Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Voices of the Dispossessed

Our study this week seems to be heading towards analyzing what it means to be dispossessed. I suppose this would be a natural conclusion, given the fact we are studying the American Revolution in one class and Howard Zinn and "Robber Barons and Rebels" in another one. I think that the idea here is that America's narrative cannot go very far without the discussion of who is on the bottom end of the power structure. The Colonists were on this side against the British and the workers against the Industrialists. As we progress in both domains, I cannot help but feel that this has much in the way of relevancy to our students and their experiences as individuals in the modern setting and in their own narratives.
Trimester I grades will be finalized this week. Seventh grade students will return from Thanksgiving Recess and begin the second trimester with an open note exam on Chapter 6. The exam will take about three days to complete, for while it is not long, it stresses that students attempt to earn credit on every possible question. One of the elements for which I am hoping on this exam is that students do not merely try to do well, but actually strive to correctly answer every question. In some respects, it is an age old adage, but I like the idea of seeking to establish a sense of perfection on an exam. It echoes of cumulative exams in Oxford or Cambridge, and might bear some relevancy for seventh grade students when we return from Thanksgiving Recess. The eighth graders will be wrestling with their own academic demons, specifically in the form of Howard Zinn and "Robber Barons and Rebels." The reading of this article should be done on the week we return from Thanksgiving Recess. Students will then have the opportunity to work on their Assessment on Howard Zinn which tentatively stands at 600 points.
In terms of what I would like to see from all stakeholders, I hope I can impose upon all of you to ensure that your student, your emerging scholar, is keeping pace with their nightly work. Sometimes in the course of a student's time at Julian, they might believe that simply because the homework is "reading" or "studying," they can afford to dismiss it. My hopes are that you will help me help your emerging scholar in stressing to them that nightly progress should be made every step of the way in their learning. If the assignment calls for students to annotate an article or review a section of the textbook in preparation for an exam, this is what should be done that evening. Many of our students are doing this consistently and quite thoroughly. Some students are not, and the hope is that all students will understand that success can only be realized through incremental and consistent devotion to that end.
As always, if I can be of any further assistance or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

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