Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Past the half-way point

We have officially passed the mid-year mark!

Today my tenth graders took their test on the Middle Ages. Hooray! In the past two years, this has been the unit that would not end. It is interesting enough, but is hard to plan because it gets interrupted by registration assemblies, mid-term exams, and usually snow. But there was no snow this year and so it was the first time we finished the unit before February. The exam is two part. The first part is all multiple choice. They did that today. For part two they have a choice. They can draw, label, and describe a castle or cathedral, they can create a medieval hall of fame, or they can write an essay about the role of the church during the Middle Ages. In two years, I've had four students choose the last option. Part two of the exam is due tomorrow. So guess what I'll be doing this weekend...

Before we move on to the unit on the Renaissance, Reformation, and Age of Exploration, we will write the Black Plague DBQ. It is one of the release items from an old World History AP exam. This is their first experience writing a full-blown DBQ, although we've "played" with primary documents all year. The purpose is the help them prepare for AP U.S. History next year, which is what most of them will be taking. To be honest, it is a very tough thing to teach, and on their first attempt, the essays are usally pretty weak so it isn't somethingI particularly enjoy.

Luckily, we are smack in the middle of the Roaring Twenties in U.S. History. On Friday, we'll do one of my favorite lessons -- jazz during the Harlem Renaissance. Despite the fact that I hate jazz music, the lesson is fun. The kids listen to ragtime, blues, jazz, and swing and have to choose words they associate with the music. It's designed to help them see the progression of the music and also how it could be used as a way to support social awareness. (Can anyone say Strange Fruit?)

My cold, for the most part, has moved on. It wasn't too bad but I'm sure it helped that I had all weekend to rest up.