The End of the World As We Know It Part Two

After discussing the many ways humans and biopathogens threaten the world, we will be curating a curating some materials to cheer ourselves up.  Consider the many ways that environmental and biological factors influence life patterns on this earth. Humans interact with their environment, depending on it for their culture and their very survival.

Critical Questions:

1. Who is doing the critical research on these issues?

2. What agencies are responsible for keeping us safe in the event of disaster?

3. Both films “The Day after Tomorrow” and “Contagion” showed breakdown of systems–governments, health care systems, and basic infrastructure.  What would you do in an emergency of epic proportions? Is it possible to prepare?

Please leave your thoughts and research below.

Congratulations on Your Efforts!

The Davies community really came together to help victims of Hurricane Sandy last week.  I was proud.  Ms. St. Pierre is a rock star when it comes to organizing a successful event, that is true, but you took the ball and ran with it, scoring more touchdowns than the first half of the last Patriots’ game.

If you hadn’t noticed, the press sure did.  This Sunday, there was a marvelous article about your efforts in the Providence Journal.  I wrote an article in Edudemic, which a national digital education magazine .  The entire nation knows that the William M. Davies Career & Technical High School cares.

Not only do you care and respond–it’s not always easy for you to do so because this is a regional school–you go above and beyond to take action. That’s why I’m so proud.  It is my sincere hope that this will not have been one event, but a spark that ignites a series of bigger and better events directed through your outstanding Skills USA Leadership and brought forward by you.

So, do you have an issue you want to address?  Do you want to continue bringing spirit to Davies? Do you want to keep helping improve your community and showing that Davies leadership? I do.  Let’s keep this inspiration rolling.  Nicely done, Davies!

The Civil War

The Civil war was the bloodiest war in American history.  We will be investigating some of the key themes in the war, in honor of the release of Steven Spielberg’s new film, “Lincoln.”

Lincoln was a controversial president–the historiography on Lincoln is all over the map, ranging from historians sympathetic to Lincoln and place him in the “best president ever” camp due to his skills as a negotiator and ability to preserve the Union to historians who feel that Lincoln himself had little concern for the issues of race and slavery as long as the Union was preserved and the United States was free to expand westward and industrialize.

Please read this board on Learnist about Lincoln:

Critical questions:

1. Was Lincoln a super-star President who held the Union together?

2. Does Lincoln deserve a spot in the “Presidential Hall of Fame?”

3. According to your research on Lincoln, who was “the real Lincoln?


The End of the World as We Know It

Scientists are arguing about global climate change. There are camps that support the notion that our lack of attention to environmental issues is crumbling the globe, and there are camps that say that the data is wrong.

We will be examining this in detail with some films, news articles, and discussion of natural and biological disaster, answering these critical questions:

1. Is the global climate changing? Where’s the evidence.

2. How does the increase in natural disasters affect the lives of people, geography, and the global economy?

3. Can we take measures now to curb the effects of disasters?

4. Are we at risk for a global pandemic?

5. How do scientists and public health officials identify and stop the spread of health risks in an increasingly globalized world?

Consider these questions. Think closely about how the United States creates policies to identify and address these very serious issues that affect us all.

“We Beat the British. Now what?”

The period after the Revolutionary war was quite an interesting period in United States history. It’s important to realize that no European country expected the colonists to succeed–if anything, France and Britain would sit and watch, waiting for the colonists to dissent and crumble. Then, they would recolonize America, adding vast chunks of land to their expanding empires.

The colonists needed to get their act together and to decide how to best run the country. They were a bit gunshy about the prospect of having a new king. They felt oppressed by England, and didn’t want a leader becoming the new king.  Therefore, they adopted the Articles of Confederation, which designed a set of alliances with no state having power over another.  This sounds great in theory, but there were several issues:

1. Who controls the repaying of the war debt?

2. How would taxes be collected?

3. If states have no control over each other and decisions must be unanimous, then how will anything be decided?

4. With no centralized bank, how will trade be conducted in a union where each state has its own money?

The list goes on…

After looking at the learnboard on the Articles of Confederation, comment on these critical questions. In retrospect, this seems like a moment where you might ask yourselves what the Founding Fathers were thinking in drafting such a toothless document. However, in the context of the time, it’s very important to address their concerns about what the nature, responsibilities and structure of government should be, and how much power it should have.

Spoiler alert:  Nobody was addressing the issue of slavery at this time. It was being ignored. It was the cloud on the horizon that would lead to the bloodiest war in American history.

The United States Constitution: How Did It Come to Be?

Our next topic will include discussion of our current form of government and how it came to be.  We will be debating about our particular form of democracy (we are, in fact, a Constitutional Republic), analyzing the Articles of Confederation, and comparing them to the Constitution of the United States.

Please look through the following learnboards.  Comment on the learnings having to do with the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution:

Founding Documents board

Founding Documents 101 board

The United States: A Constitutional Republic board

Critical Questions:

Who were the Founding Fathers that most influenced the design of our government?

What influenced those men?

What is the design of our government based upon?

Walkout: The Story of the “East LA 13”

You have successfully argued that there are many areas where we enjoy more freedoms due to the civil rights activism of the people we have studied thus far.   Workers’ rights, equality, gender issues, and other areas are better because of these people.   Their tactics, approaches, philosophies, and thoughts on equality span the range from peaceful, non-violent satyagraha, as exemplified by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to activism that allowed for violent self-defense, as in the early philosophies of Malcom X and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Gandhi taught that non-violent resistance requires the greatest of strength. He taught that where injustice is found, it must be exposed.

In the United States, we do this through our political system–we have regular elections.  Politicians work for us.  But sometimes, despite the great amount of good work that officials do, the system needs a wake up call.

The HBO film “Walkout” is a case in point. This story, created by now Hollywood producer Moctesuma Esparza, an original member of the  “East LA 13,” chronicles the events that led to this historic protest by students in East Los Angeles seeking to improve conditions in their schools.

The organization Democracy Now produced an interesting piece on the history behind this walkout, interviewing Esparza.

Please comment below.

What impact did the East LA 13 have on equality in education?  How have they affected California politics to this day?  Feel free to research.