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