Sunday, October 27, 2013

Progressing through Progressivism

Our journey through Progressivism continues this week.  Upton Sinclair, Marx, and Smith are the focal points for this week.

Monday:  Projects due Wednesday.  Finish Common Core Work on The Jungle in packet.  Page number divulged in class.

Tuesday:  Projects due tomorrow.
Wednesday:  Projects due at 7:00 Tonight.  Work on completing part of your Marx/ Smith lecture sheet.
Thursday:  Complete more of the Marx/ Smith lecture sheet.
Friday:  Continue on with completing more of the Marx/ Smith lecture sheet.
My hope is that projects are sent through on Wednesday, students keep up with the assignments and can deal with the small "pop" identification thrown at them this week.

My hope is that students also recognize that if they are struggling in the class, the following can be pursued:
1)  Meet with me during lunch or in the morning by appointment- One meeting can result in massive change.  I have seen two instances this year where students met with me individually and they saw their grade rise a letter and a half.  One child saw a grade from a 68% rise to an 84% in the course of a week because of meeting with me.  It works.  Meeting and coming up with a plan to increase student achievement shows advocacy.
2)  Email me- If meeting with me does not work, sending an email or a message can assist.  The results are not as dramatic, but an email communication can also suffice.
3)  Take advantage of revisions and extra credit- Students who complete extra work or evise work can find their grades going up.

In the end, we are in the advocacy business.  We are trying to get our students, your children, to become better advocates for their learning.  Following through on these steps is a down payment on this investment which will reap dividends.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Making progress on the path of scholarship

With this Monday's identifications submitted, students will have published five identifications.  In addition to this, students will have interacted with 21 themes.  In two and half weeks, that's pretty good work output.  We are starting the process of applying these themes to Progressivism projects and "strange passengers" this week. From this, we move into Marx and Smith, two really strange passengers.  Upon this, Howard Zinn becomes our next target.  This is the path in front of us, filled with obstacles and challenges, yet increasing our strength with each advancing step.  (Extra credit if you can identify which theme that was from.)

At such a challenging point, students need to figure out where things are with them.  This goes beyond a letter grade.  If students are confused on challenging elements presented thus far, coming in during lunch or setting up a morning appointment to meet with me is going to be critical.  This is essential for students and something that will enable them to become stronger in both the content and for next year.  Developing this skill of advocacy is a lifelong skill.  In addition to this, students can pursue the written extra credit opportunities present.  My hope is that students also pursue the rough draft process and the revision process in enabling their writing to become stronger.

Paying attention to these steps can also assist in walking the path.  As is known, there is a difference between knowing the path and walking it.
Walk on, emerging scholars.  Walk on.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, October 11, 2013

The other shoe: Progressivism as a Response to Industrialization

It was wonderful to see so many of you at conferences this week.  There is always something about being able to discuss the present, past, and future of our students in an open manner.  For the opportunity to do so and for the opportunity to teach your children, I humbly offer my gratitude. At some point, greater minds than mine will figure out how to meet the needs of conferencing in an atmosphere that is not so driven by time and compression.  There must be some aspect of reflection in a day where 24 conferences are held.  When the number of conferences matches the number of hours in a day, that cannot constitute "best practices."  For your patience and your willingness, I offer my thanks to you.
This week, we begin to see the other side of the time period of Industrialization and Progressivism.  It is the "other half's" turn now.  Students will be exploring the roots of the Progressivist movement this week.  This will also culminate in our projects on Progressivism and  exploring the themes of Progressivism in the narratives of  Thich Quang Duc, Malala Yousafazi, and Mohamed Bouazizi.   From this exploration, we move into the realm Marx and Smith.  You can almost hear the intellectual gears shifting from the textbook and the course content into thoughts about being in the world and what it means to be a human being.

In terms of red tape items, I encourage all students to pursue extra credit opportunities or student generate thoughts.  I have always held a special affinity for students who want to keep a blog about some aspect of the course that has proven intriguing to them.  I have also felt that the ability for students to initiate their own desire for additional work and compensation for it represents one of the hallmarks of scholarship.  There have been textbook assignments offered and there have also been opportunities on this blog and I encourage students to pursue these.  It would also be good for students to pursue, you know, the real credit in terms of assignments and work that is placed upon their broad shoulders.  For our young ones, time is beginning to pass.  It's hard to believe that in a month or so, arrangements will be made for them to take the placement exams at the high school. The transition process is upon us and how students will navigate this aspect of their lives is extremely important.

As this process continues and unfolds, if I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.  The grains of empowerment are beginning to emerge the mandala of our students' lives.  It's a beautiful sight to behold.
All best.
Mr. Kannan

Friday, October 4, 2013

immigration Blues: The Study of Modern Immigration Through the Eyes of an 8.2 Student

"There is a photograph by Sebastiao Salgado that shows the wall between the United States and Mexico snaking over the crests of hills, running away into the distance, as far as the eye can see, part Great Wall of China, part gulag.  There is a kind of brutal beauty here, the beauty of starkness."
- Salman Rushdie

1)  Using the textbook's description of immigration offered in chapter 18, examine how this depiction converges and diverges from what Rushdie suggests and what the picture depicts.
2)  Choose a line about immigration from the textbook and compare it to what is being shown in the picture.
3)  Examine if the fact that the picture takes place along the U.S./ Mexico border impacts the view of immigration offered.
4)  Discuss Rushdie's employment of imagery in the quote describing the picture.  In your description, address his view of immigration.
5)  What is the "brutal beauty" of immigration?  Examine how three of the themes we featured in class can represent this construction of "brutal beauty."

This is an example of an assessment that students can choose in this week's unit on immigration.  We focus our energies in examining how the textbook depicts immigration and how this is seen in the modern setting.  Through the use of, we will be examining a bag of websites dedicated to immigration.  (Click here to access the bag of websites.)
Students will examine videos on Monday, after submitting their identification paragraphs.  Then, students will have to choose a project option and compose a Powerpoint or googledoc slideshow of two slides on their findings.  The above project is one such example.  No assessment can go wrong with topics like immigration from thinkers like Rushdie and artists like Salgado.

Students will work on their projects this week and all work is due to me emailed by Sunday at 11:00 AM.
It is my hope that I see you all at conferences this week.  If I can be of any further help or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
All best.
Mr. Kannan