Monthly Archives: August 2012

IB History of the Americas IA First Draft Rubric Posted

I have uploaded the guidelines for submitting the first draft of the IA on the IB History of the Americas course webpage.

Please note that the window for turning the draft in on time will open this coming Tuesday, 4 September.  It will close Friday 14 September, and the late deduction from the completion grade will be severe.  We will be discussing IAs in class today.


Leave a comment

Filed under IB History of the Americas

Updates to Course Website

I have uploaded rubrics to the webpages for all of my courses.  The first homework assignment is now uploaded to the IB Twentieth Century and History of the Americas pages.

Leave a comment

Filed under IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Class Website Links

AP and IB History students,

Some students have been having trouble getting to the course website in order to complete the Course Rules and Procedures assignment.  The URL for the course web site is  The Rules and Procedures document is available on the page titled “Classroom Rules and Procedures.”  The website can also be accessed through the Rickards High School Social Studies page:


Leave a comment

Filed under AP United States History, IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Guns of August Test and Reading Discussion

Dear Juniors and Seniors,

The reading test on The Guns of August will be administered to all IB history classes on Thursday, 23 August.  The test will consist of your choice of six identification short essays (IDs) and one essay question.  You will be able to choose six out of ten IDs, and one out of two essay questions.  All test items will be based upon the guided reading questions provided on the class blog.

There will be a brief review at the beginning of class tomorrow.  I will distribute sample IDs, and we will discuss major themes of the book.  Study thoughtfully what you have read this summer, as this will be the first serious assessment for the IB history courses.

Leave a comment

Filed under IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Guns of August, Chapter 21-Afterword

Barbara Tuchman wraps up her narrative prior to the “Miracle of the Marne.”  She takes the story from the origins of General von Kluck’s ill-timed turn in the face of the French army through General Gallieni’s brilliant organization of the defense of Paris.  Be thinking about Tuchman’s overall thesis, and why she finds the first two months of the First World War, as the fighting was only beginning, to be the most crucial in explaining the course and outcome of the conflict.

Chapter 21

How much discretion did German commanders have to make their own decisions in the field?  What impact did this doctrine have on the German approach to Paris?

What impact did new aviation technology have upon the course of the war on the Western Front in 1914?

Chapter 22

What were the long term effects of Joffre’s relief of seemingly ineffective generals?

How were the French able to coordinate a defense of Paris?


How does Tuchman explain the “Miracle of the Marne?”

How did the failure of the war plans of both sides effect the course of the First World War?

Why does Barbara Tuchman say that the battles of August 1914 laid a “trap from which there was, and has been, no exit?”  Is she implying that the First World War is still with us?  If so, how might this be true.

Leave a comment

Filed under IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

New CAS Opportunities!

Juniors and Seniors,

I wanted to let you know about three new opportunities for meaningful CAS projects.

1.  Mr. Edwards would like the IB students to initiate, plan, and implement a project to identify, catalog, and label all of the flags hanging in the media center and cafeteria, as well as making arrangements to respectfully retire flags that are obsolete either because it has changed or the nation no longer exists.  I already have one volunteer to take the lead on this project, so please see me if you would like to participate.  This activity could be considered service or creativity, and you could earn at least three of the learning outcomes.

2.  Mr. Distefano still needs volunteers to help paint murals for the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend.  This is a wonderful chance to work on creativity for students weak in this area.  It could also be a service project for a good cause, and possibly action (if the weather is hot enough.)  I can’t recommend CAS projects through our school’s art club highly enough; they do great work.

3.  Teen Court is starting up again for the year.  This can be a great project for service or creativity.  Their web site URL is

Leave a comment

Filed under CAS

Junior CAS Update


Good evening.  Some students and parents have asked me preliminary questions about the CAS program.  I am currently revising the James S. Rickards High School CAS Handbook, and Mrs. Kraft and I will have it online by the second week of school.  I will also be addressing the junior class that week with a comprehensive introduction to the CAS program.  Your CAS plans will then be due the Tuesday following Labor Day, 4 September.  Instructions for the CAS plan will be included in the new CAS handbook.  You will need to start CAS no later than September.

In the meantime, be considering what athletic, creative, and service activities you would enjoy.  CAS is no longer focused on hour-counting.  Instead, CAS is to consist of at least 18 months of meaningful projects, and completion depends upon achievement of eight learning outcomes.  I will be discussing these next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under CAS