A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

There is no crying in baseball (or speech competitions)!

Ok, this is a great clip but there is some salty language...view discretion advised.

The speech competition for my students is this weekend and I'm a wreck! As students prepare their work I find myself saying no alot.

No student below a certain grade average may compete.
No duplication of speeches for the competition.
No students may give their speches without being in the competition.
No i before e except after Bill Bailey comes home...

It has confirmed why I am not the judge of the competition. I have nothing close to an objective eye. I know the kids for whom public speaking is a breeze and make a mental note wshen they aren't working all that hard. I know of the kids who will kill themselves to do well and only make it so far.

The phrase I've been using with the students is that I'm an ice cream truck. I want everyone to be happy and everything to work out like a Disney sit-com. The reality is that there are going to be some kids who will be disappointed. That reality is as much a part of the learning curve as the recitation or winning. It still breaks my heart a little though. The advocate in me wants to give out gold stars and jucieboxes to each person; which may be more unfair in the end. It probably isn't advocating as much as it is conflict avoidance. I keep thinking about the scene from League of Our Own I've posted above.

"There is no crying in baseball."

Maybe, I need my own little Jimmy Dugan to follow me around this week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar Speeches that don't suck!

I read this New Yorker article grading the Oscars speeches from last Sunday and thought I would weigh in. They gave Daniel Day Lewis an A+ for his and Quintin Tarantino a C for his. I thought their assessments were pretty much right. But that got me to thinking, what would be considered the best Oscar speeches of all time. I scoured the web for suggestions and have three suggestions:

Hattie McDaniel--an excellent example that less is more. It is also an example that Jim Crow was alive and well in the 1930s. McDaniel and her guest had to sit in a segregated area at the ceremony.

Source: AAMPAS via YouTube

Billie Wilder--This is a master storyteller telling a wonderful story. He surely would have gotten the Jaws theme this year, but the end of the story after such a long wind up is charming.


Source: AAMPAS via YouTube
One of the most fascinating is Marlon Brando's speech for his Oscar for The Godfather. He declined his award as the result of government treatment of the Native Americans...specifically Wounded Knee.
Source: AAMPAS via YouTube


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

James Madison speaks smarter than any other president!

A fall from his place of honor has broken Mr. Madison
The Guardian has an interactive article which has graphed all the State of the Union Addresses in order of the reading comprehension of the speech. The lower the number, the lower the reading comprehension needed to understand the speech. The higher the number... The number given relates to the grade level expected to 'get' the material.

Photo of James Madison

The president with the highest score? JAMES MADISON, of course! Now it needs to be said that while Madison's score in 2013 would require a reading level at the post-graduate level, the reality is that the way he wrote was common to his day.

Photo of George H.W. Bush

The President with the lowest score? George Herbert Walker Bush. His State of the Union in 1998 would have been understood at a level my students currenly write and read at.

The gist of the article is that the speeches are getting more and more simple linguistically.

Photo of Barack Obama

Last night's speech? According to the Guardian article, a sophomoric grasp of English would be needed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

King's Speech ... part four

Pictures from the scene of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech"
Source: Library of Congress
This is the final installation of this particular post. As in the first three posts, my charges were given the I Have a Dream speech after a week of discussion of the Modern Civil Rights Era: from "40 acres and a mule" to Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Black Panthers.

This is the spot where Dr. King gave his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
(Source: National Park Service)

The first step was to identify key words in the speech. They then compiled a list as a team each hour and I identified words used by two or more of the different classes. The words for this cutting were:
  • Liberty
  • Freedom
Step two was to summarize the text using King's words. Step three was to put the text into their own words, using Twitter, Haiku or a 20 word note card. Here are what the teams came up with:

2day every man (imagine a emoticon for man) is = in #freedom #liberty >>da #nation. #Free@Last. No matter (people emoticon) everybody (woman emoticon). #AMEN

1 day all peeps will be (hand emoticon) 'n (hand emoticon) & sing "My Country Tis of Thee." Freedom will b n all (city emoticon) & states. #Free@Last.

People, think diff'rent
Independence has arrived
Now, there's liberty

The final cutting of the speech:
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Monday, February 4, 2013

King's Speech ... part three

This is the third in a four part post on work my students have been doing on Dr. King's I Have a Dream Speech. We discussed the Modern Civil Rights Movement from Black Codes to Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois to Selma.

Word Cloud of King's I Have a Dream Speech

The first step was to identify Key Words from their particular cutting. The students then worked in groups each class period to determine the key words for their group. I then collected words which had been on at least two of the three group lists. Those words were:
  • Dignity
  • Satisfied
  • Justice
The students then were asked to summarize the speech using King's words.

The final task was crafting the speech in their own words. They were given the option to write a tweet, haiku or a 20-word notecard. This is what each group came up with:

We must fight the fight to be discluded b/c of color of their skin. >>>>
Pplt ask us if we're happy. >>>>
We won't be :) until things are fair.

Blacks :( havin' hard time, want freedom, whites^^ segregation 4 blacks has to go :) not equal, deserve legit unbiased life. #Free@Last

We aren't going to hide
We will always with pride
Laws be justified

There were a couple individual ones which I thought were really cool too:

We cannot let protest become physical violence. When we are asked, "When will you be happy?" We will never be happy until we have the same rights as the white man. #Free@Last

While we try to stand alone, blacks are being treated terribly and we need to fight together for our rights and the for the kids. Everone deserves an equal chance. #Free@Last

The third cutting from the I Have a Dream speech:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

King's Speech ... part two

This is the second in four post from a lesson from my classroom. First, we studied the Civil Rights Movement, from Plessy v. Furgeson to lynching to Rosa Parks. We then viewed the I Have a Dream Speech (a verion is posted below). The final step was to analyze the speech, looking for clues to what King was referencing and what he was suggesting to his listeners that hot August day in DC.

I love this video. Dr. King delivering his remarks is on post one.
I decided to switch things up with this. It is twelve levels of awesome.
Step one of the assignments key words...students came up with 8-10 individually; student teams selected the most widely cited words from their list for a team list; I pulled any word appearing in more than two of the three teams lists. The common words were:
  • Dream
  • Freedom
  • Botherhood
Step two was to craft first and individual summary and then a team summary unsing Dr. King's words.
The final step was to put this portion of the speech in their own words, first individually and then collectively. They could craft their submission using a haiku, a 20 word notecard or a tweet. Here is what they teams came up with:
I believe that one day this democracy will uphold its promise of equality and liberty. I believe that every man is equal, not matter what race. #Free@Last
Even though we have faced hardships, we know that all people can live together in harmony. We can live a new paradise. #Free@Last
I belive one day
Everyone will be equal
And come together
Some of the individual submissions I really liked included:
I hope that someday, blacks and whites wil be considered equals.
I hope our nation built on "all men are created equal' will rise. I wish children of any color could be together. I wish even the worst state could be an equal place for all. #Free@Last
Martin has a vision
That one day we'll have freedom
Together we'll stand
The second cutting from the I Have A Dream Speech
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence...must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny…We cannot walk alone. As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Friday, February 1, 2013

King's Speech ... part one

I had the students study Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech las week after a week looking at Civil Right from Jim Crow to Emmitt Till to Dockum Drug Store. We divided the classes into four teams and they dissected the speech. Here is the first of four installments of their thoughts.

The first task was to identify the key words. Each student selected 8-10, then each team collected the most frequent 8-10. I took the three classes I teach and came up with the following three words. The words appeared in at least two of the three class lists:
  • Freedom
  • Segregation
  • Injustice
The next task was to summarize their section using King's own words.

The final task was to put that cutting in their own words. To do this, they were asked to either write a tweet, compose a haiku or create a notecard (20 word limit). What each of the teams came up with was impressive.

Hundred years ago
Our Country was in slavery
Freed but still not free

Emancipation Proc.=great hope 4 slaves >>>
100 years L8R = not free >>>
Constitution =4 2B

100 years ago, Abe Lincoln sing the EMan Proclamation & the Negro was decreed free. 100 years later they still r'nt free. #Free@Last

Below are some of my favorites among the individual students compostitions.

We r ere 4 a protest. da EP grntd us frdom, but 100 yrs ltr slvs rn't fre. We r stil in injustice & unfrnss. da Dclrton grntd us rits. #Free@Last

After emancipation, slaves supposed 2 b free, 100 yrs later, still aren't, DofI says to be. #Free@Last

They say we've been freed with GR8T document.>>>
But 100 yrs L8R--shckled with disctrimination >>>
But the Constitution says we are all created =

We were promised freedom. >>>
We are not equal >>>>
We would like to be equal

The first cutting of the speech is below:
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.