Thursday, August 28, 2014

Volunteer Opportunity: Pull a Plane for Special Olympics

The Plane Pull features the ultimate tug-of-war competition, as teams of up to 20 battle a UPS Airbus A300, weighing more than 190,000 lbs.  That’s right, the plane weighs more than 90 tons!  Each team raises a minimum of $1,000 to participate (only $50 per person for a team of 20). Special Olympics Illinois and the Law Enforcement Torch Run will host the 6th Annual Plane Pull at O’Hare International Airport on Sept. 27.  The 2013 event was a record-breaking success, as 64 teams participated and more than $135,000 was raised for the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois! Click here for more info.
A special thanks to UPS, the Chicago Department of Aviation, City of Chicago, HMS Host and Durham School Services for their continued support of this event.
Teams compete in one of three divisions:
  • Open Division (ideal for companies, school teams, gyms, crossfits, clubs, friends and families)
  • Public Safety Division (law enforcement officers, fire fighters, paramedics, DNR, DOC and military personnel; teams need at least 10 public safety competitors to qualify)
  • Hotel Division (new in 2014, and by popular demand, we have created a division solely for groups in the hotel industry!)
For  questions on hoPlane Pull Logow you can get involved in the Plane Pull, please contact Matt Johnson.

2013 Event Results

  • Open Division: Maine South Hawks (HS Football Team), 9.81 seconds
  • Public Safety Division: Chicago Police Department - O'Hare, 9.34 seconds
  • Grand Champion: Chicago Police Department - O'Hare
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Bob Pomeroy, ComEd
  • Top Fundraising Team: Niles Police Department
  • Team Spirit Award: Park Ridge Fraternal Order of Police #16

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Teacher Resources

Hello fellow teacher,

About Me
I have been teaching high school sociology at Stevenson High School since 1999.  I teach a one-semester intro to sociology class there.  I have also been working with the American Sociological Association as a member of their High School Advisory Board (more info about the ASA below).  Additionally, I have been working with a group of high school teachers called the Chicago Area Sociology Teachers (CAST).   I did my undergrad at Loyola University and then I earned an M.A. there in Chicago Studies, an interdisciplinary urban studies program with a focus on Chicago.  It was mostly a sociology masters with some history mixed in.

About this blog

This blog is basically what I do in class each day.  You can go backwards down the blog and it will be like looking through my lesson plan book from back to front.  There are also links on the right side menu bar that will take you to my posts by unit and by topic.

Other Resources

Chicago Area Sociology Teachers (CAST)
Hayley Lotspeich from Wheaton North High School and I run a listserve for sociology teachers through google groups.   You can login to the Chicago Area Sociology Teachers listserve (if you created an account) here:!forum/chicagoareasociologyteachers
There is a searchable archive there with lots of discussions about lesson ideas.

Also for over ten years, Hayley and I have facilitated an annual lesson plan sharing event for sociology teachers.  It is usually during February at her high school in Wheaton.

ASA High School Resources
Around 2009, Hayley and I approach the American Sociological Association and said we would like to work with them to create more resources for high school sociology teachers and promote high school sociology.  The ASA has since created a high school group.  Check here for details:

ASA Trails
If you join the ASA, you get access to a web-based bank of lessons called Trails.  Without membership, you can search the Trails resources, but you will not be able to view or download them.

ASA Listserve
The ASA also has a listserve for high school teachers that has archives of discussions.  Go to   You will see a log in page that asks for your email and password.  If you’ve never logged in before, click “get a new LISTSERV password” to set up a password.  Once you have your password and log in, you will see a page with all the ASA listservs.  Our list (ASA_high_school) isthe 8th one down the list.  Click on it.  You will come to a page that has a search box on the upper right corner.  Type in the topic you want (for example, “socialization”), and voila! – you can see the 19 posts on this topic over the past two years. 

AP Sociology - Introsocsite
Here is a compilation of resources originally designed by an ASA taskforce to move AP sociology forward.  There are copious resources here including lesson plans, unit outlines, simulations and readings.

Teaching Sociology
This is a journal of the ASA devoted to teaching sociology.  If your library has a JSTOR account you can digitally access archives of the journal Teaching Sociology.  It is full of lesson ideas.  Here is the journal page:

Other helpful sites include:

Soc Images:

Socimages is a great site that uses visual images to illustrate sociological concepts.
They even organized a syllabus for an intro class, it is on their instructor page here:
And they have sample lessons here:

Teaching Sociology Blog:
Here is a blog about teaching sociology:

Sociology Toolbox
This website run by Todd Baer from Lake Forest College is hosted on the Society Pages 
Nathan Palmer's Website about teaching sociology:

Sociology and videos:

Here is a website with movies for sociology:

Common Core Civic Life Standards for Sociology:
The C3 framework for social studies contains an appendix with sociology standards that I co-authored.  Click here to download the whole framework.

Census Bureau Lessons
Sociology Lessons with data from the US Census Bureau

Sociology Teachers on Facebook:

High School Teachers on Facebook:
HS Teachers of Sociology

College Sociology Facebook Group:
Teaching With A Sociological Lens

Twitter hashtag for teaching sociology:


Socioquest Website with webquest activities

Sociology Source blog
This is a teaching sociology blog run by Nathan Palmer and hosted by The Society Pages

Print Resources

Sociology through Active Learning: Student Exercises.  Kathleen McKinney and Barbara S. Heyl, editors. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. 2009. ISBN: 978-1-4129-5703-83  (Also has an Instructor's Manual with background on each student exercise and further suggestions for use.)

The Creative Sociology Classroom   A set of curriculum materials—lesson plans, mostly—have been put together for high school sociology teachers by the Sociology Department at Appalachian State University.  It is available for $15 from:

Dr. Jan Rienerth

Dept of Sociology and Social Work

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina  28608


* Everyday Sociology Blog (

* Sociology In Focus (

Friday, August 15, 2014

Example of post 2 from a student

Below is an example of a student post for the second post.  I will comment on the post in red:

 Note that she turned this in on time and her spelling and grammar are correct.  She writes clearly and properly. (Academic Expectations)
I don't have a car, but this past week my dad went on a business trip to Dubai and I got to drive to school. I also had to park at the train station, because I don't have a parking pass. If you have ever walked from the train station to school, it isn't bad but it is a little bit of a walk. Also I like being to school early so it was about 7 am when I took this walk and I walk slow (it was a long walk). It gave me some time to think. Every step I tried to be mindful of all the things that were happening around me. For example, how so many other people had walked this same path making it easier for me to walk because all the snow is trodden down or how my scarf was made in Thailand and some worker across the world had made that scarf for eventually me to wear, or my favorite is how someone, long ago when the side walk was paved, drew two circles with dots in the middle (to be interpreted as what ever you please) right by parking lot A and it makes me laugh every time. Then it went to how my steps could be saving someone else in the future from slipping, or maybe my owl hat was recognized by one of the passing cars which would brighten their day since they really think my hat is cute (I mean it is) and that will make them a little more chipper going into work and so on. 
See how she relates of this to unique examples from her own life?  Her writing is authentic - it only applies to her. (Sociological content)

In that short but long walk, I started to get it. Everything around me at every moment in the day is created by others and society makes me who I am. My mom was telling me about some woman who lost all of her memory, and had to relearn everything as if she were an infant and it makes me wonder how much different she'll be. The influence of society will be so different for her now opposed to when she was born, say, in the 60s. 

I really like the picture my teacher drew that helped me understand the difference between sociological imagination and mindfulness demonstrating how imagination is how society affects you and mindfulness is how you affect society. 
She uses the terms from class (sociological imagination and mindfulness) and explains what they mean. (Sociological Content)

It's crazy to think how everything is intertwined. I agree completely with what Schwalbe says about sociological mindfulness being so rare because of the guilt that accompanies it. Knowing that you have such a great impact on the world, and all the power it inhibits is frightening that you could be supporting child labor by buying a certain shoe, or that your bad mood could set off a string of bad moods to make others unhappy or do something drastic. At the same time though, it's incredible. That same power that can creating bad can also create immense good.  In this paragraph she demonstrates that she understands what the reading was about and she comments on the reading by talking about it in her own words. (Literacy)

Sociological imagination: Realizing that my friend turned my bad day into a great one just by one hug and recognition that I am loved. 

Sociological mindfulness: Taking my now escalated mood to change another friend's bad day into a better one by going on a whim to go to "Color Me Me" after school with her since she was upset.

End result: Happiness. (: