Thursday, September 26, 2013

The first themes of the year... almost better than the leaves falling... ok, it is better.

The year ends up being defined by many moments of "the first."  The first homework slide, the first assessment, the first textbook assignment, and the first moment in which students realize that perhaps that team change was not a bad idea.  :)  Yet, one of the most significant "firsts" is the introduction to the first themes of the year.
The concept of the theme in history is a challenging one.  It fundamentally changes how history is seen.  History is no longer seen as a mere compendium of facts and isolated events.  Introducing the themes helps the individual to better understand how historical development in accordance to thematic presence links the present to the past.  For example, when we see that the hands that built America were not always the hands that held its wealth, we recognize that material inequality and injustice based upon wealth accumulation is a part of the American narrative.  We see that today as clearly as we can in a textbook.  It is the themes that end up defining both so much of this class and its study of American History.
We start our first lecture on the themes this week.  It will be a "speak/ write" lecture.  Students will listen to me lecture on each theme for about two minutes.  In that time, they will only listen.  They will not write anything.  Rather, they will focus their attention on what I am saying and then when I am done speaking, they will write down what I say.  I will work from a script, and allow students to absorb as much as possible the words I am saying.  This will allow students to harness their listening skills (Which are completely perfect, right?  I mean, they always listen and hear and adhere to every little thing that we say, right?  Right??), and allow them to absorb the themes being discussed in the lecture in their own minds.  Students will receive a portion of the themes from Wednesday through Friday.  A great extra credit opportunity might involve students finding examples of music, literature, or news events that could represent the themes.  Identify the theme and the situation in which it is seen, explaining the connection between the two could be worth as much as fifty points a theme.  With eight themes, that is quite lucrative.
Adding to this, students will be wrestling with an annotation assessment on Monday and the IB learner profile quiz on Industrialization.  This should be an interesting merging of IB, Industrialization, and student defense of personal beliefs.  Game on!
Please continue to monitor your child's grades online and reach out to me if I can be any further help or assistance.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

P.S.  A special shout out to the student who confided in me that his mother now makes him read this blog.  "Max"imum effort is noted and appreciated.  :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Meditation, Monopoly, Making Connections with the world and ourselves: Just another week in 8.2 Social Studies

Quick Note:  Grades for Periods 7, 8, and 9 have been updated.  Periods 2, 3, and 5 grades will be updated on Monday morning before 9:00 AM.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  (Roster was left at school and I am not tempting fate by going in there on the weekend to get it.)
Any week in which Meditation and Monopoly can guide instruction has to be a good one.  Certainly, this one fit the bill.  Being able to see kids come into class, barter with money, understand the implications of economic empowerment and poverty, and experience the range of emotions associated with the accumulation of wealth is a great thing.  Through the game, lifelong lessons as well as content related ones about capitalism and its underbelly are gained.  How are the rich viewed?  How are the poor viewed?  How does the game enhance the wish fulfillment intrinsic to a "rational" philosophy of capitalism?  These are a few of the lessons we gained.  (We also learned how unlike the real world the game is.  In the words of Creed Bratton, "You don't go by Monopoly, man. That game is *nuts*. Nobody just pick up Get Out of Jail Free cards. Those things cost thousands.")
Within this schematic, our students also engaged in meditative practice.  Seeing our students engage in meditation was wonderful.  They were on their own journeys and they recognized it.  I was able to join them, and effectively put administration off center in the process in one class period.  It was truly enlightening to see students embrace something, if only for a moment, that could help them in a lifetime.  To view with the mind's eye what can be a part of their being was transformative.  I have indicated that their nightly homework is to find their "fifteen minutes."  I hope they are able to do so, refining a practice and a deep understanding of how important it is to construct a being in the world that will control how they react to the issues in the world and not become bogged down with feeling helpless in a world that seeks to remove power from individuals.  
This week, students will be working on familiarizing themselves with work from the textbook in chapters 17 and 18.  Students will be bringing home a copy of the textbook for them to keep at home. Please help me help your emerging scholars by encouraging them to work on a little bit of the task each night so that by Friday morning, all of it is completed.

All best and happy hunting.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, September 13, 2013

Starting off on Industrialization

Click here for a copy of the Phase Three Assessment on Learning Styles.

It was a joy to be able to see so many of you at Curriculum Night. If you are able to have Don Draper articulate your vision of education, it cannot be that bad of a thing... I think!  In any event, I hope that you all found the evening enlightening and something that represents, in a small way, what your children experience.

This week will be a distinctive one in Social Studies.  On Monday and Tuesday, we will be working towards developing an understanding of meditation practices and techniques.  Wednesday, we will be starting our work on Industrialization with games of Monopoly.  Students will play a game whose premise is the accumulation of wealth and the denial of this opportunity to others:  There's a game for Industrialization!   Our work in Learning Styles will help us establish the basis for our work in the Industrialization. It is in this realm where metacognition will fuse with content knowledge, enabling our students to be stronger and move into the realm of emergent scholarship.

Quick red tape announcement:  For periods 2, 3, and 5, your Phase Three of the Learning Styles Assessment  will be due on Thursday, 9.19.  Periods 7, 8, and 9 will be announced during Monday's classes.

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

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our First Assessment: A Small Step on a Journey

With this week comes out first assessment.  It will take place on learning styles.  Students will receive assessment basics Monday and should work well each night in completing the three parts.
Parents/ Guardians can play a role in this process.  Encouraging your students/ emerging scholars to complete a portion each night would be effective.  For example, Parts I and II are due on Thursday.  Students will receive them on Monday and Tuesday.  Ensuring that students work on these parts in an incremental fashion on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights will help guarantee our students the chance to do their best.  Part III of the Assessment will be the more challenging portion of the Assessment and this is due on Thursday, September 19.  Encouraging students to submit rough drafts of their work through "sloppy copies" or through digital means are ways in which students can find success on the third part of the assessment.  There will be little chance of our students finding success if they are not encouraged to see how process and product go together.  The process of assembling quality work products is what enables them to be realized.  For students, to fully understand this approach is where success will lie in this assessment.
A digital copy of the assessment basics can be found here.  Please consider this to be a helpful tool to guide student success on this task.

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