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