The Kneighborhood Annex

professional blog of a teacher, future administrato, writer, learner, motivator, inspirerororor

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Last post was too long ago…AND…Historical Blogging

File:Alexandr Makedonsky, Summer Garden.jpg

So…the last post on the Annex was on September 2, 2009.  There is no way I’ll get followers posting once every 2months.  I’ve been extremely busy working on my Master’s research project, a second graduate class,  juggling a new-ish curriculum, teaching 2 PD courses, and leaving things until the last minute. I’d like to say that I vow to write more posts, but I just don’t know if I can follow through…I can give it a try though!

I can say that I’ve been over-saturating myself with information coming through my tweets and RSS feed.  I honestly think there is way too much out there. I taught one PD class on Web2.0 tools.  I think my class of 6 was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that is available to them. The number one question was…Where do you find the time? All I had to say to that was…I don’t know.  There isn’t enough time to teach everything.  As a fairly new teacher, I feel that has been my mistake. Try to teach everything.  Unfortunately, YOU CAN’T. Towards the end of my Web2.0 Tools class, I advised my eager educators to pick 1 or 2 tools and start there.  Hone your skills in a few methods of teaching before you move to the next.

In following my own advice, I’m going to start a “Historical Blog” of sorts.  (the details have not fully been ironed out yet) I want to make a blog available for my students to contribute to on a weekly/bi-weekly/or monthly basis. They’ll simply log-in and write a post. Here’s the catch…they’ll need to take on the identity of a historical figure and write. It would be Hammurabi writing a post about the code of laws he just came up with…or…Alexander the Great writing about his most recent conquest.  I think (fingers crossed) this is a good idea.

Image Attributions:
Alexandr Makedonsky, Summer Garden,_Summer_Garden.jpg



PTI in the Classroom


I had to write this down, otherwise I might forget it. I’m a big sports fan. Not HUGE, just big. I like watching ESPN when I can. SportsCenter, Around the Horn, and PTI. The guys (and gals) on SportsCenter are absolutely hilarious. (I hung out with Neil Everett one night and tried to convince him to give me a shout out on SportsCenter or work me into one of his catch phrases…”Bartender…Makers Mark!!” But that’s beside the point) Around the Horn has an outstanding array of panelists hosted by a fellow New Jersyan, Tony Reali.

But, Pardon the Interruption takes the cake. This is a sports talk show hosted by two sports reporters, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. What makes this show great is the back and forth that Tony and Mike have. They almost never agree and almost always argue over the current news stories. Many times it’s as if one of the two hosts takes the opposing side just to start an argument. Apparently, arguments make for good TV.

The show is usually broken up in different segments. There is a Headlines segment where the hosts run down 5 or 6 of the top sporting news stories. Each story is talked about for only 1:30 minutes. The next segment is called Five Good Minutes. This is where they spend 5 minutes talking to a sports figure, sports writer, or analyst. The third segment various between a few different segments. Sometimes its Odds Makers where the hosts place certain odds on future sporting outcomes. There is also Role Play. In this segment they hold a face on a stick in front of their face and “act the part.” Psychic Hotline is where the hosts predict what will happen. During Over/Under the hosts argue whether a sports figure will go over or under a specific numbered stat. And Good Cop/Bad Cop is where the hosts are forced to take opposing sides of an argument.

TPardon_the_Interruption_logohat brings me to my idea. I want to hold a PTI episode in my classroom. I will give each student a partner (or two) and a run-down of the topics they will discuss. They must keep the conversation going for the full minute and a half. Then when the buzzer rings, they move on to the next topic. The goal is to talk intellectually about the topic.

For the second segment, they’ll have to interview a historical figure. They will have a list of questions they would like to ask. Of course, someone will have to play the role of that historical figure.

Segment three is where they’ll have a chance to pick one of the options explained above. For Odds Makers I would ask them questions like: What are the odds that Rome will fall? or What are the odds that Alexander the Great will conquer the world? For Over/Under I’ll ask them questions like: Over/Under: 50 years to build a pyramid….or Over/Under: 199 years of peace and prosperity for the Roman Empire.

I want them to recreate the show. Every segment. From Headlines to Happy Time.

What I like about the show is what I want to achieve in my classroom. Have the students think about issues with a different lens. Force them to take the other side. The side that they are not comfortable with. The side that sticks up for the bad guy. In my opinion, if they can argue both sides of an issue, then they truly know the material.

Now I just have to figure out how to assess the activity.

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The March of Democracy

Just came across these sweet maps!! (I’m a Social Studies guy, so I get excited over maps)  I’ll need to thank Chalkdust101 for sharing.

This map shows the evolution of democracy over thousands of years.  It is pretty neat.  There’s a few other maps as well.  If would allow it, you could actually see the map right here. Apparently, they don’t like flash stuff.

March of Democracy

I will definitely be using the spread of religions map in the next coming weeks.

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Oct. 6-10

Well…It is October…the weather is getting colder…and our topics are heating up!!  Ok…that was cheesey.  Here is our schedule for this shortened week.

Monday, Oct. 6th

  • Review Game:  Social Studies Basketball

Tuesday, Oct. 7th

  • Unit Test
  • Grades are due today…Hopefully I’ll put the Unit Test on the Mid-Marking Period Grades.  Check TeacherEase for an up to date average.

Wednesday, Oct. 8th

  • We’ll start talking about debates today.  Hopefully we’ll get to watch some of the presidential debate and discuss.

Thursday, Oct. 9th

  • Take the day off…my treat

Friday, Oct. 10th

  • Watch the presidential debate and analyze.

Next week, we’ll start discussing River Valley Civilizations…Can you feel the excitement?!?!  I can!!

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Sept. 29 – Oct. 3

This past week in school was great.  Back to School night was a great success.  I’m so glad I met all of your parents.  I’m sure your parents were excited to hear about TeacherEase.

I’ve also posted a variety of 9/11 comparison projects for everyone to see.  Check them out at the project page.

For those of you involved with the Investor$.  Please check out the Investor$ page for information about the Stock Market Game.  The Game begins NOW (9/29/08)!!!

Looking ahead…we have a Unit Test to prepare for. I’ve decided to move the test from its original date of 10/3/08 to 10/7/08.  You get an extra weekend to prepare for it.

Here’s your schedule for the week…

Monday (September 29, 2008)

Finish Video – Neanderthal

Complete Venn Diagram in class. –> neanderthal-cromagnon-venn

Tuesday (September 30, 2008)

School is closed.

Wednesday (October 1, 2008)


Read pages 33-40.

Complete Fact Sheet on Paleolithic Age. Download here –> Prehistoric_People_Fact_Sheet

Thursday (October 2, 2008)

Read pages 41-46

Complete Fact Sheet on Neolithic Age.

***Extra Credit*** – Watch the VP debate and write a 2 paragraph reaction paper.  (10 point assignment)

Friday (October 3, 2008)

Causes and Effects of the Paleolithic and Neolithic Age.

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Sept. 22 – Sept. 26

I’ve decided to open this blog up to my students again.  I feel it is a great way for them to stay connected with the classroom.

There have been a number of absences and this is a great way to stay of top of your work so it doesn’t snowball.

This week in Social Studies…


  • Review Graphic Organizers… “6 Essential Elements of Geography” and “Natural Resources and History”


  • Review 2nd Geography Quiz
  • Vocabulary Discussion:  tectonic plates, continental drift, Archaeology, bands, migrate, specialization

Vocabulary Log-Unit A-Geography 3

Homework: Read Pages 25-30…Answer this Questions –>  Why did scientists begin to study artifacts?


  • Stations: 5 Stations – 5 Questions

BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT!!back-to-school-night-FAQ


  • Atlas Activity


  • Video Clips:  Neanderthal vs. Cro-Magnon

Venn – Diagram Comparing these two —> DOWNLOAD HERE —>neanderthal-cromagnon-venn



So I walked into my new school today with the utmost excitement.  New school.  Fresh faces. New material. Fresh start.  And then I walked into my new classroom.  NO WHITEBOARD. NO TELEVISION. NO PROJECTOR. EEEEEK!!!  I guess I’ve been spoiled for the past two years.  I’ve used whiteboards, televisions, and projectors. I’ve used technology!!!  Anytime I could get my hands on it, I’ve used technology.  I love using it and kids of any age embrace it.

I think I can live without a whiteboard.  I actually like the look of an antiqued chalkboard…I just wish I had better handwriting.  Hopefully, I won’t use the board much because I’ll be using an LCD projector that will find its way to my classroom.

My entire style of teaching has evolved in a way that can not be returned to its previous state.  (I sound like a drug addict jonesing for technology)

What should I do?  Should I beg my principal for some techie tools?  Should I buy my own goodies to use?  I’ve been trolling for projectors and Interwrite pads on ebay and craigslist, but it’s nothing I can afford right now.

I’m stuck in a pickle!!