Monday, June 30, 2008

Letter from Birmingham Jail- Jigsaw Activity

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 
 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 1963 
Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Watch "Eyes on the Prize."
No Easy Walk (1961-1963)The civil rights movement discovers the power of mass demonstrations as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges as its most visible leader. Some demonstrations succeed; others fail. But the triumphant March on Washington, D.C., under King's leadership, shows a mounting national support for civil rights. President John F. Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Act.

Assign: "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
In class: Working in groups of three or four, discuss the questions from "Letter from Birmingham Jail" your group was assigned. (10 minutes) Share answers with the large group.

Why did King write this letter?
What reasons did King give for coming to Birmingham?
Why does King use nonviolent direct-action as a means of bringing about change?
Who does King express disappointment in and why?
How does King address the timing of his actions?
How does King define "just" laws?
How does King define "unjust laws"?
Why does King believe it is a mistake for moderates to label his actions "extremist"?
Who does King believe is earning undeserved change? Why is this praise misguided?
Who is really deserving of praise? Why?

R1.9-10.9: Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington’s Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”), including how they address related themes and concepts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lessons on the Work of Wisconsin Judges and Justices

In class activity: "Tootsie the Goldfish Activity"
The case: Landlord v. Tenant (Read about the facts of the case, the statute involved and other relevant information in the link below.)

In Wisconsin, there are three kinds of judges:

1. Trial Judges
2. Court of Appeals Judges
3. Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices

In this case, what is the issue to be decided upon?
What must the judges/justices decide?
What "tools" do judges and justices use to help them reach their decisions?
After finishing the activity, what did you learn about the work of judges and justices?

For more detail and other law-related lessons:
Methods of Constitutional Interpretation:
(In 2002 I had the privilege of attending one of the most valuable professional-development opportunities ever. The conference, "From the Courtroom to the Classroom" is held every February in Madison. I highly recommend this professional development opportunity, especially for American Government, Civics and Law teachers. The resource people who participate in the workshop are top-notch and the resources are invaluable. The "Tootsie the Goldfish" activity described above is one example of many law-related education lessons and activities I continue to use in the classroom.)

Just for fun!

Lessons from Rethinking Globalization

Part I
1. What does this cartoon mean?
2. If each fish represented a group of people, how would you label each of the three fish?
3. If each fish represented a country, how would you label each of the three fish?
4. Create a title for the cartoon.

See pages 73-74 in Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World for more teaching suggestions using this cartoon.

Part II
In class, we will do the "Ten Chairs of Inequality" activity. For extra credit, comment on your feelings about the activity and the class discussion following the activity. In your comment you may want to address reasons why you think many people seem to lack a sense of "class consciousness." Do you think "class" is a "taboo" subject in the media? Among politicians? Why or why not?
("Ten Chairs of Inequality" from Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World, page 115.)

Psychology connection: What is "just world phenomenon"? How does it relate to the "10 Chairs of Inequality" activity and subsequent discussion?

Part III
Assignment: Read, "Myths of Underdevelopment" pages 64-67 from Rethinking Globalization. Class discussion to follow.

Related Links:

Today's Movie: All the President's Men

(Watch the movie and answer the following questions):
1. Analyze the impact the Post's coverage of Watergate had on investigative journalism.
2. Criticize or defend, techniques used by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
3. Discuss the proper use of anonymous and unnamed sources. Discuss the controversy surrounding the use of anonymous sources.
4. Using history and the resignation of President Nixon, discuss the power of the media and its treatment of public officials during and since the Nixon administration.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Soldiers Grove Flood - June, 2008

YouTube Video:

Photo Slide show:

Soldiers Grove on Wikipedia:

This Morning on WPR: The Lolita Effect

This has been a topic I've explored in both my Psychology classes and Social Psychology classes - the media's damaging effect on the psychological and physical well-being of young girls. I first became interested in the topic as an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. I was fortunate to see Jean Kilbourne, Naomi Woolf and Mary Pipher as a young college student. These women were very influential in transforming the way I viewed the media. Ever since, I've been very interested in media literacy.

As a beginning educator in Viroqua, I had my students read an article from Ms. Magazine on the issue of media literacy and body image. If I recall correctly, the title was "How to Get a Guy, Drop Twenty Pounds and Lose Your Self-Esteem." It was very profound and also very funny.

I also had my kids read a chapter from Kilbourne's Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising . The chapter was "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." After kids read the chapter, I would have them break into five groups. Each group was responsible for answering two questions. After five to ten minutes, each group would share their responses with the rest of the class. These are the questions I asked the kids to discuss:

1. How do advertisers take advantage of the insecurities of young women?
2. Does the process of socialization affect all girls the same? Explain.
3. How are the problems of boys and girls the same?
4. How are advertisements "toxic" for young girls?
5. What affect do advertisements have on girls' body image? (What are the statistics?)
6. Discuss the results of the Figi study.
7. What does "the more you subtract, the more you add" mean?
8. How are young girls and boys stereotyped in advertising?
9. How do advertisements silence and trivialize girls and women?
10. How does the media send contradictory messages to girls and women about sexuality? What are those messages?

As a large group, answer:
What advice does the author offer young people on this subject?

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I haven't had a chance to incorporate these lessons in my Psychology classes in quite some time. I know however, many girls are interested in this issue. For that reason, I decided to include this post in my blog. I hope it is of use to someone!

If you are interested in listening to the program, click the link below:

Additional Resources, Lesson Plans and related Activities:
Wonderful Blog pertaining to the issue (Many useful resources including videos):
Jean Kilbourne's site:
Reviving Ophelia Resources:
Study Guide: Rethinking Schools Article and Teaching Suggestions:
Rethinking Schools - List of Media Links:
Project Ideas:
APA Article (Data pertaining to the damaging effects of sexualization of young girls in the media)
YouTube Videos on the topic:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Recommended Reading: A People's History of the United States

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Wikipedia (A People's History of the United States)
Excerpts from the book:
Read from the book online (Reading from the hardcover is a much more enjoyable experience):
I have the CD version as well. Perhaps you'd prefer listening to chapters of interest. Let me know and I'll get it ready for you.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today's Movie - "Blood Diamond"

Past posts pertaining to the movie "Blood Diamond":
(For credit, you may click on the link below and answer the questions in the post.)
(For credit, answer the "Comprehension Questions" or the "Discussion Activity Questions.")
"Adbusting" Project - Create an "Adbusters" style poster focusing on the issue of conflict diamonds. See the link below for more detail on "adbusting," project requirements and more resources on the issue of conflict diamonds.
Similar Project Ideas:
Visit this link for samples of "Adbuster" posters on the issue of conflict diamonds:

Important: If you choose to answer questions from one of these past blog posts, post your comments in the comments section here.

BBC - Information on Children in Crisis including Child Soldiers:

Another Project Suggestion:
Visit the links below. Comment on Beah's experiences as a child soldier.
A Long Way Gone - The true story of a child soldier:
Multimedia Clips - A Long Way Gone:
Youtube Video - Ishmael Beah:
Lessons and Resources on the Web about the film:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lesson in Apathy

Part I: "Apathy"
Read Eve Bunting's "Terrible Things." Listen to Simon and Garfunkle's "Sound of Silence." Write a brief essay addressing the lessons of "Terrible Things" and your impressions of the song "Sound of Silence." In your essay discuss reasons people remain indifferent in the face of the suffering of others. Include past and current examples of the dangers of apathy.

Reflect on the following questions as you read "The Terrible Things":
What is the poem about?
Who are the "Terrible Things"?
Why didn't the animals resist the "Terrible Things"?
Who might be the "Terrible Things" today?
How are people fighting the "Terrible Things"?
For people who do not resist the "Terrible Things," why don't they?

See me for a copy of "Terrible Things" or visit the link below for an excerpt.,html/Activ.2.html

Watch "Sound of Silence" performed in Central Park:
"Sound of Silence" Lyrics:

Part II "Do Something!"
Visit the link below and answer the two discussion questions.

Part III "Investigate"
Want to learn more about young (and "old") people who ROCK? Visit the links below. Which site or sites did you visit? What are some of the causes people mentioned in the sites below are fighting for? Are you interested in any of these causes? What will you do to make a difference?

"First they came…" is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

Today's Movie - "Glory"

N.Y. Times Lesson - Examining the issue of race in war:

Answer these questions from the lesson linked above (Answer #1 or #2):

1. In what ways might the race of a soldier affect his or her military experience? How might his or her race affect others in his or her unit?

2. Examine how issues of race in the military are portrayed in the film, "Glory."

In addition to answering #1 or #2, go to the link below (it is a history blog) and answer the question about leadership. Post all of your answers here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Today's Movie - "Bobby"

After watching the movie, "Bobby" answer the following questions:

1. Who were the leading Presidential candidates running for President in 1968?
Follow these links to find the answers to this question:
2. What did you learn about Bobby Kennedy's platform from the film?
3. Looking back at the film, what references to racial issues were made? (Perhaps you can recall incidents of prejudice or discrimination based on race in the film.)
4. What did you learn about public perceptions of the War in Vietnam from the film?
5. What did you learn about 1960s popular culture from the film?

Protest Music:

Resources and past blog posts:

Official Site:
Wikipedia - Bobby Kennedy:
NPR story - 40 years later:
Bobby's Legacy - Listen to NPR story:

More on Bobby:
Echoes of 1968:
My Lai - Public Perception of the War:

Friday, June 13, 2008

NBC's Tim Russert dies

Headline: NBC's Tim Russert dies of apparent heart attack
Russert was a standard of excellence in journalism. His loss is not just a loss for journalism but for our country. He will be missed by many.
Tim Russert Remembered:
NPR Story:

Today's Movie - "Born on the Fourth of July"

Info on Ron Kovic:
Info on the movie:
Lesson Plans/Projects relating to themes dealt with in this movie:

Resource List (Teaching about the Vietnam War)
Statistics - Vietnam War:
Related News Stories:
N.Y. Times Lesson - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Returning Veterans:
N.Y. Times Lesson - Battling Memories of Vietnam:
N.Y. Times Lesson - Why it is still difficult to talk about Vietnam:
Time Magazine Article:,8599,1811858,00.html?imw=Y
Answer the questions below in the comments section: (Spend some time looking at the resources above to help you answer these questions.)

1. What were the psychological ramifications for Vietnam veterans who were either treated as criminals or were virtually ignored (public apathy in general and/or poor or neglectful treatment by the V.A. for some) unlike veterans from other wars who were embraced by the country?

2. How did this type of treatment transform Ron Kovic's perception of the war?

3. Look for news stories focusing on the psychological effects of war. Look for news stories pertaining to the current war in Iraq. Read one of the stories you found. Relate what you learned from this story to what you learned about the psychological effects of war after watching "Born on the Fourth of July."

Examples of news stories (you may use one of these):
Neglectful treatment at Walter Reed:
Video (Walter Reed)
Walter Reed and Beyond (Links to slideshows, resources, archives, etc. This link included information on P.T.S.D., and other mental health disorders affecting veterans.)
Wikipedia (Walter Reed Neglect Scandal)
NPR coverage of Walter Reed, etc. (read or listen to stories):
A Veteran's View of Walter Reed (read or listen to story):
Military diagnosing more cases of P.T.S.D.
NPR (Dealing with P.T.S.D. after war) Listen to story:
Virtual Reality for Returning Vets:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

History Recovery - for my Readers

For those of you wishing to read books relating to a topic/theme in either U.S. or World History, leave your book titles and comments relating to the books here.

If you have any book suggestions for other students leave them here as well.

One suggestion is Art Spiegelman's , Maus and Maus II. For information on these books:

Online Exhibit (Maus)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

History Recovery

Summer School History Recovery begins June 11. Class will meet Monday through Friday, 8:30-1:00 (includes bathroom and lunch break). Most of the information regarding course requirements, projects, etc. can be found on the wikispace page under "U.S. History Recovery." World History Recovery information can be found here as well.

You will post Unit/Theme choices, beginning and ending dates, questions and comments here. (This is required. After you complete each Unit/Theme, I will post a comment verifying completion of your project. Parents/guardians/Guidance, etc. will be able to track your progress by checking the comments section of this blog post.)

Before you post comments, you must register with Blogger. On the first day of class we will do this. Everyone must do this. If you do not have an email address, we will set one up for you. Once you register, DO NOT forget your user name or password! Your user name is your email address. You cannot retrieve forgotten passwords from school computers. Finally, when you are asked to type your display name, DO NOT type in your first and last name. Type your last name and the letters "U.S." or "W" for U.S. History Recovery or World History Recovery.