Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Today we are going to learn a little about the Salem Witch Trials, where mass hysteria and a couple mean kids caused the death of over 20 people. Is there anything more Halloween-like than that? Unfortunately real people suffered for things we tend to enjoy, the confluence of life and death.

As you watch try to identify what caused the trials to begin and what caused them to end.

These two videos are both about the history of Halloween. The first is from the 90's and the second from 2011. While they are over the same holiday, they have very different feels to them. We will watch one in class, you may want to watch the other later. 

As you watch see how many cultures are represented by the holiday. Also, when did Halloween as we celebrate it come into being?


  • What were the Salem Witch Trials?
  • What is the history of Halloween?
  • Don't really need any, it is Halloween
  • What started the Salem Witch Trials
  • Why did the trials end?
  • What are the historic roots of Halloween?
  • When did the modern version of Halloween start?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Columbian Exchange and the Atlantic Slave Trade

Today we are looking at how choices made by Europeans fundamentally changed Europe and the Americas.

In the first video we will look at what scholars call the Columbian Exchange. It encompasses the exchange of plants and animals, diseases, and ideas. As you watch identify the positive and negative exchanges. How important were they to the Americas? How important were they to Europe?

The second video is on the importation of kidnapped Africans to the Americas to be slaves. This, along with the attempted genocide of the indigenous peoples of the America, is the most shameful act of the European colonists of the Americas and later of the citizens of the United States. 

  • What were some of the effects of the Columbian Exchange on Europe and the Americas?
  • Understand the inhumanity of the transatlantic slave trade.
  •  None
  • What foods did Europe gain from the Americas?
  • What diseases were transferred from Europe to the Americas? 
  • What diseases were transferred from the Americas to Europe?
  • How many Africans were forcibly moved to the Americas?
  • What was the life expectancy of a kidnapped African in a British Colony in the 1700's?
  •  Student Worksheets

Monday, October 28, 2019

Frankenstein (1931)
The first of the classic Universal horror movies we will be watching is Frankenstein (1931). You may want to look at the IMDB page for the movie as well.  Although it is based on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, it is if you can forgive the expression a whole different monster.

Some of the most iconic scenes from the movie never took place in the book. Obviously we won't be reading the book, but you may want to at least read the summary on Wikipedia

It is important to remember a few things here, one is that the movie is different because the medium is different. It is also different because this is the story the director of the movie wants to share and not the author. 

Other than being in black and white throughout, do you notice anything else strange about this film? Something that is different than a typical film today?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Create an Immigration Monument

The United States is a nation of immigrants. The country was founded mainly by Englishmen who were part of the European colonization effort of the 15-17th centuries. After the US was formed immigration continued to be an important part of its world identity as memorialized by the Statue of Liberty.

While you may argue otherwise, the Statue of Liberty mainly celebrates European immigration as we saw it happen at Ellis Island. Below is a video outlining what it was like to come through Ellis Island as an immigrant.

Unfortunately for many of you, the Statue of Liberty may not capture the spirit of immigration from your ancestors, especially if your ancestors didn't come from Europe. I have done some research to see if I can find other memorials or monuments in the United States that celebrate the immigration of those who were not from Europe and they are indeed difficult to find. 

This is your opportunity to remedy that!

You are tasked with the responsibility to create a monument that celebrates the immigration of your ancestors. You should research where they came from, why they came, and what symbols would be culturally appropriate to use as part of the monument. 

If your ancestors, like mine, did come through Ellis Island and are represented very well by the Statue of Liberty you can still participate. Create a new monument celebrating your ancestors too. This is an opportunity for you to make it more specific to your original culture. For example I could choose my Scots Irish ancestry to celebrate or my German/Jewish ancestry. 

Make your monument with the following guidelines:
  • Identify where your ancestors immigrated from 
  • Incorporate symbols appropriate for their original country
  • Create a plaque that celebrates immigration. It doesn't need to be a poem like on the Statue of Liberty, but it does need to reflect your intent for the monument. 
  • Create a drawing of your monument or create a model of your monument. If you make a drawing, make it very detailed and include the words on the plaque. 
  • Show the pride you have in your family and the gratefulness you have for the sacrifices they made to immigrate. 
Essential Question:
  •  How would you memorialize your immigrant ancestors?
  • Where did your ancestors emigrate from?
  • Why did they come to the United States?
  • What symbols should be used to celebrate their coming to the US?
  • Do you feel represented by the monuments you researched?

  • Create a monument that honors your ancestors journey to the US 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Massacre at Mystic: The Pequot Wars
The Pequot Wars started with the death of one man and ended with making use of the word Pequot a crime. We often put the Puritans on a pedestal, due mainly to the pride many Americans have with being remotely descended from a passenger on the Mayflower as well as politicians constantly referring to them when they talk about our Judeo-Christian culture.

Essential Question: Is violence inevitable between indigenous peoples and colonists?

  •  Watch the video Massacre at Mystic 
  • Vocabulary: wampum, concessions, subjugated, diplomatic
  •  What was the relationship between the Pequot and Puritans before the massacre? After?
  • What differences in ideas about land and property caused so much trouble?
  • Why did some Native Americans fight with the Puritans against the Pequots?
  • How much responsibility do you place on the Puritans actions leading to the massacre?
  • How did the massacre change the colonies going forward?
  •  Class Discussion questions during the watching. 

  • Read p. 118 of Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewn
  • Read about the Pequot War

Friday, October 18, 2019

Colonial House: How Does the Show Compare to Jamestown Colony?

This letter below is an actual letter written in 1623 by Richard Frethorne and indentured servant in Jamestown Colony.

Loving and kind father and mother:

My most humble duty remembered to you, hoping in God of your good health. This is to let you understand that I, your child, am in a most heavy case because of the nature of the country, which causes much sickness. When we are sick there is nothing to comfort us. Since I came out of the ship, I never ate anything but peas and loblollie (that is, water gruel). As for deer or venison, I never saw any since I came into this land. There is indeed some fowl. But we are not allowed to go and get it. We must work hard both early and late for a mess of water gruel and a mouthful of bread and beef.
We live in fear of the enemy every hour; we are but 32 to fight against 3,000 if they should come. And the nearest help that we have is 10 miles from us. When the rogues overcame this place the last time they slew 80 persons.
I have nothing to comfort me. I have nothing at all—no, not a shirt to my back but two rags, nor no clothes but one poor suit, nor but one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings, and one cap. My cloak was stolen by one of my own fellows. And to his dying hour, he would not tell me what he did with it. Some of my fellows saw him take butter and beef out of a ship, which my cloak, I doubt not, paid for.

I am not a quarter as strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victuals. I tell you that I have eaten more in one day in your home than I have here in a week. You have given more than my day's allowance to a beggar at the door.
If you love me you will redeem me suddenly, for which I do entreat and beg, And if you cannot get the merchants to redeem me for some little money, then for God's sake get a gathering or ask some good folks to lay out some little sum of money in meal and cheese and butter and beef. The answer of this letter will be life or death to me.

Your loving son,
Richard Frethorne
Virginia 3rd April, 1623

Essential Question: How was the Colonial House experience different from Jamestown?


  • Read the Richard Frethorne letter
  • Read the Wikipedia Page entry on the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia from 1607-1609 Arrival and Beginning through 1609-1610 Starving Time and Third Supply.
  • Watch Colonial House

  • How does the letter compare to the television show?
  • Does this letter change your opinion about colonizing the Americas?

  • You are a Jamestown colonist. Write a letter home describing the conditions you are living with. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Film Study: Wizard of Oz (1939)

Our next movie is The Wizard of Oz. It stars Judy Garland, who was married to the director of An American in Paris, Vincente Minelli. Are there other ties to movies we have already watched?

This movie intersects two of our themes this year, musicals and movies from 1939. I wonder if you will think this is the best movie of 1939 like most critics believe. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Note Taking, Economics and the Bill of Rights

Today we are going to look at note taking as a learning strategy and then apply it to economics and the Bill of Rights. But first lets watch this video on taking notes. Which note taking strategy will you choose to use?

As we watch this video, think about how economics is more than just money. As a student the economy of your time and your attention are much more important. How can you use this to be better able to manage your time and attention better? Maybe a good note taking strategy could help!

Finally, let's look at the First Amendment to the US Constitution. What rights does it guarantee that the federal government, and the states as well, cannot take away from us? How secure do you think these rights are today?

  • What are some good note taking strategies?
  • How do economics affect individual choice?
  • What are the Bill of Rights?

  • How are you going to take notes?
  • How are choices limited in an economic system?
  • What freedoms are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights?
  •  Write notes over the videos

Colonial House: Journaling With a Dip Pen

Colonial House is a television show created by PBS to examine what life would be like in Plymouth Colony circa 1628. 17 people were chosen to be on the reality show, living the life of a settler in a re-created Plimoth Plantation.

Imagine you have been selected to participate in Colonial House. Write journal entries describing about your living conditions. Are you a freeman, indentured servant, or even the Governor? What kinds of things do you do day by day? Are you having trouble keeping the rules?

You will transcribe your journal entries using ink and pen. Watch the video below to get an idea about what it will be like.

Essential Question: What would it be like to live in an early American colony?

  • If you were being transported back in time to an early American colony, what three things would you take with you?
  • Use Small Fires Strategy to have students share their three items and explanations.
  • Watch Colonial House episodes.

  • What is your role in the colony?
  • What events took place during the episode?
  • What are your daily chores?
  • Are you a rule breaker or a rule follower?

  • Write a journal entry for each episode watched. 

  • Use a dip pen to transcribe the journal entries into a student created journal.
  • We will use the dip pens after every two journal entries.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Film Study: An American in Paris (1951)
An American in Paris (1951) is a musical that was inspired by the composition An American in Paris by George Gershwin. It is directed by Vincente Minnelli and was written by Alan Jay Lerner. The music, of course, is Gershwin's with his brother Ira supplying the lyrics. Some additional music is by the music director Saul Chaplin.

The movie stars Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch and Georges Guetary. It was a winner of 9 Academy Awards and is listed as number 8 on the AFI's Greatest American Musicals list.   

United States Physical Geography Plan
Today we will be looking at the physical features of the US. You will label and color a map of specific landforms. 

EQ: What are the major physical features of the United States?

  • 60 Second Slam: Assign students into 4 groups. Give them 60 seconds to identify as many physical geography features found in the US. Compare the lists to see which group is the Slam champion.
  • Where are the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and Cascade Range?
  • Where is the Ozark Plateau, Colorado Plateau, Sonoran Desert, the Great Plains and the Coastal Plain?
  • Where is the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean?
  • Where is the Gulf of Mexico?
  • Where is the Mississippi River and the Rio Grande?
  • Where are the Great Lakes: Michigan, Huron, Superior, Erie, Ontario?

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

US Fifty States: Can You Find Them on the Map?

It is rare that you get a real life example of why learning something in class is worthwhile. This isn't the only, or even best reason, to learn where countries are, but it might keep you from being embarrassed as an adult.

If you are unfamiliar, Geography Now is a great resource to learn facts about countries. Unfortunately there is no video on the United States yet, they are working alphabetically down the list, we are lucky a video was created on the 50 states. We will watch this about mid-way through today's lesson. 

The first activity will be for you to label a paper map of the 50 states. Afterwards play the game below and see how well you do. Let me know what your first score is so I can record it.

On Thursday we will take an assessment of the 50 states. Make sure you spend some time reviewing, you don't want to end up looking dumb in a Jimmy Kimmel video, do you?

EQ: Can you identify the 50 states?

  •  Where are the 50 states located?

  • Pre-Assessment: 50 States Quiz
  • Post-Assessment: 50 States Quiz