Week 4 Parent Newsletter – September 4-8, 2006
Mr. Langhorst – 8th Grade American History
South Valley Junior High School


Hello and welcome to the first edition of the parent newsletter. This is the fourth year I have sent out a parent newsletter and I have found it to be a very productive method of letting you know what is happening in class. Comments from parents have been extremely positive and I have found that in addition to opening communication between you and I as parent and teacher, it has also had an impact on parents and students. When parents know what is happening in the classroom and which topics are being covered, it is much easier for them to start a conversation with their student about school.

The content of the newsletter will vary from week to week but I will always include a list of the lesson plans being covered in class for the week and a general summary of the topics we are covering in the curriculum. This information is also available on the classroom web site and the parent newsletter blog. (More information about the site below.) Thanks for taking the time to read the parent newsletter and let me know if you have any suggestions or comments.

Classroom Web Site
If you have not yet visited the classroom web site I would encourage you to check it out at:
www.liberty.k12.mo.us/~elanghorst and bookmark it on your computer. I update the site daily and work hard to maintain fresh content and resources. Features of the web site include links to lesson plans, copies of notes, study guides, links to helpful sites and news about what is happening in class. Two links of interest are the links marked “Class Scribe Blog” and “Parent Newsletter Blog”. The Parent Newsletter Blog contains basically the same information that is included in this e-mail. The Class Scribe Blog is a new feature this year in which a student is selected each day to write a blog entry about what we did in class. This blog is helpful to students who missed class and what to check up on what they missed and it is read by teachers and historians who follow the activities of our class. It is currently being read by people all over the United States and several other countries.

Lights! Camera! Learning! – The Boston Massacre News Project

This week we are filming our project for Unit 1 – creating a modern day news broadcast of the Boston Massacre in 1770. The Boston Massacre was a critical turning point in the days leading up to the Revolutionary War. It made many undecided citizens of Boston very anti-British. News coverage of the event at the time was very one sided – the Sons of Liberty used it as a propaganda tool to make the British soldiers the enemy of the citizens of Boston. We film a news broadcast of the Boston Massacre as it would be reported today – interviews with soldiers, eye witnesses, the King, etc. It helps the students not only understand the importance of the Boston Massacre as a historical event but the role of media today and how it impacts public perception. We filmed the segments this week and editing will begin next week. Once we have the finished product we will post them on the Internet for you to view. This will be the fifth year we have done this project in class and it has been featured in a magazine produced by the History Channel and it will be focus of an article in an upcoming issue of Discovery Education later this fall.

Unit Test Next Week – September 15th
Our first unit test of the year - over the beginnings of the American Revolutionary War - will take place next Friday on September 15th. Students at the start of next week will be given a paper copy of the study guide and a studycast will be made available as well. A studycast is an audio review for the test that can be heard through the Internet via a link on the classroom web site or downloaded to a personal MP3 player like an i-Pod. Links for these materials will be made available at the start of next week.

Link of the Week – Gas Buddy
From time to time I will try to pass along links that I have found interesting or use in class. This week’s link is Gas Buddy. We have not used it in class yet this year but thought you would find it interesting. This site:
http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx shows you a average price of gas in each county across the United States. It is a great discussion starter for why gas prices vary – a lesson we will use when we discuss taxes later in the year.

Parent Connect Update
If you have not yet signed up for Parent Connect I would encourage you to do sign up. It allows you to see the grades for your student in every class. We have had only two grades so far this year – a 50 states test and a homework check. These grades will be updated by Monday, September 11th and I will send out a grade report update via e-mail as well. Parent Connect is updated every couple of weeks so it does depend a little on which day you access it.

Thanks and have a great week!

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