Dale’s what??

So in my dream, the phrase DALE’S CLEATS flashed upon the screen.

I mean to say, what?

I felt vaguely that it might have something to do with the Backstreet Writers group that I am struggling to get off the ground down at Backstreet Arts, but how?  I’ve never owned a pair of cleats in my life, nor have I ever done anything remotely requiring cleats, even for a moment.

So… digging in?  Running fast?  Pivoting sharply?[1]

It didn’t end there.

A few moments later—in dreamtime, anyway—the phrase Christian auction salmon appeared.  (Both phrases seemed to be printed on the screen.  You know, the screen.)

Well OK then.  Now you’re just messing with me.  I’ll leave the guessing to the Lacanians in our midst and move on to what this phrase reminded me of: placement at a burn.

No, really, and it has nothing to do with Christians, auctions, or salmon. I already told you it was about a burn, remember?

Last fall when I was trying to wrangle a new piece of property into a proper burn, one of the banes of my existence was measuring the land accurately.  I bought a laser rangefinder and that helped, but things like exactly where the Effigy and Temple would go were driving me to distraction.

I had a couple of apps on my phone that claimed to help me pin down the latitude and longitude of wherever I was standing, and you might think that would be all I needed.  Hold that thought.

Anyway, after the burn was over, I discovered a new app: What3Words.  In theory it’s a cool concept: chop up the world into 3×3 meter squares, and assign three random English words to each square.  Why three and not two or even one?  Why not?

But here’s the thing: I already had apps that could pinpoint latitude and longitude down to four or five decimal places.  Why would What3Words be any more accurate?   It wasn’t, but hope springs eternal.

The problem, of course, is the technology I’m using: my phone.  It relies on cell towers and such to locate itself, and that system isn’t accurate enough.  At Alchemy, in Bowdon, GA, for example, we were so close to the Alabama border that some hippies’ cell phones kept switching to Central Daylight Savings time and back.  Consequently, the coordinates on my phone would change every time I went to the property.

The apps weren’t lying to me: they would tell me their accuracy was “within 14 m.,” for example.  Right now, I have one telling me that my location is 0.0005 miles from home while I am sitting in my study.  Not only that, a moment ago I was o.0002 miles from home, in another direction.  I haven’t moved.  You see the problem.

When I downloaded What3Words, I decided to test it out on the center of my labyrinth.  As usual, the results were disappointingly shapeshifty.  Just now, I got the four following combinations:[2]

  • sever.fits.amenity
  • endpoints.fade.bowling
  • relished.crucially.foraged
  • brisk.blackened.design

Not only that, but I don’t recognize any of those combinations as being any that I got on my first use a couple of months ago.

The actual location of the center of the labyrinth is 33.3760 N and -84.8035 W, and I know that because the satellite photo in Maps finally was taken in the winter and you can barely make out the labyrinth from space.  The what3words for that coordinate is perches.mermaid.pelting, which I do recognize as one of the options I got before.  The apps for latitude and longitude do not match those numbers.

So the phone and its attempts at geopositioning are the weak link in any system trying to map a space.  Of course, that’s usually not a problem. If I tell you that my labyrinth is at perches.mermaid.pelting, you’ll land close enough to find it.  (Or maybe not: see footnote 2.) But accurate?  No.

And here’s one pretty hysterical example: as I drove into Alchemy last October for early entry, I noticed that a bank of portapotties were in the middle of a camp’s marked area.  Hm, I thought, and then I rounded the bend and there was another set of portapotties smack dab in the middle of Camp Shameless.  They’re not that shameless, I thought.

When I tracked down the hippie in charge of portapotties, he said that when the portapottie company arrived earlier in the week, he used the latitude/longitude from the online map to show them where to place the banks of facilities.  Ah, I said, the map was visually accurate: if the portapotties were at the intersection of Boulevard One and Boulevard Four on the map, then that’s where they went.  But the coordinates, he kept insisting.  I finally got him to understand that while the coordinates might have been accurate, his phone was not.  He had to move every single bank of potties.

By the way, christian.auction.salmon is not on this planet.  However, curtain.auction.salmon is near Watson Lake, Yukon; chieftain.auction.salmon is near Contramaestre, Santiago de Cuba; and friction.auction.salmon is near Fermont, Quebec.


[1] Marc will no doubt have plenty to contribute on the subject.

[2] Those locations are, respectively, the Dancing Faun in the northwest corner of the labyrinth; near Thompson Falls, Montana (!); on the other side of the fence from the Dancing Faun; near Mount Isa, Queensland (!!)

Light blogging

I have other duties today, like prepping the labyrinth for a wedding this afternoon.  I’m performing the ceremony for an old friend and his long-time lady love, and either it’s been raining or we’ve been otherwise occupied.  So today, I have to do all the mowing and trimming and fixing up.

I actually have a checklist for “prepping the labyrinth” on my phone’s to-do app.  It has no date assigned to it; I just duplicate it and give the duplicate a date.  And that date is today.

So maybe a leisurely blogpost tonight, around the fire, after a simple ritual.

Oh, and also I have to create an invoice for the Moscow Charter School, in Moscow, ID, which is performing as much of William Blake’s Inn as they can manage in May.  So there’s that.

An UNBELIEVABLY easy answer

Sent to Isakson, Perdue, and Ferguson:

Yesterday afternoon the President tweeted the following:

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! —@realDonaldTrump, 4:48 pm, 2/17/17

I expect you to denounce this tweet from the White House—and the sentiment it represents—in no uncertain terms.  Will you?

Yeah, right.

Stupid answers

I know that our Congress is so technologically illiterate that they have no way of responding meaningfully to the millions of emails they get, especially these days when the whole planet knows them to be craven wankers more concerned with preserving their party’s dominance than the republic, but seriously, Sen. Isakson?

As you know, I have been emailing my elected congresscritters some very simple questions, almost none of which they have answered directly. This past week, I was astonished to see five emails from Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Prepare to be amazed.

Two of them said this:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding federal policy. I appreciate your thoughts and the opportunity to respond.

As a member of the United States Senate, I am pleased to see constituents, such as you, taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about the federal government and its policies. Your letter will be helpful to me as the Senate considers legislation dealing with the issues facing our great nation.

Thank you again for contacting me, and I hope you will not hesitate to call on me in the future if I can be of assistance to you.

Three of them said this:

Thank you for contacting me about President Trump. I appreciate hearing from you and am grateful for the opportunity to respond.

I believe the American people elected President Trump because they want change in Washington. They want us to rein in federal spending and reduce our national debt so we do not mortgage our children’s future. Voters also sent the message that they need relief from excessive government regulation. We must promote a level playing field and institute commonsense, pro-job growth solutions.

I also recognize that our country is very divided at this time. I hope that President Trump and leaders in Congress will make it a priority to find areas of common ground where we can work together to help all Americans regardless of their race, sex, religion, or where they live. I am ready to work with the president and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the best results for Georgia and the country.

Thank you again for contacting me.

I think the only thing worse than not getting an answer at all from your elected officials is to receive a string of emails that say literally nothing more than, “We got your email.”  There is absolutely no indication that either he or his staff have actually registered what my specific concern is.  I mean, I have sent the man fifteen questions.  To which five of those are these even an non-answer?

Somehow this is not that “let’s put aside our partisan bickering” bullfuppery I have heard so much about from these putzes.

Clearing out: 5th grade U.S. history, part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Maybe this will be the last part of this blog series.  The next 30 minutes are crucial.

If you downloaded and looked at my old Enriched Thinking Curriculum [ETC] lesson plan template, you will have noticed that THE LESSON itself starts with an Engagement bit and ends with Assessment/Reflection.  In between is the actual meat of the lesson, which for my purposes was always an information skills task.  Remember that we were at the time (late 90s) transitioning from the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum [QCC], which demanded we teach all the stuff, into the Georgia Performance Standards [GPS], in which the leaders of our state claimed they wanted us to teach actual performance skills, i.e., the kids should be able to do something with knowledge.  Critical thinking skills.  You may have heard of them.

Anyway, the framework I used is called The Big 6.  Check it out here.  It is a very simple, very powerful way to structure your students’ approach to information problems, aka “research.”

Here’s the bare bones version:

  1.  Task Definition
    1. Define the problem.
    2. Identify the information needed.
  2. Information Seeking Strategy
    1. Brainstorm all possible sources.
    2. Select the best source(s).
  3. Location and Access
    1. Locate sources.
    2. Find information within sources.
  4. Use of Information
    1. Engage (read, hear, view).
    2. Extract relevant information.
  5. Synthesis
    1. Organize information from multiple resources.
    2. Present the result.
  6. Evaluation
    1. Judge the result (effectiveness).
    2. Judge the process (efficiency).

Before I go any further, it’s important to recognize that the very first step, Task Definition, reaches all the way up to 5.2 Present the result: as I would teach the kids, the “information” you need is going to be very different depending on whether you’re writing a paragraph or making a poster.

Since I was implementing this at the elementary level, I found the verbiage to be a little problematic.  “Information Seeking Strategy”?  What’s that?[1]

Here’s my elementary rewording:

  1. What’s the job?
    1. What are we trying to do?
    2. What do we need to know?
  2. Where will we find the information?
    1. Where could we look?
    2. What’s the best place to start looking?
  3. Find it.
    1. Find the sources of information: books, encyclopedias, Internet, cd-roms, etc.
    2. Look up the information in the sources: use the index, etc.
  4. Deal with it.
    1. Read through all the information.
    2. Get just the information we need: take notes!
  5. Show it!
    1. Put all the information we found together.
    2. Present the result.
  6. How did we do?
    1. Did we do a good job?
    2. Were we good at finding information?

And here I am embarrassed to say that I can’t find the file on my computer with the actual lesson.  Has it vanished?  Was it on another computer? (Not likely.) All I have is the paper in front of me. It might not have mattered: many of the files from that period are unreadable by any software now.  Sic transit

I will paraphrase:

The Engagement portion presented the two essential questions, “Which American war was the most ‘preventable’?” and “How would we be different if we had prevented that war?”

  1. Task Definition
    1. Define the problem.
      1. Ask what is the very first thing we will need to know in order to answer the EQs.
    2. Identify the information needed.
      1. A list of wars the U.S. has fought in 1852-1990
  2. Information Seeking Strategy
    1. Brainstorm all possible sources.
      1. Write them all on the board.  Categorize if necessary.
      2. If anyone says “computer” as a source, show them the filmstrip projector [!—it was 1998, after all] and ask if they can “look up” information from the filmstrip projector.  tl;dr: it’s just a machine; so is the computer.
    2. Select the best source(s).
      1. Up to them: if it’s the textbook, it’s the textbook.  Guide the less efficient.
  3. Location and Access
    1. Locate sources.
      1. Divide into teams to work out lists.
    2. Find information within sources.
      1. teachable moment: table of contents, appendices, etc?
  4. Use of Information
    1. Engage (read, hear, view).
      1. Be seeking relevancy
    2. Extract relevant information.
      1. Have teams write down their lists on scratch paper.
      2. Mid-time, ask everyone to check their performance rubrics (Is aware of and uses necessary resources).  How are they doing?
      3. When time is up, do a round-robin call-out of wars. List them on the board.  If any are missing, challenge the teams to find the missing ones.  “There’s one missing between 1890 and 1900…”
  5. Synthesis
    1. Organize information from multiple resources.
      1. Have the whole class participate in putting them in chronological order while you write them on the board.
    2. Present the result.
      1. Pass out the timeline handout. Have students copy the list correctly onto the handout for reference during the entire unit.
  6. Evaluation
    1. Judge the result (effectiveness).
      1. xxx [for some reason]
    2. Judge the process (efficiency).
      1. Which resources were best?  Why?  Will they always be “the best”? What was the hardest part?

Finally, for Assessment/Reflection: Ask students to look over their list.  PREDICT.  Begin thinking about the kinds of things they’ll be exploring in order to answer the EQ.  Have them write down in list format on a separate sheet of paper for their notebook.

Am I done here?  I think maybe I am.  Unless you ask questions in comments.

This has been a review of one set of folders I found while clearing out our storage unit.


[1] In general, in my teaching career, I have found it to be a waste of time teaching specialized terminology if that terminology is not critical to the task at hand.  For example, I never bored my students with the Dewey Decimal System.[2]  Why does any human being need to know that the 630s are “Agriculture”?  All a kid needs to know is that the book on puppies she just looked up can be found in the row with the 600 sign hanging over it, and that 636.7 comes between 636.6 and 636.8.  (“Animal husbandry/domesticated animals,” why do you ask?)

[2] I bored them in many other ways.

Clearing out: 5th grade U.S. history, part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

Today I want to ramble through one of the threads that went into building the units in the 5th grade U.S. History curriculum.

The whole thing was part of my effort as media specialist at Newnan Crossing Elementary School (1997-2011) to support active learning and direct assessment in the curriculum, something the Powers That Be said they wanted but never actually supported.[1]  I called it the Enriched Thinking Curriculum [ETC] because catchy.

The ETC in turn sprang from my work as media specialist at East Coweta High School (1981-1997), where I and a secret squad of teachers began learning on our own about the new theories of learning/instruction that were beginning to filter out of solid research all over the place.  (We called ourselves the Curriculum Liberation Front, and we actually operated in semi-secret: the principal knew what was up, but the asst. principal actually in charge of curriculum was not in the loop.  Her métier was textbooks.)

One of the main ideas of those days was to work towards actual performance assessment, i.e., what should the kid be able to do with any knowledge you were trying to pour into his head.  The state of Georgia at the time was making the transition from the Quality Core Curriculum [QCC], which was all stuff the kids needed to know, to the Georgia Performance Standards [GPS],[2] which purported to shift us over to making sure the kids could perform in the competitive new world economy.[3]  The ETC was part of making that shift.

My favorite source of research on the topic was Robert Marzano, co-author of several important books on the topic, Dimensions of LearningA Different Kind of Classroom, and Assessing Student Outcomes.  I bought thirty copies of each of these for teachers to check out and read as they struggled to work with me.  It would be interesting to find out if they’re still in the collection.

In Assessing Student Outcomes, the authors provided four-point rubrics for a host of standards based on the five Dimensions, but in order not to overwhelm my learners (the faculty), I selected sixteen standards from three areas in the fifth dimension (Habits of Mind) on which to focus our efforts.  (The other dimensions were concerned with attitudes towards learning, and the acquisition and deployment of knowledge.)  These included:

  • information processing standards
  • effective communication standards
  • productive habits of mind standards

The deal was that in designing your unit/lesson, you would select two or three of the sixteen standards to assess, taking care throughout the year to hit all of them.  Content assessment was separate from these, i.e., knowing that the Civil War started in 1860 was one thing, but being able to “recognize where and how projects would benefit from additional information” was a different thing.  The idea was that when you constructed a lesson to assess the latter, the kid would learn the former in the process.

A quick example: a first grade objective was to “identify animals and their habitats.”  We developed a lesson in which students would attempt to sort animals they researched into the appropriate habitat in their zoo, which was a bulletin board display.  We’d give them a flock of pictures of animals; the kids had to look through books to identify the animal’s habitat, then place the picture in the appropriate habitat on the bulletin board and explain why it went there.

The productive habits of mind standard was “pushes limits of own knowledge and ability,” which we defined as “keeps looking for animal and its habitat even if he/she doesn’t find it in the first few books [in which he/she looks].”  We explained that standard to them and how they would be grading themselves after the project was over with a handout with all three standards on it, each with a series of what we now call emojis: Need to get started/Need to do better/Doing just right!/Doing GREAT!!!, which corresponded to the 1–4 scale of the actual rubric.  (Older students would get the actual rubrics, worded in first person for greater impact.

The important thing about these habits of mind standards was that you introduced them as you introduced the lesson, talked about how the students would meet them, give them the rubric to start with, and then do quick checks during the lesson: how are you doing on rubric x, everybody?  Every time we did this, the kids upped their efforts and their abilities.

In the unit on CONFLICT, the third lesson was to construct a classroom timeline of U.S. History 1852-1996 by creating cards with info on them and arranging them along the timeline, embedding the wars the U.S. fought and giving them context.  The effective communication standard was “The student creates quality products.”  The rubric the kids got was:

I create quality timeline cards.

4   I create timeline cards that are even better looking than they need to be.

3   I create timeline cards that look like the good examples we discussed in class.

2   I create timeline cards that do not meet one or a few important standards.

1   I create timeline cards that do not address the majority of standards we discussed in class.

You can see how in getting this timeline built, we would be providing context for the entire year, for all four units.  By the time we got to the unit on POWER and began discussing the 19th Amendment, students would already know that we had just emerged from WWI and that bunches of things had altered the landscape.  You can also see that providing the kids with a way to measure themselves, they would begin to assume responsibility for their own learning rather than sitting there and shedding the state’s preferred factoids like so many wood ducks in a summer storm.

The other two standards were I accurately determine how valuable specific events may be to creating the timeline and I listen to and evaluate feedback to decide if I need to change my approach to choosing an event to include on the timeline.  Because we really preferred Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC to Arthur S. Crankshaft wins Wimbledon.

Again, this post is too long, so one more before we’re done.

NEXT: The Big 6


[1] And here I am referring to state and federal lawmakers who never did anything but say one thing and test another.

[2] Before you cringe at that acronym, consider Virginia’s Standards of Learning.  Every committee everywhere needs to have a 12-year-old boy to vet these things.

[3] Because they continued to test only for stuff, we never made that shift.  Georgia is now shifting again, to the Standards of Excellence.  Since I’ve hopped off that pendulum, I cannot advise or consent to whatever the hell it is they’re spinning their wheels about this time.

Clearing out: 5th grade U.S. history, part 2

Last week I started talking about a thematic approach to 5th grade U.S. history curriculum that a teacher and I designed (but never were able to implement.)

short version: instead of slogging through events 1852-1996, wherein students would be without context year after year, we would approach the topic through themes, neatly covering all 20 curriculum standards multiple times while doing so.

The four themes were


CONFLICT focused on the wars fought by the U.S. between the Civil War and the Iraq War.  POWER focused on political power (including voting rights), economic control, and the change in the U.S.’s global power.  CHANGE focused on technological and social changes. Finally, COMMUNITY focused on all of the above as experienced by Newnan/Georgia.

Ambitious, to be sure.

I will now pause and lament the fact that while paper files will sit in that storage unit until you decide you want to throw them away or actually use them, electronic files are not so durable.  I went looking for the lesson plan template I developed for use at Newnan Crossing with our Enriched Thinking Curriculum, but that was so long ago that nothing will open those simple word processing files, which as far as I can remember were written in AppleWorks.  Oy.  If I have the energy, I’ll recreate it in Word or something and upload it, because it was good.[1]

The nine weeks we were to spend on CONFLICT were organized to have students answer the essential questions:

  • Which American war was the most “preventable”?
  • How would we as a nation be different if we had prevented that war?

Ridiculously ambitious.  But I’d rather fail bigly than play it safe with mere memorization.

There are five units in my folder on CONFLICT.  Each would probably have taken three to five days in the media center plus time in the classroom.  I note that the date on these pieces of paper is 1998, so our internet access would have been rudimentary.  Google didn’t exist.  Yahoo did, but it was a hierarchical search engine.

The first unit, The Wars of the U.S., was an introductory lesson.  Pretty simple: teams of students worked together to come up with a list of all the wars/armed conflicts the U.S. has been involved in since 1859.  The actual agenda of the lesson was to introduce the essential questions and to train the students to think independently using the Big 6 as a framework.

The second unit was Producing Context: What did war look like?  Teams of students were assigned specific wars and asked to find images of that war.  The idea was to start a visual timeline to reinforce the sequence of conflicts.  Plus kids love looking up uniforms and weapons.  I note in the materials list a “How to print an image from a website” handout, so we must have had at least that capability.

The third unit was Producing Context: A timeline.  Pretty simple: the class creates a timeline of the U.S. and embeds the wars in them.  Who were the presidents?  What else was going on?  (Here we sneaked in all the other things we would encounter in the other thematic units.)

The fourth unit was Producing Context: What did war feel like?  This one was fuzzier, but the gist was that they would read/watch a variety of first-person accounts, both historical and fictional, about the wars in question.

The fifth unit was Conflict: Defining the problem, and it was then that students would begin tackling the essential questions.  What will they need to know about each war to make their decisions?  Can they construct a “model” for assessing U.S. wars which will give them a basis for comparison?  Here are some bits of the lesson plan that are pretty cool:

  • Introduce the concept of “bracketing”: “Yes, this is something [about answering the EQs] we will have to worry about sooner or later, but we don’t have to worry about that right now.”  Students should be explicitly taught to tolerate ambiguity.
  • Ask the students to write a journal entry telling which war they predict they will find most interesting, based on what they’ve learned so far.

That’s long enough a post for today.  Next I’d like to circle back and look at all the pieces of educational research that I had pulled together for this entire approach. Stay tuned.

Part 1 | Part 3


[1] Here it is, a downloadable Word doc.

An unbelievably easy answer

You may recall that back in December the head of the current Republican administration tweeted his desire to jumpstart the nuclear arms race, because that makes sense.[1]

Now it is being reported that he and his boyfriend Vlad were talking the other weekend, and the leader of the free world confessed that it seemed to him that neither country had enough nuclear warheads and that Obama was a poopyhead for negotiating the most recent START agreements limiting the two countries.  Not banning nuclear weapons, minds you, just limiting, but even that chafes the Leader’s butt.

Sweet baby Cthulhu, how small are the man’s hands??

Off we go to our senators, who would be in charge of any treaties, etc.

On Dec 24, 2016, I emailed you to ask if you agreed with the president’s tweet that we should restart the nuclear arms race.  You haven’t answered.

Now it appears that the president, in a private talk with Putin, has denigrated the limitations of the most recent START agreement.

If this proves to be the case, will you support a nuclear arms race?  If so, to what end?

I do not expect an answer.

[1] It does not make sense, not strategically, not tactically, not militarily, not ethically, not even economically.

Clearing out: 5th grade U.S. history, part 1

I’ve cleaned out 30 years of stored papers, and this is one of a series of posts about things I found therein.

Long ago, a 5th-grade teacher took the PTB seriously when they said they wanted students who could think critically (as if), so she and I sat down to redesign the approach to the social studies curriculum, which at the time was U.S. history, 1860–present (as if).

One of the elements we had to deal with at the time was the Quality Core Curriculum [QCC], which was (in the words of the task force that junked it for the Georgia Performance Standards) “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  Every area of the curriculum was just jam-packed with content standards.  We were tasked with teaching ALL THE THINGS, KENNETH.

For example, here are the 20 standards we were looking at:


  1. Explains duties/responsibilities of branches of govt
  2. Explains individual rights, common good, self-govt, cultural awareness
  3. How citizens affect change: voting, campaigns, petitions, org. protests, running for office
  4. Economic interdependence: producing, consuming, exchanging, investing, specializing
  5. Production: who decides, what factors, how distributed?
  6. Civil War
  7. Economic/social change late 19th c.: monopolies, transp., migration, immigration
  8. Compare life: African-American, Asian, Hispanic, European
  9. American West, late 19th c.: miners/prospectors, ranchers/farmers, railroad workers
  10. Changes re: Indians: encroachment, relocations, govt policies
  11. Socio- politico- economic changes: Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson: 16-19 amendments; child labor, unions
  12. Causes of WWI: nationalism, militarism, imperialism
  13. 1920s: steel, home ownership, auto, sports, electricity
  14. Great Depression: cause/effects
  15. WWII
  16. GA & US during WWII: suburbs, mobilization, technology
  17. since WWII: UN, Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, USSR
  18. GA & US since WWII: civil rights, immigration, women, technology, gangs (what??)
  19. Culture: art, music, literature: 20s, Harlem/Big Band, rock, art
  20. Primary sources: biases, maps, etc

I mean to say, what?  Looking back over this, I can only imagine the minefield this material would constitute today.  No wonder Betsy Devos and her ilk are so opposed to “government schools” indoctrinating their children.  Who would vote for the Current Occupant who had even two-thirds a grasp on this material?

All right.  Back then, we were being told that students learned through direct engagement with the material.  Crazy talk!

Here’s what we came up with. Rather than slog through the timeline year after year and try to snag all the socio-politico-economic ideas along the way, let’s focus on four major themes: Conflict, Power, Change, and Community.[1]  Spend nine weeks on each theme.  Focus students on constructing knowledge about each theme, using U.S. history as a frame on which to hang the ideas.

Wait, what?  Not teach ALL THE THINGS??

Exactly.  Remember the motto of the Curriculum Liberation Front:

The idea was that if the students were engaged, working their little behinds off on finding out what war looked like and felt like, 1860-1975, they would actually tumble to the THINGS as we went along because they would actually have the context to understand and be curious about the THINGS.[2]

But, Dale, how can you be sure that you’ve covered all the standards?  If you’re doing all this fuzzy research/critical thinking skills, how will they ever learn about Pickett’s Charge?

That was a legitimate concern, and so I did a chart of all four themes and how they might reflect each standard.

Would you look at that?  Not only would we cover all twenty standards, we would hit all of them more than once.

NEXT: What would this have looked like?[3]


[1] We’ll look at each of these in the next post.

[2] For a quick post on the issue of context, see here. (From the very early days of this blog, when I wrote a lot about curriculum.)

[3] Spoiler alert: we never got to implement this plan.

A Fantasy Interview

One day, in the gym locker room,[1] on the flatscreen TV:[2]

FOX NEWSBOT: We welcome to the program Congressman Frothermouth, from [Red State Redacted].

REPUBLICAN FROTHERMOUTH RIGHTWINGER [RFR]: First step repeal Obamacare repeal it disaster horrific consequences protect American freedom health care costs we’ll have a plan BUT FIRST REPEAL IT BECAUSE ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAHHH!

BOT: You say that the Affordable Care Act has been a disaster…


BOT: In what way?

RFR: [all the terrible things that would still have happened even if ACA had never existed]

BOT: Let’s look at some data.  More citizens now have insurance than before ACA.  Health care costs have actually slowed. There are fewer preventable deaths now.  People are now actually getting preventive care.  Are you saying that the plan the Republicans will propose will continue these trends or even better them?

RFR: Obamacare has crashed and burned ARGLE BARGLE GYAAAAAHHH!

BOT: Let me ask you this.  It’s been eight years since the Congress passed the ACA.  Why don’t the Republicans already have a plan to replace it?  After all, you’ve voted over sixty times to repeal it. Surely you’ve been at work all this time?


BOT: I’ll ask again.  Why don’t you have a plan ready to go to replace the ACA?

RFR: We placed plans on Obama’s desk but WOULDN’T SIGN IT ANTICHRIST REPEAL OBAMACARE!

BOT: If you had a plan, and Obama wouldn’t sign it, shouldn’t you be able to pass it now secure in the knowledge that the Republican Administration would sign it into law?  Why don’t you do that?


BOT: Is it at all possible that you have no plan, you never had a plan, that you will never have a plan, mainly because the ACA was a Republican plan to begin with?  Is it at all possible that the 60+ votes you took to “repeal” it was just grandstanding to rile up the amygdala-based lifeforms who constitute your base and who have no real understanding of the law but who because of your grandstanding now react with visceral hatred at the very mention of the name “Obamacare”?  And finally, is it not possible that you’ve caught your dick in your zipper and the only thing you can do now is keep yelling the same talking points without any coherent approach to legislating the issue?


And scene.


[1] It’s the locker room where I look like this:

[2] Based on an actual Republican congressman’s interview, for real.

[3] No, it is unlikely the RFR would know or use a word like heinous, but this is a fantasy, remember?