Pencil Stubs

We have reached that point in the academic year!

The honeymoon period is over and the novelty of the new school year has waned for both teachers and students. Autumn has arrived and, along with it, the heart and substance of the academic year. Inevitably, challenges are surfacing, the schooling bureaucracy is frustrating, and some students are struggling.

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Roll of Thunder: Intersections of Historical Fiction and Reality

On a country road in southern Mississippi, Jesse Brown waited patiently to exact revenge.

In the distance, Jesse heard the unmistakable sounds of the school bus approaching. As he knew all too well, the rattling of the engine would soon be drowned out by noises more hostile—taunting, cursing, and spitting.

While Jesse anticipated the vehicle’s approach, the students on that bus would soon spot their next victim.

The year was 1939.

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Learning About Secession and Assassination Through Discrepant Event Inquiries: Part Two

World History is arguably the most daunting survey course that secondary social studies teachers undertake with Economics a close second. World History’s complexity is illustrated by the series of events that sparked the Great War (or World War I). It is a tangled web of alliances, grievances, missteps, and miscalculations leading to a world-wide conflagration. In his classic study, The Origins of the World War, author Sidney Bradshaw Fay required two volumes and 569 pages to unravel the causes of the conflict.

How can teachers encourage students to untangle the circumstances that led to a world-wide conflagration?

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Learning About Secession and Assassination through Discrepant Event Inquiries

Recently, talk of secession has re-emerged, for vastly different reasons, in the states of California and Texas. Likewise, several Hollywood stars have threatened to become expatriates (a kind of personalized secession) because of their discontent with the result of the most recent presidential election.

In spite of the currency of this term, secession (withdrawal from the union) has been singularly and, therefore, erroneously connected exclusively with the Antebellum South in the minds of many students and the broader citizenry.

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The Leak in the Raft

Johnny Graves, a gunner in the U.S. Army Air Service, was struggling for survival in the frigid sea!

In the early evening, his bomber was returning from a sortie over German held territory during World War 2, but it had been badly damaged. It was clear the plane would not be able to return to England, but would have to ditch in the North Sea.

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'Old Master': Conclusion

Rickenbacker’s not infrequent outbursts during this long ordeal aroused the enmity of his fellow castaways. After these excoriations, the men thought more of their resentment for him and less about their suffering. When their will to live was flagging, Rickenbacker’s raging stirred their anger to the point that they fought to live only to spite him. It was a cruel motivational tactic, but, maybe, a necessary one in these unforgiving circumstances.

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'Old Master': Part Two

In late October 1942, the celebrated Eddie Rickenbacker along with two other passengers and five crew members were castaways adrift in a vast ocean. As a result of a confluence of navigational issues, their B-17 was lost and ditched shortly before it ran out of fuel. The life rafts had saved their lives—at least in the short term, but they had run out of their only ration (four oranges). Moreover, sharks, the elements, the enemy (the Japanese), and—most of all—thirst remained threats to their survival.

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'Old Master': Part One

The plane carried five crew members and three passengers including the celebrated Eddie Rickenbacker--retired race car driver, past owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, World War One "Ace of Aces!" and Medal of Honor recipient, and, then, President of Eastern Airlines. The Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, had commissioned Rickenbacker to travel to the Pacific theater on an inspection and evaluation tour. He also had a secret message to "personally communicate" to General Douglas MacArthur from the Secretary of War. 

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Bridging Curricular Silos Through Collaboration

In this week's blog post, Dr. Steve Bickmore, a good friend and a former colleague at LSU, whose expertise is in English Language Arts (ELA) Teacher Education and Young Adult (YA) Literature has co-authored a post that celebrates collaboration while pointing to the ways that Young Adult Literature can be used as a tool to bridge the subject silos of both Social Studies and English Language Arts classrooms.  

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What Spectacle...?

It is a crisp (high 30s) mid-April morning—in Mississippi we would say “cold morning!”—in Washington, DC as I commute from my Arlington, Virginia hotel to the Library of Congress. This day, for me, like that of so many Captial City commuters, requires using the Metro system--a fixture in this walking city.  Previously, this mode of travel seemed foreign, distant, and distasteful to this native Hoosier and current Mississippi resident.  Over the last couple of years, this 22 minute subway ride has become surprisingly comfortable and familiar. 

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Georgia, Golf & a Great Conference!

For the past three years, I have attended the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Conference on Young Adult Literature (YAL), which has fallen on the Monday after my university’s (Mississippi State University) spring break.  I also get to meet up with my good friend, Dr. Steve Bickmore (Associate Professor at UNLV), whose scholarly expertise includes young adult literature (check out his blog:  Bickmore's YA Wednesday).

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Your Next Presentation: Pictures, Then Words

In They Snooze, You Lose:  The Educator’s Guide to Successful Presentations (2011), Lynell Burmark offers an array of practical suggestions to enhance your next presentation.  In the book’s formatting, Burmark clearly practices what she preaches!

This presentation guide is user friendly.  Each couple of pages of text are followed by a practical activity to involve the reader.  For example, open up one of your existing slide presentations and count the number of words on a typical slide or—better yet—count the words on each slide and divide them by the number of slides in the presentation (excluding the title slide). 

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Hurry to the Shucking Shed: Child Labor in Mississippi and the Visual Discovery Strategy

Often before 3 am, the whistles blew along the gulf coast, from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana, summoning “piece-work” laborers—many of them children—to the damp and darkened drudgery of the shucking sheds.  The night’s harvest would arrive in the wee hours of the morning and then was offloaded from the fishing boats onto mini-train cars where the oysters were steamed before being shucked (opening the oyster shell and removing the oyster meat or bivalve) for canning. 

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"The Andy Griffith Show" & US History

The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS), set in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, was a beloved television show of the 1960s. It’s wholesome brand of humor, memorable ensemble of characters, and the wisdom, decency, and fatherly devotion of the lead—Sheriff Andy Taylor—made this comedy a favorite. In fact, it is one of the few shows that ended its television run (in 1968) at #1 in the Nielsen rankings.  The timeless themes of the show still appeal; even today, the reruns are watched by thousands of viewers.  Brief video clips from the TAGS episodes can also provide a humorous, entertaining, and interesting opening to your next US History class.

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The Law Game

The middle grades provide a perfect opportunity for students to experience the Law Game!

Just as young adolescents reach the age where they are beginning to question rules and challenge authority—all developmentally appropriate, within reason, mind you, students often study the emergence of ancient civilizations, such as Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria, etcetera. 

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