The 2016 Presidential Election along with the selection of several other political offices takes place in just about 2 weeks. I am sure you have seen your share of political ads and maybe tuned into some of the debates. I hope you have done more than watched SNL to make your informed choice. I know politics can be a delicate subject for some to deal with especially in public. So of course I am going to ask you to dive right in and let's debate!
The idea of tonight's topic is not to show support for any candidate or political party, but rather discuss broad topics facing our nation and our ideas for bringing these conversations to life in our classrooms.
I used to teach about Hammurabi's code for a number of reasons. It was the first written law code which provided limitation to a ruler's power in that it gave the people the power to know the rules and expectations. And yes some would start a debate over this but let's get to the real power. It was a great example of the idea of justice. I would ask students if Hammurabi was a fair and just ruler but ask them to define these terms before they answered. It was an exercise in critical thinking and analytical skills.
The last part of the activity was to ask students to act as advisors to Hammurabi. I have included the questions I posed to students below. I will freely admit many of the activities that I used in this unit were found online and I applied them to my needs. One of the extensions I made was to ask students to apply these questions to today. Instead of Hammurabi, what advice would they give to the President? How or why would this advice be different?
Tonight we are going mix some of these questions along with examining how we can look at politics, elections and create a culture where debate is encouraged and students feel safe to share their opinions openly.
1) Keep my people happy and maintain stability here in Babylonia.
2) Let the people know that I am a fair and just ruler.
3) Reduce crime.
4) Guarantee fair wages.
5) Guarantee that citizens are treated fairly by trades people and professionals.
6) Guarantee that trades people and professionals get fair treatment.
7) Make sure that the slaves will not revolt.
8) Provide for the things that my people desire.
9) Relieve overcrowding.
10) Supply my magnificent armies with the materials they need and reward my generals and soldiers.
11) Find markets for our excess crops.
Get ready for your Prime Time Debate- What is your plan for America? How will you make this country the best it can be?
You can put on your teacher hat for these
Q1 What lessons or activities do you use for teaching about elections?
Q2 What lessons do you have for teaching controversial/current issues?
Q3 How can you incorporate political/social/environmental issues into real world activities for students?
Time to take off your teacher hat and share your own ideas. Be ready to discuss your answers.
Q4 What reforms would you make to the election process?
Q5 What are the most pressing issues facing America/World today?
Q6 Choose at least one of the issues you listed or those listed by others and share some things that can be done to improve the current situation. (Notice I didn't say solve because some issues are too large to wipe out)
Pulling from the Hammurabi activity - here are some things that our leaders need to address. I know 140 isn't enough to solve any of these but hopefully it builds dialogue. We want the same for our students- hear other peoples ideas and contribute to the conversation.
Q7 Education is seeing a reduction in the federal, state, and local budgets what reforms need to be made to to ensure students still receive high quality education?
Q8 In the wake of so much turmoil in our society especially toward minority groups, what would you do to guarantee that citizens are treated fairly?
Q9 The nations of the world all exist in very different standards of living. The United States is one of the wealthiest, yet over 42 million live in poverty. What can be done to guarantee fair wages and improve the standard of living for those in need?
Additional Topics that might be considered-
America's role in international affairs
Reduction of Crime
If you there there are other questions I should ask -please share in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter.
I want to say the first time I used music as an educational experience was in high school when we used the song "We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel. I really don't think that is accurate but it is definitely one that stands out to me. We listened to the song and then jigsawed the events listed in the song. Each of us, or with a partner were asked to examine the event and report back to the group.
Today I would upgrade that activity in a number of ways and will share a few here. What I remember about the activity was being responsible for my event. I don't remember any discussion about the idea of the Fire. I think the real power of the song is the idea of fire- we didn't really analyze what Billy Joel meant by fire, nor what started the fire. The other aspect about the original that could be adapted was the focus on cause and effect. I think looking at the song from the lens of cause and effect changes the way the I understand the context of the song.
If you look at the events as being connected like a giant web of cause and effect it changes the learning experience from individual reports of isolated events to a network of interconnected events that changed the path of history.
With that in mind I would update the activity by having students examine modern events. There are a couple of ways that I think this could be done.
1 How have you used or seen the song We Didn't Start the Fire used?
2 What event in the original song was most important to history? why?
3 What does Billy Joel mean by we didn't start the fire-- what does the fire refer to?
4 Which events should be added to the song- write new verses with events that have occurred after the song was written. Alternative- Events added prior to the song -
5 Take a look at the current events each month- which should make the cut for the song-- which events of the current time are most important?
6 How would other countires look at the events of the song?
7 How would other countries look at the events students might add like 9/11?
8 The song is about cause and effect-- the events of the cold war sparked other events-- What other events in history could students write a similar song about? What events would be connected with that event?
As I'm thinking about what I ate for lunch today a crap-tastic meal as I keep telling myself that I am going to eat better, exercise more and make healthier choices, the idea of an SSTLAP topic was born. How to use food in the classroom?
Another idea that sprang to mind was how to leverage technology for this conversation. I was thinking about how we could use technology to have you respond to the questions this week. I was thinking about using applications like twistedwave.com Voki.com vocaroo.com chatterpix app, telegami app, or other audio recording software. Or you could use your phone and record the message or create a selfie video to answer the question.
Why do I want you to explore audio recording? 1. On Twitter we are limited to 140 characters and you have much more awesomeness that 140 allows. 2. Our students have awesome ideas that don't always come out on paper 3. Explore different technologies to see which you like 4. Consider how you could use these technologies with your students whether you create a video or have students do a quick exit ticket or more formal product. 5. drop your ideas in the feed or in comments below. 6. Oh yeah I chose food because it is something we all know something about so we are experts and not doing double duty learning.
Q1. What is your favorite food? Where do the ingredients come from are they old world or new world? Old World being Europe and New being the Americas. In a few minutes we will check your answers against the official list to see how well you know your food origins.
Q2 How can we use food in our classroom? Yeah this is pretty open ended - let's brainstorm!
Example- Use cooking shows like Masterchef or I have a colleague who used the show Chopped in class and students were assigned an ingredient. Or redesign a recipe to make it healthier. Research the ingredients especially mass produced foods - so many possibilities of topics here.
Q3 A lot of times food helps us in learning and discovering culture. How can you create an event in your classroom where you bring in the food of your students' culture? How can you turn this food into a true learning experience? I recently spoke to a colleague who hung the flags of the countries his students come from. There were 15 different flags. Imagine the potential conversations that could occur as students discuss the foods of their homelands or heritage. My family makes meat pies at Christmas and crepes to celebrate our French heritage.
Q4 Reality TV shows and cooking shows like MasterChef and MasterChef Junior have an element in them where the contestants film confessional videos. The videos add an element to the show that adds to the understanding of the events that unfold. How can we leverage this concept in our classrooms? How can we use this simple activity- voice recording a "confession" or reflection of learning with our students? In what ways could this replace writing and still capture students understanding and thinking?
Q5 No doubt there is nothing as much fun as actually eating the food used in the learning experience. What if students were expected to research the food similar to the first question. This could focus on where the food comes from and the economic or environmental impact of eating foods like strawberries or watermelons in the northern hemisphere like Wisconsin during winter. What is the impact of the food decisions we make? They could debate global vs. local. This could be a social awareness activity.
Q6 How else have you used food in your classroom? What ideas that have been shared here tonight are you interested in or want to know more about?