US History Bellworks

Please see my previous post here on the importance of bellworks at the beginning of class.  It helps establish a routine and expectations as well as spark interesting discussions.  Some get the students forming their own opinions before we begin a unit or topic, and others review information letting us as teachers know where they are in their thinking.  Below are a few examples from my first grading period broken down by topic.

First Question at the Beginning of the Year or For a New Student

Write a paragraph about yourself, including anything you believe I should know about you.

Civil War

How can disagreements be settled so that they do not lead to arguments/war?

What do you believe to be the most significant technology invention that impacted the Civil War and why?  How did it impact the War?

If you were a freed black slave, would you run towards the North, stay in the south and try to get a house and a paying job, or join the Union army?  Why?

If you were a rich, white southern plantation owner, what would be your reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation?  How do you know?

How do you think the attacks on September 11, 2001 and December 7, 1941 (to bring the US into World War II) compare to each other?

Imagine you are President Lincoln and have just accepted the surrender of the Confederate army.  What would be your punishment for the southern states that seceded?

How does the Civil War still affect us today?  Please write 3 or more sentences.

Industrial Revolution

What does it mean for a country to industrialize?  What does it mean for a country to go through a revolution?

If you had the money and power to own your own factory, how would you treat your workers?  How would you determine their pay?  Would you rather be a railroad, oil, or steel owner? Why?

Which of the Robber Barons that we studied yesterday would you rather work for?  Why?

Progressivism and Social Change

How would you handle a work situation where you felt that you were being paid unfairly and working too many hours?  What if the conditions you were working in were dangerous?  Who could you contact?

Imagine you are moving to a new country.  What feelings would you have?  What would you expect the process to be like?  Do you think it would be easy or difficult to find a place to live and work?

What might be the benefits and drawbacks of having a political machine?  Who do these types of systems hurt?  Who do they help?  Do you think a political machine and/or “pay to play” systems always lead to corruption?  Why or why not?

Describe the working conditions of the average worker during the early 1900s.  Was this treatment fair?  How do you think they could correct this treatment?

Do you know of any organizations today that help people find housing and jobs?  What are some of those organizations?  How do you go about finding a place to live and work today?

Come up with a list of how you can determine the importance of a person or industry (such as railroads or steel).  How would you determine the impact that person or industry had on Florida?

Imperialism

What would be the benefit for the United States in owning property all around the world?  What would be a disadvantage?

What makes you read a story or a news article?  Which type of article or story grabs your attention? (studying yellow journalism)

Why would countries welcome the United States’ influence into their lands?  What would be their motivation? What could be their motivation to not want the US involved?

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3.5 Months Done!

Sorry for the long time span between posts!  I spent that amount of time teaching American History, Economics, and American Government to 11th and 12th graders who have been expelled from their zone schools.  It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The students came from various parts of Orlando and were expelled for a great variety of reasons.  I’m going to take some of the things they’ve taught me and some of the things I <i>think</i> I taught them and use them as inspiration for the next few months.  I look forward to returning to the school in August and making the big move from Tallahassee to Orlando.  If anyone has any suggestions on moving, I would greatly appreciate them!

Success!

You are looking at a one of the newest Social Studies/History teachers in Orange County Public Schools!  I start on Tuesday teaching juniors and seniors economics, American government, and American history!  That means that I’ll be able to blog about some of my most successful lesson plans and activities and some that just plain did not go well.  I’m excited about this journey!

Women and Prohibition Powerpoint

Women and Prohibition Powerpoint

I’m sharing one of my favorite powerpoints that I have created for a lecture on women and the prohibition movement.  It touches on the Women’s Temperance movement in the 1800s and leads up into Prohibition and the emergence of the “new woman” of the 1920s.  Please feel free to use this presentation to your liking.  Download it, change it, use it as you wish!  Click the link above to view it on SlideShare.  From there you can download it.  If you have problems, just email or post a comment below and I’d be happy to email it or dropbox it to you.

Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa Conference

Passing along information that I received in my email.

Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa

The upcoming Sixth Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), Appropriately titled Tides of Change: Looking Back and Forging Ahead in the Middle East & Africa, will take place in Washington, D.C. on November 21-23, 2013.

As in years past, the conference is an excellent opportunity for scholars and students to hear from leading thinkers on critical issues affecting the regions. The keynote address will be given by Michael Young, the opinion editor at the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut, and H.E. Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, Ambassador of the State of Qatar, has been invited to deliver remarks at the opening reception.

In addition, more than 100 papers will be presented on scholarly topics from Middle Eastern and African studies, and related disciplines.  The conference line-up will also include policy round tables on “Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Region, and Beyond,” “Great Power Involvement in the Arab Upheavals,” and “Revolution, Revolt, and Reform in North Africa” as well as film screenings, book displays of the latest academic titles, and much more.

You can register for the conference or get more information here.  If you have any further questions about ASMEA or the Annual Conference, please do not hesitate to contact the organization at 202-429-8860 or info@asmeascholars.org.

Pre-Class Writing Prompts

jBorrowed from Todaysadmin.comWhen students come into a classroom it’s often hard to get them to settle down and get ready for a lesson.  Between intense discussions with each other, being distracted with other responsibilities, or just non-interest in the subject, their attention is often focused elsewhere as they shuffle into the classroom.  Setting up a beginning-of-class routine for them is one way to curb this distraction.

I like having students keep a journal that they write in with a daily writing prompt.  It’s often a good idea to have the students’ keep their journals in your classroom so you don’t run the risk of someone forgetting it or losing it completely, though this will take up valuable real estate especially with large class sizes.  Keep them by the door in boxes labeled by class so that they may pick them up when they walk in.  Talking can be kept to a minimum and once the routine is established it becomes second nature for the students (ideally, though they may still gripe about it).  Keep the writing prompts interesting enough for the students to be able to form an opinion that they can write on for at least one to five minutes.  These may also serve as an excellent way to help determine if the students are doing their homework reading assignments!  The idea is to keep the students writing and thinking.

Of course, these do not have to be limited to historical concepts.  If there has been an issue in your classroom, you could creatively ask the students to come up with a solution or ways that they could make the situation different by reacting differently or standing up for a friend.  Bullying is always a hot topic, but be careful and try not to single out students.  Make these types of prompts as broad as possible.  Writing prompts could also be a segue into teaching students empathy about a subject you will be teaching about, like the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

I like to check the writing assignments once a quarter, spot checking them (not reading every single entry).  Students have the option of folding back a page once a week, letting me know that this is personal to them (though I check to make sure there is writing on the page without reading it).

Some writing prompt ideas can be:

American History:

  • If you were a farmer living in one of the original 13 colonies, what livestock would you raise and why?  What crops would you be farming and why?  Which colony would you prefer to live in?
  • What Constitutional amendment would you like to see added in the next 20 years to the United States Constitution?  Who would it benefit and why?  Who would it hurt and why?
  • Consider the technological advances in the last 100 years that have become so important in our every day lives (electricity, telephones, cell phones, computers, internet).  What do you think will come out of technology in the next 100 years?  How will it shape our daily lives?
  • If you were the President of the United States, what could you do to change the country for the better?  What laws would you create or change?
  • During an (earthquake, hurricane, tornado), most of us do not have the time or presence of mind to do more than duck beneath a table or into a doorway.  Afterwards, we may wish we had been able to save an object of sentimental value like a photograph or childhood toy.  Pick one thing you would want to save from destruction and write about it.  Describe this thing and why it is special to you.  (Adapted from http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf)

World History:

  • If you had to live as a Spartan, a Viking, an English Knight, or a Roman warrior, which would you choose and why?  What would a day in your life look like?  What would be the fun parts and the not so fun parts?
  • Imagine that the Roman Emperor has just sentenced you to fight in the Colliseum for a crime you have committed.  What is the crime and what would your argument be to him to help save your life?

General:

  • If you could have grown up in a different place and cultural from your own, where and which would you choose?  How would it be different?
  • We have studied numerous historical figures so far in this class.  Who has been your favorite so far?  Why?  Are there any characteristics of this person that you see in yourself or any that you would like to see?
  • Imagine that you are on an archaeological dig (essentially, a bunch of people looking for old stuff in the ground) and you come upon an amazing discover. What is it and what do you do when you become famous for the discovery? (Taken from: http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/5th-grade-writing-prompts-social-studies.html)
  • Think about the historical figures we have learned about so far this semester.  If you could have dinner with any of them, whom would you choose and why?  What would you talk about or ask him or her? (Adapted from http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf)

Resources:

http://www.theteacherscorner.net/daily-writing-prompts/

http://www.build-creative-writing-ideas.com/5th-grade-writing-prompts-social-studies.html

http://staff.esuhsd.org/danielle/english%20department%20lvillage/CAHSEE%20English/Sample%20Writing%20Prompts.pdf

Tip of the Week: MapStory. It’s Wikipedia for Maps

This is brilliant and ridiculously helpful for social studies teachers looking for a way to incorporate a different level of map understanding and use in a classroom. I look forward to incorporating this tool into my curriculum! Thanks History Tech for keeping us up on these wonderful tools!

History Tech

Okay. Not sure if I should be impressed or freaked out by the fact that the founder of MapStory was also one of the original officers of In-Q-Tel. In-Q-Tel, as we all know, is the venture capital group working to keep the CIA equipped with the latest in information technology.

I’m gonna go with freakishly impressed.

Because MapStory looks like a very handy tool for teachers looking for ways to incorporate high-level discipline specific thinking skills into their geography and history instruction. And I’m sure there’s not any chance of teachers getting caught up in some sort of illegal international information gathering syndicate through MapStory.

Pretty sure.

Yesterday I shared some thoughts about using maps to to help generate great questions related to the Kansas state social studies standards and the Common Core. Part of what I didn’t talk about was the last part:

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Immigration

Political_Cartoon_-_Every_Dog_Has_His_Day

Immigration is not a new issue in the United States. Every half century, there is a new perceived foreign threat to our status quo. From the natives (that’s a whole other discussion regarding the definition of ‘foreign’), to the African slaves, Chinese, Italians, Irish… the list goes on. The United States has an ugly history of xenophobia. Sadly, it never seems to truly go away in some portions of the country, with ethnic slurs still muttered either intentionally or unintentionally insulting. I eagerly await more news on the “immigration reform” that the President and Congress is supposedly coming up with, especially regarding these new threats.  Hopefully this chapter in our history will close soon, but I know better than to expect that this will be the last immigration issue we hear about.  Look for a future post regarding a brief overview of our history of ugly immigration policy and some teaching tips very soon.  I thought I’d post this political cartoon from 1879 in advance just as a bit of a teaser 😉 (click on the picture to make it bigger so you can read the text)

 

The Ultimate Search: Finding Your Birth Family

imagesCAOT6STOAccording to The AFCARS Report from the US Department of Health and Human Services as of September 30, 2011 there were 104,236 children age 18 and under who were waiting to be adopted.  Each year, more and more of these children grow farther apart from their personal history, some never knowing who their parents are and others with unpleasant memories of their birth families.  The tragedy for the former group is the ever-present questions “who am I?” and “why did they give me up?”  Every day they receive constant reminders of these questions when they are asked at the doctor’s office for their medical history or even in the faces of their children when they in turn ask the questions about their ancestry, often times for a classroom assignment.  Thus, the search begins.

Who am I?

The daunting task of beginning the search looms over these people.  How do I begin?  What if I’m not prepared for the answers I might receive?  No doubt, it will be an emotional journey full of stops and starts, emotional highs and pitfalls.

Beginning Your Search

First, create a folder where you will keep all of the information you collect.  Whether it be electronically or a hardcopy file, it is best to keep everything in one place with a backup copy somewhere else just in case.  Second, write down everything you know about your birth- the date, location, your original name if your adoptive parents changed it, the hospital, etc.  Anything you know can help.  Your adoptive parents may hold some information in some documents from your official adoption.  They may or may not contain your birth parents’ names.  If possible, contact the Clerk of Courts in the county of your birth for your official birth certificate if you do not have one.  Usually there is a small fee associated with mailing or emailing it.  A petition for adoption and final decree of adoption may also be available.  The Child Welfare Information Gateway has an excellent document regarding how to obtain the adoption paperwork and information from each state that can be found here or search for Access to Adoption Records, Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Many people suggest adding your name to an Adoption Reunion Registry to let people know that you are interested in alogo-theme1 reunion with your birth family.  The most popular that I’ve found is the Adoption.com Reunion Registry found here.  Adoption.com also appears to be a good resource on information for preparing for the impending reunion once you locate your birth family.

Make It Public and Start a Support Network

Support is also an important part of your journey into finding information.  Not only from your family and friends, but also from other people who are going through the same search.  There are numerous communities of people with the same experiences and the same emotional rollercoaster.  One of the best ways to find information is to get it out there that you are looking.  Start a blog, post on Facebook and Twitter, create a YouTube video, do something that can be shared and encourage your friends and family to do so.  However, be careful of the information you post as it will be public domain.  Beware of people who may try to take advantage of you or imposters.  Never post your address, social security number, or other such private information.

Now You Have Some Information

Ok, now you have a nice collection of information and you feel like you can start actually trying to find the people to match the information.  How do you go about that?  You can join a geneaology website like Ancestry.com and find out more information about your relatives and who else you might be related to based on the information you have if it is not complete.  You may also consider joining a location service such as E-Verify.  The website will be able to give you the current locations of people and sometimes even the exact address and phone number of the people you are searching for.  Be careful though because multiple people may show up in the search so you must be vigilant in determining your birth location and look for that location in the listing next to the names.

Reunion

Finding your birth family can be a large personal victory.  I do not recommend just showing up at their front door!  Contact them first and let them know who you are and why you were searching for them.  It is not a good idea to start out with accusatory language for leaving you to the adoption agency.  I hate to say it, but be prepared for disappointment if they are not interested in meeting.  It could be too emotional for them after the separation and they may need time to warm up to the idea.  Remember, at this point you have been on this journey for quite some time now.   If all goes well and they are overjoyed to hear from you, congratulations!

Good luck on your search!  I hope some of this information can be useful, even if you are just searching for a long lost friend or other relative.  Remember to get your information out there!  The person that spawned this post is one of my friends from elementary school who posted her search for her birth parents on her Facebook account with a YouTube link.  If you can, please watch Anne’s video and let me or her know if you have any information!

Smart Solutions to and Possible Reasons for Behavior Issues in School

So much can be changed by our reaction as adults to the students’ actions. Please review and follow this very important entry and blog by ACES too High. If you have never heard of the ACE Study, I invite you to read more about it at http://www.cdc.gov/ace or send me an email or leave a comment and I can fill you in on this important work.

ACEs Too High

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Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office. 

Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.” 

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