT!

We've been studying 3 monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Quick - students, if you're reading this with an adult, turn to that adult and tell them what monotheistic means.

TADA!  Look!  They've learned something!  (Seriously, if they didn't get that right...  I just...  Look it up on google...)

Today students finished copying down a cladogram on the 3 monotheistic religions.  Here's what they copied.

I also made a version using Prezi, and I've got to say: it's pretty good.  Check it out if you have time.  (It's easier and makes more sense if you view it on a desktop.  Just click the first arrow once you're in.)

A couple of the main things I wanted students to get out of this presentation were that the 3 monotheistic religions trace their roots back to Abraham, but also that there's great diversity within Christianity - and even great diversity within the denominations of Christianity.

I understand that one of the failings of this presentation is that it doesn't show the diverse thought within the other religions.  And it should.  For instance, check out this picture on the denominations within the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam:

(The image was created by Angelpeream.)

Well, it's a work in progress.  I'm hoping to continue improving it every year I teach.

While I have a lot more I want to say on the topic, I'll say that's all for now.

If students want extra credit, they may read and discuss this blog with an adult.  Once they've finished, the student should write down 3 thoughts about the Prezi.  Then, have the adult sign the paper.

Turn it in Tuesday.

Enjoy the 4-day weekend.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Abraham, Moses, King

We are continuing on with our study of the monotheistic religions.  While we finished up Judaism yesterday, we'll be bouncing around a little bit throughout the whole unit.

If you recall, I've taught that all the monotheistic religions trace their roots back to Abraham.  He's also the founder of Judaism.

Yesterday we watched a clip of Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech.  He gave it the day before he was killed.  Many people see the speech as prophetic, as he talks about wanting to live a long life - but not worrying about what will happen; not fearing any man.

Here's the clip:

The clip ties in with a couple things we've talked about.  First, he mentions totalitarian (i.e. unlimited) governments.  I used this to remind the students that they know what totalitarian governments are.

The second is the reference to the Promised Land.  We just finished reading Genesis 12:1-10, where God promises land to Abraham.  King is drawing a comparison to an America that was promised, but had not yet been delivered.  And he seemed to realize that he would not live to see those promises fulfilled, but he believed they would be.

Today we started discussing Christianity - and the different beliefs within the faith.  Tomorrow, we'll continue and start to introduce Islam in earnest.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, you should watch the MLK clip with them, and discuss the clip as well.  Write down at least 3 sentences based on your discussion.  Turn in the paper tomorrow.

The February extra credit name of the day is Sojourner Truth.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Abraham, Genesis, Previous Post

If students want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, they should go read THIS POST.  It's very similar to what we did today.

So far, the list of February names is:

Fannie Lou Hamer
Mansa Musa
Nelson Mandela
James Baldwin
Scott Joplin

If you think of someone who should be on the list, but is not currently on the list, let me know.  Perhaps I'll add them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February: Another Extra Credit Opportunity

In class, we've started studying religions - specifically monotheistic religions for now.  We're starting with Judaism, as it's the oldest.  After that, we'll move to Christianity, and then on to Islam.

Normally, I'd write a post about that - about what we're doing in class.  (It looks like I'm a day ahead according to this Feb. 4th, 2014 post... we were also talking about delays...)

Today, though, I wanted to talk about a new extra credit opportunity.  February is black history month.  Throughout the month, I'll be putting names on my "thought bubble" board in the back of the room.  If students go home, and research the name, they can earn extra credit.  They need to write me a paragraph about what they've learned.  They may not just plagiarize a paragraph from the internet.  They need to put it into their own words.

I would suggest not just looking up text.  Look up some videos, as well.

The first name was Fannie Lou Hamer.  Here's a video that would have worked.  I love it.

If you want extra credit for reading today's blog post, write a short paragraph about the video on Fannie Lou Hamer.  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Intro to Religions

Once again, I don't have a lot of time to post a full length blog.

Today's subject is a little bit touchy, though: religion.

As such, I thought it was worth linking to posts from previous years I've taught this material.

So, if you want to know what went on today, or if you want some extra credit: CHECK OUT THIS POST FROM 2011, or THIS POST FROM 2014.