Tuesday, November 7, 2017

History PBL: A Trip to Africa

Your group is a travel agency developing trips to Africa to promote the history of the continent.  Your travel agency is  developing a trip to Africa featuring four historically important cites.  You will present your tour in a sales presentation to a local club, the Rotary Club, to try and convince the club members to purchase your trip.

Your task: Develop a tour package that includes travel to and from Africa from San Francisco, visits and activities at 4 different historical sites in sub-Saharan Africa. Include travel plans and costs (airfare from SFO to first site, travel to and from each site, and hotel costs), as well as an itinerary for your tour. A maximum cost for the trip is $8000.

Your group must choose four destinations for your project.  In your presentation, each member will describe one place in detail.  Group members will also create an individual project about the place they selected.

Select your four destinations from the following list:
  1. The Great Zimbabwe, an iron age city, now in ruins. The area was once the heart of a large trading empire  from the 11th to the 15th century. The city once held nearly 20,000 people.
  2. The rock-hewn churches of Lilibela. These Ethiopian churches were carved into the sides of rocky cliffs during the 12th and 13th centuries.
  3. The city of Timbuktu and it's famous mosques. Visit the current and former capital of Mali where Mansa Musa once ruled.
  4. The two story Somba houses of Koutammakou.  These unusual structures found northern Togo use the first floor as barns and the second as living quarters.  
  5. The mud mosque of Djenne. See the worlds largest mosque constructed entire of mud.
  6. James Island in the Gambia River. Now called Kunteh Kinteh Island, inspired by the television show Roots, this fort was once a major center of trade for gold, ivory and slaves.
  7. Traditional Asante building in Ghana. These 13 structures are the last remaining buildings from the once great Asante Empire.
  8. The tomb of Askia Muhammad in Gao. This mud tomb is said to be constructed of earth Askai brought back from Mekkah after his haj.  Askia once ruled the Songhai Empire.
  9. Goree island in Dakar, Senegal. A place with a dark history. Once a center of the slave trade, the fort on Goree Island was the place where thousands of Africans were kept by slave traders before being taken to America.
  10. The Ksours of Mauritania. These Arabic castles were once major cultural and religious centers along the trans-Sahara trade routes.
  11. Fort Jesus in Kenya. This Portuguese fort in Mombassa was built in 1593 to protect European traders and explorers. It's now one of the most visited cites in Kenya.
  12. The ghost town of Kolmanskop in Namibia. The town was a center of diamond mining for 40 years before it was completely abandoned.
  13. The prison at Robben Island in South Africa. A place with a dark past. This is where Nelson Mandela among many other anti-apartheid activist were held before South Africa became free.
  14. The Beit al-Ajaib, the house of wonders in Zanzibar built for Sultan Barghash in 1883.
  15. The Karen Blixen Museum in Kenya.  Once the home of Danish author Karen Blixen, her house and coffee plantation are now a popular museum.
  16. Lamu Old Town in Kenya. This is the oldest, and best preserved Swahili settlement. The town is on an island without vehicles. Goods and people there are still moved by donkey. 
  17. Le Morne Brabant on the island of Mauritius. This island, now covered with resorts, was once famous as a hide-out for runaway slaves who lived for decades in the islands system of caves. 
  18. Ulundi, the Zulu capital city. Now in the KawZululand region of South Africa, this city was the capital of the Zulu empire and the site of the Zulu army's final battle in the Boer Wars.
  19. The Stone town of Zanzibar.  This town on the island of Zanzibar was once part of the Swahili trading empire.  Now the island is a famous resort destination.
  20. Kilwa Kisiwant.  Part of the Omani/Swahili trade empire founding in the 11th century. This now ruined city was once the heart of a great empire.
  21. Dogan Villages of Mali.  A unique, ancient culture still found in West Africa where people live in towns built into the sides of cliffs
  22. Kimberly Diamond Mine - South Africa. This, the largest diamond mine in the world, is visible from space.
  23. Monrovia, Liberia - This West African city was founded by freed American slaves in the 1830's.
  24. Kingdom of Dahomey. This West African kingdom, located in modern day Benin, was once famous for its women warriors.
If there is another historical site in Sub-Saharan Africa you would like to do, please discuss it with your teacher.

Each group member will be responsible for researching one location in Africa, preparing artifacts based on the group's research and participating in the presentation.


  • Each group must make a brochure advertising their tour.  This should include historical information for each destination, pictures, itinerary information and a price.
  • Each group must make a keepsake map of Africa showing the destinations on their tour. These should include pictures of each destination and historical information about each.
  • Each group must make two additional souvenirs.  These should be things people going on the tour will want to keep.  They should be visually appealing and contain historical information.  


Your group will give a sales presentation to a local club, like the Rotary Club.  Members of this club are interested in travel and in history.  Your presentation should tell the Rotary Club the details of your trip including the cost.  It should also describe the history of the places you have selected and why they would be an interesting place to visit.  The Rotary Club members do not like listening to a bunch of presentations about the same place, so be sure to pay attention to what the other groups are talking about. You want to say something different from everyone else.

They would like your group to talk for six to eight minutes total.


Tues. Nov. 14. Introduction: Trip to anywhere in the world.
Thurs. Nov. 16. Research sites you want to visit.
Mon. Nov. 27. Continue research and notes on sites.
Wed. Nov. 29. Continue research/work on products
Fri. Dec. 1. Complete research/work on products
Tues. Dec. 5. Turn in itinerary with cost. Start work on artifact
Thurs. Dec. 7. Work on artifacts/presentations
Mon. Dec. 11. Work on artifacts/presentations
Wed.  Dec. 13. Presentation run-through. Work on artifacts/presentations
Fri. Dec. 15. Artifacts due by end of day. I mean it!!! Work on presentations
Tues. Dec. 19. Presentation day.


Each group will get one grade for their presentation including the visuals used, the quality of the information presented and the quality of the groups performance/cooperation.

Each individual member will get an individual grade based on the quality of the artifact.

Each individual member will get a collaboration grade based on how well they work as a group member and how well they meet the assigned deadlines.  There may be regular checks of how much work your group has done each day as part of your grade.

Each of these will be one third of your grade for this project.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

History Test Review: Last Chance to Study!!!

This pictures shows a Medieval feast.  The Lord and his lady sit
in the center.  The man to the left is cutting cheese for them. 
They used only knives, no forks or spoons at dinner. The man
with no shoes to the right is probably a monk, maybe a peasant.
He has interrupted the dinner with a petition and a begging bowl.
He may want money or some other thing the lord has promised
his people.  The young man in blue holding the small sword may
be a squire trying to protect the lord and lady.  The dogs are biting
the man with no shoes, trying to protect their lord and lady. People
in Medieval Europe kept dogs just like we do today. They were 
used for hunting, for protection and kept as pets. Many were allowed
to roam the dining hall, where they could pick up scraps that were
dropped on the floor.
Tonight, start by completing your 4 by 8 study guide. Use the notes in your journal first, then look for information in your book.  Your study guide will be collected before the test tomorrow.

Next, read the chapter summaries for each chapter.  These are short summaries of all the main points in each chapter.  You can find them on these pages: 17, 29, 41, 52, and 59.

Finally, go over the information in your journal one more time.  Make sure your journal is complete, everything in it is glued in, and that your cover looks great.  These are all part of the journal's grade.  Journals will be collected before the test tomorrow.

If you have time, here are a couple of videos you might enjoy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

History Review: How did the Black Plague and the 100 Years War Lead to the Decline of Feudalism?

This is my dog, Clovis. 
He is named after the first king
of the Franks.  If you can work
Clovis into your test on Friday,
you will earn an extra point.
Reread the sections in chapter 5 about the plague and the 100 Years War.

Review your notes on the Joan of Arc movie.

Spend some time tonight finishing your 4 x 8 review/study guide so you can study it tomorrow night.

You might enjoy these videos which are historically accurate.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

History Review: How did town life change during the Medieval period?

What does this painting by Peter Breugel show about life
in a Medieval town?
Reread the second part of chapter 4, pages 48 to 51.

How did the condition of towns contribute to the spread of disease?
How did Medieval doctors treat sick people?

At first, how was guilt or innocence determined?
How did this change in the early 1100's.?
What was common law?

What is the difference between a miracle play and a mystery play?

Monday, October 23, 2017

History Review: Medieval Towns.

What is shown in this picture? What sort of things are being traded?
How does this show changes in commerce during the Medieval period?
How dies the picture show specialization?
How did town life change during the Medieval period?

Reread the first part of chapter 4: Life in Medieval Towns pages 43 to 47.

Make sure you understand the importance of these items:

  • charters
  • giulds
  • apprentices
  • masterpieces
  • commerce
  • specialization
Describe the hardships faced by Jewish people due to the prejudice in Medieval Europe.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

History Review: How was the church as part of everything in Medieval Europe?

Re-read chapter 3 and review your notes to answer the question: How was the church a part of everything in Medieval Europe?

Pay close attention to these items:
  • salvation
  • sacraments
  • universities
  • cathedrals
  • pilgrimages
  • St. Francis of Assisi
  • Thomas Aquinas

Why was there a conflict between Pope Gregory VII and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV?

Here's a video about Thomas Aquinas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

History Test Review: How did the spread of feudalism affect life in Europe?

Read chapter 2 in your history book. Review your notes on social classes in Medieval Europe. These are in your journal.  Look at the differences between monarchs, nobles, knights and commoners.

Take a look at your notes about The Vikings.  Review the assignment by scrolling down to find it on this website.

What are the differences between a Motte and Bailey castle and a 13th century castle.

Review your notes on Social Structure in the Middle Ages.

Review your notes on the Battle of Hastings and the Bayeux Tapestry.

Describe the importance of Charlemagne and William the Conqueror.

Here are a few more videos you might enjoy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

History Test Review: What are the major legacies of the Roman empire?

Review chapter 1 in History Alive.

Look over your notes on these topics:
      • Architecture and Engineering
      • Art
      • Philosophy, Law and Citizenship
      • Language and Writing
How is the painting shown here by Lucas Cranach a legacy of the Rome?

Monday, October 16, 2017

History Test Review: What were the primary reasons for the fall of Rome?

Reread chapter one and review your notes for the DBQ essay we wrote in response to this question. These are posted on the Learning Wall in the back of the classroom if you cannot find yours. 

Also, read your essay again. 

Some possible answers include:

  • natural forces
  • military mistakes
  • political instability
  • foreign invasions
  • bad government
The test will be on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017.  Tests go in the 75% category.

History journals will be collected for a grade the day of the test. You may not use them during the test. Journals are 75% category items.

History: Why did the Black Plague kill so many people?

Question: Why did the Black Plague kill so many people?

 Read and examine the following resources before you begin the task.


 "Plague Song" by Horrible Histories.



 "Study Shows Black Death Did not Kill Indiscriminately"


"The Black Death of 1348-1350"



 History Alive! Section 5.3: The Bubonic Plague


Map of trade routes and bubonic plague's progress 


 Task:  After reading the articles and text and examining the map above, write a long paragraph that addresses the question and analyzes the reasons why the Black Plague killed so many people providing examples to clarify your analysis.  What conclusions or implications can you draw? Be sure to support your position with evidence from the resources.  Write a one page response to the question.  Make sure you cite the above resources to support your answer.  L2 In your discussion, address the credibility and origin of sources in view of your research topic.

Friday, October 6, 2017

History - Extra Credit: Medieval Trading Cards

Create a set of four Medieval trading cards like baseball cards or the cards use for the game Magic.

To make your cards, take one piece of blank paper and divide it into four sections.  Each section will be one card.  You may do the front and the back on the same piece of paper. You can use any color.

Select four people from the list below.  You'll need to do some research on each person. Some of them are in the history book, some are not.  Use internet sources if needed.  Biography.com is a good place to start.  Wikipedia is not a good source for this project, as their entries tend to be very, very long.

How to make each card:

  • Side one:
    • Include the person's name.
    • Include a picture of the person or something important to that person.  This could be a building the lived or worked in, an object associated with them, a symbol that represents them.
    • Include a border.
  • Side two:
    • List three facts about the person as bullet points.
    • Write a 25 cent biography of the person that describes why that person was important. You will not be able to write about their entire life, just the reason why that person is still remembered today.
    • Include a border.
Points for this project will be awarded based on visible effort and historical facts included.  

You may do this project on Google Docs or by hand on paper.  You may use any types of pictures you would like, but this is part of the effort shown.

This projects is worth 5 to 20 points in the 25% category. 

Choose from this list of Medieval people:
  • Clovis, king of the Franks
  • Clotilda, queen of the Franks
  • Charlemagne
  • Pope Leo III
  • Harold Godwinson
  • Harold Hadrada
  • William I, king of England
  • Edward, the Black Prince
  • Saint Morris
  • Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
  • Pope Gregory VII
  • Francis of Assisi
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas Beckett
  • Boudica, queen of England
  • Theodora, Empress of Byzantium
  • Justinian I, Emperor of Byzantium
  • Saint Benedict
  • Henry II, King of England
  • King John of England
  • Kind Edward I of England
  • Agnolo di Tura
  • King Richard II of England
  • Joan of Arc
  • Empress Irene of Byzantium
  • Cerularius of Byzantium
  • King Richard I of England, called The Lionheart
  • Salah al-Din
  • Anna Comnena
  • Eliezer ben Nathan
  • Eleazar ben Judah
  • Genghis Khan
  • Catherine de Medici
  • Eleanor of the Aquitane, Queen of England
  • Marie de Champagne
  • Christine de Pizan
  • Hildegard of Bingen
  • Matilda of Canossa
  • Khawlah bint al-Azwar
  • Isabel of Conches
  • Joanna of Flanders
If there are other Medieval people you would like to do, please see Mr. Chester first.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Automaton One-Pager Assignment (for English only)

Create a one-pager on Maillardet's automaton using text and images to creatively highlight the most important information. Be sure to include the following:
  • The definition of automaton (the plural is automata)
  • A description of the automaton's history, including its creation and creator; how it was damaged; and the roles Charles Penninman, Bryan Selznick, and Andy Baron played in restoring the device; and its influence on the novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
  • A description of how Maillardet's automaton works and its capabilities
You can use these links to complete the one-pager assignment about Maillardet's automaton.

CBS Sunday Morning video The Lost Art of Automata Lives Again

The Maillardet automaton in action

Read Andrew Baron’s essay

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Zebra" Extension Activity: The Vietnam War

This activity has three parts.

Read the directions for each part below. You'll be watching videos and reading articles before completing each section of your packet.  Write all of your answers in your packet.  All of your answers should be in complete sentences.  Fill up the lines.

This assignment is due by the end of class today.

First, start by watching this Brain Pop video on the Vietnam War then complete the "Vocabulary" and "Graphic Organizer - Debate."  Be sure to wear earbuds.

You can find the video here.

The log in for Brain Pop is sanjosems, password is scorpions.

Second, read the article below, "Into the Killing Zone" by Frank Boccia and complete "The Soldier's Perspective Questions."

Into the Killing Zone by Frank Boccia

May10: The Battle Begins

I had been in Vietnam for a few months before Hamburger Hill. I was a fairly popular platoon leader. Sure, I was strict and demanding.  But I made an effort to know all my guys y name. I'd ask them about their families. I wanted them to know I cared about them. We were a tight platoon.

Lieutenant Colonel Weldon Honeycutt was a different breed of cat. He was tough and abrasive. He had these ice-blue eyes that looked at you like he might just cut your throat. No one liked him. but he was the best combat commander I've ever seen.

His code name was Blackjack. He told me that the only reason the army made me an officer was because I was too educated to do anything else.  He said I had a lot to learn about leading men and making though choices in battle. I was furious at him. He made me feel about an inch tall.

My battalion, the 3/187th, went into the A Shau Valley on May 10. The A Shau had a terrible reputation as a dangerous hideout for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA).

None of us talked about it, though. It was like the elephant in the room. Still, we weren't strangers to combat. We'd been in a hard fire fight at another mountain called Dong Ngai. After that fight, I expected this one to be easy.

The sky above the valley was filled with helicopters--Hueys, as the were known.  As my platoon prepared to move up the hill, it seemed like very helicopter in Vietnam circled over us. I'd read accounts of D-Day in World War II and how soldiers were awestruck by the sight of all the ships around them. That's how I felt. There were hundreds of soldiers in the valley. I got goose bumps. I thought, "Is the entire army here!"

Before my platoon moved up the hill, fighter-bombers and artillery helicopters bombarded its slopes with air strikes and napalm, gasoline-based firebombs.  It didn't seem like anything could be alive up there.

But as we approached the mountain, I could tell this mission would be more difficult than I anticipated. Each step was a struggle. Narrow trails snaked up the hill into the jungle. The canopy was so dense that we could barely see a few feet ahead of us. The vines kept out the light and the fresh air. The jungle smelled rotten. It gave me a feeling of being completely out the world.

Suddenly heard shots over our heads. An intense blast of RPG's (rocket propelled grenades) and AK-47' gunfire cut through the trees. I couldn't see where it was coming from -- bushes, vines or rocks.

WE hit the ground and returned fire.  But the skirmish was brief. The enemy was gone as mysteriously as they'd arrived.

For the third and final part read this article on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and answer the questions on The Wall.

When you are finished turn in your packet. But sure your name is on it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Annotated Castle Projects

Create an annotated "drawing" of a castle.  Due Friday, Sept. 22.

Create either a Motte and Bailey castle or a 13th century castle.  (You may trace. You may use methods other than drawing.)

You may draw all or part of the castle.  You may do a "bird's-eye" drawing.

Include 10 annotations (2-3 sentences).

  • Six should label and explain a part of the castle
  • Four should label and describe a person (monarch, lords/ladies, knights, peasants)
Annotations should contain lots of historical information

Drawings (artwork) should show effort.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rikki Tikki-Tavi and the Hero's Journey

Create a small poster explaining how Rudyard Kipling's short story illustrates the elements of the Hero's Journey.

Use the model on pages six and seven of your English journal as a guide.  Include as many elements of the Hero's Journey as you can.

Include the following on your poster:
  • The title and author in fancy lettering.
  • A circle showing the path of the Hero's Journey. (See page 6/7 in your English journal.)
  • Colorful, large illustrations.  
  • Names of elements in the Hero's Journey
  • Written explanations of how Rikki Tikki-Tavi shoes each element. These should be short paragraphs.
Please see Mr. Chester for large blank paper if you need it.

Projects will be graded on:
  • How well they explain elements of the Hero's Journey.
  • How creative they are visually.
  • Overall visual quality.
  • Correct grammar and spelling.

This project is due on Friday, Sept. 15.

This is a 75% grade.  

Your poster will be on display for a gallery walk. 

If you need to re-read the story you can find a copy of it here

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Vikings

Visit this page on History.com to learn about the vikings.

Start by watching a few of the videos.  Be sure to use your earbuds if you are in class.

Now read the article.  While you are reading, take Cornell style notes on each section.  Be sure to set up your notes in two  columns, a thin one on the left for topics and questions, and a wide one on the right for your notes.  Notes should be bullet points, not full sentences.

When you are finished write a one paragraph summary of the article at the bottom of your notes.

Do this all on binder paper, not in your history journal.

Bring these notes to class on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Art Show Review Drafts.

Write a two paragraph review of the Hero's journey posters from today's gallery walk.

Paragraph #1: Review the entire show, all of the posters.

  • Where was the show? (Room C-5)
  • Who made the art? (Students)
  • What does all of the art show? (Hero's journey, various movies and stories.)
  • What is the Hero's Journey?
Paragraph #2 Describe one (or two) posters in detail.
  • Who made the poster?
  • What does the poster show?
  • Why is it a good?
    • Give three to five reasons with details
    • Use specific details.
This should be typed up in MLA format for Thursday.  Bring it to class already printed.

Monday, August 28, 2017

History Do Now! The Fall of Empires by Thomas Cole

This is "The Fall of Empire" by Thomas Cole, a 19th century American painter.

Use this picture as either the beginning, the middle or the end of a story that you create.  

Start by doing a quick sketch of the painting, all of it or just part of it, in your history journal.  

Next, on the same page write a story based on the picture.  Write only the parts that are not the picture.  For example, if you decide to make the picture the end of your story, then you would write the beginning and the middle.  Then you would write see picture as the last line of your story.  Each part of the story you write should be one paragraph.  

This entire assignment must fit on one page of your journal, both the picture and the paragraphs.

Most students will have completed this assignment in class.

What Makes a Hero?

Here are the two videos from last weeks English class on the Hero's Journey.

First is "What Makes a Hero?" which illustrates most of the steps/parts in the Hero's Journey.

Next up is the animation "Dot the World" which is the world's smallest animated movie, made by Aardman studios.  This shows the steps of the Hero's Journey in action.

Use these two videos and the article you read to annotate the Hero's Journey map on pages six and seven of your English journal.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Homework: Rome in Your Home

Due Thursday (Friday for period 4).

Reread pages 10-17 in your history book.

Look for three things in your home (or community) that are a legacy of Roman culture.  Find things in three of the four categories from your notes.

Get or create a picture of each. Pictures should all fit on three quarters of a regular piece of paper.

You may sketch, draw or paint your pictures.  You may photograph things in your house and print out pictures. You may get pictures from on-line sources or magazines.

Bring actual pictures to class on Thursday.

For extra credit points on this project, post a picture in a comment by Thursday morning.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Do Now! for Tuesday's history class. We'll do this in class.


Take a look at this painting of a Medieval knight by Lucas Cranach the Elder.  It was painted around 1520 and shows a man wearing full ceremonial armor.  (except for the helmet).

Spend three minutes sketching all or part of the picture in your history journal. Use 1/3 of a page. You may sketch the entire painting or just a portion of it. Use the entire time.

Next you'll do a 2 by 10 activity which your teacher will describe.

Finally, answer your teachers questions in your journal after you hear the story of St. Maurice and the Theban band.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Welcome to Mr. Chester's Class

This is my dog, Clovis
Welcome to what will be a great 2017-2018 school year! My name is James Chester and I am your student’s Language Arts and/or History teacher.  I am confident we will have an outstanding year and am looking forward to developing deeper relationship with each of my students.

Class Objectives (from the State Standards)
Students will demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking while exploring various fiction and non-fiction genres.  In addition, students in history will have proficiency in European history from the Roman Empire through the Enlightenment, Medieval China and Japan, Mesoamerica, the Middle East, and West Africa.

Language Arts: The Language of Literature by McDougall Littell, Novels, Supplementary Materials.
Social Science: History Alive: The Medieval World and Beyond, TCI, Supplementary Materials

Assignments are given letter grades to help approximate equal interval grading.  The Aeries app on your phone converts these to percentages.  Student grades should be checked regularly on a computer for more accurate grades.  Incomplete assignments are marked “I”.

All homework must be completed on time to earn full credit.  Worked turned in up to one week late will be marked down one grade.  Work over one week late may not be accepted. Late work deadlines are listed in Aeries whenever possible.  Students are expected to read a book of their choice as part of the regular homework.  Therefore, they have homework every night.

All students at SJMS are expected to be Responsible and Respectful. For a more detailed description of school behavioral expectations and consequences, please review the parent handbook or student planner.

Classroom Tardies/Consequences
All students at SJMS are expected to be seated and working on the Do Now! before the bell rings.  I am very strict about this rule.  If the Do Now! refers to homework a student has not completed on time, that student may be marked tardy as a result.

To receive regular homework updates, please send me a request at jchester@nusd.org  You may list as many addresses as you like.  Updates will start sometime next week.

Thank you.

P.S. If you scroll down you can see some of the assignments we have done in previous years.  We'll be doing some of them again this year, too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where We're From Poem

Here are some selected lines from the "Where I'm From" poetry assignment. This was based on a poem by George Ella Lyon. These selected lines come from students in first and fifth period English.

Where I'm From...

I am from a house you can see from the freeway
from dog hair and hardwood floors.

From potatoes and tacos
And removing all the Barbies' hair and putting it in a doll house
My brother's trophies in his closet to my academic awards on my shelf

I am from go play outside and keep your chin up
And patience is a virtue, child

From the time my uncle ate dog food to try and impress
The girls next door.

From Thanksgiving at my grandparent's and the right-handed cousins.
That picture of us three
That will forever hang on the white board.

From the time my uncle left us in the woods
We ran and hopped across rocks, dodging snakes
My mom carrying the dog on her back
Tears stream down my face as I think how proud my Nono would be.

I'm from it's ok to cut people out of your life and the truth hurts.

From Grandma's cooking and Uncle Tim sleeping in the truck
My great grandfather's knife
On the shelf in the office, since he passed away.

From the T.V. always on even if no one's watching just to fill up the small silences.
I'm from the house in the middle that looks exactly like all the other ones
It's crowded sometimes but it feels empty most of the time.

From the apartment on the hill
That smells like tea and cakes and comfort
The muted tones of photographs of people I barely remember.

From Don't worry about the people who talk behind your back,
They're behind you for a reason.

I'm from brown eyes and fat fingers
From Gilton and Roxana
I'm from jokes I don't get and talking too much
And from eating too much.

I'm from Novato and Italy
Pasta and Pizza
Pine cones from Lake Tahoe
on the  fireplace mantel

I'm from nail-biting and obnoxious laughter
And from the songs that never end.
From the witch lady and my magic horse that kept me safe
And "Aye, aye, aye, aye, poof!"

I'm from cleaning and working hard
And The Yellow Submarine and You Belong with Me
From Jack and I secretly eating ice cream when we're home alone.

I'm from Go to your room and That's a no no.
A new goodnight song my mom came up with every week
From the story of how my grandpa lost both of his legs.
It happened when he was jumping train cars and fell between them.

I'm from El Salvador and the U.S.A.
Ramen and hash browns.

I am from the blazing, bright light on the nightstand next to my bed
From white sneakers and tea tree shampoo
The ticket to my first every Warriors basketball game
Kept in my dresser drawer underneath all my books
The day I remember as if it was just yesterday

I am from flimsy door knobs made of brass
from tech products like Dell and Intel
I am from apartments coated in shades of green
pine scents through the windows as well as smooth walls.

I'm from doing my first communion in Spanish and eating tamales

I'm from You're instigating and Don't hurt your sister!
And You can do it!

Papusas and yuca frita
My Grandfather saving my father at the beach. My father caught in a
wave my grandfather pulling him out.

I am from the comfort and coolness of the home I've lived in since birth,
The smell of food.
I am from the Lilacs in my kitchen.
The Redwood tree right outside my door,
Whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I am from the squishy couch cushions in the living room
From Salami in the fridge and foamy soap in the bathroom.

I am from the house with all the plants in the front
I am from the pink roses
I am from the big tall eucalyptus tree whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I am from first communions
I'm from Greenbrae, CA and Guanajuato, Mexico
Tamales and pozole.

My Great Grandma's necklace
in a locked box

I'm from shopping sprees on birthdays
I'm from Marin County and Thailand
From pranks my father used to pull
The upside down rooms.

I am from gluten free donuts on Thanksgiving and a laugh that makes babies cry
From the time my grandpa forgot to put the plug in the boat
Already off of the boat launch slowly sinking with me in his arms.

I am from never give up and practice makes perfect.
And if you hit the bottom, the only way to go is up.

I am from the noisy old fridge that kept me up
From off brand Cheez-Itz and broken Schwinn bicycles.
I'm from the condo identical to all  the others, except for the defiant red door.

I'm from Secret Santa at midnight, on Christmas
I'm from San Francisco, California and Hidalgo, Mexico
Camarones al a diabla and enchiladas

The big willow tree that sings when the wind dances
Whose long gone limbs I remember
As if they were my own.

I am from the kitchen cabinet that holds the secrets to baking
From the flour and sugar and eggs to pan
Rice and curry
From my uncle playing in the dark
When the power went out
My little sister playing tag
Replayed in my heart

I am from the trampoline in the yard
From iPads, iPhones and MacBooks.

I am from the table in the dining room
From honey and salt
Beans and quesadillas
From my brother losing his shoes at the store
And my mom, not very happy about it.

I am from a bed with pillows everywhere
from the Captain Crunch and organic milk
Me and my crayon buddy lello since I couldn't say yellow
All placed within a box in the closet.

I am from the house on top of the hill
That always smells like home cooking.

I am from the rosemary we grow outside
The pear tree by the gate
Whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own
I'm from watching too much TV makes your eyes go square and
Goodnight, I love you, don't let the bedbugs bite.

I am from the small door next to the flower garden
The one with the blue paint on it.

I am from my black, coin filled couch
From the Biore face wash and Homemade rags
I am from the house on the boulevard with all the plants.

I am from respect your elders and eat everything on your plate.
That song Another One Bites the Dust.
The special way my grandma made eggs and oysters.

I am from the apartments passing the freeway going to San Rafael
The one that feels like my safety zone.

I am from the moss on the stone wall in my backyard
The purple-flowered plant that grows just outside the front door
Whose branches held me while my mother took pictures

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Daily Song and Dance: Altered 45 Project

An altered record is artwork that is made using an actual record.  Some people change the shape of the record or cut out parts of it. Others paint directly on old records or use them as a surface for collage. Several examples are included in this post.

Begin this project by selecting a song mentioned in Jacqueline Woodson's book, Brown Girl Dreaming.  Here's a list. Please ask me know if I missed one that you would like to do.
  • Sam Cooke: Twistin' the Night Away (33)
  • America the Beautiful (162)
  • The Star Spangled Banner (162)
  • Burl Ives: Froggie Went a'Courtin (202)
  • Sly and the Family Stone: A Family Affair (221)
  • Tingalo, Come Little Donkey (232)
  • Jackson Five:ABC (262)
  • Five Stairsteps: Ooh, Child (Things are Gonna Get Easier) (262)
  • The Hollies: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (262)
  • John Denver: Rocky Mountain High (262)
  • The Carpenters: We've Only Just Begun (262)
  • Rufus Thomas: Funky Chicken (262)
  • The O'Jays: Love Train (267)
  • The Big Blue Marble Theme
  • Ray Stevens: Everyone is Beautiful (262)
  • She'll be Coming Round the Mountain (61)
  • We Shall Overcome (Paret IV, Title Page)
Listen to the song a couple of times before you continue.  You may want to find a video that plays the lyrics as you listen.  If you can't find one see if you can find the lyrics somewhere else. Search for the song title and the word "lyrics."

Next, use black paper and an old '45 to create a "record."  Trace the record on the black paper, then cut it out.  Don't forget the hole in the middle.

Create an "altered record" to illustrate the song's importance to the book.

  • The songs title
  • A key lyric from the song
  • Images that illustrate how the song connects to the theme of book--What makes us who we are?
  • Other artwork
Find the poem in Brown Girl Dreaming that mentions the song you chose.  Re-read it a couple of times to help you figure out why Jacqueline Woodson chose to use that song and how the song relates to the themes of the book.

You may use any material you like to create your altered record.  All classroom materials are available to you.  You can also use materials that you bring in from home if you wish.

For the back, or the "B Side" select a song that has personal meaning to you.  Try to choose a song that relates to the theme in a more personal way.  What does this song have to do with the person you are becoming?

 One the "B Side" repeat the same steps you followed for the "A Side": title, lyric, images.

When you are finished with your artwork, write an artist's statement on a separate piece of paper. You may type this.  In your artist statement explain why you chose the lyrics you selected and the images you used.  Be sure to connect these to Brown Girl Dreaming and to your own life.

Your artist statement should have two paragraphs, one for the "A Side" and one for the "B Side".  It should be between 200 and 250 words long. About one page, typed.


You project will be graded on these criteria:
  • How well you met all of the requirements listed above.
  • How well written your artist statement is.
  • How well you explain the connection between the songs and the themes.
  • How visually appealing your altered record project is.
This project is due on Wednesday, May 25.

It is a 70% project.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reformation vs. Exploration

Select one of the projects below.  Follow the directions to read the correct chapter and to complete the project.  Projects are due by at the start of class on Friday.  You will have Monday and Wednesday to work on your project.  After that, they become homework due on Friday.  

Project #1 - The Reformation

Make a Reformation Facebook page for one off the people mentioned in chapter 31.

Begin by reading chapter 31: The Reformation Begins.

Take Cornell style notes in your history journal for the entire chapter.

Afterwards, select one person for whom you will make a Reformation Fakebook page.

You may do additional research online, but you should have enough information from your notes.

Use Classtools.net to create a Fakebook page about the person you selected.

Use the research you did in class, the history book and any other sources (internet) that you can find.

Be creative.

Make it look like a real Facebook page.  You can find samples by searching for images of "historical facebook pages."

You can do this assignment on paper if you have too  much trouble using Fakebook.

You'll have to do several postings on Fakebook before you can save.


You must keep track of your template link and your password to edit your Fakebook page later.

Include as much historical information as possible on your Fakebook page.  Be creative, but don't forget to include information from your notes and other research.

Project #2 - Exploration

Create an annotated one-pager about one explorer.

Begin by reading chapter 33: The Age of Exploration

Take Cornell style notes in your history journal for the entire chapter.

Afterwards, select one person for whom you will make an annotated one-pager.

If you do not have enough information from your notes you may do additional research on-line.

For your one-pager:

  • Use large (11 x 14 inch paper)  You'll find this in the back of the room.
  • Include:
    • A 150 word biography of the explorer you choose.
    • a map showing their "voyage" including
      • places they visited
      • what happened at at least one of the places
    • a large illustration of one event on the voyage
    • the person's name and the dates of their life
    • a border
    • additional information or illustrations

Use creative touches to make your one-pager visually appealing.  It may be one giant map with several smaller pictures, it may be a large drawing of the person with smaller illustrations and maps around it, or any other creative design as long as you do your own artwork.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How to make a journal from an old architectural plan and cool duct tape..

Start with one large architectural plan like this one.

Fold it in half horizontally.

Fold it in half horizontally a second time.

Open it up completely so all three creases show.

Cut along the creases so you have four strips of paper.

Use colorful duct tape or blue painter's tape to tape all four pieces of paper together end to end. You don't have to overlap the paper when you tape each piece together.

You will end up with one very long piece of paper.

Place your strip of paper printed side up.  Fold back one end to make a square and crease the paper. Fold the other way next.  You'll be making an alternating or accordion fold out of the entire strip of paper.

You may have a bit of extra paper that you can cut off with scissors.  Don't worry if our pages are not even. You will fix this once you're done making your journal.

The next step is to tape the left side of your journal together with one or two pieces of duct tape or blue painter's tape.  You journal should then open like this.

Finally, use a pair of scissors or the paper cutter, with teacher's help, to trim the extra tape and make the top and bottom more even. DO NOT TRIM THE SIDES.  Then apply a piece of folded card stock to the front cover to give your journal a strong, colorful surface to create your cover art.

You may now decorate your front cover. Include your full name and the word "History" on your cover. Select one of the people listed here to feature on your cover. Look up some information about the person you selected along with some images. Create a cover about the person you chose including words and original artwork. DueThursday.