Archive for the ‘History’ Category


March 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Lectures for Gilded Age:

Categories: History

Catching Up: Where we are in the Government & Politics Unit

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment


We have been in a unit on the forms of government and the philosophies of the modern political spectrum and modern American politics.  Below is our key unit vocabulary by category and the lecture notes we have had so far:


Forms of Government & Related Terms:

Anarchy, Tyranny, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, Republic, Dictatorship, State of Nature, Social Contract, Natural Law, Revolution, Right of Revolution, Sovereign, Popular Sovereignty, State, Nation, Rule-Set

Political Spectrum & Related Terms:

Anarchist, Radical, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Reactionary, Authoritarian, Totalitarian, Libertarian, Populist

Philosophers & Thinkers:

Aristotle,  Plato, Polybius, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke,   Edmund Burke,  Socrates,  Ibn Khaldun,  Confucius



Our most recent lectures in this unit. for the origin of society and for forms of government.

Origin of civilization.

Lecture slides on origin of Western Civ political concepts

Lecture slides political spectrum

Content, Critical Thinking and Creativity in Education

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I divide each Social Studies unit into content and conceptual mastery, analysis and creative interpretation because public education as a k-12 and beyond system has three primary objectives:

1. To impart a body of knowledge and academic skills deemed valuable by society.

2. To teach the students to think analytically, critically and independently.

3. To render the students capable of  having original insights and pursuing the discovery of new knowledge or invention.

The first goal  has been delved into depth by educational researchers and gurus like E.D. Hirsh of “Cultural Literacy” fame, Chester FinnWilliam BennettDiane Ravitch and others, and is reflected in such legislation as NCLB, which has put tremendous pressure on school districts to focus on test scores in a Math and Reading and expanding the amount of instructional time in those subjects  in the curriculum by increasing the time spent on rote memorization exercises and skill-based drills. Breadth but not depth.

This has proven to have adverse effects, causing original supporters of NCLB like Diane Ravitch to change their position and call for the law’s repeal or modification of the law. Another effort at education reform, the Common Core Standards have been implemented by 45 states to increase content depth and the amount of reading in non-fiction content areas. like science and history.

The second goal is reflected in what used to be termed ” liberal education” or “Great Books” programs or the upper tiers of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Schools do this less effectively across the nation but there is still a fair emphasis on eliciting critical thinking in public education, most of all in Honors and AP classes, gifted and talented classes  and special programs like and Paideia and International Baccalaureate though all students benefit from learning critical thinking skills. Colleges and universities, of course, are also intended to focus on liberal education but the degree to which this is true in practice has declined since the 1960′s.

The final objective, made possible by the teaching of creative thinking, divergent thinking and synthesis to students, public education as a system does not do well at all at present, here or in any industrialized nation, where measurable declines in the creativity and problem-solving abilities of k-12 students appear across the board. Some people even consider creative thinking to be inimical to mastering content or logical analysis; this is untrue. One cannot think creatively or engage in analysis without content knowledge and content is itself meaningless unless the student can effectively put it to use in the real world. Content knowledge, critical thinking and creativity are like the three legs of a stool – our students need them all.

Ken Robinson, noted educational expert, giving a lively talk on creativity and public education

Unit Vocabulary: Perception, Cognition and Worldviews

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment


Perception   Perspective   Position   Cognition   Metacognition   Bias

Orientation   Objective   Subjective   Philosophy  Meme  Values   Worldview

Paradigm  Paradigm-shift   Schema   Culture   Society   Cultural Evolution

Empiricism   Scientific Method    Natural Law   Revolution   Humanism

Social Contract  Framing    Feedback     O.O.D.A Loop


Prehistoric   Ancient    Medieval   Renaissance   Reformation   Enlightenment

Scientific Revolution


Socrates   Plato   Aristotle    Cicero   Francis Bacon   Rene Descartes

Isaac Newton   Thomas Hobbes    John Locke

Charles Darwin   Thomas Kuhn   Richard Dawkins    George Lakoff    John Boyd

Spanish-American War: Reflective Historical Essay

March 7, 2012 Leave a comment

The purpose of this assignment is three-fold:

1. Summative – how much did the students learn and can apply from a major section of the unit?

2. Introduction to the style of historical writing of the kind that will be required in high school under the Common Core Standards and college.

3.  Reinforce writing skills learned in Language arts and Reading.

The assignment:


OBJECTIVE: To write a concise essay, supported by textual evidence from a variety of sources.

OBJECTIVE: To write from the perspective of a historical character’s worldview and experiences

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate, decide and explain if the Spanish-American War was justified to be fought and/or worth the expense.



Title Page

Proper Heading

Essay Title

2-3 pages, single spaced typed (title page does not count)

Topic sentence/thesis statement ( your position, what you will prove)

Answers question: “Was the Spanish-American War justified (“Right thing to do”) and worth the expense?”

Is written as if the author was one of the historical characters listed below

Position argued fits the character selected (ex. – Senator Henry Cabot Lodge supports imperialism)

Argument is supported by numerous textual examples (“numerous” = “many”)

Concluding sentence (in historical writing, summarizes major evidence why you are right)

Accurate information ( ex -the Rough Riders did not have droids or mutant wizards)

Free of spelling/punctuation/basic grammatical errors


SOURCES: Lecture notes, Movie notes, Handouts, Primary sources, textbook, internet



DUE DATE: Monday March 12



Select one of the following characters, read their biographies below and write from their perspective.

Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924)

Lodge was a US Senator, lawyer and historian from Boston, Massachusetts. A close friend and mentor of Theodore Roosevelt, Lodge was a member of one of the wealthier and most socially prominent families in America . Lodge grew up in Boston’s exclusive Beacon Hill neighborhood, attended Harvard university, where he received a law degree and PhD before entering politics. A powerful senator and forceful personality, Lodge was a strong nationalist, a fervent imperialist and a believer in the superiority of the “Anglo-Saxon race” over other peoples.


Colonel Charles Young (1864-1922)

The son of former Slaves, Charles Young was one of the first African-Americans to overcome severe discrimination and graduate from West Point US. Military Academy, to receive a commission in the US Army and the first to reach the high rank of Colonel. Young fought with and commanded units of Buffalo Soldiers in the Indian Wars as a Lieutenant and as a Major in the Spanish-American War, where Young personally led a squadron of 10th Cavalry Buffalo soldiers at San Juan Hill, fighting alongside Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. After the war, Young went on to work as an intelligence officer, military attache as a professor of military studies before fighting in the Mexican Expedition of 1916 . When WWI began, Young was considered for a major command in France when racist elements in the US Army forced Young to retire under protest for “medical reasons”, though Young was later reinstated by the Secretary of War and promoted to Colonel.


One of Young’s proteges, Sgt. Maj. Ben Davis, later became the first African-American General in US History, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis)

Clara Barton (1821-1912)

A former school teacher from Massachusetts, Clara Barton was the founder of the American branch of The Red Cross. Famous for her humanitarian work nursing soldiers injured during the Civil War, Barton lectured, worked for civil rights, women’s suffrage and social reform before organizing the American Red Cross. As the President of the Red Cross, Barton provided assistance to people suffering the ravages of war, natural disaster and disease across the world. In her seventies, during the Spanish-American War, Barton provided medical help to anyone in Cuba – insurgent, Spaniard or American soldier or Cuban civilian – who was injured or sick.

.Emiliano Aginaldo (1869-1964)

A Filipino general, politician, independence leader, guerrilla commander and President of the Philippines, Emiliano Aguinaldo was at different times a friend, enemy, subject and ally of the United States. And not in that order. 

Pretty Good Books – Extra Credit Option

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

In an effort to encourage students to engage in the reading of meaningful books – and to throw some help to students who have struggled recently with the concept of deadlines 🙂 – I am starting the Pretty Good Books Extra Credit Option for 8th grade Social Studies.

Students will be eligible, if they so choose, to read up to two (2) books and produce reports ( they will have several options as to format) for 30 points of extra credit per book.

`Here it is (More books and categories will be added in the future):

Pretty Good Books – Extra Credit Option

Objective: To earn rare extra credit by reading a pretty good book and doing a report that demonstrates that you

a) Read the book

b) Understood the book, or at least some of it

c) Have evaluated the book and formed a reasoned opinion

The Book List: Is drawn from a range of sources including Dr.Roger Taylor’s “Reading list for the college bound student”, ED Hirsh’s Core Knowledge and bibliographic material relevant to Illinois Learning Standards, Common Core standards and Social Studies curriculum at LJHS and District # 99.

The Extra Credit Option: Is voluntary. No specific book is recommended for all students and students should choose a book in line with their reading level and interests and with parental guidance if needed. While the books are all “serious” in that they have important ideas, they are of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. The list includes fiction and non-fiction, history, biography, literature, social science and science.

Books are organized loosely by general topic with author (*) denotes “Non-fiction”


The Iliad – Homer        Rubicon – Tom Holland *              The Virtues of War – Steven Pressfield

The Odyssey – Homer       Persian Fire – Tom Holland *        Tales of Ancient Egypt – Roger Green

The Aeneid – Virgil          Cicero – Anthony Everitt*                Alexander the Great – Paul Cartledge*

The Histories – Herodotus *         Augustus – Athony Everitt *            Tales of the Greek Heroes – Roger Green

The Persian Expedition – Xenophon *          Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield

The Epic of Gilgamesh                 A War Like No Other – Victor Davis Hanson*

AMERICA (General):

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin*                      Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass*

Founding Brothers-Joseph Ellis*                                   Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt*

Autobiography of Malcom X*                                            Patriarch – Richard Norton*

Battle Cry of Freedom – James McPherson*           The Red Badge of Courage- Stephen Crane

Last of the Mohicans – James Fennimore Cooper       Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

Abraham Lincoln – James McPherson*        Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain      The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott         Crazy Horse and Custer – Stephen Ambrose*

Babbitt – Lewis Sinclair          The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

White Fang – Jack London        Call of the Wild – Jack London

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck     Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

SCI-FI and other FICTION:

Enders Game – Orson Scott Card     Farenheit 451 –Ray Bradbury    Foundation – Isaac Asimov

The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand    Frankenstein – Mary Shelley    Dracula – Bram Stoker

Animal Farm – George Orwell    1984- George Orwell     Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Darkness at Noon- Arthur Koestler     The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

Kim – Rudyard Kipling    Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift    The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien     The Lord of the Flies – William Golding     The Trial –Franz Kafka

The Three Musketeers – Dumas    Brave New World –Aldous Huxley     Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn     Starship Troopers –Robert Heinlein


Art of War – Sun Tzu      Carnage and Culture – Victor Davis Hanson *    Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque     Band of Brothers –Stephen Ambrose*

Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell*     Catch-22 – Joseph Heller    About Face – David Hackworth*

The Greatest Generation – Tom Brokaw*     Rough Riders – Theodore Roosevelt*     Fiasco –Thomas Ricks*

The Peloponnesian War –Thucydides*    Hiroshima- John Hersey      The Profession –Steven Pressfield

The Quiet American – Graham Greene     Flags of Our Fathers –James Bradley*     Senator’s Son – Luke Larsen

SOCIAL SCIENCE and SCIENCE (all non-fiction)

Nonzero – Robert Wright    Guns, Germs and Steel -Jared Diamond    Freakonomics – Levitt & Dubner

Faster – James Gleich     Emergence – Stephen Johnson    The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

The Lexus and the Olive Tree – Thomas Friedman     A History of Knowledge – Charles van Doren

Growing Up Digital: Rise of the Net Generation – Don Tapscott     Here Comes Everybody –Clay Shirky

Einstein –Walter Isaacson      Surely You Must be Joking, Mr. Feynman – Richard Feynman

The Making of the Atomic Bomb – Richard Rhodes     Reality is Broken –Jane McGonigal

Options for your report will be given after a book is read.

Total value : 30 points

New Unit: Gilded Age….Age of Imperialism

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

This unit is focused on the industrial revolution of the 19th century and the emergence of America as a great power in the world. There are components on economics, American and world history.