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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Geography Domain Begins

We have to start off with the basics.  It's like juggling...you can't do what is in the video below, without first practicing the simple moves, make it automatic, and then grow. You'll make mistakes, but you don't quit - you don't give up - you don't whine - you pick up the pieces, and you move forward to your goal.

We have 19 countries to learn, and we have been doing well.  We must know what the countries are, how to pronounce them, how to spell them, and locate them on any map at any time.  Then, later, when we discuss the "good stuff" we'll know where we are in the world, and why things are happening in these countries.

And yes -- there is some very good stuff coming.

Here are the countries we must know (a good representation chosen by the state, I might add).

AFRICA -
1-Egypt
2-Sudan
3-Kenya
4-South Africa
5-Nigeria
6-Democratic Republic of the Congo

MIDDLE EAST
7-Turkey
8-Israel (with the Gaza Strip inside the border)
9-Saudi Arabia
10-Iraq
11-Iran
12-Afghanistan

ASIA
13-Japan
14-China
15-Vietnam
16-Indonesia
17-India
18-North Korea
19-South Korea

We have to know our countries, in order, by Wednesday.  They will be our lyrics for Thursday. 

On Thursday, we have two special guests.  Paul & Anna Joseph will come and teach us songs to help us remember the countries.  I'll post the video of the class on Thursday or Friday of this week.  Here's a little about Paul & Anna:


Paul and Anna Joseph have been worship leaders at Fellowship since August 2002. Anna was born in Dalton and raised in Dalton and Ringgold. Paul grew up in an Air Force family up and down the east coast. They both have BA degrees from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where they met in 1980. They were married in 1982, and have two daughters Sarah and Hannah. Paul & Anna are published songwriters, and have led worship and sung at numerous conferences and retreats. In addition, Paul has been nominated for two Grammy awards, and won a Grammy in 1987.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Concepts - Wrap Up - Coffee House Classroom

I call these "You Should Know By Now" ideas. 
  • Conflict and Change
  • Culture
  • Governance
  • Location
  • Movement
  • Human/Environment Interaction
  • Economics
  • Continuity through Change
Personally, I think we did rather well on the concepts.  Everything we study the rest of the year will be funneled through at least one of these concepts.

We used Google Maps (because the Internet couldn't handle Google Earth) to see some pictures in the countries we will study.  We made predictions about Conflict and Culture based on what we saw in the pictures.  What conflict could you predict from the pictures?  What predictions could be made about the culture from the pictures?

Picture 1 - From Nigeria

Picture 2 - From Sudan

Picture 3 - From Israel (West Bank)

Picture 4 - From Vietnam

-----------
We also conducted our first "coffee house" class.  We'll get better at this.  Here's the idea.

When people go to Starbucks, Panera Bread, McDonalds, or Zaxby's (where ever) you get your food, sit in a booth, or at a table and you talk about stuff (usually other people), and that's what we want to do in our class at times.  One of the keys was to conduct yourself the same way you would in public - not talking so loud that other people would be able to hear your rumors ;-). 

So we looked at the pictures, wrote individual reflections (keywords), created groups of 3, and had timed discussions about possible conflict and culture. 

I really would like to have the high tables and stools in my room.  That would be cool, huh?

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Concept #5 - Economics (Videos and Critique)

There is so much to know about economics that the Georgia CRCT test for 7th grade Social Studies is worth 35% in this area.  We are only scratching the surface in August, but will see how economic issues are present in nearly everything we study this year.

For now, you need to know that

Production, Distribution, and Consumption of goods and services produced by the society are affected by the location, customs, beliefs, and laws of the society.

Societies must decide on three answers to the following questions:
  1. What will we produce?
  2. Who (and how) will we produce it?
  3. Who will be the consumer of our product?

We will see that these questions are answered differently by people and nations based on their cultural backgrounds (religion, beliefs, traditions, customs, and government).  In fact the videos below show some of the differing opinions. 

In class, we only watched the first video entitled "The Story of Stuff."  While I do not agree with everything in the video, that does not mean there is no value in it.  In fact, much of the video explains the concept well.  The final 4 videos below, show someone's response to the video; another way of considering economics.

The speaker does talk fast, so you might want to pause and rewind in order to understand what she says.  Below is the video in English and Spanish.

English version

Spanish version (in three sections)



There is also a critique (which is good to watch if just for debate purposes) in 4 parts:

As you can tell, there is much disagreement, argument, and conflict about economics in our world.  Hey, wait a minute...confilct is one of our major concepts!  See how it all works together?

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Monday, August 24, 2009

Concept #4 - Location

The Big Idea with Location is Location affects the economy, culture, and development of a society.

By now, students should know how to find absolute location using latitude and longitude coordinates, and relative location by describing what a location is near.  We will one these skills throughout the year.

We also discussed a little about how practice and repetition is how our brain learns best, and that the brain does not really choose to learn new things, but rather wants to use our memory to apply old things to new situations.  [NOTE: Yes, we did discuss this kind of cognitive science, based on Daniel Willngham's book, Why Don't Students Like School.  Most of my classes enjoy the conversation of this topic.]

We watched the video below to begin class, and will use it as a reference point throughout the year.  Practice until new things become automatic...like tying your shoe or saying the ABCs.  Directed practice in basic knowledge gives all of us the necessary background to apply our thoughts (memory) to new, complex concepts we will meet this year.

So let's learn to "skip rope" like the girls from King's Firecrackers.

Do you think we can do Social Studies as well as these girl's jump rope?  I do!

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Concept #2 - Governance

We have discussed two of the major Concepts for our class:
  1. Conflict & Change
  2. Culture
Today we discuss Governance.  The video below will give you an idea of the purpose of governance, what it is designed to do, and why we create so many laws in a country like the United States.

In some of the countries we study, you will see that because they have little diversity, they have fewer (and some would say more uncivilized) laws.  When a society has few cultures represented, the need for compromise, consideration, and fairness to all is less of an issue in the eyes of the government.

As we are seeing, the world is getting more information about how other societies give the citizens more of a voice in the political process.  Countries that once were secluded from democratic citizen participation are now seeking more options in their government.  Therefore, governments are becoming more complex too.

Stay with me...this will begin to make sense soon, and by the end of the school year it will seem like common sense.

Posted via email from Room 755

Concept #2 - Governance

We have discussed two of the major Concepts for our class:
  1. Conflict & Change
  2. Culture
Today we discuss Governance.  The video below will give you an idea of the purpose of governance, what it is designed to do, and why we create so many laws in a country like the United States.

In some of the countries we study, you will see that because they have little diversity, they have fewer (and some would say more uncivilized) laws.  When a society has few cultures represented, the need for compromise, consideration, and fairness to all is less of an issue in the eyes of the government.

As we are seeing, the world is getting more information about how other societies give the citizens more of a voice in the political process.  Countries that once were secluded from democratic citizen participation are now seeking more options in their government.  Therefore, governments are becoming more complex too.

Stay with me...this will begin to make sense soon, and by the end of the school year it will seem like common sense.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Testing PicPosterous for iPhone.

Will need iPhone 3G to take advantage of the automatic video upload.

 Unbelievable what the posterous.com people are doing to make publishing content on-the-move so simple (even a k-12 teacher can do it).

 iPhoned
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

No Reason

Posted via web from rrmurry's posterous

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Concept #2 - Culture

Today we discussed the idea that

Cultures of a society are the product of religion, beliefs, customs, traditions, and governments of that society.

We compared and contrasted Mexican and Greek cultures from movie clips of Fools Rush In and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Earlier this week we discussed the concept of Conflict and Change.  We concluded that some conflicts occur due to differences of opinion or points of view.  Culture deals five areas of life that can be controversial (or things people can have different opinions about).

So, when there are different cultures within a society, it could create situations of conflict, and therefore constant change.

Below is the presentation we used to learn the concept.

Tomorrow - Governance.

Posted via email from Room 755

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Conflict & Change - I Think We Got It! - TOMS Shoes

Today, we finished up the concept of Conflict & Change. 

I think the most difficult thing for everyone to understand is:

If Change can be a good thing...
And if Conflict always leads to change...
Then it is possible for Conflict to be a good thing...at times.

The struggle is that when students have a conflict, they usually get in trouble of some kind.  Demerits, Suspensions, Counselor's office for "conflict resolution."  All of these actions are negative in the mind of most students.

But, most students agreed that The Revolutionary War of 1776, which gave the United States its independence from Great Britain, was a good thing.

It is possible that if freedom is the result in Iran, that the election protest of this past summer - violent as it was - might serve as a good thing for the generations that follow.

We agreed that conflict is sometimes started because we have differing opinions and points of view on certain topics.  When someone disagrees with our opinion, then conflict can happen, and change will result.

Differing opinions and beliefs will lead us to the 2nd concept - Culture.

The big idea, or as I like to call it "You Should Know This By Now" point, is culture is the product of religion, beliefs, traditions, customs, and governments of the society.

----------------

We also learned more about my beautiful, ugly shoes. 

TOMS Shoes are something we are beginning to look at as a project for this year (and I hope for many years to come).  I shared two videos (along with my own shoes) so students could begin thinking about buying some of their own, and providing shoes for a child in need.  The videos are below. 

TOMS stands for Tomorrows - the idea is making better TOMorrowS for children who suffer disease and infection because they have no shoes to wear. I am becoming a victim of "TOMSitis" (defined at 1:12 in the video).

TOMS Shoe Drop

See 0:50 - 1:10 for the events (day without shoes and Style You Sole party).

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Conflict & Change - I Think We Got It! - TOMS Shoes

Today, we finished up the concept of Conflict & Change. 

I think the most difficult thing for everyone to understand is:

If Change can be a good thing...
And if Conflict always leads to change...
Then it is possible for Conflict to be a good thing...at times.

The struggle is that when students have a conflict, they usually get in trouble of some kind.  Demerits, Suspensions, Counselor's office for "conflict resolution."  All of these actions are negative in the mind of most students.

But, most students agreed that The Revolutionary War of 1776, which gave the United States its independence from Great Britain, was a good thing.

It is possible that if freedom is the result in Iran, that the election protest of this past summer - violent as it was - might serve as a good thing for the generations that follow.

We agreed that conflict is sometimes started because we have differing opinions and points of view on certain topics.  When someone disagrees with our opinion, then conflict can happen, and change will result.

Differing opinions and beliefs will lead us to the 2nd concept - Culture.

The big idea, or as I like to call it "You Should Know This By Now" point, is culture is the product of religion, beliefs, traditions, customs, and governments of the society.

----------------

We also learned more about my beautiful, ugly shoes. 

TOMS Shoes are something we are beginning to look at as a project for this year (and I hope for many years to come).  I shared two videos (along with my own shoes) so students could begin thinking about buying some of their own, and providing shoes for a child in need.  The videos are below. 

TOMS stands for Tomorrows - the idea is making better TOMorrowS for children who suffer disease and infection because they have no shoes to wear. I am becoming a victim of "TOMSitis" (defined at 1:12 in the video).

TOMS Shoe Drop

See 0:50 - 1:10 for the events (day without shoes and Style You Sole party).

Posted via email from Room 755

Monday, August 17, 2009

Special Guest In Class

I invited a former student who will begin her sophomore year of college next week to speak to my classes today.

Rocio is a Gates Millennium Scholarship Award winner.  Her first year (last year) was at Mercer University in Macon, GA.  She is transferring to Brandeis University this year.

I told Rocio's story last year, and I will abbreviate today.

Rocio's family moved from Michoacan, Mexico when Rocio was in 6th grade.  She spoke no English.  By the end of her 8th grade year (slightly less than a full 3 years of school), Rocio left our middle school with the highest GPA award in her class.  Kind of the Valedictorian of our school.

Her parents moved to provide better opportunities for themselves and their children.  Today, Rocio's family has 2 sons and 3 daughters in college.  There is a son in the 7th grade (one of my students this year) and a little sister in the 1st grade.

It is not just Rocio who is a success story, her family is a success story.  I wish she could tell her story to more people.  It really is amazing, and I will not overstep my bounds and share their struggles here.

Rocio is studying International Studies & Public Health with a minor in French. 

Rocio - the reason we teach.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Special Guest In Class

I invited a former student who will begin her sophomore year of college next week to speak to my classes today.

Rocio is a Gates Millennium Scholarship Award winner.  Her first year (last year) was at Mercer University in Macon, GA.  She is transferring to Brandeis University this year.

I told Rocio's story last year, and I will abbreviate today.

Rocio's family moved from Michoacan, Mexico when Rocio was in 6th grade.  She spoke no English.  By the end of her 8th grade year (slightly less than a full 3 years of school), Rocio left our middle school with the highest GPA award in her class.  Kind of the Valedictorian of our school.

Her parents moved to provide better opportunities for themselves and their children.  Today, Rocio's family has 2 sons and 3 daughters in college.  There is a son in the 7th grade (one of my students this year) and a little sister in the 1st grade.

It is not just Rocio who is a success story, her family is a success story.  I wish she could tell her story to more people.  It really is amazing, and I will not overstep my bounds and share their struggles here.

Rocio is studying International Studies & Public Health with a minor in French. 

Rocio - the reason we teach.

Posted via email from Room 755

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekly Web Reads (weekly)


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Truth About Teaching...

No one really wants to believe this, and please don't accuse me of not caring or giving up or nit giving my very best to my students.

 Teachers do little more than plant seeds and tend the garden. We're not really supposed to do much more than this, I think.

 Using an agricultural analogy, there is plowing, planting, tending, harvesting, and reaping.

 Parents or caregivers plow during the first few years of a child's life. I have reservations about a child going to school before age five as I see it important for the parent and child to bond and prepare the child for school.

 Some say parents can't do this, so pre-K at very young ages have begun. But we must be cautious of taking over the role of the parent, yet we have seen this shift taking hold.

 Once in school, teachers begin planting. Some "seed" is knowledge; other seeds are motivations, encouragement, and other things that will help the child mature into a responsible, productive person.

 Too often schools (and education enterprises) focus on having a harvest and reaping the results that will not come for years after our students are gone.

 Teachers plant the seeds and tend the garden we hope will lead to a mature harvest for someone else - usually an employer - and students will reap the benefits of the seeds we planted.

 iPhoned
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

World Map Puzzle

My classes put together a 94-piece rubbery, oversize jigsaw puzzle today.

 It taught me several things.

 First, who the natural leaders of the classes are. Each student had about 4 pieces of the puzzle. They were to contribute to the construction of the puzzle. The only directions were to start with edge pieces.

 Many students simply gave their pieces to others who were already in the floor. Others "grabbed" pieces to put in place.

 They are leaders either by personality or by deference.

 Second, my students need a leader - that's me. Now, that may sound like a "duh" statement, but what I mean is that they are active but not necessarily focused on what the activity is designed to do.

 Collaborative work cannot be done when students are un able or unwilling to stay focused on the task at hand.

 Third, on a couple of occasions, students were easily frustrated by not finding where the pieces were to go or by classmates "taking over." I like that. It shows me that they want to achieve the goal, and they were willing to go so far as to be frustrated (angry?) that they were not achieving the goal.

 Remember, emotion is a necessary component of "engagement" (that word I hate using). They can love it or hate it. That's okay with me. I can use it. It's apathy that prevents learning from happening.

 It was a good and productive day. Good jobs kids!

iPhoned
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pre-Test Completed- So What?

Nearly all students completed the pretest today. 100 questions of information about which they knew little to nothing.

 Observation- many (perhaps most) students became so overwhelmed that they stopped reading the questions and simply colored in the circles.

 I don't really blame them. I likely would have done the same thing. I'm a believer in the axiom "anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything not worth doing is worth not doing well."

 Pessimistic perhaps, but I believe students realize that when they do not know something, they will be taught it by a responsible teacher. They are also smart enough to know the game that if it is on a pretest, it must be material they are eventually supposed to know. So what is the true motivation to take the time to read 100 multiple choice questions.

 There is value in having the students see the pretest. I can think of these: a) they can see what is coming - a pre-reading of the text type of process, b) they quickly become cognizant that there is a lot of work coming, c) when they post-test (using nearly the same questions) they will know the material and that can serve as motivation to continue working hard the rest of the year. They will succeed with this material. They always do.

 So now the fun starts. We get down to the business of doing Social Studies!

 iPhoned
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 4 - The Geography Pre-Test

I'm not really a big believer in the "pre-test - post-test" revolution, but we are in the process of conducting a pre-test on the Geography section of our 7th grade studies.  The test will not count as a grade for the students, and they are not expected to do very well.

The test is considered a diagnostic tool to demonstrate to teachers what the students may already know.  The teacher can then focus the available time to the material the students don't know, and commit less time to the material students do know.

It may sound negative, but all of our material this year should be new to nearly all students.  Not many 13-year-olds are going to self-study the countries and landforms of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  Nor will they independently dive into the major religions of the world.  It is unlikely that they will be familiar with the ethnic groups of these areas; now will they understand the environmental issues of specific regions.

Therefore, we will have to discuss most items in detail anyway.

Students will likely be guessing their way through the pre-test...and, believe it or not, THAT IS WHAT I THINK THE VALUE IS!

This week, students will have to guess, be frustrated, and wonder "how will I ever learn all this stuff!"

In October, when we conclude our Geography section, we will give a post-test.  The students won't be guessing then - they will know the material.

I have not scored any pre-tests, but I am estimating an average score of 15-20 questions correct out of the 100 questions they will answer this week.

In October, I predict an average score of 87-93.  That kind of dramatic improvement goes a long way in demonstrating to students that they can learn lots of material in a short amount of time.

That's something I can support.

Posted via email from Room 755

Day 3 - 2-Minute Me

Today we shared a basic structure of Social Studies; who are we?

Students answered several social studies related questions and shared their responses with several classmates in a round-robin, 1-1 style.

Some of the questions were:

1. What is your name?
2. Names and ages of siblings.
3. Where were you born?
4. How long have you lived in Dalton?
5. What places have you visited?
6. What one thing makes a teacher a good teacher?
7. What one thing makes a student a good student?
8. What is your dream? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do in your lifetime?
9. Favs: TV Show, Song, Movie, Book

Students had 2 minutes ti share their information with their partner, then they rotated to someone new.

Students had to read, write, speak, and listen all of which are primary components of the SIOP model of teaching ELL students.

The students did a good job for trying something somewhat new to them.  We will have to get more focused on the tasks when asked to work with a partner or in small groups: which is normal for 7th graders. It is so difficult for students to stay on task, which is why, I think, teachers find it easier and more effective to lead class activities.

I think we will get better as opportunities come in the future, and students see the need to focus on the task at hand.

Pretest on Geography tomorrow and Thursday. Let's see what we may already know of this year's content.

iPhoned
From R. Murry

Posted via email from Room 755

Day 4 - The Geography Pre-Test

I'm not really a big believer in the "pre-test - post-test" revolution, but we are in the process of conducting a pre-test on the Geography section of our 7th grade studies.  The test will not count as a grade for the students, and they are not expected to do very well.

The test is considered a diagnostic tool to demonstrate to teachers what the students may already know.  The teacher can then focus the available time to the material the students don't know, and commit less time to the material students do know.

It may sound negative, but all of our material this year should be new to nearly all students.  Not many 13-year-olds are going to self-study the countries and landforms of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.  Nor will they independently dive into the major religions of the world.  It is unlikely that they will be familiar with the ethnic groups of these areas; now will they understand the environmental issues of specific regions.

Therefore, we will have to discuss most items in detail anyway.

Students will likely be guessing their way through the pre-test...and, believe it or not, THAT IS WHAT I THINK THE VALUE IS!

This week, students will have to guess, be frustrated, and wonder "how will I ever learn all this stuff!"

In October, when we conclude our Geography section, we will give a post-test.  The students won't be guessing then - they will know the material.

I have not scored any pre-tests, but I am estimating an average score of 15-20 questions correct out of the 100 questions they will answer this week.

In October, I predict an average score of 87-93.  That kind of dramatic improvement goes a long way in demonstrating to students that they can learn lots of material in a short amount of time.

That's something I can support.

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 3 - 2-Minute Me

Today we shared a basic structure of Social Studies; who are we?

 Students answered several social studies related questions and shared their responses with several classmates in a round-robin, 1-1 style.

 Some of the questions were:

 1. What is your name?
2. Names and ages of siblings.
3. Where were you born?
4. How long have you lived in Dalton?
5. What places have you visited?
6. What one thing makes a teacher a good teacher?
7. What one thing makes a student a good student?
8. What is your dream? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do in your lifetime?
9. Favs: TV Show, Song, Movie, Book

 Students had 2 minutes ti share their information with their partner, then they rotated to someone new.

 Students had to read, write, speak, and listen all of which are primary components of the SIOP model of teaching ELL students.

 The students did a good job for trying something somewhat new to them. We will have to get more focused on the tasks when asked to work with a partner or in small groups: which is normal for 7th graders. It is so difficult for students to stay on task, which is why, I think, teachers find it easier and more effective to lead class activities.

 I think we will get better as opportunities come in the future, and students see the need to focus on the task at hand.

 Pretest on Geography tomorrow and Thursday. Let's see what we may already know of this year's content.

 iPhoned
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Day 1 Of Class

It's Day 1 - Welcome to class. You received a class syllabus today. The Course Description is in the video below. The big thing for the weekend is to get the supplies. You'll need:

  1. A Composition Book - just for Social Studies
  2. 3x5 Lined Index Cards - get 200 of them, you'll need one for each day of the year
  3. Twistables Colored Pencils or Crayons - 12 count
  4. A pencil or pen everyday
  5. 4 Dry Erase Markers - this is for all of your classes (not just this one)

It was great to meet everyone today. I'll be working on your names, and trying to put them with your faces over the next few days. Remember - EVERYTHING IS SOCIAL STUDIES! We will DO Social Studies as much as learn about Social Studies. -------------- The content of Room 755 is the interpretation of the Georgia State Standards for 7th grade Social Studies, and how we seek to address these standards in one classroom, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the school system in which I work. This work (unless expressly stated) are licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Posted via web from Room 755

Monday, August 03, 2009

Showing colleague posterous

iPhoned
From R. Murry

Begin forwarded message:

From: Ric Murry <rrmurry@gmail.com>
Date: August 3, 2009 9:16:11 AM EDT
Subject: Showing colleague posterous

Very easy to do.

iPhoned
From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weekly Web Reads (weekly)


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.