Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nobles, Knights, Serfs and Substitutes

This past week was an odd week for me.  It began like any other as we spent Monday and Tuesday beginning Reading Notes 2 in the workbook and learning about the social structure of the Middle Ages called feudalism.  However, on Wednesday I had to be out of the classroom helping the 6th grade language arts teachers from across the district evaluate their students' writing on the Fall District Writing Assessment.  I never like to be out of the classroom, particularly in September, given how important it is to set the tone at the beginning of the year as to what the expectations are.  Then, as I was driving in to work on Thursday, I received a call from Stefanie, my wife,  who said she was not feeling well and needed me to be at home to take care of Thomas, our two year old, and get Jonah, our 5 year old, off to school.  She has pretty much stayed in bed for the last three days with what seems to be the flu.  Our doctor went ahead and prescribed Tamiflu for Jonah and Thomas to try to prevent them from getting sick.  Thomas had a slight fever on Thursday night, so I made the decision to go ahead and call in for sub on Friday as well.  I hope to be back on Monday. 

In terms of classwork for the week, we took video notes on 20 minutes videos about Feudalism, The Noble, The Knight and The Serf. The notes are taken in two column format where I give students the topics on the left hand side and they fill in the specific details on the right hand side.  We also played a fun review game using white boards.  Two students are chosen to go the back of the room and the rest of the class uses their notes and/or the textbook to find key words or phrases.  I choose one of the words and the students in the back try to guess what it is using clues from their classmates.  My plan was to have students turn-in their work on Friday, which is the normal routine, but we'll have to do that on Monday. I was also hoping to take the student to the lab this past week, to help them set up their own blog (check them out at and to show them more about buying and selling stocks for our stock market contest ( parents are welcome to sign up by clicking here and using this password: smseagles).  Now the plan is to do that on Monday also.

Lastly, I know that many students have been out sick as well.  Of course I will be flexible and work with them to help them make up any work.  I highly recommend that students who have been gone set up a time to meet with me to develop a plan for how they will complete the work, particularly the video watching and notes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grades Updated

Today was our first official "Progress Report Day."  In the past, this meant that I would print out hard copies of each student's grades and hand them out.  However, now that most (but not all, I know) families have online access, I simply try to have as many assignment grades inserted in the online gradebook as is possible.  When you look at the grade, you'll notice that there are mostly "practice" assignments except for the Chapter 1 Quiz, which is the first "performance" grade.  In my class, I use weighted categories.  "Performance" is worth 70% and "practice" is 30%.  This being the case, it is extremely important for students to do well on their performance assignments (i.e. tests, quizzes, projects, etc).  Because the category is worth so much, students are welcome to retake/redo any performance assignment until I cut off grades at the end of the trimester.  Take at look at your grades and be sure to communicate with me if you have any questions. 

I do have a question for you.  What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of a system like mine where one category is worth so much and where students can redo/retake those assignments as often as they like?  Use the comment feature below to register your feedback (or if you are reading this on your email, click here).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Feudalism, Stock Market and Creative Economy

In class this past Thursday we did our first simulation. I chose one student from each class to be king or queen and they in turn chose 4 Lords or Ladies, who in turn chose some knights to protect their "manor". The remaining students were lowly serfs working the land. I was able to get a few props from Mr. Tresman (our part time librarian.
From Mr. Talmadge's Blog

In addition, I have been slowly giving out money in our creative economy. I use it both as an incentive for positive behaviors, and also as a deterrent for undesirable behaviors.
From Mr. Talmadge's Blog

Finally, I took each class to the lab this week to sign them up for the first trimester stock market contest. Contest rules are simple: spend at least 40,000 of the allotted 50,000 dollars and buy stock in at least 20 different companies. I would like to invite parents to participate as well. You should be able to click on the green box below to get signed up.
Join my free Stock Contest at! (password: smseagles)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Have you subscribed yet?

I just wanted to put out a post so that those of you who have subscribed to the blog can see what it will look like in your email in box.  Don't forget to check your junk mail folder to make sure your filter didn't automatically route it there.  It was great meeting all of you and I am looking forward to a fantastic year. 

In terms of class so far, we have turned in a few assignments, but I have yet to update the grades.  I'll make it a priority to do that this coming week.  We have begun our first lesson on the Legacy of the Romans.  We will be having  a quiz on Wednesday about that legacy.  I also handed out a map of Europe that students can be working on.  You can find those by clicking on the "documents" tab at the top of my blog.  The map is due on Friday the 18th.  On Thursday we will have our first experiential simulation where students get assigned to a social class a la the Feudal system that arose out of a chaotic Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, sunny weekend.

P.S.  All of the relevant links for me are as follows:

The Blog: (subscribe at
The Audio Update:
The Videos:
The Tweets:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Edmodo Code of Conduct

Edmodo Code of Conduct


1.  I will only use one of the avatars included with edmodo for my profile picture or create one that doesn't include my picture.


2.  I will use posts to discuss course content only.


3.  I will use a respectful tone of voice when posting.  All school rules and consequences related to harassment apply.


4.  I will use appropriate English grammar instead of texting language.

5.  I will only use pictures that I have appropriate legal permission to use.

6.  I will not use my posts to promote personal websites or chatrooms.