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.  :)

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