First Week of School and Big News on the Homefront


Ally in front of KohlsMy baby girl has a big girl job!!

Ally interned this summer for Kohl’s and loved her experience.  She had worked part-time during high school and college at Kohl’s.  When her former store manager in Noblesville recommended her for the internship Ally embraced the chance.  It is rewarding to watch your children find their place in the world.  Ally and Matt Engagement Picture

Ally is a business major, but was unsure of her path.  Kohl’s fed into her two strengths: (1) working with people and (2) completing projects.  Kohl’s allowed her to feed those passions.  So 2019A and M - Sleeping - 1998 will the year of transitions for my baby girl.  She graduates May 4th, marries Matt on June 1st, and starts her career on June 10th.  I am so proud of her, but most importantly I love that she has finished what she start, found someone to share her life, and her place in the workplace. .

School has started!

I could not wait.  Having first period prep meant having to wait an hour and a half for my first students.  I am sure that my poor period 2 students could feel my energy release.  I have never been a huge fan of the beginning of the year, because I miss my students from the previous year.  There is also that transition of my students into historical thinking that can be painful to teach.  The payoff starts in October when they start to understanding, buying in, and show their growth.   My introduction to the year finished on Friday and the teaching begins on Monday.

Make it so!!

Star Trek Twitter Announcement of Jean Luc Picard

This was so unexpected, but it makes me so happy.  I love Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  He is my favorite captain.  The Star Trek Discovery series was great despite the fandom’s criticisms (I don’t listen, because group-think is not my thing).  My love of Star Trek started with its original series in prime time and continued through all of its generations.

New Weoples are in the house!

The corner has found lots of my new crew…punishment for raising their hand during discussion.  We have worked on writing unit constitutions to establish the social contract between the individuals.  On Friday we started with fictional scenarios to establish ideas about the role of government.  Monday we start the hard work with introductions to Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau.    Transitioning for me from one year to the next is hardest with my 8th graders; I get close with these kids because we go through so much together over the course of the year and in the case of a third of them, two years.

Matt Deitsch Twitter Feed about 2A exchangeOne of the many reasons that I teach We the People is to try and create a body of students that know how to enter into discourse without succumbing to the rancor in politics today.  I came across this Twitter thread about an exchange between one of the Parkland students and 2A supporters.

Speaking of the Parkland students who reacted “civicly” after a tragedy struck their school.  They have set an example for a generation of the power of civic education and involvement.  That is one of the biggest reasons that I started teaching a We the People class.  I wanted to change the discourse into thoughtful discussion based in fact and knowledge.  I also want my Weoples to become involved in civics by running for office, giving back to the community, acting when confronted with challenges, and becoming members of the community.  I would also like one of them to become governor and president some day.

Reading Links:

Watch “John Hattie on the Educator Mindframe and Why It Matters” on YouTube   John Hattie’s work helps weave through the clutter of Educational initiatives.  The 52 minute video pinpoints what actually works in education.

  1. An EXTREMELY Detailed Map of 2016 Presidential Election  Wow this map is so cool.  You see the results in every voting precinct in the country.  This really appeals to my love of maps and numbers.  Spent too much time going over this map.
  2. How the 14th Amendment’s Promise of Birthright Citizenship Redefined America
  3. 10 Supreme Court cases about the 14th Amendment.  This is a Unit 4, 5 and 6 link.  Of course it features The Slaughter-House Cases that are so hard to explain to students.  I love the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily.

National History Day’s 100 Leaders in World History This is a great site to research influential leaders from around the world.  Cannot wait to use this site!

The obscure religion that shaped the West  A great article from BBC Culture about Zoroastrianism and its influence on the Abrahamic religions and, even, Star Wars.

The Guardian’s The Story of Cities The Guardian completed a 50 part series on the history of cities.  It is a terrific resource with a lot of possibilities for the classroom.

The Pulitzer Center’s Education Resource Site  This site is filled with resources for building global awareness.

Ken Burns’ Unum from PBS History is the accumulation of stories and few are better at telling stories than Ken Burns.  This is a site of primary sources from American history collected by theme and time.

Civics Renewal Network’s Resource Clearinghouse  This is a pretty good resource of 200 Civics lesson plans and resources.

Ranked Choice Voting – As Australia and the Oscar go, So Goes Maine  Maine has gone to ranked choice voting for candidates where they rank the choices on the ballots with multiple rounds until a candidate wins a majority.

Zinn Education Project – McCarthyism There is a slant, but that does not make the history invisible.  There are some little known stories to be found.



The Week Before School – August 2018

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The week before my 22nd year of teaching brings a lot of emotions.  I feel so blessed to teach in a building that I love, working for a great principal, and team with my teaching partner of the last 22 years.   Summer being over is fine with me; I am ready to go back to work.

The summer did offer me a lot of time for reflection.  My 7th grade classes kept most of my attention as my end of year reflection demanded.  Here are the results:

  • First and foremost my teaching is going to focus on six domains:
    1. Analytical skills.  Specifically the ability to deconstruct, identify components, connect the pieces, and see the piece’s part of a larger community.
    2. Separating and connecting facts, opinion and inference.  This is closely tied to my Rule #19, “Saying a thing does not make a thing”, and my Rule #18, “I don’t care about your opinion, I only care about the opinion you can support.”.
    3. Non-fiction reading.  The importance of being able to read non-fiction, separate main points from supporting information; assign importance and be able to CONNECT the main points to an existing sub-schema is critical.
    4. Writing with clarity.  The natural outcome of non-fiction reading.  Students need to be able express supported arguments with clarity.
    5. Sharpening 21st Century Soft-Skills.  Showing up on-time, organization, working hard, meeting deadlines, giving your best, reflection, and improvement.
    6. Empathy for the past. History/HerStory are collections of stories.  Stories of courage, suffering, triumph, cruelty, loss, and legacy. It is through these stories that we can be cautioned, encouraged, and inspired.
  • These six domains need and will drive my formative assessments.

My We the People class is in its 5th year.  Meeting with the kids last Thursday brought hope that if I can inspire and push that them they will reach the heights that they deserve.

krista-hartung.jpgThis is Krista’s 7th grade picture.  Krista was Tony and my student in our very first year of teaching back in August 1997.  We were over at Hamilton Southeastern Junior High with classes across the hall from each other.   This year we are teaching her daughter.  This is a first for us.  And it makes me feel old.  I am not sure where all the time went.


Articles I read in past week:

A right to literacy as the “Pathway from Slavery to Freedom”?  A terrific bathroom read from the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Daily written by Jeffrey Shulman.

Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats.  A good read from FiveThirtyEight about the difference between impressions and reality.  A good short read.

Opinion: Calling the Press The Enemy of The People Is a Menacing Move Short listen from NPR’s Simon Scott.  A little history, a little reflection, a little current events.

How History Classes Helped Create a ‘Post-Truth’ America James W. Loewen who wrote the influential book “Lies My Teacher Told Me” was interviewed in the Atlantic Magazine.  I was deeply influenced by his books and led me to adopted Stanford’s Reading Like an Historian.

What if there were no states?   A 9-minute video from America from Scratch that is gives the history.  I like this video from an introduction to Federalism.

How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State An interesting read from yes! magazine.  I like history so the headline caused me to read it.  The best part for me was to explore the word “Quisling” which I have used, but did not have all the background.

A Census Question That Could Change How Power Is Divided in America The article has lots of maps; and I like maps.  Good analysis for my Units 3 and 6.  I like to analyze positive and negative externalities of governmental actions.

The Maps That Show That City vs. Country Is Not Our Political Fault Line The key difference is among regional cultures tracing back to the nation’s colonization.  First the author wrote from Freeport, Maine and I know where that is in my beloved home state.  I have never looked at the US as “rival regional cultures”.  Very interesting article.  Did I mention it has a lot of maps.

Merriam-Webster – Federal Judge: ‘Emoluments’ Case May Proceed A little history to word emoluments; I loved the 1675 reference.

The Supreme Court Doesn’t Need 9 Justices. It Needs 27 An opinion article from Time Magazine that raises the questions about the size of the Supreme Court.  Raises some interesting questions for Units 3, 4 and 5.

Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls A great reading from National Museum of African-American History and Culture.  I love the civil rights ear and I love it when I find more stories of courage.

How the 14th Amendment’s Promise of Birthright Citizenship Redefined America A Unit 1 and 6 article for my class.