Thank you, my two loyal friends, for your inquiry as to whats ahead for Polski3. To make a sort of long story short, last spring I was approached by my building administrator and asked if I would consider a change in my teaching assignment for the 2010-11 school year (and beyond?). I'd been teaching Grade 7 World History for....I don't know for sure, but probably 8-10 years. Anyhow, due to parent complaints, my building administrator asked me to consider a change in what I teach. Yes, you read correctly, "parent conplaints."
Last Spring, there was a meeting at my school for the parents of our GATE students. I do not usually attend these meetings, but that is where the complaints were voiced to my building administrator. The nature of these complaints was that several of these GATE parents were not happy/satisified, etc. with their sons/daughters Grade 8 US History classes, that their GATE sons/daughters had not been nearly as interested, challenged or believed by these parents to have learned nearly as much about US History as they did "last year in Mr. Polski3's class."
As a result of this and some other stuff happening at our peputually Federally failing school, my building administrator asked me to consider teaching US History next year. I was asked to please provide an answer by the end of May.
This led to some thinking. And more thinking. And a bit of negotiations. And of course, talking about it with Mrs. Polski3. On the positive side, I was promised, keeping in mind the limited budget, teaching materials needed for, lets just call it my style of teaching history, having GATE students (ok, this could be a negative....depending on how you look at it), and from my own perspective, sometimes it is good to teach something different and not get too comfortable or lackadasical about what you are doing. I've taught 8th US History before, and it was fun to teach. However, that was also before the big mantra about the standards. My building administrator also has noted that I am flexible and work hard to try to get my students to learn the material and that I do stuff like the interactive notebooks to try to help my students.
On the negative side, California 8th Grade History Standards are....BAD. And, teaching 8th Graders can be more...." challenging." And, while many of them complained about the size of the desk they had in 7th grade, now, after a summer of growth, they will be "larger" and in the same crappy desks. Anyhow.....
So anyhow, Polski3 is going to be teaching US History to 8th Graders. I will probably get many of my students from last year, but have also been promised that certain individuals from last year will be in the other 8th grade US History classes, in part because "they need a change."
I've done a little prep work over the summer. Ummm, I don't recall the internet being available when I last taught US History. Geeze, there's lots of stuff online. I especially like that there is SO MUCH more "primary source" stuff as compared to Medieval World History. And, I have already had to kick meself about my time limits to teach certain bits of US History; NO, I cannot spend semester one on Colonial US History. (technically, Colonial US History is part of California's Grade 5 History/Soc. St. Standards, but our students don't get history in Grade 5; and besides, I like teaching the 16 - 17 - 18th Century aspects of US History.....establishment of brewing facilities, fights with Native peoples, slaughtering other Europeans because they are the wrong type of Christians, daily life and all its yuckiness....WHATS not to like????)
So anyhow, into my hot garage to dig out stuff saved from years ago teaching US History, reading early US History (for now) to spark the brain cells, buying a few books...... And the kiddies show up in less than two weeks....
Thanks for reading this. Your ideas and super suggestions for teaching US History or History in general are more than welcome !