Friday, April 29, 2016

More Pictionary

I received a lot of really interesting Pictionary responses from students and their parents.  I'm hoping to grade them all, and post pictures on Monday or Tuesday.

If you didn't get a chance to play, you still can.  Each post is worth 5 points.  Click here to get to yesterday's game.

If you already played yesterday's, you can click on one from a different year.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pictionary: A Challenge

Last year, when we played Pictionary, I had students challenge their parents.  It went pretty well, so we're going to try it again.

These are student drawings from throughout the day.  Take turns guessing what the drawings are.  Parents have to write down their guesses first.  Obviously, they're at a disadvantage, since they're not in class.  ...As my parents always told me, "life's not fair."

When you're done, make sure the student's name, date, and hour are on the paper.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weird Weeks

We are well into the second round of ISTEP, and it's a little bit difficult to teach new content during this time because so many students are in and out of the classroom.

In class, we finished teaching about World War II, and I went back yesterday to touch on some of the aspects of Buddhism I hadn't covered well enough.

For the next two days, though, we're going to review.  After all, the most important ISTEP test is coming up soon: social studies.  Don't let the media fool you.  The social studies ISTEP is where it's at.

In the mean-time, I wanted to post a couple examples of student work.  In dealing with World War II, we discussed Japan's Invasion of Manchuria (and later, China.)  

Japan invaded these lands for the same reason England colonized India.  Japan wanted land, and natural resources.  Maybe you're saying that the way Japan took Manchuria, China, and all else they took in South East Asia isn't the same as the way England took India.  ...England took it through trade, and worked with the Indians.  ...Maybe.  But British policy is responsible for the death of 17 million Indians.  (Would you please take a moment to reread that last sentence?)

And really, during World War II, Germany was saying it was just doing the same thing England had been doing to other parts of the world for centuries.  Germany was just colonizing Europe, rather than some other continent.

So, I gave the students this progression:  Demand for natural resources - Exploration - Colonization - Human Exploitation.  I asked them to draw the progression as pictures.  Here are a couple examples:

Friday, April 22, 2016

WWII: The Toll, The Hope

The three big ideas I wanted students to get today:

1: Demand for natural resources - human exploitation

  • Demand for natural resources led to 
    • Exploration which led to
      • Colonization which led to 
        • Human exploitation

2:  Japan was with us in WWI... what changed before WWII?

  • Economic depression - Japan needed natural resources
    • Japan invaded Manchuria (for land and natural resources)
      • Russia (China's neighbor) sided with China
        • Russia was allied with England (and probably eventually the U.S.)
          • Japan bombed Pearl Harbor

3:  The toll WWII took on the world was not insignificant.

For that last one, we watched a video.  It's a bit long, but I recommend it.  If you even just watch the first 7 minutes, it's worth it.  If you're class didn't get to see the end, watch that for extra credit.

If students watch it and discuss it with an adult, they may earn extra credit.  To get the credit, they should write a paragraph telling about the discussion.  Have the adult they discussed with sign the paper, and turn it in on Monday.

Here's the video:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Yesterday I asked my students if they had heard of World War I before.  Almost universally, students told me that they had.

I asked them to tell me about it.  Anything.  Who was it fought between, why it was fought, when, major battles, sides, places... anything.

I think 2 students out of 150 or so could list a single accurate aspect of this, The "Great" War.

So, here's what happened:

I asked students if they knew the term, "I got your back" means.  Yes, of course they did.  They even taught me some new, hip ways of saying it.  I won't repeat them here, because I prefer to use terms like, "hip."

They went around the classroom building alliances:

Then I offered something small: a candy bar.  I offered it to a petite lady in the class.  It was hers, but if somebody could beat her in arm-wrestling, they could have it.

I then chose the strongest looking guy with his hand up.

Obviously, that wasn't fair - so she called up member of her alliance.  Maybe all of them.

Then, the guy didn't think that was fair, so he called up all the members of HIS alliance.

Then alliance members called other people they were allied with, until the whole classroom was up at the front fighting over something very few actually cared about, or were invested in.

We discussed how the catalyst for WWI was something relatively small - Gavrilo Princip assassinating Franz Ferdinand.  (Of course, assassinations are a big deal, but ultimately millions and millions of people ended up dying in WWI.)  Then, the system of alliances took off - and that's where we got the war.

Today, we've already moved into WWII.  You can check out things I've posted about it HERE, or HERE.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, write two paragraphs about the discussion you had.  Have the adult you read with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name is on it.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Troublesome: Globalization

Yesterday, upon arriving back to class after spring break, I decided to give my students a little review sheet for bellwork.  When they had finished, and graded the sheet, I tallied up how many students missed each question in each class.

Most students did well - even thought they hadn't thought of school in over a week.  For instance, here are the numbers of students who missed a question about the British Empire in each class: 4, 1, 4, 5, 5, 3.

One question question (on human capital) came out like this: 3, 6, 3, 6, 14, 5.  So, I know I need to review with the class that had 14 students miss that one.

But two questions really stood out to me: one was on globalization, and one was on urbanization.

Here are the numbers: globalization:  17, 14, 20, 13, 19, 8.  Urbanization: 18, 21, 24, 15, 25, 19.

A SIGNIFICANT number of students missed those questions.  The globalization question is especially troubling, because we spent quite a bit of time covering it.  (...Although I didn't always tie the topics - such as cultural borrowing, cultural diffusion, etc... back to the term globalization.)

The two parts to globalization that students really need to know are world culture and international trade.  And even though they didn't get the answer on the test, my gut is they understand the concept.

The urbanization question had even worse results, but the students explained why they got it wrong.  I gave them a definition: "the increasing growth and spread of cities all all over the planet."  They had to come up with the term urbanization.

Several students pointed out that the definition I'd given them before was, "people moving to the city - usually for better paying jobs."

It didn't take long to point out that these definitions were essentially the same thing: if people move to the city for better paying jobs, what is going to happen to that city?  It's going to grow.

It's a continual struggle for teachers to get students to understand ideas and concepts rather than just memorize facts and definitions.

We've been studying Hinduism.  But, with ISTEP coming up, and the results of the globalization question on that review, I'm going to continue to review globalization while teaching Hinduism.

Today, we started in on a series by NPR.  It's worth checking out.  Here's what we watched today:

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, write a paragraph about your discussion.  Explain the two parts of globalization (world culture and international trade).  Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.