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Straw Man: Making Bamboo Straws (Out of Eden Walk)

26 Jan

A new eco-friendly industry is taking root in Assam. With India joining a global environmental movement to restrict single-use plastics, and with Indian restaurants increasingly purging their inventories of plastic straws—the villain of disposable, plastic trash that is washing, at a rate of some eight million tons a year, into the world’s rivers and oceans—the search is on for less polluting alternatives. Enter wild bamboo: The versatile grass that grows abundantly across much of the country and is both organic and sustainable. Click HERE to read Paul Salopek’s latest story, Straw Man.

Incredible India – Director’s Cut (2018)

15 Dec

I only recently saw this ad and it’s nearly two years old. I remember seeing the original ad on CNN about eight years ago when I lived in Kuwait. What a magical place, and I am grateful that my family got to spend six years there. We certainly need to return some day to explore places we did not see.

India’s Holiest City Reincarnates Itself (Out of Eden Walk)

26 Mar


Photo by Rob Martin (March 2018)


Photo by Rob Martin (March 2018)


Photo by Rob Martin (March 2018)


Photo by Rob Martin (March 2018)

An excerpt from the latest Out of Eden story. Click HERE to read the article and to see the photos. Paul’s story made me think about my own trip to Varanasi last spring, one of my final trips in India. I was a bit nervous about going and thought it might be overwhelming. I am so glad I went. It is such a historic city, full of life and death I would regret it if I had not gone, especially in light of the changes going on there now. Floating on the Ganges River as the sun rose was an image and feeling I will never forget. These are some of my photos that I took on that trip.  

“India’s holiest city, the Jerusalem of Hinduism, was clouded in dust—in powdered brick, in powdered mortar. A worker army pummeled the walls of the Lahori Tula neighborhood with sledgehammers and crowbars, leveling its twisted maze of alleys and lopsided buildings. One of the city’s most timeworn districts lay bombed out amid heaps of rubble. At night, spectral trains of mules and horses saddled with baskets carted away ton after ton of debris.” 

– Paul Salopek, Out of Eden Walk 

India: A Culture of Selfies (Milestone 62)

31 Jan


Ellora Caves, India (2013) – selfie

Out of Eden Walk:

“India is a culture of selfies. The men mugged for the camera. My filming only drew more. Until I started filming their feet. This act crossed some unknown boundary of delicacy. The crowd did not like their feet filmed. It made them anxious. And in this way, one by one, the onlookers drifted away.” Click on this LINK to see photos, video and an interview by Paul Salopek for Milestone 62 in India. 

What Makes India Unique?

25 Apr

Incredible India! We are engaged in research for our final project, Diverse Places – Moving On! You have been comparing two places, one of them being India or more specifically, Chennai. I have lived in India for six years. Prior to moving here, I saw this first advertisement on TV and it sparked a lot of curiosity about life here. The second advertisement on this playlist is ‘incredible’ too. I have been fortunate to have travelled to many amazing places in India. What are some examples of geographic and cultural features that you see when you watch these two videos? 

Final Projects – Comparing Places

3 May


Students have been working very hard for several weeks now for our comparing places project. Students chose either China or India to compare with a country of their choice. Focusing on the physical and cultural geography and characteristics of their two places, they conducted research, evaluated resources, developed note-taking skills, and learned academic vocabulary and comparative language. They wrote an essay comparing and contrasting their two places, as well as learned how to cite their sources using an MLA format. Their final step is to create a visual product (video, poster, slide show, etc.) demonstrating the highlights of their two places and how they are unique. Final products are due this week. Next week on Monday and Tuesday, students will share their learning. 

How Religion Spread Around the World

5 Mar

Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are five of the biggest religions in the world. Over the last few thousand years, these religious groups have shaped the course of history and had a profound influence on the trajectory of the human race. Through countless conflicts, conquests, missions abroad, and simple word of mouth, these religions spread around the globe and forever molded the huge geographic regions in their paths.


When watching this video, what you see or notice?

What does it make you think about?

What questions or wonderings do you have when you watch this video?  


What story does this video tell you about the spread of religion?

What does it mean for an idea to spread? 

What needs to happen for an idea to spread?

What is climate?

4 Feb

What is climate? How is climate different than weather? You will be researching the climate of your country for your project. These videos could be helpful.

The New Silk Road & Globalization

15 Dec

These videos make connections between the ancient Silk Road network and the New Silk Road routes that China and other countries are developing today.

Why are they developing these ancient routes today? 

Is the ancient Silk Road an example of globalization?  

Should the ancient Silk Road be renamed?

A Return to Bartering

6 Dec

Many Indian villages are returning to bartering amid a nationwide cash crisis. Hard currency is in short supply following the government’s surprise decision to scrap 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in an effort to curb corruption. The BBC visited a village in the state of West Bengal to meet farmers and laborers who are trying desperately to survive without cash in hand. This article makes me think about ancient history and how people traded. 



Photo by Axel

Monsoons and India’s Climate

17 Nov

What is a monsoon? As we enter monsoon season in India, how do these seasonal winds shape, influence , or affect India’s climate?


Incredible India

17 Nov

Here is the advertisement we watched in your last class. There is another advertisement (#2) along with some short videos which show the amazing physical and human geography of India.

Himachal Pradesh, India

16 Jun

Hi students –

Here are a few photos from my past week in Himachal Pradesh, a beautiful state in the north of India, known for the Himalayan mountains and Tibetan Buddhism (among many other things). These are some videos and photos from my Instagram site. If you are on Instagram, you can follow me and I would love to see your photos as well. I hope you are enjoying your summer. I leave for New York tomorrow morning early. 

Mr. Martin


News: The country with the worst air pollution

23 Feb

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 3.04.14 PM

Image source: Greenpeace – screenshot from Washington Post article, Feb. 23. 2016

It’s a never-ending debate in Asia — whose air quality is worse, China’s or India’s? Read this article to find out the answer. This map is an example of a thematic map, a map that includes particular information about a place or region…in this case pollution in Asia.


8 Feb


Today and tomorrow, students are completing their reflection in their e-portfolio/blog for our India unit. In class, prior to Week Without Walls, you created a ‘Headline’ for our India unit. This is a Visible Thinking Routine.

Why do we do it? This routine helps students capture the core or heart of the matter being studied or discussed. It also can involve them in summing things up and coming to some conclusions. This routine works especially well at the end of a class discussion or session in which students have explored a topic (India!) and gathered a fair amount of new information or opinions about it. (From Visible Thinking @Harvard Project Zero)

My personal favorites:

Ashoka: From Military to Monk

India, a diverse and dynamic country.

Reincarnation – repeating cycles of birth, death, and re-birth


India Unit Test

19 Jan


Please find the study guide HERE. Your test will be on Wednesday, January  27 (B/D) and Thursday, January 28 (G/H). 

Asoka & the Maurya Empire

18 Jan

9943375_origmaurya-and-gupta-empires-EM.W26.GUPTAEssential question:

What were some of Asoka’s accomplishments? 



Buddhism Mapped

13 Jan


January Birthdays

9 Jan


Welcome back! We start school on Monday and it will be a a 1A Day. This week, we will learn about hinduism and buddhism, how they developed in India and their similarities and differences. We will also begin footstep #5 for Out of Eden Learn. There are two final footsteps for Learning Journey #1.

Happy Birthday to the following people celebrating birthdays this month: Ms. Jaya (8), Charlotte (16), Hyeonjoo (19), Masataka (20) and Gregor (21). If we have forgotten anyone or made any mistakes, let us know. Have a great birthday!

Indian Caste System

16 Dec

caste-system-3In lesson 2, you read about the Indian caste system and how it developed. Here are some videos that will teach you more about that system and how it is today in India. Watch one or more of these videos and answer this question: What is the caste system? 


Origins of Hinduism and Buddhism

13 Dec

This week you are learning about the origins of Hinduism. We will learn about Buddhism in India and South Asia after winter break. Check out these links to learn more:

Hinduism (British Museum) – read the story, explore and challenge links!

Buddhism (British Museum) – read the story, explore, and challenge links!

BBC Religion has two good links on both Hinduism and Buddhism. PBS has a good link on Buddhism. There are more links on our current unit on the right side of the blog. If you find any good videos or links for our current unit, send them to me.

Buddhism and Hinduism – a comparison and this table 

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


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.


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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