Flipped Videos:


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Guest Blogger- Student Activism

Guest Blogger:

This blog post has a very special guest author. He’s smart, he’s funny, and he wrote this intro. Jason Kalver.

Hello, everyone reading this. I am Jason Kalver. I live in Morris Township and am a freshman in Vet. I have a story to tell you.

On the second day of school, when I got on the Morristown bus to go home, the bus driver said, “girls in the front, boys in the back”. I was perturbed. Why hasn't someone done something about this rule? It was then that I realized that I was someone. I resolved to change this rule. Asking several other kids, I found that other buses did not have this rule. Bus drivers rotated, though, so information from the drivers was spread out. While looking through busing laws to find where this idea was from, Mr. Quaglio asked if it was constitutional. It was. I checked the U.S. and New Jersey Constitutions. He told me to contact Mr. Menadier. I sent Menadier an email saying “I'm on the Morristown bus, on which there is a rule that girls sit in front and boys sit in back. The bus driver claims it is a rule from the county, however a perusal of Morris County law finds no such rule. Could you investigate?” We went to the bus driver, who said there was no such rule.

Some days later, I asked the bus driver the source, and was shown a rule list from the Denville Board of Education saying, in all caps, “GIRLS IN FRONT, BOYS IN BACK”. I contacted a New Jersey senator to propose a bill prohibiting gender segregation on public school buses. I got no responses.

In mid-October, Mr. Menadier told the bus driver that the rule had been revoked, due to my having broached the subject and brought the rule into focus. We could finally sit wherever we wanted(except in the driver’s seat).

In psychology, there is something called the bystander effect. If there is an emergency, like a fire, do not say “someone call 911”. Ask a specific person to call 911 or call 911 yourself. Otherwise, everyone will wait for someone else to do it as the fire consumes the building. The same thing applies here. You are a specific person, so you should do the thing that should be done. Don’t be a bystander.

Your Task:

Jason's letter to the NJ Senator led to a phone call from the Senator to the school- long story short, his actions led to change. Think of some local issue that you could address with the goal of leading to change. Explain what that issue is and what you can do. Please read the other comments to make sure that your points are original. If your action leads to change, you can be the next guest blogger (it fufils all the social media components for that marking period.) Get moving!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The of Survivors of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity & Mass Atrocity

The title of this post is the title of a conference I attended at Ramapo College on November 17, 2016. This conference/workshop was put together by the Gumpert Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. I have attended this workshop every year for many years now. Every year I learn many new things, have been moved by survivors stories, and get to collaborate with other teachers. As always, I want to share as much of my experience with my students. Hence, this blog post aims to do so.

To see and read what I experienced, first read my tweets in the Storify link below:

You will notice that my tweets ended during the testimony of survivor Ms. Judith Bihaly. Her story was both alarming, heart-wrenching, and inspiring. What a strong and amazing woman! I felt that my tweets could not capture her story in a way that captured the moment. Therefore, I stopped tweeting and started taking notes. To read the rest of the story, read the notes I took below: 

Russian soldiers were nice
Used an out-house, only had  one dress, no soles in her shoes
Had lice- had to shave head- wanted  nobody to look at her, she screamed if anyone did
Her mom was liberated from Theresienstadt (concentration camp.) 
Her mom found her twin brother and then her 6 months later ( she was staying with an older woman)
Her family couldn’t have their home back “If you don’t go away right now, I’ll let the dog loose on you” (that's what the family that moved into her house told her.) 
“They were good Nazis and powerful in the government” (The people that lived in her house). - Her mom sued and managed to get one room in the apt. She stayed there, but sent her and her brother in an orphanage. It was run by a Zionist organization to prepare kids to go to Israel. That’s when she learned she was Jewish- she thought she was Catholic “ I loved going to mass” (She grew up going to Catholic school). "My brother and I grew up without friends because of fear, my parents hid us and our jewish identity." But then finding she was Jewsih:  “I finally was somebody, I always knew something was wrong”-  (This was 1946.)
Left Hungary at age 12. Her mom was on list of people to be imprisoned because she made trouble for new owners of home. Went to various DP camps. (Vienna- Germany, etc, always as a group) Her mother didn’t want to go to Israel, registered to go to US.  She went to Israel in 1947 without her (Palestine). Left Italy in a boat (walnut shell) . In 2005 she learned she was on one of the only two boats to make the journey. 
Mom sued Israel for kidnapping and she won, brought to US in 1950
 Adjusted well in the US (her brother not quite as well.)
 “My mother was a litigious person, she survived Auschwitz, she was a fighter.” Did she go into law? “No, dressmaking.”

Back in Hungary: She had a bowl of soup from a different family on a wooden chair. This family knew where she ( her mother) was taken . Her brother was used as slave labor when he was ten. 

Back in the US: She wanted to be a teacher but in the 1950s city college for teaching was bad- so she took psychology to learn learning theory. Had a child in 1962.  Earned her Bachelors in 1967. Teaching certificate . Masters in Patterson in mathematics education and taught in Tenafly for 26 yrs middle school. “Oh I got a divorce in 1987”.  “There wasn’t that much” Why a teacher?  “I didn’t know what else to do. I had many interests, especially ballet. But it wasn’t a career to go into when I came to the US at age 15.” “I didn’t debate it, somehow I thought I was always going to be a teacher.”  1950- treated wonderfully by Americans, but they'd ask "Where is Hungary, in Europe? No understanding of history or interest in it. SOBRA (native born Israelis) – didn’t want to hear abt the Holocaust. You couldn’t speak Yiddish in Israel in 47-50, it was a source of shame. They got greencards and became citizens as quickly as they could, I think within 4 years.
She had no resentment for British for going to Israel. 
photograph of the speaker as a child

“Thank you for listening”

Your Task: 

Over the summer, Mr. Paul Winkler passed away. He was the director of the NJ Holocaust Commission. He used to tell people that Holocaust education was only effective if it influenced the "Mind, heart, and hands." Another words, it should make you think, make you feel, and make you act.

Read the tweets on the storify link as well as the notes I took on Ms. Bihaly. There are many different topics related to the Holocaust as well as current issues from our world today. Respond to any specific statement, quote it, and explain in a paragraph how it can influence your mind, heart, and hands. Each student should pick an original statement or image to respond to. I look forward to reading your responses. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

The James Webb Telescope: From Galileo to Tomorrow's Surprises

In our next unit, we will learn about the Scientific Revolution. Not only will will learn about the new technologies and discoveries that came with it, but we will learn about  many bigger ideas about humanity that came with it. Imagine suddenly learning more about outer-space with a telescope, and more about cells with a microscope. From the very small to the very far away, the idea of just what is the universe and what is mankind's place in it was questioned in ways that were new and previously unimaginable. That is one reason why Galileo's telescope was revolutionary. Will the new telescope be just as revolutionary?

Soon, the James Webb Space telescope will gather information that will continue to influence how we perceive space, our Earth, and what human potential can achieve.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, NASA had a press briefing about this fascinating new telescope. Our classes watched the briefing, and tweeted questions to the moderator. Two of our questions were answered live!  They were answered by Dr John Mather, he works for NASA and even won the Nobel Prize in Physics! Read more about him on his biography here:

In the picture above, Dr Mather is pictured with NASA Director Charles Bolden. Both answered questions and spoke of the accomplishments related to constructing this telescope, and referring to the data it aims to collect. 

Please watch the video from November 2nd: 

Here are some of our tweets from the event: 

Class: We asked the question about how revolutionary will this telescope be. (I think they were impressed with what we asked!) Dr Mather mentioned that this telescope will give us many new surprises. It's fascinating to imagine what new surprises they will be! When thinking of them, consider the other information about the telescope that is provided in the video. Then, try to answer the question yourself. (You may need to do background research on Galileo's telescope for comparison.) Each response should be original, and each one should incorporate different information from the video. I look forward to reading your responses, and hope to share them with some "NASA folks" afterwards!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Columbus Day Reflections

Columbus Day is one of the handful of holidays that students at Morris Tech have a day off from school (even if the teachers don't!) In recent years, the call for an end to the holiday, or replacing it with an "Indigenous Peoples Day" has been increasing.  In the tri-state area where we live, there are still an abundance of Columbus Day festivals and parades, partially due to the significant portion of Italian Americans that live here. For example, the National Italian American Foundation  reported that according to the 2000 census, over 17% of the New Jersey population associate as Italian-Americans, where is only about 4% of the people from California do, and less than 2% of the people in Texas!

There are many perspectives when considering this debate. Here is a sampling of views from both sides of the debate, in the 4 articles below. Take a few minutes to read them:

LA Times article (2015)

NPR article

NY Post Article

Huffington Post editorial (2015)

After reading the various views, what do you think? Did you learn anything new? In your response, quote or cite one of the articles and elaborate with your reflection on it. Your response should show an understanding of more than one article, and not just the part that you quote. Make sure to also reply on a classmate's comment. Each student should quote or cite a different line.

Note: You do not need to include your last name when you reply, but it would be a big help if you identify what block you are in.

I'm looking forward to reading your insights!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Celebrating Teaching Means Celebrating Students

On the weekends, my twitter feed typically revolves around two things: my children's activities or cross-country/racing. This past weekend, however, was an exception. At the College of New Jersey, about 200 educators convened for the ECET2NJPA conference. (Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching).

One of the things you will learn in our class this year, is that when I attend any conference, I share my feedback with my students. Shouldn't you know what your teacher's thoughts are regarding school?

For this blog, I invite you to read my tweets from the weekend on the Storify link below. Some will not make "total sense" since you will miss some of the context. However, others should get you thinking about various things revolving your schooling, from how we discusses grading, race and equality, the school atmosphere, and much more.

Read through the Storify and find one tweet you want to focus on. Quote the tweet first, and then elaborate on the topic. You can provide your opinion, offer new ideas, or describe an example that relates. You can even do outside research to build upon it.

Each student should respond to a different tweet. (So the earlier you start this, the more options you will have.) You should also respond to at least one of your classmates comments. Each comment of yours should be about a paragraph in length, and provide evidence of critical thinking. Be prepared for me to respond to your comment with a question!

Note on logistics:
You do not have to include your last name, but please have your first name and block (A3, B2, etc) somewhere on your comment. Make sure you are signed in to your Google acount before submitting your comment. It may be wise to save your comment before you post it so it doesn't get "lost" if something goes wrong.

I'm curious and excited to see your responses!

Feel free to watch the video to get an idea of what the conference was like!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Our End of the Year Reflections...

An important and essential step of learning is to reflect.

Think of all the ways we have reflected on what we learned this year: journals and discussions, standard explanations, blogging, connecting #OTD tweets and current events, etc.

These were all ways we reflected on very specific pieces of knowledge and some broader concepts. I would love to have us reflect on the year as a whole.

If I reflect on just our classes, here are some of the things that I will always remember about the class of 2019:

-By far, this class is the most poetic! I loved reading many of the poems you wrote for contests, standard work, or even in your journals. I hope to someday read many more!
-This class was very flexible as we tried new educational methods. Very few times did any of you stop and complain about experimenting with a new approach. This attitude and this willingness to learn will no doubt be an essential skill to carry you throughout your lives regardless of which career path you choose.
-The class of 2019 can critically think! Many educators say that the point of a history teacher is not to make sure that their students remember endless historical facts (many of which can be easily "Googled"). The point is to ensure that their students learn how to research, and to use that information to think well. From our quotes discussions to our comments on the news, I am impressed with your ability to use your brains! Keep questioning!
- I will always remember my joy standing at the door as I saw every student enter the room each day. I often said some things that sounded crazy to many of you such as "Good morning wonderful students" or "Happy Monday, the best day of the week"! The truth is that I meant  those statements each and every time. I've enjoyed the  unique classroom that we created this year and the roles that you played in it. So much of our lives are spent within school and I am thankful that you have made it a comfortable and rewarding place to be. I hope that when you leave our class room in the next few days that it is not the last  time you are in it. You are always welcome back (but just don't use it as an excuse to miss a test in another class next year)!

Last week I read an editorial from the civil rights leader, James Meredith, I encourage you to read it here:

You may note that some of the problems he addresses are ones that we tried to address together this year. Some of the things I think we were remarkable at. Some need a bit of improvement, but at least we started to get things in the right direction.

For the last blog post of the year, I ask you two questions:
1. Respond to the article. What do you agree or disagree with?
2. If you look back on our class years from now, what's the one thing you think you will remember? It may be a historical fact, class discussion, or even "Playing in the sandbox." Be honest!

I look forward to reading these responses! 

In closing,...

I hope to still learn about the amazing things you do. If you visit a historical place this summer, e-mail me or tweet me and I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to still follow us on SnapChat so you can see how our room changes (I promise not to bombard it with too much randomness this summer). Remember, our mission never ends, I look forward to seeing how everyone lives up to their #FullPotential !

(PS- I'm considering finding a way to reward in the fall those who read the two books we recently discussed: 1984 and The Diary of Anne Frank.  Stay tuned while we think of ideas...)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 Reflections

The bell just rang, and my awesome class just left room 104. We are all about to enjoy an extended Memorial Day weekend due to a lack of snow days. At some point this week, many of our classes discussed the significance of Memorial Day. Some even heard about the lives of the amazing people I served with who died in either Iraq or Afghanistan. After hearing such stories, and since this is a social studies class, I'm sure you understand why I think this would be a good opportunity to pause and reflect as we start to end this year's social media adventure.

 I spoke of how I would like to do something more as a school on days like today. I hope that next year I can put something together....and If I don't, perhaps you will! The two articles below are about what students from the high school that I went to in South Jersey do. Further, the news video below is both informative and moving.

Action News: Southern Regional"Southern Regional Flags"

(and the principal in the video was my middle school gym teacher!)

So how can you respond to this post? If you do something relating to Memorial Day (service, parade, television show. etc), please share. Maybe you have an idea of something we can do as a school next year, and please share if you do. Perhaps someone you know, or even a relative generations back lost their lives while serving our country. If so, you can write about it here. Maybe you can research about the day or about someone that made such a sacrifice, and you can write about it here. I don't feel comfortable creating a "Memorial Day rubric", I just ask that it is at least a paragraph in length and shows thoughtful reflection and originality. Fell free to respond to others comments as well. 

I'll see everyone on Wednesday!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Let's Explore our Local History!

Earlier this week while I was in Morristown, I saw a sign on the road. It was for a National Historic Park called "Fort Nonsense." I never heard of this place, even though I have been teaching history nearby in Denville for well over ten years now. How did this place (with such an awesome name) escape this history-obsessed person for all these years?

If you missed my tweets, I'll share with you some photographs I took.

To learn more about Fort Nonsense, and to decide whether it was nonsense or not, read more about it from the National Park Service Website:

NPS: Fort Nonsense

Your task: What local historic landmarks exist near where you live? Explain the historical significance of a location in the comments section. (Don't just copy a paragraph from Wikipedia- do some research and put it in your own words!) Please make sure that you do not choose a place that another student wrote about. Since we live in different towns, it will be neat to learn about!
A Contracts additional requirement: Send a picture that you took (it can be a selfie!) so that I can add it to the post. For the ultra-motivated- tweet a small video clip or even make a YouTube Video Tour!Check back for follow up questions as well.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Social Media in the Classroom: An introduction

Yes, there are thousands and thousands of uses of social media in the classroom, all of which I will tell you about right now.
(Okay, not really, but if you don't get that please watch this clip someday:)

Instead, today is meant to be a brief overview of the benefits of social media in the classroom with hopes that in the future we can focus and collaborate on some of the specific ways to utilize it.

So what better way to begin then by diving in and trying it. Skype is one of the popular social media tools in the world of education and we are going to have a Mystery Skype right now! Hooray!
(Note: When done in class we usually schedule about 45 minutes for the Skype. We also do some pre-planning, but we have a school willing to do a 15  minute sample with us to give us the idea.)

Rules for Mystery Skype:
1. Goal: To guess the other school's location (country, state, city, etc) before they can guess yours.
2. Only ask yes or no questions.
3. We will work in groups, each group will ask one question at a time. Make sure to listen to the other groups question and answers. You don't want to waste a question by asking the same one twice!
(In class, each group has one person who asks the questions and one person to record the responses.)
4. Use the Atlas as a guide. Take notes!
5. Be careful! If you are wearing MCST gear, don't go on camera and give away our location!

Examples of General Questions
1. Is your school East of the Ohio River?
2. Does Route 9 run through your state?

Avoid Broad Questions such as:
Do you live in NJ?
Do you live near a city?

__________________  Okay, now time to do this________________________

After the Skype and we celebrate our win or mourn or loss:

Why do we Mystery Skype? 

* Are there other ways we can use this or modify it for other classrooms? 

______________ (This is my way to transition in today's blog)_____________________

Some facts and figures about social media in education, and why training is important:
Social Media in Edu (and Worrying!)    (Where image below is from/ info. from 2014).

Student made video on using social media in the classroom- honest feedback that includes both the advantages and disadvantages: 

...and if you'd rather read their ideas then listen to them, or to see them using social media, check this out:

Food for thought: Students are being exposed to social media in education now in elementary and middle schools, so it is up to us to remain relevant (think of Joan Rivers without the plastic surgery.)

- To take advantage of Social Media the most, it's key to use the ones that students are on the most
(SnapChat is the flavor of the month).
- It's also important to know the disadvantages of them, but the point of today is to not scare you away so we can address that later.
-Also, while it is unreasonable to use a bunch of forms of social media, blending two or three of them will find ways to reach out to more students (ex: some students aren't allowed on SnapChat or Twitter, but most can go on YouTube.)--- (or have students pair up- students who are allowed on SnapChat can text important info. to students who aren't.)

-What if you don't really want to be the one doing all the connecting? Can you have students do it for you?

A great way to start using twitter is to connect with other eductors. Various chats occur throughout the US and world on various educational topics. They can be a great place to gain new ideas and resources.
Chat schedule

For when you need stuff to read:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Crimes Against Humanity

This past November 15th I attended a workshop at Ramapo University.  It was titled, "Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and Mass Atrocity: Definitions, Politics, and the Quest for Justice."

Although many students saw my tweets about it and we discussed it the next day, I held off on blogging on it until now. I wanted to wait until we finished our Enlightenment unit- until we knew how the Enlightenment philosophers stressed the importance of human dignity and until how that knowledge was meaningless unless it influenced political power.

During the day we heard from various guest speakers and culminated with developing sample lesson plans on how students can best utilize this information. While I am not copying every tweet from that day, here are a majority of them below. Use the prompt in blue to comment when you are done reading the post.

  1. Next up: teaching abt justice in punishing & preventing , crimes against humanity & mass atrocities w/
  2. international Ct on Rwanda was the 1st time a court said RAPE can be a form of as women have a baby of a different ethnicity
  3. The made a International Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994
  4. In just 3 months about 800,000 Tutsi were killed in Rwanda
  5. After presidents plane shot down, a revenge movement was formed in Rwanda ( 1993)
  6. 1993: Arusha Accords to settle war Btwn Rwanda govt and RAF. Did it work?
  7. Rwanda in 1990s: 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi, 2% Twa
  8. Dr Lewis: " is difficult to prove in court bc you have to prove INTENT to eliminate a group "
  9. Presentation: international criminal courts in the 1990s-2000s
  10. "It is our goal today to try to achieve some clarification abt terminology and changing legal concepts abt genocide" - Dr Michael Riff

Dr Lewis's conclusion on tribunals:
Add caption