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