Monday, April 30, 2007

The Mother of Georgia

While I was conducting research for one of those other places I attempt to post to I stumbled upon the picture I used for last week's Wordless Wednesday.

At first I thought I had found yet one more thing that makes my state sometimes strange and unique, however, I had incorrectly assumed the statue’s title referred to “my” Georgia. As I kept looking at images it became clear the landscape I was looking at was not my homeland of red clay but was the landscape of the former Russian territory of Georgia.
The statue is located outside of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, and can be seen for miles around. While the statue is named The Mother of Georgia she is also referred to as Kartilis Deda and is located on top of Sololaki Mountain.

Many archeologists have agreed the oldest traces of wine making come from this region dating back to 7000 to 5000 B.C. Perhaps this is why the statue is holding a bowl or cup which symbolizes hospitality as she offers guests a drink of wine. The menacing sword is a warning to Georgia’s enemies. Since the times before and after the Silk Road this territory has had a turbulent journey to independent nation status.

There are a couple of good views of the statue here….one view is looking staight up from the base of the statue (make sure you scroll down and click the “next” button to advance to the next picture). Another link seen here has a picture of the statue in relation to its surroundings and a few other Georgia scenes.

You just never known what you will discover when you embark on a “clicking” journey.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Places That Make Me Say NEAT-O!

Perhaps you recently received an envelope from the folks at Edutopia Magazine. The literature states it is more than a magazine. It shares a vision of the ideal educational landscape, where students are motivated to learn and teachers are energized by teaching. Edutopia tells the stories of innovation in education. Head on over to the website and check out all the neat-o resources you can use and don’t forget to subscribe. I was most impressed and have already subscribed.

Rethinking Schools is also an interesting publication that has an online version as well.

Gliffy is a site where you can create and share diagrams and graphic organizers online while Slide helps you to create slideshows with your images. Go have some fun!

Finally take seven minutes and PAY ATTENTION to this video from Teacher Tube. Feel free to share it with those folks in your building who think the computer in the corner is a great shelf or even worse…..the place where “that” kid can keeps himself busy with a reading “game”. After you view the video go check out the other great things to view, learn from, and use at Teacher Tube and check out their blog here.

The Georgia Carnival Is Up

Please stop by the latest edition of the Georgia Carnival and support Otter, the host for the eighth edition at Grasping For the Wind.

The official name for this edition is The Emotive Edition and you can view it HERE.

As always your help promoting and directing others to the carnival is greatly appreciated and the participants appreciate your visits and comment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

13 Episodes I Handled Today..Can You Figure Out Why I Had a Good Cry?

As soon as the last student left my room today I grabbed my things and escaped. I left before I should have. I left fifteen minutes early, but I had to leave. I could not stand the classroom one more minute. I sprinted to my car and got in, left the parking lot, and was well on my way home when I began to cry. It had been a very wacky, crazy, stressful day of testing, very little learning, and I had had my fair share of nine year old hormones to deal with. Here are 13 of the many, many episodes I handled today.

1. Before our last day of testing began I shooed kids to the restroom with the age old adage, “Go try!” I stood in the doorway so I was available to kids in each direction to keep everyone on track and calm. Unfortunately I had to duck back in the room to persuade one young lady to put her soccer ball in the back of the room. I had already asked three times. It’s amazing what proximity will do to urge a student to finally comply with a simple direction. As I went back to the doorway a young man returning from the restroom came to me, “Elementaryhistoryteacher, D. called me a N. (rhymes with digger).” That’s strange. The young man is white and the person using the word is black. “Ok, I’ll handle it,”I said. As the young lady was returning from the restroom I stopped her and spoke with her in the hallway. I said, “Do you know why I want to talk with you?” She told me she did and confirmed the reason. I like to do things this way so we don’t play the ‘no I didn’t do it’ game. She told me she doesn’t see anything wrong with it and she can say it at home. “How would you feel if one of these white kids around here called you that?” She told me she wouldn’t like it. “Exactly,” I told her, “He didn’t like it either.” The young man was just as offended. I explained to the young lady that she can use that word all she wants to at home if it is allowed, however, at school she has to abide by my rules and I don’t allow it to be spoken….EVER.

2. My loud talker talked more than normal today. I could hear him coming up the hall after breakfast. and at the end of the day I heard him all the back down the hall. He began his day in my room with two pennies. He thought it would so cool to take those pennies and flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip…..them on the table-top. I asked him to stop. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip. I asked him to stop again or I would have to take them. “You can’t take them, their mine. My Dad says so. You take anything of mine and you’ll have a problem.” Flip, flip, flip….I took them. They are on my desk as we speak. I hope Dad shows up.:)

3. You could tell it was the last day of testing. Everyone is tired of it and everyone is tired of a strange schedule. I had several finished within 20 minutes... a test that should at least take them 40 minutes to finish. Instead of reading after they finished most everyone opted for mouthing at a friend across the room while I constantly leaned down and told them stop, don’t, please don’t, you need to read, I’m not going to tell you again, no, stop, don’t, put it away……Heavy sigh.

4. This year it was someone’s great idea to allow them to have a little snack in the middle of the two test sections. Look up brain based learning and you’ll understand why. I’m not against it….it just doesn’t always work out like it should. My proctor and I had been so proactive in taking up all the test materials after the first section before handing out any food or drink. Today’s snack selection was a 10 ounce bottle of water, a few goldfish and a few animal crackers. After a few minutes I told them to finish up so we could get started on the second section of the test. I told students not to drink all the water in their bottle. They could cap it and place in their desk for later. On no, my direction makes too much sense. Nine year olds are not about what makes sense. Most turned up their bottles and guzzled them down. Except for two young men who decided they would hold their water in their mouths and then spit it at each other just when I happened to walk by. Ick was what I thought when I felt a big, warm splash of water mixed with spit on my foot. Reminder to self…..shower immediately upon entering the house.

5. Once all of the water bottles were empty we had quite a little chorus going on of water bottle orchestra. Seems once they were empty the bottles made “cute” little crinkly noises. Yes, YES, let’s all try. Ms. Procter and I couldn’t get the trash can around fast enough. Crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, pop, crinkle, po, crinkle, p, crink, cri, c, finally silence……for about 20 seconds.

6. About midway through the second section of the test I noticed many of the kids were squirming in their seats. Knees were moving in and out, legs were jiggling, and some had tortured looks on their faces. You guessed it…..10 ounces of water in and some will want to flow back out. Nope….can’t go. We are testing. Sorry. Cross your legs. Finish up. Sorry. I can’t let you out yet. We were finally done and after taking “the tests” up to the office so they could be under lock and key I allowed my students out of the room one at a time so they could finally get rid of their 10 ounces of water. It was too early and I was chancing a much dreaded TESTING VIOLATION, but when ya’ gotta go…..ya’ gotta go.

7. About 10 minutes into the second section I positioned myself over by my classroom door. We are required to walk the room during testing and try not to hover, but I mean really……the kids feel our presence. I tend to lean on my stool some and walk the room some as well. The test police be damned. I was standing close to my door in order to peer across the hallway into another fourth grade room to see where they were at the process. Were we ahead of them or were we behind the group? Suddenly, a person appeared at my door. That’s unusual because no one is allowed in the hallways during testing. It was a mom, though I didn’t recognize which one. I try but I don’t see them that often and there are 85 of them. She beckoned for me to open the door. I waved my hands back and forth and mouthed “NO, WE ARE TESTING.” I pointed to the door where a huge sign was there for all to see. In fact, she had passed large orange cones at the entrance to our hallway with signs posted on them, and every door she passed had a testing sign. She finally went away. Our younger grades do not test science and social studies so they were not testing today. Seems a mom was taking medicine to her little one and thought she would swing by and say hi to her older one in my room. I later found out this mom was told several times not walk down 4th and 5th grade hallway because of testing and it would be a violation of the integrity of the test. What does she do? Exactly what she wanted to and the request be damned. Makes you kind of understand where the kids get this type of attitude. Rules and procedures? Oh, they are for that other guy. Not me. I shudder to think what kind of internal paperwork I would have had to fill out if I hadn’t been by my door to stop her from knocking or coming on in. We are constantly told each and every little procedure has to be complied with or we could possibly loose our certification. I mean we are talking about state and federal laws here….they govern the test. I will be expressing my opinions about this matter to school officials at a later time….believe me.

8. One of my mothers came to have lunch with her son today. She came on out to the playground with us and we exchanged pleasantries. Finally she told me what was on her mind. Seems her son…..a well parented, straight-laced type of young man, had been getting love letters and mom was shocked. She said she had several that her son had given her. I asked her to make a copy of one and return it to me and I would handle things on my end. Seems the young lady was writing some explicit things that the young man didn’t understand. She thought he was “hot sexy” and “wanted to to do the night thing” with him. Apparently "the night thing" is some type of song lyric...I wouldn't know. Reminder here……..I teach students who are NINE.

9. While I was keeping one eye on a corner of the much too large playground full of too many children I kept up my conversation with the mother mentioned in episode 8. Suddenly two girls came up and mentioned that one student had left the playground to go after a first grader in order to “jack her up” (the girls’ words…not mine). Jack who up? What do you mean? I finally determine one of our fourth graders was upset with a first grader because the first grade little girl was mad at his sister. He had already slapped her on the playground and then followed her class off the field to “get her”. I found the young man’s teacher and alerted her. They finally located him and apparently he won’t be around for the rest of the week if you get my meaning. A breather……for him and us. We have a daily problem of some kind with him

10. I noticed four little girls kicking away at smart, heart-throb of a boy. He’s that kid in elementary school that ALL the girls LOVE. Whereas in my day we usually pined for the young man from afar little girls today are much more assertive. Heart-throb has been literally harassed all year by the girls. He finds a love letter in his desk at least once a day. Now it’s getting scary. Seems he finally had to tell one girl, “I don’t like you.” And she retaliated by instigating a kick fest with a few of her friends. The scary thing is they really feel they are justified to hurt this young man because he doesn’t return their feelings.

11. During lunch I found several papers on my floor. Some were filled with information for the ‘Push” game. The kids fold the paper in such a way and you choose a number to find out who you are going to marry, how many kids you are going to have, etc……I remember making them and playing with them. These papers were different. Instead of choices like marry, like, or date they are murder, stab and kidnap. Oh my……the names involved didn’t just include various students in the class, but my name was on the list as well as my high school aide. Oh my, oh my! We had a class meeting today and I hope I expressed to each and every student my disappointment and shock at these choices, and that I would prefer they not be played at school at all. I followed the proper procedures and turned the papers over to the counselor.

12 Once again I had some climbers in the boys restroom. We have a wall that divides the urinals from the stalls. The boys attempt to climb it so they can sit on the ledge. We have begged for something to be put on the top of this divider wall to encourage the young men NOT to sit up there. It might not seem like a big deal, but remember I am contracted to maintain the safety for these boys. All I need is one busted head....

13. Rat-a-tat-tat….Bam, bam, bam….thump, biddy, biddy, thump…rum, tum, tum, rum, tum, tum….tap, tap, tap, tappy, tap, tap. “Quit thumping and banging!” I beg again and again, and again throughout the day. Students, hands, fingers, and arms mixed with table tops equal little Ricky Ricardos and the bongos. I half expect to hear Ricky exclaim “Ba-ba-loo!” any minute.

It was a long day. I deserved a good cry and I took it. I get to teach tomorrow...really teach. We are going to back up now that the test is over and revisit the Louisiana Purchase more in depth. Perhaps I can replace some of the inappropriate behaviors with ones that involve learning. Two more days until the weekend. Twenty-two until the end of the year.

Wordless Wednesday Participants
1. Crazy Working Mom
2. Bridget
3. maiylah
4. Kuanyin
5. mar
6. Jarid and Caydon\'s blog
7. Villager
8. Donna
9. Patois
10. The Crazy King of Clowns
11. ladybristol

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday 21

It's the attack of the amazingly tall woman! Seriously, does anyone know about this?

See my explanation for last week HERE

Follow the link to see everyone who is participating in Wordless Wednesday

Monday, April 23, 2007

Genealogy of a Blog

Sometime ago I was awarded with a thinking blogger award.

Have you ever wondered how those things get started and where it ended up after it left your lovely site?

Check the link above to find out how it all started and who the first five recipients were.

Mr. Incognito over at Almost Anonymous was curious and did a little backtracking to discover the family tree branch that brought the Thinking Blogger Award to his worthy site.

What an interesting idea! Here is the list Mr. Incognito compiled.

Thirty-seven thinking bloggers…Check out some and see what they are thinking.

37. Almost Anonymous
36. Pugly / Nights Over Egypt
35. Dina Zaman / The Splenderful Chronicles
34. Eliza’s Haberdashery / Kak Teh's Choc-a-Blog Blog
33. Bibliobibuli
32. Greening the Blue Planet
31. Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
30. The Sleepy Reader
29. 3M’s Review
28. This is the Life
27. The Song of My Soul
26. Fruit In Season
25. Sting My Heart
24. Laurel Wreath
23. Middle Years
22. Rocking Chair Reflections
21. Morning Glory
20. Ordinary Mom
19. Temporary? Insanity
18. The Smiling Infidel
17. Slacker Moms R Us
16. The State of Discontent
15. I Obsess
14. 24/7
13. Red Neck Mommy
12. A Work of Art
11. Under The Mad Hat
10. Bub and Pie
9. So Fast Away
8. Life, the Ongoing Education
7. California Teacher Guy
6. History Is Elementary
5. Another History Blog
4. Primordial Blog
3. Sandwalk
2. Greg Laden
1. The Thinking Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Advancing Towards the Trail of Tears

We used a couple of days leading up to “the test” to take a look at the Trail of Tears.

Many of my students visited New Echota, the Cherokee capital prior to 1834, during a field trip last year and many have vacationed in Cherokee, North Carolina. I use this information as a hook to get kids interested in our current topic by having them remember the details of their trips to these Cherokee landmarks.

However, it has been many moons since August when we discussed Native American regions, so we reviewed first about the Cherokees and how they lived in the Eastern Woodlands of North America prior to the arrival of Europeans. Then we clicked our fast forward button and discussed Sequoyah and his Cherokee alphabet, the Cherokee newspaper, The Phoenix, and I showed students various pictures of Cherokee villages and gatherings. I also wrote a list of names on the board and titled it “Important Cherokee Leaders”. The names on the list included Col. Ridge, James Vann, and Charles Hicks.

I asked students to carefully look at the images and the list of names and make some observations. They quickly surmised that the Cherokees in the pictures were dressed like white men, the men on the list did not have names that sounded Native American, and that villages looked more like towns with buildings that resembled other colonial settlements.

One student remarked, “Gee, you can’t tell they are Indians at all.”

Were my students operating on stereotypes?

I would have to say they were.

Of course I can’t blame them. Young children are constantly inundated with solitary images of Native Americans wearing feathers and living in a teepee. One or two lessons a year to change their way of thinking isn’t going to be enough, but I try.

Now I don’t mean to mislead anyone into thinking that I allowed my students to think that all Cherokee tribal members assimilated into the European culture. Prior to European exploration the Cherokee Nation was a well organized, peaceful tribe that had a form of government, religion, and education. They were a highly developed civilization. There were many who did not choose to follow and highly objected to any white habits and customs. On the other hand there were many who had a lifestyle similar to whites yet followed the practice of polygamy and looked first to Cherokee law before following state laws.

Once white traders and hunters began to travel through Cherokee lands, however, many mixed unions between Englishmen and Cherokee women took place. During the days of his presidency George Washington asked Henry Dearborn to introduce certain facets of technology to the Cherokee such as spinning wheels and carding machines. Young chiefs such as Col. Ridge, James Vann, and Charles Hicks known as the Cherokee Triumvirate understood that peace could come through education, technology, and business sense. Other Cherokee leaders such as John Ross and John Walker agreed with them.

With so many pushing for assimilation it seems it was inevitable, and the very fact that their journey towards assimilation was so successful makes the fate of the Trail of Tears just that much more repugnant and regretable.

In order to continue my student’s journey through the Trail of Tears take a look at the next portion of my lesson I’ve detailed in my post titled The Chief Vann House: Stamping Out Stereotypes over at Georgia On My Mind and stay tuned for more about the Trail of Tears.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More on William Thornton

The picture I posted for this week’s Wordless Wednesday is an image of the U.S. Patent Office. I’m not sure what year that picture was taken, but the image you see to the left was taken in 1870.

The building is now known as the Old Patent Building. The Smithsonian took it over and today it houses the Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

The patent office figured greatly with another article I posted this week titled William Thornton: A Capitol Life. Thornton was the superintendent of the patent office. Thornton did not get to serve in the magnificent building you see above. During Thornton’s tenure the Patent Office was located in a building known as Blodget’s Hotel. Today a well known structure called the Tariff Building is located on the spot where the hotel was located. It is directly across the street from the lovely Old Patent Office.

When the British invaded Washington D.C. during the War of 1812 they burned the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and most other government buildings. Thanks to William Thornton who was one of very few government officials still in Washington as the British marched into the city the patents and other important papers in the Patent Office were saved from the torch.

Thornton persuaded the British not to burn the building because of the importance of the building's contents not just to America, but to the world in general. Another reason why Thornton should be remembered for saving the Patent Office is Congress needed a place to meet after the Capitol burned, and Thornton made the Patent Office available.

Thornton had always been interested in the art of design, and the U.S. Capitol was not his first step into structure designing. He also designed Woodlawn belonging to George Washington’s nephew and step-grandaughter who were married. He also designed Tudor Place
for Martha Washington’s granddaughter.

The home you see here is known as the Tayloe House originally owned by Col. John Tayloe of Mt. Airy Plantation. During the early days of our nation he was known as Virginia’s largest landowner. His friend, George Washington, had convinced Tayloe a man of his social standing would need a house in the new capitol city so he hired William Thornton to develop a plan. Today this house is also known as the Octagon House and is currently owned by the American Architectural Foundation.

The Tayloe House also has a connection to the War of 1812. Following the destruction of the White House the Madisons needed a place to serve as the Executive Mansion. Col Tayloe offered his home and the Madisons accepted. The Treaty of Ghent which ended the war with Britain was signed by Madison in the circular room above the entrance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wordless Wednesday 20

Where was this picture taken?

Learn more about Wordless Wednesday and visit other participants HERE

See last week’s explanation HERE

William Thornton: A Capitol Life

If you wanted to share an example of how social structure and religious beliefs played a part in a young man’s life choices during the late 1700s, William Thornton would be a fine choice. I usually share Mr. Thornton’s life in a very short power point during my unit on the formation of our government, but his life also provides me with a great opportunity to look back on topics we have already discussed and enables me to look forward into topics we will soon cover.

Last week I shared a portrait of William Thornton with you as my wordless image seen HERE.

Thornton seemed set in life as he was slated at a young age to inherit sugar plantations on Tortola and Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. However, instead of growing up at his father’s knee learning the ins and outs of managing large Caribbean plantations Thornton grew up in northern Lancashire, England under the influence of his father’s Quaker relations. Many students find it interesting that Thornton seems set for a life of priviledge as an island planter, but because of his strict, practical Quaker upbringing Thornton was apprenticed to an apothecary and physician.

At this point I pose review questions with students concerning the Quakers. They remember the Quakers were a religious group originating in England. William Penn received permission to begin a colony in the Americas we know as Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, the capital of Pennsylvania was very important in the founding of our nation. The Declaration of Independence was signed there, and the Constitution was drafted there as well. Not only was Penn an important Quaker, but Ben Franklin was a Quaker as well.

Historical researchers indicate Thornton was interested in the design arts based on reviews of Thornton’s journal he began keeping during his days as an apprentice. There are many entries regarding medical treatments, but there are just as many portraits, landscapes and even a study of Ben Franklin’s stove. However, Thornton remained true to his Quaker practicality by studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh and later studying in London where he resided with Dr. Jean-Joseph Sue, professor of anatomy at Royal College of Surgery and Royal School of Painting and Sculpture.

Don’t you find it interesting that Thornton’s professor was a professor in the College of Surgery as well as Painting and Sculpture? Unfortunately I have not been able to locate any online pictures of Thornton’s journals. I have verified an engraving exists of a drawing he completed of Francoise, Comtesse de Beauharnais by Francisco Bartolozzi, and there is a landscape painting completed by Thornton’s of the glacier at Mer de Glace, near Chamonix, but I have not found an online copy to show to students. Even so I like to question students about Thornton’s motives. It was clear he loved to study the way things are put together and he clearly enjoyed his art, yet he allowed himself to be apprenticed. This discussion allows me to clue students into the time period. People often sacrificed their own wishes to do what family or society expected. Do we still have this idea of sacrifice today? Over the years we have had some interesting discussions about expectations versus “wants”, the demands of society, and how things change over time.

In 1784, Thornton actually came to the United States with a letter of introduction to Ben Franklin from his mentor and friend, Dr.John Coakley Lettsome. Some sources also state Lettsome was Thornton’s relative. Lettsome also had sugar plantations on Little Jost Van Dyke and for some time was the only doctor residing in his are of the British West Indies.

Why was a letter of introduction needed? Many students are surprised at the formality of the times.

It was not until 1785 that Thornton traveled to the islands to visit his sugar plantation holdings and his mother….he had not seen her since he was a boy, however, the realization that he owned seventy slaves bothered his Quaker sensibilities. Today, what remains of the plantation is in ruins and they are unprotected.

This is usually a good place to remind students the Quakers were against slavery and spoke for its abolition. At this point I am propelling students into future content and preteaching the word abolition as well as setting up our discovery of the Underground Railroad since many Quakers assisted in helping runaway slaves to reach their freedom.

In 1786 Thornton moved to the United States where he quickly became interested in aboliltion and involved free Black Americans uniting them with British blacks by forming a settlement at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River in West Africa. For a time while he lived in America Thornton lodged at Mrs. Mary’s House, a boarding house in Philadelphia. While at Mrs. Mary’s Thornton met up with James Madison who was also a lodger.

I direct student’s attention to the date. I ask them to compare it to the timeline they have constructing in their notebooks. Students discover that James Madison would have been in Philadelphia working with the Constitutional Convention. This is a powerful connection of parallel events. Thornton is working for abolition and assisting freed Africans while James Madison is assisting his fellow delegates in forming the American government….a government that would count African slaves as three-fifths of a person. What a stark contrast!

While the issue of abolition did keep Thornton busy he was still interested in the arts as well writing. In the fall of 1792 he won a prize from the American Philosophical Society for an essay which was a treatise on written language. While on a visit to the Carribean Thornton learned of the design competition for the United States Capitol. His unfinished design managed to get into the hands of John Trumbull who in turn made sure the designs got into the hands of George Washington.

I make sure students remember John Trumbull was a famous American painter. Students previously analyzed his Battle of Bunker Hill.

While Washington’s administration did take their time to finally choose Thornton’s design Thomas Jefferson’s writings refer to the plan as ‘simple, noble, beautiful, [and] excellent[ly] distributed.’ For winning the competition Thornton received $500 and a deed to a city lot. However, Thornton’s original plan was altered and he didn’t actually oversee the construction.

Thornton went on to design some well known homes and served as the superintendent of the U.S. Patent Office thanks to his good friend James Madison.

The majestic building we know as the United States Capitol was envisioned in William Thornton’s mind before anyone else. Students will never look at that same building again without knowing a little bit about the original designer and how he lived his "capitol" life.

This week’s Wordless image also has something to do with William Thornton.

Monday, April 16, 2007

T-Day...One and Counting

No, I haven’t given in to testing anxiety and gone stark raving mad. I’m not sick, and I’m not really that exhausted. I haven’t run out of posting ideas….yet. Actually, I have a few ideas I’m working on.

So, why no real post today?

Well, the picture kind of says it all doesn’t it?

It’s T-Day Eve….Tax Day for those not in the know.

Dear Hubby has not waited until the last minute to start our taxes, but he has waited until the last minute to finish up all of those “little” details to complete our tax return.

Hubby tells me that I must refrain from posting today while he utilizes “his” computer he allows me to use to finish up his paperwork.

I guess I could get caught up with some grades, and there’s always the laundry. Then again…..why do laundry when you can watch a good movie on television?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Things to Do....Places to Go

The countdown to the testing window is on. We begin Tueday. I've spent the week pulling all materials down from my walls as we have been directed that our rooms should look like empty boxes.......I've also been placing names on test booklets, answer documents, and bubbling, bubbling, bubbling names, test form numbers, etc.

I'm already a nervous wreck.

I have plenty of bloggy things do, however, and its much more fun than being chained to my desk.

The URL for the American Presidents Blog has changed. Please update your records. The new web address is

Edition 7 of the Georgia Carnival can be found at Georgia On My Mind. Go Find out why it's the raining men edition.

The most recent education carnival can be found at The Education Wonks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

13 Things About Political Parties in the United States

A few days before our break for the cold snap or as the school calendar called it, Spring Break, my history kids and I were finishing up our look at the Constitution.

We had analyzed the Articles of Confederation and determined why they didn’t work, we had eavesdropped on the Constitutional Convention and pondered The Strength of the Triangle, we celebrated with the rest of 18th century America as George Washington was inaugurated as the first president under the Constitution, and we had discussed the formation of political parties due to a huge difference of opinion between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

This is usually a hard unit to teach with nine year old children, but not this year. Things were going great. Kids seemed to understand the three branches of government. Their performance pieces (mainly reflective writing) were on target. Then of course….the other shoe dropped.

Have you ever run a race, crossed the finish line, and then discovered you had to go back to the starting block? Even having to go halfway back can be a little disturbing.

One day towards the end of our formation of the U.S. government race Mr. Right-on-Target, Brainy Boy, Always-Gets-It Kid seriously said to me during class, “Hey, Elementaryhistoryteacher…is this a political party?”

I looked down to where he was pointing. His text was open and he was pointing to the image I’ve posted here. The image represents George Washington’s inauguration.

Let me explain what happened another way. One of MY students was pointing to an image in the text that contained a caption explaining the picture was the inauguration of George Washington, and I was being asked if the image was a political “party”.

I let out my biggest Charlie Brown cry of disbelief, “ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!”

“Sweetie,” I asked, “do you mean a party like cake, ice cream, and a pinata?”

Mr. Right-on-Target, etc., etc., etc. said, “Yeah, like with a clown, paper hats and streamers.”

Oh my gosh…..had we…er….I….missed the mark somewhere. We cleared up the misunderstanding straight away, and had a refresher course on multiple-meaning words, but it just goes to show you that often students are confused. They don’t always speak up, and it doesn’t always come out in their work.

So here are 13 factoids about political parties in the United States:

1. Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution and are not required in our political system.
2. There are no laws that dictate how many political parties we may have though our current ballot access laws and leadership rules in Congress pretty much limit us to two parties…….third parties just don’t seem to make it for long.

3. Parties ARE regulated by the constitutions of the individual states since they regulate state and federal elections.

4. Even though delegates to the Constitutional Convention decided the Articles of Confederation would not work because too much power was given to the states, the whole states versus federal government issue was still very much an issue even after the Constitution was ratified.

5. Thomas Jefferson, Washington’s Secretary of State, wanted a federal government with limited powers. He did not want the federal government taking away states’ rights. Jefferson also felt the future of the infant nation would grow on the back of her farmers. .

6. Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, preferred a strong federal government and strongly believed that the future of the United States would be based on trade and manufacturing.

7. Both Jefferson and Hamilton, of course, were men with very strong personalities and leadership skills. It was only natural for people to side with one or the other.

8. A political party is a group of people who share similar ideas about government. It seems almost inevitable that political parties would form in the infant United States. Anytime you have a group of people meet up the eventually sort themselves in some way. While some travel back and forth between a few of the groups there are always groups of one type or another.

9. People who supported Jefferson’s ideas formed the Democratic-Republican Party. No joke…..even my students could tell me the irony in that particular name based on the current political climate in the United States. As one young lady stated, “We ain’t so united anymore, are we Elementaryhistoryteacher?”

10. Folks who liked Hamilton’s ideas about manufacturing, trade, and a strong federal government formed the Federalist party.

11. George Washington heavily advised against the formation of political parties because he said they divided people instead of bringing them together. Can I hear an amen on that?

12. Even though George Washington often received conflicting advice from Jefferson and Hamilton the two political factions did manage to compromise on the building of a federal city we now know as Washington D.C., however Jefferson and Hamilton argued fiercely over the formation of a national bank. Hamilton wanted it, and Washington finally agreed with him.

13. Over the years we have had some political parties with very interesting names that often intrigue students such as the Nullifier Party (1830-1839), the Whig Party (1832-1856), The American Party commonly referred to as the “Know-Nothings” (1854-1858), and Anti-Monopoly Party (1884). Students learn very quickly the Anti-Monopoly Party has nothing to do with the Parker Brothers game of real estate. There are also some real humdingers in the mix as well…….the Communist League of America (1928-1934), the Vegetarian Party (1948-1964), the Looking Back Party (1984-1996), and I could never leave out the Progressive Party known to some as the “Bull Moose Party” of Teddy Roosevelt fame (1912-1914).

Welcome History Carnival can reach my more current posts here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wordless Wednesday 19

What did this man do?

Find out about Wordless Wednesday HERE

The explanation for my last WW image is HERE

In Their Own Words

The picture I’ve posted here is William Jennings Bryan, three-time Democratic nominee for president who became one of the most popular speakers in American history due to his deep and commanding voice. Among many other accomplishments Bryan also fought against Darwinism. Anyone remember hearing something about the Scopes Trial?

Wouldn’t it be great if your students could hear William Jennings Bryan speak? What about Winston Churchill giving his “Iron Curtain Speech” or Amelia Earhart’s “My Belief in the Age of Flight”?

Thanks to the folks at United Streaming students can hear the actual speeches from over 47 famous Americans and a few non-Americans as well including William Jennings Bryan’s “Freedom of Philippines” speech.

Some of the other speeches available are: FDR’s D-Day Prayer, Hindenburg Crash audio
Nixon’s “Check’s Speech”, and JFK’s speech at the Berlin Wall when he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

To access the speeches you must have a United Streaming account….an easy enough thing to do. After logging on use the dropdown content menu to access the speeches.

Make sure you click on “related materials” for speech transcripts and teacher guides.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Returning to a Cold Reality

Happy Keester!

Ok, I know I’m a day late, but the picture is just too cute not to share.

I think my mind is frozen….literally. Here in the Deep South we’re in the Deep Freeze. There was no Easter bonnet for me…..only ear muffs.

Many thanks to Dear Sister for the picture seen here…she sent it in an email that greeted me as I returned to reality…er….school…this morning.

The cold front hit the beach last Wednesday so it was muy, muy frio at Gulfshores. I was unable to sit on the beach in my lovely beachchair and write. I was severely disappointed, but the alternative to not being at the cold beach was being in cold Atlanta where I would be faced with cleaning house and lesson planning. Seriously…..which would you choose?

Even with the cold we managed to have a great time wasting quarters at the arcades and go-cart tracks, eating, and exploring. Dear Hubby did a fantastic job securing a lovely condo for us. I really didn’t want to leave…..Soon I’ll write about our day trip across Mobile Bay by ferry, nearly getting caught in a forest fire in Bayou la Batre, and looking over storm damage that remains in Biloxi, Mississippi.

But now I’m back in my reality.

Thank goodness the powers that be in my school system built in another day to Spring Break for a teacher work day. I stumbled into my classroom at 8 a.m. to a room that had had no heat throughout our little cold snap. It finally warmed up at 2 p.m. I had 54 emails (7 from someone named Inga who wants to be my “special friend” and 5 from someone who thinks I need viagra). It’s absolutely amazing at what gets through the filter.

All of a sudden I have several things that must be done within the next two days including meetings, conferences, and midterm grades are due next week.

Don’t even get me started on late bus duty for the next two weeks.

This afternoon we had THE meeting before THE testing starts. It’s not like I didn’t need anything else to get my blood pressure up.

I’ll get back to regular history blogginess tomorrow, but for right now I need to take several deep breaths, remain as flexible as Gumby, and smile, smile, smile.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

13 Things I'm Doing at the Beach

1. Not cooking! It’s not that I hardy cook anymore anyway…if it wasn’t for Dear Hubby we’d all starve, however, our condo has a wonderful kitchen that could even inspire me to cook in. This week though… breakfast and lunch are self-serve.

2. Gazing at the beach from a lovely reclining chair though a cold front has moved in and it’s a bit chilly….no suntan today.

3. Exploring beach stores with plenty of tacky crap ( there’s no other way to properly describe it). Who buys all this stuff? But it’s one of those ingredients to the beach that makes it so interesting.

4. Soaking in the local color---I love beach towns and Gulfshores, Alabama has so many colorful, beautiful beach homes. It’s hard to believe that Hurricane Ivan destroyed most of it a few years ago, however, there is still some evidence.

5.Collecting memories of birds, dolphins arching up out of the water, tiny fish that can be seen in the surf, and don’t forget the shells!

6. Eating…restaurants abound and dinner is out each night. Hopefully we will get to Lulu's at least once for lunch.….the owner is Jimmy Buffet’s sister.

7. Writing on the beach or writing on the back deck overlooking the Gulf. Lots and lots and lots of free writing….who know where it will take me?

8. Watching Goofy daughter and giggling at her----while secretly wishing I looked like her and could do some of the things she can do----Ah, youth!

9. Being full of gratitude that Dear Son is with us as well on this trip---because of schedules, choir trips, trips with friends, etc we four have not all been together in like forever. I guess he really does like us!

10. Learning history----you don’t think I go somewhere and not know the history, do you? 11, 12, and 13 are just a synopsis of the history of this area.

11. Fort Morgan is down at the tipof the island. It was built after the War of 1812 and was named for Daniel Morgan, the Revolutionary War hero. It served as a training base during World War I, however, its main claim to fame was during the Civil War when Union Admiral D.G. Farragut lead a fleet to close the bay. During the attack, the U.S.S. Tecumseh struck a mine, and in the confusion, the fleet hesitated under the guns of Fort Morgan, prompting Farragut to order "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!". The fort continued as a coast artillery post until after World War II. You can learn more about the history of Fort Morgan here.

13. This area was featured on the news continuously as Hurrican Ivan bore down on the coast. You can see Hurricane Ivan damage photos here.

14. History legends abound….Gulfshores is part of Baldwin Couny, Alabama. Early in her history there are stories that a Scotsman reached the shores of North America 300 years before Christopher Columbus. Read about this facinating story here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

At His Father's Knee

Many schoolchildren across our fair country learn about the Louisiana Purchase followed by the Lewis and Clark expedition. I agree with that sequence of study. Those two events did follow each other chronologically, however, our collective interest in the west began much earlier, and Thomas Jefferson’s interest in exploring the west began much earlier than 1801. I contend that Jefferson’s love of the west….an area he never visited…began at his father’s knee.

We learn many things at our father’s knee---how to ride a bike, how to shoot a basket, and in my case I learned how to drive a tractor and plow a straight line. Thomas Jefferson was no different and it was from his father and father-type figures in his early life that he became facinated with the western frontier.

Head on over to American Presidents for my newest article about Thomas Jefferson and his quest for exploration of the west.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A New Carnival Is In Town

Well, if it’s the 2nd of the month then it must be the Texas Fiesta.

Their First Fiesta de Tejas Wildflower Edition is up.

Fiesta blogfather Ed over at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub even gave me a mention and linked to my Texas-Georgia history connection posts from Georgia On My Mind.

Go on over to the Fiesta and say howdy, but don’t eat all the chips and cheese dip, okay?