Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary Homework for Halloween

Okay, read entries 3-5 in the conversation section on pages 779-787: He Doesn't Like to Watch, TV Turnoff Week, and Is Media Violence Free Speech?  Then blog answers to the 11 questions that go with those essays. DO NOT do the "Entering the Conversation" questions on page 787; those are much longer, paper-length prompts. 

Have a happy All Hallows Eve!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do you argue with your TV?

Do a Toulmin analysis of The Argument Against TV and then blog the result along with the answers to questions 1-6 on page 779.  

Come prepared.  We are going to argue tomorrow!

Don't forget DGP and your vocabulary quiz tomorrow!!!

C'est tout!


For your amusement, a tad about swallows...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Argument Against TV

Blog the questions we started in class today (p. 776 Q 1-5) and read The Argument Against TV on page 777.

Think about these essays and the issues raised in them.  The better your understanding, the better your synthesis papers will be. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Watching TV can make me smarter? Bring it on!

Read "Watching TV Makes You Smarter" beginning on page 766 in The Language of Composition.  Just read it and then be prepared to discuss and do some other work with it in class tomorrow.

Also, here is the vocabulary for the quiz on Friday: Vocab 1!

PS  Most of you had good comments on the Merchants of Cool posts.  Good job.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The dialectical relationship of the self to society

Based on our discussions of the dialectic to the right, blog your thoughts on this "feedback loop" between the self and society.  Use Frontline's video essay Merchants of Cool as a basis for your arguments. You may wish to consider the following questions in your write-up.

  • What do you think of the premise put forth by Frontline and by the dialectic model above?

  • Do you see an authentic way to take control of your relationship between the, or rather your, self and society?

Don't forget to do your DGP!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cell phone Zombies...?

Read The Mind-Blackberry Problem by William Saletan (it's a short article--no click-throughs).

For homework over the weekend, blog a short argument defending, challenging, or qualifying one of the claims made by Saletan.  Feel free to use information gleaned in Autumn of the Multitaskers as well as experience and observation to support your position.

Corn-Pone Opinions

This assignment may prove to be a bit long as there are many questions I’m asking you to consider.

Blog your responses to the following rhetoric and style questions found on page 721: 1-9, 11

For those of you curious about corn pone, I give you this recipe from

Corn Pone

A simple corn bread, generally made only of meal, water, and salt, without either milk or eggs.


  • 2 cups cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon lard or shortening

  • water, enought to make a stiff dough


Mix together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Cut in lard and add enough milk to make a stiff batter. Form into cakes with hands and place in a greased baking pan. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Corn bread and corn pone was a staple in the mountaineer diet.  With greens, called “salit greens,” meat and of course, cold milk from the spring house, this was good eating and friends were always welcome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

High School Confidential

Blog your responses to the Rhetoric and Style questions 1-7, 9-12 on page 715.  Do your best.  We'll discuss this essay and the essay you'll read tomorrow on Friday.

See you on Friday!

PS If you left your book in the English computer lab outside the classroom, it's on my desk and the sub will have it tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ah, don't you just love Autumn?

The leaves are changing, a chill is in the air, multitasking is dying...

We decided in class that the central claim of Autumn of the Multitaskers is that multitasking is on its way out, hence the Autumn reference in the title.  The article itself is divided into sections (conveniently marked by a drop cap) and each section has its own argument.  These arguments support the central claim.

Your task is to note the claim in each section and record that on your blog.  Refer to the sections by their number, for instance, "the claim in section one is..."

Then blog your analysis concerning how Kirn brings all of these claims together under his central claim.  This doesn't have to be long.  A list of claims followed by a paragraph or so analyzing how it's all put together should be sufficient.

Oh, and turn in or blog your How Dumb Can we Get? Graff template write-ups if you have not done so already.  I forgot to tell 3rd period to turn them in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Autumn of the Multitaskers

Your homework tonight is to finish the Graff template on the article we read in class.  Then read The Autumn of the Multitaskers by Walter Kirn.  It is a 3-page web article so leave yourself some time to read it.  Also, there are a couple mature examples in the article, though nothing outrageous or that hasn't been on the news.  It is a very interesting article on how the brain works and how multitasking affects us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Toulmin Quiz on Tuesday!

George OrwellWe will be having a Toulmin Quiz on Tuesday to make up for the disastrous Stasis Questions quiz on Friday.  The information for the quiz will be taken from Everything's an Argument pages 147-171 and the Toulmin handout on the class info and docs page on this blog.

Seriously folks, the skill of culling the central concepts from a reading and being able to both remember and apply them is a basic academic skill.  Take some notes.  The minutiae is important only as it supports the major concepts.  You do NOT need to memorize the whole chapter.

Please let me know by Monday if you plan on taking the Orwell for Chesterfield "wonderful opportunity."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Structuring Arguments

Read pages 139-147 in Everything’s an Argument.  Review pages 147-171 as well.  We have already discussed the content of those pages in class, but skimming them and reading the examples will help you understand Toulmin better.

Remember that we have a quiz on pages 20-32 of Everything’s and Argument tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thinking Rhetorically

Read pages 102-115 from chapter 5 of Everything's an Argument.   Come to class ready to dicuss those pages. We've already looked at some of this, so I don't expect it to stump you.  

Keep the argument prompt sheet I gave you.  We'll finish parsing the prompts tomorrow and you'll be presented with an exciting opportunity.  Whoo hoo!!!!!

Remember that we have a quiz on Everything's an Argument pages 20-32 on Friday.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shooting an Elephant

Good work today digging through the details of the first three paragraphs of this text.  As you get better at finding the interesting details, then we should work on the type of questions you can ask to help them all make sense.  I know I’m asking you to think a lot, but consider what those questions might be as you do tonight’s reading.

So for tonight, finish reading the rest of the essay found on page 979 of our textbooks, making notes on style, rhetoric, plot, character, and theme for tomorrow.

We will use these notes.

Don’t forget your DGP like I did today!  We’ll do Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s work tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kinds of Arguments 101

Read pages 20-32 in Everything's an Argument tonight.  Bring any questions or points of discussion to class on Tuesday.  

Though I'm only assigning pages 20-32, I high recommend reading the rest of chapter 1 for your edification and learning.

FYI Blog News: Edublogs is going to have some scheduled downtime to fix the problem of the inconsistent performance we've had since the host migration.  We'll use to communicate homework and the like starting Tuesday and continuing until they are back up.
Maintenance: We are conducting more maintenance this week starting from 10PM US EST Tuesday 14th October (that's 12PM Wednesday Australia - apologies to Australian/NZ/Indonesian users). We are currently working out the time required. Apologies again for the inconvenience, we are doing this to maintain service and fix performance issues and we can't thank you enough for your continued patience - The Edublogs Team

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Debate Extra Credit

As promised, I will be offering some extra credit surrounding the presidential debates.

Watch the 3rd presidential debate or read the transcript.  Then, based on the readings from Everything's an Argument, evaluate the type and quality of one specific argument from each candidate.  Also, evaluate each candidate's performance in the debate based on our argument and rhetorical studies up to this point.

Write up your evaluation and post it on the blog by Monday, October 20th.  That seems like a long time, but we'll be reading the Everything's an Argument chapters this week and the debate isn't until Tuesday.  The amount of extra credit will be based on the quality of your work.

Remember to cite any ideas, lines of argument, or collection of evidence that you cull from the media evaluations of the debates.  Use the MLA at OWL and Easybib links to the right in order to format your citations (you all did research note cards last year so this shouldn't be new).

Friday, October 10, 2008


Remember that your Lord Chesterfield essays are due on Monday.

600 words give or take 10%

Just make sure you’re answering the prompt, use either implicit or explicit textual evidence to support your points, and don’t fall into the summary trap. If you can do that and write it well, you should be in good shape.

Otherwise, have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grading changes

Hello all,

After giving it some thought and consulting with several students on the sly, I've decided to change the way grades are calculated.  The Work category, is now called the Skill Building Work (cheesy, but descriptive) category and has gone from 35% to 30%.  The Papers category stays the same at 35% and the Timed Writes category shifts from 25% to 30%.

You might be thinking, "Hey!  But I do better on my homework than my timed writes. Isn't that going to lower my grade?"

The answer is no, probably not, and here's the reason why.  Your skill building work will be graded on a complete/incomplete/missing basis.  So, if you complete all of the work, you will get full credit in that category. Potentially, you could end up with 100% for 30% of your grade.  Nifty, eh?

"Uh, why are you doing this, Mr. Giddings?"  Good question, thoughtful student.

In college your grades will often consist of a midterm, final, and a paper or two.  I've been in classes that were based on as few as two graded assignments.  Does that mean we didn't work?  No way!  We worked way harder than in high school, because if we didn't we'd do poorly on the few graded assignments we had.  I'm moving this class a little bit in that direction. It will reward consistency as well as hard work and improvement.  Do not let up on the quality of your daily work.  As I promised at the beginning of the class, I won't assign you any busy work. Everything we do will either practice or test the skills we are developing for the AP test and for college.

Remind me to give you the rubrics for the Chesterfield paper tomorrow.  Could someone pass copies along to the swimmers?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lord Chesterfield Essay

As we discussed in class today, you will be writing an essay
answering the 2004 analysis prompt.  We've already written the timed
write, so you have an idea what you're up against.  This is your
opportunity to rewrite that essay, making it a strong, insightful essay
that fully answers the question.

Vital statistics:

Due Monday October 13th

600 words long, give or take 10%

image credit

Second Debate


Some of you may find it interesting and or beneficial to check out the factcheck information from the second presidential debate.  Here it is:

 For the 3rd debate, you may want to play presidential debate bingo. Here are a few options:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Here are some notes about the recent maintenance on Edublogs.  Thanks for being patient.  As James (the guy that heads things up over at Edublogs) says below, they are now hosted by the same company that does Youtube and Wordpress; it looks like things will be rock solid after this.

Notes on maintenance

In General on 8/10/2008 at 8:39 am
First up - my sincere apologies for the inconvenience that performance issues must have caused a lot of people these past couple of days.
Secondly, an explanation - basically we've been conducting a massive move of Edublogs to the premier US hosting company, Peer1, who host (among other sites) youtube, and other large web companies... they're the best that you can get.

While this went well at first, there has since been a configuration issue with the cluster that we've been working on night and day to fix up and which Peer1 are now dedicating an entire team to assist with.

Of course, this is no excuse, just an explanation, but please be assured that all blogs, uploads, settings and alike are completely secure and that we're working our absolute hardest to get this resolved and fixed up for you as soon as is humanly possible.

Why are we doing this move?

Well, we've got a selection of amazing new features and tools to allow you to manage student blogs and classes which are pretty much ready for deployment. But in order to make sure that we can provide these to you without it killing the system, and to support current (and any extended) growth... there are almost a quarter of a million edublogs now - this had to happen.

Of course, it should have happened without this disruption, and for that we honestly can't apologize or thank you for your patience enough.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Form and Content

Blog your thoughts on the following:

In the first presidential debate between Obama and McCain, each were given 2 minutes to respond to each main question and then they had 5 minutes for the moderator to ask follow-ups and/or the candidates to offer clarification.  Each question had a total of 9 minutes between the candidates.

In the vice-presidential debate between Biden and Palin, each were give 90 seconds to answer each question with 2 minutes together for rebuttal and follow-up.  Each question had a total of 5 minutes between the candidates.

Given what you saw of the debates, how did the format of the debate affect the various candidates?  Did it help or hurt them collectively and individually?  What did it do for the quality of the debate?

If the blog isn’t working, go ahead and write your analysis on paper.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Weekend Homework

As Mr. Kile undoubtedly told you, your homework is to complete the Exploring the Text questions on page 935 of your text concerning the essay you discussed in class by Oliver Goldsmith entitled National Prejudices. I hope this essay from 1760 provided some fodder for discussion as we navigate the competing definitions of patriotism in our own country.

Please blog your answers to these questions.

Sorry for any problems the long outage caused any of you.  It's working as of Sunday afternoon, but if you did your homework earlier in the weekend on paper, that is fine.  If you are doing it now, blog it.  

Me like the faster blog....

Have a wonderful weekend and remember that the blog will have some downtime on Saturday for some hardware upgrades.
Scheduled Maintenance: [new time] Saturday 4th October from 8AM CST US (6 AM PST US / 11PM Saturday Australia) we're going to be upgrading the hardware that Edublogs runs on. The site will be unavailable for a few hours from that time. Apologies in advance for any inconvenience.

For those interested in reaction to the vice-presidential debate, here are a couple editorials:

New York Times

USA Today

Local viewing party reactions brought to you by the Tacoma News Tribune. Oddly, there's also a review of a film festival on the same page right after the write-ups on the two viewing parties.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What is going on out there?

Tomorrow is all about two things:  a practice timed write and learning a bit about what's going on in the world.  To that end, we'll be writing an analysis question timed write and reading and sharing from The Week.  No homework tonight, but make sure you bring your book to class on Friday!!!

If I don't get a post up for Friday, Mr. Kile has instructions for you.  Also, if you haven't seen the notice from Edublogs, here it is:
Scheduled Maintenance: Overnight on Friday 3rd October from 8PM EST US (5PM PST US / 10AM Saturday Australia) we're going to be upgrading the hardware that Edublogs runs on. The site will be unavailable for a few hours from that time. Apologies in advance for any inconvenience.

New hardware?  That's got to mean this blog will run faster.  Hip hip hooray!!!

Have a great weekend!