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