Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to expect in the new year

The new year being upon us, it might be a good time to forecast what is to lie ahead for the emerging scholars on 7.8/3. Prior to this, please note that all students' assessments have been graded and scores have been entered in the gradebook. Any student who wishes to revise their assignment will have until Monday the 11th to do so. I would advise them to meet with me as soon as possible to discuss where the revisions should focus. The results speak for themselves: Those who embraced the challenge of doing something worthwhile and treated it as such did extremely well. Yet, this is in the past and we are now looking at what lies ahead.
For the seventh grade students, they return to chapter 7 and the Constitutional Convention for a week and then we commence study of the Constitution. A 65 page packet will accompany this instruction. This will lead into the Final Exam, a comprehensive assessment that covers work from Chapters 5, 6, 7, and the Constitution. It is a formidable task (Any exam that is over 25 pages in length has a tendency to do that.) Students will have to begin the process of working well and taking extra steps to ensure that they are not caught from behind on it. Challenging as it is, I am going to start a new endeavor. "Extra Credit Fridays" will begin on 1/22. Essentially, students check in with me for five minutes at the start of lunch to receive an assignment that is due at the following class and is to be done over the weekend. These tasks are completely voluntary and will be worth quite a bit of extra credit. They will also serve as excellent review for the Constitution. Finally, it will start to develop the good and successful habit in students to not be afraid of extra work in order to solidify comprehension and receive extrs points in the process.
For the eighth grade students, their introduction to chapter 19 and Progressivism will consist of a two day brief thematic lecture followed by a computer based assessment on various tasks. Students will be able to collaborate, but the expectations will become heavier as their time in class will be devoted to completing this task, while outside of class time will be needed to work on the identifications for the Progressivism Unit. Following this, students will engage in a study of Imperialism through a variety of self chosen tasks that integrate primary and secondary sources.
In the final analysis, I would say that what lies ahead for our students in the next month will be much tougher than what has been done. I think that this will be another benchmark in our journey towards the pantheon of scholarship that many are ready to enter, but still require some last checks at the door.
As always, if I can be of any further assistance or guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school via email or at my home.
All best for a safe and strong New Year!
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A first: A short blog entry

I was told this week by a faculty member that my writing "is too lengthy." As I do with all colleagues' insight and comments, I reflected on it and ruminated upon it. I suppose I do write a bit, so this week's blog will be truncated, abridged, shortened, minimized, etc...
7th Grade- Each student will have to submit a completed chapter 6 writing task and two sets of notes or Check Your Progress Questions. Work will be submitted on Friday.
8th Grade- Each student will have to submit a complete Writing Assessment on Howard Zinn. Work will be submitted on Friday.

8th graders can gain extra credit for writing a response to the Interview with Howard Zinn (click on link and on left pane) and/ or on "The People Speak" special on the History Channel on Sunday night on 7:00.

Consider it done: I wrote something which was not "too lengthy." (Rest assured, this will not happen again.)
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How do I know what I know? How do I prove what I know?

At this point for our students, our emerging scholars, the challenge is not knowing the material. I think that all of them possess a competitive base of understanding where it is evident they understand the fundamental premises of what is happening. In a larger scope, the question is how do they display these findings in a manner that reflects what they know. Here is where debate and discussion emerge. A traditional paper, an ABC book, an ABC summary, pictures, some type of video presentation, or a poem, are just a few of the many options that stand in front of all 7.8/3 emerging Social Studies scholars. For both groups of students, final drafts/ final projects are due on Thursday, December 17, 2009. This gives them about ten days to make progress towards what has to be done.
Obviously, parents/ guardians play a role in this process. I would stress that some basic talking points about this process could help out in a tremendous manner:
* What have you decided to do?
* Where are you having the most amount of difficulty? (If they answer "nowhere," press them with the opposite: "Where are things going really well on this task?")
* Have you shown Mr. Kannan a rough draft? What did he say? Since his handwriting is really bad, were you able to understand what he was talking about?
* Did you answer all parts of the prompt?
* Have you gone over the rubric to see what he wants in the finished product?

Writing and the composition of any work product involves a level of discussion and discourse. If students can develop the habit of talking openly and honestly about their work, this is where the movement between "getting work done" and "getting work done well" happens. If we wish to develop our students into scholars, I think this would be an instrumental step in the process. If these questions/ talking points, entities that I incorporate in small group discussion in class, can be echoed outside of class as students work, success is almost a foregone conclusion.

If I can be of any further assistance in the process, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan