Friday, December 31, 2010

New beginnings with much at stake

The start of the new year brings with it much to be done. My hopes are that the break was restful for all stakeholders and Monday will be the start of an intense amount of focus and rededicated commitment to the pursuit of scholarship. Each group will have a unique set of challenges that will guide them through the second trimester, starting on Monday.

7th Grade

* Chapter 6 Writing Assessments have been graded- Student work will be submitted back to students on Monday. Revisions of the chapter 6 writing assessments will be due on Monday, 1/10. Each assessment has specific comments written as well as identification of areas of strength and deficiencies on the rubrics attached. For those who composed a digital work sample, comments are included on the student's grade report on the web grade portal.
* Chapter 7 will be finished this week- Students will be required to A) Read a section a night, B) Complete the specified Check Your Progress Questions for each section, and C) Download, print, and complete the online study guide for each section. There is an icon on the left side that will allow students to quickly navigate to the site where this can be done. Students can also download and print online study guides for chapter 7 at school computers. All Check Your Progress Questions and study guides will be collected on Tuesday, 1/11.
* Students will work on their Chapter 7 Assessments on Thursday and Friday during class and these are due on Monday, 1/10. This will lead us to our study of the Constitution that will start next week and culminate in our Final Exam in February.

8th Grade

* Howard Zinn assessments have been graded- Student work will be submitted back to students on Monday. Revisions of the Zinn assessments will be due on Monday, 1/10. Each assessment has specific comments written as well as identification of areas of strength and deficiencies on the rubrics attached. For those who composed a digital work sample, comments are included on the student's grade report on the web grade portal.
* Students will have to read chapter 19 Monday and Tuesday night. It is important that students do not fall behind. In class time will be spent exploring the themes of Progressivism, the topic in chapter 19.
* Students will start the Chapter 19 Assessments on Wednesday- They will commit to a task and map out how they plan on completing it by Wednesday, 1/12. Students will work on this assessment at home and in class.
* Completed Assessments for Chapter 19 will include one completed assessment and five identifications from chapter 19.

Both groups have been given a list of potential extra credit tasks that can be done, if students feel they need to enhance their grades. All students are reminded to advocate for themselves if they feel they are in need of additional guidance and/ or assistance. Lunchtime, the morning, as well as through email or personal conversation are all ways in which advocacy can be accomplished. Please implore your students to keep up with all nightly work as well as ensuring that they are not "lost" in the course of this week and those that follow.

All best.
Mr. Kannan
Photo courtesy of and

Friday, December 10, 2010

One Week to Go!

With this last week before Winter Break, both groups of Social Studies students on 7.8/3 will be working on submitting their work due Friday. For each group, there are specific requirements that will constitute full submission of work on Friday:
7th Grade Assessments on Chapter 6
2 sets of Check Your Progress Questions from Chapter 6
One completed Chapter 6 Assessment

8th Grade Assessments on Howard Zinn
One completed Enrichment Sheet on Howard Zinn
One completed Assessment on Howard Zinn

In the end, these are the only elements upon which we are placing focus for this week. Work will be collected on Friday or prior to student departure for Winter Break. As per policy, there will not be a late option for these assessments as there is no late work for second trimester. As the bustle of the last week before break takes hold, please keep the talking points for academic success in the forefront of your discussions. Nothing bad can result from asking your emerging scholar questions such as, "Where are you on your assessment?" or "What's your plan for meeting his deadline?" These could open up paths of discussion that could spare some significant heartbreak later on down the trimester's road. Grades will be updated before the end of Winter Recess.

Wish you and your family all the best this holiday season.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Two Weeks before Break: Two Big Assessments

As we approach the holidays, we are now at the point where "band aids" need to be removed and a full embrace of what is there is now needed. With everyone starting at the same two week rush, work seems to be inevitable:
8th Grade
Students should finish their reading in Howard Zinn's "Robber Barons and Rebels" by Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Students will receive their Assessments for the Howard Zinn Unit on Wednesday. Students will need to complete an Enrichment sheet on a portion of the reading. Both the completed Enrichment Sheet and the Assessments are due on Friday, December 17 or before students leave for Winter Break. All stakeholders should strongly encourage students to keep up with the reading and make sure that nightly progress is made to ensure timely completion of tasks.

7th Grade
Students should be working on their Chapter 6 Assessments. Rough drafts can be submitted by Friday of this week. Students must ensure that they have a completed writing task as well as two sets of Check Your Progress Questions from Chapter 6 to be submitted on Friday, December 17 or before students leave for Winter Break. All stakeholders should strongly encourage students to keep up with the reading and make sure that nightly progress is made to ensure timely completion of tasks.

As report cards are sent home with students on Friday of this week, all students are reminded that the past is prologue and that what is done in the next two weeks can have a profound impact on is to lie ahead.

All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Keep Focused on in the Second Trimester

As we enter the start of the Second Trimester, there are some points of interest upon which both groups of students should pay attention. This will be an intense period of intellectual growth for both groups of emerging scholars:
7th Grade
Chapter 6 will be the focus in December.
Chapter 7 and the Constitution will be the focus in January and February.
The Final Exam that covers chapters 5, 6, 7, and the Constitution will take place in the last week of February. Prior to this, we will be examining the promises and realities of American History with our field trip to DuSable Mueseum.

8th Grade
Chapter 18 will be our focus in December along with a study of Howard Zinn's writing, "Robber Barons and Rebels."
Chapter 19 and 20 will be our focus in January.
Chapter 21 with World War I and Chapter 22 and the 1920s will be our focus for February and March, culminating with our trip to Tommy Guns' Garage.
At each point in our journeys, the work will be difficult. To paraphrase President Johnson, it will involve, "More cost, more loss, and more sacrifice." Students should keep this in mind, as the policy of revisions only extends to written responses and exams, while late work will no longer be accepted. Students should take advantage of opening lines of communication with me either before school or during lunch periods, submitting rough drafts when needed, and attending study sessions. Taking advantage of extra credit on the blog or when offered in class will be a good opportunity to ensure that additional points are earned and comprehension of material is even stronger.

As rest is well deserved for most of our students this break, I encourage you to encourage them to understand the demands being placed on their shoulders upon their return to classes Monday and to the start of the second trimester.

Happy Hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Starting off right: The Second Trimester

As far back as I can remember, the second trimester is one where the most amount of intellectual growth happens. It is the time when students start to really stretch out from a thoughtful frame of reference. The third trimester is when sentiments begin to emerge, and the first is one where comfort develops. It is the second where I find that the most amount of intellectual growth begins to emerge in students. This year will be no exception.
Seventh Grade
Upon our return from Thanksgiving Break, students take their Chapter 6 exams. This is worth 300 points and students need to ensure that they are clear on all topics presented. What should be done if students are confused on concepts:
1) Make an appointment to speak with me- I think that this is a very important element. Opening the lines of communication is critically important in this domain and throughout the year.
2) Examine the online version of the textbook- See the blog for link.
3) Open dialogues with colleagues about content- Sometimes, some of the best learning happens from peers immersed in the same challenges.
When the exam is over, we will start on our chapter 6 writing tasks and take this until the Winter Holidays.

Eighth Grade
Students will email their PPT slide shows on Marx/ Smith by Wednesday, November 24. Then, students are going to start the process on reading Howard Zinn's "Robber Barons and Rebels." It is difficult reading and students must keep up with it on a nightly basis. Falling behind even one night makes the next night extremely difficult. Students should keep pace and if confused, make appointments to speak with me. After this, students will work on their Howard Zinn assessments and take this until the Winter Holidays.

As always, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The secret to success this week? Nightly work.

Sometimes, success is something that is elemental. Educators study problems, and examine so much in way of assessing why configurations exist the way they do. We come up with different concepts such as Responses to Intervention, subcategories, learning approaches, and portions of metacognition. While all of these are really important, I think that this week, a fundamental truth can help to underscore all success in what lies ahead for both sets of 7.8/3 Social Studies students this week:
Do Homework.

It has almost become outdated to make such a suggestion. Yet, it is really valid here. As work becomes more focused and harnessed as we reach the end of the trimester, students have homework on a nightly basis. It might go very far for students to do well if they complete the assignments on a nightly basis. For seventh graders, keeping pace with their nightly reading of one section of reading in Chapter 6 a night as well as a set of the Check Your Progress questions to go along with it will help them on the upcoming chapter 6 exam. For eighth graders, nightly composition of their identifications would help them submit them on time by Tuesday. I think that being able to encourage your students to budget their time well and make sure that they are making progress through incrementalism is critically important.

In the end, sometimes the best solution is the most obvious one. This might be one of those instances.

Happy hunting as the first trimester comes to a close.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, November 5, 2010

Closing out strong: Not Just in Basketball!

As we head into the home stretch of the first trimester, we can start seeing the acceleration of the content, the assessments, and even the year. I can sense that the “transition” period is soon passing us and in its place are moments of maturation and comprehension. I see more kids asking for passes to work during lunch, understanding what it means to make use of time, and less obliviousness about the requirements about is needed on the road to scholarship.

7th grade emerging scholars
I use the term “obviously” in the following sentence in a deliberate manner. Obviously, students need to be working on their Chapter 5 Assessments. Two work samples and two defense pieces are due by the end of Tuesday’s class. At this point, I believe that process and product are going to be strongly related. Students who submitted rough drafts on a consistent basis, seeking clarification and advocacy for their learning will do well on this. I have no doubt about it. Conversely, students who have not fully grasped the notion of time management and how process plays a role in the creation of a work product will experience a “teachable moment” with the submission of these work samples. Since students selected two work samples out of four, the remaining two tasks are now open for extra credit. The maximum point values for these work samples will be 150 points each. Defense pieces will be worth a maximum of 75 points. Tuesday, then, becomes a big day. All work will be returned back to students on November 15 with all revisions due on November 22. After Tuesday, we move into Chapter 6 and Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. The intellectual formation of the Revolution will precede our study of how the Colonists defeated the British.

8th Grade Emerging Scholars
After assigning over thirty pages of reading over the weekend, the start of the week greets students with a quiz on Industrialization. We then progress with a lecture on Industrialization as well as the introduction of the writing of Identifications. These small paragraphs will assess students’ ability to identify specific concepts of the time period, explaining their relevance, and linking them to thematic content within the unit. They will take time to complete as students will have to compose ten of them from different concepts or ideas within the unit. These writing tasks are due on Tuesday, November 16. As we discuss industrialization and the different economic philosophies associated with it, I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of the variety of extra credit tasks that are available to them. Completing these tasks will not only assist with additional points towards their grade, but help in developing and furthering their bases of knowledge on a topic that is quite timely and, sadly, truly relevant to the modern setting.
As always, if I can be of any further assistance or help, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Focusing on the week ahead

The train keeps on rolling, and we close October and open November with more on tap.
7th Grade-
* Rough drafts of all Chapter 5 Assessments can be turned in until Wednesday- Wednesday will be the last day I will read a rough draft.
* Final drafts of all Chapter 5 Assessments are due on Tuesday, November 9.
* All students will be submitting two completed work samples and two defense pieces. Encourage your students to submit rough drafts of all of their work as well as asking them questions such as if they have studied the axes of perception and judgment and incorporated these terms in their defense pieces. Another question to be asked is whether they are consciously aware that their work mirror the learning style specified. I think that opening dialogues with students about their work is one of the best ways to ensure quality work is present, as it helps to align process and product.

8th Grade-
* Students will be working on their Immigration Assessments in class- All slides need to be done by Tuesday with emailing being done by Wednesday. In class focus will be helping to determine overall success on this task.
* Students will have reading to complete in their textbook this weekend on Chapters 17 and 18. Understanding that the long weekend is in front of us, students should make sure they take necessary precautions to make sure that all reading is done by Monday of next week. Special commendation should be given to the three students who revised their written portions of the Constitution Exam.

As we progress into the closing phase of the first trimester, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home if you have any questions.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mark it down: A Quick Blog Entry

After a week of revisions, conferences, and, of course, a two day, 1700 point Constitution Exam, perhaps less is more. With this in mind, a quick blog entry.

7th Grade
Revisions of the Chapter 5 Exam will be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during lunch.
Students should be working on their Chapter 5 Writing Assessments for Nightly Homework this week.

8th Grade
Revisions of the Writing Exam from the Constitution Exam will be due on Friday.
Students will have nightly work this week relating to their Monopoly Exercises. We will start our mini- lesson Immigration this Friday. (Congratulations to all of our 8th graders who passed the State Requirement for the Constitution.) This link was sent to me by a parent/ student and thought some of you might find it interesting to examine.

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Grades will be updated as of Sunday night, before "Football Night in America."

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Standing on the Threshold of Change

Something is going to change this week. I can just feel it. It usually works out this way. Something is thrown down to students and they must find their way through it. At the end of it, they become a different person than they were before they started. Once the doors of the mind's understanding are opened, little remains the same. The way in which they think will be fundamentally different.
For the seventh graders, this lies in their analysis of different learning styles. The lesson is reflexive, as they seek to understand more about themselves, and is also applicable to the world around them as they seek to understand others. The idea of being able to diagnose their own learning strengths and areas of improvement. At the same time, many will have to confront the helpful demon of revisions. Revisions of the Chapter 5 Writing Extensions are going to be due on Monday, 10.25, while revisions of the Chapter 5 Exam will be during Wednesday's lunch period. Indeed, this will be a week of personal change through labyrinths where one decision can lead to many others.

And then, there are the 8th Graders....
This week is the Constitution Exam. Thursday is the writing component, while Friday is the multiple choice one. Students will have study sessions Monday and Tuesday during lunch, as well as extra credit due on Wednesday. Finally, all Constitution Wiki pages are due on Tuesday at 6:00. A unit six weeks in the making will be finished this week. If students would like to receive additional credit for the next unit, Monopoly Board Games can be brought in this week for up to fifty points extra credit.

I look forward to seeing many of you this week for Conferences. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at home.
Mr. Kannan

Photo Courtesy of :

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A First! The Same Blog Entry for Both Grades

This week, we find both sets of 7.8/3 Students having to battle through significant adversaries in the face of larger challenges next week. It is an important week for both grades. 7th graders will be taking the exam on chapter 5, but not before submitting a writing extension on chapter 5 on Tuesday. This precedes a discussion on learning styles on Friday as well as the Chapter 5 Writing Tasks next week. 8th graders will be submitting writing prompts on Wednesday and then, of course, lies the Constitution Exam next week. Both groups have much to be done and much on their plate. A few guidelines that could help out both:
Use Your Index Card (s)- 8th graders should be in the process of consigning the facts of the Constitution to memory. Putting those facts into memory, embedding them into one's frame of reference, might involve the use of flash cards or index cards to assist. It would be wonderful if each night, a different branch could be put to memory. With only a handful of school days left, nightly review is going to be critical. For seventh graders, being able to use their index card on the exam is going to help them immensely. The exam will be the same one for Wednesday and Thursday and being able to have this resource will be quite beneficial for them.
Study Session Attendance- 7th graders will have a study session on Wednesday, which will allow them a chance to ask questions about the test they have seen or solicit information from me upon where their energies would best be served. 8th graders will have their study session on Thursday, where we will focus attention on the Constitution Exam and where progress needs to be made within it.
Writing before Tuesday- Both groups should be using their weekend time to finalize writing that is due. 7th graders have a writing task due on Tuesday while 8th graders have theirs due on Wednesday. Both groups should be spending time writing before they take a step into the building on Tuesday morning.

With conferences forthcoming, I do hope to see many of you soon. Yet, before this, we have so much to be done with the full understanding that "every battle is won before it is ever fought."
Fight well, brave scholars of thought, mighty intellectual giants of the future.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Midterm of a Moment, The Steps That Lie Ahead


The Midterm of the First Trimester falls upon us this week. It is a moment in time where we have to see that the time for transition has long since passed and now we enter what Morpheus would call, "The desert of the real." This holds much in way of both work and promise for all of our emerging scholars. (Have I forgotten to ask, "Is this fun or what?")
7th Grade
Our study of Chapter 5 concludes this week. We will assess the different actions of the Colonists towards the outbreak of war. Students should start the process of budgeting and allocating their time properly. The Writing Extensions will be assigned on Wednesday of this week and shall be due on Tuesday, October 12 and will be worth about 250 points. Rough drafts will not be read after Friday of this week. At the same time, the Chapter 5 exam will take place on Wednesday, October 13. This exam will be a two day exam and should run in the neighborhood of 300 points. Students will be given an index card that can be used as a reference point, if the Writing Tasks are submitted on time, and will also be able to use the visuals posted around the wing and team area for assistance. Much is on tap for this week and the more advanced steps students take to do well, the greater the likelihood they will do well in what lies ahead. Encourage your emerging scholar to begin the process of studying and working in nightly doses towards the end goal. Success will not be something that is instantly given, but rather something that will have to emerge over a given period of time. This is our goal this week, leading into next.

8th Grade
There is so much to be done. In all honesty, I think that this is the week where things will prove to be decisive one way or the other. Students should consider revising their most recent quiz, to be returned on Monday. Revisions are due Friday. There will be study sessions on Wednesday and Friday of this week, as well as the Writing Prompts on the Constitution assigned this week and due on Wednesday, the 13th. These prompts will be worth 500 points. Prior to all of this, though, are the Constitution Projects that are due on Wednesday of this week. The remainder of this blog entry will be devoted to specific tasks and how students should progress with them. I am trying to design this blog entry to serve as a type of "breakout" session that I would hold with students, only now doing it through this blog. These tips will help all of our students do the best they can with what they can produce and to the end that they can work.

Specific Websites
These sites might be real helpful in accessing, especially if technology is going to be in use with student work. If you have an active email that can be used, I strongly suggest registering, as you will probably use these sites more throughout the year in Social Studies and other classes.
4) (Another blog site, but with much more aesthetically pleasing set ups.)
If you are really lost and need some guidance as to what some of these sites actually do, check out this link here!
Once you register at these sites, most of it will involve your commitment to being able to utilize the technology you have with the research or thoughts you have assembled. Only go to these sites when you have something with which to work such as thoughts, research, ideas, or rough drafts. These sites don't do the work for you, but they really help in terms of being able to present what you do have. If these don't work for you, Powerpoint or a simple paper will do. Nothing fancy is needed if you don't like it. Pick what works for you and there's a good chance you will work for it. Finally, you might want to examine the rubric for assessment of the project here.

In terms of the actual projects themselves, you can find your topic below and start the process of integrating these questions with what you already have:

Supreme Court Cases/ First Amendment Cases

1. Have you identified a case that is actually interesting? Don't pick a case that you think is boring. If you think it's boring, there's a good chance it will come across as that way, and that cannot spell good things for your project. This link might be helpful as a guide if you have not found a case yet.
2. Have you established the basic background information about the case? Look at the first page of the task description and make sure you have clearly identified all the needed components.
3. Have you been able to clearly make a case as to why this case represents some aspect of force in American Society? the case has to have meaning and you have to be able to explain what this meaning is and why it's relevant. Do this and you might be getting closer to a relevant project.
4. How are you going to display what you have chosen? This becomes critical and I think that this might be the next step for you.

Roles of the President
1. Are you clear about the six functions outlined in the textbook? I think you need to fully understand how this works and what it entails before moving onwards.(Section 5 of "Citizenship Handbook," first page.)
2. You cannot use the current President, so have you figured out which ones can be used for which functions? The grouping of years lends itself to being able to use the textbook as a resource. I think that you might not need to use the Web that much as a guide. The timeline, the index, and the reference section that highlights each President's tenure would be really helpful for you. The textbook does a fairly good job of highlighting what each President did and then all you have to do is match up what they did with how they represented the function of the President.
3. Assess the function- Explain if you think they represented the function well. Did they use their power wisely? Did the function and the President benefit the country or not? Explain your position. Naturally, there is much in way of the ST in terms of finding information and matching it up, but there is also plenty of room for the the Feeling component to be present. Moreover, I am assessing you on it, so be sure of it ("Strong Analysis.")
4. How are you going to display what you have chosen? This becomes critical and I think that this might be the next step for you.

Constitution Unit Assessment
1. The most important thing here is to make sure you have a clear understanding of all the tasks in each box. Don't leave anything out. Make sure that everything in each is done.

To delve into each:
Duck Task
*Linking the first ten amendments to the historical background of the Colonists is important- You will need to explain how the colonial experience led to the adoption of these amendments. Check out Chapter 5, sections 2 and 3 for a reference point. The Citizenship Handbook will also be important. Each amendment needs to be represented.
* Make sure you are clear on how a bill becomes a law- Explain it using your own understanding and examples. Check out "SchoolHouse Rock" or the visual in your textbook, in part 4 of the Citizenship Handbook.
* In Part C, examine your packet to see which thinker played a large role in describing the principles featured.
* Part D is going to require you to think about life after the first 10 Amendments and which group was represented and why.

Electric Task
This one will require you to think critically about the different items featured. You have enough in way of detail featured. A T- Chart might be good in terms of listing out the different arguments needed and, perhaps, three or four points on each side would be good. You chose this one because you like to argue, so don't pick only one and stick with that. Expand on it. In terms of the last one, you might want to examine the legacies of Justices Warren or Burger and Justices Rehnquist and Roberts. This might be a good representation of the debate present. A web search might be able to give you the background you need on this one. Check out something else, as well. Judicial Activism vs. Judicial Restraint. Defining these concepts could help you on part D. Click here for a good paper about the topic. Make sure you cite it properly, as it is from "Associated Content."

Frog Task
You are giving a speech to the Smithsonian. It needs to be persuasive because your audience are Constitutional Scholars. You also need to be a bit cheesy because it's a speech. Pretend you are at the podium for graduation (Some of you might be.) You give a speech to your colleagues about the "most important amendment" for you all to embrace now that your time at Julian is done. Live it, love it, make it work. The second part allows you to think about a part of the Constitution that will have meaning in your life. Think about political action in the future, challenges with the law, or why you might need to embrace a life that listens to the cries of others' suffering and how the constitution is a part of it.

Solar Task
Legacies are something that are given to future generations with the hopes of being able to continue what has been started. For example, a legacy I would give to the next person who took my classroom would be to continue "the wall." Think about why this would be. What did the Constitution leave for us to do after the framers were dead and gone? What is included in this? How do we know this? How are we doing with this? Are we doing a good or poor job in carrying out this legacy? Have we made mistakes? If so, where? Have we made improvements? If so, where? You have to think broadly here and give examples to support your identified legacy and the "State of the Union" with this legacy. Finally, the music prompt is real tough. Linking a piece of music to what is present in a document that has guided the world's oldest Constitutional democracy for 200 plus years is not easy. Don't be afraid to open your minds and ears to what is out there. Don't denigrate it or do something ignorant by picking a piece of music that you like, but has no connection to the Constitution.

These are the most common options being presented. The "speaking" of the Constitution is something that we can discuss privately with the two people doing it and the stack of worksheets... well, to the one out there, get them done!

Good luck with all that needs to be done this week and I hope you are able to pull this one off. What is out there is much more difficult...
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Where to Where We Have Moved: A Month's Worth of Progress

On some levels, it is not difficult to understand that we are approaching one month of our journey being completed. Yet, on some other levels, it is really quite amazing to consider that one month of our time has come to pass. With such a benchmark, I thought I would devote this blog entry to examining potential dialogues that stakeholders can have with their children to ensure that the progress that will be made in the remaining months is as impressive or even exceeds the progress already made.
7th Grade Stakeholders
Our major grades have been the Trace Fossil Paper and the Quiz on 5-1. If students wish to revise their Trace Fossil Papers, Monday is the deadline to submit all revisions with originals attached. If this is an area that need to be explored, I would suggest opening a dialogue about whether or not they are going to take advantage of revisions of this paper would be a good commencement point. The 5-1 quiz will be returned on Monday and revisions of this are due on Monday, 10/4. Additionally, Scholarly Sparknotes Visuals and work needs to be done or submitted on Wednesday. This will be worth quite a few points and discussing with students where they are and whether they will be able to successfully meet Wednesday's deadline would be another good talking point. After this, students will close out Chapter 5 and have an exam on Chapter 5 on the week of 10/11. It is important for all stakeholders to ensure that the patterns of success that have been demonstrated thus far are replicated as the work becomes more arduous in terms of focusing on American History. If these patterns have not been fully developed, I would open a dialogue with your student as to how these successful behaviors can be more present. Perhaps, this involves spending time with me at lunch, or seeking a teacher out in being a greater advocate for one's learning. Another level might be examining how in class focus can be harnessed in a more precise manner. These talking points are critical in ensuring that success is not something that is elusive, but real and demonstrated in a powerfully apparent manner.

8th Grade Stakeholders
I think that all discussions with our 8th graders should focus on the Constitution Exam that is set to take place on the 20th and 21st of October. As we approach to deadline, more details about the exam will follow. Yet, we have just finished our first quiz on the Constitution and this can be an excellent starting point for discussions. The grades represented a striking parity in both classes. 60% of our 8th Graders scored an 80% or above on the quiz. If your student is in this majority, I think that there can be some intense congrats delivered. This quiz and the ones that will follow each week are extremely difficult. Students who scored at this level have a good grasp of their memorization and studying technique. Obviously, some refining might be needed, but I think it's fair to say that they are on their way of finding success on the Constitution Exam. Perhaps, they might want to revise their score to earn back points or achieve a higher grade. I certainly think this is a good thing. We had a handful of students score a C on the quiz. For these students, I think that a good examination point might be to assess where they made their mistake on the quiz. Which part seemed to give more trouble? Were their mistakes on the Legislative Branch portion, the Executive Branch, or the Goals or Principles? Assessing where mistakes were made and what happened will prove to be so beneficial. For these students, a modification in studying might be a good step to take. Revising these scores would also be good to improve academic standing as well as content grasp. With this, we approach our last group of students. These students scored poorly on this first quiz. They scored lower than a 70%. I think that some strong reflection is going to be needed on this front. Something happened on this quiz. At the same time, something needs to be changed. Students who are in this condition have to reassess how they study and the time devoted to studying. The idea of developing flash cards, attending study sessions, and ensuring that nightly focus on reviewing concepts is present might be where these discussions should proceed. The fact is that students who did not fare well on this quiz need to be vigilant about improvement because this quiz and those that follow are a very good indication of the actual exam on the 21st and 22nd.

As we progress to the half way point of the first trimester and all the responsibilities that go with it, I think that parents/ guardians have to be a part of the developing formulas for success. We, as teachers, are limited when we don't have the dialogues we develop in class emphasized outside of it. I encourage all of you to reach out to your emerging scholars in the hopes of them receiving the same messages both in the classroom and outside of it. Please know that I will be happy to help out in any way possible. Please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home if I can help in the opening and development of these lines of communication that can enhance student success, and advancement into scholarship.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Moving Forward, Making Progress, Taking Few Prisoners

I can honestly say that one of my favorite films is David Lean's masterpiece, "Lawrence of Arabia." Even writing such words seems like a cliche. My wife detests it. She thinks of it as nothing more than male glorification of empire expansion. Even part of my own psyche is repulsed by the idea that a British soldier is the only one who is meant to bring "order" to a world of supposed disorder. At the same time, there is something fundamentally wrong with a film that shows people from the Middle East region of the world speaking only flawless English, with British accents no less, and those who don't speak English cannot speak. As someone committed to historical accuracy and exploring hidden agendas, I struggle with why I love this film.
My answer lies in one scene: "No Prisoners!"
There is a moment in the film that exposes Lawrence at his very greatest and his most tragic as he yells, almost shrieks, "No Prisoners." Each time I see it and hear his battle cry, I get chills- literally, goosebumps. I have always seen myself as seeking to represent the focus, commitment, and drive in this moment. While I deplore his actions, the singular commitment shown in no more then fifteen seconds is simply breathtaking.
I call upon Lawrence right now as I think about what has to be done this week.
For the 7th graders, Trace Fossil Papers will be returned on Monday. Any grade can be revised and all revisions are due on Monday, 9.27. There is a quiz on 5.1 on Monday and we begin our study of the Road to Revolution afterwards. Scholarly Sparknotes will assist us as we put together our visuals this week in class. For the 8th graders, it's all about the Constitution. The Constitution continues this week with exploring the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch. At the same time, the first Checkpoint Quiz will be administered this week, worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 points. Additionally, there will be a study session this Wednesday during lunch. We had a good turnout at the first one last week, and I hope we exceed that attendance total this week.
Grades have been updated and will continue to be amended this week, so I strongly encourage you to check your emerging scholar's progress online. It was a pleasure to see so many new and old faces at Curriculum Night. I hope I was able to convey to you that I will do everything in my power to ensure that your child will progress farther down the path of scholarship this year. I pledge myself to this end and hope you feel comfortable reaching out to me if there is anything further you need from me in such a process.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Yo! Paulie D- It's the Social Studies Situation" or Team Snooki Battles the Constitution and Trace Fossils

I have found that there are specific moments that happen in the classroom that end up meaning a great deal, but are not understood as defining moments. Then, there are those moments that happen and you just know that somehow, they will become the ongoing reference point for a while to come.
I had one of those moments in my seventh period on Friday. Somehow, "Jersey Shore" found its way into a discussion of the Constitution and the goals of the Framers. At that moment, I found a level of relief and stress. A frame of reference had been established. However, what does it say when that frame involves "Snooki," or "Mike D," or the constant calls of "Guido."
Heavens... Heavens.
Hence, while the characters of "Jersey Shore" struggle with working in a T- Shirt store or with their hair, I can only hope that our students struggle with what is on tap for this week. On the seventh grade side, we are heading down the "boardwalk" to submit their Final Drafts of papers this Friday. Rough drafts will be accepted on Friday, and that is "the situation" and all students need to know it. Once we finish with Trace Fossils, then we start our study in Chapter 5 and the Road to the American Revolution.
On the 8th grade side of the Social Studies house, the Constitution is where our focus lies. Principles, Goals, and the specific branches of government will be started this week. There will be a study session on Wednesday during lunch and this should become a habit for students to develop. Students should expect homework each night with their first Checkpoint quiz next week.
I guess "Jersey Shore" said it best, "Everybody knows about the situation. Everybody know what has to be done because of the situation." Let's hope our students spend more time on their nightly studies than the "Jersey Shore" characters spend on their hair... but not too much more!

If I can be of any further help or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to seeing you all at Curriculum Night.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Making Progress on a journey

The path has been set and this week will see progress being made upon it. For the seventh graders, this will resemble working through their trace fossil writing tasks, consisting of multiple rough drafts, struggling with issues of symbolic meaning, leads, and how to define culture. A strong student this week will be one who is pouring over writing, thinking things through about how to classify a trace fossil, and reading over my comments on their drafts. A strong student this week will be one who faces a high level of challenge and struggle in attempting to articulate individual thoughts, ideas that reside in the mind and yearning to be put on the page. Final Drafts of all trace fossil papers are due at the end of class on September 17.
For their one year older counterparts, the path will be through that long and arduous road called the Constitution. It begins this week with an overall discussion of the Constitution and, in more specific terms, the Preamble. Weekly study sessions will start next week as well as weekly quizzes on content covered. The Constitution Exam is tentatively scheduled for 35 school days from now. All of our eighth graders are on the clock, both literally and figuratively. It is my hope that we, all of the stakeholders who wish for nothing but the best, can be vigilant of what they need in order for them to do the best in this unit, on this test, and along the first step of a long journey towards scholarship.
I hope to see all of you on Wednesday, September 15 for Curriculum Night, a great moment to meet your child's teachers as well as sign up for Fall Conferences. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.
All best and happy hunting to all.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Progressing through the open door

With the first week of our journey done, the door is now open to what lies ahead. For seventh grade, this analysis will turn inward with the Trace Fossil Writing Task. Starting this week, the idea of being able to fully identify conditions and properties of trace fossils will occupy the time, vocabulary, and expression of our students. In a similar manner, the eighth grade students will investigate learning styles and how individual psychology impacts student learning. This will lead to the start of our unit on the Constitution.

Students generated a great deal of questions about the course. I thought I would take some time here to address the ones that were the most commonly asked. Obviously, for students who wish to have detailed answers to their individual questions, they are encouraged to ask during class or come in during lunch for a personalized response, if they wish. Before I start, I need to commend one of you out there for catching some of the deliberate typographical errors on the course description. As true to my word, you earned extra credit for it. You caught two mistakes, but there are more. Congrats!

Seventh Grade Commonly Asked Questions

1. Do you like poetry?
I was quite surprised with how many questions related to such a topic. I confess that I have a fondness for poetry, but I use it in my class as a way to reflect the idea that scholars can use different tools for different jobs. When Nietzsche argues that "Truth is a mobile army of metaphors," it means that we are able to find different concepts to help illuminate our ideas. Poetry is a part of this. For those of you who caught the extra credit of the poets used or paraphrased, nice work.

2. What "pain" in American History?
This was something that about five of you pointed out as a question to ask. There is much in way of pain in American History. Anytime one studies the history of a democracy, there is going to be moments where pain is evident because of heterogeneous beliefs and value systems that collide with one another. The pain of moments such as slavery, subjugation, negation of voice, as well as instances where fear and paranoia caused us to embrace "the lesser angels of our nature" represent this pain. Some might also assert that studying history, in general, can constitute pain. I'd be willing to live with either one.

3. Are we going to be mostly doing projects, tests, or homework?
Short answer: Yes. There were many questions that really sought to identify what we are going to be doing in terms of assessment. The only way I can answer this is to suggest that we strive to embrace as many assessment options and assessments as possible.

4. Contact information.
My email is , and as for my home number, I believe I gave this out in some classes and will make sure that all classes have it by Monday. With parental permission, students can email me or contact me at home if they have questions or are having challenges with an assignment.

5. Do you really make 500 mistakes a day?
Yes. I think it's your job to catch each one and call it out in order to earn more credit.

Eighth Grade Commonly Asked Questions
1. Why the Constitution?
This one appeared quite a bit. The Constitution and its exam are a state mandate. The idea is that before you walk out of Julian, you will have exposure to the Constitution and pass an assessment on it demonstrating competency in it. On a more personal level, I think that the Constitution is the structure by which we can use to analyze modern American History. It's almost as if the Constitution is an idyll and we are able to assess how America echoes or strays from it.

2. Do we lose points on any extra credit tasks if we get it wrong?
No. Extra credit is only meant to help, not hurt (If only the rest of life were like that!)

3. Do you hand out notes with your lectures?
For the most part, yes. I think that you should always be prepared to receive some supplement that you can use while a lecture is ongoing. You can also use the blog, with the links to the left, that can have hard copies of all of the notes and lectures delivered.

4. Do you give pop quizzes?
No, I am not an advocate of them. I will announce all assessment dates and deadlines in advance. If all is well, there should not be surprising or "Gotcha!" moments.

5. Can we revise anything?
Yes, you can. In the first trimester, anything can be revised. In the second trimester, anything except homework can be revised, while revisions disappear in the third trimester.

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at home. I look forward to seeing you all at Curriculum Night on September 15.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Monday, August 23, 2010

The calm before the storm

For those of you who might not be entirely aware, we start school tomorrow. At the time of writing this, it's almost 15 hours before the start of the new year. I think that this might be a good time to get a couple of reminders down:
* 7th graders are reporting to the Gym tomorrow morning, 8th graders to the Commons- Look for a 7.8/3 Teacher that has a sign indicating where to report. For example, Mr. Russell will be picking up my 8th graders as well as his 8th graders in the Commons. Find the 7.8/3 teacher representing your advisory and come on upstairs.
* Make sure you have all the needed school supplies- The school website has general school supplies needed. If you have not checked it, do so.
* Make sure you have any forms that need to be returned to the Main Office- Some of you might have forms that need to be submitted back to the office. Bring those with you and give them to your advisory teacher.

Tuesday is our first day and you will spend time in all of your classes and then be dismissed at noon. Don't be surprised if you have some homework to complete because the year is underway.

Girls' Basketball Tryouts start on Wednesday. 8th grade tryouts start at 6:45 AM on Wednesday, while 6/7 tryouts start at 3:30. All tryouts are in the main gym.

Final point: I know some of you have already done so, but feel free to investigate some of the work you are going to have to do this year in Social Studies. The links to the left side have the tasks posted for both grade levels. You can also get started on the work that is due next week.
Spend tonight reflecting about the questions posted in last week's post (see below) and preparing yourself for the start of the school year. It's closer than we both could imagine.

Best of luck to you all and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We are less then a week away! Is this fun or what?

In the end, difficult travel conditions, turbulence over the Atlantic, and really bad airline food could not keep me from doing what I was meant to do...

That puts things into a different perspective!

Nevertheless, it is great to be back and there is much to be done. At this point, allow me to extend a hearty "Welcome" to all of you. For those who are going to be in this class within a week, allow me to apologize for all of the work you will endure, all of the challenge you will persevere through, and for all the evolution towards scholarship you will undergo. In the 1980s, the United States Armed Forces had a slogan: "The toughest job you will ever love." Like so much in this glorious decade, the meaning was ahead of its time and can be perfectly applied to what you will be undertaking very soon.
Whether you are a 7th grader or 8th grader, if you are entering this classroom within a week, I think you might be best suited to do a couple of things before your tour of duty commences. You don't need to write anything on this, but merely reflect on them. If you wish to post some of your responses to these questions on this blog, feel free to do so. Don't use your name, but rather your first and last initials and class period (Let's start the year off in the right manner with following web etiquette.)

7th Grade Questions Upon Which to Ruminate:
* How do you define "history?"
* If you could identify one object in your life that would contain much of your "history," what would it be and why?
* When you examine the word "scholarship," what do you think it means to you?
* What are the elements in the world or in your life that help to define who you are and in what you believe?

8th Grade Questions Upon Which to Ruminate:
* You are standing on a rare threshold. You are about to enter your last year of Middle School and your last year before the vast unknown of high school awaits. What are your feelings about starting this process?
* How have you changed since your sixth grade year? You can define this in emotional, psychological, mental, and/ or academic terms.
* Thus far in your study of American History, what concept or idea has given you the most amount of difficulty? What concept or idea has been the most interesting for you?
* How do you think you learn? In other words, how do you know you "got" something?
* What are the elements in the world or in your life that help to define who you are and in what you believe?

These questions and their answers might help you obtain the right frame of mind in order to enter this classroom, this team, and this year. If you still have questions about how things will run in this classroom, don't forget to check out the class glog here! You can also check out the side links for handouts and syllabi for the first two weeks to get a feel of where we are going to start and what we will be doing. Feel free to click on these links, preview items, and download anything you wish.

We only have a couple of days left before the clock starts its interminable run. Enjoy what you can while you can.

All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Monday, August 2, 2010

Greetings from India!

I hope this message finds all of you well. Indeed, I am still in India and truly enjoying things. Like you, I think I am in a bit of daze about school starting, but indeed it is starting soon. This blog will be updated in the weeks (days?) leading to the start of the school year. The first two weeks' worth of syllabi have been uploaded and can be checked out by clicking on the links to the side. I will be adding more files to the handouts other links as we approach the start of the school year. We have only a couple weeks left, so please allow me to wish you all the best in the remaining time. Do enjoy yourself and see you soon.
For those of you who are new to things with me, you can Click here for a Glog about the class and what to expect!

Keep checking back here leading to the start of school for more information about the class and items that will assist you.
Happy hunting!
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time to Say Goodbye

As we reach the last week of instruction, it is time to bid farewell to our students, your emerging scholars. We close out a year of dedicated work and intense focus with assignments for this week:
7th Grade- Be sure to submit your textbooks by Wednesday and be prepared for your Chapter 14 Assessment on Tuesday.
Monday- Last day to review in class for the chapter 14 Assessment.
Tuesday- Take chapter 14 Assessment.
Wednesday- Friday- In class analyze and read chapter 15.

Students know that their grades are updated with their chapter 11 and 12 assessments. This should be a set up for what they must deliver on Tuesday in order to do well in the class for the trimester.

8th Grade- Be sure to submit your textbooks by Wednesday and be prepare to submit your assessments on Monday.
Monday- Submit assessments on Auschwitz and finish up in class poem explications.
Tuesday- Analyze life in the 1950s.
Wednesday- Discuss how life in the '50s had both positive and negative attributes.
Thursday- Afternoon session with high school students.
Friday- From where to where we have come: Discussion of relevant topics in history.

As this will be my last blog entry for the year, I wish to take the opportunity to thank you for all of your support this year. I do hope that the paths between your scholars and I cross again in the future. I stand humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to teach them this year.

All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Closing Out Strong

As we reach the final 10 days of instruction, the time is now for all students to rise to the occasion and close out strong. Down the line in both classes, calls are made for only the best to board and take the inevitable steps towards departure from this gate of scholarship en route to another.
7th Grade
Monday and Tuesday- Students should be working on their Chapter 11 and 12 assessments that are due on Wednesday and worth 900 points. It will be the last major assessment of the Trimester.
Additionally, students should be working towards the in class completion of their Core Extension Projects on "October Sky." A presentation that can assist students in this process is located at this link here!
Wednesday- Collection Day for Assessments!
Thursday and Friday- Students should be reading Chapter 14 in class and at home. ALL SOCIAL STUDIES TEXTBOOKS NEED TO BE SUBMITTED TO MR. KANNAN ON MONDAY, 5.24. THIS WILL BE THE LAST GRADE OF THE TRIMESTER.

8th Grade
Monday- Wednesday- Students will be working on closing out the unit on the Holocaust. Their assessment will be given out this week with the deadline to be announced in class.
Thursday- Friday- Students will be working on their assessment during class Click here for a bag of the websites displayed during Thursday's class.

As always, all students are strongly encouraged to examine their grades online to ensure that they are aware of their standing.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Renegades of Change in the Morning, Good and Evil in the Afternoon

This week, students will be working towards their assessments in their respective units. Both groups are facing some of the most difficult of work as they near the end of their voyages in this classroom. It could not have been planned any better.

7th Grade
In Class Work: Chapter 13 will be covered this week through Outcome Sentences. Students will be assigned a fixed number that have to be completed on a specific section and specific topics. What is not done in class will be done at home. Friday will be an open note Outcome Sentence Assessment on Chapter 13.
At Home Work: Students must utilize their out of class time to work on the Chapter 11 and 12 Assessments. These tasks are worth 900 points, and an extra copy of them can be found here., under "Task Rotation Assessment on Chapter 11 and 12." Rough drafts will be taken until Tuesday, 5/11, and final drafts of all work are due on Wednesday, 5/19.

8th Grade
In Class Work: We will be reading selected poems from the Holocaust. Writers such as Wiesel, Gershon, and Borowski will be our primary focus. We will explore themes in Holocaust Literature and through discussion delve into these topics.
At Home Work: Students will be requested to reflect on what was discussed in class and compose anything they wish towards it in order to substantiate and enhance current academic production. There will be an assessment on this unit due on 5/18.

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

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What to do this week for Social Studies

With the end in sight and less than a month to go, the time for our students to close the door on this journey of and towards scholarship is at hand. There is much to be done with little time on the clock left. Indeed, we are beginning to see the home stretch in sight and students must make sure that they are taking all needed steps to close out a very successful tenure in the confines of this classroom.
7th Grade Social Studies
Monday and Tuesday- Continue/ Complete Station Rotation for Chapter 11, sections 2 and 3.
For the bag of websites, CLICK HERE!
For the backchannel to post thoughts on the video clips, CLICK HERE!
Homework each night should be to make sure work from that day's station is done and that reading in Chapter 12 has commenced with the completion of one set of Check Your Progress Questions for sections 1 or 2 and another set for sections 3 or 4.
Wednesday- Reconvene to make sure all stations have been covered for chapter 11 and then ensure that all of chapter 12 has been read.
Thursday and Friday- Start and finish, by Friday, analysis of Chapter 12. The Chapter 11 and 12 Assessment will be distributed on Friday and is due on 5/14. It is worth 800 points.

8th Grade
We will be reading through our packets on the study of the Holocaust. Students are encourage to complete the pondering prompts each night and investigate ways to explore the Holocaust. These will be counted as Extra Credit for students. We will be working towards our study of poetry of the Holocaust, which will be started on Thursday.

Hoping all is well and that students continue to be vigilant of their grades by checking online.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gadzooks! It's another truncated blog entry!

Any week in which the focus rests with topics such as child labor in America and the death camp of Auschwitz, it is a powerful week. The blog this week will be short for seventh grade students to use it as a resource for this week's Station Rotation.

7th Grade:
Monday- Wednesday: Station Rotation for Chapter 11, sections 1 and 2
For the bag of websites for Monday and Tuesday, click here!
For the backchannel to post thoughts on the websites, click here!
Make sure you use an alias and do not register as your last name! Use proper savvy when dealing with the internet!
Thursday and Friday- Station Rotation for Chapter 11, sections 3 and 4.
For the bag of websites for THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, CLICK HERE!
For the backchannel to post thoughts on the video clips, CLICK HERE!

Homework each night should be to make sure that chapter 11 has been read and that nightly work from each station has been completed.

8th Grade:
We start our study of the Holocaust this week. Students will receive their packets for the unit on Monday. There is nightly work to be completed so all students are encouraged to devote nightly study to completing assigned work. As we head into the last month, the points are drying up. Students might wish to pursue extra credit opportunities being offered each night. The points are not out there... after about 2,600 points, it makes sense!

All students are encouraged to check their grades online and if there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.
All best and happy hunting as we see the home stretch in sight... Derby Day is close, indeed!
Mr. Kannnan

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hey, look! It's a quick blog entry!

This week's blog entry will be more succinct than other posts. It might be appropriate as we speed towards the end of the year. With progress reports having been sent out on Friday, the mad dash officially begins. Here is what is "on tap" for this week in Social Studies, in terms of the large dates:

7th Grade
Monday- Study for Chapter 9 Exam
Tuesday- Take Chapter 9 Exam
Thursday- Start Reading Chapter 11, sections 1 and 2

8th Grade
Tuesday and Wednesday- Start collecting Chapter 23 Assessments. The Deadline is Wednesday at 5:00 PM. Assessments not submitted by this time will not be graded.
Thursday- Start reading Chapter 24, World War II.

Time is no longer on our side, and each assessment for both grade levels count for an immense amount of importance.

All best in helping me help our emerging scholars.
Mr. Kannan

P.S. For those who are ready to submit your Museumbox, log in and then click "Submit" and the instructions will allow you to turn in your box.
P.P.S. For those of you who need to examine websites or video clips on Pearl Harbor, Internment, and/ or the Atomic Bomb, please click here for the bag of websites that will assist you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

For Heaven's Sake, What do you want?

The most common challenge with any assessment, such as the Chapter 23 tasks, would be to determine what is in the mind of the assessor.
What do they want?
What do I need to do in the work in order to obtain the highest possible grade?
These are prevalent in the minds of any and all students. If these questions are in your mind, then this blog entry is for you. Here is what needs to be present in the different assessments:

The Sound of Music" Blog
A few things to keep in mind:
* Keep in mind that you have to email me your blog address as soon as possible- Grade deductions will be present if you do not email me your address by Wednesday, 4/14.
* Have you posted your initial reflections on the "digital presence" of the Musical? Check out this particular link as a reflection of the musical on the web. Watch the YouTube clip or hyperlink it in your entry. Discuss your thoughts on it.
* Have you talked about the idea of private happiness and public responsibility? When Liesel talks about her love of Rolf, it seems like nothing will interfere with the love of two adolescents. How does this change over the course of the film? At some point, public responsibility creeps into all private modes of happiness, and this is no more true than with the rise of Hitler and the Nazis the 1930s.
* Have you discussed your reflections of the music- Where is it powerful? Where is it outdated by today's standards? Some have criticized "The Sound of Music" as presenting a too- rosy or optimistic view of the rise of Hitler. (Clive James argues that if the Von Trapps had sung to Hitler, he would have abandoned his position and run away back the hills of Bavaria, where they were not alive with the sound of music.) What do you think about how the rise of fascism is shown as the film progresses?
* Have you addressed at least three of the bullets featured in the task?
* Do you have the "digital design" elements of a blog, such as other links to other relevant sites on the web, as well as poll questions, quotations, or other personalized widgets that help to distinguish your blog?

Task Rotation Assessment
Sensory Thinker
*Have you made your list of fifteen items from the chapter on which you are going to compose your identifications? You can use the one used on the task as an example and follow that format. Have you identified the page number and paragraph number for each?
Have you identified the five people from the Clive James article and are you clear on what their solutions to the economic and political crises of the time period? Do you know the paragraph number and page number of each?
* You will be writing 20 small paragraphs for this task.

Intuitive Thinker
* Have you reviewed the last two pages of Chapter 23, section 4? Are you clear on their meaning?
* Have you identified the quotes from Marx and Smith that you are going to use? If you need some samples to help you out, check out this link and look for the pdf files of Marx and Smith Quotes.
* Are you clear on how the Obama Administration's initiatives are similar to the New Deal? If you are stumped, check out the link here on the Obama Administration in Reverse. Additionally, check out the link here on a more cautious view of the Obama Administration's initatives. What do you think the biases are underlying each article?

Sensory Feeling
* Have you examined the three samples offered? Are you clear on the meaning?
* What do you think is the most artistic aspect of the Great Depression, the one that can be best reflected in art? What art sample are you going to find to reflect it?
* Have you included your emotions in analyzing the art offered and linked it to what is in the art sample?

Intuitive Thinking
* Have you found at least three songs per topic?
* Are you able to identify specific aspects or parts of each song and can you explain how it links to the topic?
* Choose songs where the connection to the topic can be very clear. Search engines could be valuable here.
* Make sure you clearly identify parts of the song that strongly link to the topic.

Clarkson Trace Fossil Box

* Have you identified the images/ weblinks/ music/ recordings that will go for each cube?
* How are you going to explain in text how all of the elements link together?
* Does each face of a cube contain a caption or a title? Have you entitled each cube?
* Have you explored the "bag of websites for the 1930s"? Click here.
* The website might be a bit temperamental. This will require you to be persistent and to plan appropriately.

In the end, you will be responsible for the work you do. You have come so very far with doing so much great work. Why let it stop here?
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield:" A Beautiful Sentiment Transcending Political Usage

Not to start out a blog entry like Frank Sinatra, but when I was 21, it was a very good year. I had just been admitted for a year's worth of study at Kings's College London and the London School of Economics. I was excited to go because it represented the first time I was leaving the country for an extended period of time. Nervously anticipating the closing of one chapter of my life and the opening of another, I forgot the most elemental of details: Luggage. I quickly came to my senses and bought a rather large blue Nike athletic bag and threw everything I could into it a day before my flight left O'Hare on a cold January morning. I arrived to the British Airways ticket counter only to find that my bag lacked a luggage tag, distinctive markings, or anything that differentiated it from about two dozen other large blue Nike athletic bags. I reached the counter and the ticket agent, an elderly British lady with an extremely thick British accent, asked me, "Should you want to write anything on the bag to mark it being yours?" (It took me some time to get used to how the British spoke. Queen's English, notwithstanding.) I took out a Red Sharpie and wrote what, at the time, was my favorite line of poetry: "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." After I placed the bag in British Airways possession, I remarked: "There- I start my journey to your country with a line of your poetry," I thought it was a great moment. The elderly British lady with an extremely thick British accent gave me this look that I still cannot shake which conveyed to me what I might have been perceived throughout my time in Europe: "Dumb Yank."
Over time, this moment and, in particular, this line of Tennyson's poetry has meant so much to me. As a student, I considered it the intellectual motivation needed to endure difficult and harrowing studies. As a starting teacher, this line helped capture much of my early and formative years. As the salt and pepper of age has impacted both my teaching and my receding hairline, I think that the line speaks volumes to where I believe the focus of all instruction lies. Tennyson's line can also speak quite vividly to what is being done this week in both seventh and eighth grade.
On one hand, I think that the seventh graders are engaging in their own Tennysonian quests. We are more than half way done with the teaching assignments and the challenges of being student, teacher, and student who operates as teacher have been quite apparent. I sense that it has been an eye opening experience for many, and a painful one for some. We conclude our tasks this week and enter the assessment phase for chapter 9. The exam will be one week from this Monday, with our next unit to quickly follow in Chapters 11, 12, and 13 with the growth of America. With the reaching of the halfway mark of the trimester this week, students should be extremely mindful that both time and points are no longer on their side, so in order to receive the best possible mark of success, they must persevere, must endure, must "strive, seek, find, and not yield."
For the eighth graders, who are the closest we have to the Ulysses figure that must hoist the sails and be prepared to set out on more and difficult journeys very soon, the same ability to never relent in the pursuit of a goal is evident. Students will be working on their Chapter 23 Assessments, due on April 20 and worth 900 points. Students will be assessed each day on progress made and focus being present. Time is no longer on their side, as well. We begin our study of the moral implications of World War II afterwards and a study in Holocaust Poetry. The time for students to believe that complacency is acceptable has long since passed. The focus on what needs to be done and the need to get it done must convince our eighth grade students that they, too, must adopt a mentality that seeks "to strive, seek, find, and not to yield."
Please encourage your students to adopt a Tennysonian mindset in the accomplishment of their work with the remaining time left in our respective journeys towards scholarship. Even though corrupt politicians have sullied the use of the line, it's still a beautiful one.
Normally, those things that are valuable transcend the brutal use of others.
All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Clarkson Museum Box: Interesting Way To Display Information

The Chapter 23 Assessments are upon us. Blogging about "The Sound of Music" and the Task Rotation Assessments are fairly clear. We have engaged upon these in the past. Yet, we now come to a new element. The Clarkson Trace Fossil Box. The background has been given to you. This is about how to progress in making one.
The first thing you should do is to click here for the Museum Box website. Once here, you can follow the guidelines to start your box. Remember, that you will need your log in information and password from me in order to save and submit your box. Obtain this from me tomorrow when we are in the cpu lab.
You have some options in progressing. Even before you start, remember that 8 of the 13 topics have to be addressed. Once you have chosen your 8 to do, click on a cube and start assembling it with one of the bullets. The first might be for you to explore the different elements you can use to make your box. Click "START" to begin. Remember to specify your requirements under the "Change Box" option (2 layers, 4 cubes each layer.) The next step would be for you to see what you can add to each cube. One of your elements has to be a word document that explains your cube. Click here for a real nice sample of how a box is supposed to look. This box is a good starting point for you to see. If you want to see samples of other students' boxes, you can click here.
Assembling what you want to go in each cube will also be essential. Creating folders or files to keep this information will help out greatly because like Clarkson, himself, you are going to find a great deal of artifacts, trace fossils that reflect individual behavior in the 1930s.
As you are researching, try clicking here for a sample of 1930s websites. This "bag of sites" will be updated as I find more information. If you find a good website, let me know about it and I will add it as well.
Once you are ready with your box being complete, you can submit it to me and I will be able to assess it and I will send a message back to you through the Museumbox portal. Incremental progress is always critical with a new medium, and as we did with blogs, glogs, moodle, wallwishers, digital portfolios, wordles, and snapshots, and, of course, Prezis, this will be no exception.
Happy Hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Horizons, New Insights to be Discovered

The last eight weeks of our journey is upon us. It is a time to focus on not only from where to where we have come, but also what will lie ahead both in this year and beyond. The idea of "commencement" implies the start of a new voyage, and I certainly envision this for our emerging scholars in the realm of United States History.
For the seventh graders, we start our teaching assignments on Tuesday, the 6th. Students will teach one lesson each day, so someone (other than me) is instructing. It's fairly nerve wracking, so wishing them the best, packing them with an extra good breakfast and a high five for encouragement might be warranted. Once the teaching assignments are done, the exam on chapter 9 will be taken. This will be the last exam of the year. Once this is out of the way, we will study the growth of Modern America through different points of view and frames of reference. More detail will accompany this as we move closer to it. Essentially, students will have to cover chapters 11, 12, and 13, a chapter a week in an intense fashion. This will lead us to the Civil War and the end of the year assessment.
For our eighth graders, we will start on Monday with our study of the Great Depression through Trace Fossil based analysis. Students should make sure they are keeping pace with nightly reading that will be started in class and finished outside of it. For the 1930s, students will be assembling a Clarkson History Box (more details to come in subsequent blog posts.) Our study of the Second World War will lie in assessing the nature of war, and the turning away of Fascism in Europe. We will spend time analyzing the policy of Internment as well as the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. Finally, we will conclude our study of World War II with an analysis of Holocaust Poetry. Once this is done, we will engage in a decade analysis of Post World War II America.
Grades have been updated, and students should ensure that they are monitoring their academic progress as often as possible. We will be encountering new and vivid horizons over the next two months. Students should eagerly embrace the journey that lies ahead. While our time is now definitely reaching its end, the meaning and relevance of it will only gain as time passes.
Happy Hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Week Before

We have one week to go before Spring Break. There is much to do and while others' thoughts drift to the upcoming break, focus is needed on what has to be done this week:
7th Grade
* All photocopying is due on Wednesday- If "teachers" want their students to have work photocopied, then it is due on Wednesday.
* All visuals are posted Wednesday- The team area will have specific designations where work is to be displayed. All visuals have to be completed and posted by the end of Wednesday's class.
* All test questions are due by Thursday- Test questions are submitted on Thursday. Test questions should be typed and should be either one page or two pages.

8th Grade
* Make sure you have compiled 10 facts about your character for the 1920s- Computer Time will be given this week to ensure this.
* Make sure you can "get into character" for Friday
* This week, make sure you post comments for the 1920s Blog.

Much to do this week and not a great deal of time. Hopefully, the focus can carry us through the week.
Happy hunting!
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Two Weeks Before Spring Break: Where we are and where we need to be

We are in a very interesting time for 7.8/3 Social Studies Students. For the seventh graders, it is all about the teaching assignment in Chapter 9. Students should be working on their individual component each night. All individual components should be done by 3/23/09, so this week will be of vital importance. Students will be working on these components during class, while individual breakout sessions will commence this week, as well. For the eighth graders, we are at the high water mark of our Unit on the 1920s. The Jazz Age has been explored through the online learning environment of Moodle, and this process will continue this week with secondary source analysis. Students should have met all of the requirements of the unit as well as ensuring that they have thought about their character for the 1920s Unit. For those attending Tommy Guns, students should make sure that they have assumed their character in terms of dress and demeanor.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at school or at my home.
Best wishes and happy hunting!
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Next Set of Challenges for 7.8/3 Social Studies

The theme of challenges seems to be quite an appropriate one for all of the 7.8/3 students in the domain of Social Studies. For seventh graders, the challenge is a relatively simple one: "How do I teach my colleagues?" The student led teaching assignment for chapter 9 is upon us and students will be selecting topics and groupings today. It is going to be difficult to change the frame of focus from teaching to learning, but it will be something that has to be adopted in order for this assignment to serve as beneficial. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature talking points for the students and they are invited to use these to guide their instruction. For this week, the critical points are to select a grouping of students that can carry hold their own in a collaborative format. The second challenge would be for students to select a topic where they can find some level of personal voice. These two elements will have to guide students and their focus for this week.
For the 8th graders, the soothing sounds of the speak easy, the fashion of the flapper, and the illusions of fame will guide their studies. Students will have to work on completing their Day II of the WWI Exams, due Friday, and simultaneously work on completing their requirements for the 1920s unit, due on the 19th. Both will have to be done simultaneously. Students should also consider returning their Tommy Guns permission slips and money within the coming week. Finally, students need to investigate which figure for the '20s that would match in order to come to school dressed in character on the 26th. Students are encouraged to start the process of going to Goodwill stores or Salvation Army outlets in order to fill out their wardrobe.
As we are in the third trimester, the last of our voyage, all stakeholders are encouraged to initiate contact with me when needed. It is difficult to conceive, but highly present, that our journey is reaching its termination point, with definable features. I invite all students to join me in hoping for a strong close to a very eventful and exciting voyage thus far.
Happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, February 28, 2010

ISATS with no rest for the weary

With ISATs, this week, students will already have their hands full and their plates filled with expectations layered upon demands. With this in mind, I seek only to slightly add to their burden:
7th Grade
* All students will be receiving updated Progress Reports on Tuesday which detail their performance for the trimester. Students are strongly encouraged to reflect on how they fared second trimester and establish goals for the third trimester. Some of these goals could be to rectify the challenges that were there in the second trimester, identify particular areas of needed improvement, and strongly ruminate upon the good that happened which needs to continue while minimizing the potential habits that do not necessarily equate with academic success.
* We will be reading chapter 8 in class and focused on completing the activities offered in class. If students utilize in class time well, there should be little need to complete homework. For an advance look at what will be addressed, click here!
* Once ISATs are over, students will have to wrestle with the Chapter 9 Teaching Assignments.

8th Grade
* In class time will be spent introducing students to the 1920s through the online learning environment of Moodle. Students can choose to engage in this exploration through class or if they wish to use the time to work on their Day II of the WWI Exam, they may do this as well. All Day II Exam Products must be emailed to me by Friday, 3/12 at 9:00 PM. Students will have to monitor their own work habits in the successful creation of these tasks, as it is worth quite a bit of points towards Third Trimester Grades.
* Permission slips for the Tommy Guns Field Trip will be sent out this week. Admission to this event is based on a "First Come, First Serve" basis as well as team approval.

I wish all of our students all the best on the successful completion of the ISATs and as this benchmark is created, more await in the third trimester- the final phase of our academic journey towards scholarship.

All best.
Mr. Kannan