Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quotations in the Classroom

I have enjoyed quotations since back in the dark ages when I attended Elgin High. No, it wasn’t English class that inspired my interest – it was Marvin Elbert, my 11th grade (and 12th grade – though for a different course) American History teacher – the same man who pointed me toward the interest in and love of history and social studies. He wrote a quote of the day on the blackboard (his blackboards were brown) – usually related in some way or another to his lesson. For whatever reason, that was my beginning interest in quotations.

This set of quotes is from an email from Roger, a veteran and – (to quote Bill and Ted from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) a ‘most excellent’ teacher. Roger works at LMS – actually, I think he’s been there so long I think he’s part of the school – and a friend of many years.

There are a variety of styles of quotations, and they can be used in a number of ways. So, sit back, enjoy, and think about how to use quotations in the classroom. My favorite is the ninth one down, by Reagan (hence the reason for the photo above, courtesy of the feds). And… thank you Roger!

'If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.' -Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. -Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. - George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -G. Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. -James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. -Douglas Casey

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. -P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. -Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. -Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes... I just watch the government and report the facts. -Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free! - P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. -Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you! -Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session. -Mark Twain (1866 )

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it. -Unknown

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal: a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. -Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. -Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. -Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly Native American criminal Congress. -Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. -Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

Poor people have been voting for Democrats for 50 years; and they're still poor. -An unbiased obsever

AND THE BEST ONE....... A government big enough to give you everything you want, it is strong enough to take everything you have. -Thomas Jefferson

Essential question: How can quotations be effectively used to deliver a lesson in a Social Studies classroom.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Locating Osama bin Laden

An interesting site came to my attention Sunday from the Geography blogsite concerning a Foreign Policy site comment on mapping the location of bin Laden.

From the Foreign Policy site:

Geography Professor Thomas Gillespie of UCLA has employed a technique typically used for tracking endangered species in order to pinpoint the most likely location of the world's most wanted terrorist. In a paper (pdf) published in the MIT International Review Gillespie describes how he used biogeographic data including bin Laden's last known location, cultural background, security needs, declining health, limited mobility and height to create a mathematical model that he claims will show where the terror mastermind is hiding.

To read the whole article, see maps, and much more, visit here.

I wonder how many of our students could correctly identify bin Ladan? That could make for an interesting survey.


Essential Question: How effective is modern technology in locating people, places, and things?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


With Washington's birthday rapidly approaching, I'd like to share some century old textbook strategies that I'm not sure we should abandon. Source: an old American textbook I own titled The Greater Republic, 1899. Look at the use of quotations to reinforce the topic. The textbook also has extensive use of stories to get a lesson across - and research does indicate that students remember data wrapped in stories better than just data. I know that I found the short section from the textbook that follows to be revealing....


Shay’s rebellion was one of the best things that could have happened, for it showed the country more clearly than before that it was on the verge of anarchy, and that the remedy must not be delayed. Long before this, Washington comprehended the serious peril of the country, and he was in continual consultation with men whose worth and counsel he valued. The result was that a meeting of commissioners from Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York met at Annapolis in September 1786. They held an earnest discussion, but as only a minority of the States were represented, nothing positive could be done, and an adjournment was had with a recommendation that each State should send delegates to meet in Philadelphia in May, 1787. The prestige of Washington’s name gave so much weight to the recommendation that at the appointed date all the States were represented except Rhode Island.

The wisdom of Washington was again manifest in a letter which he wrote some months before the meeting of the Constitutional Convention, and which contained the following:

“We have errors to correct. We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation. Experience has taught us that without the intervention of a coercive power, men will not adopt and carry into execution measures best calculated for their own good. I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power that will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner as the authority of the State governments extend over the several States…. I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking; thence acting is but a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous! What a triumph for our enemies to verify their predictions! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious!”

When the news reached Washington of the disorders in New England, he was greatly troubled. “What stronger evidence can be given,” he asked, ‘of the want of energy in our government than these disorders? If there is not a power in it to check them, what security has a man for his life, liberty, or property? The consequences of a bad or inefficient government are too obvious to be dwelt upon. Thirteen sovereigns pulling against one another, and all tugging at the federal head, will soon bring ruin on the whole; whereas, a liberal and energetic constitution, well checked and well watched to prevent encroachment might restore us to that degree of respectability and consequence to which we had the fairest prospect of attaining.”

Essential Question: Is the use of quoted statements valuable in encouraging students to gain understanding of the concept being studied.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Review: America 1908

I just finished reading America 1908: The Dawn of Flight, The Race To The pole, The Invention Of The Model T, And The Making Of A Modern Nation by Jim Rasenberger. If any of our Citrus County Social Studies teachers want to borrow the book, let me know and I’ll ship it to you in the county mail.

This is a book that focuses on a pivotal year in American history. 1908 was the year Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet on an around the world tour, providing a peaceful way to illustrate American interests in the Pacific regions. It is also the year that the Wright brothers heavier than air flying machine took on the early European flyers to establish American dominance in the air. It was also the year of the race to the North Pole – and a still continuing controversy as to whether Peary or Cook was the first to find the North Pole. Automobiles – a new toy and the rich man’s plaything – attracted national and world attention with a New York to Paris race; and found a promoter of the automobile for the common man with Henry Ford’s Model T and innovate assembly line production methods – all of which got their start in 1908. It was the year that set the stage through the automobile of what America would look like a hundred years later.

There are many more story lines that run through the book, all vividly portrayed and described, with people becoming personalities, and events having meaning – not only on the world of 1908, but also the world of today.

The book was interesting – starting one event, moving to another, than coming back to the first event as it progressed through the year. It told of stories that were known – and many that were unknown to me – and provided a glimpse of not only the excitement and optimism that existed in 1908, but also its effect on our country and the world a hundred years later. It was a pivotal year. I heartily recommend it as a reading that will tweak the readers interest in the people and events that became the foundation for many of America’s accomplishments in the twentieth century.

There are several professional reviews of the book available:

Now I guess I’ll have to go to ‘My Profile’ and change the ‘book I’m reading’ entry. My daughter just brought me Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll. I must be ready for this one – I read about a fourth of it Saturday!

PHOTO RESOURCE: (In order of appearance)

Book Cover, Amazon
Great White Fleet, US Navy
Wright Flyer, US Signal Corps
Start of race, National Automobile Museum

Model T, Ford Museum

Thursday, February 12, 2009

With Malice Toward None

The nation is celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth with a lot of hoopla, special shows on cable, radio broadcasts, newspapers and magazine articles, special exhibits in Washington at the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, speeches by politicians, and blog entries.

With this momentous event in mind, I tried to figure out what I wanted to do during this time. I read Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I don’t recall ever reading the whole document before, but have heard excerpts from it, phrases such as 'with malice toward none...'

Looking at the second inaugural, I made a few discoveries and rediscoveries.

Lincoln did not believe he would be re-elected in November 1864. In a memo to his cabinet on August 23, 1864, he wrote: “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected….” However, he was re-elected, with 54% of the popular vote and carrying all but three of the northern states.

Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, from the east portico of the Capital building. The Library of Congress has the five-page hand-written copy of the speech available for viewing online - a wonderful primary resource for use in the classroom.

The speech itself was brief – and the President started his inaugural address explaining the brevity of it:

“At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first.” He went on to mention briefly the successes on the battlefield: “The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all.”

His comments on the existence of slavery occupied approximately half of the address. It was during the second inaugural of Lincoln that Afro-American troops marched in an inaugural parade. Of special interest was how the address illustrated Lincoln’s belief in God:

“The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the
bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the
sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'.”
But the main thrust of the address – and its concluding portion - was the future. The Confederacy had lost the war. What direction to go next?
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
Lincoln would not have the opportunity to attempt to create his version of bringing the nation back together… he would be assassinated at Ford’s Theater just 37 days after his second inauguration.

Powerful words and ideas that can stir a man’s heart even today, 144 years after they were first uttered.

Essential Question: How can we best enhance the understanding of students in the application of the words of Lincoln to today's world?

Photo Credits: Library of Congress

  • Photo 1: Clip from Lincoln's handwritten second Inaugural Address
  • Photo 2: Crowd in from of Capital Building
  • Photo 3: Lincoln giving second Inaugural Address
  • Photo 4: Oath of Office, given by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase
  • Photo 5: Afro-American regiment in Inaugural Parade
  • Photo 6: President's box at Ford's Theater.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blogging for Resources

Some thoughtful reflections:

I look through the list of other blogs (right side of this page, further down) every evening to see if there are any new entries of interest. This process takes about 10 – 20 minutes a night (or early morning, depending on my mood). I have found many articles of interest. Here is a selection of a half a dozen sites that have cropped up in the last day or two that would be useful either for the classroom or for personal enhancement:

Eric Langhorst, whom I referred to in an early blog entry on Getting Students to read Historical Novels, wrote about a Smithsonian Interactive Gettysburg Address in his Speaking of History blog. LINK

The Library of Congress blog announced it had posted a number of Lincoln Pictures on Flickr. LINK

The US History Site Blog provided resources for Black History Month material by telling readers about the Think Infinity website. LINK

The Abraham Lincoln blog pointed us to a Smithsonian Exhibit on Lincoln. LINK

The American Presidents blog shared a NY Times article on Roosevelt (Teddy) winning a law suit for six cents (he was more interested in an apology for being called a drunkard than the money). LINK

The American Presidents blog also shared a Theodore Roosevelt online exhibit at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. The exhibit LINK.

All of these blogs are located on the right side of this page. Take some time to visit them, perhaps putting them in you "My Favorites" file. By clicking the title of the blog you are taken to a webpage with all of the blog entries on it. By clicking the article title under the title, you are taken to the specific article. Take some time… learn something new.

Essential question: Are the resources that are being brought to the readers attention worth the time it takes to read the blog?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Social Studies for the 21st Century

The link below is to an article that any teacher in the area of Social Studies might find interesting. In an article titled Social Studies for the 21st Century: Changing Business as Usual With a New Map for K12 Social Studies, by Ron Schachter. It’s an article of interest to our Social Studies teachers, and I encourage you to take the time to read it.

The article is from the District Administrator, January 2009, pp. 81 – 83, and is on the web here.

The article refers to a The 21st Century Skills Map for Social Dtudies, which can be found here. (Note: When I tried the link, it came up with a ‘page not found’, but I found a person to contact and wrote to him, so hopefully they will fix it soon).

Essential Question: How can we as Social Studies teachers best meet the needs of our students in an ever-changing and rapidly changing world?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Current Events Resource: CNN Student News

One of our teachers emailed me today, commenting that CNN Student News had a daily Podcast download that she used.

I have long been a supporter of using CNN Student News in the classroom, but – being out of the classroom – I had not really visited their site for a while. When I was using CNN Student News in the classroom, I had to videotape at home, review the tape (it varied in time over the years from 10 – 30 minutes), and decide if/what I wanted to use from it that day, or at some point in the near future. I was ecstatic when Student News offered a daily email summarizing the contents and offering guiding essential questions.

I went to the CNN Student News site and discovered that CNN has moved their Student News program into the 21st Century. While you can still tape it at home, it now is broadcast on the web.

But, more importantly, it has all types of whistles and bells, some of which are readily useable in our District classes, some which are not. Here are some of my discoveries:

-A daily blog entry by the host of Student News giving additional insight into the news.
-Transcripts of the topics in the news for that day, as in this February 4 example.
-The “One Sheet”, which provides a summary of a topic, such as Black History Month.
-Maps, not only of the continents, but also maps showing the specific location of topics discussed that day. On February 4 the island of Tuvalu was discussed.
-Still photos highlighting one or more of the topics
-Daily Questions (such as the 10 questions for February 4) and a weekly News Quiz reviewing the week’s shows – provided for you in pdf so you can download and print for the classroom.
-A daily podcast summarizing the news, such as the one for February 4th.

CNN Student News is broadcast on CNN Headline News, Monday - Friday, 4:00 - 4:10 AM.

I’m really impressed with the format and resources provided by CNN Student News. Check out the site and explore… you’ll find more than I’m listing.

What do you think of this resource?

Essential Question: How can we effectively use current events resources, such as CNN Student News, to enhance the understanding of our students of the world they live in?