Cities of the Indus Valley

28 Nov

The Indus and Saraswati Valleys contained hundreds of cities. The largest cities were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. What evidence suggests that these cities or this region was prosperous or wealthy? Why was the earliest Indian civilization located near the Indus River? i_mapindus-valley-civilization-map


Out of Eden Learn – Footstep #3

23 Nov
animaheart (Charlotte)


AppleHoneyPie (Nahyeon)


Doraemon (Ryotaro)


HamsterForever (Haruna)


MasssSaamy (Aryan)


SushiSamarai (Youhei)


FinalFantasy5 (Efflam)


MusicLover (Yui)


Heaven (Thea)


MrWigglesisBae2 (Imogen)


Here are a few of the many great neighborhood photos that students have taken for Out of Eden Learn. Many more are displayed around our classroom, and I have tweeted many others out via my Twitter handle @DigitalnomadRob. Two of our students, Ella and Hera, had their photos featured on an interactive map that Out of Eden Walk created. Click HERE to see this really great map. Sophia had a photo she took featured on Out of Eden’s Instagram page.

I am very impressed with the photos taken, and I hope you enjoyed the opportunity to slow down and notice new things about your neighborhood in Chennai. Keep up the good work!


The Geography and Climate of India

22 Nov

Questions to consider:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having monsoons?

  • What are the negative and positive effects of India’s great rivers?

  • How do the mountains and seasonal winds shape the climate of India? 

  • Write 2-3 facts or things you learned about India from any of these videos. You can use the questions above as guiding ones or just list the facts.

New Trimester, New Unit – Incredible India

20 Nov

I am sure some of you have seen these TV advertisements, “Incredible India.” If you haven’t, watch them! I have also added a few other geography/climate related videos. India is an incredibly diverse country. We know many of you travel outside of India, or return home for vacations. However, we are curious about the places you have traveled to in India. Post a comment and tell us how long you have lived in India and what parts of India you have traveled to. Thanks.


AISC Chennai Flood Relief

18 Nov
BeatsbySeeker (Ted)

Photo by Ted

Darksword (Sangmin)

Photo by Sangmin

PinkyBlinkyInkyClyde (Donovan)

Photo by Donovan

The AISC Chennai Flood Relief (see their Facebook page, or tell your parents) have created a donation system in which people have the ability to donate a variety of different products and/or goods to aid the people of Chennai in their fight for safety and shelter. We are currently asking for foods, clothes, sundries, and items such as blankets, sheets, and mats. We already have a total of 12 boxes around the school in which you can donate these items including the main reception, the elementary entrance, and the HS and MS cafeteria.

When considering items to donate, please keep in mind the quality in which you plan to give to our campaign. When donating clothes, make sure that they are culturally appropriate and are able to be used by children from 3 to 18. As well when donating food to keep all items in good quality. Thank you for supporting your community.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.31.06 PMFlood relief

Mesopotamia – All you want to know!

17 Nov

Here is a great video playlist with many different documentaries and more about Mesopotamia. The Civilizations documentary is really good (6 part series here).

Paris Attack

16 Nov

Please keep our French students in your thoughts. By now, I am sure you have heard about the attack on Paris. There have also been recent attacks in Egypt and in Beirut.  Images below show support and unity from around the world and were featured in the New York Times. Enjoy your rain day off and stay safe and dry.

France3 0,,18850654_401,00 2E7249EA00000578-3318549-Tower_Bridge_is_lit_up_in_the_colours_of_the_French_flag_as_a_vi-a-35_1447544875722 111415-world-paris-7-Christ--the-Redeemer-statue 29906170001_4612720219001_thumb-Wochit95957841 151114053906-04-french-colors-1114-super-169 FRANCE2

Mesopotamia Final Reflections, Out of Eden in the News, & Twitter Chat

12 Nov

Paul Salopek has been out for a walk — a very long walk — since 2013. His route stretches from Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley to the very southern tip of South America, tracing the path of humanity from its African origins, across deserts and mountains. Hari Sreenivasan from PBS News caught up with the two-time Pulitzer-winning foreign correspondent in the nation of Georgia to discuss his journey so far. Watch the 2nd and 3rd video in this playlist to watch this very interesting story about Paul (It’s new this week!). The first story was done, prior to his walk.

Tomorrow night there will be a Twitter Chat where Paul will answer questions. I plan on joining this chat and will ask any questions on your behalf, if you email me them or put them in the comment section here.

Finally, you need to make sure you have completed your Do Now #9 reflection on our last unit, Mesopotamia. Please add your image of your mind map and add your blog link to the document I will share with you in class. This activity and Out of Eden Learn Footstep #3 need to be done by this weekend at the latest. We will begin our next unit – India – next week.

Updated (November 17): Paul responded to one of the questions I asked him on behalf of the class. He answered Michelle’s. Congratulations!

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 12.22.03 AM

Screenshot of Michelle’s question.

Guest Speakers Share Some Photography Tips

4 Nov
Mr. Knudsen introduces his photos (Photo by Rob Martin)

Mr. Knudsen introduces his photos (Photo by Rob Martin)

Aneesh reviewing the key ideas (Photo by Rob Martin)

Aneesh reviewing the key ideas (Photo by Rob Martin)

The importance of color (Photo by Rob Martin)

The importance of color (Photo by Rob Martin)

Takes lots of photos, lots and lots and lots...(Photo by Rob Martin)

Takes lots of photos, lots and lots and lots…(Photo by Rob Martin)

A great message from Mr. K (Photo by Rob Martin)

A great message from Mr. K (Photo by Rob Martin)

Grade 6 social studies had the wonderful opportunity to learn more about photography and how to capture a great photograph. As you prepare to take photos for Out of Eden Footstep #3, remember the advice you learned and read in the slides that Mr. Aneesh and Mr. Knudsen (Mr. K). The biggest piece of advice I heard in both of their talks – takes lots of photos before you narrow down to your two favorite ones. The directions and rubric are on the Moodle page under Out of Eden Learn. It has also been shared with you. If you click on the hyperlinks for Mr. Aneesh and Mr. K, you will see their slide shows.

Mr. Aneesh also shared some photo from Steve McCurry, a fantastic photographer who has taken many photos in India and the region. His work has been featured in magazines and galleries around the world. I will go see an exhibit of his photos in New York City in December at the Rubin Museum of Art. I look forward to seeing your photos. – Mr. Martin

Footstep #3

3 Nov

Continue taking photos this week and prepare to finish Footstep #3 for Out of Eden Learn either this week or during Diwali. The directions are on Out of Eden Learn, but I have also shared them via Google Documents (check your email), along with a rubric and some sentence stems that can help you when you write your story. Here is a video I created that shows some samples of the excellent photos that some students took last year. We are excited to see your photos! I will be out of the country for a conference on Thursday and Friday, but Ms. Jaya will be teaching you. Have a good week.

Mr. Martin

November Birthdays

30 Oct


Happy birthday to the following students celebrating a birthday in the month of November: Seohyeon J. (Nov. 14), Chanmin and Hanna (Nov. 18), Seongsik (Nov. 23), Enora (Nov. 26), and JunHyuk (Nov. 27). If we made any errors or left anyone off the list by accident, let us know and we will edit this message. Have a great weekend and a fantastic birthday.

Mr. Martin and Ms. Jaya

Hammurabi’s Code of Law

27 Oct


We are currently learning about Hammurabi’s Code of Law. Here is some information:

The Code of Hammurabi refers to a set of rules or laws enacted by the Babylonian King Hammurabi (reign 1792-1750 B.C.). The code governed the people living in his fast-growing empire. By the time of Hammurabi’s death, his empire included much of modern-day Iraq, extending up from the Persian (Arabian) Gulf along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The code is best known from a stele made of black diorite, more than seven feet (2.25 meters) tall, that is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The stele was found at the site of Susa, in modern-day Iran, by excavators who were led by Jacques de Morgan at the beginning of the 20th century. Scholars believe that it was brought to Susa in the 12th century B.C. by an Elamite ruler who subsequently erased a portion of it in preparation for creating an inscription of his own.- (from Live Science)

Why are laws necessary? What basic ideas about the law did Hammurabi’s Code set up?

Here is an interesting article that a student shared with me last year – 8 Things You May Not Know About Hammurabi’s Code.

Advisory Identity Tagxedo

25 Oct
Human Jelly King Tagxedo

Human Jelly King Tagxedo

Here are two Tagxedo word clouds we made in advisory for our identity unit. The one above shows different words that describe students in my advisory class. The one below is one I created for me. :>)

Mr. Martin's Tagxedo

Mr. Martin’s Tagxedo

Rubber legs in the Caucasus

21 Oct

Paul has started his walk! He left Tbilisi and is heading to the Caspian Sea. Click on any of these maps to make them bigger.

Political Map of the region where Paul is walking (Google Maps)

Political Map of the region where Paul is walking (Google Maps)

Physical Map of the region (Google Maps)

Physical Map of the region (Google Maps)

Screenshot of the terrain (land) that Paul will be walking across to reach the Caspian Sea (Google Maps)

Screenshot of the terrain (land) that Paul will be walking across to reach the Caspian Sea (Google Maps)

Great Quotes

19 Oct
Quote by Andrew Zimmern

Quote by Andrew Zimmern

I saw this quote on Instagram today, and it made me think about the Out of Eden Learn project, and the goals – looking beyond what’s in front of you and noticing new details in your neighborhoods as you make your maps.  In class you are watching Paul walk with a group of students from Georgia. Watch how he models slow journalism and teaches students to look for small details. India is an amazing place with so much history and culture. Try new things, meet new people.

Creation of a Written Language – Cuneiform

17 Oct

Theo Van Den Hout, a professor of Hittite and Anatolian Languages, tells us about scribes in Mesopotamia and Anatolia. This short video was made for the Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East.” In Chapter 3, you learned about scribes, the people who specialized in writing, the stylus, which is the instrument they used to write on clay tablets, and cuneiform, the wedge-shaped writing. Read more about the development of writing and pictograms on the British Museum’s website on Mesopotamia. Why do some historians identify the beginning of history with the beginning of writing? Tell me an interesting fact or two you learned about writing in Mesopotamia from one or more of these videos.

Screenshot from the British Museum Twitter Post (Oct. 15, 2015)

Screenshot from the British Museum Twitter Post (Oct. 15, 2015)

On the Trail with Paul & Tips to Help You

17 Oct


This video is one of Paul walking with a group of students in the country of Georgia. He teaches them how to slow down and notice things in their neighborhoods. You will find this helpful as you work on all of your “Footsteps” for Out of Eden Learn. Here are are some tips:

  • Notice 10 things about your neighborhood as you walk (or use the See -Think-Wonder routine we do)

  • Use your senses as you notice things – seeing, touching, etc.

  • You really need to look for things you might not have noticed before. You are not going to do that if you do not go outside and explore.

Footstep #2 – Neighborhood Map

14 Oct

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This week we launch Footstep #2 in our Out of Eden Learn project. Students will learn what a “milestone” is in the Out of Eden Walk, and they can look at some of Paul’s milestones during his journey in part #1 in Footstep #2. The first project for Footstep #2 is to create a neighborhood map and to write a story about your neighborhood or the area where you live.

Directions for the project will be shared in class and they will be posted  on our Moodle page by tomorrow. The due dates and expectations, along with a rubric are in on the document in Moodle. Please look at some of the examples from other students in our walking party. They may be a helpful model as you prepare your map ands story. Remember to write the rough draft of your story on your Out of Eden Learn Google Document. I found a link to old photos of Chennai (Madras) on this link. Check out the pictures, old maps, and art.

Old map of Chennai (Madras)

Old map of Chennai (Madras)

Achievements of the Sumerians

14 Oct

This playlist features video clips that review the legacy and achievements of Mesopotamia. They are a good review of things we have learned in class. Essential Questions to consider:

1) What new tools did the Sumerians invent?

2) Why was the invention of cuneiform (writing) an important development?

If you like legos, you might find the first two videos creative and humorous.

A Personal Message from Paul Salopek, Twitter Chat questions answered, and More…

8 Oct


We are finishing our first footstep this week, and you all have a good understanding of the purpose of Out of Eden Learn and how the platform works. Today was a really great day and it ended on an even greater note when I received a message from Mr. Salopek saying:

“Your class is one of the most active in the OOEL program, and I am deeply gratified that the walk has found an echo among your students. Their work is astonishing–the photo gray that I’ve seen of a woman’s hands crafting a floral crown seem almost professional quality. Kudos to you and your students. Thanks again for walking along.”
Big nature, puny borders: the Georgia-Turkey frontier. Photo by Paul Salopek.

Big nature, puny borders: the Georgia-Turkey frontier. Photo by Paul Salopek.

The photo that Paul refers to in his message that seems “almost professional quality” is from Kennedy, a student of mine from last year. It is an amazing photo by a very talented girl. I am confident that you will also produce great maps, take beautiful photos, and learn much about Chennai, India while sharing things about your own culture.

Photo by Kennedy (aka Amazon Box Guy)

Photo by Kennedy (aka Amazon Box Guy) – CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

It filled me with great pride when I received this message, and it made me think about the great work my students did last year and the great work you are doing during this first footstep. The next footsteps will get really exciting, as you get to create some cool projects, while sharing your work with other students in our walking party.

Last night, I joined a Twitter ‘chat’ or online discussion with Paul (currently in the country of Georgia) and other people around the world. I asked him some questions on behalf of our class. His answer can be found above my question (My Twitter ‘handle’ is @DigitalNomadRob). Twitter, the the way, has a 140 character limit, so you need to keep questions and replies brief. I have only done one other Twitter Chat, so this was exciting and something new for me as far as social media goes. Here are screenshots of his responses:

Screenshot of Twitter chat (October 7, 2015)

Screenshot of Twitter chat (October 7, 2015)

Screenshot of Twitter chat (October 7, 2015)

Screenshot of Twitter chat (October 7, 2015)

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Another way you can engage with or follow Paul’s journey is through his excellent blog, Out of Eden Walk, where he posts dispatches (messages). I have added a direct link here, but I also have an RSS feed on the right side of our blog, so you can see updates from him. Read his stories there; if you want, post questions or comments as well. Please understand that he cannot answer everyone’s question or respond to everyone’s comment. In other forms of social media, he is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and you can find videos and other information on Out of Eden’s Youtube channel and some great Milestone or Glimpse videos on Vimeo.

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

Photo by Rob Martin

“Sole Brothers” – Out of Eden Learn (G/H)

5 Oct

This week we launched our first “footstep” for the Out of Eden Learn Project. Students watched videos to learn more about Paul Salopek’s journey following the path of human migration. They learned about ‘slow journalism’ and his reasons for taking this trip.G/H block students read Paul’s blog post Sole Brothers. Think about these questions and comment. Our first ‘footstep’ and Part 1 (Get Inspired) is a practice one and it asks you to engage in Paul’s journey and to respond to these questions:

1) What caught your attention or interested you about Paul’s article (Sole Brothers)? Here is an EAL-friendly version.

2) What questions or wonders do you now have (about this article or Paul’s journey)?

Comment below and copy and paste your message to your Out of Eden Learn Google Document (Footstep #1, Part 1) Also, reflect on the beginning of Paul’s story:

“Footwear is a hallmark of modern identity. How best to glimpse an individual’s core values at the start of the 21st century? Look down at their feet—not into their eyes.”

3) What can you learn about someone, or their values from their footwear (see photos of grade 6 footwear)?

In Ethiopia, many people where wear the inexpensive sandals that Paul noticed. Check out the poll question below and vote.

October Birthdays

5 Oct

free-birthday-mealsHappy birthday to the following students celebrating birthdays this month: Lekhana (5), Sophia (7), Milan (21), Seo Young and Saaya (23). Please let us know if we missed anyone, or made a mistake.  – Mr. Martin and Ms. Jaya.

Your Out of Eden Walking Party

3 Oct
B/D Walking Party Map (click on the map to make it bigger)

B/D Walking Party Map (click on the map to make it bigger)

G/H Walking party Map (Click on it to make it bigger).

G/H Walking party Map (Click on it to make it bigger).


This week we will complete our first ‘footstep’ for Out of Eden Learn. Click on the maps above to see who is in your walking party. I have also created a Google Map showing your party.

B/D Walking Party #564 – United States (Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Miami, Florida; Saco, Maine; Danville, California; Marblehead, Massachusetts), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Accra, Ghana; Burlington, Ontario, Canada, Bandung, Indonesia

G/H Walking Party #565 – United States (West Hartford, Connecticut; Durham, North Carolina; Kamuela, Hawaii; Danville, California; Anchorage, Alaska; Saddle River, New Jersey; Buffalo Grove, Illinois; Marblehead, Massachusetts), Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Accra, Ghana

Class Connection: Choking Haze in SE Asia

3 Oct
Image source: NASA

Image source: NASA

A satellite image released this week by NASA shows the extent of haze currently blanketing much of Southeast Asia. The photo captures plumes of smoke emerging from fires burning in the peatlands of Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo. The smoke blows west into what looks like thick clouds over both islands as well as neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. Choking haze is causing widespread hospitalizations, interfering with transportation, and inflaming political tensions between Indonesia and Singapore.

In class we learned about the slash and burn agriculture. Read this story to see about the modern-day effects on this type of farming in countries that are close to where we live.  Here are 5 Things to Know About the Haze.

Class Connection: River from the Sky

3 Oct

Rajasthan, India (CNN) The record-breaking drought in California has made the headlines. But in Rajasthan, the driest region of India, water scarcity is a way of life. Women and children walk miles to get water and clean dishes with sand to conserve it. In recent years, the problem has escalated. More than half of Rajasthan’s drinking water does not meet the World Health Organization’s standards due to high levels of fluoride and salt. In some villages, wells have dried up, leaving people dependent on water brought in by tankers.

I saw this story on CNN Heroes this morning and it made me think about what we have been learning in class – the importance of water in the creation of the first villages and civilizations. Watch the video and read the story to learn about Bhagwati Agrawal and the work he has been doing in India for over 12 years. I will tag any news articles with ‘News & Features’ if I find something related to what we are doing in class. Please send me any interesting articles or videos you find, so that we can share with the class.


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