Saturday, December 15, 2012

Facebook template

Regents students: Here's the Facebook template for your homework.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Regents Homework

Hello Regents students,

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday.  Sorry to be posting this later than I promised.

Here is a link to a set of New York Times articles.  All of them have been chosen because they describe recent news involving people who are your age.

This is your assignment:
1. Go to the link, then choose and read at least two of the articles you find there.  Choose the ones you find most interesting.
2. Write a five-paragraph response in which you summarize the two articles and describe your reactions to them.  Here's an outline for your response:
I. Introduction: Briefly describe each article and explain any similarities that they have.
II. First Body Paragraph: Summarize the first article.
III. Second Body Paragraph: Summarize the second article.
IV. Reactions: Describe your reactions and thoughts about the two articles.  Especially note any connections that you see between the two articles.
V. Conclusion: Wrap up with a summary of your response and a closing thought--something that might make me see the world just a little differently after reading your paper.

You can type or handwrite your homework.  If you would like, you can e-mail me your homework at  If you choose to print out your homework at school, you must do so by 3:15 on Wednesday.

Please e-mail me if you have any questions.

See you Wednesday.  Have a great time with the long weekend.

Go Giants!  Go Yankees!  Go Yale!
Mr. Toomajian

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Extra Credit Assignments

If you are looking to boost your grade, you can always write a review of a social studies-related film or book.
To get started:
·         Watch a PBS American Experience documentary or an episode of the PBS show Frontline.  Watch the entire film and then write a film review.
·         Read a book about U.S. history and then write a book review.  Ask Mr. Toomajian for a book recommendation or suggest a book and ask Mr. Toomajian if he will approve it.
In your review, you must:
·         Summarize the events in the movie, show, or book.
·         Explain what you learned from the movie, show, or book and describe how it relates to the concepts that we've learned in class.
·         Give your opinion about the movie, show, or book: what surprised you, what feelings you had while watching it, etc.
The review must be in your own words and must be typed and double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font.  Use perfect grammar and spelling.  Indent paragraphs and organize your review logically with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  Your grade on this review will help to boost your project and test grades.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Seven Great Speeches

Hi eighth graders, here are links to the TEXT and AUDIO of your speeches for this week's homework.  I thought I'd posted this a few days ago, but I didn't, so I apologize for not posting it until now.  Below the links, you'll find your assignment.

TEXT AUDIO 1933—Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Speech: FDR encouraged the American people when they were at their lowest—in the depths of the Great Depression.  In this speech, he famously declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
TEXT AUDIO 1940—Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The Arsenal of Democracy”: World War II was already raging in Europe, but the U.S.A. was trying to avoid getting involved.  In a “fireside chat” that Americans heard on their radios, FDR described the dangers of Nazism and the need for the U.S.A. to support its allies in the fight against Germany.
TEXT AUDIO 1961—John F. Kennedy’s First Inaugural Speech: As JFK became president, the U.S.A. was in a Cold War with the communist Soviet Union.  He spoke about the need for freedom and democracy around the world, saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
TEXT AUDIO 1967—Martin Luther King Jr.’s “A Time to Break Silence”: Delivered at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King’s speech criticized the Vietnam War and argued that civil rights leaders should oppose the war.
TEXT VIDEO 1968—Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”: On the night before he was shot, Dr. King called for more commitment to equality for all races.  He described how he’d nearly been killed ten years earlier and how he was thankful for the life he’d had.
TEXT AUDIO 1983—Ronald Reagan’s “The Evil Empire”: Reagan was deeply committed to defeating communism and ending the Cold War, and he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”  He also told his audience—a conservative Christian group—that he would fight to end abortion and give greater opportunities for religious expression in public schools.
TEXT AUDIO 1995—Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”: Clinton, the wife of then-president Bill Clinton, went to China to call for greater respect for women, who face injustice to the point of forced prostitution and torture in some countries.

Then, explore your speech in a few steps. 
1)  First read through your speech just to get a sense of what it’s about.  This is a get-to-know-you read.
2)  Then listen to it.  Listen to it with members of your family or a friend, if you’d like.  Don’t forget that it was a performance in front a live (and probably large) audience. 
3)  Now you’re starting to get a feel for the speech.  Read it again, but more critically this time.  Now you start to engage in serious historical analysis.  Take notes on what parts interest you; what parts you don’t understand; what parts you want to know more about.  Think about the questions below as you take notes.  You won’t necessarily be able to answer all of them, but they will help you develop a feel for your speech as a historical document. 

A. Placing the document in its historical context
1. Who wrote it? What do you know about this person?
2. Where and when was it written?
3. Why was it written?
4. Who was it written for? This is called the “audience.” What do you know about this audience?
B. Understanding the document
1. What are the key words and what do they mean?
2. What point is the author trying to make? Summarize the thesis.
3. What evidence does the author give to support this thesis.
4. What assumptions does the author make?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Union Tonight!

Tonight, President Obama fulfills his constitutional duty to "give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."  In other words, he's telling us how he believes the country is doing--and what he thinks the government should do to make the country better.

Some questions to ponder as you watch:

  • What are President Obama's main points in this speech?
  • What are the solutions to our economic problems, according to Obama?
  • Is Obama being critical of other people and their ideas?  If so, how?
  • What parts of the speech get the most applause?  Why do you think so?
  • Does the speech sound more like a set of recommendations by the president, or like a campaign speech to help him get re-elected?
The speech starts at 9 tonight.  You'll be able to see it on any major news network and NBC, ABC, and CBS.  Here's a link from the White House website if you want to watch it online:

To get extra credit, write a full paragraph giving your reactions to the speech.  You may answer one or more of the questions above or write about something else that you found important or interesting in the speech.  Your comment must have correct grammar and spelling.  Not kidding about this, people.  Run it through a spell-check first if you need to, and make sure you're capitalizing everything correctly!

Update: Thanks to everybody who stayed up to watch!  I hope you noticed some familiar themes in the speech, similar to the things we heard from the president's speech in Osawatomie.  Given our discussion of the United States as a world power today, eighth graders, I found this quote especially interesting too: "Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way."  Obama also shared his views on education reform, the economy, and the state of politics in Washington, D.C., among other things.

  • What were the highlights of the speech, in your opinion?
  • Did you disagree with Obama on anything?  If so, what?
  • Did you make any connections between Obama's speech and what we've learned in class?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tips for studying for tomorrow's quiz

Here are some suggestions for students as they study for tests:
·         Review your notes.  Write summaries of the big ideas from each day’s notes.
·         Memorize lyrics from Mr. Toomajian’s pop songs to remember important facts.
·        Visit, go to U.S. History, click on Multiple Choice Questions, and answer the questions related to the "Progressive Movement."
·         Complete your VocabBank (vocabulary review sheet) and use it to quiz yourself.
·         Talk to your classmates about the material.  Teach and learn from each other.
·         Visit, scroll down and click on “SchoolTube Lectures,” click on the link for U.S. History videos, and watch lectures related to the topics on the test.
·         E-mail if you have questions.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Resources for Progressive Reformer Research

Jane Addams:

W. E. B. Du Bois:

Mother Jones:

Robert La Follette:

John Muir:

Alice Paul:

Upton Sinclair: