Students will be taking a Mental Health Day post-testing.
Today a student told me he’s learned way more history in my class than in history class. “In history we just go through packets and stuff.” The students around them nodded their heads in agreement. I can’t decide if my strongest reacting emotion is sadness, that they seem to glean so little from history (as I’ve learned, it could be the students just as much as it could be the teachers), or pride in my ability to inject cross-subject references in my lessons. They are just beginning WWII in their world history courses, and with the testing schedule, I have a feeling the unit will be covered in about a week. No one can adequately “get” the Second World War in a week.
However, since I have all this newfound free time, next week we are going to figure out why we elected Hitler. I say “we,” because the students will be divided into groups representing four major political parties right before the 1932 Reichstag elections in Weimar, Germany, the vaulted Hitler into power. I’m using a piece of a curriculum called “Choices,” put out by Brown University. I’ve been dying to find a place to use it all year; they’re one- to two-week long units covering a small chunk of history or an ethical dilemma; I used one on Indian-Pakistan independence while student teaching, but they also made units over the issue of drones on American soil, and War of 1812, human rights, and the Iranian Revolution. Each one involves a brief but in-depth study of the climate at the time of the unit, and then involves a four-group debate over the issue, in which each student carefully studies his group’s views of the situation. For $28 for a pdf of the material, I can’t think of a cheaper alternative to delving into WWII Europe than starting in Germany.
In other major news, it’s testing week here at the high school. A quarter of my kiddos retested their freshman English writing test this morning (some taking it for the 4th time), another chunk will retake the reading one tomorrow, and all my sophomores test Wednesday and Thursday. I still see my afternoon classes everyday, so in lieu of total blowoff days, I’m borrowing a unit that the freshman teacher just finished. She showed her students “Freedom Writers” to jumpstart discussions about writing and education. We only got through the first half-hour today, but they loved it. They asked if we were going to keep watching it – which isn’t typical, given that the movies I usually show are in black and white, or worse, musicals. I’m pumped to see where this goes…