Friday, January 25, 2013

Sometimes, beautiful things can be rather ugly: This week in Social Studies


The first impression that the student has of conference week is of the two half days.  There is a sense of euphoria within them because they believe that their time at school is lessened.  It is here where there is some semblance of beauty.

I am reminded of the moment in Doctor Zhivago when Yuri learns about how beauty can be deceptive.
In a shortened week, our students will be dealing with William Butler Yeats, literary criticism, and Katherine Mansfield.  This is where a potential note of ugliness might exist in the student mindset of the "beauty" of conference week.  I supposed we are all Yuris, struggling to find meaning... don't get me started on the emotional brutality of that ending...

Here is our work for this week:  IF YOU NEED A COPY OF THE ORPHANS PACKET, CLICK HERE.    You will need pages 88-97 in your possession.  Please take care of this as the assessment this week will be even more difficult if you do not have an Orphans packet... That's right, everyone needs to take care of an orphan... packet, that is.

Monday- Take questions on Yeats.  Take quiz on Yeats' "The Second Coming."
HW:  Students should make sure they are caught up on all reading and annotations:  Keller, Pirandello, Reed, and I.W.W. Stance on War.  Bring blue "orphans" packets to class tomorrow.  Find your 15 minutes of meditation.  You will need it this week.

Tuesday- Discuss literary criticism with "How to Read Literature Like a Professor."  Go over basic ideas from text.  Students should annotate in class what is discussed and make sure they are clear on these ideas.
HW:  Smart students will read ahead, or start, reading Mansfield's "The Garden Party."  I will be hosting a read aloud of this work Wednesday during lunch.  Passes will be made available on Wednesday morning.  This is the only time I will read the story aloud for interested students.

Wednesday- Finish with Foster's notions of literary criticism.  Today, during lunch, I will offer a read aloud of Mansfield's "The Garden Party."
HW:  Smart students might want to read ahead with Mansfield's work. Students can download the assessment tonight from this blog or the school website or the team page in order to work ahead on it.  The assessment is due on Monday at the start of class.

Thursday- Introduce the assessment on Foster/ Mansfield.  This Foster/ Mansfield enrichment sheet is due at the start of Monday's class.  It is worth 5000 points.
HW:  Work on Foster/ Mansfield Enrichment Sheet Assessment.  Due at the start of Monday's class.  Please note:  If students choose to not submit this assignment in a completed format, the traditional floor of  40% will not be applicable.  This assignment is something I place in a more elevated category than the other work I have assigned.  In terms of its academic challenge, intellectual caliber, and amount of work needed to complete it in a satisfactory manner, I am eliminating the floor for this one assignment.  If students do not submit it, there will be an alternate means by which students can obtain the 40%, but there will be no floor for this assignment and I feel full disclosure is needed.

Indeed, I consider this particular assessment one of the toughest I have ever composed.  Asking students to read "The Garden Party," synthesize its ideas and relevance to World War I and then apply literary criticism principles to it represents the essence of challenge, differentiated instruction, and the hope and aspiration of the Common Core curriculum in delving deep into literature and ideas as opposed to simply glossing them over.  It's tough.  It's majestic. It's only for the strongest of heart, the most committed of scholars.

It's 8.2 Social Studies.

I look forward to seeing you all at conferences.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Love Builds a Garden"... and appreciation of World War I Themes

Who would have thought that some of these themes could be seen in such diverse settings?  With students engaging and wrestling with themes of World War I, we find that our journey continues onward through even more harrowing terrain.  Here's a look of what is on tap for the week of 1.21- 1.25
Monday:  Students need to finish their seven note taking guides as well as the one paragraph on the film selection.  Prewrites can be used to guide the writing process.  Seven note taking guides and one paragraph are due on Tuesday.  There are extra credit possibilities. Check out the online syllabus.
Tuesday:  Collect note taking guides and paragraphs.  Finish annotating Keller's "Strike Against War" for Themes of World War I.
Wednesday:  Finish annotating Pirandello's "War" for themes of World War I and examples of good writing.
Thursday:  Personal reflection for portfolios and finish annotating Reed's "Whose War?" and the "I.W.W. Stance on War."
Friday:  Ruminate- deeply ruminate- on Yeats' "The Second Coming."  You should really anticipate a pop quiz on Monday.  This is one of the most powerful and influential poems you will ever encounter.  The least we can do is honor it with a tough pop quiz.  Embrace the bazaar of intellectual ideas... and the assessments that come with it.

Along with all of these, students should note that each night features some great extra credit opportunities for thought and points.  At the same time, meditation might not be a bad thing.  Students could really use it with all of the intellectual stress they are under.

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lester Bangs and World War I: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool. "

Click here for the World War I Bag of Websites.  The notetaking guides on these videos as well as a paragraph on one of the films are both due on Tuesday, 1.22.

Click here for a copy of the homework given Monday night and due Tuesday at the start of class.

This week will be one of the most intellectually intense weeks in the curriculum.  If students buy in, they are in store for an amazing intellectual voyage which, if navigated properly, will reveal elements about their own state of being in the world.  It's nothing small when a profound reflective moment in the classroom can be generated.  While so much in the current educational system is rooted in the idea of being a proctor or observer in the education process, there is still something to be said when a student is able to take ideas relayed to them and critically think about who they are in the world and who they wish to be.  It is profound. I can hope that all of the students will join me on this voyage.  Some will opt to not tag along.  In the end, no one can fault anyone for their choices if they are an expression of oneself.  Yet, I would only wonder why one would not wish for the opportunity to walk away from a class period thinking about oneself and one's place in the world.  It's already happening.  Great students, profound thinkers, and even nice human beings are saying, "Yeah, that's bleak" or after a day in which the sadness and anger intrinsic to World War I was complemented with Boxer's death in Orwell's Animal Farm, I had a student say:  "This has been a sad day."  
Yes, success!  It is the Archimedes moment of "Eureka!"

This week,our plan is as follows:
Monday- Homework on WWI Themes given and due on Tuesday.
Tuesday- Collect homework and continue themes on World War I.  HW:  Continue to review and reflect on World War I Themes.
Wednesday- Discuss themes/ wrap up lecture.  HW:  Make sure that you are ready to go with tomorrow and Friday's "filmi" analysis of World War I Themes.
Thursday and Friday:  Analyze film clips to find themes of World War I.  Finish enrichment sheet and paragraph- Both due Tuesday, 1.22

Feel free to examine the team syllabus for nightly extra credit opportunities and don't forget to devote 15 minutes a night to your meditation practice.  This is a big week and you might need it.

I can only hope that you, as stakeholders, continue to offer as much support as possible in order for students to give their maximum effort.  While there will be so many elements that can prove challenging to students, I only hope that students will able to understand that the voyage of scholarship is a worthwhile quest to undertake.  It is one in which it does not build character.  Rather, it reveals the true character of one who undertakes it.  Lester Bangs was onto something when he argued that "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool."    In the end, the voyage of scholarship is an "uncool" one.  It is one where superficial notions of the good are tossed aside for something more pure and substantive.  In the end, this is where the only true currency lies, as it is something shared by colleagues, teachers, and stakeholders.

And this is what makes  us actually cool to those who matter and to those whose voices help to define our own being. This is the only true currency.

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

Friday, January 4, 2013

After a restful break, welcome back... to the sadness, hopelessness, and desperation of World War I! Is this fun or what?

The Winter Break was a restful one for me and my hopes are that our students are ready to go.   This blog will consist of several parts.  The first will be what is to be covered in the week we return:
Monday- Return back work, distribute everything, and begin work on World War I notetaking guides.  Homework is to finish sections 1 and 2 of Chapter 21.
Tuesday- Individual breakouts for those who are done with sections 1 and 2 and then in class work on Chapter 21 sections 3 and 4.  Finish these notetaking guides on Chapter 21 for homework.
Wednesday- Breakout session on Chapter 21.  Make sure all is done and everything is as lucid as it can be... at least from the textbook side.  Homework is to make sure all four notetaking guides are done.
Thursday- Pop quiz on sections 1-4.  Discuss the themes of World War I in a broad manner and talk about how the lecture on the themes will work.  Homework is to preview the themes of World War I.
Friday- Start lecture on themes of World War I.  Homework is to reflect and think about these themes.

I would like to bring to the attention of stakeholders a new feature that will kick in with this week's syllabus and should be present until the end of the year.  As part of the syllabus for Social Studies, I am including two elements.  The first is that I am giving some sporadic "thinking" assignments that students can reflect upon for the intrinsic value of thinking and rumination.  These can be written upon or delved into for extra credit.  Students can submit their work to me via hard copy or through email or googledocs.  If students wish to compose their work in another electronic realm and submit this work to me, they may do so.  I hope you will help me help our students in the process of this element of thought and rumination about the work we do in World War I and beyond.    Taking advantage of any and all extra credit or
Finally, I have started to ask students to engage in 15 minutes of meditation outside of class.  It is something that I can encourage through the online syllabus.  As this is the month which will really begin the process of our students leaving and enduring greater stress with such a move as well as increasing the workload in 8th grade, meditation and finding at least 15 minutes of quiet time is vitally important.  I have included helpful links on each night's assignments of the team syllabus that students can reference in terms of how to meditate, why it is important, and benefits to them in meditating  for at least 15 minutes.  Like so much in our educational system, I, as your child's teacher, am merely a proctor.  I am a bystander.  I am an observer.  Your children and you all are the real agents of change.  I can only help to guide them.  The reality is that I cannot assess them on their 15 minutes of meditation.  I cannot quiz them on it or give them a multiple choice assessment on it.  I cannot demand that they do this.  You can, though.  You can stress to these young scholars, your children, the importance of taking 15 minutes each night, every night to help their own mental balance in achieving the centered and balanced condition to deal with the stress that will be increasingly evident over the next months.  I will reinforce these lessons in class.  Yet, no different than any other success, I am only a proctor.  I am only a small part of a larger configuration that features you and your children as the real agents of action and change.  I hope that you can help me help your children, our students and emerging scholars.

As always, please contact me with any questions.
All best.
Mr. Kannan
Picture credits: