Tuesday, November 13. 2007
You may answer as many questions as you like over twenty to twenty-five minutes. The only requirement is that you write for the entire time. You may also respond less formally than usual – contractions, first/second person, etc. – although you know better than to use Internet/text message shorthand and language by now!
This is meant to be a de-stressor, a quiet time for you to stop, take a look around, and process everything you can about yourself and the world around you. These times are rare, particularly during junior year; I hope you enjoy this activity, and that you feel free to reflect honestly and productively. Good luck, and thanks for a great quarter!
1) Reflect back on the Star you drew a long, long time ago. (Imagine it!) Have any of the points shifted during the past month, in any direction? Do you see anything on the horizon that will cause them to shift?
2) What do you feel you have learned this year (if anything?)
3) What is your favorite type of lesson that we’ve done so far? What has been your least favorite? Do you prefer to study and work alone, in groups, or a mixture of the two?
4) Where do you want to be sitting when we start the next quarter? How do you want to sit – groups, rows, etc.?
5) Do you feel you have improved as a student since you enrolled in this class? Has this class strengthened an area of weakness for you, or played to your strengths in a way that makes your experiences here meaningful?
6) Do you want to learn something that the class hasn’t addressed yet? Do you feel prepared to handle the challenges that the rest of the year holds? Is there anything you specifically want to examine?
7) How can we make your experiences in this class more meaningful?
One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to establish a community within each classroom. Has a community been established in your class? Are you part of it? Do you feel respected and included by others? Do you feel I respect you? Does anything need to change?
9) How can I improve as an instructor during the next quarter? What should I continue doing that has been working well?
10) How would you describe this class – the material, the community, your experiences – to someone who’s never taken it before?
11) In your opinion, has this class been successful? Knowing what you know now about it, would you sign up again? Would you go elsewhere? Would you “re-enlist” with reservations?
12) Which country proves that one’s friends and enemies aren’t separated by much?
Print these out and bring them to class tomorrow!
Also, I've been kicking around an idea since I talked with Mrs. HasBrouck last week in the library. I originally intended to ban the use of the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, etc., as resources for your persuasive paper. My reasoning was that each of those could be found using a simple Google search, which completely defeats the purpose of using an academically verifiable database. However, many of the articles from the database you tried on Thursday ended up linking to those same NYT/LAT/WP pieces, and it doesn't seem fair for them to be able to use them when you aren't allowed to follow suit.
Here's what I'm proposing: You can use the NYT/LAT/WP/etc. posts as evidence in your paper. However, you have to demonstrate that you found them using the school's database, and that you found them through a link in another result from said database. (In other words, you couldn't simply go trolling for newspaper articles - you had to find them in the reference area of another piece.) If you can offer proof that you found your newspaper pieces as a result of researching these other articles, I'll accept them as legitimate sources.
Any questions? Thoughts and opinions? Please respond in this post's comment section.
Thursday, October 25. 2007
By request of Jay, Bruce, and others, here is the final PowerPoint demonstration from earlier in the week.
These may also be useful:
Bradford and the Puritans
Themes from the Crucible
Remember to study well tonight!
Wednesday, October 24. 2007
2. The Nature of Good and Evil
4. Fear of the Unknown
6. Loss and Regret
7. Unforeseen Consequences
8. Degeneration and Decay
Remember to review issues of revenge, betrayal, and passion as well!
Friday, September 28. 2007
If you have questions about your role, or feel your role is too large/small, please let me know; the casting decisions can be adjusted fairly easily.
Remember to read your section of the play closely this weekend - the characterization you're writing will influence how you act!
Good luck, and enjoy the weekend!
Monday, September 24. 2007
Here's a PowerPoint that may help with the Jonathan Edwards reading. It was intended to be presented in class, with an instructor speaking over the slides; if you have any questions, consult your book, then the Internet...or me. Remember, the reading starts on page 79, but it's always best to check on the author's background - in this case, page 77.
Sunday, September 23. 2007
After fighting with the application that lets me post new entries to the blog since Friday morning, I have finally emerged from battle, victorious and happy. The blog is live again!
Here are a couple of entries of note:
If you missed it when I said it on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, notice it now: You do not have a Persuasive Journal Entry due tomorrow! I'm returning them tomorrow; new entries are due Tuesday. Hopefully, most of you have selected an article by now; the paragraph entry should be a breeze.
In case you weren't able to copy the weekend assignment from the board on Thursday or Friday, here it is:
How well does "Good Night, and Good Luck" function as an allegory for our current times? Note specific similarities and dissimilarities from the film, and state your position in a minimum three-paragraph typed assignment. It's due Monday, September 24th.
(Remember to put your header on the left side!)
Curtis e-mailed me earlier because he felt the prompt was confusing. If you're confused about the meaning of "allegory" that I gave on Thursday, take a quick glance at a Web dictionary and see if it helps clear things up. Otherwise, all you're writing about is how well the events shown in the movie (and the period in which it takes place) match up with events and attitudes that we hold in 2007. The "allegorical" aspect of the movie is that it's supposed to highlight the similarities between America in the 1950s and America today; the assignment asks you to evaluate how well the movie does so.
I hope that clears up any confusion about the assignment.
Also, remember to finish Act I of The Crucible by Monday, and Act II by Thursday. We'll be selecting roles for Act III on Thursday and Friday, and will begin acting it out by the end of the following week.
Next week, we'll be reading "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," by Jonathan Edwards, as well as The Crucible. Edwards was an interesting individual, and his writing style is very different from Bradford's and Rowlandson's - lots of fire and brimstone, which helps provide religious context for the play (Parris is said to sermonize in a similar fashion).
Other than "Sinners," we'll start the Persuasive Essay assignment. Make sure you bring in your journal on Tuesday - I'll return last week's when I see you again.
Next week is extremely Crucible-heavy, so make sure you're caught up. We'll do a bit more in the way of plot background on Monday (a shortened day), focus hard on characterization and plot on Tuesday, and try to predict where the play will head on Wednesday after some plot review.
If you have any questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, September 18. 2007
This provides a blow-by-blow chronology of the Salem Witch Trials. Good stuff!
This one goes over the process that a person needed to follow in order to accuse someone of being a witch.
This one provides a very brief overview of some of the play's history.
Finally, this is a list of the people who were actually killed in Salem; as Miller points out in his section on historical accuracy, his play diverges significantly from the history of the Salem witch trials. (However, the changes do allow Miller to create a more effective allegory, so we'll let him get away with it for now.)
We'll be going over some of this in class, as well as deciphering Miller's "creative license" and covering the major characters and symbols. On Thursday and Friday, we'll watch "Good Night, and Good Luck"; more work will be available here.
Monday, September 17. 2007
The ocean water was as calm as the soothing breeze.
The cloud is a scarf around the mountain's neck.
Taking SAT tests is like driving cars. Both require experience and practice.
The flowers awoke at sunrise but slept at sunset.
My uncle opened a seafood restaurant named Poseidon.
If a puppy is injured on the sidewalk, should one leave it to die?
Major Premise: Every student is tired.
Minor Premise: Billy is a student.
Conclusion: Billy must be tired.
All short men like to stay home on sunny days.
Begging the Question:
Adults are always right because they have more experience.
Of course he wants to legalize drugs - after all, he's abusing them.
So what if I am late? It's not like I missed anything important.
That should be sufficient.
I may not have made this entirely clear in class before, although I will address it today!
A fallacy is a general term for the types of logic errors that we've gone over in class - overgeneralization, equivocation, so on and so forth. Because it's a general term, I tried to make that definition separate and unique by grabbing examples that didn't necessarily fall under the other categories that we were using. In retrospect, I should have kept things simpler - even if it meant repeatedly explaining that all fallacies were not the same.
More information on fallacies can be found here.
Friday, September 14. 2007
Thursday, September 13. 2007
I give up! It's the cybernetic equivalent of the "dog ate my homework" routine, but I literally have no access to the files on any of the school's servers.
(This is what happens when I declare that something isn't up for negotiation: The computer gods went and smote the plan.)
At any rate, I could still give you the quiz tomorrow, since that's saved on my own drive. However, I don't think it's fair to do so, and I'm not going to do so. I'm already concerned with the lack of confidence many of you expressed regarding the material, and removing a study guide that I promised to provide on multiple occasions seems to be an unnecessary obstacle.
In this case, the delay may be a blessing in disguise. This gives you the rest of the weekend to review the material - something I hope everyone will take advantage of at one point or another. I'll come up with a better example of a fallacy (since I don't think my explanation really clicked with anyone today), as well as search for some visual or auditory aids to some of the more difficult concepts.
I also want to apologize for this latest hurdle; if it seems like this class has been stricken by a disproportionate number of problems, it's because it has been. I'm concerned that some of you seem to be feeling frustrated, for a variety of reasons, and I want to reassure you that every setback the class has experienced has been temporary. There aren't any systemic problems with the course, and while many of you may consider the Puritans to be fairly boring (particularly since a good Puritan tried to lead a boring, faithful life), I'll do my best to highlight the important lessons you should learn from them - particularly about their dedication and inventiveness in the face of odds we often forget were overwhelming. I'm very passionate about the material I teach - something I hope you've noticed - and I'm very confident that many of you will enjoy the Crucible unit, especially when you get the chance to do more with the material than a standard literary analysis. You'll be utilizing skills you may not have developed yet - performance, artistic, and so on - and the text really lets students spread their wings (so to speak)
In short: Enjoy your night off, everyone; the best is yet to come. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you tomorrow, and remember to bring your books!
A note on the two-week grades: The class hasn't completed enough assignments at this point to justify posting the grades yet. I'll post the grades on Monday after entering in your quizzes, your Rowlandson responses, and your first Persuasive Journal assignments!
Tuesday, September 11. 2007
Here is the list of titles for this quarter's outside reading enrichment assignment (all students must select at least one title):
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
This 1962 satire is set among the patients and workers in a mental institution. An inmate narrates the story of McMurphy, an energetic con man who seeks institutionalization as a means of escaping the rigors of a prison work farm. Before long, in order to reduce the sexual and emotional impotence of the men at the institution, he begins to challenge the dictatorial Nurse Ratched, irrevocably altering the destiny of those in the ward. The story is made up of series of skirmishes between McMurphy and Ratched, and while McMurphy strives to change the lives of his fellow inmates, he may pay dearly for his individualism...
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
The text chronicles the life of Celie, a black woman growing up in the South. She must overcome misogyny, racism, and poverty in order to establish herself as an independent person. The novel also follows the maturation of her sister Nettie and the lives of Shug, Albert, and much of his extended family.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Autobiography contains the fascinating life story of Malcolm Little, who matures from the son of a Baptist minister into a wide-eyed teenager in Boston, a street hustler and prison inmate in New York, a faithful and energetic member of the Nation of Islam, and, finally, a Muslim pilgrim determined to create an organization for all blacks (regardless of their religion). It is also a chronicle of a "homemade'' education - one pursued in the schools, on the streets, in prison, and at the feet of his mentor Elijah Muhammad. Many considered Malcolm X's separatist philosophies (later softened) disturbing and in direct opposition to those of the period's other well-known black activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who argued for integration and non-violent confrontation.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Set in the twenty-fourth century, Fahrenheit 451 introduces a nightmarish, overpopulated new world in which censored, televised mass media controls the masses' perceptions. Individualism is not accepted, and intellectuals are regarded as outlaws. Books have long been banned because they encourage people to think and question the messages they receive from the wall-size screens in every home; all literature is considered evil, and torched on sight as a result (the title refers to the temperature at which paper burns). "Firemen" are now overglorified flamethrowers, men who work to find and destroy books and their owners rather than protect people and homes from fires. Consequently, people live in a world with no reminders of history or appreciation of the past; the population receives the present from television, and considers little else. When a fireman experiences a crisis of faith, he threatens to destabilize the entire system...and must be stopped.
Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin
John Howard Griffin, doubling as the text’s author and central character, is a middle-aged white man living in Mansfield, Texas in 1959. He is deeply committed to the cause of racial justice, but frustrated by his inability as a white man to understand the black experience. Griffin soon decides to take a radical step, undergoing medical treatment to change the color of his skin and temporarily become a black man. After securing the support of his wife and of George Levitan, the editor of the black-oriented magazine Sepia (which will fund Griffin's experience in return for an article about it), Griffin sets out for New Orleans to begin his life as a black man. He finds a contact in the black community, a soft-spoken, articulate shoe-shiner named Sterling Williams, and begins a dermatological regimen of exposure to ultraviolet light, oral medication, and skin dyes. Eventually, Griffin looks in the mirror and sees a black man looking back. He briefly panics, feeling that he has lost his identity...and then sets out to explore the black community.
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The author, a descendent of one of the judges portrayed in The Crucible (Arthur Miller changed the judge's surname to "Hathorne"), felt intense guilt over the actions of his ancestors; The Scarlet Letter represents his attempt to confront the demons of his heritage (and, interestingly, explores many of the same themes that concerned Miller a century later). The story takes place in 1666, while the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony enjoy an uneasy peace with the neighboring Algonquin tribe. Hester Prynne arrives from England seeking independence, and does so as she awaits her husband's return - fixing up a house, befriending the unpopular Quakers and other outsiders, and so on. However, she is soon drawn to a young pastor who shares her passion; when the two discover that Hester's husband has likely been killed by Native Americans, they consummate their affair. Hester soon bears a child, and is forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" as a permanent brand to mark her sin. When her husband returns from a year spent with the natives, he discovers his wife facing constant and public humiliation, and seeks revenge - searching out Hester's lover, and stirring up fears of witchcraft within the colony's citizenry. Will his murderous plot succeed?
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
At some point in the future, conservative Christians take control of the United States and establish a dictatorship, rebranding the nation as the Republic of Gilead. Most women in Gilead have been rendered infertile by repeated exposure to pesticides, nuclear waste, or leakages from chemical weapons. The few fertile women are taken to camps and trained to be handmaidens - birth-mothers for the upper-class. Infertile, lower-class women are sent either to clean up toxic waste or to become "Marthas," or house servants. No women in the Republic are permitted to be openly sexual; sex is for reproduction only. Interestingly, the government declares this rule to be a feminist improvement on the sexual politics of today, when women are viewed as sex objects.
NOTE: Although The Handmaid's Tale is a California-Board-approved text (and district-approved, for that matter), I believe its sensitive subject matter can upset unwarned parents. As a result, please bring a simple note from your parent that gives you permission to study it if you wish to read the book.
If you'd like to suggest a book for next quarter's reading list, check to make sure it meets the criteria for state recommendation here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/rl/ll/ap/litsearch.asp
If it's an approved, grade-appropriate title, e-mail me your suggestion, and I'll run it by my department chair; if he signs off on your choice, I'm more than happy to add it to the list.
Further assignment details will be available shortly; for now, review the short summaries I've posted here, and check each title's Amazon.com page for more information.
Groups 4 and 5 may post their rhetorical device examples and vote in this thread.
What are the Wampanoag's living conditions like, and how does Rowlandson describe the natives themselves? What do these details reveal, and why were they chosen? (Remember that the Puritan plain style emphasizes word economy, so any details you find are in the text for a good reason.)