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Special Learning Journey: Planetary Health (Out of Eden Learn)

1 Mar

Planetary health is a new subject, just like biology and math are subjects, and it focuses on exploring the impacts of environmental changes on human health. Researchers who work on planetary health are interested in the connections between how humans affect the environment and how the environment then affects human health.

This learning journey is optional (not required) and will be open to volunteers. There will be no grades and it will be offered as a club or independent activity. If you like science and health and are interested in things like climate change, pollution, nutrition, and how you can make an impact on the world, then you might enjoy this special opportunity. This will begin next week. Let me know by this weekend if you are interested.


The Week in Social Studies

15 Feb


Photos by Rob Martin

This week we learned more about the Silk Road and how it is was not just one road, but many interconnecting routes – a network – that connected China, the Indian Subcontinent, Arabia, the Horn of Africa, Persia and the Roman Empire. We worked on our ability to summarize the main idea of a text or listening passage, as well as defined vocabulary related to our current unit. Our essential question is: Which three factors of the Silk Road had the greatest influence on trade, and why? Here are some class photos of students collaborating to review vocabulary. 

We also began a new Learning Journey for Out of Eden Learn, The Past and the Global. We have new schools in our walking party and you wrote footstep #1, an introduction to your walking party. All posts should now be on Out of Eden. Please read and comment on other posts in our walking party and respond to any questions you are asked. 

Check out this really cool feature on Out of Eden Walk on Paul’s walk through the Silk Road. It features photos, videos, maps and much more! If you use Instagram, you will like the photos on Out of Eden Walk. 

Have a good weekend!

Seven levels of nourishment: village feast, #Kyrgyzstan.

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Listening to Neighbors’ Stories

25 Jan

Interview1Interview2Interview3Photos by Barathi Dasan

Students this week are interviewing an adult who lives or works in Chennai. This person could be someone they have never spoken to before, or someone they already know.  Among questions students will create, they need to ask the person for a story or memory about Chennai, for example: How did they come to be in this place? How have they seen the area change over the years? What are some of their memories about the area? Do any particular events in the area stand out in their mind? Students will write up the highlights of their conversation (or a Q & A). Alternatively, they can upload an audio file retelling their story in their own words.

In class this week, Mr. Martin modeled an interview with Ms. Priya (B, F, and H blocks) and Ms. Lakshmi (D block). Students also had an opportunity to ask a wide range of questions (yes/no, open-ended, and follow-up questions). Students will edit their work in class on next Monday and Tuesday and post their work on Out of Eden Learn. 

Reminder: Please submit your summative essay to Mr. Martin for our most recent unit, if you have not already done so. Thanks!

Last Post of 2017

27 Dec



Paris in winter


MS Christmas Party – Good times! Funny photo!

Greetings! I hope you are having a great vacation, whether you are in Chennai or traveling in India or overseas. My family leaves for France tomorrow morning, our first trip there. I really enjoyed your neighborhood photos and shared some of the best ones (there were so many!) in a post below this one. Check them them out! I also shared the photos on my Twitter handle and got some nice comments and ‘likes’ from Out of Eden Learn, Paul Salopek and others. They were very impressive and inspiring! Whether you are in India, in your home country, or traveling, take many photos and choose one to share with me. I will be happy to add it to our class blog when we return from vacation.

Happy New Year!

Out of Eden Learn: Footstep #3 – Taking Neighborhood Walks

20 Dec

AdamAhmetBeachBunshiroDaEunEllieEmilyKaranLazarLucaMaya2MayukaNeelNeil R.PaulRyutaroShyamSominSungminWilliamYashMarcWoohyunZiad


There were so many great photos taken for Footstep #3 – Taking Neighborhood Walks. Your task was to walk in your neighborhood and capture images that showed the physical traits and/or cultural characteristics of Chennai, India. Along with your photos, you needed to write a paragraph describing the photos, why you took them, and what wonderings you might have about the things you took photos of. My hope is that you learned more about your neighborhood or saw it in a new way. Great job!

Paul Salopek – Trekking across the ‘unknown’ Afghanistan, untouched by war (PBS Story)

7 Dec

Paul Salopek is one of the few people to have crossed a roadless, mountainous part of Afghanistan by foot. The journalist had previously reported there during the war. But as part of his Out of Eden walk around the world, he’s encountered a completely different Afghanistan than the one he had come to know. Hari Sreenivasan from PBS NewsHour talks with Salopek about the latest leg of his journey and what’s next. Click HERE to read the story. 

Where is Paul?

23 Nov

Have a nice long weekend and see you on Monday (2G Day). All students should have have written their reflection for their Trimester 1 summative assessment (Why do people migrate?). That should be on your e-portfolio. If you have not finished it, please do it this weekend. Otherwise, there is not homework. I am sharing a few photos of Paul Salopek from his journey. He is currently Pakistan. 

Neighborhood Maps

21 Nov

Here are a few of the many great maps that were created for our Out of Eden Learn Project. We hope you slowed down and explored your neighborhood and noticed new things about where you live. As we prepare to begin our unit on settlement, we hope this was a good activity to help you think about where you live. The purpose of this activity was for you to think about your own relationship to a place. It is also a chance for you to share more about yourself! We are also happy to have our guest speakers, Balajee and Karthik, come to our class to talk about the history of Chennai and how it was settled. 


Sharing our Learning – Migration

9 Nov

Students in Social Studies finished their presentations on why people migrate. They shared their learning in small groups and received specific feedback from classmates on what they did well and an area they could improve. We also began Footstep #2 for Out of Eden Learn (Creating a Neighborhood Map). Students are exploring their neighborhoods, slowing down and looking for things they might not have noticed before. Be like Paul and practice slow journalism! The directions and rubric have been shared via email and has been posted on PowerSchool. 


Student feedback on maps made last year. Photo by Rob Martin


Walking the Wild Rim of War (Out of Eden Walk

24 Oct

Paul’s most recent blog posts, Walking the Wild Rim of War and Heart Like a Wheel feature his journey in Afghanistan. His photos and videos are amazing and show a part of the world we often associate with war. Here is a quote that I found very interesting when he described the process of turning wheat into flour to make bread:

“Isolated by 20,000-foot mountains and years of civil war, and rich in tumbling glacial creeks, the people of this remote territory of Badakhshan Province depend on the flexed green muscle of running water to survive—to eat.”

Check out the videos. Not many people are living this way in anymore. It’s a land far removed from the comforts and access to technology we have in our lives. 

Buckshot gravel: facing the bodi Wakhan winds, in ‪#Tajikistan #Pamirs

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Research and Collaboration – Migration and Out of Eden Walk

6 Oct

The “UN Group”  – South Korea, Germany, Thailand, France, and Japan


Looks like an Apple Store with a better view of the palm trees!




A friendly visitor in class.

In class we are answering the compelling question: Why do people move or migrate? We are seeking connections to Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk as we build some background knowledge on his motivation for his 9-10 year walk that will follow the path of human migration. In class students are conducting research that focuses on migration during four different time periods: ancient history, the “Great Migration” (African-Americans in the U.S.A.), Vietnam and the boat people, and Syrian refugees. We want to learn about where they migrated to, why they migrated, and what challenges they faced. 

Here are two current photos from Paul’s walk in Tajikistan. Here is a current story from Paul’s walk, The Ruby Sellers of Vrang. All students should be finished with posting footstep #1, Setting Off, for Out of Eden Learn. You should also be engaging in conversations with other students from other schools in our walking party. We will do Footstep #2 after the vacation. 

Out of Eden Launch

20 Sep

Think about it/Discuss:

Everyone should do what Paul is doing. Agree or disagree? Explain.

Who Paul Salopek? What is Out of Eden Walk?


Image Source: Out of Eden Walk


Snapshot Autobiographies + Out of Eden Learn

17 Sep


Photos by Rob Martin

Here are a few photos of your work on your snapshot autobiography from class on Thursday and Friday. Most of you nearly finished in class. Finish them before class on Monday and Tuesday and be prepared to share them with your classmates. Review the expectations and rubric that has been emailed to you and also shared on PowerSchool. Out of Eden Learn begins next week! More details will be provided in class. 

"Sadness is but a wall between two gardens." —Kahlil Gibran

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New pack donkey. Alai mountain crossing, #Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Sunny Lambert

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Out of Eden Learn is Coming Soon!

30 Aug

Support vehicle: cargo horse and rider, Alai range, #Kyrgyzstan.

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Seven levels of nourishment: village feast, #Kyrgyzstan.

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Asking Follow-Up Questions

12 May

As we prepare to do interviews for our next Out of Eden Learn footstep (Learning from Past Generations), we will talk more about the importance of asking follow up questions. Here are some helpful videos that tells you more about these questions.

OOEL Footstep #2 Projects

12 Apr

OOEL LJ2 #2 ShivOOEL LJ2 #2 LokeshOOEL LJ2 #2 GyuboOOEL LJ2 #2 GauthamOOEL LJ2 #2 FinnOOEL LJ2 #2 ChaeyoungBTSLoverGoldenFlashOOEL LJ 2 #2 SumanOOEL LJ@ #2 HakinOOEL LJ2 #2 Annie

Here is a roundup of some more of the diagrams from our last Out of Eden Learn project. I will be adding some more examples. I was very impressed with the diagrams and the connections you made between your life and the past. There are several I would like to save to share with future students I teach. If you are wondering when we will begin the next Out of Eden Learn projects, they will start again when we are done with our Comparing Places project. 

Featured in Out of Eden Learn (Instagram)

7 Apr

Out of Eden Learn (Instagram) featured Amy’s diagram from our recent footstep project (Making Connections Between Out Lives and the Past). Great job, Amy! I will add some more examples soon.


Google Hangout with Paul Salopek

3 Mar

Students –

National Geographic Education hosted a live event last night where teachers and students could ask Paul Salopek questions about his journey. He got quite a few new questions in this interview from Bishkek, where he is spending the winter months. Check it out!

A Perspective on Chennai

21 Feb


Here is an excerpt from an interview that Riley (S.S.AllTheThings) did with Ms. Megha in 5th grade. This is a really interesting answer to her question – How has Chennai changed since you have been here?

If you feel you got an a really interesting answer to this questions for Out of Eden Footstep #4 (Learning Journey #1), let me know, and I will add it here. Good job, Riley.


Learning Journey 2 Begins!

17 Feb

Students –

We have been working hard on our new project, a country comparison project. We will take a short break for next class and begin Out of Eden Learn – Learning Journey 2. Listen to Paul’s special message to students:

Here are the instructions for the first footstep. These have been shared with you too, as a Google Document. 

You will have an opportunity to view many of the excellent photos on the Out of Eden Walk Instagram site and to choose one to do a See-Think-Wonder visible thinking routine. Here are two of his photos.

Goodbye to Aziz, Tolik, Haram, and Mouse—and #Uzbekistan. #Kyrgyzstan border.

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Crossing the Tien Shan mountains to the Fergana Valley, #Uzbekistan.

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OOEL – Footstep #4 – Listening to Neighbor’s Stories

22 Jan

Image source: Clipartfest

This week we will be learning about the art of asking good questions during an interview. You will interview a local person who lives in Chennai and write a story or the highlights of the interview (Question and Answer format). We will brainstorm a list of possible subjects you can interview and what makes a good question. The directions and rubric are on Moodle in the Out of Eden section and folder for 2016 – 2017. There are also exemplars or good examples of interviews done last year. They can help give you an idea of what is expected. 

Paul on the Silk Road

8 Jan

In class we have been learning about the Silk Road. Here is a new article about Paul Salopek and his walk. You can also listen to the interview with him as well. Here is a script of the interview. In his article, he says this about the Silk Road and globalization, something we will discuss this week:

For the past year, Salopek has been following the ancient Silk Road trade routes that once connected China to Mediterranean. Merchants used to move precious cloths and spices. Now they move precious oil and gas. Globalization has made it possible to extract the region’s abundant natural resources, which has brought prosperity to a small but growing middle class in the region. However, that prosperity has also created resentment. Many locals are being left behind. 

“That’s happening in North America too, of course,” he tells Chattopadhyay (the interviewer). “That’s what’s driving some of these movements against globalization.”

Happy New Year & Welcome Back!

8 Jan



Photo by Rob Martin


Photo by Rob Martin


Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a wonderful vacation with family and friends and that you are ready for school tomorrow. Tomorrow is a 1A day. I had a nice vacation with family in New York State. Here are two photos I took in New York City, one of Rockefeller Center where they have a huge Christmas tree and ice skating rink and the other of the Empire State Building showing Christmas colors. 

I received this message from Out of Eden Learn the other day. Jinwon received a personal message on her photos from Paul Salopek. You can see her photos if you click on the link and read his comment. I have pasted it below too:

This is a reply from Paul Salopek:

Your text and photos are great examples of keen observation. The physical details, the noting of time and place, the background (a bit of recent history), all these elements are what journalists like me use to build a good story. It requires close attention. Keep at it. Carry a small notepad around with you to jot such things down—you can use them in later stories.


Google Q & A – Paul Salopek

16 Dec

Image source: Photo by Kevin Crouch

I hope you enjoyed the Google Hangout with Paul Salopek today. I received many good questions via email and will save them for future ‘hangouts.’ If you want to see the places where our students asked questions, skip to 22:54 (EJ) and 41:44 (Amy). Here is an excerpt of what Paul said:

EJ: What is trade like on the New Silk Road? 

Paul: Cool! That’s a really good question. That’s a great question because when you mention the two words Silk Road together you have images of camels…and yet the Silk Roads continue today and that’s something I am writing about now. China has invested trillions of dollars in something called the “One Road, One Belt” project. It’s the most expensive infrastructure project in the history of the world, and it’s designed to tie Europe and Asia together with shipping routes, highways, and railroads throughout the Eurasian continent. From foot level today, it looks like Turkish trucks roaring past on a highway built by South Koreans. It looks like railroads built partly by Australian technology that are being plied by trains from Belarus. So what it is…is a miniature snapshot of globalization….”   

Google Hangout with Paul Salopek – Tomorrow!

15 Dec

Image source: Screen from Google Maps

Students –  We have an exciting opportunity tomorrow at 10:30am in the CIC. Paul Salopek and Out of Eden Learn will be hosting a LIVE Google Hangout Question and Answer (Q & A) session for students and teachers. He is in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Please comment here or send me a question you would like to ask. He has been walking the the ancient routes of the Silk Roads, so this is also a great opportunity to ask him questions about this topic. Your A block teacher will release you to go to the CIC. Here is a great CNN story about the Silk Roads today with interactive maps and stories about the countries along the present day ancient networks for the Silk Roads. Click HERE to see the stories. 

Samarkand fast food: plov, bread, rice soup. #Uzbekistan.

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"Tamerlane’s Gate"—an ancient pass north to China. Near Jizak, #Uzbekistan.

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