Sunday comes after Saturday, and a full week; so it’s no surprise that it’s another Sunday morning. CBS Sunday Morning is on the television in front of me and I can watch with one eye and one listen with one ear. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t because I am easily distracted and drift off and watch with both eyes and listen with both ears, not good for a day with several chores and much schoolwork lying ahead.
But, I watch and listen adjusting the volume up and down as needed, because sometimes I get an idea for a lesson, or maybe even a post. Or, maybe it makes my life a tad bit richer than it was before I switched it on.
Last week slipped by in a blur of days and activities. The week was four days long due to the Columbus Day holiday and when Friday’s 3 PM dismissal bell rang school was done, but I was not finished. There was more to do with the time than I had, a common problem I encounter.
Tuesday afternoon, I volunteered to play music at the 8th girls’ volleyball game after school. Tuesday was pink out – for Breast Cancer Awareness and the 8th grade girls played in homemade pink jerseys. A week earlier, I had given each of my students a pink pencil in honor of Melinda and her mom who was taken too early in July 2000. The same day I changed the banner of my blog to pink pencils – the odd colored pencils in the banner, represent women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. I enjoyed playing music between games and during timeouts, and so did the girls and their parents. One of the girl’s teams won, the other lost, but it was time well spent. Thursday in class, the girls asked if I would play music for their playoff game that afternoon, so I did. They came up short and their season is finished, but the lessons they learned this season will last a lifetime. Sometimes, what is pressing is not as important as building relationships.
Last week in history class, we finished studying the American Revolution and began our study of the next steps in democracy – for the young nation, it was figuring out what was next. They started with the Articles of Confederation and soon discovered the Articles needed amending and wrote the Constitution. It was messy and each state and each delegate had their own ideas of which direction to move. Several men stepped forward and advanced their ideas – Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Hamilton are the few we remember – here are the rest…. Founding Fathers.
My eight graders were wondering what was in it for them, they wondered,
“Why do we need to learn this?”
The framers knew that if the new nation was to survive and thrive, they needed to work together and compromise. They did, and our Constitution remains viable today.
Thursday evening I was looking for a class starter. I begin each history class with a question, a bellringer – sometimes it’s a review question, sometimes it’s a probing question followed by discussion. Sometimes the discussion lasts a couple of minutes, and sometimes it leads to a healthy conversation and conflicting ideas. After skimming the Thursday’s reading for Friday’s class, I decided to ask the question,
Who was Alexander Hamilton? And, what did he do?
In retrospect, it was a stroke of genius. I gave my class a few minutes to answer, they could review their notes or look in the textbook. I wandered the room looking over shoulders at their answers encouraging them with affirmations and small challenges – ‘good idea,’ ‘are you certain?’ ‘how do you know that?’ I called time and surveyed the room and asked again,
Who was Alexander Hamilton? And, what did he do?
A few hands popped up, then a few more. I called on a several students, gathering responses and ideas. Instead of answering the question, giving them the answer, I showed the video below, pardon the commercial.
Afterwards we discussed Alexander Hamilton and several students began to realize the country we have today, is a result of the work done two hundred and thirty some years ago. As a nation, we continue to grow and change and my students realized if we learn to compromise, we can achieve great things.It’s why we learn and study history.
I would never have tried it, if it weren’t for a segment on CBS Sunday Morning from March 8, 2015. It was story about a musical written about Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton: A Life Made for the Stage. I remember watching it live. I filed it away because I remembered it when I thought of the question I wanted to ask my students Friday morning.
I looked back in time to see what I had written in early March 2015 and discovered I had written:
But, nothing in between. I was probably up to my eyeballs in school and family, hence the post about balance three weeks later.
I have watched the video several times since, forwarded it to my colleagues at school, and even downloaded the soundtrack – it’s available on iTunes: Hamilton (Original Broadway Recording). This week’s edition of CBS Sunday Morning is complete, I’ve switched the television off, and I am listening to the soundtrack as I write and finish this post.
It was a great week, W’s football team notched their second win of the season Friday evening and he played most of the second half. The Tigers have one more game on the schedule. It’s senior night and will be his last football game. It will be bittersweet week for us – W, B and me.
If history teaches me anything, it is that what lies ahead is uncertain but is determined by what I’ve done in the past and what I do in the present, today. So, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day before it’s too late and it seizes me. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one lesson, one discussion, one trip back in time, or simply a moment in the present.
What are you doing today to get ready for tomorrow?