Tag Archives: Bronx

The Return to the Neighborhood – Mr. D is back!

I'm Back by popular demand!It took quite a while, but the Neighborhood is back in business!

To be honest, I was really expecting to post at least once a week when I started my new position.  However, this year I learned of a new kind of exhaustion.

My new school, in all fairness, is such a refreshing change from my old situation that my exhaustion was barely noticed.  It’s a charmed life: a K-8 neighborhood school in a Bronx neighborhood reminiscent of my ancestral haunts in Brooklyn, with incredible colleagues and administrators that really back me up to the hilt.  Few teachers nowadays get that kind of treatment anymore.

Yet the Neighborhood had to take a back seat to a cruel mistress-two of them, in fact.  Ancient history was less demanding.  Sixth grade science, on the other hand, has had me doing tricks that would make a Flying Wallenda soil his tights.  Its been rough creating basically a whole new curriculum on the fly, especially in two subject areas.  History was simply a refresher: it was nothing some pyramids, a Hammurabi Code and some gladiators couldn’t fix.

Science…well…let’s just say for years we’ve had an understanding.  We usually stay out of each other’s way.

Yet when the principal asked if I could teach science during my interview, of course I nodded.  I could teach anything.  A superteacher like me only needs a stopwatch and some dry-erase markers to make kids recite Herodotus in the original Greek or do long division while explaining word problems in perfect iambic pentameter.

In other words, I lied.  Sort of.  Hey, I wanted the gig.

So between physics formulas, ancient artifacts and suffering through a broken Smartboard and a stack of paperwork I never had to do before, my life has been pretty much exhausted to the point that the Neighborhood was neglected.

Well, no more.

The Neighborhood will be back to give the usually refreshing, mostly irreverent, oftentimes crass and always honest commentary on American and world history, history education and education in general.

So to start…how about a teaching tool designed by yours truly?

One thing I really needed at the beginning of the year was a good comprehensive, all-inclusive introduction to the ancient history curriculum.  Since I’m known to knock around a decent PowerPoint or two, I created this introductory presentation as a jumping off point for lesson planning, assessments, projects, whatever you need.  It starts with a world map where you click on individual areas and it shows information about the “Big Four” civilizations usually studied (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome).  Each section has maps, pictures, short bios of important people and key contributions of each people.

It isn’t a silver bullet, but the presentation is a good way to get students to think about deeper exploration of various themes.  The link is below:

Introduction to Ancient Civilizations

PS – It has my real name on it…as if it were a big secret LOL.  Enjoy.

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Update on the Jason Kovac situation at PS 14

Wow, you folks at PS 14 were right.  Jason Kovac is one tough nut to crack.

PS 14 in Throgs Neck has a new interim principal now, Ira Schulman, who will hopefully at least have better communication skills than his predecessor.  Former principal Jason Kovac was contacted numerous times to state his case after his raking in the UFT press.  Maybe he didn’t respond to e-mails.  Maybe his DOE e-mail isn’t working (If anyone knows his whereabouts, please let me know).

Nonetheless, Kovac has proven at least one of his allegations right: he believes he is above public scrutiny.  That adds up to being a pretty smug, self-serving you-know-what.

Any city teachers with any word on Kovac’s current status is welcome to comment or write here at the Neighborhood.  For one thing, we wish Principal Shulman and the folks at PS 14 the very best in the future.

Unless I hear otherwise, this case is closed.



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Website for the Classroom: Turning Points in American Sports

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, 1973 (AP)

I’m gearing up for my trip to Cuba in a couple of weeks, so the next few posts will be more informational in nature.  More resources, less commentary from yours truly…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History produces an e-journal called History Now.  This quarter’s topic is sports, and no better month to release it than March, as pro hockey and basketball get more important, spring training has baseball on so many minds, and the grandest dance of all, the NCAA National Basketball Championships, both the men and the women.

The journal has some amazing articles.  Start with the introductory article on the importance of sports in American history by Fordham professor Mark Naison.  I’ve met Mark, and have also been on walking tours with him detailing the history of the South Bronx.   He is a fascinating scholar of urban history, as well as the chief archivist of the Bronx African American History Project, an incredible endeavor documenting thousands of oral histories–in essence providing a primary record for the history of the Bronx in the 20th and 21st centuries.

For those steeped in Women’s History Month, look at Gail Collins’ article on the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, as well as articles on women’s baseball and the importance of Title IX, which guaranteed equality in education and especially sports based on sex.

Along with the articles are great sidebars for teachers to use.  Interactive lesson plans, video clips, and archives of previous editions can allow you into a cornucopia of resources. 

Take a look and have some fun with this.  Let me know how you did, and I might even have more resources for you.

Now if you don’t mind, I have to finish my brackets.

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