happy labor day weekend, and congratulations on your first week of the school year. without a doubt, this has been the best first week of my eight years at hammond. thanks for making it enjoyable. i've been particularly impressed at how involved so many of you have been in our discussions.

u.s. history
as you know, each of the u.s. history classes has a quiz on tuesday. we will meet in the classroom, and then we will go to the computer lab to get set up on blackboard.com. please be patient as we get everybody set up. the quiz will be a very minor part of your long term grade for first quarter, and is focused on the information presented the first week. this week, we will add to that knowledge with the actual policies and vision behind reconstruction and analyze how effective the implementation of those policies were. we will also take a look at the election of 1876 and see how similar it was to the 2000 election.

world religions
although the class is much larger than i would like, you all seem to be doing a good job of handling the conversations. i will most likely continue to utilize more small group discussions before the larger discussions unfold to get more of you talking about your ideas. if you are confused about the readings or anything else during the class, please don't hesitate to ask. it's very easy to think everyone else but you understands, but trust me, these ideas are not easy to get the first time around, and there are plenty of people in the class who are probably thinking just like you. so ask questions. lots of questions. i hope you all enjoyed your introduction to the course and the first few topics. this week, we will explore more creation stories, such as the homework chapters of marduk/tiamat, and adam/eve. but also the big bang theory, evolution, and other explanations of how the world began. your first paper is due tuesday, september 14. i will explain more about how to do the papers this week, but basically, your chief job is to answer the question, "how did we get here?" i don't put length requirements on papers, but typically, thoughtful, well-explained answers to this question are between 1-2 pages typed single space. i also don't have a requirement for spacing, but don't try to trick me with margin changes or font sizes to make your paper seem bigger. i'm too savvy for that. also, you must bring in a printed copy for the first three papers so we can workshop them in class. but if you can, send the paper to me via email, as a word file attachment if possible, and i can send you the comments and grade for it typed. my handwriting is not the best in the world, and i type a lot faster for the comments, so i usually have more to say to help you out.

this post has become entirely too long and boring, but i hope all this is being read by all of you. i've been loading all your information to mygradebook.com and blackboard.com throughout the weekend, so you should be able to use that by tomorrow afternoon.

enjoy the break!


now that we are a few days into the year it seems like the groove is about to catch on. other than not everybody having the right notebook, people are ready to go. i was very impressed by fifth period so far of all the u.s. history courses. they seem the most ready to work each day, and they've been asking really good questions. we'll have homework soon, i promise. and a quiz is coming on tuesday about reconstruction.

in world religions today, i mentioned the website of the acoma in new mexico. here it is again in case you missed it. good job with the skits. always good to unleash some creativity early on and see who should be trying out for the play (and who should stay away from the stage... ;)

is anybody reading this blog? i need to know or i'm going to think nobody is. hope you all are having as much fun as i am getting back into the school year. see you in class.


the first day of school finally came and went. honestly, i think the best first day in my eight years of being at hammond. although the classes are much fuller than i would like, it looks like everybody has something to bring to the class, and energy for pursuing new ideas in history. it was great meeting everyone, and i know the introductions went a little long, but it's important to set a good atmosphere for everyone to participate.

i'm a bit worried about world religions being so large of a class, but i think with only one course, it will be easier to focus on the problems this causes so they can be solved more quickly. truth be told, i'm most worried about how i'm going to get all the papers back within a week like i try to set for myself as a goal. i think the seating in that class is the best it can be once we rotated the desks around to make it less hierarchical. i just hope everybody does the reading so the first day of discussion is successful. flat discussions are not a good way to start the year.

and i hope all the students and my colleagues on the other side of the chalkboard are going to get enough sleep this week. it's always tough the first week back getting enough sleep.


the pages for the courses i teach are now up to date, including syllabi and link updates. you can find them off the main mr. j page.

yesterday i met some of the students in orientation, which i thought went pretty well. looks like we'll have an energetic group, and i hope you all have a lot of questions for ms. myers, ms. young (if you are in 2 or 5), and me.

so now it's only a few days left until the first day of school. as usual, it's hard to sleep and i'm always nervous that something really embarrassing will happen the first day, but it never does. i hope all of you are relaxing in your last weekend, but that you are looking forward to starting as much as i am. see you monday.


yesterday i started the process of readying the room for the year. those who are new to the class will realize i like to change the desks around pretty frequently. i also try to have a student-centered setup, so i hope you like to discuss ideas and listen to other people's points of view. this weekend, i'm finalizing the policies and the grading percentages. for world religions, most of the assessment is in the essays you write every 2-3 weeks, then a hefty portion with class participation, and minor amounts for classwork. world religions does not have any tests other than essay based semester exams. by the way, those of you set up for a single semester in the beginning for w/rel may want to extend that to a full year, although i'm sure you will enjoy whatever other course you may have registered for.

for those of you in u.s., the assessment of your grade is more balanced with essays, projects, tests, classwork, and homework. as the year progresses, actually, i emphasize the grading of homework less and the emphasis on long term retention (like tests and essays). this means the grading percentages will change during each quarter. i find this to the best way to help transition you from middle school to high school grading.

orientation is thursday, and i hope those of you new to the school will join us.

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