Friday, April 27, 2012

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

 Benjamin Franklin's political cartoon calling for colonial unity during the French and Indian War; it would be used again during the American Revolution.

Dear Families--
And so begins the next chapter of our study of American History. By the 18th century, the colonies were established and growing. Meanwhile, in Europe, European nations were fighting each other for land and profit throughout the world. Various small wars continued for more than 100 years and became known as King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, and, in North America, The French and Indian War, which was fought to decide which nation, France or Britain, would become the strongest power in North America. Begun as a regional conflict between the French and English, The French and Indian War soon involved European alliances on both sides and quickly escalated into what can be considered the First World War. It relied heavily on its colonists and Indian allies to fight and ultimately resulted in two outcomes--British control of much of North America and an unexpected change in the way American colonists viewed themselves. Tension between Britain and the colonists grew from the war and its aftermath, and the [more unified] colonists began to think of themselves more as Americans than as British subjects. Within a few short years, a new and REVOLUTIONARY conflict would result.

Check out this video from a 1975 movie entitled Barry Lyndon here. It shows the British military's "swaggering airs and scarlet attire" as they rallied to resist what they considered to be the French invasion of British territory. ("British Grenadiers" is the name of the music that played as they marched.)
The British, dressed in bright red uniforms, maintained a formal way of fighting where they marched and fought in formation:  when one man fell, another would rush forward to take his place. The French and Indians, and soon the American colonists, were adept at fighting from behind trees and bushes, which provided a distinct advantage in wilderness skirmishes and ultimately revolutionized the way in which wars were fought.

For those of you who are interested, here are some authentic maps published in 18th century London magazines. People then as now were intrigued by current events, and demanded the most up-to-date information.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, a number of monthly magazines were being published in London. These magazines informed their readers on a variety of subjects, including natural history, topography, sports, and of course current affairs. The British public was fascinated by the events of the war with France and so there was great demand for up-to-date information, especially related to the American theater of battle. The British magazines met this demand with articles and illustrations which they rushed into print as soon as the details became available to them. The following maps appeared in contemporary magazines published in London between 1758 and 1761. These are among the most current illustrations of the events of the French & Indian War which are available to us today.

This map, issued in the Gentleman's Magazine in mid-1755, was published just before the war was declared. It shows "French Incroachments" and includes detailed text explaining the British claims. Also indicated are the numerous French and British forts in North America.

A map of the "English Colonies…bordering on the River Ohio." This map was issued at the end of 1754, the year during which the first shots were fired in the war. The war was sparked by a dispute over control of the upper Ohio River, with the first engagement being George Washington's fight with the garrison at Fort Duquesne (today's Pittsburgh). The British reading public would want a map showing the lands in dispute. This map shows those lands put into the context of the colonies extending from New Hampshire in the north and the Carolinas in the South. The editors used a somewhat out-of-date map.

This map focuses on the arena of fighting up to the spring of 1757, just before the French capture of Fort William Henry. Forts under British control are shown, including "Gen. Johnson's Camp" (Fort William Henry), Fort Ann, Fort Nicholson, and Fort Edward. Forts depicted that were under French control include Forts Oswego, "Frantunac", and Frederick on Crown Point, as well as an indication of a "French Camp" to the southeast of Fort William Henry. The detail of rivers and towns is impressive, and color is used to indicate the political division, including New Hampshire, which takes up the entire region now consisting of New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as "Eastern Massachuset," a district that was later to become Maine. The yellow color used for New York extends almost as far north as Montreal and crosses to the north side of the St. Lawrence River, with a note ("Extent of the French Settlements before they built a Fort at Crown Point") indicating the British viewpoint that the French claims to these lands were recent and unfounded.

This map is of the region around Lake George--from Crown Point on Lake Champlain to Fort Edward on the Hudson. It shows the forts in the region, including besides the two mentioned above, Fort William Henry and Fort Ticonderoga. Also shown are trails in the area, and a large body of "Drown'd Lands" along Wood Creek to the south of Ticonderoga.

FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR CHRONOLOGY--A chart showing dates and places of the French and Indian War.

"Because dense forests made overland travel in North America very difficult, Indians and Europeans used waterways whenever possible. Between the St. Lawrence River (Montreal) and the Hudson River (Albany), several smaller rivers and lakes enabled fur traders, missionaries, and soldiers to travel by canoes and bateaus. Lake Champlain, the longest of these waterways, provided a link between the two major rivers. Although the French dominated the northern end of the lake, the southern sector and Lake George remained in contention. In 1755, the governor of Canada ordered the construction of Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) at the place where travelers had to move overland between Lake Champlain and Lake George. Sir William Johnson responded by erecting Fort William Henry at the southern tip of Lake George."

I will continue to share our learning--

P.S. For more information on the Who/What/When/Where of the French and Indian War, check out Social Studies for Kids.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move." Ben Franklin

Dear Families--

You may have noticed that the communication and style of our blog has changed. More and more I'm trying to use it as a teaching directory--and a way to provide you with the information and activities your child is experiencing each day. It's good to know what's going on here and to see how your child's education is evolving in a "21st Century" classroom.

Showing students how to access information is easier said than done. My goal is to help them develop the skills and mindset to independently explore resources, glean information from primary text, and develop the curiosity and motivation that exemplifies true learning. Moving forward, we will move through a plethora of self-directed activities and experiences designed to pique their interests.


What was it like in colonial times? I'm always interested in what everyday life was like for people. As this video reveals, very few folks dressed in the fancy clothes we associate with colonial America. Click here to see how most of us would have dressed for a typical day.

This week we'll share our information about colonial trades. (Be looking for an informational bulletin board that describes many of the trades and crafts of colonial America.) We'll complete a quick review of American colonies (test), then embark on an adventure to learn about the French and Indian War.

WANT TO STUDY? (say "YES!"--the test is Thursday, for Pete's sake!)) Check out the "13 Colonies" links to the left of this blog entry.



Both classes are finishing up their "Hero" PowerPoints in Language Arts. The children have been given the freedom to develop these PowerPoints in unique and expressive ways as they work toward quality. I hope you have had the opportunity to view these projects and offer feedback to your child. The syllabus I provided was a step-by-step guide for them and you—did you find it helpful?

Students in 5/6 are required to provide me with a written copy of their research before the end of the week. It’ll be good to wrap things up before spring break.


GRADE 6 BOOK PROJECT FOR WEEK OF APRIL 15: Students will fill in an online book review template using the link below. They will then cut and paste the summary part of the review onto another sheet of paper to include in an artistic display.

Click here to download the document: bookreview_elementary-download.doc


That should just about do it for the week. I hope you all have a chance to relax and enjoy your family next week. Be safe; I'll see you all soon.

And again, thanks for all you do--


P.S. Hey kids: If you have a few minutes with nothing to do, you might be interested in reading a cool web-comic / colonial mystery called "Written in Bone: The Secret in the Cellar." It's located here. For those of you who do and can answer a few easy questions when you get back, there's 10 humongous bonus points in it for you! SUCH a deal!

P.P.S. -- Here's the last thing you'll need to do for Digital Wish. Please take this Student Post-Deployment Survey:

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Hard times don't create heroes. It is during the hard times when the 'hero' within us is revealed." -- Bob Riley

Welcome families--
This week we'll travel back in time and explore how people
made a living in colonial America. This will involve two activities. Here is a copy of what I gave to the kids:

Part 1:

We will investigate colonial trades through virtual tours of living history museums and through primary sources containing personal accounts of colonial apprentices.

For this activity, your tasks will be to:

Read about becoming an apprentice:

Benjamin Franklin, “How I Became a Printer in Philadelphia (old fashioned language!)

More information about becoming an apprentice (modern language)

This is interesting, too!

“I Was Sure of Getting a Trade”: John Fitch’s Long Journey Towards Becoming an Artisan

. . .And answer the following questions: (These should be carefully thought-out, complete responses)

1. What was life like for colonial apprentices and other youth?

2. When did young people have to choose a trade?

3. How do the lives of colonial apprentices compare/contrast to your own?

Part 2:

We’re going to learn about the many trades practiced in colonial America, the process of becoming an artisan, and the role of artisans in colonial society.

For this activity, your task will be to:

  • Choose a trade and become that person. Research your trade, using the questions [on the next page] to guide you. The answers will then be written in paragraph form.
  • Create a mini-poster that includes the name of your trade and an illustration.
  • Present your information to the class.

The information and poster will create an impressive bulletin board display in the hallway, so the emphasis is on creating a product that is PRESENTATION QUALITY!


1. Your trade is__________

2. Describe your trade in detail.

3. What are the tools of your trade, and where do you get them?

4. What are the required skills of your trade?

5. Do you need to be an apprentice for your job? If so, for how long? What process do you go through to become the master of your craft?


On an 8 ½ X 11 piece of art paper, write the name of your trade in large, decorative letters. Then draw a picture that exemplifies your trade. (For example, if I was a broom maker, I’d draw a [colonial-style] broom on my paper.) Fill the space, and use bold colors; small pictures or letters don’t show up well on a display.

Your mini-poster (8 ½ X 11) and write-up will be matted.

and glued onto a 12 X 18 piece of construction paper for our hallway display.

Here is a list of colonial trades (certainly not a complete one!) Click on the links to begin your research. (I do hope you look beyond this one site for your information. There's lots out there!


LANGUAGE ARTS, both classes:
I'm hoping to have students complete their "Hero" PowerPoints and present them to the class this week, which will conclude our unit. Have your child show you the rubric which will be used to their project. They've used it as a guide for their work.

6th grade: Spelling and DOL, Unit 22 -- due Friday.

I hope your evening is a pleasant one.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. --Isaac Asimov


To create bibliographies for your Heroes PowerPoint, click here. This wonderful free site is called

FYI: I modified the steps for creating a bibliography and will go over them in class tomorrow. Be sure you have all your information (url addresses, etc.) ready to go.

Just know that
you will only be working with the following two icons on Citation Wizard:

Click on the icon for whichever kind of source you used and fill in all appropriate information. (Notice that some items have asterisks next to them. They must be filled in before an entry can be created.)


Grade 6 is going to VUHS tomorrow, April 5, from 12:15--1:45. They will eat lunch before departing. What a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the wonderful band and chorus programs awaiting them!


Today, Grade 6 completed a graphic organizer titled, "Colony Profiles." This was a great exercise in finding information from multiple sources. Students learned also that not all sources necessarily agree. That's history for you! Here again are the websites we used. (Please note that the first one could not be accessed at school; I'm getting that fixed. We used my computer and the overhead for today.) This assignment is due Friday, April 6. Grade 5 will work on this tomorrow.

Colony Profiles: Learn about how each colony was established.

American Colonies

Another Map Interactive that might be helpful.

Chart of the 13 Colonies--good, quick information

When Colonies Were Founded

Original Inhabitants of Colonies

You can find out about important people here.

13 Colonies Village and Trades--Find out what a colonial town was like.


Both classes continue to work on Heroes PowerPoints. I'm concerned that some students, particularly 5th graders, are not where they should be at this point. Please know that there is ample time and support in class for ALL learners. We'll work on Bibliographies on Thursday, and then students should be finishing up in preparation for presenting next week. Ask to see the project guidelines I provided to each of them.

Grade 6 is working on Unit 21 in Spelling and DOL (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics). Test on Friday!


GRADE 6: Our reading is all over the place. If it's not our reading group books, it's informational text of one sort or another. Lots of overlapping projects these days.

DANGER, DANGER!! Grade 6 has a book project that is due NO LATER THAN Friday.

Have a restful, peaceful, quiet, relaxing, soothing, enjoyable evening, everyone.