Monday, May 11, 2009

The Second "War to End All Wars"

This is an interesting site that includes a time line of World War II. It contains some telling pictures from the war.

...more to come...

Monday, May 4, 2009

America Experiments with Government

Our 7th grade classes are currently looking at the United States Constitution. It replaced the Articles of Confederation, which failed due to several important inadequacies. It did accomplish some things however, such as the settlement and incorporation of the lands between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. The Northwest Territory became five states(Slavery will be prohibited here),

and the Southwest Territory became four (Slavery will be allowed here).

The United States Constitution is an incredible document which has stood the test of time. It is divided into 7 articles and 27 amendments. ...stay tuned for more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

World War I and the Aftermath

Our 8th grade students have just finished studying the terrible war that was World War I. The war resulted in millions of human deaths. It was an example of "total war," a war which affects every aspect of society. Here is a good resource to learn more about this war.

Following the war, and there will be far reaching international consequences (...stay tuned for World War #2...), Americans refused to participate in world affairs, choosing to "roar" in a period known as the "Roaring 20's." It was a time where people bought consumer goods that were unavailable during the war on "easy installment plans", and speculated on the stock market, buying stocks "on margin." It was a time when the country experimented with prohibition(...although it has been said that there were more alcoholic Americans during this time that at any other time in our history...), and it was a time of organized crime, and it was also a time when young people, who had the newest technologies available to them

(ie. the car and the radio to name two "biggies"...), broke from ideas and practices that had been handed down to them from previous generations. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"You say you want a revolution..." Lennon/McCartney

Our 7th graders are studying the American Revolutionary War.

This morning I woke up to the morning news which showed the protests against the G-20 Summit in London. These demonstrations gave me an idea for a teachable moment. I began class by explaining what I saw on the news this morning. I explained that the protests in the streets of London made me think of the protests that occurred on streets of Boston in the 1770's. This Video will set the stage as to why the United States President and the leaders of Europe and the rest of the world are meeting in London this week. Read the text or view the video. They are the same (...sorry about the advertisement...).

This next site shows the street protests and helps one to understand the perspective of the protesters. That was Monday. Today, the height of the summit, the protests looked like this.

I showed my students clips from the protests and then had each look up some particulars about this event. Students used the mobile computer lab to research what the G-20 was, what the purposes/goals of the meeting were, and what the complaints of the protesters are.

Here is what we found! G-20 stands for the Group of 20. This group includes the United States of America, 18 other world powers, and the Head of the European Union. Their goals are many and varied (See the second link above), but we found that the main focus of this summit was to strengthen international finances, to create sustainable international economic growth and development, and to prevent a global financial collapse. There was also considerable concern about the aid to the emerging economies who are suffering despite no fault of their own.

...and the protesters. They demanded that this crisis be fixed quickly. They demanded that once fixed, the old system does not return. They also protested for the sake of the "little guys" who bear the brunt of economic crisis. Others protested against war and against capitalism. Some anarchists protested all capitalists governments as they exist today. According to reports from a variety of sources, protests were generally peaceful and good-natured; however, some did vandalize the Bank of Scotland, breaking windows and stealing/vandalizing computers.

We then looked at similarities of these events and the events surrounding the American Revolutionary War. Here is what 2nd period had to say. In both cases, people want more say in governing themselves and where their money goes. They also pointed to a dissatisfaction with government decision making on behalf of the citizenry. Other similarities had to do with the street protest, violence, and government troops/police who bore the responsibility of enforcing government policy.

...pretty good stuff!

...meanwhile, prior to the start of the American Revolutionary War (1770), British soldiers who were stationed in Boston and quartered in colonial homes were attacked by an angry colonial mob while performing guard duty. You would never know it from this bit of masterful propaganda created by Paul Revere.

Three years later, in protest to a tax on tea, the Sons of Liberty boarder three ships in Boston Harbor and threw 342 chest of tea overboard. The Boston Tea Party, as this event was called was actually a major act of vandalism. Britain's response was fast and it was severe. According to the Coercive Acts (AKA the Intolerable Acts), Clonial assemblies were abolished, and Boston Harbor would be closed until the tea was paid for. Check out these figures!

...on April 18, 1775, British troops, who were on their way to destroy colonial ammunition that was stored in Concord, and colonial militia met on a village green in Lexington, Massachusetts. A shot was fired. This "Shot heard 'round the world" as it came to be known, marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Read about it on these sites. It's worth it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The United States Becomes a World Power!

The Spanish-American War is, in my opinion, a war that all Americans should be familiar with. Decades of Manifest Destiny and the :"White Man's Burden" all come to fruition as America acquires an overseas empire and will soon be involved in two World Wars.

...and how about President Theodore Roosevelt's role in the Panamanian Revolution and the construction of the Panama Canal?!!

...and you will want to see this.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Wisdom of Ben Franklin and Poor Richard's Almanac

"If you would not be forgotten As soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worthy reading, Or do things worth the writing."

"To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girl friends."

"Never confuse motion with action."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. "

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security”

“To Follow by faith alone is to follow blindly.”

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

...and my favorite...

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Ben Franklin
Source:At the signing of the Declaration of Independence


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What is Happening in 8th Grade Social Studies?

...a lot. This year's classes have been awesome to teach and learn with. The maturity they demonstrate on a daily basis, their love for learning, and the fact that they are intelligent, respectful, fun-to-be-around young people, make teaching them extremely rewarding! Here are some of them in action this week...

...and what have we been learning...? We are currently studying The Labor Movement. Unions were formed to protect workers who, up until 1869 and the formation of the Knights of Labor, were pretty much at the mercy of their employers (Unfortunately for the workers, the employers of this day did not have an overabundance of "mercy"). Prior to this, we studied immigration. This unit came alive through movies that we watched which gave us a personal perspective on the sacrifices that immigrant families made in order to bring their families to America. Our study was especially special because we have Sergey, the son of recent immigrants to America, in class. He was able to share stories of his family's experiences as immigrants from Moscow, Russia.
Prior to that, we studied how the 2nd Industrial Revolution led to a growth, not only in industry, but also in cities. We learned about who the people leading this "revolution" were, as well as the inventions that created new jobs and changed how people lived. We also learned about the living conditions in the cities of this time period as seen through the eyes of Jacob Riis.

...and now for some more photos of today's finest!

Go to America! The Land of Opportunity...

During colonial times, "joint-stock companies", such as The London Company, encouraged settlers to leave England and emigrate to America. Many of these companies used advertisements to induce settlers. Many who went were poor, so these companies offered free transportation, land, tools and supplies. ...but beware of the fine print. Oftentimes, these emigrants were required to sign an indenture, or a contract, with the company. This contract required the emigrant to work for up to 7 years for the person who paid the expenses of the voyage to America. These people were called "Indentured Servants."

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Sad is This Groton?! Approximately 30% of Homeless People in America are Veterans.

Given the regular recruiting that takes place in our school, and given the amount of taxpayers’ dollars that go to war, the reports I have linked here are startling. Many good, patriotic Americans enlist in the United States Armed Forces each year. Most do so to serve their country. According to recent studies, in too many cases, the country is failing to reciprocate that service to many veterans once they retire. I hope Groton families will read and discuss this issue carefully.

Here are a few statistics to add to you conversation...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Explorers on Google Earth has Finally Arrived!

Our 7th graders are experimenting with Google Earth. We took a project that we had been doing for years and modernized it using this program. It took us a while to figure things out, especially how to link it to our blog, but here it is. None of this would have been possible without the expertise of Paul Weich and Chad DeVoe. ...and Cali, thanks for all of the extra time you put into this project. To take the tour, go to this site and enjoy.

Tall Tales From Room #202

Many settlers move west following the Civil War. Some were miners looking for precious metals, some were farmers who lived in houses made of sod, and others were cowboys who drove cattle on the long drive from Texas to the rail centers in “Cow Towns. Many of these cowboys were young men from the east who had gone west to find work. These “Green Horns,” as they were called, were often susceptible to “Tall Tales.” These were exaggerated stories told by wile story tellers, and they provided their audience with many laughs at the expense of the “Green Horns,” who often believed them!

Here are a few Tall Tales generated in room #202.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Barter Day

Our 7th graders are learning about life in colonial America. An economic aspect of that time period was the use of bartering, exchanging goods and services, to get desired goods. Our class reenacted this today. The rules were simple. Students were to bring in things (3-5)they had laying around their rooms at home that they no longer attached any significance to (These had to be their own, not their brothers or sisters stuff.). The class was then given time to survey what their classmates had brought in. Then they were set to the task of bartering with each other to get what they wanted. We concluded class by having students explain the process they went through. We also discussed reasons for the replacement of this barter system with the cash system (Note-We discussed that people still exchange services today (I.E. One person may agree to help a friend put on a new roof in exchange for some automotive work on a car.)). As you can see from the video, it was a lively class.
On another note, the cash system was first introduced to New York State during the construction of the Erie Canal. Workers on the canal were given cash (50 cents a day) or scripts which they then exchanged at stores, hotels and restaurants along the canal. It must have been a "leap of faith" for these early cash receiving entrepreneurs!

Monday, January 26, 2009

An African American is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America! ...will there be a woman in the near future?...

January 20, 2009 was an historic day in America. Barrack H. Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. This was a day that the country, old and young, black, white, yellow, red and brown, celebrated the inauguration of an African-American to the highest elected position in America. I am glad the we studied the Civil Rights Movement following our study of the election because it made the historical significance of Obama’s election more meaningful to you than it would have been without that background knowledge.

The following link will take you to that ceremony. It is too bad that Chief Justice Roberts flubbed his part… President Obama retook the oath the following morning to be sure it was administered correctly. Time will tell whether Obama’s call for change will actually result in meaningful change in how business is done in Washington D.C. and the country at large, but the fact that an African-American is now our President is a change that many only dreamed about. One of the highlights of this ceremony for me was when Obama made mention of how this day was dreamed of by those who had participated in the Civil Rights Movement decades earlier. Upon these words, A Black man and his wife, who were seated on the platform behind President Obama, rose and applauded. This man was John Lewis. Lewis is now a senator, but as a college student in the 1960’s, Lewis was a leader of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). In that capacity, Lewis had marched with Dr. King and the others, and he had been an integral figure in that movement. What a day January 20, 2009 must have been for him (…and the many other living participants of the Civil Rights Movement)! I only wish more people on the platform would have stood with him at that moment…

I hope you visit the site and watch the Inaugural Day festivities. I was fortunate to see Aretha Franklin in concert last year, so I appreciated her part in this ceremony. ...and how about Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman?!...The poem by Elizabeth Alexander was also significant. Please feel free to leave a comment.