Sunday, October 27, 2013

How About Teaching Our Families to Have Regular Parent/Child Conferences?

I just read a post by Dean Shareski and as I was commenting I had an epiphany of sorts. The hard facts about assessment isn't necessarily giving good ones or even getting good feedback from them. The hard part is sharing what we learn to a third party, think parents or admin. At some point it quits being a first person account and becomes a first person guesstimate.

We don't have ways to adequately find out what our students have learned. Students only allow us to know what they want us to know, even when it comes to what they have learned. An assessment won't show everything even with a cooperative student. The best way to 'assess' what a student has learned is to have a conversation with them.

Last week my school held the annual parent/teacher conferences. The junior high had students lead the conference, basically we facilitated a conversation between the student and their parent. The kind of conversation that should probably be happening regularly at home.

Why don't schools regularly encourage, model, bribe, or otherwise get parents and students to sit down and have these assessment conversations?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

This Week in History October 14: How Washington Held It All Together

We will be reading Washington's Crossing a couple days a week and spend the other days continuing with our timeline. This week while I am gone on Monday the students will be reading about the colonies fighting in the Revolutionary War. The students will choose between writing a short persuasive paper from the point of view of one of two women from the time period.
  • If they choose to write as Molly Pitcher their topic will be: Why Women Belong on the Battlefield 
  • If they choose to write as Abigail Adams their topic will be: Why Women Deserve Suffrage
I love the story of Mrs. Adams trying to influence her husband John to step up for the women:

I long to hear that you have declared an independancy-and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

Tuesday and Wednesday we will be reading from Washington's Crossing. The focus on these two days will be on how General Washington had to change his leadership style to accommodate the different soldiers that came to the army. How difficult was it for him to take men with disparate ideas of leading and following and make them into a disciplined (enough) fighting force to survive the first year. 

Thursday the 8th grade will be on a field trip. Friday they will be reading about the little known fighting that took place in the south and the west during the Revolution. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

This Week in History October 7 Declaration of Independence and Washington's Crossing

This is a big week, we are starting out with using our Kindles for the first time of the year. We will be using them with both the Declaration of Independence and the book Washington's Crossing. The Declaration is in the textbook, but I want them to get comfortable with the Kindles before we start reading the book.

First up is the Declaration. I am starting the lesson using my friend Eric Langhorst's great break up letter.

Declaration of Independence
Break Up Letter

I'm not sure how to start this letter but I feel we need to talk. I've been thinking about us a lot lately. Things used to be so great - it was like we were M.F.E.O. I mean everyone said it was perfect. I really thought we would be together forever but then things changed.
I feel like you started to take me for granted. You just started to do whatever you wanted and never even asked me about anything or how I felt.
I've been thinking about this for a while and I don't want to hurt you but I think it is time we broke up. I mean it's just not going to work. I need some time by myself to see what it is like on my own. I'm sorry things didn't work out but I do think YOU are the one to blame. Sorry but "US" is over.

The American Colonies

Here is the post that I found the the break up letter at.

Amazing Tour Guide Lecture at Independence Hall
This lecture is about 10 minutes long and really speaks to the history geek in me. Even if they students won't be excited about this, my excitement will definitely show.

We will be going through the Declaration looking specifically at the list of grievances and comparing them to the events that we examined over the past couple weeks. The students will identify a grievance they believe should have been included but wasn't. 

Washington's Crossing
Here is the picture we will be discussing, Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze.

Audiobook Beginning- 1:20 Intro and Background not in the book
This isn't found in the paper edition or the Kindle edition.

1:25-22:25 Introduction- The Painting Kindle page 1 location 117
This introduces the creation of the painting as well as some of the criticism of the painting. 

NPR Ina Jaffe radio show referenced in the introduction (7 minutes)

Parodies of the painting:
Far Side:
Lord Stanley:
My Little Pony:

After reading the introduction we will listen to the NPR radio show and view some of the parodies created of the painting. The students will be tasked with creating their own parody picture.

22:25 Chapter 1 The Rebels Page 7 location 225
We will begin reading the first chapter. I will display the picture of George Washington below that is referenced in the book. We will continue reading the chapter the following Tuesday.

George Washington by John Trumbull (1780)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hard Questions: How Many Days of School Is It Acceptable to Miss?

This question is partly born out of the jealousy I feel for my online tweeps that are talking about going to conferences I am not attending.

Last year I missed six days of school because I was attending or presenting at conferences. This year I plan to miss seven. Honestly that is a lot of days outside of the class. If I miss five or six more because of illness that will be two weeks of school missed!

How many days of school did you miss last year for conferences? How many do you plan to miss this year? How many missed days become too many? Are we attending too many conferences during the school year?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Examining Fame Using Longfellow's 'Paul Revere's Ride'

Why do some become famous while others do not?

This essential question is the guide for this lesson. The students will be examining the role of Paul Revere and Joseph Warren from Revere's famous ride to the Battle of Bunker Hill. We will look at what Paul Revere and Joseph Warren contributed to these famous events. 

Here are the links to the media we will use in class along with pages 134-135 in our textbook.

Andy Griffith Lexington and Concord
This link fits with our emphasis on storytelling in history. We will look at the events that Andy describes and his storytelling ability.

Lexington and Concord Map
This is used for a good anchoring visual of the lands through which this event took place. 

‘Real’ Story of Paul Revere
This is the facts that are given through the Paul Revere House website. This is used as a resource that isn't from Wikipedia.

Longfellow’s Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
The poem is the basis for the discussion. 

We will look at why Longfellow wrote the poem. We will discuss if his goal to create a nationalistic feeling was appropriate for the time period.

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker
This is a painting of Joseph Warren's death. The purpose is to again emphasize how media is manipulated and also as a visual anchor for Dr. Warren.

Joseph Warren
We will look at Warren's roles specifically with Revere's ride and the battle of Bunker Hill. We will also discuss his last run in with Revere after his death (fascinating stuff!)

We will look at this ode and try to decide why it did not become as popular as Longfellow's poem.

After learning the stories of Revere and Warren the students will write an ode to Dr. Warren using the following rhyme scheme: ABABCDECDE
The goal with this is to have the students experience writing a poem with a specific rhyme scheme. They will use the information they gather from our examining of Warren's life to help. 

If you talk about Revere, Warren, Longfellow's poem or the historical events what goals do you have for your students?