Soviet Textbooks Essay

Soviet Txbks

What should be remembered in Soviet textbooks? Describe three achievements that should be included in Soviet textbooks. Support your reasoning with evidence from the documents: (A) Geographic Expansion; (B) Socio-Economic Accomplishments; (C) Great Terror; (D) Political Repression; (E) Military Strength; (F) Space Achievements; (G) Olympic Victories; and (H) Ballet & Cultural Achievements.

Thesis Statement Planning

Soviet textbooks should include: ____________, _____________, and _______________.

In 69 years as a country, the Soviet Union accomplished many great things, _________, _________, and _________; should be included in their textbooks to remember this time in history.

_________, ___________, and _____________ show that communism was capable of producing greatness, this paper will argue that the Soviet Union’s Cold War accomplishments should be included in their textbooks.

Outline

  1. Intro
    1. Background on the Cold War (czar, Bolshevik, capitalism, socialism, communism, Cold War, Stalin, Krushchev, Gorbachev, Sputnik, republics, satellites, and Bolshoi)
    2. Definition of terms
    3. Thesis statement
  2. MEAL paragraph – Accomplishment # 1
    1. M – Main Idea: Topic Sentence
    2. E – Evidence: Proof Found in Primary Source/Book/Research
    3. A – Analysis: How The Evidence Proves the Main Idea
    4. L – Link: How a Paragraph Fits in to what the paper is trying to prove.
  3. MEAL paragraph – Accomplishment # 2
    1. M – Main Idea: Topic Sentence
    2. E – Evidence: Proof Found in Primary Source/Book/Research
    3. A – Analysis: How The Evidence Proves the Main Idea
    4. L – Link: How a Paragraph Fits in to what the paper is trying to prove.
  4. MEAL paragraph – Accomplishment # 3
    1. M – Main Idea: Topic Sentence
    2. E – Evidence: Proof Found in Primary Source/Book/Research
    3. A – Analysis: How The Evidence Proves the Main Idea
    4. L – Link: How a Paragraph Fits in to what the paper is trying to prove.
  5. Conclusion
    1. Summarize rationale – Accomplishments 1, 2 & 3 show…
    2. Recap evidence
    3. Restate thesis

In-Text vs. Parenthetical Citations

Document A shows the incredible size of the Soviet Union and its satellite countries. This suggests that …

Poland was an East European satellite country of the Soviet Union (Document A).

Evidence-based Sentence Starters

Based on this evidence, it appears that _____________________.

This quote suggests that ______________________.

When viewing the map, it is evident that _____________.

This source reveals how US policy makers thought about ___________________.

This timeline illustrates how ____________________________.

This passage provides some insight into the nature of __________________________.

Great Terror Tweetathon

Steve Graham and Michael Herbert (2010) conducted a meta-analysis of the literature on reading and writing called Writing to Read. Part of this work, reports the results from nine studies that demonstrated how having students respond to a text in writing has a large effect (0.77) on their reading comprehension. This research suggests that writing personal reactions and/or analyzing/interpreting texts can increase reading comprehension. Therefore, I asked my students to use textual evidence to create rhyming couplets about the Great Terror. They were given a document about Stalin and the Great Terror from The DBQ Project’s excellent materials and allowed to use their cell phones to access an online rhyming dictionary.

2015-04-17 13.18.08

A few students turned in rhymes that did not reflect understanding of the material. In a future iteration of this project I will add some peer review and quantify the results. Many students, however, were creative and demonstrated strong understanding of The Great Terror. The following couplets represent their work:

As a Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin made his enemies pay
His secret police would kill 1,000 people every day

The Russians launched mass arrests and forced labor
At times it seemed by killing you, Stalin was doing you a favor

Between 1937 and 1938, the Great Terror only lasted for two years
During this time, the Soviet people lived with many fears

The Great Terror eliminated people considered an enemy of the state
A history book would conclude that this time period was not great.

Russian intellectuals were broken and corrupted
Their contributions to society were disrupted

Mercy and dignity got in the way of survival
If you valued freedom, you were Stalin’s rival

The Great Terror tried to instilled fear in a citizen’s mind and soul
Constant threats from authority added up and took their toll

Soviet History books were just another propaganda tool
Until Roy Medvedev wrote one critical of Stalin’s rule

Joseph Stalin had a huge amount of power
Which made all of his citizens tremble and cower

This quick activity aligns with what Lopez (2011) terms culturally relevant pedagogy, which emerged in response to the need for increased engagement and educational success for all learners. Many teenagers aspire to be rappers and songwriters. This exercise allowed students to work in pairs and collaborate on a task with high social capital and improve their academic vocabulary and reading comprehension. Please make a comment and let me know how you could adapt this activity to your classroom.

References

Lopez, A.E. (2011). Culturally relevant pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse English classrooms: A case study of a secondary English teacher’s activism and agency. English Teaching: Practice and Critique. pp. 75-93. December, 2011, Volume 10, Number 4. 

Six Word Definitions

Thanks to #TeachWriting, my rockin’ PLN on Twitter, I was apply to apply a new technique in my World History classroom this week. Several ELA teachers were discussing #6wordShakespeare and some of the other six-word story exercises that had been done in their classrooms. Hemingway wrote one of the most famous six word stories: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. These teachers described the technique as a fast brainstorming tool that gets students writing and playing with language immediately. I thought it could be used in the vocabulary-intensive unit I am currently teaching about the Cold War.

These two definitions from the book and subsequent student simplifications illustrate the concept.  Containment: The U.S. strategy of keeping communism within its existing boundaries and preventing its further expansion (p. 509). Truman Doctrine: United States policy, established in 1947, of trying to contain the spread of communism (p. 491).

6 word CW Vocab

Hyland & Tse (2007) report that many teachers regard helping students develop specialist [content] vocabulary as an important part of their role and many lists of key terms have been assembled. Marzano & Pickering (2005) offer a manual with 7,923 terms so school and district teams can choose the most important vocabulary words to teach their students. The terms were extracted from national standards documents, across eleven subject areas, and organized into grade-span intervals for: K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12 writers.

Here are examples of online definitions, along with student six-word definitions.  Iron Curtain:  The political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its depended eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other noncommunist areas (Encyclopedia Britannica). Capitalism: An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state (Google). Interestingly this term is not defined in the World History textbook, instead capital is defined as “money or wealth used to invest in business or enterprise” (p. 175).

6 word vocab

The majority of my students mastered this task and defined all seven terms in 15 minutes. I find that quantifying and charting how many terms a student completed within the allotted time helps me get a better picture of their engagement and alerts me to any comprehension problems that may be brewing.

Here some additional examples of student work:
Communism: Form of socialism advocated by Marx; Community has all power in society; All wealth and property owned collectively.
Capitalism: Private owners rather than the state; Prices are based on supply and demand; Individuals make decisions, not the government.
Cold War: Tension and hostility between two nations; Competition between U.S & Soviet states.
Iron Curtain: Prime Minister accuses Soviets of aggression. Soviets create a buffer in Europe.
Containment: Keeping communism within boundaries without spreading; America’s policy toward communist countries.
Truman Doctrine: Tried to prevent spreading of communism; 1947 USA policy stopping Soviet Socialism.

6 word stories

Kinsella (2013) argues that word knowledge is a strong predictor of academic achievement and educators cannot afford to leave vocabulary instruction to chance. She further advises that devoting attention to words that matter most is the first step in responsible lesson planning. I thought these six word definitions demonstrated understanding of Cold War terms and will continue to use it to help students master content vocabulary. It appears that finding activities like creating six-word definitions and re-tweeting favorites enable students to have fun while building their academic vocabulary. What tricks and techniques have been successful in your classroom?

References

Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2007). Is there an “academic vocabulary”?. TESOL quarterly41(2), 235-253.

Kinsella, K. (2013). Cutting to the Common Core: Making Vocabulary Number One. Language Magazine12(12), 18-23.

Marzano, R. J., & Pickering, D. J. (2005). Building academic vocabulary: Teacher’s manual. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714.

Containment Essay

containmentContainment Essay Prompt:

Define the US policy of containment. Discuss three instances of containment from the documents and argue which serves as the best example of containment and which serves the worst example of containment. Evaluate whether containment was an effective or ineffective policy. Be sure that you use in-text or parenthetical citations when you use evidence from the documents.

Thesis Statement Planning

Three examples of Containment are: ____________, _____________, and _______________.

The Cold War lessons in containment have been demonstrated by _________, _________, and _________; when evaluating these lessons, it is clear that…

_________, ___________, and _____________ provide historians with instances of the US Policy of containment, this paper will argue that ____________ is a strong example of containment, while ____________ is a weaker illustration of containment.

Outline

  1. Intro
    1. Background on the Cold War
    2. Definition of Containment
    3. Thesis statement
  2. Strongest example of containment
    1. Evidence from document
    2. Claim
    3. Counter-claim
    4. Explanation of how this supports thesis
  3. Weakest example of containment
    1. Evidence from document
    2. Claim
    3. Counter-claim
    4. Explanation of how this supports thesis
  4. Evaluation was containment a good or bad US policy
    1. Historical factors
    2. Link to thesis
  5. Conclusion
    1. Summarize argument
    2. Recap evidence
    3. Restate thesis

Evidence-based Sentence Starters

Based on this document, it appears that _____________________.

This document suggests that ______________________.

When viewing the map, it is evident that _____________.

This source reveals how US policy makers thought about ________________.

This timeline illustrates how ____________________________.

This quote provides some insight into the nature of __________________________.

Lastly, here are some videos that help you understand the documents better.

Background Essay

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=336174

Document A – Long Telegram

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=336173

Long Telegram Quiz Answers

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=335963

Document B – Berlin Airlift

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=336172

Document C – The Korean War

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=336178

Document D – The Cuban Missile Crisis

http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=336177

Video Game Review

Extra-Credit History-based Video Game Review

Valiant Hearts, Mission-US, Call of Duty, Civilization, Age of Empires, Medal of Honor, Soldiers: Heroes of WWII, Axis and Allies, and The Calm and The Storm: these games have sold millions of copies, yet most History teachers have never played even one of them. Are video games a waste of time and energy? Can video games teach us History? Niall Ferguson, a prominent historian thinks so, read his argument, however, please understand that other researchers urge caution about the appropriateness of video games for certain ages and purposes.

Next, identify the state standard involved in the game you have selected. Then review a history-based video game in at least 500 words. Argue that the experience has taught you something meaningful about history. Your review should describe the story at the heart of the game, link the historical content in the game to your textbook, and describe how it confirms or contradicts what we have studied in class.

family-playing-video-game-console

Other ideas to put in your review

  1. Comment on the historical accuracy, or inaccuracies in the game as well as the level of difficulty in playing it.
  2. How many hours did you spend playing it? How many hours will it take to become a good player?
  3. Who would benefit from playing this game? Age? Demographics?
  4. How could the author target that audience?
  5. Report on who published the game. What other games have they made? How many copies have been sold?
  6. How much does the game retail for?  Where can you get the best deal on it?

Make sure this review follows the traditional essay format. Your teacher will submit the best reviews for publication in the school newspaper.

Outline of traditional essay format to use in your review

  1. Catchy title
    1. Grabber
    2. Background
    3. Definition of key terms
    4. Grand Thesis & roadmap
  2. Mini-thesis #1 (The best part about this game is…)
    1. evidence
    2. argument – explain
    3. link back to thesis
  3. Mini-thesis #2 (The worst part about this game is…)
    1. evidence
    2. argument – explain
    3. link back to thesis
  4. Mini-thesis # 3
    1. evidence
    2. argument – explain
    3. link back to thesis
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate main idea
    2. Summarize key points.

You have between April 8 – May 1, 2015 to submit your review to http://www.PaperRater.com and you can improve it as many times as you want.

I will review your final draft along with the PaperRater report. You may submit them electronically to scottmpetri@gmail.com or print them out and hand them in during class.

Speech Non-Completers

After reading through all of the reflections my students wrote after their WW2 speech projects, I found their responses fell into three general categories: (1) falling on my sword, (2) recognizing our class culture, and (3) the laziness factor. Although an alarming number of student refused to read their speech in class, approximately, two-thirds of my students delivered in front of an audience. They saw good speakers, they saw nervous speakers, and they saw several awe-inspiring, incredibly charismatic speakers.

All students were asked to complete a 30-minute reflection describing how they approached the project.  A colleague, Bill Chapman (@classroomtools), asked me to analyze the reflections of the students who did not complete their speeches. I did not want to do this. I was ready to move on. After conducting this exercise, I am so grateful that Bill nudged me because I was ready to give up on some of these students. However, the act of reading and classifying the reflections pushed my thinking and I am ready to double-down on engaging these students (and parents) over the last few months of the school year.

Falling On My Sword

Deserve a 0

The “I deserve a zero” appeal was utilized by many students who had completed all of necessary the components for the speech, but then lacked the confidence to go up and perform it.  Quite a few of my students fell into this category. Many openly stated that they would rather earn the 100 extra-credit points for a Courage to Care essay assignment than go up and deliver their speech. In retrospect, perhaps these students deserve an A for cost-benefit analysis skills.

Falling on my sword

This student utilized what I call the “falling on my sword” approach. Perhaps by accepting blame, the teacher will have mercy on me? This brown-nosing skill will no doubt prove valuable later in life, but it is unlikely to help the student pass classes with firm deadlines. I am glad the student recognizes that it is still not too late to improve his grade. The consequence for not delivering the speech in class means that students now have to deliver the speech to me outside of classroom hours (at lunch or after school). At some point, this 9th grader will learn that it is easier to finish his work on time than to chase me all over campus.

Recognizing Our Class Culture

Partial Credit

This student has listened to my mantra of… turn in something, anything… most teachers will be forgiving and allow you to revise a poor assignment, but they will not allow you to do that if you miss the deadline and turn NOTHING in.  I have experienced this many times in my academic career. Teachers don’t want to hear excuses why you couldn’t do it, but show us you cared enough to put in some effort and we may just give you the benefit of extra time.

Acknowledging Time Factor

This student gets some bonus points for recognizing that we spent three weeks of class time on this project. They acknowledge that the assignment was important to everyone’s grade, yet despite this keen insight, they still didn’t do it. I guess admitting you have a problem is always the first step. This brings us to our next category.

The Laziness Factor

Laziness Cont

“Laziness is something that I am trying to permanently remove from my system” leapt off the page. A cogent thought from an articulate student capable of doing thoughtful, grade-level work.  A couple of things haunt me about this statement: (1) I have sat across from failing students and their parents countless times over the last decade of my teaching career. “He’s lazy,” say the parents, hoping I know the cure. The student nods “I’m lazy,” and adds a smile as if he’s now got an excuse for never doing any work. He has met and exceeded the parents’ low expectations. In truth, neither party knows how to solve the laziness question, which as it turns out is simply poor time management skills.  (2) Both the student and their parents seem to be equally powerless in solving the laziness problem. How can students learn that hard work leads to opportunity if the parents have not committed themselves to addressing this issue?

Procrastination

Here, the procrastination proclivity pops up again and reminds me that teaching time management is just as vital as teaching content. Assigning project-based work where the students have a degree of control over what and when they produce may do this type of student a disservice. Explicitly showing students (and some parents) how to use a calendar, how to block out time, and how to reward oneself with cell phone, computer, and/or video game time after steps in a project have been completed may be a starting point. Sending home phone call/text reminders through an automated service like Remind may reinforce time management skills and create habits that students could use for the rest of their lives. Does anyone else have ideas for solving this vexing problem?

Outstanding Speech

1389.8 Holocaust C

The speech below was one of 126 delivered in my World History class this spring. The student gave a forceful and emotional reading that enthralled the audience and effectively placed them at the scene of Kristallnacht. At 487-words, this speech took the student 3:47 to deliver. It was a tour de force. I wish more than 40 people had been in my class to witness it.

The Night of Broken Hearts

We went out into the street. The crowd of people became the street, all tripping over each other towards a nearby synagogue, all shouting angrily. We had followed. As we reached the synagogue and halted, silent and angry, we could see at the end of the building, flames rise. The crowd rushed forward and their greedy hands tore seats and woodwork from the building to feed the flames coming from the east of them.

Behind us we heard more shouts. We turned, and saw a part of the mob start along the road to Israel stores. During the days the store’s held granite cubes ostensibly used for repairing roads. Youths, men, and women, screaming deliriously, hurled these blocks of granite through anything glass. Within a few minutes the doors gave away and the indignant mob rushed inside to pillage and loot.

By then the streets were chaotic, filled with bloodthirsty people screaming for the death of Jewish people. A man tried to protect an aged Jewess who had been dragged from her home by a gang. Provided, I pushed my way through to help him and, between us, we managed to heave her through the crowd to a side street and safety.

The center of their hate was a hospital for sick Jewish children, many of them cripples or immobilized. In minutes the windows had been smashed and the doors forced. We arrived when, the swine were driving the wee mites out over the broken glass, bare-footed. The nurses, doctors, and others were being kicked and beaten by the mob leaders.

This was the personal story of Michael Bruce, a non-Jewish Englishman. He had watched this horrid act along with many others would had stood by while it occurred. This event is known as “Kristallnacht,” where Nazis and their supporters in Germany engulfed synagogues in flames, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses, in addition to killing close to 100 Jews, but what had caused this event?

In 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew learned that the Nazis had exiled his parents to Poland from Hanover, Germany. As retaliation, on November 7, the teenager shot Ernst Vom Rath, a German diplomat in Paris. Rath died two days later, and Hitler attended his funeral. Joseph Goebbels, who was the Nazi minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, immediately seized on the assassination to rile Hitler’s supporters into a rage that would cause a terrifying wrath.

The Night of Broken Glass was the result of that rage. After all these atrocities, little action was taken by neither Europe nor the United States. Even if President Roosevelt instructed that refugees already in the U.S. could stay, that does not excuse the fact that we did NOTHING to stop it.

Therefore, we must honor the people who died. We must honor the people we did not save. We must remember the innocent people whose lives were stolen.

kristallnacht-burning-380

Works Cited

“Kristallnacht Eyewitness Accounts and Reminiscences – Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center.” Kristallnacht Eyewitness Accounts and Reminiscences – Simon Wiesenthal Center Multimedia Learning Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/site/pp.asp?c=gvKVLcMVIuG&b=394831&gt;.

Ballastk, Angela. “Kristallnacht: Background & Overview.” Background & Overview of Kristallnacht. The Holocaust Shoah Page, 2000. Web. 03 Feb. 2015. <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/kristallnacht.html&gt;.

Shirvanian, Armen. “The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline: November 9/10 1938 – Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.” The History Place – World War II in Europe Timeline: November 9/10 1938 – Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. The History Place, 1997. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/knacht.htm&gt;.

Feedback

I have been experimenting with a robo-grader called PaperRater.  It gives the students immediate feedback on (1) originality, (2) spelling, (3) grammar,  (4) word choice,  (5) transitional phrases, (6) sentence length, and (7) academic vocabulary. This enables the students to shore up any weaknesses in their writing before they give it to me. You can read the report on this speech HERE.