Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Students do cool things

Like this:

Or this from some kids I taught or are currently teaching (not my class): 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

80s teen movies ranked

Last night I caught the end of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which is, undeniably the best of the 80s teen movie flicks.  However, most of my students have never seen it, although they've almost all seen most of the John Hughes films, including Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.  Some of this has to do with what gets played in heavy rotation on cable.  The Hughes films are easy to watch, kind of funny, and very flattering towards teenagers.  Their whiteness and casual racism are selling points not distractions.  Fast Times, however, is a far more complicated film.  It's central relationships are flawed and end badly.  One of them culminates in an abortion (and the parents aren't told).  This is a warts and all view of (a still pretty white) teenage world.

Below please find my favorite 80s teenager films.  With a tasty quote from each.  Feel free to discuss in comments.

1.  Fast Times at Ridgemont High - An exceptional film, regardless of genre.  Human and heartbreaking. 

2.  The Sure Thing - Everybody remembers John Cusack, but this is as much Daphne Zuniga's film.  "I have a credit card."

3.  Heathers - A dark satire.  In a post-school shooting era, it would hit too close to home.  "I love my dead gay son."

4.  Say Anything - I'm a huge John Cusack fan.  (As will become even more apparent).  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  "By choice".    "I gave her heart and she gave me a pen."

5.  Valley Girl - I love this movie as much for the soundtrack as for the plot, which is warmed over Romeo and Juliet.  Still, there is a lot more going on in this movie.   "If they attack the car save the radio."

Other films that I considered that didn't make the top five.

Risky Business - The movie that made Tom Cruise a star.  "I have a trig exam tomorrow and I'm being chased by Guido the Killer Pimp."

Footloose - Kevin Bacon dancing.  Lori Singer dancing.  Chris Penn dancing, eventually.

Movies that aren't so good that I am irrationally fond of in this genre.

Adventures in Babysitting.- "Nobody gets out of here without singing the blues."

Better off Dead - Another John Cusack vehicle.  More notable for individual scenes of surreal brilliance:  the Asian guys who learned to speak English by listening to Howard Cosell, Ricky's mom, a French person who is good at auto repair but most importantly a paper boy who is obsessed with his "twooooooo dollars."

The Patrick Dempsey Trilogy - Can't Buy My Love, Loverboy, and Happy Together.  Patrick Dempsey ought to dance in all his movies.  His extended dance sequence in Happy Together is terrific.  Can't Buy Me Love is a bit overrated.  My father was enamored of Loverboy and would watch it every time it was on.  "Extra anchovies."

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - "So-crates"  And the whole mall sequence.

The Science Movies:

Weird Science - This was the one with Anthony Michael Hall.  A lad fantasy.  "The family jewels?  The family jewels."

Real Genius - Actually put a geeky looking kid in the lead.  And tried to make political points at SDI.  It didn't really work.  No memorable quotes.

UPDATE:  Commentators on Facebook mentioned two movies I missed.  Wargames, which I loved when it came out, but has not held up well.  I find the antiquated technology distracting.  The other movie is Vision Quest.  Nice little flick.  Good Madonna song.  

UPDATE 2:  How can I forget Gregory's Girl!  "That's not how you spell Caracas anyway."  "Do you know when you sneeze it comes out your nose 1,000 miles an hour." 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Build your own DBQ for students

By request, here is the build your own DBQ assignment I created for my History of the Middle East class last year.  

Mongols and the Middle East
Creating a DBQ

Purposes:   1.  To gain a better understanding of how historians gather information and use it to make arguments.  2.  To understand the impact that the Mongol conquest had on parts of the Middle East.  3.  To develop research and citation skills.

Overview:  You will create a DBQ that would allow students to answer the question:  “How did the Mongols change (or not change) the Middle East politically, economically, socially, religiously etc.”  This is a type of essay known as a CCOT which stands for continuity and change over time. 

Your DBQ should have
·      at least 6 and no more than 8 documents.
·      at least one document must be a chart or graph
·      at least one document must be a visual image of artwork or material culture (an object). 

For each document you will provide: 
·      a citation of where you found the document as well as the original source if applicable. 
·      A short paragraph that explains why you included the document. Whose voice is represented?  Who is the audience? What does the document show?  How could it be used as evidence

Other parameters:
·      At least one document needs to show continuity.
·      At least one document needs to show change. 

Rubric:  Proper citation for the (documents further rubric to follow) 20 points
Documents and paragraphs.  80 points (further rubric to follow). 

Research sources:  Check the library Haiku page for electronic databases for starting places (ABC-CLIO, Gale World History). 

Day 1.  HW:  Overview readings on the Il-Khanate using ABC-CLIO, Gale, Wikipedia and other encyclopedias. 
Day 2.   HW:  Identify main themes for continuity and change
Day 3.  HW:  Identify a range of documents 10-15
Day 4:  HW:  Settle on 6-8 documents start paragraphs.
Day 5  HW:  Finish paragraphs.
Day 6 HW:  Proofread paragraphs.  Make sure each document is labeled with author (if known), title, date authored, name, where the document first appeared (if known).
Day 7:  HW:  Bibliography of where you found sources.  Everything ready to hand in.  

One of the interesting things about the assignment is that documents were really hard to source.  They found lots of quotes and documents in teacher created sources but it was often hard to track down the original source.  Each section of the class ended up pooling their resources and then choosing from the pool to build their DBQs.  For material objects and art, we primarily used the Metropolitan Museum of Art which has a great website.   The project was very successful and when students did DBQs later in the year they were very successful at them. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reasons to read conservative blogs #26

Withywindle asks "How do solve a problem like Ebola?"

And Prof. Mondo responds with this.  Genius.  Utter genius. 

A teaser: 

How do you solve a problem like Ebo-laaaa?
How do you keep the virus from your door?
There's not much you can do once you've seen it ain't the flu
And you're squirting blood from each and every pore!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wineburg Watch

Nate Kogan over at The History Channel This is Not gets in on the Wineburg Watch action first in a comment and then in a whole blog post. 

So after reading Dave’s post tonight, I was reminded of an incident last year where I sought to adapt a HAT about the execution of Louis XVI for my Western Civilization classes and gained some insight into the sloppy and (ironically) poorly sourced lesson plan material that actually made meaningful historical analysis less possible as a result of the assignment’s structure.

Go read the whole thing!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Urban History Association (for Teachers)

I'll do a write up later on my full impressions of the Urban History Association conference that was here in Philadelphia this weekend a bit later, if I ever finish these letters of recommendation.  But in the meantime, here's some quick hits. 

First.   Three amazing websites I learned about.

A National Directory of HOLC maps  Sadly, Philly isn't on there yet but maybe my students and I can figure out how to fix that.  But you can see how this is a game changer for helping students understand things like Ferguson, suburbanization, urban renewal, and whiteness. 

The Roaring Twenties  This is part of a larger project to get us interested in the sounds of the past and the history of sound.  Absolutely incredible print, visual, and sound resources to create an aural portrait of what New York City sounded like in the 1920s.  Spoiler:  It was loud. 

The NOLA Oral History project  Oral histories of Katrina.  Transcripts, recordings, video.  If you are teaching Katrina, you need this site. 

There were two high school teachers there, as far as I know.  If you teach high school history and you've never been to a real academic history conference (NCSS does not count) you should try to get to one.  I liked the scale of UHA, and because it's every other year the panels were very high quality.  But really any conference would do (maybe not AHA as it is primarily for hiring). 

Sam Wineburg Watch - A New Ongoing Feature

Hi faithful readers.  We here at Looking Out From the Panopticon are pleased to announce a new feature:  Sam Wineburg Watch.  In this feature, we will keep tabs on Wineburg and his Stanford History Education Group which is rapidly becoming one of the most influential places for teachers to find lesson plans and information about how to teach history.  But there's a problem with Wineburg and SHEG.  They apparently don't prioritize the last 30 years of historiography.  They fetishize documents at the expense of other types of sources and that means they also prioritize the rich and powerful, the white and male, at the expense of others. 

Today was a good example of that.  Wineburg tweeted out a link to this article he wrote in 2005 when Berkeley stopped celebrating Columbus Day and started celebrating Indigenous People's Day.  In the article, he inform us that Columbus' legacy doesn't really matter because what Columbus Day is really about is getting urban Catholic votes for Benjamin Harrison and the Republican Party.  By coming up with a Catholic hero and nationalizing him as a figure of importance, Harrison hoped to persuade new immigrants to become Republicans. 

OK, so far so good.  But that's where Wineburg stops.  Missing from this analysis is the larger question of how immigrants that weren't white (he uses the term "swarthy") became white and the answer isn't just about politics.  As many, many studies have shown whiteness is predicated on differentiating the European from the "other" typically Native Americans (as in King Phillip's War) or African Americans (as in the Jacksonian creation of universal white male suffrage and simultaneous disenfranchisement of African Americans). 

Thus by picking someone closely associated with genocide, Harrison located Italian immigrants into the long tradition of killing Indians to become white.  That's an important part of the story and Wineburg, as is typical for him, totally misses the point.  He assures us that Columbus Day is just about politics and urban voting in the 1890s and a celebration of immigrants becoming American.  He somehow neglects to mention that the proclamation came a mere two years after the Wounded Knee massacre that ended the Plains Wars once and for all.  Visions of European Conquest and as Richard Drinnon put it the sub-title of an early book on the topic, "The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building." 

So in other words, Columbus Day is all about the pattern that Columbus started.  And it is time to change the name.

In related news, if anybody hasn't seen Erik Loomis' #GenocideDay tweets, they really are worth a read.