Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hello, World!

Colleagues, friends, strangers, welcome to The Blog. These 650 posts represent the collective work of the thirty-five young scholars in my Modern World History classes for the 2008-09 school year. Over the course of three months, seventeen assignments, and a century's worth of history, these kids grew the blog from an experiment in homework collection (driven largely by the theft of my bag – and two weeks of homework – from my car) into a lively, conversational, and truly collaborative historical text.

Assignments on the blog were generally based around independent research – the idea being that, hey, we're on the internet, let's use the damn thing. To that end, students read New York Times articles and opinion pieces off of Slate. They browsed image caches hosted by universities and national archive centers. They combed the World Health Organization databases. They reflected on their own historical experiences in the pop culture of novels and movies. The goal of each blog post was to parse the myriad online resources and turn out an informed, analytical chunk of writing. It was to muse on the strange and wonderful puzzle that is the web.

The most recent posts you'll see, directly below, are end of year reflections. Ungraded, these reflections had students ponder the single most important thing they learned over the course of the year in MWH. They weren't meant to be about the blog – they didn't even have to be about history. Overwhelmingly, however, upon stopping and reexamining the research and writing they did this year, students wrote about the blog and the particular way it made them think about academic tone, opinion and organization, historical arguments, and, most importantly, scholarly conversation and debate with their peers.

So – welcome. Have a look around. You just might learn something (I know I did).

Ms. P, over and out.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

D Block History

This class has definitely been my rowdiest history class ever. But I think that fit in nicely with the tone of the class and the way we learned together. The connections we made as a class and by ourselves from the unit we were studying to something happening today were astounding. I know that my ability to recognize those connections and then convey them eloquently whether through speech or writing has drastically improved since the beginning of the year. I think this is due to the unique format of the class whether it was watching a movie like the Battle of Algiers or reading a current New York Times article. I also know for a fact that I would not have learned or grown as a student nearly as much without our exceptional teacher, curriculum, or class dynamic.

Friday, May 29, 2009

D Block MWH with Mama Pugs :)

D Block MWH was like no other class. It was a class I always looked forward to. It was a class in which people expressed their thoughts and opinions . It wasn't just a class were you sat down and took notes. Ms. Pugliese provided us with more engaging ways to learn the incredible amount of material we learned in such a short amount of time. There's one very important thing I took from this class. This is the ability to write a proper essay, not like the ones I wrote freshman year but to-the-point, argumentative, and connective essays. There's one person I should thank for this. It's Ms. Pugliese. Whenever I was stumped on how to begin or end an essay, she somehow always managed to help me succeed. 
This class provided us with different ways to express our knowledge of Modern World History than just memorizing important information and taking dreadful tests in which you had to analyze each multiple choice question in order to be able to answer it.  The idea of having a blog was genius. It allowed me to truly express what I felt about a certain issue or certain events and it also helped me think and connect certain issues with events from modern times. 
D Block MWH with Mama Pugs was MUCH more than just a plain old history class.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A look back on the year

History this year has been a true inspiration to me. Up until this year History was something that I only took because I had to. However, through learning about modern world history, as well as the atmosphere of the class I have become extremely interested in the subject. History is no longer something, which I consider a chore to do the reading homework in, as nerdy as it sounds it actually excites me to have to do reading, and learn about different aspects of history. Apart from learning history, this class also taught me a lot about myself, and the subjects that interest me.  Another change for me in history this year was the fact that I become comfortable with expressing my ideas, and sharing them with the class. This would've never been possible if it wasn't for the comfortable atmosphere of the class. I honestly love coming to class everyday because it isn't a class that I dread going to, and it is extremely fun. Each day is filled with activities, which not only test our knowledge what we have learned but plant new ideas in our minds. I am extremely sad that the year is over because I have enjoyed the time we have spent as a class, learning history together. 

What A Year

Mama Pugs made this a really memorable year. History became an extremely fun class to go to as the year progressed and I thought that this year taught me some new, valuable skills that I don't think the rest of the other classes had access to. I felt like this class was very much more based around learning how to take information and create your own, original ideas around that information, instead of just getting tested on it and forgetting it once we return from summer, or even before that. Instead of doing that, there were fun ways to apply that to our own work: whether it was through the blog, or any other kind of writing expressive assignment that we had throughout the year. Because of activities like these, I think I learned to make history a much more creative class than I always perceived it to be. Most importantly, I think that I learned two extremely relevant, connected things. The first is that the two major research papers that we did taught me how to find good information. The second thing that I learned was how to take that information and instead of just spitting that back out again in my own words, I got really good at picking out specific research to go with an argument that I was trying to prove, using my research more as evidence to support my claim rather than just write about what others have researched as well. All in all, I think that the most important thing that I can take out of this class is how to take factual history and get more creative to turn it something interesting and original that I could call my own work.

Just one important thing I learned

Although this year as a whole has brought a whole different meaning to History Class, I think the most important thing I learned this year was to discover history through modern day uses of technology as well as using not so modern tools. It is important to combine the two, because they feed off of each other, to contribute success. The best stories from Modern World History will come from live accounts (which we have access to) and may even be posted on youtube! A first account of the situation is a great, personal, and entertaining way to learn about a topic in history. I also have learned how having history class after two o'clock is an accident waiting to happen. 

I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Cry

Ok, my title is a little dramatic, but I have had a lot of fun this year in Modern World History with Mama Pugs. Though Mama Pugs teaching style is far different than any other history teacher I have ever had I feel like I am going to remember more from this class that any other. I loved the second semester whether it be blogging, reading Maus, or doing the final project. The most important thing that I learned this year was that history is sometimes hidden and you have to go and look for it. But once you find it, it is the best feeling in the world. I learned to articulate my argument and take criticism (a lot of it). To conclude, I feel that not only has my analytic writing improved but also my argument creation and my ability to take criticism.
Thanks Mama Pugs for a great year and I wish the best to D-Pugs...
--Ryan "I Complain A Lot" Stastny