Friday, December 18, 2009

Trojan TV: Holiday Edition

christmas_snoopy-11420If you missed Trojan TV today or just want to see it again and again and again, here it is:

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I wish you all the best for you and your families.

You guys are awesome and I'm very glad we get to stay together at the semester. Take care

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swift, what's wrong with you is no small thing!

[caption id="attachment_881" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image credit:"]jon-swiftie[/caption]

Though a disturbing piece, A Modest Proposal is a brilliant argument -- in part because it is so disturbing.  Let's take a closer look at how Jonathan Swift crafts his argument.

To that end, blog your responses to the following questions found on pages 920-921 in TLC: Questions on Rhetoric and Style #s 1-3, 5, 7-9.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Modest Proposal

Jonathan_swiftRead A Modest Proposal tonight on page 914 of TLC. Consider Swift's argument in light of the Toulmin model of argument we looked at in class today. You can augment your notes from class today with the Toulmin model handout on the Class Info & Docs page. We'll discuss the essay in class tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


As you work through the implications article, you may wish to discuss and compare notes with your fine colleagues. To that end, I put the article up on the AP Text annotation site for you to work on.  Please make use of it. I put up a contextual comment at the end (nothing new -- we talked about it in class) to help you orient yourself.

Remember, you won't see everything.  You don't have to.  Pick a line of reasoning and work on that for your paper.  Focus. Eat turkey. Eat pumpkin pie. Eat more pumpkin pie. Watch some football. Enjoy your weekend. Work some on this. Have some leftover pumpkin pie. With whipped cream.  Lots of whipped cream.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reflecting on the Destiny of Humankind

Decide which of the three texts has the most effective argument. Why is it more effective than the others? Please explain.

Then, read the Pico Iyer article on implications. That's all you have to do with it. Read it. Well, make an attempt to understand it, I suppose. ;) We'll discuss it on Monday.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tri-Text Discussion

[caption id="attachment_871" align="alignright" width="212" caption="A maid and her wight..."]maid and wight[/caption]

Good work today on some difficult texts. Tomorrow we'll pull the whole thing together in an evaluative discussion of the three texts together.

A special thanks to Jesse who filmed during 2nd period. We figured out what went wrong with the microphone so that shouldn't be a problem tomorrow.

Let's move the vocab test to Monday so we can finish our discussion. Spreading it over 2 days is enough; I don't want it to span the weekend as well.

No homework tonight, though check back tomorrow for some homework to tide you over for the weekend. Don't worry, it is not at all onerous.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Academic Competition: King of the Mountain

[caption id="attachment_860" align="alignright" width="189" caption="There be can only one!"]Highlander[/caption]

Tonight read Best in Class by Margaret Talbot on page 113 in TLC  or at the AP Text site. Make at least one new comment on the AP text site and one substantive comment responding to someone else.

For your planning pleasure, tomorrow night you will elucidate your position on this issue and choose one of the following options (or create your own) and justify that position. In other words, clearly lay out your position on the issue of academic recognition and competition and provide support for that position in a clear, reasoned argument. Convince us you're right!

Option 1: How we do things here at Fife. Top 10. Top 10 give speeches to the faculty and the faculty votes on the top 2. Renaissance recognizes two levels of performance as well as a semester to semester improvement.

Option 2: Traditional. Valedictorian gives a speech. Salutatorian may also speak. there can only be one valedictorian. Usually recognize a top 10%.

Option 3: Modified traditional. Multiple valedictorians (ie no tiebreakers if there are say five 4.0 students). Either all valedictorians speak or they compete before a faculty and/or student panel.

Option 4: Latin honors. Cum Laude (with honor); Magna Cum Laude (with great honor); Summa Cum Laude (with highest honor). At my alma mater, these awards were reserved for minimum GPAs of 3.70, 3.80, and 3.90 respectively, though I've seen Cum Laude designations as low as 3.25 or even 3.0 at some Southern universities (Alabama State, University of North Carolina,  Kentucky State, and Vanderbilt).

Option 5: Some wise option of your own creation/choosing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Food Drive

lafoodbanksplendorSecond period, don't forget about the food drive! There are a lot of hungry people this year. I know times are tough for many of us, but let's do what we can. Not for a competition, but because it is good.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Education the Ralph Waldo Emerson way

emerson12_crNow that you've read Emerson's On Education on page 102 of The Language of Composition (TLC), and now that we have a bit of an idea as to what he is on about, it's time for some analysis of how he does what he does. To that end, thoughtfully respond on your blog to questions 2-3, 5-6, 8, 10, and 12 on pages 108-109.

And as you do this and your other homework, remember that
"Not less delightful is the mutual pleasure of teaching and learning the secret of algebra, or of chemistry, or of good reading and good recitation of poetry or of prose, or of chosen facts in history or in biography." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take delightful pleasure in this learning activity up through Wednesday evening (due Thursday November 12).

Of interest...transcendentalism. If that article proves too heady for you, Wikipedia's is okay.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A little bird told me about your homework tonight

bird toldOn page 100 in the Language of Composition (the white book), do Rhetoric and Style questions 1, 3, 5-8. Post them on the blog, but come ready to discuss them in class (that may means you may want a paper copy).[1. In the future, I think I need to crack down on cell phones in class. Calculators fall under that umbrella too--you know who you are...]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Graff the Prose article

[caption id="attachment_830" align="alignright" width="300" caption="So cruel it is outside and can see the trees..."]caged bird 2[/caption]

Take the article  I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read by Francine Prose and summarize and then respond to her position by using the Graff template in Class Info & Docs.

DO NOT print this out and attempt to fill in the blanks on that page. Doing so will produce inferior thinking as it was not designed to accommodate complex thoughts in such a small space.

Instead, type this out on the blog with your thoughts positioned in the paragraph where the blanks appear in the template. This template has proven useful to me and many others to drill down in comprehension and then in the thinking required for a nuanced response. We'll read a few of these in class tomorrow to help fuel our discussion.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trouble with

[caption id="attachment_824" align="alignright" width="300" caption="One of the more ridiculous scenes from the original Star Trek."]tribble3[/caption]

Helen found a helpful site on transition words organized by function.  It is linked to the left as "Transitions."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome to Camelot

camelot The rough draft for your JFK paper is due on Monday November 2, 2009.  Remember we will meet in the classroom tomorrow and we will be in the lab right outside our room.

Requirements and Reminders:

  • Respond to the prompt on page 57 of our textbook. You may use the sample thesis above the prompt if you wish.

  • 900-1200 words

  • Final draft due Wednesday November 4, 2009

  • Use MLA format with the following caveats: 1) Single-space your heading 2) Leave the page number and last name off the first page. Format examples are here and examples of the above-noted modifications are here.

  • I WILL NOT accept papers that are written in pencil, single-spaced, or with the heading on the right. Papers that are not in MLA format will be returned ungraded for corrections and will be counted as late.

Suggested method:

  1. Identify the purpose (JFK’s purpose) that you wish to write about.

  2. Using a different colored highlighter or pen, mark everything in the speech that supports or helps enact that purpose.

  3. Look for patterns/groupings in what you’ve highlighted.

  4. Using those patterns, develop an argument concerning how JFK uses rhetorical strategies to accomplish the purpose you identified.

Caution: Do not start writing without identifying the purpose. Without that, you cannot write a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument will meander through whatever you’ve noticed in the speech, creating a paper without clear direction that is confusing and frustrating both to write and to read/grade.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tuesday Lab

We are in the library computer lab both 1st and 2nd periods. We'll go ahead and meet there. Bring your books and your JFK questions. I'll check those off tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quick task

I'm going to try something in the computer lab Thursday.

To make it work, go to and request access.

Go here to use the JFK wiki page.  It will notify you via email when someone else leaves a comment.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Analyzing JFK

JFK ghosts_11903As a first step in our work on JFK's inaugural address, annotate his speech in as much detail as you can.  The better job you do on this, and on all the activities we do on this speech, the easier time you'll have writing a strong analytical paper.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Text Annotation

Go to the text annotation site and click on The Autumn of the Multitaskers link.  Clicking on the callout boxes like I showed you in class on Friday, make at least one comment on the essay.

That's it.  Have a great Homecoming weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Multiple claims in the multitasking article

Take a look at the multitasking article tonight and identify the overall claim/assertion (the glossary of The Language of Composition has a good definition if you need one).  Then, identify the claim/assertion in each section of the article (sections are indicated by a drop cap).  Blog your results.

Remember we have a vocab quiz tomorrow (week 5).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn of the Multitaskers?

multitask5Read The Autumn of the Mutitaskers tonight for class tomorrow.  If you wish to print it out, here is a pdf version.  We will analyze it in class and you may very well have some homework using this article tomorrow night.  (Who am I kidding?  Yes, you will have some homework on this tomorrow night.)

You also may wish to check out the Forum I set up and keep forgetting to mention in class.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Timed Write Wednesday!

Yes it is graded, but keep in mind that the work we've done on Lord Chesterfield will help you succeed.  If you feel that your AP squared chart of the Lord Chesterfield letter was lacking, you may find benefit in redoing it or adding to it to the same level we did in class today.

If nothing else, it will help you develop the habits of mind that will give you success in doing analysis.  Developing those habits of mind will help you a great deal on the AP test as well as in AP Lit next year and in college the year after.  Frankly, the ability to think through something thoroughly, to analyze its parts in relation to its whole, is useful in most careers as well as life as a thinking person in society.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Now try it with Lord Chesterfield

Use the AP2 tool we started working on today in class to further analyze Lord Chesterfield's letter.  The purpose for this is twofold.  You can practice using an analysis tool on a familiar text and perhaps you'll see something more in the Lord Chesterfield letter that you have missed up to this point.

AP squaredClick on the picture to the right to see a the model in more detail.

Have a great weekend!

PS I'm still plugging away on those Metacognition papers.  I need to learn to write less on them...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More than just pretty pictures…

pep_coca-238Tonight read pages 49-51 in The Language of Composition.

We are going to do the assignment on page 51 in class, sort of.  If you find an ad that is visually interesting that you want to bring in, please do so.  That is not required as my TA pulled some for tomorrow and we’ll only need 1 per group of 3 or 4.

You get to make posters tomorrow!  Posters analyzing a visual advertisement using the AP2 analytical tool, but hey, they’re posters!  Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lord Chesterfield Revisited

lord-chesterfieldNow that we have realized what Chesterfield was really on about in the letter to his son, we're going to dive in a bit more deeply.

Tonight, read pages 57-63 in Everyday Use (you may find it helpful to peruse page 85 as well).

Then annotate Lord Chesterfield's Letter anew.  Bring that in tomorrow on paper as we will work with it in small groups and as a class.

Nicole M, Josilyn, Jacob, Brittany, and Agnes will all be gone at an FCCLA meeting where they will be plotting to overthrow the world and put an end to papers about Lord Chesterfield.  Wish them well.  If they are unsuccessful, you might offer to share your notes with them. ("I do not, therefore, so much as hint to you" that tomorrow is a good time to take some notes.)  Even so, going on an all day field trip seems like an awful lot of trouble just to get out of analyzing a wee little missive from 1746.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Diction, Syntax, Toxophilus! Oh My!

As we discussed in 1st period and as you hopefully picked up through the din of Trojan TV 2nd period, we are moving into analyzing other people's arguments.  We were able to tell a whole lot this morning through diction and syntax, allusion and metaphor -- all elements of style.  We will start studying and practicing analysis tomorrow with the return of Timed Write Tuesdays (Whoop Whoop!).

By Wednesday, read pages 35 through the very top of 48 in the Language of Composition and do the assignment on page 48-49.  You'll notice that we've already started reading it, going through the first couple of pages in class.  Read it again.  Though it is due by Wednesday, you may find benefit in at least finishing the reading before the timed write tomorrow.

Since we can't write in our books, here is the text for annotation: Toxophilus. If you want the editable text, here it is.  Our selection begins 3 words into the 5th line of the 1st paragraph and finishes at the end of that same paragraph.

By the way, someone turned in a ripped up, crayon/marker besmirched portion of a summer assignment with no name.  Who would like to claim that fine piece of work?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Forum

You may notice a new page link entitled AP Forum at the top of the page.  Remember how I told you I could create a discussion forum where you could talk about a given assignment or tap into each others' understanding on how to do an essay etc?  Well, I remembered and the result is the forum above.

You can join a topic by clicking on it and see the thread and add to it.  Or you can also create your own topic if there isn't one about what needs to be discussed on a given day.  Check it out and see if it might be useful to you.  If not, we certainly don't have to use it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rough Draft Day

Remember to bring a copy of your rough draft tomorrow that people can write on.  Please double space it so they have room to write on it. 

We will be using the following revision guidelines as our primary guide with an emphasis on the higher order concerns.

If it makes you feel any better about working on this paper this week, I am also working on a paper (entry 4) for National Boards.  Trust me when I say that I would rather write yours. ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lab Tomorrow

We are in the computer lab tomorrow.  Please bring your paper, either posted to your blog or on a USB drive so you can work on it.  Rough drafts are due on Thursday.

Period 2, please don’t forget to read The ABC’s of Home Schooling on page 50 of Everyday Use for Friday (half day, bay-bay!).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Tutoring Schedule

Starting TODAY, the FHS open computer lab and tutoring services will be up and running.  The days and times are listed below but we will also be publishing a flyer that can hang in classrooms (mine is by the clock for you clock watchers).  In addition to an adult supervisor, the tutoring times will be staffed with students who are strong in the math and English areas.  Please use these programs to your advantage.

Monday – Open Lab

  • Room 407 (Study Hall)

  • 2:30-4:00

Tuesday – Tutoring

  • Room 801 (Art room)

  • 2:40-4:40

Wednesday – Tutoring and Open Lab

  • Room 407 (Study Hall)

  • 2:30-4:00

Thursday – Tutoring

  • Room 801 (Art room)

  • 2:40-4:40

Friday, September 25, 2009

Know Thyself (even more!)

As you begin thinking through your metacognition paper, gather some notes about how you think in various situations so that you will be able to work and ask good questions on Monday in the computer lab.

Also, remember that we are on week 3 of the vocabulary and week 2 of DGP.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Know Thyself

Once again you need to determine where your timed write falls on the AP rubric (I couldn’t get the current one up this time).  Remember not to inflate your position on that rubric; be as honest as possible.

In addition to assigning your essay a number, write up an explanation like the ones from the question leader we read in class.  The basic pattern to those explanations are: what did the student (in this case you) do well (kind of summarize your argument and main points); where was the essay lacking; and finally what is the verdict.  Remember to be specific! Another way these are often written is as an evaluative walk through the essay, such as this example we discussed in class:
The opening two sentences of this essay, although attention-getting, have little to offer in terms of evaluating or advocating arguments about corporate sponsorship of schools. The second half of the opening paragraph asserts the student’s main claim: students should not be limited in their consumer choices. The following two paragraphs do the work of evaluation, weighing arguments for and against corporate involvement in schools, but the evaluation is fairly simplistic, particularly when considering the drawbacks of corporate sponsorships: the company’s products might be undesirable, and students who excel without corporate support are not given enough credit. The language problems, which are most conspicuous in paragraph 3, impede a reader’s understanding of the student’s intended meaning. Thin content development, failing to go beyond assertions without support, and pervasive language problems earned this essay a score of 3.

For those of you concerned with length, the example above is a good length.

Lastly, evaluate where you’re at in fulfilling the goal you created after the first one.

See you tomorrow!

NOTE: Ms Arndt said she collected your timed writes so we'll make this due Friday after I give them back tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What is he thinking about?

rodin_thinkervenus-de-miloHaving read Thinking as a Hobby, consider the different ways that the statuettes are positioned.  Golding is pretty clear that their positioning indicates a philosophy of life held by he or the headmaster at various points in time.  Think about the elements symbolized by these three statuettes: the thinker, the leopard, and the Venus de Milo.  I know you can probably come up with other symbols for aspects of life; His choices help indicate his own philosophy.

Your task is to use Golding's symbols and up to one additional symbol of your choosing and come up with an arrangement that works with your philosophy of life.  Blog the results of your musings.  Make sure to explain their placement and what it all means.   There is no wrong answer -- there are thoughtful answers and answers that are dashed off without much thought.

As I will be gone tomorrow and you have no homework Tuesday night, this will be due Wednesday.  Read through the article again.  Feel free to mark it up.  Think about this a bit before you begin typing.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Arranging your writing

Read pages 13-25 and then do the assignment on page 26 of our textbook.  I would complete the reading tonight and then bring any questions that arise from the reading to class tomorrow so we can discuss them after the timed write.

The actual assignment then is due on Wednesday.  Please blog it.

Yes, we are doing an argument timed write tomorrow.  Please don't forget to get the  vocabulary for week 1--our test will be on Friday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time for a little essay introspection...

red penYour task this weekend is to determine where your first timed write falls on the AP rubric.  It is important that you not inflate your position on that rubric; be as honest as possible.  If you know where you are now, you can more easily figure out what you need to do in order to get where you want to be by the time it counts.

In addition to assigning your essay a number, write up an explanation like the ones from the question leader we read in class.  The basic pattern to those explanations are: what did the student (in this case you) do well (kind of summarize your argument and main points); where was the essay lacking; and finally what is the verdict.  Another way these are often written is as an evaluative walk through the essay, such as this example we discussed in class:
The opening two sentences of this essay, although attention-getting, have little to offer in terms of evaluating or advocating arguments about corporate sponsorship of schools. The second half of the opening paragraph asserts the student’s main claim: students should not be limited in their consumer choices. The following two paragraphs do the work of evaluation, weighing arguments for and against corporate involvement in schools, but the evaluation is fairly simplistic, particularly when considering the drawbacks of corporate sponsorships: the company’s products might be undesirable, and students who excel without corporate support are not given enough credit. The language problems, which are most conspicuous in paragraph 3, impede a reader’s understanding of the student’s intended meaning. Thin content development, failing to go beyond assertions without support, and pervasive language problems earned this essay a score of 3.

For those of you concerned with length, the example above is a good length.

Have a good weekend!

PS If you have LOST YOUR BOOK and it is the one with the blue/black stain along the bottom cover (Bunker left it in his backpack in the back of his truck in the rain once), then I have it in my room.

image credit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Politcal Cartoons

Ah, there's nothing like meetings all day (or rather one meeting that lasts all day).  Though we got good, important work done and I'm glad we did it, trust me when I say I would have rather been with you!

Tomorrow we'll pull up your blogs in class and take a look at your political cartoons (the sub did tell you to do the assignment on page 13, right?  If not, do the assignment on page 13!).  You will have the chance to walk us through your cartoon and we'll discuss what we see. 

I hope things went well today and that the timed write helped you tap into your dormant writing skills, or at least helped get the lead out.  We may debrief them a wee bit tomorrow, but don't worry as we will spend all of Friday going over them. 

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


050405_einstein_tonguewidecSecond period, remember to post your responses to the Einstein letter on page 9-10 in Language of Composition.  You will get credit for this blog.

First period, be happy we finished in class.  :)

We will take our first timed write tomorrow.  Remember that it is not graded, but will be used as a diagnostic of your writing at this time.   Bring your books to class as you will need them after the timed write is finished.

Let me know how things go with the sub.  I've never had this one before and I'm always looking for good ones.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Intro to Rhetoric

This weekend, read up to page 9 in Language of Composition.  Don't do the Einstein assignment that starts on p. 9 as we'll work on that in class after we've discussed the reading.

Also, 2nd period remind me that we need to finish our qualification of 2009 question 3 (the Horace assertion).

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Horace Prompt

horaceDon't forget to finish your prompt for the Horace quotation we looked at in class today.

See you tomorrow.  Bring your books.

Also remember that the SUMMER ASSIGNMENT IS DUE TOMORROW (9/4)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We Be Bloggin'!

We be bloggin'!

Welcome to the blog!

It’s time to set up yours.  Intructions are here.  Make sure you follow ALL of the directions.  If you have trouble, let me know.

You will use your blog to submit some of your homework.  You’ll get a fair amount of your homework from my blog.  The blog can be very useful if you take a little time to learn how to use it. 

Some tips regarding the blog:

Pay Attention

Read each noodleblog post in its entirety.  I will do my best to give you clear instructions.  Do your part by reading them.

Hit Publish

When you publish your posts, hitting “save” only saves them.  You must hit Publish for your post to make it on your blog in such a way that others can read it (or give you credit for it).

Learn how to use the site

Visit and at least watch the video entitled “an introduction to using edublogs”.

Make Sure You’re Up To Date

Go back and make sure you’ve done all the assignments and all the parts of the assignments on this blog.

In the future, check this blog every day for announcements and assignments.  You are responsible for doing the work posted here.

image credit

Friday, June 19, 2009

Welcome, new AP Lang students!

Illustration from Chapter VI

Welcome to a fun, challenging course of study!  The summer assignment is posted on my school website and on the Class Info & Docs page (see the page link in the upper right hand corner?).

In a nutshell, read the two articles about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provided in the summer assignment, then read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn[1. I hope you enjoy Huckleberry Finn!  In the midst of Twain's arguments, it's also a book about friendship, growing up, and finding out who you are.] whilst completing the study guide[2. This and the write-ups for the two articles can be blogged if you set up your blog over the summer - remember to email me your blog address], and lastly familiarize yourself with the rhetorical vocabulary included in the summer assignment document (there will be a quiz!).  All this is due on September 4, 2009.

Have a great summer and feel free to email me if you have questions.

NOTE (12 August 2009): There have been a couple of inquiries about buying books.  You will not need to buy any books in this course.  All books will be provided by the school.  As this is the first year this class has been taught over the course of a whole year, it is possible we may not get to all of the novels listed on the syllabus.  This class is, after all, concerned primarily with non-fiction writings and preparing for college and the AP test in May.

image credit

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Feedback, Thanks, and AP Lit!

Thanks for the great feedback.  I typed it all up and will use it as I plan for next year.  It was encouraging as much of what you suggested, I was already planning to do.  Great minds, eh?  Seriously though, it helps to know that my assessment matches with your assessments as students.  Thanks again.

Best wishes in AP Lit next year.  If you haven't gotten the summer assignment, it is on Mrs. Robison's blog.  You can use your same blog you had this year, just email her with your blog address so she can add it to her blog and know where to get your work.

I will miss you all, but not so much that I'm not glad it's summer.  This will be my last post to the wonderful group of Spring 2009.  Sniff.

Have a wonderful summer and drop by to see me next year if you are so inclined.

Monday, June 15, 2009


If you'd like a copy of the pictures we took in class today, go to for the picture files.  Also, can someone with more talent and time than I have splice Kyle (1st Period Tardy Boy.jpg) into one or more of these pictures?

I forgot to upload your grades to grade checker before I went home.  (Sorry!)  They are all done though and I will upload them at school tomorrow.

You did well this semester.  Like I said in class today, you all did a really amazing job given how rushed the semester was.  I'm really proud of how you grew.  And thank you for the feed back.  I have a lot to consider over the summer as I try to make this class better.  Thanks again for being a great class and a wonderful group of people (yes, even Kristian -- wasn't he "student of the day" two days in a row once?).  :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life After Twilight

I ran across this article on the Seattle PI website and I thought of Caleb and Cody, er, I mean Janae and Kaylie...I thought some of you might be interested:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Class Today

Thank you for today.  I am very glad that you have built the type of community that allowed you to write about what you did and then be able to share it.  It was a very moving class and I feel honored to have been part of it.  You guys are amazing people.  Thank you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

This I Believe

Your this I Believe essay is due on Wednesday the 10th.  It should be uploaded to your blog and you will be reading it aloud in class as well.  Here are the requirements adapted from the This I Believe submission page (I encourage you to submit them to This I Believe if you wish).

Keep the following in mind when you write your essay:

  1. Limit your essay to 350-500 words.

  2. Describe an event that shaped your beliefs or a person who inspired them.

  3. Avoid sermons and editorials—no soapbox declamations, please!

  4. Read more of the This I Believe essay-writing tips.

You can peruse multiple examples at

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Research Papers

Hey everyone.  The research papers turned out pretty well.  The average was higher than any other paper we've done this semester.  :)  Nice work over all.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Vocab Results and Reading

Just FYI on the vocab audit results:  No one went down, but most went up.  Yea!  Crazy Scantron!!!!

Remember to read chapter 7 of The Great Gatsby and we'll talk about 6 and 7 on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Paper and the weekend

As you finish your papers this weekend, remember the resources linked from this post.  There are links to formatting notes at OWL and on the blog.  There is a sample paper and a veritable plethora of resources!

Hopefully you all got enough done this week that you can get out in the sun this weekend too.

Please, though, do both of us a favor and don't leave your paper until Sunday night --I'm as little interested in reading poor papers as you are in getting a poor grade on that poor paper!  :)

Enjoy your 3-day weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Great Gatsby

We will be starting The Great Gatsby tomorrow in class.  That means you will begin to have almost nightly readings from now until early June.  Some of you may be catching on to the fact that these readings and your big synthesis/research paper will overlap.  "Oops," you're saying.  "I guess I won't read the book."


You will be doing textual analysis on the book as well as having graded discussions.  A section of your final will be a test over Gatsby.  Work on your papers.

For those who like to plan, here is the likely schedule:

  • 5/20 Study Hall Writing Day

  • 5/22 Vocab 11 Test

  • 5/26 Synthesis Paper Due

  • 5/29 Vocabulary Final

  • 6/4 Gatsby Final Pt 1 -- Discussion based

  • 6/9 DGP Test

  • 6/10 This I Believe presentations

  • 6/12 The End of School Party / Class Photo

  • 6/15 THE FINAL (Bwuhahahahaha!!!!)

The Great Gatsby Reading Schedule

The Great Gatsby Reading Schedule

Full text of The Great Gatsby online

Friday, May 15, 2009

Party! Whoop! Whoop!

Before we begin, PLEASE read the post directly below.  DO NOT put your paper off.  It's worth a lot.

Okay, now it's party time.  We have completed the AP test and that is no small thing.  Congratuations!

As best I can remember, here is what we put on the board:

  • Bagels and cream cheese - Caleb

  • Egg Rolls - Maverick

  • Pancakes - Hayley O

  • Pop - Jordan

  • Milk - Janae

  • Cheezits - Jeff

  • Chips - Spencer

  • Doughnuts - Kyle McCrossin

I know I'm forgetting something.  I will bring plates and cups and cutlery.

If you wish to bring a gaming system, come a bit early so we can set it up.  I have a locking cabinet in my room we can store it in during the day if you wish.  If that doesn't pan out, we'll finish the movie.  Read below for an extra credit opportunity!!!!  :)

Next Week:

  • We'll pick back up on DGP - the Mark Twain sentence

  • We'll pick up vocabulary with vocab 11 (gosh, we dropped a fair bit during the run-up to the AP test!)

  • We'll start reading The Great Gatsby (dang, things just keep getting better and better!)

  • Extra Credit Opportunity: Someone from the Washington Association of School Curriculum Directors asked our class to participate in making a video podcast that will be shown at their annual conference next fall.  They need 6-7 students who would be willing to respond on camera to the question, "What do you believe makes you successful?"  (I think they mean in school).  If you are interested, I will offer some extra credit. You will need to have your parents sign a permission slip (I have 9 of them).  The first 7 to both ask me for a permission slip and bring it back signed by Tuesday get extra credit.  They will be filming in Mrs. Brown's classroom at 11:00 on Tuesday and filming should be done with everyone by 11:30 or so.  Did I mention you will get extra credit for doing this?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Synthesis Papers

This is a blatent republishing of an April 24th post.  We have Wednesday as a writing day in the computer lab next week, but let's get working on it BEFORE then.  You should have been reading articles in the conversation section of the question you chose and possibly in the broader section as well.

Format and assignment information below:

Remember that Easybib and MLA at OWL are your friends.  Scroll down to the bottom of the MLA at OWL site for various topics concerning formatting your paper.  See especially In-Text Citations: The Basics and In-Text Citations: Author-Page Style.

Follow this link for further resources for writing and formatting your paper:

  • Research Paper Resources (Nice collection including a research paper format example and the assignment sheet -- follow this link)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cramming Test Prep

If you have a difficult time reading the older texts, go through the released prompts and read the old ones.  They don't release the actual student responses (sorry), but they do have all the prompts.  I wouldn't write them, but read them and think through the prompt a bit.  If you were in 1st semester, this will help get your head back in the game.  Best of luck!  Stay positive!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Ten Commandments of the Advanced Placement Language Examination

  1. I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy friend. Thou shalt address the Prompt. Thou shalt not just get the general idea of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt.
  2. Thou shalt not postpone, omit, or bury thy Thesis Statement.
  3. Thou shalt not dwell with Summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Padding of Writing, for it is an abomination in my sight. Neither shalt thou be satisfied with mere Reading Comprehension for thy Prompt is an analytic and interpretive Prompt.
  4. Thou shalt not commit Free-Floating Generalization, but shall support and develop thine every assertion with Concrete Details and Evidence.
  5. Thou shalt not mistake complexity for confusion, or subtlety for indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or ignorance to authorial ineptitude. The fact that thou gettest not the point doesn't mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the point and thus must reread more carefully.
  6. Thou shalt read every Multiple-Choice question with the same exquisite care that thou devotest to the Essay Prompt: thou shalt not "get the drift." By the same token, shalt thou strive to read what the writer actually wrote, not what thou expectest him or her to have written.
  7. Thou shalt not finish early. Thou shalt spend an abundance of thy time planning thine essay responses and any time left over editing them.
  8. Honor thy percentages by guessing thoughtfully when thou art not sure of the answers. Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answers and can eliminateth two of the four answers.
  9. Thou shalt not merely identify stylistic and rhetorical devices, but shalt show how they function and provide examples.
  10. Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention, and confidence. Yea, though thou hast totally mutilated thy last essay, the next essay maketh a fresh start.

—adapted from Martin Beller, AP Language & Literature teacher

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hey, haven't I seen you before?

Do the "yes/no, but" form for On Cloning a Human Being in our books on page 678.

Thundercat, in answer to your witty comment, yes go ahead and blog it. You can do so in list form if that is easier than pasting a table from Word.  If you do that, please use the Word paste button in the second row of your formatting buttons (your blog will thank you).  If you don't see a second row, hit the button on the far right on the first row to open it up.

Please also bring your "yes / no, but" charts to class as well.  We will use them in an activity.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I regret to inform you that there will be no vocabulary test tomorrow.  This is indeed doleful news.  But as you are all able to cope with the vicissitudes of life, we shall indubitably make it through this Friday, made indigent in its loss of an opportunity to improve our verbal skills.  Alas alack!

No, do not importune me to reinstate the quiz, nor denigrate me for my bonhomie in the face of this tragedy. My mind is made up!  We'll move the quiz to Monday!  :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gender, Sports, Technology! Oh my!

Oh and community or immigration too. 

So look over the research paper assignment sheet and see what question appeals to you the most.  Make sure to take a peek at the essays in the conversation section that corresponds to that question as those sources may inform your decision.  The assignment sheet is the first link on this page.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Women’s Brains

Finish reading Women’s Brains by Stephen Jay Gould in our textbooks beginning on page 349 (we left off at “Sound familiar?” on page 351).

Then blog Questions for Discussion #1 as well as Questions on Rhetoric and Style # 3, 6, 7,  9, 10, and 11.

After that, go to, click on the link for Women’s Brains, and make two comments either directly on the text or continuing a discussion begun by someone else.  Remember you do this by clicking the little speech bubble next to the paragraph you want to comment on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Synthesis Paper Notes

Good luck on your papers this weekend.  Remember that Easybib and MLA at OWL are your friends.  Scroll down to the bottom of the MLA at OWL site for various topics concerning formatting your paper.  See especially In-Text Citations: The Basics and In-Text Citations: Author-Page Style.

Here are further resources for writing and formatting your paper:

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Graded Synthesis Write

Remember as you work on your papers tonight that our first graded synthesis timed write is tomorrow.

Other than the timed write, we’ll take a look at another essay that might help with our paper. 

Happy writing and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Computer lab

Remember that we will meet in the computer lab tomorrow to work on the synthesis paper.

Please come ready to be productive. It is beneficial for you to get writing done here as I can help you. It is not always easy to get computer time as other classes want and need it too.    If we have another day with as much messing around as today, that sends a clear message that we don't need or want the computer time and there is no need to schedule any for the next paper.  Please don't make me go that route!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weekend Homework? So Mean!

meangirlsp01No that you have seen Caleb’s favorite movie, write a short analytical blog post in which you discuss the movie in relation to Denby’s argument in High School Confidential (page 709 in our book).  By the way, I'm not showing this movie to torture the guys, but because it lends itself well to analysis in light of Mr. Denby's article.

In addition to the short blog post on teen movies, read and blog the questions for conversation entries 4 & 5 on pages 782-787.  Do not worry about the Entering the Conversation questions.  Those are something else.

Have a great weekend and remember that school starts at 9:40 on Monday, NOT 7:40!

He Doesn't Like To Watch TV?

For your homework tonight, read “He Doesn’t Like To Watch” on page 779 and blog the questions on 781 (there are only 4 of them).

I hope the synthesis essay went well for you.  That said, this Museum one is a bit confusing and I think kids from places with large, famous museums have an advantage over kids from say Fife.  That’s why we used it as a practice.  Our graded timed writes will be on much more accessible topics.

There will be a blog post tomorrow for your weekend homework.  You’ll be watching “Mean Girls” and analyzing it briefly on the blog in light of Denby’s article we read right before Spring Break.  There will also be the last two conversation section entries to do over the weekend.

Mr. Kile will start the movie tomorrow about 5 minutes before class officially starts.  We're doing that so that you can see the end without staying after class (the human brain tends to like resolution).  Most of you are here 5 minutes early or more anyway, but just a heads up.

On Monday, we’ll go over the timed write and talk about the essay question in preparation for going to the computer lab Tuesday and Wednesday.

Remember that Monday is a WASL day so school starts at 9:40!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Synthesis Strategies Spring 09!

Here are the synthesis observations your class generated yesterday:

Purple Cobras aka Darth Levitt

The (In)appropriately Sized Group


The Super Awesome Flaming Group of Destiny (or something like that)

For your further reference:

Original AP Class

Last Semester

Super Synthesize It!

I know I said you’d be reading an essay tonight, but I’m retracting that.  Don’t worry, Kristian; it’ll be all right.  You’ll have one to work on tomorrow evening.  ;)

Tonight I want you to focus on preparing for the synthesis essay tomorrow.  You guys really cheated yourselves when you went for the easy way out today in class.  So tonight I’d like you to go deeper than you did in class today.  As Grab says, this is one of your keys to understanding what it means to write an effective, high scoring synthesis essay.  Instead of noting that a strong thesis is important to the essay, examine and try and quantify what makes a strong thesis.  Instead of noting that you need to use sources well, determine what it means to use sources well, et cetera.

Get specific. THAT is what is going to help you.    

Those of you blogging your group’s information, thank you and please email me when you’re done so I can collect the posts and make them available to everyone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wait! TV is bad now!!!!

Blog questions 1-6 on page 779 in response to the essay The Argument Against TV.

Also, in keeping with embracing TV last night while reading the pro-TV essay, tonight try NOT watching TV (Tivo it and watch it tomorrow).

So any parents reading this -- as part of their homework, your student should NOT be watching TV tonight .  ;)


Monday, April 13, 2009

TV makes us smarter!? Can you tell that to my mom?

Your homework is to read the Steven Johnson article Watching TV Makes You Smarter on page 766 in your books and do questions 1-5 on page 776.

At that point, hopefully you will understand his concepts well enough to explain it to your mom yourself.  ;)

Pop Culture Synthesis Essay

Our first synthesis paper will be on Entering the Conversation question number 3 on page 787 (in the popular culture conversation section we’ve been working on).  Note that you must use at least three of our conversation sources, though you may also use any of the pop culture essays and articles we’ve read in class.

We will talk about this in class as well and be working through the conversation section essays this week, but I wanted to give you a heads up on this assignment.  Also you may have noticed that the planning page says this paper is due April 24th.  I will be gone that Friday and Saturday at a National Boards class and so thought you might appreciate the extra weekend since I wouldn’t be picking them up until Monday anyway.  I hope that doesn’t inconvenience anyone. :)

Synthesis Paper Requirements:

  • 1200 words
  • MLA format (page style, in-text citations, and works cited page — see MLA at Owl and Easybib links under the AP heading to the left as well as this post for class MLA modifications for help on this)
  • Synthesize at least three sources from the conversation section (other sources are okay, but not required on this essay)

Due: Monday, April 27th


  • Remember that your argument is paramount and your sources are there to support you, not the other way around
  • Key notes on Synthesis in our book are in chapter 3, especially the last sentence before the new section on page 62; the paragraph beginning “Sources should enhance” on page 65; and pages 81-85
  • Finish early and revise! When you revise, think about the following:
    • These revision guidelines
    • organization
    • how your sources interact with your audience (see p.69 ff.)
    • transitions!
    • remember that this is an argument, it’s just one that is both informed and formally supported
  • Write a clear, convincing, awesome essay!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Break: A Synthesis of Work and Play

Part 1: Read chapter 3 in our text book.  Then, blog your answers to questions 1-7 on page 68.

Part 2: After finishing the reading, blog a paragraph or so exploring your thoughts on what synthesis really is, the skills it requires, and what makes for a good synthesis essay.

Part 3: Relax.  Watch a movie on TV, not because you’ve wanted to see it, but just because it happens to be on.  Eat popcorn for lunch.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

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?

Have a great Spring Break!!  And don't forget to do the reading and blog posts noted in the other post!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Corn-Pone Opinions: Rules of the Herd cont.

Finish what you didn’t get done in class and then 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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rules of the Herd

Carefully read the short passage below.
The black philosopher’s idea was that a man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. – Mark Twain from Corn-Pone Opinions

For the quote above, you must provide a clear explanation of the writer's assertion, then defend, challenge, or qualify it, noting the complexity of the issue and acknowledging any possible objections to your point of view.

Limit: 300-400 words posted to the blog

FYI: The extra credit ranged from 1-6 points in the Papers category.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but 6 points is like raising the Lord Chesterfield paper a full grade (10%).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Denby Article – Teen Movies

Blog your answers to the rhetoric questions 2-7 and 9-12 on page 715.  We did #1 in class and #8 is best answered if you’ve read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  Tomorrow we’ll dip our toes into the multiple choice section of the test. 

Remember I’ll take the extra credit up to midnight tonight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

High-School Confidential

HighSchoolConfidential195811345_fRead pages 707-714 in your book and come to class ready to discuss the essay and issues raised in the pop culture introduction. That’s it.  Take a look at the extra credit opportunity below if you so desire.  Have a good weekend!!!!

Quick note:  Our English Department meeting ran long and I didn't get all the timed writes graded before I had to leave.  So, I'm not sending the detailed progress reports home today, but I'll do it Monday.  Just so you know, people are doing pretty well on them so far.  :)

Extra Credit: The Most terrifying Video You’ll Ever See

Write up an argument analysis with an eye to establishing its foolproof construction or its downfall.  I will give extra credit for a well-done analysis (whoo hoo!).  If you don’t want the extra credit, just watch the video for your own interest in his argument. If you do want to try for extra credit, blog your analysis by Monday.

Note: The author has taken the video off of YouTube and replaced with hours of videos detailing the argument in a much fuller way than he intended on doing.  I found it elsewhere here along with a transcript.  (The video link below is for looks, it’s broken.) Update: It seems the link isn't broken's smaller on my site though (I re-sized it), so if you want it bigger, search YouTube for "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" or click the link above.

This video was made by another amazing University of Puget Sound alumnus.

To see his whole argument that he’s updated, visit YouTube here. In the box on the right with his username (wonderingmind42), click “more info”.  He has an index of all his videos pertaining to this one argument there.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Elephant Paper due tomorrow

As you prepare and polish your papers for tomorrow, don’t forget a few things:

  1. Revise your paper!

  2. Make sure the MLA format is correct.  I will not take papers written in pencil or that are single-spaced.  Presentation may not be as important as your thesis and the depth and complexity with which you deal with your argument, but it does reflect on your effort and attention to detail.

  3. Vocabulary test tomorrow

  4. 1st graded argument timed write tomorrow

Wow, I didn’t plan it this way (Bwuhahaha), but it seems that much is converging on this Friday.  Makes me think of that Flannery O’Connor story, or at least the title, Everything That Rises Must Converge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In spite of the dire announcement that just wafted menacingly from the PA system, if you talk to Mrs. Ritchie AND bring your $15 tomorrow, you may still take the AP test.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ready, Set, Write!

Get started writing your papers this weekend.  On Monday we’ll take a look at a couple of essays that approach argument in a couple of different ways.  We’ll be in the computer lab on Tuesday, but Career Cruising is going to taking up the lab the rest of the week. 

Have a good weekend and bring any questions or concerns about the essay with you on Monday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Elephants travel slowly, evidently

the-majestic-elephants-of-southernOur cloze activity took longer than it has in the past and with the shortened periods we didn’t get to the more in depth discussion on the essay.  That will now happen tomorrow.  Think about the essay prompts a bit tonight and bring your thoughts, insights, and questions to class for our discussion.

If you are going on the band trip, re-read the essay in light of the question that appeals to you most, thinking about how the essay makes that particular argument.  Think through your position on the issue on which that prompt focuses. Then start forming your argument, keeping in mind our readings from Everything’s an Argument, including Toulmin.

image credit

Monday, March 16, 2009

Change in Plans

The Elephants have shifted directions.  Charlie is sick (ew!) and I am staying home with him today. Thus, we are putting the Elephants off for today and will pick them up tomorrow.  If you check this in the morning and haven’t read the article yet, you have an extra day. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!!

"Elephantine" Homework

Tonight you simply need to read George Orwell's essay entitled "Shooting an Elephant" on page 979 of your book.  We'll finish the interrupted reading on the first three paragraphs tomorrow as well as dive in to the rest of the essay and the prompts we'll be working with for our argument paper.

Please don't forget about the AP test post below.

IMPORTANT AP Test Information

Our AP Coordinator has informed me that she needs to order your AP tests by March 25th.  Therefore, you need to declare your intention to take the test by placing a $15 deposit with the bookkeeper by March 25th.  If money is an issue, see me or your counselor.

Let me repeat, you must make a deposit of $15 with the bookkeeper by March 25th if you wish to take the AP test and take a shot at earning college credit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Multitasking Re-Wires Our Brains!?

Those of you that were gone Friday, we took a vocabulary test that you’ll need to make up and we read and had a brief discussion on The Autumn of the Multitaskers that you will need to read as well.

Homework for this weekend is two-fold:

  1. Identify and blog the main claim of The Autumn of the Multitaskers as well as the supporting claim for each section (helpfully denoted by the big drop cap at the beginning of the section).  Write a brief reflection at the end about how these sections and their claims work together to support the main claim.
  2. In Everything’s an Argument, read pages 139-147 and then skim pages 147-171 (This second set is all about Toulmin and can be very helpful in understanding Toulmin’s system).

FYI: At some point next week, we’ll have a Toulmin quiz.

Next week we’ll discuss the Everything’s an Argument readings that you have done and any questions you may have.

We’ll also dive a bit deeper into argument and start analyzing the essay we’ll use for our argument paper (I know you just turned in your JFK papers, but before the extension, I’d planned for you to have half a week and a weekend before we started talking about the next one!)

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“Graff” that “Dumb” Article!

Remember that you should blog your Graff Template response to How Dumb Can We Get?.  You DO NOT have to post the questions.  Those are there to help you did a bit deeper if you get the first two sentences in the Graff Template written and then realize you don’t know what else to say.  This tool is designed to help you drill down a bit and get at some nuanced meaning in a text and then frame a cogent response.  If you lost your Graff Template (already!), you can get it in .pdf format from Class Info & Docs.

As I’m going to be gone tomorrow, hold questions on the reading until Friday.  If you remember that the whole reading is structured around exploring the 4 stasis questions introduced at the beginning of passage, you should be fine.  Just remember to pay attention to what the text is doing and not just let the text wash over your brain as you read without penetrating your understanding.


  • By Thursday, read Everything’s an Argument pp. 20-32
  • By Friday, read Everything’s an Argument pp. 102-115
  • Vocabulary test on list 5 on Friday
  • JFK paper due Friday

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

JFK Paper Due Date

I’m going to be gone at a conference on Thursday.  If we’re going to move the paper due date, we may as well move it to Friday since I won’t be there to pick up the papers on Thursday anyway. 

Before you cheer too much and make further plans to put off working on your papers, you will still have the homework I’d planned for you Wednesday and Thursday nights.  That is not moving.  It’s not onerous, but it’s still 12-15 pages of reading from an argument textbook each night.  For some of you, it will take a while to work through and understand what you’ve read. 

Call it a mixed blessing and use it to your advantage, but don’t let things get out of hand as you may very well have homework in other classes. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

A note on plagiarism before we need to talk about plagiarism

coldplay1 As we mentioned in class the other day, plagiarism is something we want to avoid at all costs. We’ll talk about this more when we get to synthesis writing, but in case they take this down, here is an interesting exercise in plagiarism that a local radio station did recently.  Check this out.  They list the rip-off first and then the original second. It’s amazing how many big acts have borrowed from other people, including Coldplay on almost every one of their major hits. 

Every once in a while someone gets sued, like George Harrison who paid about $587,000 in a lawsuit with the Chiffons (#2 on the list).  While it didn’t make this list (possibly the radio station didn’t consider Ice, Ice Baby to be music), I think Vanilla Ice’s stealing the very recognizable baseline from David Bowie and Queen’s Under Pressure is one of the worst ones of all time.  Mostly because he still denies it.  Bowie should sue him, though then he’d have to admit he’d heard Ice, Ice Baby.  ;)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

JFK Paper Rough Draft

The rough draft for your JFK paper is due on Monday March 9. 


  • Respond to the prompt on page 57 of our textbook.  You may use the sample thesis above the prompt if you wish.
  • 900-1200 words
  • Due Wednesday March 11, 2009 
  • Use MLA format with the following caveats: 1) Single-space your heading 2) Leave the page number and last name off the first page.  Format examples are here and examples of the above-noted modifications are here.
  • I WILL NOT accept papers that are written in pencil, single-spaced, or with the heading on the right.  Pay attention.  I’ve been lax the first couple of papers as we learned what was expected.  Papers that are not in MLA format will be returned ungraded for corrections and will be counted as late.

Monday, March 2, 2009

JFK Paper Thesis

In preparation for our writing time in the computer lab, you need to come to class tomorrow with a thesis sentence in response to the prompt on page 57 of our book.  Though you may use the sample thesis in the book for your paper, you must have your own for this assignment. 

Also, create at least two topic sentences for that thesis.  If you have any questions concerning thesis statements or topic sentences, follow the links below.

The idea is that when we’re in the lab tomorrow and Wednesday, you’ll be ready to write.  Ideally you’ll have most of a rough draft at the end of those two days and can do some revision before the paper is due (March 11th.)

Thesis links from my three favorite online writing labs:

Friday, February 27, 2009

AP Squaring JFK

AP2 JFK’s speech this weekend.  Remember that you’re looking for Persona, Audience, Argument, and Purpose.  As we said in class, he may have one overarching argument or purpose, but he likely has sub-arguments and purposes as well.  The same goes for audience.  Think about this one – don’t just gloss over the assignment with surface analysis.

We will be doing an activity on Monday where everyone will end up with a working thesis and at least two topic sentences that contain claims.  After looking at some example theses, we will start writing.  To help us get started, we have some computer lab time next week (2nd half of Tuesday and all of Wednesday).  We’ll talk more specifically about the essay requirements and question on Monday.

Remember that if you are taking the opportunity to rewrite your Lord Chesterfield paper, that is due Monday as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


If you would like to take the opportunity to rewrite your Lord Chesterfield paper, then your rewritten draft is due on Monday.  Do not, under any circumstances, waste either of our time by simply editing your paper and resubmitting it.  That alone will not get you a better grade and it will make your instructor grumpy.

Some tips for your rewritten essays:

  • Answer the prompt.  General analysis that was reasonably capable, but that did not answer the prompt earned up to a C or so the first time around.  The second time around, such papers will receive an F.  I had more than one college professor who used the same type of policy.

  • Write a clear, specific thesis that addresses the prompt.  Without this, you're likely to wander aimlessly and end up with a D or worse.

  • Write topic sentences including claims that support your thesis.  If your topic sentence is summary, it's hard to write a paragraph that isn't primarily summary.

  • Keep Lord Chesterfield's purpose in mind as you analyze the text and answer the prompt.

What to turn in:

  1. Rewritten essay

  2. Analysis of rewritten essay

  3. Original essay

Your write-up on your rewritten essay should explain how you used the feedback and the information above to revise your paper.  What did you consider and where did you focus your attempts to improve?  What do you consider to be the strength of your paper?  Based on your first grade and the revisions you made, evaluate the overall quality of your revised paper. 

Happy revising! 

Remember that tomorrow we have a test on Vocab 3!

Also tomorrow the University of Washington Tacoma, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Gene Juarez, and Green River Community College will all be on campus during both lunches.  Check out this guide to help you know what to talk about at college fairs (even tiny ones in the school cafeteria).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

JFK Rhetorical Questions

As you finish the questions we started in class, remember that the depth you answer them now will determine how useful they are to you as you write your paper.  You do not need to blog the answers.  Bring them in on paper and I’ll look them over while you do your timed write tomorrow. 

Those of you with junior conferences tomorrow, see me to arrange a make-up time for the timed write. 

You’ll also be getting your Lord Chesterfield papers back tomorrow and we’ll talk about what we can learn from them as we prepare to write our analysis papers on JFK’s inaugural address.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Step one with JFK

jfk Tonight you need to annotate JFK’s inaugural address.  As you think about the speech, keep in mind the context in which it was given to help ground your observations and analysis.

Once you’ve finished your annotation, blog your thoughts on JFK’s speech.  This could be a summary of your observations, general reaction to the speech, or an expanded discussion of one or more of your observations you made in the course of your annotation.

Don’t forget your DGP and to study Vocab 3 for Friday.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Class Notes

For those of you who were gone for FBLA, Junior Conferences, or other sundry reasons today, this post is for you!

With so many missing, we postponed the vocabulary test to Monday (to Caleb's delight and Hayley's consternation).  Remember you are responsible for the Monday work on DGP sentence #2 as well.

Otherwise this is a nice, unencumbered weekend before we begin the JFK paper (whoo hoo!!).  Enjoy.  :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mid-Winter Break…uh, 4-day weekend

Remember that your Chesterfield paper is due on Wednesday when we return.  Use the FHS English Department standards as your formatting guide for this one.  We didn’t end up talking about how to format your header in order to not have your page number on the first page, so if you you don’t know how to do that, don’t worry about it.  If you do know how, go ahead and do it correctly.  I have some notes on formatting page numbers in the post for the metacognition paper if you don’t remember how to do the page number with your name.

You can find the original post about the Lord Chesterfield paper below.

Have a great long weekend and remember the plan for success I gave you the other day:
You have a 4-day weekend coming up!  You’re probably not even going to start until 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday! Of course you’ll finish sometime on Sunday, probably meet with someone Monday to peer review and revise (maybe do this over email), and then have a day to relax on Tuesday.

See you Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sweetheart Friday

We have 30-minute periods tomorrow.  Here’s the plan:

  • DGP

  • rhetorical vocabulary quiz

  • return meta-cognition papers

  • Fun with analyzing Super Bowl commercials

There is no homework other than to do DGP and study for the vocabulary quiz (oh yeah, and work on your Chesterfield paper! 

Who am I kidding?  You have a 4-day weekend coming up!  You’re probably not even going to start until 8 o’clock in the morning on Saturday! Of course you’ll finish sometime on Sunday, probably meet with someone Monday to peer review and revise (maybe do this over email), and then have a day to relax on Tuesday. :)

Visual Texts

think different Read pages 49-51 in your texts on analyzing visual texts.  Then, just like we did in groups the other day, analyze a print ad using the AP2 method and then write up your conclusions on the blog.  We will present these as we have time, so prepare for that.  We’ll try to get to some of the people who didn’t get to go last time.


  • Don’t forget to do your DGP every day (different font as requested, Cody)
  • Rhetorical vocabulary quiz on Friday
  • Timed write tomorrow!  Last ungraded analysis write…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reading Response and the American Idea

A Guide to Writing Reading ResponsesA Guide to Writing Reading ResponsesExamine Just Asking by David Foster Wallace that we read earlier today.  Use the guide to writing reading responses that I gave you in class (or linked on Class Info & Docs) to craft a thoughtful blog on the article.

If you are intrigued by this concept of the "American Idea", you can read other articles The Atlantic published on that topic in their 150th anniversary issue.  They are mostly small, about the same size as Just Asking and represent many different perspectives from a broad range of American voices.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lord Chesterfield's Values

Homework tonight is to read pages 35-38 on analyzing style then annotate the Lord Chesterfield letter.  We'll use both the reading and annotation in class tomorrow and the reading should also help you with your annotation.

As was mentioned last week, your next paper will be to answer the 2004 analysis prompt concerning a letter Lord Chesterfield wrote to his son. You’ve already written an initial rough draft in the practice timed write we did on that question.  Now, with what we’ve learned in that process and the whole class discussion we’ve done on the letter, your task is to write to this prompt as a take-home essay.

Vital Statistics:

  • Due Wednesday February 18th

  • 600 words long, give or take 10%

Friday, February 6, 2009

Practicing Rhetorical Analysis

Diana,_Princess_of_Wales This Weekend: Blog the assignment on page 28 of our textbook.  You’ll be reading 4 separate texts surrounding the death of Princess Diana and evaluating them based on the purpose of each text and how the relationship between speaker, audience, and subject affects the text.  This is essentially an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned thus far.  Give this some good thought; next week is our last practice analysis timed write – the following week it counts.

Next Week: Monday we’ll do our AP2 presentations and go over the Chesterfield timed writes.  After looking at the released information, you’ll have the opportunity to score each other’s work (yes, I’ve already scored them, but you won’t see that when you’re scoring them yourself).  If there’s time we’ll take a look at an example of when rhetoric is poorly applied that is somewhat amusing.  As the week progresses, we will spend some time analyzing advertisements to practice these skills on something we interact with everyday, but we’ll also dive a bit deeper into the Lord Chesterfield letter and begin our 2nd paper.  Thursday we’ll have our last ungraded analysis timed write.

Thoughts: We’re going to have to learn a fair bit rather quickly in this class.  I would appreciate communication and feedback from you as we go so that we can get the best results possible.  For instance, if something isn’t quite sinking in and you need more practice and/or instruction, speak up and we’ll work on that.  If this analysis stuff seems hard, it’s not you.  This summer’s AP special focus will be on analysis as students across the country seem to be struggling with it and the analysis question scores have been going down over the past 5 years.  This is why we’re starting with it and, even as we study argument and synthesis, we’ll continue to practice analysis (it helps that they’re all related).  In any case, please don’t be afraid to speak up!  Chances are others in the class are in the same boat.

FFA note for Robyn and Kristian: Notices came for you from FFA.  If you want points for the dress up days, you should wear flannel on Monday.  Also there is hog weighing and lamb shearing at the barn at 10 AM on Saturday.

heart hands Creative Opportunity: If you’d like a creative outlet and have anything, positive or negative, to say about Valentine’s day, you can put that into a poem, story, photo, painting, whatever and submit that to me.  Submissions are due by Wednesday February 13th.  Winners will receive recognition and all entrants are eligible for publication in the Mirror magazine.  Other themed contests will follow and if people in the class are interested, I will put notices on this blog as well as the notices in the announcements and any other advertising the Mirror club decides to do.