Friday, December 21, 2012

My hopes for Winter Break

I am not sure anyone would question the need for two weeks off.  Our students have endured a great deal over the past three weeks.  There was much placed upon them.  For the most part, they rose to the occasion.  Consider yesterday, 12.20, in Social Studies as an example of this commitment.  I made the call that I would give full credit to each student on the team if everyone made the commitment to submitting a completed Chapter 20 Enrichment sheet on time.  It is a great deal to ask 115 students to commit to something that will help others and themselves.  Essentially, by 8th period, you had people looking out for one another, asking questions about work submission, and like good politicians, scouring the wing for every possible vote or submission.  It was great to see.  In the end, all of them came through.  The work has been evident.
Certainly, break and rest is needed to recharge.  I don't doubt its importance.  Yet, I stress to all students and parents that the two weeks away from school not be away from some type of mental fitness.  I have told the students that when they come back to school in January, it will seem as if there was no such break.  There will be immediate immersion, as if a beat was not missed, as if there was no break.  It is important for students to know that I will not be assigning homework over the break.  Yet, I have assigned over 16 extra credit tasks which can be found here.  Students might be interested in completing the extra credit for the lucrative point value.  Yet, the real value of the extra credit lies in being able to exercise the mind over the break, continually ensuring that its fitness is evident so that when school starts, burnout and sluggish demeanor can be avoided.  The idea of our society being one in which all the muscles are worked out "except the right one" is something from which we can pivot away by teaching our students to be constantly mentally fit.  Reading for 20 or 30 minutes, doing some writing about thoughts, meditating, or even examining news events through the online written medium might help here.  My hope for students is that they really do see to it that their minds are kept in good shape so that our return from break is not a rude awakening in terms of work output.
In terms of Social Studies when we return, this is what I see on the horizon:
Monday, 1.7- Everything will be returned.  All work will be returned.  This includes progress reports in Social Studies.  These can be returned with parent/ guardian signature for extra credit.  The notetaking guides for sections 1 and 2 will be assigned Monday night.
Tuesday, 1.8- The notetaking guides for sections 3 and 4 and for the arc of World War I are assigned.
Wednesday, 1.9- Breakouts based on where students are as well as finalizing in class work day for notetaking guides.
Thursday, 1.10- Start previewing the Themes of World War I in small breakouts or, if we are ready, in large groups.
Friday, 1.11- Start straight lecture on Themes of World War I

The mental fitness that students commit to over break will help them be fit and sharp when they return, as the work awaiting them with open arms might make them feel that the break has simply evaporated away.
It's a common reaction! : )

I wish all of you happy holidays and restful times with family and loved ones.  I anticipate spending my break enjoying the company of my wife... and about a ton of grading.  Grades will be updated hopefully no later than January 4, 2013.
All best,
Mr. Kannan

Thursday, December 13, 2012

“I hear the train a comin/’/ It’s rollin’ round the bend. And I ain’t seen the sunshine since, I don’t know when:” The flickers and embers of World War I

I have been told by many a student that the two “most depressing units” I teach are the Holocaust and the World War I units.  Indeed, this rite of passage is nearly upon our students.  We have some small work to endure before we engage in this, but this is where we are.

The “train’s a comin’” indeed.  Dear Mr. Cash was prophetic in his insight…

This week’s work in Social Studies should be done primarily in class.  Certainly, it can be done outside of class.  Yet, I anticipate that if students utilize their in class time well, they would be able to finish the work without having to devote as much time outside of class.  My hope is that this would help students budget their time so that other work, more pressing work that needs to be done, can be completed in thorough and worthwhile fashion.

Monday- Wednesday- In class work on Chapter 20 Enrichment sheet.  Make progress so that it can be finished by the end of Thursday’s class period.  Individual conferences will be held with students as they work to ensure that time can be used well. 
Thursday- Chapter 20 Enrichment Sheets will be collected by the end of the period.  On this particular task, NO EXTENSIONS CAN BE GRANTED.  THIS SHOULD NOT EXTEND PAST THURSDAY.  WE HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO DO.  ADHERENCE TO DEADLINES IS ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS TOWARDS SUCCESSFUL WORK HABITS.  Please make sure all work is ready to go by the end of Thursday’s class.  Completed work will be valued at 800 points.
Friday- Discuss the opening quote of the Industrialization and Progressivism Unit.  Then, start the World War I Unit with the beginning quote from Virginia Woolf.  The definition of Modernism will be unveiled.

Please help me help your students by encouraging them to complete the Extra Credit Tasks that are being given out on Wednesday and are due on January 7.  They can be lucrative.  Grades will be updated, most likely, by the start of the new year.  It will be critical for students to recognize that if they need to complete extra credit, they do so by the January 7 deadline.  No extensions will be granted for this one.

“And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.”  Yes, the World War I Unit begins this week.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, December 7, 2012

The upcoming week: 12.10 to 12.14

It is a challenging time of year.  Certainly, our students feel this.  I can only hope that all of our stakeholders are doing their best to assist our students in a tough stretch.  The two week Winter Recess will be beneficial to allow a certain moment of tarry or recharge before another strenuous stretch kicks off in January.
For Social Studies, students will have some challenging elements this week:
Monday- Reading of Dr. Seuss' "Yertle the Turtle."  Homework for this will be for students to complete questions on the reading.
Tuesday- Reading of Kozol's article on illiteracy in America.  Homework for this will be for students to compelte questions on the reading.
Wednesday- In class assessment on Kozol, Dr. Seuss, LeGuin, Bradbury, and Swami Vivekananda.  (That's a real interesting dinner party right there.)  Students may use their homework for successful completion of this assessment.
Thursday and Friday- Students may work in class on their Chapter 20 Enrichment Sheets.

At this point in time, grades have not been updated.  By 12.9, I will have updated students' status in terms of turning in assignments, not having turned in work, and so on.  Yet, the actual tabulation of scores and recording of comments will not be done until the Winter Recess.  So much of the work being submitted goes beyond numeric scores and must reside in the domain of talking about work, identifying points of strength and potential improvement areas.  As you can tell, this will take time.  I am sorry about the delay, but I assure you that I will have inputted scores and comments before January 5.  I think that talking points with students might be more on the reflective side of things, though.  Perhaps, preliminary discussions can be present with children as to how they feel they did on their work, did they put forth their best effort, where they think the work can improve.  This reflective discussion between process and product might be nice to have even before the final score is recorded.

I think that this is where we are and where we hope to be.  Trapped between the world of what is and what can be, we seem to meander on, "boats against the current."  (I am getting ready for the 1920s unit as you can see.)  If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

If you are interested in putting to memory the closing line to Swami Vivekananda's address to the Parliament of Religions Conference in 1893, here it is:

I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The inevitable sounds of second trimester.. the sound of work.

At this point, I am fairly confident that students understand that  there is really no avoiding the reality of challenging work that lies ahead.  It is in the second trimester where so much of the learning process takes flight.  This is the trimester that really tests the mettle, the intestinal fortitude, of students.  It is at this point in the year where those who are truly ready to embrace the arduous path of scholarship begin to ascent and those who were merely trying to fulfill its cliches seem to realize that more commitment is needed.  It is at this point where the maturation process begins to illuminate itself, almost like a self- awakening being of consciousness coming to life...

Or, maybe, it's just colder so that the will to resist is less...

In any event, the work is beginning to become evident and pile up in the lives of our students.  The only path beyond this beast is to be able to plan effectively in a long term setting.  The use of daily planners, online syllabi, and plotting out how work can be completed is the way out of this purgatory of work.  It is through this that some of the most effective habits of high school life will be present. Certainly, this is the case with this week in Social Studies:
Monday- Tuesday:  Howard Zinn Project and Add on Sheets should be near completion.
Tuesday- Students will be asked to either submit work or take an extension until Friday, at which time work can be submitted to me during 5th period lunch.
Wednesday- Discussion of Swami Vivekananda and giving voice to Progressivism.  Students will have homework based on three of Swami's quotations.
Thursday- Reading and Discussion of LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas."  There will be questions regarding the story's connection to Progressivism to be answered from it.
Friday- We will  be reading and discussing Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day."  Our discussion will surround the Progressivist themes in the story.

The work is maintaining its challenging edge, but it is delivering greater ferocity to our students, ones who hope to embrace the torch of scholarship.  It is my hope that they are ready to accept a challenge that defines the very essence of "challenge."

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, November 23, 2012

Zinn Projects Are on the Way!

This week is where the Howard Zinn Assessments take hold. Please remember that all projects and the add- on sheets are due on Tuesday, December 4.

Week of 11.26- 11.30
8.2 Social Studies
Mr. Kannan

Monday:  Introduce Zinn Assessments.HW:  Be ready to declare your Zinn Assessment choice tomorrow.
Tuesday: Questions on Zinn Assessments.  Declare and begin working on Zinn Assessment.HW:  Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment due on December 4.
Wednesday:   In class work time on Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment.HW:  Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment due on December 4.
Thursday:    In class work time on Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment.  Conference time with individual students.HW:  Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment due on December 4.
Friday:     In class work time on Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment.  Conference time with individual students.HW:  Zinn Assessment and Add on Zinn Assessment due on December 4.
Possible questions for stakeholders to ask students:
1)  Why have you chosen the task you have?  What about it interested you?
2)  How are you going to "work backwards" in completing the task by Tuesday September 4?  How are you going to make sure that both the Add- On  and the project will be due by Tuesday?
  • A schedule might work here.  It could look like this:
    • Wednesday, November 28-_________________________ (What will be done)
    • Thursday, November 29- ___________________________ (What will be done)
    • Friday, November 30- _____________________________ (What will be done)
    • Saturday, 12.1 and Sunday 12.2 ______________________ (What will be done- Keeping in mind that Saturday is the placement exam at OPRFHS.)
    • Monday, 12.3_________________________ (Final touches added)
3)  Are you working on your own?  (If they give you a name of a student that they are going to be working with, ask yourself- and them- if this collaboration will actually work and work well.)
4)  Are you taking a project to get you the grade or to challenge your abilities?  It's important for students to start distilling between both, if there is a collision between the two.  It's really important for them to talk to you about these things.  Next year, many of your discussions will revolve around grades and risk taking in terms of classes and so on.  It's not a bad dialogue to begin appropriating now.
5)  How can you "like" our work?  What can you do to add something distinctly "you" in it?

These are topics that I will be broaching with your students.  It might not be a bad idea for you to do so, as well.  Greater chances of success lie when they hear both of us speaking the same words, engaging them in the same discussion.

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Welcome to the "whole year inn," complete with Howard Zinn!

It's Howard Zinn all the way down and I can only wish you the best in dealing with Howard Zinn.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Week of 11.12- 11.16
8.2 Social Studies
Mr. Kannan

Monday:  Quiz today In class choice:  Work on Zinn reading for tonight independently and silently or meet in “The Place to Be” for Breakout discussion.HW:  Read Parts IV to VIII in Zinn.  Expect a quiz tomorrow.  Make sure you annotate for required elements.
Tuesday: Time to expect a quiz.  Then, work on tonight’s reading.HW:  Read parts IX- XIII and annotate for that which is essential.
Wednesday:   Quiz today. Read parts XIV to XVII in class.  Finish for homework.HW:  Finish XIV to XVII in Zinn tonight.  Expect another quiz tomorrow.
Thursday:   Time to expect a quiz.  Work on Zinn reading for tonight independently and silently or meet in “The Place to Be” for Breakout discussion.HW:  Finish XVIII to XX tonight.  
Friday:  Finish reading Zinn Article.  Annotate for Themes in Progressivism.HW:  Catch up in all Zinn reading.  Prepare for exam on Zinn next week. (This would mean that all sections have been annotated and that you are clear about essential concepts that should have been annotated in each section.)   It’s about time we threw one out there.   If you are nice, it could be an open note exam.  If not, it is what it is.  Just so you know, your Social Studies teacher does like being told that the New York Yankees is the best baseball team in history.  This would count as being “nice.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Welcome to the World of Marx and Smith!

This sums it all up!
Week of 10.29- 11.2
8.2 Social Studies
Mr. Kannan

Monday:  Read Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody!   Who Are You?”  Articulate the themes of Progressivism that are present.  Examine film clips and find themes of Progressivism in them.HW:  Finish Themes of Progressivism in Dickinson, Lincoln, and film clips.  Submit Thursday..
Tuesday:  Start Discussion of Marx and SmithHW:  Complete Marx and Smith Enrichment sheet.  Specified numbers from class.  Finish Themes of Progressivism in Dickinson, Lincoln, and Film Clips.  All Edmodo postings must be done by Friday night at 6:00 PM.
Wednesday:  Continue discussion of Marx and Smith.HW:  Work on Marx and Smith Enrichment Sheet.  Finish Themes of Progressivism in Dickinson, Lincoln, and Film Clips.  All Edmodo postings must be done by Friday night at 6:00 PM.
Thursday:  Conclude Marx and Smith Lecture.  Collect Themes of Progressivism in Dickinson, Lincoln, and Film Clips.HW:  Complete Marx and Smith Enrichment Sheet.  All Edmodo postings must be done by Friday night at 6:00 PM.
Friday:  Last day for Edmodo Postings/ Breakout on Marx and Smith Enrichment Sheet.HW:  All Edmodo postings must be done by tonight at 6:00 PM.

I can only wish nothing but the best this week as it will be a tough one!
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, October 21, 2012

About 25 different projects on Progressivism... all at the same time!

This week will mark our foray into the world of Progressivism.  In truly differentiated and middle school fashion, students have chosen different projects to explore Progressivism.  Some are to complete identifications, while others are to compose a blog, while some are to design a comic book.  If anyone were to enter the classroom, wordles, glogs, YouTube videos, would be along side analysis of speeches, writing identifications, and considering with which modern political party a Progressivist would be aligned.  Since students are all doing different projects, "one size does not fit all."  I have come up with small mini- lessons about each project that students can access by clicking here.
Students will also be receiving their graded identifications on Industrialization this week.  I commented on all of those that needed commenting.  I have made sure that the comments were cryptic enough for students to have questions about my feedback.  This is where a lunchtime appointment is needed to be made so that we can go over student writing in the hopes of making it better.  The tutorial approach is the only way out of this one.  In order for students to understand how to be better writers, they have to sit down with their work and examine it, looking at it and confronting it for what it is in the hopes of making it better.  It is only through this initiative that we can see students challenge and push themselves in their writing to be what it should be from what it is.  Please encourage your students to meet with me if they have questions about their writing.
Our schedule:
Monday- Thursday:  Work on Progressivist Projects and make sure that three identifications on Chapter 19 have been completed.  I will be calling for these early in the week.
Friday- City Chase Field Trip with all projects due at 5:00 PM.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Progressivism and Industrialization: More questions than answers....

This weekend, students will be engaging in the reading of chapter 19.  They will be wrestling with the issues brought out by Progressivism and the threat it posed to industrialization.  At this point, students will have to reflect and think about which themes are more reflective of their nation, their identity, and the people they are now and the ones they hope to be.  While they wrestle with this, here is our schedule of work for the week:
Monday- Students will finish discussion of Progressivism themes and their identifications for chapter 19 should be done.  If they have played their cards correctly, they will only have had to do three identifications.  We will be concluding our discussion of Progressivism with an excerpt from Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle."
Tuesday- Students will take a Common Core Assessment on "The Jungle."  This will be done in class and with resources such as the textbook and student packets available.
Wednesday- Students will begin the process of selecting their projects on Progressivism.  For homework, students should be working on their projects.
Thursday- Students will declare their topics and begin work on their projects or work on Edmodo.  For homework, students should be working on their projects which are due on Friday, October 26 at 5:00 PM.
Friday- As we have a Team Activity planned, students will need to be working on their projects outside of class and make sure their identifications for chapter 19 are done.

Students will receive their graded identifications from the Industrialization unit on 10.22.  If you would like to read a course overview from conferences, please click here.

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Process and Product Merging Towards Scholarship

For Wednesday's class, go to:

  At this point in time, my sincere hope is that all of our emerging scholars are working on their identifications.  This assignment forces students to combine elements of the textbook and of their own understanding of historical figures to demonstrate a thought provoking paragraph about the people who "made" history.  Students will have their identifications collected Wednesday.
The emphasis on process and product is a rather large one for me.  Throughout my career, I have made the case in a most determined manner that the process by which one constructs work helps to establish the product reflective of such effort.  Good work is not simply "done."  It is the result of a process.  For our students, my hope is that they are able to walk away from this class, this team, and this district with the understanding that process and product go together.  The habit of developing academic success, embryonic steps on the path of scholarship, is part of the culture of achievement that I underscore as the essence of fiber of our being in B405.  I do hope that you will help me help your students by stressing to them that work outside of class is essential in order to find success in it.  Simple questions such as, "Do you have your identifications done," or "Can I look over your identifications," or even, "Which theme did you seem to understand the most in your identifications, "can initiate a process outside of class that I have been stressing to our students within it.
Outside of identifications being due Wednesday, will be starting our study of the 2012 Elections through the online learning environment of Edmodo.  Students will start this on Wednesday and while each Wednesday leading to the election will be devoted to online learning, I stress that students should be posting their thoughts outside of class as well.  A cumulative assessment on these posts will be offered as Election Day approaches, a day that will not only test the fiber of those running for the highest offices in the land but also a day that will test the mettle of our students, as well.
Finally, students will be reading chapter 19 on Thursday night and Friday through the weekend with identifications to be composed on chapter 19 in the process.  By the time the opening theme of "Football Night in America" on Sunday night blares over the television airwaves, students should have five identifications done on chapter 19.  They should not be surprised if there is a spot check on this on Monday or Tuesday.

As we approach conferences, please click here for a cover sheet as to what has been covered thus far in the class and where we hope to be at our next scheduled moment to meet.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Identifications: The First of Many!

This week will commence our study of themes in American History.  The first nine are revealed to students this week.  By the end of the year, students will have over 75 in their arsenal.  The study of themes in American History is an essential component to assembling meaning in history and connecting it to the modern setting.  Students will take these themes and compose the first of many identifications that will be written over the course of the year.  For this week, student breakdown of work will resemble the following schedule:
Monday- Introduce the first four themes in class.  Students should review these themes for homework and arrive to class with any questions about them.
Tuesday- Conclude the theme lecture.  Students should start seeing if they could match up anyone in chapter 17 and 18 to the themes.  Example:  Who would represent the theme of might versus right?  Who could represent the theme of the hands that built America were not always the ones who held its wealth?
Wednesday- Take questions.  Introduce identifications.  Six identifications need to be written by Wednesday, 10.10.  Introduce the prewrite for students and start the process of writing.
Thursday- In class conferences while students write. 
Friday- In class conference while students write.  Friday is the last day I will read any rough drafts. Students should make sure that 6 identifications are ready to be submitted by Wednesday.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Immigration Blues: Hues of 8.2 Perception

Click here for the Immigration Bag of Websites

 Once you are done viewing the bag of websites, click here for the Immigration Task Assessment.

In the upcoming week, students are going to be working towards a stronger grasp of immigration.  Our task will involve students examining different internet sources regarding immigration concepts and then assembling a powerpoint/ googledocs slide show regarding a choice of assessment topic.  The breakdown that I envision:
Monday, 9.24- Finishing viewing Bag of Websites.
Tuesday, 9.25- Explain Immigration Task
Wednesday, 9.26- Friday, 9.28- Work on Immigration Tasks
All immigration tasks need to be shared and/ or emailed with me by Saturday night, 9.29, at 5:00 PM.  Students can work alone or with a partner on this task.

In the final analysis, the intention is for students to be able to gain greater insight into the connective thread of immigration that binds us all.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Textbook reading, money, and 8.2 Social Studies: Compatriots in scholarship

It was wonderful to see so many of you at Curriculum Night. I was fortunate to speak, albeit very little, about the small part I play in your child's pursuit of scholarship. To all of those who attended and gave your time and attention to our team's presentation, I am humbled by your dedication.
This week is another challenging one for our students.  Monday and Tuesday night should be spend ensuring that all work is done.  Wednesday will be spent in a breakout session.  For those who need more time in completing their work, time will be granted.  For those who are done, we will speak about the assessment that is scheduled for Thursday.   Students will be notified if the assessment is open note or closed note.  Certainly, if they work well, it is an open note, open homework assessment and determinations will be announced regarding this Wednesday.  Once Thursday's assessment is completed, we start a mini lesson on immigration Friday.
Students need to be working on their 8 sections of textbook reading each night or as much as possible.  Time will be granted in class, but there cannot be enough time with only in class work granted.  Please help me help your child by asking to see their notes on the textbook reading.  Scan over their work by seeing if they have used the word "because" in a prominent fashion in their notes and if they have included relevant vocabulary in their answers.  Are their notes reflective of comprehension found in the text?  These are questions that you can use to guide your assessment of their work, work that will help them with their own assessment on Thursday.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I hope students can find themselves immersed in the study of American History after the Civil War, a narrative of how money can drive people to do things that can only be the source of more questions.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Money... And American History

Please note:  Periods 3 and 4 will have their scores on Learning Styles Assessment inputted by 1:00 PM on Saturday.  Periods 7 and 8 will have their scores inputted by 1:00 PM on Sunday.

We commence our study of industrialization this week.  The game of Monopoly sets our stage to understand the condition of wealth and acquisition of money that spawned both the rise of the world's greatest industrialists as well as the greatest emergence of the robber baron.  In this study, students will understand the power of industrialization, the undercurrent of economics that runs through American History, as well as the balance of power between those who possessed wealth and those who did not.  The resonance of theories of rights and government as advocated by Marx and Smith will be delved in this unit as well as reading the work of Howard Zinn.  We will study the world of illiteracy and discuss the obligations of the promises and hope of a great democracy.  From the inventions to the unions to Swami Vivekenanda to a world of Yertle the Turtle, this unit will be a whirlwind to begin our study of American History.

That's fairly good for the first content unit.

This week, students will receive their at home copies of the textbook.  They will also start working out of their textbook, as well as out of their packets.  My hope is that students will be able to rise to yet another challenge of being able to work well in class and outside of it.

I also look forward to seeing you at Curriculum Night on Wednesday.  If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Moving from Learning Styles with its understanding never far behind

This week, we conclude our discussions of learning styles.  It is something that I believe will remain with students over the course of the year as we will be revisiting it constantly.  It will provide the frame of reference for how students will learn and be assessed.

This week, students should focus on completing their homework from the learning styles packet by Tuesday.  This will give them enough time to prepare for Thursday's assessment on Learning Styles.  Students will be given a study guide for the assessment on Thursday.  A copy of it can be found on this week's syllabus by clicking the hyperlink in the Social Studies homework box.  On Friday, students will start their study of Industrialization by playing Monopoly in class.  If students would like to bring in their own games of Monopoly from home, they can earn 20 points of extra credit.

On Wednesday, our instruction is going to focus on transcendental meditation.  My hope is that students will embrace this practice and make it part of their daily routines.  There are many benefits that can help our students embrace meditation on their path towards scholarship and improvement of both their mental and intellectual health states of health. 

I look forward to seeing all of our stakeholders at Curriculum Night, next Wednesday night.  If I can be of any further help or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Work for the week of 8.27- How we learn

The process of metacognition and brain study develops this week in Social Studies.  Students did a commendable job of exploring their own senses of trust and openness with their personal inventories and questions about the class.  The answers to many of these questions will be revealed over the course of the year.  The reflections offered in the personal inventories reveal some very interesting human beings.  I believe that many of the students we have this year can offer some unique insight into what will be offered in the class.
For this week, please remind your student to make sure that they are keeping up with posting on the backchannel for the learning styles lecture (found here) and that they are completing the needed assignments this week.  It might also be worthwhile to pay attention to the basic ideas coming out of the Republican National Convention this week and the Democratic National Convention in the following week.  After the Democratic convention, we will be engaging in a weekly analysis of the Presidential Election through online community forums that will invite students to participate in discussions about the candidates, the issues, and the politics of the 2012 Presidential Election.  Extra credit is available for any write up this week on what is offered in the Republican National Convention.

On a more somber note, some students are already behind in work.  I encourage stakeholders to ask the tough questions to students such as "What work are you missing" or the more positive spin, "What else can be done to bolster your grade in Social Studies?"  There is no limit to additional work completed and it can be a source of great pride if a student has been able to go throughout the trimester with nothing less than a 100%.  This should be the goal for all of us: Nothing less than 100%.

If I can be of any further assistance or help, please do not hesitate to contact me through home phone or through email.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome back! Your dreams were your ticket... away??

 At this point, if the reality of school has not hit you.  I am sure it will... soon.  Very, very soon..

I want to wish all of you a hearty "welcome back."  We certainly have a great deal to do, starting on Wednesday.  For those of you with me for Social Studies this year, allow me to give you a Top 5 list of things that you might want to consider doing before we meet on Wednesday.

5- Get some rest.  You will need it.  I anticipate the work starting on Wednesday and going until May 28.  (I will give you the 29th off and with graduation tentatively scheduled for the 30th, it works out well.)

4-  Check out the elements on my homepage at the school website.  Click here.
These items will help you get a better feel for what you are up against, including syllabi for the next two weeks.

3-  Pay some attention to the basic ideas of the political campaigns.  We will start very soon with a weekly analysis on them, indepth with the use of technology helping us.

2- Be ready to declare some type of knowledge that you have acquired this summer.  This gives you two days to find something, anything, that would represent knowledge you have acquired and the ability to showcase it.

1-  Reflect on what you want out of this year.  Don't enter your last year at Julian as a vacuous being with no expectations.  Think about where you succeeded last year.  How are we going to duplicate that success this year?  Think about where you fell short last year.  How are we going to avoid that same condition this year?  If you come in with at least three real and defined goals, I assure you that I and the other team teachers will do our best to help you achieve them.  Don't say, "Do well in school." Rather, say, "I don't want to have a single missing homework assignment."  Don't say, "Be good."  Rather, say, "I don't want to get a detention or referral this year."  Don't say, "Get into good classes at the high school."  Rather, say, "I want to be placed in all Honors classes" or "I want to be able to choose which Honors classes I want to take next year."  Think carefully because once Wednesday rolls around, the time for thinking is combined with the time for action.

I wish you nothing but the best in these next couple of days.  Come Wednesday- Welcome to 8.2 Social Studies!
All best.
 Mr. Kannan

Photo courtesy of
with rights stipulated

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset: My last post for the 2011- 2012 School Year

Attention:  If you like, click here for a video of the 8.3 town hall visit with Governor Quinn! 

Also, click here for Governor Quinn's Twitter feed about his visit to Julian.

For the seventh grade bag of websites, click here!

I have decided that this is going to be my last blog entry for the year.  We teach all the way through, ensuring that each day is of instructional merit.  Yet, I will have this as my last blog entry and hope that your students, our emerging scholars, will let you know of all the intellectually enriching elements in which we will engage in that last week.
I want to thank all of the students for a journey that has featured different benchmarks for success.  Some have been able to embrace the first steps taken towards scholarship.  Others have begun to understand the arduous demands that are needed to even remotely compete on such a level.  I can honestly say that each and every one of the students I have worked with this year has changed in some way, pivoting towards this ideal, one that guides our vessels amidst turbulent seas.  For this, I can only bow my head and offer gratitude.
Seventh graders will engage in exploratory activities regarding the curriculum and the year this year.  This will take the form of answering reflective questions Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  On Thursday and Friday, we will examine different video clips and examine the presence of American History in these clips.  For the eighth graders, we will examine short stories by Gordimer, Kurieshi, LeGuin, and Tolstoy this week.  We will examine how the concept of "strange passengers" is both within us and outside of us.  Our world consists of "strange passengers," individuals who we don't choose to sit next nor who choose to sit next to us.  We simply board our vessels of voyage and sit next to them.  It is up to us whether or not we can make peace with the "strangeness" they possess and we possess in ourselves.
8.3 students can find their finalized Social Studies grades updated as of Monday, while 7.3 students will have their grades finalized before the end of Memorial Day weekend.
For the seventh graders, I wish a great summer filled with intellectual growth and curiosity as the next and final chapter in their Julian careers remains to be the page on which they will write.  For the eighth graders, I wish nothing but my best as they enter the great horizon of high school.  I wish them nothing but the best as they strive to embrace the idea that the fight goes on, the cause endures, and the dream shall never die.  It has been an honor to be a momentary stop along your causeway of consciousness and being in the world.  I have been privileged to work with you and to both teach you and learn from you.   I can only hope that you embrace the hope and faith for good that lies within you.  As Sri Raghavendra says, "Faith can revive the dead while doubt can cause great harm."  To the eighth graders, I hope you possess faith in yourself and do not doubt what great intellectual strides you can take.  Thank you all for being you.  I will think of all of you, seventh and eighth, frequently this summer as I travel around India.
All best.
Mr. Kannan
Photo courtesy of with rights stipulated here

Friday, May 11, 2012

The week of the 14th with the end in sight

For 8th graders who wish to choose which film on which to write their Holocaust assessment, please know that it is past 8:00 AM.  At this time, the googledoc is closed and you are going to have to choose on what I select.  I wish you nothing but my deepest best... you might need it!

 8th Graders who need to access the Bag of Websites to conclude the Holocaust Unit, please click here!

It's real simple for both groups.  7th graders have their Final Assessments due Friday, while the 8th graders will finish with their Holocaust Assessment on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how things progress with the viewing of film clips.  Much at stake with much to finish this week.
Best wishes to all.
Mr. Kannan

Syllabus for 7.3 Social Studies
Week of 5.14 – 5.18
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:    Final Assessments are due on Friday.  Turn in your textbook before Friday. 
HW:  Final Assessments are due on Friday.  If you are not going to be present, please make sure your Final Assessment is submitted before you depart.

Syllabus for 8.3 Social Studies
Week of 5.14- 5.18
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:  Continue Holocaust Film Assessment, with  explore through film. clips. 
HW:    Make sure you are complete with the Holocaust film analysis on your prewrites.
Tuesday:  In class Holocaust Assessment.  Due at end of period.    This is dependent on how far we progress from Monday.  If it turns out we need more time, we roll the Assessment into Wednesday.
HW:   What do you take away from the Holocaust Unit?  How can you change lives based on what you have gained from it?  Extra credit if you compose a small and worthwhile paragraph on this topic.  Speak in specific and clear terms.
Wednesday:   Discuss Gordimer’s “Once Upon a Time.”    
HW:  How is Oak Park like the community that Gordimer describes?  How is Oak Park different than the community that Gordimer describes?  Where are our walls?
Thursday:  Read “My Son, the Fanatic” by Kurieshi.
HW:   Assess where we are in the threat of terrorism in the modern setting.  Be ready to explain if we are pursuing the terrorists or if we , ourselves, have become the terrorists in pursuing them?
Friday:   Finish enrichment sheet on either stories covered this week.  Surprise pairing ups.  You can elect not to work with that person, but it is strongly suggested that you do.
HW:     Make sure enrichment sheets are done either by the end of class or submitted at the start of Monday’s class.

Friday, May 4, 2012

This week is a tough one!

To put it in the most simple of terms, this is a tough week in Social Studies.  Good luck to you all!
8th graders- Homework from Karen Gershon's poems are due Monday with the Holocaust unit ending this week.  I wonder what the assessment will be?  Could we have something where the assessment is only one question... in 27 parts?  (We miss you, Rodney Dangerfield!)
7th graders- Monday is declaration day for your Final Assessments.  Then, it's working on your Final Assessments and being able to submit them on Friday, 5.18.
Best wishes to all of you.  I think you will need it.
Mr. Kannan

Syllabus for 7.3 Social Studies
Week of 5.7 – 5.11
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:  Start working on Final Assessment.
HW:  Final Assessments due on 5.18.  This is the last chance to proactively raise your grade.
Tuesday:    In class working on Final Assessment.
HW:  Keep up with scaffolded breakdown of what needs to be done.
Wednesday:   Continue making progress on Final Assessment.
HW:  At this point, you should have made some level of progress in completing your Final Assessment.  Have you thought about submitting a rough draft?
Thursday:   Progress through Final Assessment construction.  Conferences.
HW:   Assess where you are with your Final Assessment.  In the final analysis, the work is yours, but it might be good to get opinions from parent/ guardians.
Friday:    Final Assessments are due in one week.  Conferences.
HW:  One week from now, your Final Assessments are due.  Will your Final Assessment reflect your best work and your best chance of getting the grade that is most representative of your work and your problem solving abilities?

Syllabus for 8.3 Social Studies
Week of 5.7- 5.11
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:  Discuss Day V:  Holocaust Lecture Notes and poems on “Lessons.” 
HW:    Reflect on what the ultimate lesson is on the Holocaust.  Man, this sounds like a heck of an ending question for the class… Just a thought.
Tuesday:  Sylvia Plath and “Daddy.”  (It is official:  You all have been indoctrinated into the realm of depressing poems if you are reading Plath.  Congrats and welcome!)
HW:   Read “Riddle” and “Portrait of a House Detective” and answer questions on these questions. After these questions, explain how the Plath poem represents the idea that “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.”  Explain this in a solid and thorough paragraph with reference to the poem and Plath’s confessions through it.  These will be collected tomorrow.
Wednesday:   Close with “God,” “Experiments with God” and “Ani Maamin.”
HW:  Answer questions on poems.  These will be collected tomorrow.
Thursday/ Friday:  Film Clips of the Holocaust unit.
HW:   Finish writing assignment based off of film clips.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Don't Give Up:" Sage Advice from Peter Gabriel and about 7.8/3 Social Studies

As long as we seem to be on the confessional edge, I cannot conceal my deep love for the music of Peter Gabriel.  I have a difficult time finding an artist who has been able to capture more of the arc of human development like Gabriel.  I think that there is something in his music that can connect to the unbridled optimism of consciousness in one moment with the pangs of desperation, the very worst of what it means to be human in the next moment.  I discovered him as a sophomore in high school and I can safely say that my discovery of his music was probably the best thing out of high school...  That and too many lunch periods spent at Second Hand Tunes browsing over scratched Peter Gabriel LP's and cassettes.  (I am fairly sure I just lost most of my students with that sentence.)
One of Gabriel's best songs is his most simply titled, "Don't Give Up."  As we enter the last month of the school year, better words could not sum up my message to the students.
Don't give up.  There's a place where you belong.

7.3 Students- All edmodo posts need to be done by Sunday.  Expect homework all this week.  Monday will be Station Rotation questions.  Tuesday and Wednesday should be spent preparing for the Civil War Quiz on Thursday.  Wednesday will also be the day when students will receive the Final Assessment.  The quiz will take place on Thursday with questions on the Final Assessment taken on Friday.

8.3 Students- Holocaust Art paragraphs and thematic analysis enrichment sheets are due Monday.  Expect the poetry of the Holocaust to be present all week with the discussion of the week ending with Karen Gershon.

Syllabus for 7.3 Social Studies
Week of 4.30 – 5.4
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:  15-1  Station Rotation.
HW:  Finish for homework tonight any and all questions from Station Rotation.
Tuesday:       Read 15-2 and 15-3 in class and finish work assigned from it.
HW:  Finish 15-2 and 15-3 questions as assigned in class.        
Wednesday:  Finish chapter 15.  Review and assemble small index cards.  Quiz Thursday.
HW:  Study for quiz, review Final Assessment.  Declare Final Assessment choices by Monday,  5.9.
Thursday:   Take quiz.  Look over and examine Final Assessment.
HW:   Start assessing which final assessment choice you are going to take.
Friday:    Discuss final assessment.  Take any and all questions.
HW:  Final Assessment Choices are declared on Monday.  You might even want to start working on your Final Assessment.

Syllabus for 8.3 Social Studies
Week of 4.30- 5.4
Mr. Kannan- Email:
Blog Address:
Monday:  Introduce “Holocaust Poetry” and the lines.
HW:    Annotate “How Can I See You, Love” for themes in Holocaust literature.
Tuesday:   Read “He Was Lucky” and “Massacre of the Boys.”
HW:  Finish questions on “He Was Lucky” and “Massacre of the Boys” or annotate “Dusk” and “I Am a Jew” for themes in Holocaust literature.  This assignment must be done in complete sentences and with thorough detail.  It will be collected tomorrow.
Wednesday:  The Silent Majority.  Introduce Simone Weil’s vision of Survivor’s Guilt and read “I Did Not Manage to Save,” “Archive Film Material,” “I, the Survivor.” And “La Pathetique.”
HW:  Pick one poem to answer questions.  These questions should be done in thorough detail with line support and complete sentences.  It will be collected tomorrow.
Thursday:    Introduce Karen Gershon.  Analyze her biography and what some of the implications are from it. 
HW:   Annotate Gershon Biography for evidence that supports the following statement:  “Karen Gershon represents the unending pain of the Holocaust.”

Friday:  Read Gershon’s “I Was Not There” and “Race.”  Discuss the poems in light of Gershon’s life and annotate for themes in Holocaust Literature.
HW:    Answer questions on Karen Gershon’s poetry in complete sentences and thorough detail.  This assignment will be collected on Monday.