Monday, September 26, 2016

The Debates (and Banananovia)

Class today was a little crazy.  There was a bus, a bus crash, people wearing banana peels as clothes...  Intense.  I'll let the students tell you about it, if they want to.  Hopefully in the next couple of days, I'll have the time to tell you what's going on, and why.  (You could always search the blog for posts related to "Banananovia," but that may spoil the ending for the students... if they care...)

Maybe you heard that the first presidential debate is on tonight.  This is true.  For bellwork today, I asked the students to name the two main parties, and who was running from each.  Then, I had them write down as many policy positions as they could for each candidate.

Then, when we were going over it, before we got to the policy position questions, I asked a question that I hadn't written down.  Do you have strong feelings -either for or against - either of the candidates.  I had the students hold up 1 finger if they didn't really care either way, or 5 fingers if they had REALLY strong feelings.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many students held up 5 fingers.  But when asked about policy positions, they held up 1 - meaning they didn't know any.

Well, tonight students may earn extra credit by watching the first presidential debate.  It's late, so they can earn the extra credit if they only watch 30 minutes.  They have to tell me how long they watched, what was discussed during the time they watched, and what they think about it.

Parents are encouraged to write their thoughts as well, or at least discuss them, but this is not necessary in order to earn the extra credit.

Make sure your name is on it, and turn it in tomorrow.

...And be ready for Banananovia Part II.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Hunger Games and Culture and Goat Cheese

On Monday, I had all the students in the computer lab.  They were looking for examples of culture in the book.  They had to list the ingredient of culture, page number, and give a quote.

First hour found more than any other class, so I thought I'd give them a little treat.

The book mentions goat cheese quite a few times.  (One of the characters, Prim, owns a goat.)

One of the ingredients of culture is food.  And, although I bought the goat cheese at Martins - which is part of our own culture - many of my students had never tried it before.  So, this morning I brought it in for my first hour class to try.

Here's one of the quotes from the book, "Gale spreads the bread slices with the soft goat cheese..."  So, I got them bread as well.  As expected, some students liked it, and some didn't.

True story:  before I left for a year on my own in Croatia, my father would sit me down and have me try random foods that I'd never tried before.  I was practicing being polite, and respectful of what the someone from an other culture had prepared for me.  Maybe it wasn't what I was accustomed to, but I knew to be appreciative of their generosity.  Hopefully I helped pass that mentality on to my students.

As we've been working with culture, I had students draw pictures of each ingredient.  Here are 10.  Each class is represented.  In order to get credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, look at the pictures and see if you can determine which ingredient of culture it's supposed to represent.  When you have them listed, have the adult you've read and discussed the blog with sign your paper.

Turn it in Monday in the extra credit spot.  (Also, don't forget the "Made in _______" tags that you may also bring in for extra credit.)  Here are the pictures:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Culture: Values

We have been discussing culture, and it's ingredients in here the past several days.  I give students 10 ingredients I want them to know.  They're on a bulletin board in the back of my room:

Pretty sweet, right?

Some of the ingredients are easy to understand: food, dress, language.  Others get more complicated: government, religion, ethnicity.

And certainly there are more than 10 ingredients of culture.  What about holidays?  Where do they fit?  Sports?  Should government be on there?  Or is that something that influences our culture - like geography?  I remember a time I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport in NYC.  It was snowing so hard.  I was all bundled up.  We were lucky to even make it to the airport.  And we got of the plane in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  101°.  Maybe geography should be up there...

One that trips up students every year, though, is values.  The definition I give is, "something a culture esteems as good or worthy.  Ideals they try to live up to."  That's an admittedly weak definition.

Students continually confuse values and valuables.  I just had students draw pictures for each of the ingredients of culture.  Every year I have students draw diamonds, or gold earrings for values.  ...Not what we're looking for.

So, I told students values are what you want your kids to become when they grow up.  No parent tells their kid, "today at school, I want you to be as lazy as possible.  Try to sleep in every class if you can.  We want you to live with us until you're 40."  Or "Make sure to be a bully today, honey.  Pull a kid's hair, if you get a chance.  Hopefully you'll get suspended."

We want our kids to be hard workers, honest, helpful, brave.  Trustworthy, empathetic but not whiny, genuine.  Those are values.

Students may receive extra credit if they read and discuss this blog post with an adult.  To prove that they read and discussed it, please write 5 values that the adult wants to instill in the student.  Have the adult sign the paper - proving they read and discussed.  Then, make sure the student's name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.