Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Week One is almost over.....

Well, its almost the end of week one. I've introduced my students to me and the course, given them a pre-test about part of the first unit, we've assembled interactive notebooks and tomorrow, their first assignments are due ( "Map of their route from home to school," and some Cornell Notes about geography vocabulary).

After I collect their assignments, its time to get into small groups to begin a small geography lab about our county. I have a set of ten questions for them to answer using a variety of historical and other maps and data that include our county. Then, for minimum points, they create a list of at least ten facts about the Geography and History of our county; for "more" points, they make their facts list and create some illustrations to go with their facts (they can find pictures online or draw them), and for the most points, do all the above and write a short report about the Geog. and Hist. of our county.

Over on Coach Brown's blog, he's listed some things "to do" this school year. I really hope he can "not take home work." THAT is a biggie for many of us teachers. As for Polski3, here is what I plan to try this school year (in no particular order):

lecture more

more student writing

use textbook more as a resource for pictures and other graphic resources, using the reading study guide and standards enrichment more for the "reading" assignments.

Do more DBQ type activities

More primary source material (much easier to do for US History than Medieval World)

Try to do more small group activities

Try to bring home less work (this from the guy starting out by collecting two assignments on a friday !)

Hope your Friday is good. Weekends are almost always good. Leave a comment, I'd like to hear from you !

Thanks for reading my blog !

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome Back.....rant, rant.....History idea

Well, at least I have a teaching job. After being told that even though the preliminary test data says we did not (again) reach that mystical number that is expected by our Socialist National Government, who in my opinion, are in total violation of our Tenth Amendment by even being involved in Public Education....anyhow, we still "showed growth."

And then, we were told that our personal expenses for health insurance is going up, again. Not the 8-12% that was hinted at before we departed for summer break in June, but about 30-something percent ! This year, I will take home about $4000 less than I did last year.

About Ten more years of this......or retire early and live in near poverty? And the kids haven't even shown up......

But, then again, maybe, just MAYBE, the cycle will spin around to the "flush" times in education and I will get my supposed "benefits" fully paid for and have a much higher take home salary and be able to retire in comfort..... Time will tell.

On the positive side, I am creating a new "extra credit" thing for my students: Post on a classroom bulletin board, an odd picture of someplace in the USA and students get a few points extra credit for properly identifying it. I used to do this eons ago when I taught science, but few students could id most of the weird science close-ups, and other weird stuff I posted.....we'll see how it works for US History.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Back to work, back to school....

With my changed teaching assignment (from world hist. to US History), I've been doing a little reading this summer to restir those US history bits floating around in the ever evolving soup of my brain. I'm currently reading bits of "Spain in the Southwest: A Narrative History of Colonial New Mexico, Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California," by John Kessell. I've recently completed, Kenneth C. Davis' "America' Hidden History," Jeffery Lent's fictional early republic novel "The Whiskey Rebels" (centered around the early National Bank, Hamilton and the Whiskey Rebellion, bits and pieces of David Colbert (editor), "Eyewitness to America," Ray Raphael's "A People's History of the American Revolution," Seymour Morris Jr.'s "American History Revised, Volume 4 of "A History of US: The New Nation," by Joy Hakim, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allan's "A Patriots History of the United States," and various bits of HISTORY Magazine, AMERICAN HERITAGE Magazine, and stuff I find online.

Goal for Today, to type out a "Colonial Spanish North America" timeline. I like timeline activities; I generally make these a tiered activity....minimum points for students to create a simple ten event/date timeline, more possible points for creating/finding illustrations for their events/dates and to earn maximum points, creating the illustrated timeline and researching and writing a short report about any one of the events they chose for their timeline.

Back to School puzzlement: Does your school allow students to have, at school, permanent markers? We don't at my school, due to graffiti problems. However, about every back to school sale I've browsed this summer, there are lots of permanent markers for sale. If students are found to have these markers at my school, they are usually confiscated (our local police have made it be known that the graffitistas of our community are not just tagging crews from the local gangs; they have also caught sk8ers, star athletes and honor students tagging the flat spaces of this community). Guess school policy and community cleanliness cannot get in the way of commerce? The local stores that sell paint already have to keep spray paints under lock and key; are permanent markers next? Anyhow.....

I've also bought, at Staples, about 50 bottles of white glue and 20 150-sheet packages of notebook paper for about 80 cents, (Yes, a penny apiece, plus tax). YES, less than a dollar for all that. Guess those are Staples Company "loss-leaders" to get teachers into their stores to buy more 'no longer being supplied by the schools" stuff for their students.

Time to get back to work. Thank you for reading this post. I welcome your comments and suggestions for teaching 8th graders US History !

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

New Assignment.....

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 !