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 anymore...it'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: