Friday, October 31, 2008

It's That Time Again!

From my home to yours.....Have a great Trick-or-Trick evening!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Colonial America: Placing Logs Carefully

Read my title again. Yes, logs were important as many colonial homes were built with logs, but in the classroom when discussing colonial America logs can take on a whole new meaning.

Personal communication with students can provide useful information to assess student thinking and learning. Learning log journals are just one type of personal communication, but are a type that has provided benefits for me and more importantly for my students. These types of journals provide students with an opportunity to write across the curriculum and are ongoing efforts to build metacognition. In fact, according to Anita Woolfolk’s book Educational Psychology (2001) the more students elaborate new ideas, the more they make them their own, the deeper their understanding and the better their memory for the knowledge.

Journaling matches various achievement targets because as each question is posed to students they must reflect upon what they have learned. R.J. Stiggins relates in Student-Involved Assessment for Learning (2005) the goal of learning logs is to have students reflect on, analyze, describe, and evaluate their learning experiences, successes, and challenges, writing about the conclusions they draw.

Learning log questions to pose to students can be integrated into existing units in seamless fashion. For example, five questions that could be and have been implemented in my classroom are:

1. Using the top half of your paper draw a KWL chart. As we begin our new unit on the British colonies what are some things you already know about them? Place these things under the “know” column. What are some things you are hoping to discover? List at least four questions you hope to have answered by the end of the unit under the “want to know” column.

This particular question helps me gauge what students already know. KWL charts also provide opportunities for students to set some of their own learning goals by providing them with an opportunity to list questions they may have. Finally, KWL charts provide a reflection experience for the student. After a unit is completed students examine the first two columns and analyze their responses. Did they really know what they thought they did? Were misconceptions cleared up? Were all of their questions answered? Did these questions lead to more questions? By utilizing KWL in the learning log process students are given a framework for reflection in the context of a graphic organizer.

2. Use a three-columned chart on your paper labeled New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern to list information concerning the climate and physical features of each colonial region. Underneath your chart reflect on this information and explain which regions would be best for farming and which regions would be best for other industries such as fishing.

While this particular question involves basic content knowledge I can gain better knowledge regarding how students internalized information during a lesson on the colony types through their written responses. Does the student understand the characteristics of fishing and farming regions? This type of question provides an opportunity for students to put the content in their own words, and provides extra emphasis on a particular aspect of the curriculum—climate and physical features determine how a group of people use a region economically.

3. Yesterday you were asked to complete a writing assignment where you became someone who lived somewhere in the colonies during the early 1700s. You were able to choose your role—farmer, merchant, artisan, woman, indentured servant, slave, or Native American. Reflect on the assignment. Did you find it particularly helpful to your learning? Why or why not?

This type of reflection would provide insight into what a student is thinking about a particular assignment. Because of the nature of the assignment students would explain what was easy or difficult for them to do.

4. Following our mid-unit quiz regarding the colonies do you feel sucessful so far with the content? Which items of key knowledge have you found useful? Which items have been difficult for you to understand?

The actual quiz would provide data regarding students’ performance with a pen and paper test. The learning log question would provide additional data that should assist in determining why the quiz grades were high or low. If students were not successful with the quiz their reflection would provide useful information into weak areas I might have in my instruction, provide me the reasons to make lesson changes, and would provide me with important information regarding potential bias I had not already detected or planned for. On the other hand, student reflections would also provide me with data regarding students who did well on the quiz. A high number of perfect or near perfect scores can help me make the determination that the material I have presented is not challenging enough.

5. Reflect back on your KWL assignment for question one. Were your ideas correct you listed under the “know” column? Were all of your questions under the “want to know” column answered? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Once you have your journal entry complete go back to your KWL chart and fill in the different things you have learned.

These questions provide students as well as me an opportunity to reflect back to where students were and how far they have come. A determination can also be made concerning lack of knowledge and lack of certain skills.

Potential sources of bias must be eliminated from this particular assessment for the results to be meaningful for myself and for students per Stiggins. By having a clear achievement target questions can be focused and varied enough to cover the domain and eliminate a sampling bias. Learning log journals can help eliminate my own bias if I provide enough time for students to think through their responses as well as write them.

Giving prompts that include additional clarification statements or questions will help students who need extra language support interpret the questions properly. Providing feedback and additional comments to student responses as well as allowing students to respond to my comments will help to elimnate interpretation errors. While using a writing type assessment can indicate problems involving a student’s low writing ability it does provide students with an opportunity to communicate freely and have the undivided attention of the instructor. Any feelings of peer pressure or feelings of shyness are eliminated. Environmental biases, such as classroom distractions, can be held to minimum if tried and true classroom management strategies are enforced. Students who have a high stress level and tension due to their perception they are a poor writer can be encouraged through one-on-one meetings where specific problems can be addressed and strategies can be offered.

Learning log journals meet many different requirements for today’s classroom and appeal to me as a teacher. I feel with careful planning, strategic teaching strategies that provide clear information for students as to what they are to do, and constant feedback with students learning log journals can be a very successful tool to communicate with students.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

13 Things Regarding Margaret Fuller

1. Margaret Fuller was a member of a prominent group of New England writers and philosophers who developed transcendentalism.

2. Transcendentalism states people should transcend or overcome the limits of their mind and let their soul reach out to embrace the beauty of universe.

3. Ms. Fuller, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, founded The Dial which published poetry and essays regargarding the transcendentalist movement.

4. She organized meetings for women in Boston to promote education and intellectual development.

5. Her book, Women in the Nineteenth Century, argued women should have equal political rights.

6. In 1844, Horace Greeley hired her as a literary critic with the New York Tribune.

7. In 1846, Mr. Greeley sent her to Europe to cover reform efforts across the continent.

8. While in Italy, Margaret Fuller met and married Giovanni Angelo Ossoli—he was a revolutionary fighting to unite Italy into one country.

9. Fuller sent home eyewitness accounts of the Italian Revolution of 1848 making her the first American woman foreign war correspondent.

10. In 1850, Ms. Fuller along with her husband and child returned to the United States. The Italian Revolution had fallen apart.

11. The Fuller-Ossolis sailed aboard the Elizabeth, an American merchant freighter carrying cargo that included marble from Carrara and a statue of John C. Calhoun sculpted by Hiram Powers.

12. While at sea for five weeks the ship’s captain, Seth Hasty, died of smallpox. Margaret’s child, Angelino, also contracted the disease but recovered.

13. As the ship approached Fire Island, New York it hit a sandbar (perhaps due to the inexperienced first mate being in control) it hit a sandbar. Many passengers urged Margaret Fuller and her husband to jump overboard to save themselves, but they didn’t. Ossoli was thrown overboard by a wave and following that witnesses stated (the ship was only 50 yards from the shore) Fuller could not be seen.

Margaret Fuller, her husband, and her child all drowned.

The image with this post is the only daguerreotype of Ms. Fuller known to exist.

Click my keyword “Thursday Thirteen” to view more of my 13 lists. Other bloggers participate as well. You can find them

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jamestown Had a Sister?!?!?

When I teach the English colonies I tend to follow the same format teachers do all across the United States. Before discussing the original 13 colonies we hit on major firsts for all the heavy-hitting players—Spain’s first settlements, the first settlements for France, and then we begin discussing Roanoke and Jamestown.

What I don’t normally share with students is information regarding Jamestown’s little sister….Popham.

In 1607, thirteen years prior to the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, Englishmen on behalf of the Virginia Company formed a colony on the shores of New England at the mouth of the Kennebec River. At that time, the mouth of the Kennebec River, near Phippsburg, was not in the state of Maine as it is today but in territory the English identified as Northern Virginia. The colony was short-lived….a little over a year passed before it was abandoned in the fall of 1608.

So why don’t we remember the Popham Colony today?

When studets learn that the Pilgrims founded the FIRST New England colony in 1620, are we merely foisting a lie onto our students?


The reason why the Popham Colony faded in our historical memory has to do with the success, or in this case the lack of success of the colony.

Several important lessons regarding the process of colonization can be learned from the Popham experience, however. The colony did not fail because of massive starvation, sickness, or even Native American troubles though there were those problems to some degree. The Popham Colony failed mainly due to family changes within the ranks of the colony’s leadership.

On May 31, 1607, 100 to 120 colonists left Plymouth in two ships. Their mission was to trade items—precious metals, spices, and furs—and to show that they could build English ships from the natural resources in the area. The expedition leader, George Popham sailed on the ship Gift of God. Good old George received the honor of being the leader of the colony because his uncle was a Virginia Company financial backer, Sir John Popham, who just happened to be Lord Chief Justice of England. George Popham’s second in command, Gilbert Raleigh, was the half nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh. The remaining colonists were mainly soldiers, artisans, farmers, and traders.

Much of what we know about the Popham Colony today resides in a primary document—a diary authored by Robert Davis—the captain of the second ship, the Mary and John, to make the voyage.

Immediately upon landing the colonists built a settlement they named Fort Saint George. We know how the fort was designed because one of the colonists, John Hunt, drew a map. It showed a star-shaped fort with ditches and ramparts. The grounds included a storehouse and chapel plus fifteen additional structures. The fort also had nine guns. The map has a notable history in and of itself as it ended up in the Spanish archives where it was located in 1888. Espionage was hot and heavy during the race to see who could colonize North America first. The map had been passed to King Philip III of Spain in 1608 by the Spanish ambassador, Pedro de Zuniga.

By now you are probably wondering what caused the Popham Colony to fail…..Well, it’s true—the Maine winters were a little too much for them. Any support system the colonists had developed with Native Americans eventually deteriorated which led to the realization that any profitable trade the colonists and financial backers hoped for never materialized.

Half of the colonists returned to England in December, 1607.

George Popham died in 1608 leaving Raleigh Gilbert in command. Apparently Gilbert didn’t have what it took to lead a fledgling colony plus he soon learned he had inherited his family’s estate, so he returned to England. The remaining colonists would not stay without Gilbert and made plans to leave with him.

…and what about the dream to construct ships from the Maine forests? In this the Popham Colony was somewhat successful. Led by their shipwright, Digby, they constructed a 30-ton pinnace they christened Virginia---the first English ship built in Maine and probably in all of North America.

Some of the colonists returned to England along with Raleigh Gilbert on the Mary and John while others sailed aboard the pinnace, Virginia.

So, the Pilgrims weren’t the first New Englanders….they were merely the first New Englanders who stayed.

.....and anyway...Popham Beach doesn’t have the same ring to it as Plymouth Rock, does it?

This website explains how people today are attempting to recreate the Virginia.

The exact site of the Popham Colony was lost until its rediscovery in 1994. Much of this historical location is now part of Maine's Popham Beach State Park.

Here are some interesting links regarding Popham Colony: This site discusses the archeology at the Popham site, the Archaeology Channel shares some information, and there is an informative article here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

13 Quotations Regarding History

Here are 13 quotations regarding history, but remember… lifted line doesn’t necessarily identify the person’s entire philosophy regarding the love of or the importance of history.

1. Don’t forget your history nor your destiny.
Attributed to Bob Marley

2. History makes people wise.
Attributed to Sir Francis Bacon

3. History is written by the victors.
Attributed to Winston Churchill

4. The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery, and tenacity.
Attributed to Mahatma Ganhi

5. Ideas shape the course of history.
Attributed to John Maynard Keyes

6. I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson

7. There is a history in all men’s lives.
Attributed to William Shakespeare

8. History is fables agreed upon.
Atributed to Voltaire

9. A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.
Attributed to Robert Heinlein

10. If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience?
Attributed to George Bernard Shaw

11. The causes of events are ever more interesting than the events themselves.
Attributed to Marcus Tulius Cicero

12. History is but a confused heap of facts.
Attributed to Miguel de Cervantes

13. History is more or less bunk
Attibuted to Henry Ford.

Other bloggers participate in Thursday Thirteen. You can locate them here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Eating Up the Bread of Our Children

Most dictionaries define pork as a government project or appropriation that yields jobs or benefits to a specific locale and patronage opportunities to its political representative.

A great article over at Harper's Magazine advises “pork-barreling as a legislative epithet is a pre—Civil War coinage that referred to the custom of handing out salt pork to slaves, who would crowd around the barrels that held it, and indeed, members of Congress have raided the federal treasury for home-district boondoggles ever since the earliest days of the republic.” John Ferejohn’s book, Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968 confirms this explanation.

To qualify specifically as pork legislation must meet seven criteria per the Citizens Against Government Waste and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition. They are:

*the legislation must be requested by only one chamber of Congress;
*cannot be specifically authorized;
*cannot be competitively awarded;
*has not been requested by the President
*greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
*serves only a local or special interest.

The earliest form of pork barrel spending would be the Bonus Bill of 1817. It was introduced by John C. Calhoun and it involved highway construction linking the East and South with the western frontier. Part of the controversy was the source of the funds….an earnings bonus from the Second Bank of the United States. The proposed bill was eventually vetoed by President James Madison.

Calhoun actually justified his pork-barrel spending as many Congressmen do today. He used the Constitution to bolster his argument citing Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 which Calhoun argued actually gives Congress the power to spend by stating, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but by consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

Years later President Grover Cleveland would also use the Constitution to support his nickname as the “king of the veto” because he rejected hundreds of congressional spending bills during his two terms. He continually stated he could find no support in the Constitution for the appropriations.

Over at the site for Citizens Against Government Waste they have a well-documented discussion regarding the history of pork-barrel spending. I’ve included some of it here:

Washington insiders have espoused this “power of the purse” to validate Congress’s mushrooming appetite for pork. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) have argued eliminating earmarks would equate to an unconstitutional delegation of spending discretion to the executive branch. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that earmarking has been going on “since we were a country.” A spokeswoman for lobbying from Cassidy and Associates said, “Earmarking has been going on since the time of George Washington.”

The First Congress rejected a bill to loan money to a glass manufacturer after several members challenged the constitutionality of the proposal. In a debate during the Second Congress over a bill to pay a bounty to New England cod fishermen, Rep. Hugh Williamson of South Carolina argued that it was unconstitutional to gratify one part of the Union by oppressing the other…destroy this barrier,-and it is not a few fishermen that will enter, but all manner of persons; people of every trade and occupation may enter in at the breach, until they have eaten up the bread of our children.

Thomas Jefferson made a similar prediction in a letter to James Madison dated March 6, 1796, challenging Madison’s proposition for improvements to roads used in a system of national mail delivery. Jefferson wrote:

Have you considered all the consequences of your proposition respecting post roads? I view it as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress and their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.”

Madison, the Father of the Constitution, actually vetoed the public works bill stating the clause “to provide for the common defense and general welfare” did not grant Congress additional powers not enumerated in Article 1, Section 8.

It would be hard to imagine a more convoluted, inaccurate, and self-serving interpretation of the Constitution and U.S. history. The Founding Fathers deemed that Congress could only spend money in pursuant to those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment leaves all other responsibilities to the states.

…and like many things dealing with the U.S. Constitution the debate regarding what constitutes appropriate appropriations will continue.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Bailout Bill: 13 Examples of Pork

A three-page bill becomes 450…..ten dollar words, more compound sentences, extra commas, a list of definitions…..What caused the bill to grow, and grow, and grow?????


With enough thrust pigs have no problem flying.

I’ve been hanging on to that statement for awhile now….just looking for the right place for it, I guess.

Well, with the thrust of of a few million here and a few million there the bailout bill has become the largest pig I’ve ever seen, and it has been thrust upon the backs of John and Jane Q. Taxpayer.

Here are 13 examples of pork Congress has thrust down our throats:

1. Let’s start with section 305 of the bill titled “Modifications of Energy Efficient Appliance Credit.” This is the part of the bailout where manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances will qualify up to $250 in federal tax credits for each machine they produce over the next three years. You and I will be paying over $322 million for this serving of pork over the next 10 years.

2. Are you a rum drinker? Thanks to the bailout bill Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will receive an extension on tax rebates they already receive on rum duties (taxes).

3. Hollywood has nothing to fear….the bill includes two separate tax breaks for film companies that produce movies in the United States…..$500 million in tax breaks.

4. U.S. Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) voted against the bailout at first. I wonder...what could have changed his mind? Could it be the fact that the bill now signed into law contains six pages of earmarks to benefit Alaskan fishermen who were victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster for a whopping total of $239 million?

5. Check around the exterior of your workplace tomorrow. Look for all of those bike racks that surely must be there. Our esteemed legislators approved a $10 million credit to help employers defray the cost of storing the bicycles of their employees who commute to work.

6. NASCAR fans have nothing to dread. The bailout bill creates a seven-year cost recovery period for construction of a motorsports racetrack. The IRS wanted to increase the depreciation period from seven to fifteen years cutting the trackowner’s depreciation in half. You and I will pay $100 million to help out the trackowners.

7. Texas, Nevada, Florida, Washington, and Wyoming apparently are very concerned about citizens in their states who do not pay state income taxes. Now they will be able to deduct the amount of sales tax they pay over a year from their federal income tax for two additional years.

Let me get this straight….the citizens aren’t paying state income tax AND they get to deduct sales tax they have paid on their Federal return?

8. This one makes me feel all warm and fuzzy…..$148 million for the extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products, wool research fund and wool duty refunds. Ok, change warm and fuzzy to itchy.

9. American Samoa will benefit from provisions costing you and I $33 million that are meant to help economic development.

10. Around pages 262 and 263 of the bill you can locate the following language….”certain wooden arrows designed for use by children”. Basically the bill exempts arrows from an excise tax of 39 cents. Huh? Are large amounts of American children using arrows?!?!

11. $3.5 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) has been set aside to force health insurance companies to cover mental illness.

12. Section 324 of the bailout bill extends an existing program through December, 2009 regarding the contribution of books to public schools and the tax credit that goes along with it.

13. Finally, Section 201 involves cellulosic biofuel and the tax deduction that goes along with owning a facility that produces it.

Would you like a little sauce with your pork?

You can locate other blogs participating in Thursday 13 here

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wordless: A Wienie Wednesday

I’ve been taking a tour around the fantastic site Coney Island History. This week’s image comes from the site and focuses on Nathan Handwerker’s famous hotdog stand.

Nathan’s started out hawking the five cent hog dog, but people weren’t so sure about paying such a cheap price for a hot dog and were willing to visit other Coney Island food establishments and pay higher prices.

At one point Mr. Handwerker resorted to hiring derelicts to sit at his counter and eat free hot dogs thinking the crowd would draw more people. It didn’t. Finally, he dressed ten of the homeless men as doctors and advertised, “If doctors eat our hot dogs, you know they’re good!” The general public finally started visiting his stand.

By 1955, Nathan Handwerker had sold his one hundred millionth hot dog.

Check out a great article regarding Coney Island’s food vendors here.

Today is Wordless Wednesday. You can find other bloggers participating by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An Apple a Day....

For some time I’ve been a member over at The Apple, a place where teachers meet and learn. Forum discussions, lesson plans, videos, job leads……you’ll find it all over at The Apple.

You’ll also find education articles over there including some written by folks you might recognize including me. I’ve been a featured writer over at The Apple for the last few months publishing some of the same postings you see here except over there I also use my “other” name, Lisa Cooper.

You can see all the featured writers at The Apple listed here along with their bios. Scroll all the way down to find out more about me.

Head here to explore all The Apple has to offer.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Snippets

The Education Carnival is up for your reading pleasure over at Matthew Needleman’s site….Creating Lifelong Learners while the History Carnival made its appearance over at American Presidents. I’m a bit late with these links….Take pity on a recooping woman. :)

Last week my good blog friend Polski3 alerted me that this site may be loading s-l-o-w-l-y when you try to access it. I’ve noticed the site being a bit slow for me as well.

I’m sorry. It’s not my intention.

I visited and allowed their system to analyze my site. I found my images and exterior scripts might be slowing things down, so I’m planning on spending this week trying some changes. I’d love to convert to the layout style for Blogger….this template is written for Classic Blogger. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t. If you stop by and things look a little strange...well, now you will know why.

Finally, the particular lesson referenced below is one I wish I had thought of first……

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom. When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks. Looking around, confused, they asked, “Ms. Cothren, where’re our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me what you have done to earn the right to sit at a desk.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

Maybe it’s our behavior.

She told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom. By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren’s classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all of the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom. Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in the classroom. Now I’m going to tell you.”

Want to know the reason…..head here to learn more about a gutsy move by a gutsy teacher to help her students understand what the right to an education is all about.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wordless: Ship to Shore Connections

Question: How does this ship have a connection to Watergate?

Remember the name, Bob Woodward? Yep, he’s the guy along with Carl Bernstein that helped bring down the Nixon White House with their Washington Post stories involving the Watergate burglary.

But did you know…..

At one point young Bob Woodward served in the US Navy and the ship in the image above was his first of many posts…The USS Wright.

In the book Silent Coup by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin it is revealed that Lieutenant Woodward eventually ended up as a briefing officer for Admiral Moorer in 1969. Woodward was often doing Top Secret work as Admiral Moorer was then the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One of his assignments was to act as a briefer for Alexander Haig….Not sure who he was?

Alexander Haig was the Military Assistant to the Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs. Basically what this government-speak means is he was Henry Kissinger’s assistant in 1969. Later during the height of the Watergate mess Haig was Nixon’s Chief of Staff.

Kind of makes you wonder what sorts of things came up during those briefings between Woodward and Haig in the White House basement….In 1969, Woodward was basically a lackey in the Nixon Whitehouse, and by 1973 he was bringing the walls down around their ears.

Funny how things work out, huh? This also explains why many often mentioned Alexander Haig as a possible source for the infamous Deep Throat.

You can find other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here