Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Continuing the journey

The next phase of our journey begins next week with the start of the second trimester. More commitment and focus will be needed and we begin right off the bat with challenge and arduous work for all of our students.
For the 7.3 students, the study is of the American Revolution. We are examining chapter 6 this week in terms of historical data on the American Revolution. An open note exam awaits students on Thursday. This will set up the Chapter 6 Writing Tasks which will enable students to showcase their writing talents on the material in a variety of forums. Students will choose one of the several tasks and compose their work by December 19. From this point on, the study of the Constitution and the Constitution Exam awaits.
For the 8th graders, I can only welcome them all with the deepest of humility and honor to the world of Howard Zinn. This link can help to establish some of the basic elements of Zinn's philosophy. Nightly reading in Zinn's "Robber Barons and Rebels" will be the only way through this challenge. Students will deal with open note quizzes on the reading the next day and annotating the article will be the best ways to help students navigate through the lengthy reading. I believe that this will be another challenge for our students as they emerge towards the realm of envisioning themselves as high school students.
In such challenges, the next phase of our journey awaits. Is this fun or what?
All best,
Mr. Kannan
Photo courtesy of
Journey's end. (Nathan Hayag) / CC BY 3.0

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick Blog Entry for a Quick Week

This week will only feature a two day week. With the shortened week, it is my hope that students take advantage to reflect this weekend on what they need to do to continue their progress from First Trimester or take stock on what needs to be done in the Second Trimester.

The 7th graders will have nightly homework this week in Social Studies, revolving around the reading of chapter 6, sections 2 and 3. This will set students up for the Chapter 6 Exam which will take place on Thursday, 12/1. Student extra credit reflection sheets are due at the start of Monday's class.

The 8th graders will have to finalize all of their Wiki Posts on Marx and Smith by Tuesday night at 6:00 PM. This will set students up for the reading of Howard Zinn's article, "Robber Barons and Rebels" when we return from break. Students should be prepared to be reading chunks of Zinn's writing on a nightly basis.

It is my hope that students can use the upcoming weekend to gear up strength and resolve for the arduous challenges in Social Studies that will lie ahead.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunrise and Sunset: Different sides of the same coin

Attention 7th Graders: Computers will be available during Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday's classes for in class work.

With the upcoming week, much is at stake. This will be the last week for First Trimester week. I urge all stakeholders to encourage your emerging scholar to take advantage of one last sprint towards the end of the trimester. Some breath can be taken afterwards... with the understanding that second trimester is rapidly upon us.

For 7th Grade Parents/ Guardians: Please encourage your students to use this upcoming weekend to get much in way of work done in their Chapter 5 Writing Tasks. Some sample questions you might want to ask your student:
1) " Have you finished your two work samples for the task?" Some students will be writing a formal paper, an argument about a John Adams quote, a speech to the Colonists encouraging a particular course of action, or a collage/ some type of art sculpture about the events leading to the Revolution?
2) " Have you finished your defense piece for each? " Each student is required to compose a "defense piece" that explains why a particular work sample represents that specific learning style. For example, why does the collage represent an Intuitive Feeling student? Why does the speech represent the Sensory Feeling student? Students have received instruction as to how each work sample is to be composed and how each defense piece should look. If you need copies of these notes that were given to the students, click here and look for the Daily Notes for 11.7 and 11.8, as these were the dates I delivered specific learning style instruction.
3) "What is your plan for getting Mr. Kannan his work by the end of Wednesday's class?" It's real simple, in my mind. Each student will be submitting 2 completed work samples and 2 defense pieces on Wednesday. The question you want to ask your emerging scholar is how are they going to deliver on this promise. What is their plan? This becomes the central question.
After speaking with all of them in individual conferences, it is evident that this is the weekend that will "make or break" this writing task. I hope for the former. It is going to be with your help that this is accomplished. I certainly hope you can help me help your student become stronger, forged through the fires of intense work and deadline submission.

For 8th Grade Parents/ Guardians: Your discussions with your students are going to be a bit different. At this point, everyone knows where they stand. Grades are nearly finalized for the first trimester. Your talking points with your students will reflect this.
1) "Did you finish your homework due Monday?"- This is the last assignment of the trimester. It requires forming at least seven to eight thoughts/ sentences about the opening quote for the Industrialization Unit. Students have written this quote in their packets and they were to extrapolate connections to it based on our reading in the Industrialization Unit. Students made progress on this in Thursday's class and the finished assignment is collected at the start of Monday's class. It will be worth somewhere in the arena of 150- 200 points.
2) "Do you need to complete any of the extra credit tasks?"- I opened the door and invited students to walk through it. Students were introduced to the "Alternatives to Identifications" and the "Extra Credit Book Work" tasks in their packets. They do not need to do any of them. Yet, if they are examining their grades in the class and realize that they need to make up some ground, these items are open to them. These tasks will be due Monday and can ensure that student points can be enhanced. If you need to preview these tasks, click here and view the packet on Industrialization and Progressivism, pages 29-31.
3) "Are you satisfied with your grades in Social Studies?" This is a really nice reflective moment. We do a lot with driving kids to the next level, but we really could do more on the reflection piece. Ask your kids, honestly and with sobriety, about their own opinion with their performance in Social Studies. I recently sat in on a parent conference where the parent was so open and asked the child, "Who are you in this class? What do you see yourself as?" I liked this discussion because it forced the child to define themselves, their process of assembling work, and how they saw their final product. I liked this a great deal. Ask your child where they saw strengths and where they see need for improvement. I will be completely honest to say that second trimester is much more challenging than the first. Marx and Smith next week, Howard Zinn leading into Winter Recess, Progressivism when we return, World War I and its themes of disillusionment in late January, the 1920s in late February, and The Great Depression in March. This is not light and not for the faint of heart. Engaging in reflection might steady the structure for the intensity of intellectual challenge awaiting your students.

As one phase of our journeys end this week, another starts. I anticipate all of our students being able to rise to yet another bevy of challenges that confront and eagerly await them. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

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