Thursday, March 31, 2011

Renegades of Change into a Postmodern World

This is always an interesting time of year. I mean this from a curriculum standpoint. The seventh graders are exploring the Age of Reform, a time in American History where change was almost taken as the only absolute. The eighth graders are exploring World War II and the ethical and philosophical implications of the Holocaust, a time in World History where nothing was absolute. In both, students will find themselves forced to reexamine elements of their world that might not have been previously examined. As they, "Look life in the face," there will be teachable moments within teachable moments. While change is all around students, what better vehicle than to internalize this element of change in their own lives.

7th Graders- All grades are updated.
Chapter 12 starts this week. Students will have nightly work to complete which includes a packet of work on the Renegades of Change in Chapter 12, as well as a technological assessment that is due by Saturday night at 6:00. Student packets are due at the end of Friday's class. Students and stakeholders should examine this packet as all nightly assignments are compacted to ensure students create and follow a nightly plan for success. This chart indicates where students need to be each night and where they should be by the next class period in making sure that this chapter, worth 17% of students' overall grade, is maximized for both student success and learning.
For those interesting in glogging, check out this link to a slide show that will help you get started on what a glog is and understanding its use.

8th Graders- All grades are updated.
Casablanca will be our focus on Monday and Tuesday. Waiver letters were sent home with students on Thursday, April 24.
Students will be asked to read chapter 24, sections 1 and 2 Monday night and finish the section on Tuesday night. There will be an enrichment sheet for the film that students will complete Wednesday night. Students need to ensure that this sheet is completed, as their assessment on World War II will consist of completing multiple short essays on the film as well as World War II. Our study of the Holocaust will start next Wednesday.

As we progress towards the half way point of the trimester, students are reminded that our journey is far from done. How one concludes a journey of this magnitude is more important than how it was started.

Best wishes in closing out strong.
Mr. Kannan

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A week to go with more to do

With this week, the close of work before students leave for Spring Break is rapidly upon us. There is much on tap to be done this week and the hope is that all stakeholders can help us help your students, emerging scholars toward tthe realm of scholarship:

7th Grade:
* Chapter 11 will be demonstrated through the growth of industry and of capitalism through station rotation. Students will have questions to be answered each night with an assessment on Thursday. Students will be graded on a rubric for their successful in class participation in station rotation.

8th Grade
* Students will be working on their assessments for chapter 23. Bags of poverty or alternate assessments are to be submitted on Wednesday.
* The Tommy Guns Field Trip on Friday will require students to come to school in the costume of their historical figure and make sure that they are able to recite three facts about their particular individual.

Third trimester grades will be updated over Spring Break and checking these will ensure that all of us are on the right path for the closing of the year.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

8th Grade Assistance with Bag of Poverty
Here are some links that I found extremely compelling that you might want to include in your bags of poverty, or if you are thinking broadly about the topic of poverty for your Chapter 23 Assessments that are due Wednesday.

Life in the Great Depression
This video clip is from a Wall Street Journal Documentary-

This clip talks about growing up in the time period and you might find something in there to talk about family life in The Great Depression-

People of Color in The Great Depression
Langston Hughes is one of the best resources out there. He writes two poems about the Great Depression that can really get you to think about how people of color battled through class and race during the time period.

This is a link of the poem "Ballad of Roosevelt"- The historical detail at the top of the page is invaluable. Last year's eighth graders found it very helpful-

Here is a link of the acclaimed actor Danny Glover reading the poem aloud. This brings out the dialect and the feel of the poem alive.

This is a text of another Hughes' poem, "Gonna Miss President Roosevelt"-

Films that show the 1930s
The 1930s was a time period that Hollywood was able to put to celluloid with some good results. I have included some links to films on YouTube and you might want to investigate some of them on your own to gain a better feel and see if you can integrate any of them into your work. You might want to do a web search about a particular film if you want to include it in your work.

"Cinderella Man"-

"City Lights" by Charlie Chaplin-

"Bad Girl"-

"I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang"-

"The Wizard of Oz"-

"The Grapes of Wrath"-

Social Realism
This is a great clip of the work of Ben Shahn, a social realist-

This is a clip about John Steineck and "The Grapes of Wrath" with some great archival footage-

The Photography of Dorothea Lange-

Modern Poverty
Type "poverty" into YouTube or Google and see what you come up with. There is so much... so much displays of sadness.

This is a video a teacher assembled about U.S. Isolationism in the 1930s-

This is a set of AP US History students' video about isolationism- It has some wonderful political cartoons from the time period.

These should get you started. If you find something good, add it on to this list by posting a comment on the bottom of the blog.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Attention all 7.8/3 Students!

You are being asked to take a survey today.

Click on this link to take the survey.

Once you are done...
If you are a seventh grader, start working on your wiki page.
If you are an eighth grader, see me for your 1920s Assessment and continue working on it.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Monday, March 14, 2011

Web help for Jefferson Wiki

The only way something like the Wiki can be done is through incremental steps. The listing here is for help on some of the points that might be most challenging.

Create a New Page
This causes a bit of confusion. You must request to join the wiki. The key here is for you to click "Join This Wiki." Once you click this, it will ask you to make a comment. You neednt write anything, but submit your request to be a member of the wiki. Once this is done, I will approve you being a part of the Wiki... because I have the power (Cue Dramatic Music.)
Once you are in, you should see this:

See where it says "New Page"? (Look on your left.)
Click on that and it will take you to a domain where you can create a new page. Your new page should be the word you have to explore.


Keep it simple and head over to

Finding Copyright Free Images on the Web

Creative Commons- This is a site that I use for the images you see on the blog. I like the ability to use pictures that others have taken via Flickr that can be used to represent some of the ideas. I took the picture of "bipartisanship" from here.

Free Digital The 8th Graders used this a great deal when they had to use copyright free images in assembling their Wiki on the Constitution. It is pretty good, but I have become more used to Creative Commons. Perhaps on your Wiki page, you could discuss which site is better between the two for you.

U.S. History Images- This is a site I got from Wikipedia (If Wikipedia has it, nothing's wrong with it... right???) I think that it has some nice images of Jefferson's Presidency. If you have a word that is straight down the historical road, this might be a good site. It has images from many Presidencies, but some of the images from Jefferson's era are quite good.

When the 8th graders composed their Wiki on the Constitution, there was some challenge about uploading the pictures. I would suggest dragging the picture you want to the Desktop and then uploading from there. On the toolbar of the Wiki should be an icon that reads "File" which will allow you to upload pictures and files from the desktop.

Remember to include all copyright release information, any rights reserved, and any other site information that is needed in order to allow you to use the image for public viewing.

Film, Book, Current Event, Song
This one is going to be tough on two levels. The first is that you have to find something that can relate. A kid said to me yesterday, "I wanted to use 'Fight Club." On first glance, Jefferson and "Fight Club" have nothing to do with one another. (Tyler and Marla have nothing on Thomas and Martha.) Yet, we were able to kick around several ways of linking the film and Jefferson. ("Rule number one: We do not talk about Federalists. Rule number two: We do not talk about Federalists!!") This helps to bring out how you can really have fun with this and force the links between the two that others might not see. The second challenge is that others need to know what you are talking about or your comments will be, "Your page was cool, but I didn't understand your film connection" or something like that. It's fine to be different and aloof, but after like ten comments, it's going to get old really quick. This is where YouTube can really help. Including a video link or some site that has the song or clip of a film could be really helpful to you.
For this one, thinking about the connection and finding where the connection is on the web is where the challenge is going to be for you.

This is one of the most useful tricks you will learn on this. Hyperlinking is the modern citation. Get used to it. Live it, love it, and deal with it because it won't be going anywhere.

* On the wiki, click "Edit" and you should see a toolbar and find the button that says "Link." It has the picture of the chain link on it (Get it?)
* Highlight the text you want hyperlinked. (What do you want readers to click on in order to take them where you want them to go?)
* Once you have highlighted the text, click on the chain link.
* Click on the box that says "External Link" (You want to take the reader somewhere outside- external- to the wiki)
You should have something that looks like this:

What you have highlighted will appear in the "Link Text" box. Inside the box below it, insert the URL of the site you want to take the reader. Click on "New Window" as well so that there are two windows up and click "Add Link" and you should be set.

This will take time, but like everything involving technology and the web, the more you play around with it and give time to it, the better your work will be. Trust me- this cannot be done unless you devote time to it. I have been doing this for a while and still must devote time outside of class to it.... Like this very blog entry.
Wiki on!
Mr. Kannan

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Work in Progress... When isn't it?

Photo Courtesy of: and

This week will bring the focus of work into the forefront of the hearts and minds of our emerging scholars in the realm of Social Studies. I certainly hope that we, as stakeholders, can do what we can to help them help themselves (I am preparing for the unit on the 1930s.)

7th Grade
Monday- Homework assessment on Chapter 9. It's five percent of students' overall grade. It's open note and open homework. The hope is that both have been done and can be used.
Tuesday- Friday- Students will be working on their wikis during class and at home. If students cannot work on their wiki at home, then the best bet for them would be to spend some time in the Media Center or my room during lunch. All wiki pages have to be done by the end of Friday's class. The wiki page is nine percent of their overall grade.

8th Grade
This week will mark the end of the 20s and the intellectual party that goes with it. In its place, will be depression... The Great Depression.
Of course, such sadness starts with the "crash" coming in the form of a two day, short answer assessment on the 1920s, valued at about 600 points, starting on Tuesday and going into Wednesday. Students can come in during lunch on Wednesday if they need more time. Students will then start on composing their assessments on the 1930s with the composition of a Bag of Poverty. This assessment is due Wednesday, March 23. The assessment will be explained on Thursday, but can be found on the "Handouts" link online on the blog.

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

Attention All Seventh Graders- Periods 1 and 2!

Let's go set up a wiki, folks!

With your instructions by your side, go to the following link and register yourself into Wikispaces so that you can be able to work on the class Wiki on Jefferson.

Click here to register

Follow the instructions on the sheet next to you on how to register. Don't deviate from these and make sure you follow correct web etiquette.

You will come to a screen that looks like this:

Go to the box that says "Add a Wiki to this list" and type in the following:

A drop down menu should appear. Once you have this, click on it so that the wiki becomes a part of your "Favorite Wikis" list. Click on it so that you can get to it.

Once you are there, just read it over to yourself and we will talk about what we are doing in just a moment. You should see your username in the top right corner as logged in something like this:

Make sure you have read all of the instructions, the word wall, and click on the sample for "Bipartisanship" to see what you are going to be finalizing in a week.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, March 4, 2011

Commencement: The end of one phase and the start of another

As we approach the start of the third trimester, it might be important to remind all stakeholders of what is at stake. It is in this trimester that the strides taken will be not towards the accomplishment of a goal in the present, but rather one in the future. Third Trimester should be the moment when students start envisioning themselves in the future. This is the time when the inevitable question of "next year" becomes more real, with definable feature. To this end, it becomes important for students to understand that what is undertaken now is movement towards the future.

7th Grade
* As students become used to the idea of a "race towards 100," we start chapter 9 this week. Students need to be completing nightly reading and the corresponding Check Your Progress questions that go with each section. As we trace the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson from start to finish, students will be given a homework assessment on Monday the 14th, with the completion of a collaborative Wiki done on Thursday the 18th. Success in both lies with what is done this week.

8th Grade
* The exploration of Culture of the 1920s is still wide open, based on student interest- Independent studies can be pursued. Our in class time will be spent exploring the ecstasy and pain in the Harlem Renaissance. When Hughes describes the end of the 1920s as the disappearance of "sun and snow," we will grasp the full force of his words with analysis of his writing, along with Hurston and Cullen, to name a few. Students are reminded that all work for the unit must be completed by Tuesday, March 15th, with the open note assessment on the 1920s being given on this day. For students who do not complete the required assignments for the unit, the only option will be for them to stay behind from the Tommy Guns Field Trip.
For those who are interested, check out the 1920s Class Blog here!

As always, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Photo courtesy of and