Wednesday, April 30, 2008

America: a Great Nation

Of course there is no question that this is an image of an American operating room. Thinking of doctors and medical care in this country in general are they part of the ingredients that make the United States a great nation? What are the implications for mandated government controlled healthcare some presidential candidates are promoting?

You can see all of the images in my wordless series America a Great Nation here, and you can view the wordless offerings of other bloggers here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Professional Development at Its Best

Not too long ago I posted my response to a meme that was basically a self survey regarding priviledge. The post received a few comments and some bloggers linked to it with their own postings including Byrningbunny and Rebecca over at Freaky Frugalite.

In the post I mentioned Dr. Ruby K. Payne…..I said---

One of the best resources (books and tapes) that I have ever used to help me get my head around the implications of poverty and its effects on education is Dr. Ruby K. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty . Not only is she a very entertaining speaker the exercises in her book and workbook gave me a totally different mindset regarding some of my students.

A few days later I was alerted by by a friend that Dr. Payne and her associates have a blog, and I was mentioned over there. The blog is called Aha! Process, Inc. It is a great resource for Payne’s materials and even videos. Patti Albright, a contributing author at the site happened to see my post regarding priviledge and posted her own article titled Privilege and the Paper World over at Aha! She states:

The game intrigued me because of my training with and subsequent passion for Ruby Payne’s work. Dr. Payne’s research reveals, among many other ideas that most schools in America operate from middle class norms. Students, starting in kindergarten, are immersed in the middle class “paper world” – they are inundated with field trip notes, report cards, test results, textbooks, library books, PTA notices, fundraiser catalogs, etc. Many of our students from generational poverty do not come from homes where books, magazines, and bank statements, abound. The paper world to which middle class America has become so accustomed does not exist for many children from poverty, and just this one aspect of not coming from a “privileged” background can be a huge stumbling block to success in today’s educational system.

I just love this whole blogging “thing” and the implications it has for education. I am constantly amazed at how things are passed along, linked to, refined and adopted. A blog post often begins through a conversation with self that quickly becomes a conversation with a few, and then side bar conversations begin at other sites.

Someone once asked me why I would want to spend my free time writing, reading, commenting, and linking…….I told them that it’s really very simple. Blogging in education is the ultimate in vertical teaming or a small group conducting collaborative research. You find a group of blogs that basically fit your niche and hang on with all your might because the conversation is constant, and the most important outcome is professional growth of the highest caliber.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gone For the Weekend...

Enjoy the archives and current postings here on the main page. I’m heading out a religious retreat…I’ll be without watch, cell phone, lap top, or motor car until Sunday.

You can also enjoy the latest edition of the education carnival, or head on over to American Presidents and read my latest offering regarding the time Andrew Jackson lost his head.....literally.

13 Things About the USS Constitution

1. The Constitution was one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 during the administration of George Washington.

2. The Constitution is indeed a national ship regarding her construction. The vessel is designed to be powerful enough to outfight any enemy warship approximately her same size, and yet fast enough to outsail a larger opponent. She is made from the lumber from over 2,000 trees from Maine to Georgia. The Constitution is also armed with cannons cast in Rhode Island, and fitted with copper fastenings provided by the famous Boston smith Paul Revere.

3. The vessel was finally launched after the third attempt. During the first attempt the ship stuck after moving only 27 feet. After two days they tried again only to have the vessel stick again after another 31 feet. In order to have a successful launch workers made the launchng ways steeper. Captain James Sever used a bottle of Madeira to finally launch the Constitution.

4. In 1796, the ship begins a long distinguished career defending the United States through the “Quasi-War” with the French in the West Indies. In the Mediterranean Sea the Constitution mounts five different attacks on Tripoli, served with much distinction during the War of 1812, and has shown her flag in many, many ports of call.

5. The ship is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world as it has remained part of the U.S. Navy since her launching day on October 21, 1797.

6. Today the Constitution can be visited in Charlestown at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard. Adjacent to the ship is the USS Constitution Museum which serves as the memory and educational voice of “Old Ironsides.” Family-friendly, hands-on exhibits share the stories of the vessel and those who shaped her history.

7. Back on January 18th the museum purchased at auction four paintings. One of the works of art included a depiction of the USS Constitution in battle with the British ship Guerriere on August 19, 1812 at the very moment the Constitution earned her nickname “Old Ironsides. The artist is George Ropes, Jr. of Salem, Massachusetts. Since it was completed in 1813, the painting is considered to be among the earliest image of this seminal battle.

8. The four paintings will be rotated on and off display beginning May 14 and will be available for use as aids in educational programs, reproduced on products made available in the museum’s gift shop, and will be central to the Museum’s battle theater presentation. You can see an image of all four paintings here.

9. Prior to becoming the property of the USS Constitution Museum the paintings belonged to the Woburn Public Library in Woburn, Massachusetts where they were being stored in a vault. The decision was made to sell the paintings at auction in order to fund an expansion and renovation of the library’s historic structure and because the paintings have no real connection to Woburn.

10. Paintings like these four new acquisitions were for the American citizens during the early 1800s akin to photographs or newspaper accounts of the day.

11. The historic fight with HMS Guerriere took place 600 miles east of Nova Scotia on August 19, 1812. At some point during the battle somone saw a British shot bounce off USS Constitution’s side, and shouts, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” resulting in a nickname of “Old Ironsides” that exists even today.

12. Following the battle depicting in Ropes’ paintings the HMS Guerriere had to be sunk because it so badly damaged. The victory for the Americans was very great in that they had seen many defeats up to that point during the War of 1812.

13. Much later in her naval career word gets out that the Navy intends to “scrap” the Constitution. A student at the time, Oliver Wendell Holmes quickly writes and publishes a poem we remember today as Old Ironsides. Due to an inspector’s report and public outcry the Navy directs the refurbishment of the ship.

So, if you are in the vacinity of the Charlestown Navy Yard between May 14th of this year and November 14th head on over to the USS Constitution site and view unique images of history.

The website for the USS Constitution Museum website is here
Read many of my other 13 lists here.
Visit other blogs participating in Thursday 13 here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America: A Great Nation

The formal name for the Statue of Liberty is Liberty Enlightening the World. The most familiar lines from The New Colossus inscribed on a bronze plaque at the base of statue reads: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Does this statue symbolize what makes America great? Why or why not?

See my other images in this series here.

Visit other sites participating in Wordless Wednesday for various images.

Assessment Methods: Easy For You or Best For Them

Do you remember watching the television show Make a Wish? For awhile, it was televised on Saturday, but I mainly remember seeing it if we played hooky from church on Sunday. The star of the show was Tom Chapin. One site reminds my cobwebbed covered mind that Chapin would introduce the topic of the show like this – “I think a snake is what I’ll be. Imagine all the possibilities.” After that there would be a sort of free association featuring stock footage, animation, and Chapin’s music and voiceover commentary. You can see the opening and closing for the show here.

The show was a great example of getting kids to be creative with their thoughts by thinking outside the box.

Well, Tom got older. I grew up, and got older myself. By 1976 the show had been cancelled and replaced with something else. Sadly, Tom’s brother, Harry, died far too soon as many seemed to do in the 70s and early 80s. Tom kept being creative, however, and his latest efforts can be seen here:

Tom’s explanation about the song and the full lyrics can be found here. Tom relates how he appreciates the job teachers do and states that anything that excites a student, opens their eyes, and hearts and minds is a positive that makes a child invest in school. He states that music, art, drama, and sports kept him involved in school and laments that many of these have been and are in the process of being cut in various districts across the United States due to standardized testing.

Chapin states, “Now we are teaching by rote again – where the test, and only the test, becomes the reason to teach and study.”

Finally, and I think my old Sunday morning friend, Tom, makes a very valid point when he states, “It’s no secret that American industry has outsourced most factory jobs to other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor costs. So why are we putting so much effort into a form of education in which there is no creativity? This is the time that our youth should be taught to think ”out of the box,” not be put into a tighter one!

Every year we use those all important test scores to make a judgement regarding where students are in their reading ability. Far too often I find the test score that determines the placement is a poor picture of what the child can actually do or not do – yet we are told repeatedly this is what we must measure by.

There are too many variables that can cause an incorrect view of a child’s ability based on one number – the child bubbles haphazadly because he/she is bored, the child just happens to luck up and choose the right answer, the child is sick, the child is thinking about going to mall or the playground, the child and his/her mother were kicked out of their home the night before, or the scores are undermined by certain formulas and other machinations by the state department of education that causes student to appear to be meeting grade level standards when they are actually performing far below standards.

All the above results in too many students placed in remedial reading programs or too many remedial kids NOT placed within the programs they need. After a period of several weeks to even months most kids eventually get to the right situation for them, but by then precious time has elapsed.

It just seems to me that instead of basing need for particular services on one test score it would better serve the child to maintain and use portfolios that contain student work samples from across the content areas. When samples are taken on an ongoing basis, when a school system has created a system wide procedure for the creation and mantenance of a portfolio, and when periodic reviews are completed of the samples by the grade level team it is almost always glaringly clear where the student resides academically. Problem areas leap out at you from particular content areas to strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum. From this information a game plan to tackle certain problems can be forumulated, and time is not wasted on areas where no help is needed.

But what do I know? I’m just the teacher – the teacher who is with the child every day observing him or her, making notes, strategizing with team members, setting goals with the child, and gathering input from parents.

Many of my colleagues are quick to state that portfolios are time consuming, and that they place too much burden on the backs of teachers, but I ask you to think about this...who are we there in the classroom to serve? Are we there to make things easier for us, or are we there to serve the best interest for each and every student?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Past, Present, Future: Augusta National

This past weekend it was all about the Masters Tournament around here. I love to watch it, and my husband loves to live through it making each swing and putt with his favorite players. Since he wasn’t in attendance for this year’s action, I forgave him for pulling his Blackberry out to check the tournament results as we exited our church sanctuary following Sunday night’s service. Shhhh….dont’ tell! :)

You have to admit… golf is a game with great history, and the Masters Tournament has a history that can stand alone. It is said that when Georgia’s own favorite son, Bobby Jones, came across the piece of land that would become August National Club he said, “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course upon it.”

Well, the land hadn’t just been laying there. Believe it or not it had a history before August National. Prior to Jones and his partners acquiring the land, it had served as an indigo plantation owned by Dennis Redmond. The building that serves as the Augusta National Clubhouse was built in 1854 to serve as the Redmond home, and is believed to be the first home in the South to be built of concrete. The walls are 18 inches thick, but following the Charleston earthquake in the late 1800s a few cracks were noted. The current clubhouse has had a few major additions, however, since the plantation days.

In 1857, the property was purchased by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans. Whew! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Berckmans’ hobby was horticulture while his son, Prosper Julius Alphonse, dabbled in horticulture, but he was also an agronomist. Father and son began Fruitland Nurseries covering 365 acres. They imported many trees and plants from countries all over the world. This explains why there are so many varieties of trees and flowering plants on the property today. In fact, the row of 61 magnolias that line Magnolia Lane were planted prior to the Civil War. Many of the pine trees that spot the course are over 150 years old. The Masters Tournament is known for the beautiful azaleas that blanket the course which Prosper is credited with making them an extremely popular addition to gardens in the South.

While there are many aspects of the Augusta National course that have their own little stories to tell I’m going to focus today on two aspects of the course that involve the presidency of the United States----the Eisenhower cabin and the Eisenhower Pine. So, pack up your belongings and join me over at American Presidents where I’ll explain the rest of the story…..

Thursday, April 17, 2008

13 Things I Found in the Digital Vault of the National Archives

One of the best resources I have found for students to use is from The National Archives Website. When we think of the National Archives we immediately picture the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc., and we should because these very important documents are housed under the care of the National Archives.

BUT….they have sooooo much more, and you can see all of your choices if you visit their website and head down to the Digital Vaults. The Archives contain over 10 billion documents and images, and the Digital Vaults enable us to view online more than we could ever see in a lifetime.

The website can be used in a classroom with small groups. Many of my students use the site as jumping off point for independent research. They can also use the tagging feature to find related documents, and they can create a poster or short video.

Here are just some of the documents I uncovered this afternoon:

1. A very intricate family record a widow used to prove her relationship to her husband in order to receive his Revolutionary War pension.

2. A statement that was used to prove why a Vietnam era soldier should receive the National Medal of Honor dated May 12, 1968.

3. Photos of Japanese-American couples married during internment in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor .

4. A World War II poster where Uncle Sam is warning people to be quiet and not speak about troop movements.

5. A photo showing switchboard operators working on a board connecting overseas calls during World War II.

6. A picture of Mamie Doud at 17 taken in 1913. She would one day be our nation’s First Lady as the wife of President Eisenhower.

7. A photo by Russell Lee depicting a Kentucky mining family living in company housing….they rented for $10 a month.

8. Another beautifully decorated Revolutionary claim from a widow for property her husband owned.

9. A 1954 aerial photo of Orlando, Florida prior to Walt Disney World.

10. A photo of Jim Thorpe, a Native American who many believe was the most talented athelete during the early 20th century.

11. Members of Troop C from Fort Grant, Arizona in 1881.

12. A 1956 request sent from Walt Disney on company stationary to then Vice President Richard Nixon requesting an interview.

13. A 1946 aerial view of Mount St. Helens.

So, go explore. You might find something amazing.

Have a great Thursday and check out other 13s here.

Image snagged from A Very Old Place

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

America: A Great Nation

This is an image of a college campus somewhere in the United States.

Do our colleges make the U.S. a great nation? Should college be a goal for everyone? What do you say to critics who claim colleges are places that teach our young people to hate America with extreme ideas?

Other wordless entries can be found here

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Are YOU Privileged?

A few weeks ago as I was visiting many of the teacher blogs I have on one of my blogrolls at History Is Elementary I saw The Privilege Meme over at Confessions From the Couch. I thought it was interesting.

Miss A explains this meme is to help examine privileges/social class. The meme comes from What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University.

If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright. To participate, copy and paste…then unbold my responses to make your own.

Bold the items that apply to you:

1. Father went to college

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers. (same)

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (art, piano)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (had one with Dad’s name)

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (before I got married)

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp (flag corp)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course (I don’t think they existed in the olden days)

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

31. Went on a cruise with your family

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

I bolded 22 out of 34. I guess that would make me priviledged, however, I didn’t always feel that way as I went through school. I didn’t live in a subdivision like all of my friends. We didn’t drive the newest cars, and we ate fairly simply. The home I lived in sat in the middle of lumberyard where my father worked as the manager, and I had a railroad track running 500 feet in front of my house---a craftsman style bungalow built around 1929.

There were no hallways in my home that sat up on stacked bricks, and the heat came from a gas furnace with only one grate. Most cold mornings would find me huddled with my sister over the furnace as the hot air would blow up our flannel nightgowns. It was so warm, and we’d stand there giggling telling each other we were pregnant with our nightgowns all blowed out.

Privileged? I guess….according to the list and when placed side by side with others I guess I was, HOWEVER, doesn’t it really depend on your generation?

If my father played this little game he would leave many items unbolded yet his family during their heyday were very priviledged and had many things others didn’t. They had land holdings, they owned their home, they ate off their own land, and today he can do anything he wants. He made an extremely good living without a college education.

Looking at this from his generation’s point of view I guess the definition of privilege changes every so often as our society changes. I do this this sort of exercise is helpful to get an idea where people you deal with everyday might be coming from. These types of things can be a help when trying to deal with children from poverty backgrounds…..backgrounds that are very foreign to me.

One of the best resources (books and tapes) that I have ever used to help me get my head around the implications of poverty and its effects on education is Dr. Ruby K. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Not only is she a very entertaining speaker the exercises in her book and workbook gave me a totally different mindset regarding some of my students.

If you've never experienced Ruby Payne I highly suggest you get your hands on some of her videos......The experiences she relates are simply a scream at times. Since most of us find ourselves in difficult situtuations most of the time it is helpful to have a giggle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is It Friday Yet?

The newest edition of the Education Carnival can be found over at The Elementary Educator. As I’ve been known to say over and over and over….walk, walk, walk, DON’T run!

I noticed today that I had been challenged to participate in a meme over at Eoin Purcell's Blog called Book Meme Tagging. Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

So here goes…..the closest book I have next to me is in a brown envelope that was just delivered today. I have an advance copy of Washington....The Making of the American Capitol by Fergus M. Bordewich. I am looking forward to reading the book and reviewing it here at History Is Elementary in a few days.

Turning to page 123 the sixth, seventh and eighth sentences relate:

It was also at this time that Thornton learned of the design competition for the United States Capitol. He threw himself into the project, which brought him welcome distraction from the continuing mockery of his fellow island whites. The pungent smell of sugar being rendered into molasses and rum filled the humid air as, day and night, he worked at his sketches, oblivious to the thrum of rain on the giant bulletwood trees, and the thud of waves on the shore of nearby Sea Cow Bay.

The link I've provided for Thornton (above) takes you to two postings I've written concerning William Thornton.

I can’t wait to get into this book!

I’m tagging……Mrs. Mecomber, Polski3, Mister Teacher, MDawg, and Mrs. Bluebird

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

13 Presidential Also Rans

Last week I posted 13 unusual names of men that have run for president. This week my focus is on men who ran for president, but they didn’t win making them an “also ran.”

As you will see some men have run for president numerous times and never achieved their goal. Even so, they all had distinguished careers in government serving in many different capacities. I’ve linked to biographies for each individual. Choose one or two and learn something new.

1. Eugene V. Debs ran 5 times….1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920

2. Aaron Burr ran 3 times…..1792, 1796, and 1800

3. George Clinton ran 3 times…1792, 1796, and 1808
He also ran for VP in 1804

4. Henry Clay ran 3 times…..1824, 1832, and 1844

5. William Jennings Bryan ran 3 times….1896, 1900, and 1908

6. James G. Birney ran 2 times…1840 and 1844

7. Thomas Pinkney ran 2 times…..1796 and 1804

8. Charles Pinkney ran 2 times…..1800 and 1808

9. Thomas Dewey ran 2 times…1944 and 1948

10. Adlai Stevenson ran for president 2 times…..1952 and 1956

11. Adlai E. Stevenson ran for vice president 2 times….1892 and 1900

12. Thomas E. Watson ran for president 1 time (1904), but he ran for vice president 1 time as well (1896).

13. Rufus King only ran for president 1 time (1816), but he ran for Vice President 2 times (1804 and 1808)

and a bonus one as well……

John C. Breckenridge only ran for president 1 time (1860), but he ran successfully for Vice President 1 time (1856)

Locate other bloggers participating in Thursday 13 here

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

America: a Great Nation

How does this fit into my theme?

Find other wordless images here

Monday, April 07, 2008

Absolutely NO to Absolut

This image has appeared in Absolut vodka ads south of the border. This article from the LA Times states:

The billboard and press campaign, created by advertising agency Teran\TBWA and now running in Mexico, is a colorful map depicting what the Americas might look like in an "Absolut" -- i.e., perfect -- world.

The U.S.-Mexico border lies where it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848 when California, as we now know it, was Mexican territory and known as Alta California.

Following the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo saw the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fé de Nuevo México ceded to the United States to become modern-day California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. (Texas actually split from Mexico several years earlier to form a breakaway republic, and was voluntarily annexed by the United States in 1846.)

The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of leading Latino advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in the U.S., which was not involved in the Absolut campaign.

Ucedo, who is from Argentina, said: “Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land, so this is their way of reclaiming it. It’s very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea.”
But he said that were the campaign to run in the United States, it might fall flat.

Hmmmmmm…really? I wonder why?

Ucedo’s reasons why the campaign would fall flat, however, twists my bloomers a bit…..He says, “Many people aren’t going to understand it here. Americans in the East and the North or in the center of the county -- I don’t know if they know much about the history. “Probably Americans in Texas and California understand perfectly and I don’t know how they’d take it.”

While I agree that many Americans don’t know ALL of the details regarding their history…which I find sad, one thing most adults do know is the basic shape of our country on a map.

Absolut had to know this is more than just a cute little ad.

The ad's message has more than one intention, and I don’t really care if Absolut has apologized or not. The small caption published along with the map says that the ad was created for the Mexican audience only and was intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

What’s next? Will we soon be seeing ads intended for German citizens showing maps with concentration camps highlighted? Will Italians see ads showing the gradeur that was Rome by depicting Christians being torn apart by lions? What about an ad targeting Native Americans depicting North America in its natural state? In this type of context we can see how these types of things can be offensive to some.

While I agree that the examples I set out above are extreme compared to a mere image showing a map of past boundaries even a map that seems innocent enough can portray mixed messages in society. For example, think of the mixed messages if the Absolut company decided to run an ad campaign depicting a map showing the United States as it appeared in 1866 or 1867…..What types of reactions would that map garner?

Bad form, Absolut….bad form indeed.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Digging Holes

I used to love to dig holes in my yard. Didn’t you? I made forts, playhouses, roads…..I lived in my imagination back then, and it is one major difference I often see between my childhood and many of the children I teach. They don't use their imaginations enough. They want every activity they engage in "told" to them or pre-prepared for them.

The boys described in the article referred to below are thankfully using their imaginations. In the process they have become associates of the imaginary Indiana Jones and the real Leakey family.

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA. - What began as a project to build an imaginary fort turned into an archeological dig for a trio of Dacula middle schoolers. A couple of weeks ago, Austin Bannister, 12, and Tyler Moore, 13, were digging a makeshift barracks in a wooded nature preserve in their neighborhood when they encountered some rusted metal. They began to dig, enlisting Tyler's twin brother, Austin, to help, and soon they discovered……

Head on over to the article recently published in the Gwinnett Daily News.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

13 More Observations Concerning the John Adams Miniseries

While I did post my reaction to parts one and two of the HBO John Adams I didn’t post my thoughts on part three mainly because I was a little disappointed in the episode. I wasn’t disappointed in the story. It was very factual and most engaging, but it left me irritated and frustrated. I decided to wait until after I had watched part four before posting anything.

I’m glad I did. After watching part four I felt much better, and I’m looking forward to next Sunday.

However, the one word to describe part three was depressing.

1. It was depressing to see Abigail Adam’s anguish and fear thinking about John and John Quincy crossing the Atlantic to journey to France. How scary! If the British had intercepted them John Adams could have been taken to London and tried and executed as a traitor.

2. The amputation scene with a crew member was accurately graphic, but….ick!

3. It was depressing to see Adams mess up time and time again in his attempts to win over the French. I just wanted to shake him and say, “Stop being so serious. Make nice with the French, so they’ll give you what you want. Amuse them a little.”

4. Ben Franklin is portrayed very accurately, however, I’m just not used to dealing with his “dirty old man” side, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. :) Couldn’t he find a nicer looking French woman to bathe with?

5. It was depressing to see Abigail go through the pain of missing her husband, and how the separation caused her to go through so many varied emotions especially as her husband wasn’t sending letters as he should.

6. Abigail Adams’ bravery regarding keeping the home fires burning was so admirable. She endured much alone including the innoculation of her children and her daughter’s resulting sickness.

7. In the context of today’s world it is hard to understand why Adams would send the so very young John Quincy off to Russia.

8. Adams is recalled from France and sent to Holland. Another group of stern men to win over. More depression for me…..My husband kept reminding me that I was well versed in the entire story and to get over it, but my emotions prevailed.

Once the hour long part three was over I felt as if I had been through the wringer emotionally. I was soooo depressed.
The one word to describe part four was awkward. There was some form of awkwardness in most of the scenes.

9. Adams and his wife Abigail reunite after many months of being apart. They meet almost as if strangers….in a way they were. Very awkwardly they walk ustairs as Adams is showing her around his French home. Finally….they are behind closed doors and suddenly a more passionate kiss and then Adams’ wig slips down and falls to the floor. Up goes the dress and….oh my gosh! I asked hubby if we had just witnessed future presidential sex, and he stated he believed we had, but it sure was awfully quick, and Abigail looked like a deer caught in the headlights. One thing this miniseries has going for it is historical accuracy and “a certain accuracy with human action” as well.

10.Contrary to my awkward theme for part four is Thomas Jefferson. He is portrayed as deliciously charming. You expect him any minute to grab Mrs. Adams and steal a moment with her behind a door. I’m entranced when he is on the screen.

11.The awkwardness continues as Adams is sent to Britian where he has an audience with King George. What a powerful moment this must have been in real life! The rebel meeting the very symbol of government he rebelled against. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. You couldn’t even if you wanted to…..there were lots of moments in this scene where thoughts were conveyed by the movement of eyes, hands, and even the twitch of the mouth. It was very interesting to watch.

12.More awkwardness as Adams returns to America and is reunited with his children who are now grown. He didn’t even know who was who….What sacrifices this man endured for our nation!

13. Since we had never had a president before there was no real precident regarding an inauguration or how everyone was to carry out their roles. Aren’t we glad we have protocol officers now? Washington’s inauguration….what an awkward moment until the actual Oath of Office and then…..oh my gosh! They portrayed Washington saying it. He said “so help me God.” I've written about this a number of times.

So far I would say the entire series is outstanding! Bring on part five and more Thomas Jefferson, of course.

Here are my reactions to part one and two.

Locate other 13 lists here

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Triple Shot: WW, America: A Great Nation, and Passion Quilt Meme

Image title: Sea to Shining Sea

Hmmm…I’m sure you are wondering why I’ve posted a blank outline map of the United States in relation to my theme. Well, think about it for a moment and then maybe something will come to you. How DOES this image show America is great nation? Let me know what you think in the comments.

I do need to admit that I have another reason for posting this image. I was tagged sometime back by my good blog friend Dr. Pezz over at The Doc Is In for the Passion Quilt Meme. The main requirement is to post an image that captures what you are most passionate for kids to learn about. That’s a little hard for me to do since my curriculum is mile wide and foot thick. Look at my sidebar. I’m passionate about it all. The American story is chock full of history goodness for students to analyze and build a firm foundation of citizenship with. Therefore, I posted a blank image that represents all there is about my subject matter from sea to shining sea! You can go in any direction you want and only be limited by the nation’s border.

The rules for the Passion Quilt Meme are:
*Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for kids to learn about.
*Give your picture a short title.
*Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”
*Link back to this blog entry.
*Include links to 5 (or more) folks in your professional learning network.

I’m tagging: M-Dawg, Ed Darrell, Mrs. Bluebird, Polski3, and Mister Teacher .....Go visit them if you are not familiar with their work. They have great education blogs!
Find more wordless images here!

Repeat After Me...Multimedia Modality

A very recent article from Eschool News titled Analysis: How Multimedia Can Improve Learning takes a look at a new report commissioned by Cisco Sytems that concludes adding visuals to verbal (textual and/or auditory) instruction can result in significant gains in basic or higher-order learning, if applied appropriately.

The analysis is based on the work of Richard Meyer, Roxanne Moreno, and other researchers who provide a list of learning principals for multimedia:

1. Multimedia Principle: Rentention is improved through words and pictures rather than through words alone.

2. Spatial Contiguity Principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near each other, rather than far from each other on the page or screen.

3. Temporal Contiguity Principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.

4. Coherence Principle: Students learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included.

5. Modality Principle: Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.

6. Individual Differences Principle: Design effects are higher for low-knowledge learners than for high-knowledge learners. Also, design effects are higher for high-spatial learners than for low-spatial learners.

7. Direct Manipulation Principle: As the complexity of the materials increases, the impact of direct manipulation (animation, pacing) of the learning materials on the transfer of knowledge also increases.

You might be saying this sounds really good, but what about the numbers…..the analysis goes on to state based on meta-analysis, the average student’s scores on basic skills assessments increase by 21 percentiles when engaged in non-interactive, multimodal learning (which includes using the text with visual input, text with audio input, and watching and listening to animations or lectures that effectively use visuals) in comparison with traditional, single-mode learning.

When students shift from non-interactive multimodal to interactive multimodal learning (such as engagement in simulations, modeling, and real-world experiences---most often in collaborative teams or groups), results are not quite as high, with average gains at 9 percentiles.

However, when the average student is engaged in higher-order thinking using multimodal in interactive situations, on average, that student’s percentage ranking on higher-order or transfer skills increases by 32 percentile points over what the student would have accomplished with traditional learning.


Finally, the report provides some tips for teachers------

*Know the importance of the attention and the motivation of the learner. The "scaffolding" of learning--the act of providing learners with assistance or support to perform a task beyond their own reach--by reducing extraneous diversions and focusing the learner's attention on appropriate elements aligned to the topic has proven effective.

*Know the importance of separating the media from the instructional approach. A recent meta-analysis in which more than 650 empirical studies compared media-enabled distance learning to conventional learning found pedagogy to be more strongly correlated to achievement than media. The media and pedagogy must be defined separately.

Using the principles detailed above I plan to revisit some of my teacher-created handouts and slide presentations to see if I can do a better job of presenting combinations of text and visuals for students that meet the seven principles listed above.

While I did reproduce some of the article here there is much more for you to read over at Eschool News, and I encourage you do so.

Clive on Learning has also written about Cisco’s findings.