Friday, December 17, 2010

Books for Haiti

Librarian Linda Straube posted this recently to the New Trier Library blog. One of our librarians, Deborah Lazar is working on assistance to victims of the Haiti disaster and also on aid to the library. She will be sending books translated into French by New Trier language students.
Three French teachers, Monsieur Greaux, Madame Salisbury and Mademoiselle Weiss, recently offered their students an opportunity to truly make a difference for others. The students each translated a child’s picture book from English to French and then added the French words to each page so that the books could be sent to French speaking Haiti and shared with victims of last year’s earthquake. Here’s a brief version of the story in pictures with images from some of the books:
Librarian Linda Straube pulled together some scanned images, pictures and text to describe this fabulous project by our students and Foreign Language teachers. Our library is very excited that we could support of such a fantastic project. Thanks to everyone who helped!

Our students loved this project, especially the childhood memories it raised for them and the chance to help others. L. Straube writes about her favorite quote:

"Dear children of Haiti, I hope this book gives you joy during a difficult time for your country.... If you are ever sad, you must remember that there is hope everywhere, but it is in hiding and you must find it." 
We have already started conversations about how other language classes (Spanish and Chinese) might pursue a similar project, perhaps donating books to Central America or to a local charity in one of Chicago’s neighborhoods. If you would like to learn more, please contact New Trier Librarians.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Iconography of Justice

Don't miss this interesting article in today's New York Times:
“That Lady With the Scales Poses for Her Portraits”

Yale Law Professors Judith Resnick and Denis Curtis have a new book out which traces justice symbols through the ages:
Representing Justice  (ideas through the centuries and also around the globe)

This book charts how the iconography of justice has both reflected and influenced the development of courts and national governments.

I could see making a joint collaboration with IGSS students and art students who could do a artistic/and or photography exhibit on Justice. 

Read the full article:

Slideshow of images from “Representing Justice”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is injustice? What is evil?

What is the nature of evil?
How do we recognize it?
What are its components?
We are developing our own definitions of evil based on our reading of
No Country for Old Men.
evil generally seeks own benefit at the expense of others murder of innocents
genocide, killing a baby
morally objectionable behavior

morally bad or wrong; "evil purposes"; "an evil influence"; "evil deeds"
abuse of power
intentional pain or harm, is offensive, or threatening 
dehumanizing, pain, oppression, hatred 
profound selfishness
deliberate cruelty

According to M.Scott Peck: evil is a character disorder;
an evil person:
Is consistently self deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self image of perfection
Deceives others as a consequence of their own self deception
Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets  --scapegoats --while being apparently normal with everyone else
Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self deception as much as deception of others
Abuses political (emotional) power
Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so
Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Science teacher Amy Ludoph and I are attending the lecture and book signing for this amazingly well researched book: 
The Immortal Life of HEnrietta LAcks

Lecture, Book signing and Dinner with
Best-Selling Author Rebecca Skloot
later today at 5 pm Tuesday November 16, 2010
Northwestern University Chicago Campus, Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Ave.
sponsored by The Chicago Council on Science and Technology & Children’s Memorial Research Center

Skloot’s wonderfully accessible work is now being made into an HBO movie produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. 
Skloot takes readers on an amazing journey that explores the complicated legacy of one woman’s unwitting contribution to modern science.  
Eric Roston of The Washington Post said the book is “Vivid… A deftly crafted investigation of a social wrong committed by the medical establishment as well as the scientific and medical miracles to which it led.”
Skloot learned about HeLa cells in high school and was curious about their origins.  Skloot spent 10 years researching the life of Henrietta Lacks who was a poor uneducated black woman in the Jim Crow South. In the 1950s who worked the same tobacco fields as her slave ancestors.  When she died of cervical cancer  at age 31, her cells—taken without her family's knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.  HeLa cells became essential for creating the polio vaccine. They were also used to find out more about cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb. HeLa cells became useful for developing in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Henrietta's cells, still alive today, have been bought and sold by the billions.
The Lacks family did not learn about her cells “immortality” until more than twenty years after Henrietta's death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent and without any monetary compensation. This book connects to our basic question this year about "What is injustice"? The HeLa cells are connected to the unethical history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control our own tissues. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. and became highly interested in answers to her questions:
  • Had scientists cloned her mother?
  • Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space?
  • What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen?
  • If her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?
The book is an amazing accomplishment not only in terms of the writing and research, but also in human terms. Skoot's dogged determination to honor the family legacy comes shining through this absorbing narrative.

Monday, November 15, 2010

All-online 2010 Global Education Conference starts today: November 15 - 19, 2010!

The free, all-online 2010 Global Education Conference takes place this coming week, November 15 - 19, 2010!
Steve Hargadon reports:
We currently have 397 sessions from 62 countries scheduled, as well as 63 keynote speakers--an amazing lineup.  Take a look at the conference keynote speakers and presenters:

The conference is a collaborative and world-wide community effort to significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting education activities. Our goal is to help you make connections with other educators and students, and for this reason the conference is very inclusive and also provides broad opportunities for participating and presenting. While we have an amazing list of expert presenters and keynote speakers, we will also have some number of presenters who either have not presented before or have not presented in Elluminate--please come to encourage and support them, as they are likely to be a little nervous!

There is no formal registration required for the conference, as all the sessions will be open and public, broadcast live using the Elluminate platform, and available in recorded formats afterwards. There is a limit of 500 live attendees for any given session. To verify that your computer system is configured correctly to access Elluminate, please run the self-test at

Please tell your friends and colleagues about this event, and watch for the Twitter hashtag #globaled10.
S. Hargadon

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Next week: Lit Circles for No Country for Old Men

Glad to see some parents join us for the documentary film fest November 10 at Wilmette Theater with 13 films by IGSS students on justice topics.

Pulitzer prize winning author Cormac McCarthy
We are now reading Cormac McCarthy's 
No Country for Old Men --even better than the movie.
"In 1980 southwest Texas, Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles across several dead men, a bunch of heroin and $2.4 million in cash. The bulk of the novel is a gripping man-on-the-run sequence relayed in terse, masterful prose as Moss, who's taken the money, tries to evade Wells, an ex–Special Forces agent employed by a powerful cartel, and Chigurh, an icy psychopathic murderer armed with a cattle gun and a dangerous philosophy of justice. Also concerned about Moss's whereabouts is Sheriff Bell, an aging lawman struggling with his sense that there's a new breed of man (embodied in Chigurh) whose destructive power he simply cannot match. In a series of thoughtful first-person passages interspersed throughout, Sheriff Bell laments the changing world, wrestles with an uncomfortable memory from his service in WWII and—a soft ray of light in a book so steeped in bloodshed—rejoices in the great good fortune of his marriage. While the action of the novel thrills, it's the sensitivity and wisdom of Sheriff Bell that makes the book a profound meditation on the battle between good and evil and the roles choice and chance play in the shaping of a life." 
Summary from
Looking forward to the discussions in our literature circles starting next week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Changing Education Paradigms: IGSS as a model for school reform

Many of the ideas generated by the strategic plan for IGSS incorporate the newer ideas about how students learn and also
allow for more student creativity.

This animation/drawing is adapted from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Town Hall Meeting -- Justice Paper due Today!

I.   Town Hall Meeting
II.  Committee Work - sign up for Committees online
 a) Water Committee: Continue efforts to reduce NT dependence on bottled water. Sell IGSS water bottles. Speak to adviseries about bottled water. Bookstore will sell 21 oz NT reusable water bottle. Jeremy will speak to faculty on Tuesday and hoping for the no bottled policy to continue.
b) Advisery Visits and PR for IGSS:  do visuals; sign up for slots to meet with adviseries
c) Lighting Group:  setting up all school blackouts with Dr. Dohrer
d) Other environmental efforts:  lunchroom, paper, Styrofoam, food offerings.
e) Global Connections with Other Kids: investigate Global LAB
f)  Hosting a Global Justice Youth Summit:  bring in speakers; preparing a proposal to the larger group
g) Service Projects setting up projects - allowed to use house points
h) IGSS social community days - mini shark (pet)
i)  Vegetarian Committee - lunch room; create better food options in student dining room
j)  IGSS curriculum - choose a unit to develop which fits into curriculum

III.  IGSS Film Fest will happen at Wilmette Theater

IV.  Becky's presentation --Campaign to Stop Killer Coke! -- see Campus Activism packet
from their website:  
"Dear Sisters & Brothers:
Strong labor unions are critical to improve wages, working conditions and human rights for all workers and for democracies to flourish. For workers in Colombia and Guatemala, a strong union can also mean the difference between life and death.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke originated to stop the gruesome cycle of violence against union leaders and organizers in Colombia in efforts to crush their union, SINALTRAINAL. Since then, violence, abuse and exploitation leveled against Coke workers and communities have been uncovered in other countries as well, notably China, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico and Turkey."
Letter writing campaign? 

V. Narrative Assessment for 1st Quarter - Completing student reflections
     A. IGSS Skills and Habits of Mind
          email text - t
o Colby who will copy & paste into your Narrative--1 paragraph is enough
     B. Social Studies Descriptors
     C. Science Descriptors
     D. English Descriptors

Friday, October 22, 2010

The House of Logikos Wins 100 points - clothing presentation

Announcements: Congratulations to the House of Logikos! excellent clothing, music/choreography

1.) Video Yearbook Opportunity:
 We have an opportunity to create slides for the hallway monitors and to submit video for the Video   Yearbook. PR committee could get on this, or any individual can do it!!

a)  Pictures:  in the Ndrive/classes/IGSS/2010picsandvids. The images need to be .jpg or .psd,

1920x1080 @ 96dpi

b.)  Videos: also in the folder above. Trim to 30 seconds or less. Name them, put them back in the folder, and email Vargas to state the title of the file.

2. ) State of the Plate Conference: IGSS has been allowed invited to bring 30 students to State of the Plate, the Midwest’s first one-day conference to develop and share best practices, information, and strategies for creating a sustainable meat supply in the region, is happening November 17 at the Harold Washington Library Center and Robert Morris University. The agenda includes:

* Keynotes by Robert Kenner, writer/director of the Academy Award-nominated Food, Inc. and Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company

* Panel discussions with leaders such as rancher and television news anchor Bill Kurtis, Paul Willis of Niman Ranch, policy experts; academic leaders; and diverse Midwestern distributors and producers that use various practices and feeding styles to raise animals sustainably

* Reception at Robert Morris University’s Culinary School led by students, chefs, and farmers with taste-testing and sampling of various meat products available for sale to restaurant and food-service purchasers

* Viewing of Food, Inc. followed with a Question and Answer session by Robert Kenner

* Pre- and post-event receptions with elected officials, culinary leaders, city commissioners, and dignitaries as well as supporters, sponsors, and panelists, with a short program to highlight food-related public health and environmental threats and the opportunities for change

3.) Consider coming to a presentation "The Power of the Arts: Habits of Mind and Mood" by Ellen Winner, PhD, Chair of the Dept of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Researcher for Project Zero at Harvard University on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2010 at 7:00pm in the Skokie School Auditorium, 520 Glendale Ave. in Winnetka.

This presentation is sponsored by FAN, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Children's Museum, The Skokie School, and Careleton Washburne School.

Ludolph Lecture on Designing Scientific Studies: for the purpose of studying a justice topic which will culminate in production of a documentary film.

Three Types of Studies
A. Observational Studies - no independent variable; use bar graphs & charts
B. Controlled Experiments - involves changing an independent variable - on 'x axis' --here you are tying to prove cause & effect: results in a graph
C. Correlational Studies - how one variable affects another variable; e.g. the effect of drinking alchohol on a pregnant woman. This is not ethical to actually test so the scientist must interview pregnant women.

Components of all studies:

1. Make observation
2. State question or problem; hypothesis
3. collecting and recording data
4. data
5. Communication of data

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wealth and Poverty: Economic Reasons

Seniors: Excursion tomorrow to view documentary: Waiting For Superman [2010] Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim examines public education, surveying "drop-out factories" and "academic sinkholes," methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems.

Today's topic ---Wealth and Poverty:  Economic Reasons

Primary Economic Activities: 
Agriculture - Mining- Forestry - Fishing - Ranching (extracting raw materials) If a large percentage of economic activity is in this category,  then the country tends to be poor.

Secondary Economic Activities: Manufacturing, e.g. autos, textiles

Tertiary Activities:  Providing Services (e.g. tourism, medical services, legal profession)
Discussion: Is tourism ethical?

Tourism is the world's largest economic sector. It plays a significant role in lifting people out of poverty, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said, and is one of the few ways the least developed countries have managed to increase their participation in the global economy. Last year, almost 700 million tourists made international trips. By 2010, the figure is projected to reach 1 billion, according to the WTO.

"informal economy" - bartering; black market
Structure of economic activity determines a country's wealth. A mix of economic activity is needed to cushion the economy from a major downturn.

Essay on Justice:  ideas, suggestions
What is your thesis?  How will you answer this question:  "What is Justice?" You need 2/3 examples from 2/3 different texts Not all of your examples need to demonstrate the same definition of justice.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Watching Documentaries

In preparation for a future assignment which requires students to research and make a documentary film, we are viewing documentaries today and using these questions for discussion.

IGSS Documentary Questions

What tactics did interviewers take when interviewees misunderstood, felt offended, were confused or merely presented a “yes” or “no” answer to a given question?

Which visual techniques best helped to tell the story being told through a documentary?

What would you guess are the benefits of interviewing a sample population rather than narrowing the focus to a specific age group, gender, race social class, etc. Disadvantages?

What type of pleas were embedded within the documentaries? Which pleas were most effective and why?

What effect does the choice of music have on an audience? How does the choice of music affect the type of plea that a documentary maker puts forth?

How does the use of a narrator effect our reaction to the way in which a story is told?

Which documentaries told the most convincing story or made their point most strongly? Which techniques kept you as an audience member most engaged in any of the documentaries?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Video Tool Worth Sharing

I have spent early morning hours looking at some video applications shared by Jenny Levine [Shifted] on Twitter. She really loved this amazing application  which plays 20 YouTube music videos simultaneously.

Didn't care for the music, but the application is great! My hyperactive brain was led to another site that is so web 2.0! and  ridiculously easy! Love this one!

 is a project put together by Aaron Meyers. It allows the user to map YouTube videos onto an interactive 3D cube and then save it to a database so you can share with others. As you spin around a YouCube, the sounds of the different videos fade in and out.

To see an example of the functionality click here to watch "In the News". The key to a good listening/watching experience is to allow sufficient time for all the videos to properly load. Then it's really fun. Students will have a blast with this because it feeds their fractured, hyperactive attention span. Many adults would find it too distracting. I have spent enough time on the Internet that it feels right!

Easy to use:  Just copy & paste URLs from 6 different but related videos on YouTube. Then you can share your creation out to the world with a distinct URL.

Visit the YouCube page and make your own...Here's one I made for Evernote.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What is Justice?

Short answer -- Quiz on readings chapters 8-9: God Bless You Mr. Rosewater.

Field trip tomorrow: Adler Planetarium and  Contemporary Museum of Art.

Auto-didactic Journal # 4 is due tomorrow. Bring journal with you on the field trip.

Communism - proposed solution to sexism, racism and other forms of oppression.

lecture: "utopian ideal" - solve problems that exist due to money, religion, government  (Marx &Engel)

Oppressor/Oppressed dynamic:
  •  due to oppressors - we must get rid of money, government, and religion. Other oppressive pieces in society -- Marriage , education, eternal truths
  • Bourgousie = oppressors who are profiting from working class
  • Proletariat = working people; oppressed class
  • Need violent revolution to do away with Bourgousie
  • It sounds nice, but we just have to kill many people first
Short film: Communist Manifestoon

Vonnegut's Eliot:
"I think it's terrible the way people don't share things in this country.  I think it's a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. The least a government could do, it seems to me, is to divide things up fairly among the babies (121)".

Discussion: Do you think it's ethical for northshore residents to buy/live in large $3 million dollar mansions? Is a luxurious lifestyle ethical?  Why or Why not?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God Bless You Mr. Rosewater Discussion

Junior Discussion:
Is the person who loves EVERYBODY somehow more just than the person who does not?

Do you agree with Freud's viewpoint that...

"A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value"  OR

"...not all men are worthy of love"?


Shared by Mary Ann Apple: Trailmeme is a new web publishing tool that you can use to create a trail of content on a specific topic you are investigating. Trailmeme allows you to gather related content from the Web, map it, and order or sequence in multiple ways to make sense of it. Any number of pages can be collected, organized, and annotated in a way that gives meaning to the topic.

There are a variety of ways to "create your trails": you may select an existing trail or start a new trail. You may edit privately until you wish to make your trail public. As you gather informational websites into your trail, you may add "Blurbs," "Editorial Comments" and "Tags" to enhance the trail experience.

Viewers can also read other peoples’ trails and "walk them" to keep up with any updates that are made. See the example titled "The 2010 Midterm Elections"   or the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

Take your audience on a journey as you curate the web!  I imagine that librarians could use trail meme to create a really cool pathfinder for students.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thomas Pogge: "Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty"

Seniors are reading the German philospher, Thomas Pogge who is a
Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. Pogge is also Research Director in the Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo, and Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire.

To what extent are citizens of richer countries obliged to help those from poorer countries? Pogge's argument is that the global poor should be helping the poor because it fulfills their obligation to refrain from harming.

Global Economic Justice reading: "Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty" by Thomas Pogge.
Tag-team analysis of the reading - students work in pairs to dig into the argument:

What is Pogge's main argument?  
Pogge’s analysis of the international institutions and NGOs shows how the world’s poor are not merely suffering because wealthy nations are doing too little to help; they are being actively and wrongly harmed by a system of global political and economic arrangements that is disproportionately shaped by and for wealthy Western societies.

Further, he argues that the  Human and Gender‐Related Development Index, and the World Bank's Poverty Index are deeply flawed and therefore distort our moral judgments and misguide resource allocations by governments, international agencies, and NGOs.

Is Pogge a moral relativist?

see also: UNU Lecture Series ‘Emerging Thinking on Global Issues (II)’: Human Rights: The Second 60 Years, and interview with Pogge in 2008.

Final hour:
Country / Region Project Research Time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Town Hall Meeting Today in the EPI Center

Information items:
Letter grade translation decisions must be made by October 12, prior to the end of Quarter 1.

Summarized rubrics from Think Tank projects are completed. You will see these in your narrative assessments.

Show and Wow! today - John Noyes

Alex Fuhr: - trying to fund raise for Burma and bring in a speaker for IGSS.  This idea will go to the service committee for further discussion.

Jeremy: shared video - Amigos de las Americas documentary about summer volunteer program in Central America. 

See more links to this wonderful life-changing opportunity:

Recent Amigos Videos [from their website]

Picnic - Wed. 11:45 on East Practice Field
Weenie/tofu Roast provided by IGSS
Elle is organizing condiments; Ali - organizing drinks; Nora - organizing Chips ; Annalee- organizing desserts

Advisery visits to promote the use of water bottles are underway. The main goal is to educate New Trier as to the water bottle decision. Sign up if you are interested in helping.

House Selection during Town Hall:

No, we're not talking real estate, we're talking small communities within the larger IGSS community.
Sign up for one of the six IGSS houses.

Seniors - have new embedded calendar on BlackBoard for seniors only. Check your assignments on a daily basis.

Oedipus: HW: Scene II-half of Scene III
Today's check for understanding:

1.  Why did the townspeople come to Oedipus and what do they want from him.
2. What past event triggered this plague?
3. What did Oedipus decide to do about the plague and why?
4. What did Creon hear at Delphi and how does this affect the townspeople?
5. Why doesn't Teiresias share his misery with Oedipus at first?

Discussion of Ethical Issues:

Should people of a higher status be able to follow different laws than the citizenry?  Why or why not? Drawbacks/benefits? Should Oedipus be able to follow different laws?

Tomorrow:  Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Trier Teachers and Students Need to Demand Access to Valuable Video

OK, I know that not all video is blocked at New Trier but most of it is.

We have been working with the IT Technology Committee and our work has gone down a black hole.  Librarians did research last year to present valid reasons why our student filtering of video needs to be changed. The faculty technology staff developers seem to be in agreement. In fact, everyone seemed to be in agreement but nothing has changed.

The learning opportunities through media are extraordinary. Stories told through video so powerful. Let's take control of our learning.  Who out there is willing to help me on this crusade?

While I am at it, let me share a twitter post from Greg Mortenson.  gregmortenson: The Girl Effect: The Clock Is Ticking: new video just released

Please watch and learn. Women do hold up "Half the Sky".

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Beautifully Told with Animated Typography

Wanted to share this video of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the IGSS students have been studying.Here's a link to Text of the UDHR (English). This wonderful film  paraphrases the concepts which come to life with moving type and animation. I think it's worth showing in class to students!

Thank you to Mashable for sharing this. It already has about 23,000 views on YouTube. I will definitely be encouraging students to follow Mashable to stay current with relevant social media.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Presented Social Media Tools Yesterday for Suburban Librarians

Just to give you an idea of what I do when I am not with IGSS, here's the PREZI from my presentation yesterday and also a link to some valuable tools which students can and should be using in the classroom and outside of school to organize themselves.  I hope to be teaching some of these fabulous tools to the IGSS students this year.

Thursday with Juniors in IGSS:

First session was spent in the Science Lab with Student Science presentations. Back in the English room with Juniors who are writing Autodidactic Journals.

Future Assignment:

Kilgore Trout stories - Like the Trout stories, students will be writing about a society, not unlike our own, with a hideous situation.

Actively reading Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You Mr. Rosewater.

Students work in pairs to find the most important propositions in Eliot Rosewater's letter:

1. "Government objections to the price or quality of his wares could be vaporized with bribes that were pitifully small" (p 7)
2. ..."getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no law has been  (p 9)
3. "Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage" (9)
4.  Grab much too much or you'll get nothing at all" (p 10)
5.  "Anybody who thought the USA was supposed to be a Utopia was a piggy, lazy, Goddamned fool" (p 10)
[view of the rich = bad; view of the poor = good]

Is this a simplistic view of the world?  No shades of gray?

Find propositions  in "Golden Age of Rome Speech" (Lister)- most important parts
(Description of the Hell America's turned into)

1. "he wrote morals into law"
2. Pigs miraculously disappeared (30)
3. Let us force Americans to be as good as they should be (30)
4. Write morals into law and enforce them harshly (31)
5. "We must become a nation of swimmers, with the sinkers quietly disposing of themselves" . (31)

What is Eliot's view of this? Do you think this is horrible? 
[view of the rich = good; view of the poor = bad]

Follow up --Justice Discussion:  Is it just to force folks to "swim", taking welfare & support systems away?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Facebook's Role in Social Good

Earlier this week at the Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit, Facebook’s Associate Manager of Public Policy Adam Connor spoke about the role that the social network plays in enabling charitable work around the world.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Junior Reading: Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War

Does the historian Thucydides has the view that "might makes right"? or that absolute power corrupts absolutely?

The Melian Dialogue opened up many arguments about the morality of the Athenians destroying Melos. Athenians thought that they were being fair by trying to convince the Melian leaders of the need to surrender and save themselves. The Melians were put into a predicament: to save themselves and surrender or have their nation completely destroyed for the sake of independence.

Does Thucydides regard the the Melians’ heroics as foolish and unrealistic? Does Thucydides feel sympathetic to the Melians with their no win situation?

Ultimately, Melos refused to surrender to Athens. The Athenians immediately attacked Melos as threatened. The Athenians killed the men and enslaved the women and children, and further, repopulated it as an Athenian state.  Melos was one of the few Peloponnesian Islands that stood up for itself despite the negative repercussions.

see also: The Melian Debate 

Are the Athenians completely wrong? Are they noble/just with their power because they are trying to be fair prior to attacking?
Is there justice in the actions of the powerful Athenians?

Class Activity:
To what degree does power influence our feeling of what is just? Students work together in pairs to figure out how those with power (God, social groups, police, parents, politicians, the wealthy, teachers) wield influence. Are their actions just OR not? Why?

Ultimately, we are examining "What is the relationship between Power and Justice?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Crito

We are studying a Plato dialog between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito regarding justice, injustice, and the appropriate response to injustice. 
Brief background: Socrates has been sentenced to death for preaching against the government of Athens.  He is in prison.  Crito, representing those friendly to Socrates, bribes his way in and is offering to get him out, no questions asked.

Socrates responds with a fairly famous argument of why he needs to stay and die.

Socrates thinks that injustice may not be answered with injustice, and refuses Crito's offer to finance his escape from prison.
"Now can there be a worse disgrace than this -- that I should be thought to value money more than the life of a friend? "

Is it more important to agree with the majority or to do what you believe is right?

Issues of justice supersede issues of the body or any thought about one's death.

What would Socrates think of this premise?

Premise: The use of low gas mileages suvs is a luxury, not a necessity

Conclusion: having an suv or a similar luxury car makes us an agent of evil.

Final conclusion: if I want to be a good person, I need to buy a used Geo Metro without air conditioning or even a cd player

Students brainstorm their own premises in small groups, based on the argument of Socrates regarding the state & individual and law & justice.

Is there a social contract?  What covenants and agreements are operate in stable societies? Does the state supersede the individual?
Is justice bigger than law?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Social Good Summit

Mashable and 92nd Stree Y in NYC presented a summit of the most inspirational and promising leaders today, discussing effective ways in which new media can help address the world’s challenges.

The Summit focused on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — being addressed in high-level plenary sessions at UN Week during September 2010 and it celebrates the power and potential of new media to effect change.

Watch live streaming video from mashable at

See also: The Infographic on Charity & Technology. Be sure to browse the links below for ideas on fund raising.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is Justice? How do we define it?

Where do your personal beliefs about justice come from?

Where do American beliefs on justice come from?

Hammurabi's Code - first codified laws from Sumeria
Socratic ideal - 
Confucian code of justice - justice as a tool to maintain authority/stability for society 
Junior Reading Assignments:
Juniors:read Plato's Crito excerpt for tomorrow (US History Reading Packet due over next couple of weeks)
upcoming novel: Vonnegut's God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a comic masterpiece.  Eliot Rosewater, drunk, volunteer fireman, and president of the fabulously rich Rosewater foundation, is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature... with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout.  The result is Vonnegut's funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to.

Senior reading:  "The Case for Moral Relativism".   
definition from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "The term ‘moral relativism’ is understood in a variety of ways. Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a meta-ethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons. Sometimes ‘moral relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them."
Debate! Where do you stand on moral relativism? 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brainstorm with Edistorm: amazingly vibrant crowdsourcing

According to CrunchBase "Edistorm is a social brainstorming application empowering friends and coworkers to rapidly brainstorm and make better decisions."

From the Edistorm website:
"Edistorm allows you to organize your ideas in a real time interactive wall. Each sticky note can have its own color and the users decide what the arrangement means to them.This freeform method of collaboration will feel familiar to anyone that has thrown stickies on their walls."

Edistorm is always free for anyone adding ideas to a brainstorming. Invite anyone.
Creating public or solo brainstorms is, while creating private invite only storms requires a subscription. All accounts have a no credit card required 30 day free trial. You can even follow them on Twitter to keep updated on how the product develops.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Continuing Research Today: “What Should Be Next in Pakistan and Afghanistan?”

Today, our IGSS time was spent on research for a think thank hired to help President Obama answer the question “What Should Be Next in Pakistan and Afghanistan”. Students may take on any roles (Economic experts, scientists, linguists, engineers,etc) but all student groups are assumed to be presenting to an audience including the President, a representative of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Presidential Science Adviser.

Today, the library lesson was focused on advanced searching in databases, specifically Proquest. Students were also asked to search for "Scholarly Journals" starting with the database JSTOR.

Nina Lynn,theater teacher, gave a lesson on presentation techniques and tips. She spoke about appearance, posture, energy, language, media, and also practicing as a group. Use visual media for those things you can't necessarily explain. Let the presentation be about the group members' and not the media. Are there pacing ideas?
1) know your time frame and practice !!
2) concentrate on breath; during transitions between ideas - use signposting: use your body to show that you are changing ideas.
3) transition to visuals - point and slow down
4) slow down and make connection to your audience

How can we be less nervous? - Be super prepared! Find those "friendly" faces in the audience and turn to them and just worry about connecting to them. You have those people to go back to...and rely on to boost your confidence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Perception of Beauty

. . . Something To Think About . . . I checked this story out at and it is indeed true. Read the back story by scrolling down.


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .
How many other things are we missing as we rush through life? My guess is plenty!

Friday, September 10, 2010

10.10.10 One Day on Earth Project

This project, One Day on Earth, has endless possibilities for students, educators and lifelong learners -- to create, to share, to analyze and discuss.
You can help "document the world's story" through this project whose developers describe its goals as "Students learn the applicable practices of observation, investigation, notation, and documentation of a subject through the One Day On Earth experience. They also gain understanding of participatory media as a vehicle for social justice, community building, civic literacy and global awareness."

For more information on how to participate, toolkits, lesson plans,and FAQ's, check out the main page or this investigate this pdf.

Social media can promote global awareness when we allow our students to participate! This was shared on the New Trier Library blog by librarian Linda Straube.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beyond the 11th

 Beyond the 11th is a non-profit organization that provides support to widows in Afghanistan who have been afflicted by war, terrorism and oppression. 

This is an organization that was founded by two American women whose husbands were killed on September 11th. Their  mission is to reach beyond differences of culture and geography to embrace the most essential of connections: humanity.

Watch more free documentaries

Beyond Belief Synopsis:
Susan Retik and Patti Quigley are two ordinary soccer moms living in the affluent suburbs of Boston until tragedy strikes. Rather than turning inwards, grief compels these women to focus on the country where the terrorists who took their husbands̢۪ lives were trained: Afghanistan.

Over the course of two years, as they cope with loss and struggle to raise their families as single mothers, these extraordinary women dedicate themselves to empowering Afghan widows whose lives have been ravaged by decades of war, poverty and oppression – factors they consider to be the root causes of terrorism. As Susan and Patti make the courageous journey from their comfortable neighborhoods to the most desperate Afghan villages, they discover a powerful bond with each other, an unlikely kinship with widows halfway around the world, and a profound way to move beyond tragedy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How do we achieve justice in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Upcoming assignment:  journal entry -- see BlackBoard:

Moral Propositions
for Americans
Sept. 8 Sept.14 Choose one of the moral propositions from those we "debated" in class on Tuesday, September 7 that you believe will be the most essential in American society in the near future (your young adulthood, after all).  Reflect on why it will be so central to our lives for about a page.  Required: include a graphic (something you found or drew) and put it on the facing page.

Wednesday 6:30 pm Room 123- September 15th - parent meeting; rsvp & send email addresses to C. Vargas

Reading:  What is Justice? (silent reading & heated discussion)

How do we define justice?  How do we know when we are acting justly?

1)Brainstorming activity in small groups.

2) Readings re: systems of Justice:

  • Justice based on merit -
  • Justice as equality - egalitarian
  • Justice based on need and ability - socialist viewpoint
  • Justice as social utility - inflict the lowest amount of social harm
  • Justice based on liberty - individual freedoms

How do we achieve justice in Afghanistan and Pakistan? discuss based on systems of justice

Justice based on need and ability - socialist viewpoint
6 million people have no access to clean water in Pakistan. Therefore the just thing to do would be to take water from midwest, great lakes region in the U.S.

Justice based on liberty - individual freedoms emphasized
U.S. should not meddle in the affairs of Pakistan because this would limit our personal liberties. Give money through charities only. We don't feel forced to help out.

Justice based on merit -meritocracy
Help whoever is "best" first.  Pakistan is not worth investing in.  

Justice as equality - egalitarian
Oil wealth needs to be redistributed in Pakistan.  Corruption is a problem. Flooding was re-directed from richer areas to poorer areas. This is problematic. 

Justice as social utility - inflict the lowest amount of social harm
Diverting water to poorer areas is OK because it's better to save the richer areas which will inflict the least amount of harm. 

What would just steps look like militarily in Afghanistan?
Use Islam to unify the people?
Do we ramp up our efforts, stabilize the country by "staying the course", or back out?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three Cups of Tea and our Moral Compass

Judge and react to these propositions, using a numerical scale or a likert scale (strong agree...agree...etc.):
Place yourself on the spectrum
I couldn't disagree more ____________________________I believe this whole-heartedly.

United States citizens have a special obligation to those in need around the world, as our foreign policy, military actions and economic might have created many of the unfortunate situations around the world.

Other propositions to react to:

The United States is open to diversity, and tolerant of many types of people and ideas. 

What happened on September 11 justifies many actions - torture, bombing, making war, accidental civilian deaths --that might otherwise appear to be unjust or immoral.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.  We can not judge others without understanding their history, their context.

It is acceptable to work with groups like the ISI (Pakistani Secret Service) even though they have cooperated with the Taliban in the past, as Pakistan plays a place of great strategic importance.

Once our nation interferes with a country like Afghanistan or Iraq, it is our responsibility to nation.

The sacrifice of some human life is acceptable if there is a reasonable belief in the creation of a safer future.

Nations may intervene in the affairs of other nations or people whenever their freedom or livelihood is endangered.

It is wrong to build a religious or cultural institution in a locality that will offend residents.

Today, students stood in the spectrum which most represented their view; they discussed and defended their ideas. The will write a reflective entry in the journals on one of these propositions, possibly one discussed today.

Friday, September 3, 2010

IGSS journals

-get a journal with lots of clean pages
-must be 6" by 8" or larger
-will include various styles of writing, some sketching, various media that you've pasted, taped, or glued
-will be collected periodically, but not after each journal entry

journal entry # and titledate assigneddate duebrief description
Mosque Visit
Journal Entry
Sept. 1 2010Sept. 3
  Thoughtfully answer the below questions in your journal (or on a piece of paper that you can later attach to your journal).
·         What did you know about Islam before our visit?
·         What specifically did you learn about Islam?  Practices?  Beliefs?
·         What aspects of our visit surprised you or left an impression on you?  Do explain your reaction.
·         What was your reaction to our need to dress modestly?  In particular, what was your reaction to wearing a headscarf (or seeing your classmates wearing them) and/or to covering our bodies?   

Seniors: Read "Is Islam Misogynistic" for Tuesday's class; Mosque visit journals due

Looking ahead next week:  What should the US be doing in Pakistan? Afghanistan? how do we achieve justice there? work for it? act justly?

 IGSS Science:  data analysis of household water use; -direct water use tracking

New Trier Organic Garden