Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hijinks on the high seas.

No lesson plan for this one, and no reading comprehension quiz, because they'll get it, don't worry. This is an amusing diversion...Sea Legs by British author Alex Shearer ... simply a good, funny kids’ book about twins who stow away on a cruise ship.

To have one’s sea legs is to be able to walk calmly and steadily on a tossing ship, or to become accustomed to a new or strange situation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Animal Farm as a way to grasp allegory and satire.

George Orwell's warning about the dangers of Communism: Animal Farm.

E. is reading this novella, published in 1945, for a local teen book group. We are not going to study the Russian Revolution this year, so instead we will consider the book as satire (of Soviet totalitarianism, Marxism, worker exploitation) and allegory. This link provides a point-by-point look at what each character in the book symbolizes in relation to the figures of the Russian Revolution, when viewing the novella as a satirical allegory of early 2oth-century Russia and Soviet totalitarianism.
Here is a link to a solid lesson plan on the novella. This NEH link on Allegory and the Art of Persuasion is top-notch.

Here is a google books link to the Signet edition text. And to review reading comprehension, here is a 25-question quiz about the book's plot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presentation at Los Alamos lab.

E. presented her Project GUTS ecosystems data and program on sharks, fish and plankton yesterday. Here's a link. She also observed presentations on topics including earthquakes and spread of viruses, which she found particularly interesting. One of the purposes of the GUTS program is to provide a bridge to the Supercomputing challenge when the kids are older. She did very well and we're really proud of her.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Boy Jack, a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

Here is a good site to begin studying the Great War's influence on contemporary literature.

This evening we watched on PBS the wrenching account of Rudyard and Carrie Kipling's devastation at the loss of their son John in the Battle of Loos, September 1915.

My Boy Jack

'Have you news of my boy Jack?'
Not this tide.
'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Has any one else had word of him?'
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind--
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

April is National Poetry Month. For more information, visit the Academy of American Poets.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baseball lesson plans.

Yes, that's right. The best involve geography, mathematics and history. And the Science of Baseball is a great site.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Meals on Wheels in Santa Fe.

Just a post to restate our ongoing commitment to Meals on Wheels. We pick up the meals at the Ken and Patty Adam Senior Center in Eldorado, where the remarkable chef is Robert Lujan, whom E. enjoys talking to every time we stop by. She investigates his industrial kitchen, asks questions, and learns a little something from his culinary abilities. This week we added two new people to our delivery list. Here is an article from the local paper about the center.

Examining the killer angels.

We are studying the Civil War.

To examine the three-day battle of Gettysburg, we recommend reading Killer Angels and then viewing the movie Gettysburg. The special emphasis on the formidable Union officer Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top, and then the catastrophic outcome of Pickett's Charge, provide a centered way to grasp what can easily become an overwhelming subject.
Chamberlain might make the subject of an essay about heroism, and what it truly entails, for we throw that word around a lot in this society.

To begin, if you think you know a great deal about the Civil War, can you pass this fourth grade Jeopardy-style quiz?

Monday, April 7, 2008

At this moment, I agree with this list of ten books it isn't possible to live without, and hope you may get some reading ideas for your seventh grader from it. We'll provide our own list soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A tall wall, a wide gate.

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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Here we continue from the entry below. Our trip to Nogales, Mexico through the border crossing, an informal interview with a family member who is a Border Patrol Agent, and a thorough discussion of immigration, illegal immigration, and the rights and duties of citizenship has been extremely beneficial in opening the eyes of our seventh grader to the depth and breadth of these matters. The often-unmentioned complicity of businesses and corporate interests in hiring illegal immigrants as "cheap labor" is part of this rubric.

Here are some thoughts about the crossing. Here is the government's Citizenship and Immigration Services site (this used to be known as INS, or Immigration and Naturalization Services). Here is Discovery Education's excellent lesson plan site regarding immigration to the United States (grade level 6-8).

An essay question that may elicit surprising responses is:
What responsibility, if any, does our American government have to other citizens of the world?