Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Promises: 2016

We are running out of school year.  Like, really, really quickly.

And I haven't said anything on here about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

Well, we've started the movie, Promises.  I've written extensively about this in the past.

If you want the extra credit tonight, look through previous blog posts dealing with Promises.  Write down the title of the post, the date of the post, and at least 3 sentences summarizing it, and what you and the adult you read it with discussed.

Click this link to see a list of Promises posts.

Friday, May 20, 2016

I did not call my students stupid.

Yesterday my students took their (short) Post-Test for the year.  It included some questions dealing with the big concepts we've studied throughout the year, although they weren't "higher level thinking questions" themselves.  Mostly just vocabulary/ factual recall...

Most students scored 100%.

Then, we looked back through at some of the answers they gave at the beginning of the year.  At that point, students did NOT earn a 100%.  Most didn't even earn a 10%.  And their answers were often hilarious.  Students were calling North America China, labeling the Pacific Ocean as the Red Sea.  (I should add, that this was a continents and oceans test... not a nations and seas test...)

One gave the date Columbus discovered America as 1997.

One said that to increase human capital, we needed to get more people pregnant.

Along those lines, "the increasing growth and spread of cities all over the planet" is called, "birth" according to one student - instead of urbanization...

The number of people living in the world ranged from a couple hundred to several...  I'm not even sure, because the student just kept adding zeros.

I passed back the papers, and students saw how much they improved - which is always fun for everyone.  And there were many shouts of, "I was so STUPID back then!!!"

We all had a good laugh.

But then today, I thought I should probably correct them.  So I said, "A lot of you said you were so stupid at the beginning of the year."  *Students nod in agreement.*  "But I think the truth is, you are at approximately the same level of stupidity now as you were then."

This is the point where the students thought I was calling them stupid.  But I wasn't.

There's a difference between stupidity and ignorance.  Ignorance is when you don't know something because you haven't learned it yet.  Stupidity is not knowing something that you should know - and have been taught.

My students proved they weren't stupid by taking and acing those tests.

Sure, they were ignorant over those concepts at the beginning of the year.  But they learned them.  The scary thing is that there is so much that we are ignorant about.  So much.  All of us.  Me.  You.  All of us.  And it's important to try to overcome this ignorance with knowledge.

We listened to the second part of In Defense of Ignorance on This American Life, before we jumped into Promises.  (It's worth clicking on the link and listening to.)  I think, as we near the end of the year, it's probably a good thing to think about how far we've come - but also how far we have to go.

Students may earn extra credit in my class if they read and discuss the blog with an adult.  If they've done that, have them write down 3 things they've learned this year from a class other than social studies.

Have the adult sign the paper.

Put it in the extra credit tray on Monday.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


As I'm typing this, students are working on the final.

One good thing about it is they're allowed to talk about it - it's even encouraged.  And they can come back and finish it tomorrow.  So, if there's something they didn't understand, they should look through the review guide and figure out whatever it is they were struggling with.

Here's the link to the review guide, again.

I'm sorry I haven't kept up with the blog so well these past few weeks.  I want you to know that I appreciated all the responses I received for Pictionary.  I'm still hoping to post some of the funnier ones.

We did stations Monday and Tuesday of this week as well for a review.  I wanted to post about that, but the pictures don't look as good as I want them to.

If students study with an adult for at least 10 minutes with an adult, they can get extra credit.  Adults just have to sign a piece of paper saying they did this.

Of course, there's always the geography games as well.You should know that I ask students to locate Afghanistan on the map on the test.  That's not on the geography game... so I would double-check the location of that one.  And maybe Pakistan, too.  Even though I think most students can find India, and most students can remember that Pakistan broke away from India, I'm not sure they're finding Pakistan on its own.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Presidential Campaigns

First off, we have a final coming up next Thursday.  If you haven't seen the review guide, you can get a copy HERE.

In class, we learned about Nelson Mandela today.  I still haven't seen the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, but I'm hoping to watch it soon.  ...Maybe this weekend.

We compared his life, and what he was fighting for to that of Gandhi.  There are many similarities.

The biggest thing I wanted to write about today, though, was the presidential campaigns.  We haven't discussed them that much, because even though they qualify as "social studies" they're not an integral part of the 7th grade curriculum.  There's so much we have to cover, and it would be easy to focus on them, and talk about them every day.

That said, I do offer unlimited extra credit in my class.  One of the ways students can get it is by watching or listening to relevant news.

I had a student turn in some extra credit on the presidential campaign, and I thought it was worth sharing.  She did a great job of writing clearly, and it is as unbiased as anything I've personally seen so far this election season.  Check it out:

I like that even though there are some minor grammatical mistakes, and a few cases where she's thinking of one thing and writing another, she's really trying to use a higher level vocabulary and in most cases, she's got it.

Here's what it says:

"Presidential Voting

There has been a lot of talk about the running for president.  Many people are either confused or argueing about who to vote for.  The 2 main representitives are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton is a Democrat.  Her husband, Bill Clinton, was our president from 1993-2001.  Hillary, this means, was a first lady and has seen up close what it takes to run a country.  She is an intellegent and creative woman who could be our first female president.

Donald Trump is a Republican.  He is a politician, bussnessman and author.  Trump has never been up close on how to run the USA, but still knows what he is doing.  He believes that we need a wall between Mexico and the USA, which may help with immigrants but divides us from our southern neighbors.  

They are trying to win Indiana right now for the debate, which will give a boost in the election.  For once in such a long time our vote matters.  We need to make exceptionally intelligent votes to prove we have a say in the voting too.  Who will you vote for?"

In case you've forgotten, that's another way to get extra credit.  If I haven't written a blog post for whatever reason, you can watch, read, or listen to the news and get extra credit that way.  Just make sure you write me a couple paragraphs about it.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing this blog post with an adult, take a couple seconds and talk about this post.  Then, write down some of the things you talked about.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Final Exam Review Guide

We've got a final exam coming up in a week.  Rather than continually pushing it back, we'll take it a little earlier than usual this year.

Here's a review guide for the test.

If you want extra credit tonight, study it for at least 5 minutes with an adult.  Have the adult write a note saying that you studied.

Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.