Merry Christmas

and a Belated Happy Hanukkah and an early Happy Kwanzaa to all!


Holiday Goodie Rerun II: 10 movies every social studies teacher should see

Excellent list and could be used by more than just Social Studies teachers.

History Tech

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read some of the top posts of 2014. I may decide to jump in with something current but if I don’t, enjoy this Holiday Goodie rerun.


Okay, I lied.

I started off with the idea that I could create a short little list of my ten favorite social studies related movies. But I was wrong. As I started thinking about great history movies and talking with others, the list grew quickly. And I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten. Then it got worse. This month’s Social Educationjournal showed up in my mailbox with their movie list.

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Disney princesses as role models pt 2

I went through the first 6 Disney princesses last week let’s move on to the rest.

Pocahontas (1995) – You know in all honesty it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie and then I saw it only once but one thing sticks out in my mind. Pocahontas throwing herself between John and her tribe when he is to be executed.  She convinces her father to stop the execution and the make peace with the English.  This is another strong female character, why should we not look to her as a role model?

Mulan (1998) – Yep one more princess I love.  She’s different than the rest of the girls around her.  She wants to bring her family honor but doesn’t want to have to sublimate herself to do so.  When her already permanently wounded father is called up into military service again she takes his place, a decidedly dangerous move as this could lead to her death.  When she is revealed and then sees that Shan Yu is still alive she does not head on home as she could leaving the others to be surprised.  She instead rushes to the Imperial City to warn her fellow soldiers.  None will listen and yet she still does not give up. It is Mulan’s plan that saves the Emperor.  I read that critics felt the somewhat romantic ending of the movie diminished the power of Mulan’s character.  On the other hand since it is Li Shang who acts so nervous and timid with Mulan stepping forward to speak to him I think it shows her strength of character even more.  Hmm yet another strong female role model.  Wow I’m shocked (yeah that would be sarcasm just in case you can’t tell.

Tiana (2009) – OK another movie I’ve never seen.  I’m not even sure why I haven’t seen it because kiddo was still watching then what he calls “girl movies” now.  (And we’ve had multiple conversations about there not being girl and boy movies but like I said he’s 10 and some things are still very black and white in his world.  I keep trying though, it has to sink in at some point)   So I wandered over to wikipedia, imdb, and rotten tomatoes to read various synopses.  (Doing what I ask my students to do and checking to see if the same information is presented in more than one place before deciding it’s reliable.)  Tiana works two jobs to save money to start a restaurant and fulfill her father’s dream, yep no slacker this girl is (sorry for the Yoda speak, kiddo has been on a roll with it lately and it must be stuck in my head).  Not sure how I feel about her making a deal to kiss a frog for the money to buy her restaurant,  yes it speaks to going to incredible lengths to achieve what you want but something about it makes me feel squicky.   She does however insist to Prince Naveen that hard work is the way to get what you want, which makes me wonder why she’d kiss the frog to begin with unless it was just desperation when finding out she wasn’t going to get the building for her restaurant.  Through all the trials of being a frog Tiana doesn’t give up.  Again we get a princess willing to give up something precious to her, her dream, to be with the one she loves.  Not something everyone agrees with but not always a bad thing.

Rapunzel (2010) –  Ah Rapunzel, the first thing that comes to mind is the scene where she’s first encountering the world outside her tower.  Rapunzel may not stand up to her “Mother” well but she protects herself when Flynn sneaks into the tower.  She manipulates first “Mother” then Flynn to get what she wants and gets out of the tower.  She seems to naturally have a case of agoraphobia but fights that fear to get what she wants and see the lanterns.  She does finally confront Gothel and once again we see a woman agree to give away something precious for the one she loves.  Even better Eugene cuts her hair willing to give up his own life so that she can live a life of freedom.  Hello give and take, both parties in a relationship giving up something precious to them to save something more precious.  Not such a bad lesson and double sided for once.  I don’t see Rapunzel as such a bad role model though, she’s a fairly strong female character.

Merida (2012) – Again a movie I’ve only seen once, managed to get it from the library one time before kiddo started on his “girl/boy movie thing”  (any tips to get him away from that thinking would be helpful as it’s making me crazy), but even seeing it once I was impressed with how strong she was.  Like Jasmine, Merida refuses to simply be married off, she fights for her own hand in the archery battle.  She realizes she has made a huge mistake by going to the witch and does everything she can to fix it.  Nope not a strong female role model at all huh? *yep you can see me rolling my eyes from wherever you are right?*

OK so that takes me through all of the current Disney princesses.  Please don’t think I have anything against Frozen and Elsa, what I’ve seen of the movie is cute, and little girls always love a princess but maybe we need to direct our girls to real-life strong female role models as well as those in movies.  That’s a whole other post though and one I will share another time, as is the possibility of a post that we direct our boys to good role models who may or may not be professional athletes.  I’ll gladly take suggestions on either front so share away please.


*Side note – I have to say I resisted seeing Frozen when it first came out because I was highly disappointed, all of the first trailers showed only Olaf and the moose.  I thought it was going to be a cute buddy movie and then it was princesses, I felt a bit misled.  I’m willing to see it now but I guess I’ll have to wait and see it with my niece sometime 🙂


ETA: I scheduled this to post a few days ago and since then I’ve seen more of the movie, specifically the end and I have to say Elsa is ok but umm why are we not making more of Anna who SPOILER ALERT steps in front of the sword to save her sister, isn’t she the one we should be holding up as the strong one, she’s the one that went off looking for her sister who ran away in fear of her own powers.  Really why is Elsa the one that everyone is raving about?  Just my opinion.

Disney princesses as role models pt 1

OK I’m just so totally over the argument that Elsa is the best Disney Princess role model ever.  I’m not saying she may not be a good role model, nope I haven’t seen the movie yet I have a 10 yr old boy who only saw it when his 6 yr old female cousin came to visit and it’s her favorite movie so he picked it up at the library for her.  (yep I was proud of him because before that he had flat out said he did NOT want to see it, and when it comes up now on the TV movie channels he groans and says NO, LOL).


I recently saw a video someone made of a rap battle between Snow White and Elsa, really came down to who’s the better role model.  UGH!  First of all can we accept that life was different when Snow White was made.  Comparing SW and Elsa is not fair.  Yes SW cleaned house and cooked for the seven dwarves but as I recall from watching it she didn’t let them get away with making a mess, she made them clean up before eating, so while she was the homemaker she was in charge.  Ok eating the apple from the old woman/witch was dumb, but hey there’s a moral (what a strange idea a story with a message) don’t take food from strangers.  Wow *sarcasm accompanied by rolleyes*  You know what for 1937 when the film was released SW telling the 7 dwarves what to do was a big thing.  So what if Prince Charming kissed her and woke her up, yes he rescued her, sometimes women are rescued by men.  No kids don’t have to take it that that’s the way it should happen, and really is that what you think your average 5 yr old thinks when she sees the movie?


Shall we take a look at the other Disney princesses?  Where shall we start?  Let’s go chronologically:


Cinderella (1950) – Ok so her goal was to go to the ball and meet the prince, but is this a bad thing?  Even today there are many girls and women who are looking for their partner.  She uses whatever time she can to make her dress essentially standing up to her “wicked” stepmother to get what she wants.  When it doesn’t work out she takes the chance her fairy godmother gives her to go to the ball.  Um hello YOLO???  So is she such a bad role model?


Aurora/ Sleeping Beauty (1959) – While this was always my favorite movie growing up (I used to be able to recite it word for word) I have to admit Aurora is not a princess I would want my nieces to aspire to be.  While she finds love and fights at first to meet him she gives in and goes along with the fairies to meet her parents.  Who knows maybe she would have later fought her parents until she realized Prince Phillip was her charming stranger.  Then again this isn’t a bad picture of what girls were supposed to do in the late 50s.  It might be a good lesson in how times have changed.


Ariel (1989) – Ariel is fascinated with human life so honestly it’s not a big surprise that when she falls for a human prince she wants to become human herself.  Being willing to give up something so precious to herself as her voice is huge.  She tries all she can to catch Eric’s attention.  Maybe not what some people think is a good example for girls as you should be loved for who you are.  However there comes a time in any good relationship where the give and take shifts more to one side.  Use this as an object lesson, put something else in place of Prince Eric to show that sometimes we give up things that mean a lot to us to accomplish or find things that mean even more.  Not such a bad lesson is it?  Then there is the fact that her friends try so hard to help her.  True friends are always there for you even if they don’t necessarily agree with what you’re trying to do.  Another good lesson, so maybe we don’t look to Ariel as a role model maybe we look to her movie for the morals it shares.


Belle/Beauty (1991) – Belle is smart!  Belle reads books!  Belle doesn’t care that others look down at her for being smart and a bookworm!  I LOVE Belle!  From the first time they show her eagerly going to the bookstore and picking up a book she’s read before to reread I identified with her.  She refuses the attention of Gaston, the misogynist, and doesn’t care that others think that’s a bad idea.  She cares deeply for her father.  When the townspeople decide to do the pitchfork and torch mob thing she stands up for the Beast.  She tries to save him.  This is a strong woman!  Is she not a good role model?  Yes the argument can be made that she suffers from Stockholm syndrome, or maybe we can argue that she has reached out to someone clearly in emotional need and connected with that person.  We see people like this all the time in life, I know that I see them in the classroom every day.  Someone has to be the one to reach out to those kids, those people in life.  Belle is an example of that.  She ends up with a dear friend, nope not such a bad thing.


Jasmine (1992) – Oh yeah another princess I love.  She stands up to her father, refuses to marry just because she’s supposed to, she wants to marry for love.  She steals away and goes out into the kingdom, a risky idea as she’s never been out of the castle.  When Aladdin is taken she goes to Jafar and demands his release.  When “Prince Ali” makes his appearance she again stands up for herself, angry at being treated more as a possession than a woman with her own mind.  At the end when Jafar has become Sultan and has everyone captured, she tricks him to help to help Aladdin beat him.  Let’s face it Al couldn’t have done it without her.  Again I ask is she not a good role model?

Ok I think that’s enough for one day, I’ll cover the rest of the Princesses another day.

You might be in education if…

I found this gem in my boxes of teacher stuff, some good funnies here and some that come across as a bit mean spirited:


  1. You believe the staff room should be equipped with a Valium salt lick.
  2. You find humor in other people’s stupidity.
  3. You want to slap the next person who says, “Must be nice to work from 7:30 to 2:15 and you have summers free.”
  4. You believe chocolate is a food group.
  5. You can tell it’s a full moon without ever looking outside. (I hear this is the same for those in the medical and first responder fields)
  6. You believe “shallow gene pool” should have its own box on the report card.
  7. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says “Boy, the kids sure are mellow today.” (OH NO NO NO NO NO NEVER SAY THIS EVER!!!!)
  8. When out in public you feel the urge to snap your fingers at a child you do not know and correct their behavior.
  9. You have no time for a life from August to June.
  10. Making all A’s on report cards would make your life SO much simpler.
  11. When you mention “vegetables” you’re not talking about a food group.
  12. You think people should be required to get a government permit before being allowed to reproduce.
  13. You wonder how some parents MANAGED to reproduce.
  14. You laugh uncontrollably when people refer to the staff room as the “lounge”.
  15. You believe in aerial spraying of Prozac.
  16. You encourage an obnoxious parent to check into charter schools or homeschooling.
  17. You believe no one should be able to reproduce without having taught in an elementary school for at least 5 years.  (Any age level would work, including day cares!)
  18. You’ve ever had your profession slammed by someone who would never DREAM of doing your job.
  19. You can’t have children because there’s no name you could give your child that wouldn’t bring on high blood pressure the moment you heard it uttered. (True story I had a girl’s name picked out for years that I LOVED, I was working day care pregnant with my first and that name quickly went off my list because a child in my room had that name and she was something else)
  20. You think caffeine should be available to staff in IV form.
  21. You know you’re in for a MAJOR project when a parent says “I have a great idea I’d like to discuss.  I think it would be such fun.”
  22. You smile weakly, and want to choke a person when he/she says, “Oh you must have such FUN every day.  This must be like playtime for you.” (While not playtime the vast majority of my days are FUN)
  23. Your personal life comes to a screeching halt at report card time.
  24. Meeting a child’s parent instantly answers the question, “Why is this kid like this?” (More times than I can count!)

Day 30

Day 30 #30daybookchallenge

What Will She Read Next?

IMG_2975DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.


Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek, I am a big WW fan and have been since Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Finding out that he had become a writer was wonderful to me.  This book, an autobiography/memoir is real and in some case raw.  He doesn’t hold back how he felt about how his life was going.  He shares blog posts from times that were rough and explains how he was really feeling, often feelings he didn’t share in his blog.  It’s one of those “comforting to know actors go through the same things the rest of us do” books.  Knowing he struggled and has come out even stronger makes it an inspirational book.


I absolutely loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Like, couldn’t put them down, could not sleep until I had finished them.  It’s so sad…

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