Friday, December 31, 2010

Revising your paper

Hey, how 'bout them Dawgs!!!!!!
  1. Open your original. 
  2. On the File menu choose Make a copy... That will make a copy. 
  3. Give the new version the same title and add "Revision" to the end. 
  4. Close the original and edit the new one. 
Remember, go for substantive revisions. Last minute changes of syntax, diction, and punctuation will not garner a better grade, unless of course I noted that the preponderance of errors was so distracting it engendered the low grade in the first place.*

Remember the rewrites are due before we get back.

Best of luck and Happy New Year!

*I hope you all remembered to study your vocab a bit.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Break!!!!

Since we didn't watch it in class today and some of you didn't see it elsewhere, here is the "Holiday TTV."

I hope you all have a wonderful break, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

And to those of us that will be grading (me) and writing (many of you), may our responsibilities not drag on and get in the way of holiday festivities and watching too much college football.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anecdote Paper

I spoke with several people today who misunderstood what an anecdote was and essentially wrote a reflection paper. Like I said in class, please look to the model as a model and think creative writing / show, don't tell. Each anecdote may not convey your whole purpose, but all of them together should say something. Just as in Indian Education, if you read the first anecdote by itself, you assume the paper is about learning to fight and stand up for himself. When it's put in context with the rest of the stories, it takes on additional meaning.

I thought things were clear, but since they obviously were not, let's push the paper back 24 hours to Friday to give people time to rework things if they need to.

Not everyone will see this. I'll send the same thing out in email, but please use your social networking powers to get word out to the rest of your classmates.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Swiftian Parody

We'll see if this really works as it wouldn't work at school, but this is the Colbert video where he alludes to the Modest Proposal.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Your Education

This writing assignment is focused on your effective use of anecdotes to make claims and tell your story. Alexie Sherman’s Indian Education is effective because it is true and because it tells a compelling story about his life and the life of his community. In the midst of that, he powerfully makes a number of different overall claims about education through his own story. The anecdotes are short and tight without extraneous (extra) details. Even so, he gives us enough details to make us feel like we we’re almost there with him.

So your task is to create your version of Indian Education using your own life. Use Alexie’s piece as a model. That said, your story/argument need not be semi-tragic like his was, just honest. I’m not looking for 12 grades like he has (you’re still in your 11th anyway). Instead, try to hit the major stages. If you’ve been in Fife all your life, have a section for Primary, one for Intermediate, one for SLMS, one for CJH, and one for FHS. If you haven’t, sometimes moves can define major epochs in your life. Shoot for about 5 or 6 sections.

This assignment will be graded for the way each anecdote makes a point/claim that builds to an overall point/claim. Also I will look for the general style, conventions, voice, organization, and development that we always consider.

Due December 16th at 11:59 PM

Monday, December 6, 2010

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Nerd

For those interested, the letter below was written in response to the Leonid Fridman article we wrote on in class yesterday.

Published: January 28, 1990 in the New York Times letters section

To the Editor:

While ''America Needs Its Nerds'' (Op-Ed, Jan. 11) by Leonid Fridman, a Harvard student, may be correct in its message that Americans should treat intellectualism with greater respect, his identification of the ''nerd'' as guardian of this intellectual tradition is misguided.

Mr. Fridman maintains that anti-intellectualism runs rampant across this country, even at the ''prestigious academic institution'' he attends. However, he confuses a distaste for narrow-mindedness with anti-intellectualism. Just as Harvard, as a whole, reflects diversity in the racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds of its students, each student should reflect a diversity of interest as well.

A ''nerd'' or ''geek'' is distinguished by a lack of diverse interests, rather than by a presence of intellectualism. Thus, a nerd or geek is not, as Mr. Fridman states, a student ''for whom pursuing knowledge is the top priority'' but a student for whom pursuing knowledge is the sole objective. A nerd becomes socially maladjusted because he doesn't participate in social activities or even intellectual activities involving other people. As a result, a nerd is less the intellectual champion of Mr. Fridman's descriptions than a person whose intelligence is not focused and enhanced by contact with fellow students. Constant study renders such social learning impossible.

For a large majority at Harvard, academic pursuit is the highest goal; a limited number, however, refuse to partake in activities other than study. Only these select few are the targets of the geek label. Continuous study, like any other obsession, is not a habit to be lauded. Every student, no matter how ''intellectually curious,'' ought to take a little time to pursue social knowledge through activities other than study.

Mr. Fridman's analysis demonstrates further flaws in his reference to Japan. He comments that ''in East Asia, a kid who studies hard is lauded and held up as an example to other students,'' while in the United States he or she is ostracized. This is an unfair comparison because Mr. Fridman's first reference is to how the East Asian child is viewed by teachers, while his second reference is to how the American child is viewed by fellow students. Mr. Fridman is equating two distinct perspectives on the student to substantiate a broad generalization on which he has no factual data.

Nerdism may also be criticized because it often leads to the pursuit of knowledge not for its own sake, but for the sake of grades. Nerds are well versed in the type of intellectual trivia that may help in obtaining A's, but has little or no relevance to the real world. A true definition of intellectualism ought to include social knowledge.

While we in no way condone the terms ''nerds'' and ''geeks'' as insults, we also cannot condone the isolationist intellectualism Mr. Fridman advocates.

David Lessing

David Herne

Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 12, 1990

The writers are members of Harvard's class of '93.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekend Homework

Sherman Alexie
Sorry that I wasn't in class today. After spending the day in that frigid room, I ended up with a sore throat, stuffy nose, earache, yadda, yadda, yadda. Anyway, we'll go over the timed writes on Monday and you'll get them back then. Overall, they are pretty good. Mostly fives and sixes with a couple of sevens in each class. For the most part, your grades went up or stayed the same. Some of you saw multi-percentage jumps. :)

All right, hopefully the copies got made. If not, or you were gone (Kelli),  here is the essay.
Likely you did this in class, so it should be easy. Blog:
  • Your conclusions about his overall argument.
  • How effective is his technique of using a string of anecdotes?
Have a good weekend and please don't forget to name your Google documents correctly.

Our next wee, little writing assignment will be to create something similar to Mr. Alexie (not that long). Anecdotes are pretty useful in arguments and this will give us some practice with them. Details forthcoming.

Side note:
Papers submitted after 11 PM by class:
3rd period - 5
5th period - 10!
Wow! You guys really know how to put a project off!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Autumn of the Multitaskers

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.

Oh, and check the calendar...

Side note: Here is a really graphic blog on texting while driving that I found while looking for a picture of someone running off a road in Wyoming. ONLY for those with strong stomaches. It is the result of an accident. Seriously only for those with strong stomaches.

Oh, and I thought all of these cartoons were funny and I couldn't decide which one to use.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Evidence for Arguments

Last week we lost some days to ask questions and get answers to our lovely, but also annoying snow. Therefore we are changing up the schedule a bit this week.

Tomorrow in class, we will read and discuss The Autumn of the Multitaskers,which will necessitate moving our graded timed write back a day or so. :( We'll look at this essay in terms of how it uses claims, how it's organized, and what counts as evidence.

Oh, and check out the calendar.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writing Helps...digestion

School is closed tomorrow too, in case you haven't heard!

So, you may need help with your papers. On this blog, look over to your left (and likely down a bit) for a group of links entitled "Writing". Look especially at the IU Writing Pamphlets, the UNC Writing Pages, the Dartmouth on Writing Papers, and the Writing Introductions and Conclusions pages.

This is all solid, collegiate-level writing help. It is focused on the type of writing AP is preparing you for, so it is worth looking at (the Dartmouth writing tutorial is particularly strong). The student truly serious about improving their writing would read this tutorial. Be forewarned that it is extensive. The tutorial on writing a thesis sentence is 3,600 words alone. This tutorial is well worth your time, though.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Whoo hoo!!!!!! We get to work on our papers at home on laptops around the fire with hot cocoa and warm blankets!!! Sooooo much nicer than writing in the computer lab here at school. :)

Hope you all got home safely. Remember to slay the procrastination monster and get those rough drafts done before Thanksgiving. We're having our rough draft day int he lab on Monday so have your essays on Google Docs for that day.

Enjoy the snow!!!!

Addendum: After a respite of depressingly little snow and bare, wet roads, big, fluffy flakes are falling hard and fast in the fair land of University Place. If school is canceled, we'll move our graded timed write from tomorrow to next Tuesday. If we're on late arrival schedule, we have 38 minute classes, which should be fine for the timed write (yes, I'll allow people to start before the bell, so you may want to show up early).

Addendum #2: Your prayers have been answered!! School is closed tomorrow, Tuesday the 23rd! Enjoy your day off and please, as one master recovering procrastinator to my many young padawan soon-to-be-recovering procrastinators, do yourselves a favor and work on your papers some tomorrow. You won't be alone...I'll be grading JFK papers tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Arguing with Elephants

For Monday, come prepared to write. We are in the lab just outside our classroom. Hopefully the activity on Friday helped jump start your essay and you are able to get some good work done over the weekend.
My hope for you is that you won't have to be working on a rough draft over Thanksgiving Break. In order for you to do that, you'll need to eschew procrastination and power through. Happy writing!

Update: Is any of this snow sticking in Milton or Fife?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


If you'd like notes for the Toulmin argument we discussed today, go to Class Info and Resources. Click on Rhetorical Analysis Tools. You'll find several helpful tools if you haven't explored them already. On that list is the Toulmin model. Check out Jolliffe's Rhetorical Framework too. You may find it helpful.

For tomorrow, please bring your TLC books and the Elephant assignment sheet. Choose which question you want to write on.

Don't forget to study your vocabulary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Never argue with an elephant

Elephant:1; tour bus: 0
unless you have to write this paper:

Looking for some homework? Bummed that we didn't finish talking about Orwell today? Well, I've got just the cure! Check out this essay assignment! We'll talk about it later this week, but I thought some of you might want to start thinking about this now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A good idea?

Read In Defense of Incandescence  and blog a summary of his argument. Then identify three rhetorical techniques he uses to get that argument across and then explain how those techniques help him make his argument.

We'll talk about elephants on Monday -- I put that off because we had so many people gone for swimming and other activities.

For the opposing argument, read this guy.

3rd period, check your fifeschools email!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shooting Elephants and Colonial Ambivalence

Orwell and his colleagues in Burma
Finish reading Shooting an Elephant on page 979 of the TLC book. Before Friday, blog the questions at the end on page 985.
Tomorrow we have a graded analysis timed write. On Wednesday, we'll go over the timed writes. Thursday don't come to school. On Friday, we'll go over these questions and, as last year called it, play a cloze "game" with the text.
This will be a weird week with Veteran's day taking a day out of the middle instead of the beginning or end of a week, but we'll make it work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Everything's an Argument

Read the packet you received in class today over the weekend. We'll discuss it on Monday. Those who were gone, I don't have this in electronic format yet, so you'll have to pick it up on Monday.

Ever feel a bit overwhelmed by the AP rubric? Read Carline's helpful thoughts on subject.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Academic Competition: King of the Mountain

There can only be one!
If you were not in class today, tonight read Best in Class by Margaret Talbot on page 113 in TLC or at the link above.

For your planning pleasure, tomorrow you will elucidate your position on this issue in small groups 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. We'll present those positions to the class.

We'll go over these positions in class, but I put them up here for your prior perusal.

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 (i.e. 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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

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 4).

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's raining...time to read Emerson!

Read Emerson's Education, rather the excerpt included in TLC on page 102. We'll discuss it in class on Monday. Yes, there will be questions involved, but for right now, just focus on reading and understanding what he wrote. There is much being said about education reform these days. See what Emerson said and consider what you believe.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing your JFK paper

If you feel like you've been cornobbled by this JFK paper and are lost in a collieshangie with rhetorical devices, remember to step back, take a breath, and reacquaint yourself with the purpose you are dealing with in each paragraph/section. Focus on how he attempts to fulfill each purpose using rhetorical strategies. Remember that rhetorical strategies can include such things as diction & syntax, appeals (both classical and various, i.e. patriotism, pride, compassion, etc.), choice of detail, figurative language, imagery, organization, etc.

Remember the rhetorical situation: speaker, occasion, audience, purpose(s) as well.

Best of luck with this paper. Don't over-think it. Just identify a purpose and show how he tries to accomplish it in his speech.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend homework

Work on your JFK drafts. You'll have a timed write on Tuesday and the rough drafts for this paper are due on Wednesday.

DO NOT wait to do this paper. Have a real rough draft ready for Wednesday.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Starting the JFK Paper

We're going to start working on our JFK papers tomorrow. We'll meet in the Study Hall Lab, over by the the career center (you may know it as the door across from the vending machines) in the 400 building. 

This is an analysis paper. It’s important for writing prompts such as this that you to reverse the process, i.e. begin not with an analysis of the rhetorical strategies Kennedy uses to achieve his purpose—begin with an understanding of his purpose and explain how he achieves that through the use of his rhetorical strategies. If you learn to read for meaning first, you will then be ready to analyze how meaning is achieved (this is a restatement of the 2nd paragraph on page 35 of TLC).

Tonight, read pages 56-57 of TLC in preparation for writing tomorrow.

Vital Statistics:

  • 900-1200 words (3-4 pages)
  • Google Docs file name: Per 3 Lastname Firstname JFK Paper
  • Rough Draft Due: Wednesday, October 27
  • Final Draft Due: Friday, October 29

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting to know JFK

Here is the link to JFK's inaugural address that we watched today in class. If you lost your hard copy for annotation, then here it is as a pdf and Google doc.

Your homework is to annotate or create a dialectical journal or graphic organizer as demonstrated on page 40-47 of the TLC book. Please bring your books tomorrow as we will be using them again.

Don't forget our Easy Vocabulary Test #5 tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Bring your books on Thursday. 

Read over Lord Chesterfield's letter again and see if you can see his tone this time. Blog your thoughts on the following: What are the clues to his tone? Why did you miss it if you missed it and what helped you see it if you saw it? 

If you remember nothing else from this timed write, remember this:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Multiple choice analysis

Take a few minutes tonight and look at your multiple choice results. Looking at the ones you missed, ensure that you understand why the answers are the way they are and not the way you thought. You do not need to blog this, though it is highly recommended as you develop your skills analyzing text.

Tomorrow we are taking our first graded timed write. It will be the same format as the first few.

Remember persona...
"I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly; a quarrel, but nothing wherefore. O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!" Shakespeare in Othello

Friday, October 8, 2010

Modest Proposal Argument

Revisit paragraph 29 on page 919 in its context (you've already thought about this in question #9). Using Questions for Rhetoric and Style on page 920-21 (maybe look at question 10 to help with this as well), write a short reflection (try to keep it between 150 and 200 words) on how Swift uses satire coupled with his true ideals, hinted at throughout the piece and especially in paragraph 29, to drive home his argument to his audience.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Homecoming weekend!

PS for 5th period: You DGP quiz average was 74.2%  Very good for not doing anything with grammar over the summer, but not quite 85%. We'll start DGP on Monday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Modest Proposal

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 1-5, 7-9.

NMSQT Discussion

Just to follow up on our conversation this morning concerning how to qualify for National Merit and those qualifying levels, of 1.5 million who take the test, the top 34,000 qualify for some sort of recognition ranging from commended students to semi-finalists to finalists. The winners come from the finalist group and that's where the direct scholarship money comes from. Indirect scholarships typically follow for the finalists and semi-finalists (as well as the actual National Merit winners), often from the actual university they attend. Either way, it's a good thing if you qualify. More information can be found here and here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Caged Birds vs. King Lear

Finish reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read by Francine Prose in the TLC book on pages 89-99. Then blog your Graff Template response. What is the Graff Template, you might ask. If you go to Class Info and Documents and then click the Rhetorical Analysis Tools link, there is a link for the Graff Template

You'll notice some other resources as well that we will introduce along the way. Please blog your response. We'll look at a few of them in class and do some group work on analysis questions as well. Please bring your books tomorrow. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


white-and-nerdy Daily Grammar Phun is about to begin. That is, unless you cut it off at the pass by acing a DGP pre-test!
Remember that if we demonstrate proficiency on average as a class, we will drop DGP and only talk about grammar directly as it applies to our close reading of specific texts. So look over your pink packets and get ready for a DGP pre-test next week sometime.
We’ll talk about the threshold we need to reach. My regular English classes chose 80% as what would define competence. How many of you are okay with a B-? Consider what you would consider competent and we’ll talk about it before the exam.
That is you only homework, though make sure you bring your TLC books on Monday (there will be reading in class and at home Monday from that book).
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Timed Write and your paper

Look over your timed write tonight and evaluate it. Give it a score using the rubric. Then, using the question leader's comments as a model, write a descriptive defense of your score. Do NOT post this to your blog, but write it at the end of your essay or attach it to the back on a separate sheet of paper. Do NOT put it in front. I want to read these before I see your scores.

Good job today with your comments on the models.  Both classes had some good observations and were pretty accurate with the scoring, though 5th period was really hating on the 5. They wanted to give it a 2. :)

To turn in your metacognition paper:

  1. Make sure it is in MLA format.
  2. Remove all comments from me and your peers. It should be a clean copy. (You should still be able to see the comments if you look in the revision history).
  3. Share it with me.
  4. Make sure the file is named correctly, or it will be invisible, deleted, late, etc. (I'm not kidding [insert stern expression here].)
  5. Do all of this before 2:30 PM on Thursday September 30, 2010
  6. DO NOT change the file after that time.

We'll see how this goes. So far I've liked being able to comment in papers, even when someone is at my desk asking for help as they then have those comments when they go to work on it later.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Metacognition and the blog

There seems to have been a bit of confusion. On the assignment sheet for the Metacognition Paper, it says:

Before you begin to write, you must provide the following:

  • Your rhetorical situation: Speaker, Subject, Audience relationships; context; and purpose
  • A proposed overall arrangement (of course you can use multiple arrangements if needed)
Post that to your blog. If you aren't sure what the arrangement is, refer back to our textbook pages 13-25. Your arrangement encompasses the structure and the combination of patterns of discourse you plan to use (or already used as the case may now be).

The reason we're doing this is to get in the habit of thinking through the rhetorical situation before we write so that we are writing intentionally and not simply as a reaction.

Happy writing!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Know thyself...

Socrates - Medieval Style
...and nothing in excess.

Monday, you may have noticed there is a rough draft of our Metacognition papers due (especially if you make use of the calendar). Come with a rough draft in Google Docs. You do not have to share it with me yet. We will be in a computer lab (3rd per - Study Hall; 5th per English Lab) where we will be commenting on other people's papers and working on our own.

As for how complete your rough draft should be, the more you have done, the more valuable Monday will be to you.

Sharing note: If you share an untitled document or improperly named document, that is tantamount to mailing it to the wrong address. I'm not going to open it as I'll have to work to find out  the period and person. If you can't recall how to name your documents for sharing purposes, here are the requirements with an example.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Toxophilus unleashed

Roger Ascham
Read pages 38-48 in the TLC book and apply one of the techniques enumerated therein to the Toxophilus excerpt from this book written by Roger Ascham in 1545 and dedicated to King Henry VIII.

I've linked the Toxophilus excerpt in a Google Docs version so you can copy the text into your Google Doc if you wish. Using tables, you can do the dialectical journal or graphic organizer in Google and you can annotate using comments. You may wish to bring something in done by hand, though. Not sure if you can circle and draw arrows in the way you may wish to in a Google Doc.

Since a number of people will wish to turn this in as a physical document, please print out your electronic efforts if that's the direction you take so that I receive all of the assignments in the same medium. Thank you!

Enjoy your trip back into the scientific observations and practical concerns of the mid-Sixteenth Century England!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Writing survey and upcoming notes

Please complete the brief writing survey linked here. You will need to log in with your fifeschools account in order to take the survey.

I hope you've been pondering your thinking this weekend in between Cabbage Patch victory parties (it's been years since the seniors did not win ASB Week).

Even in the face of such an historic achievement by the class of 2012, we'll still get new vocab and talk try and wrap our minds around metacognition.

Here is a rather interesting website focused around applying metacognition to success as a student. The audience is college professors, but there is a lot of good information there. It would be more helpful to read after we talk about metacognition tomorrow.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cabbage Patch and Homework

Congratulations on winning Cabbage Patch and ASB Week, Juniors! To celebrate, there's no homework this weekend!!! Whoo hoo!

However, many of you have not posted Thursday night's homework on your blogs. Please do so.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Classifying your thinking

Tonight, post a reflection about where you see yourself on Golding's scale of thinking. Be honest. You won't get a better grade if you say you're a grade one than if you think you're a grade three thinker. Support your assertion with evidence. This should help you as you prepare to write our first paper.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Timed writes and your first paper

Sunshine ahead!
Whoo hoo! The dreaded first timed write of the year is in the rear view mirror. 

We will go over them tomorrow along with the rubric and sample student essays. Then we will begin our first take home paper, likely on Thursday. You'll get a physical assignment sheet, but you can preview it here if you wish.

Tonight: read over your timed write and look for what you did well and consider what you might improve.

As we gear up for our first paper, I thought I'd share an article I posted last year. This is the most interesting thing I’ve ever read about procrastination. I am most definitely an incubator and I’ve worked hard to increase the time I start before something is due. Anyway, you might find this interesting.

Taking the SAT this year? This looks to be a pretty decent SAT prep program. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Dad Doesn’t Google

Interesting blog post I ran across. Though my dad does Google, he still reads the physical paper. It got me thinking about how technology changes us. We'll read some about this later, but any thoughts for the comment box now?

(No, this is not an assignment, but an exchange of ideas on the way the world works around us and on us.)

My Dad Doesn’t Google: "
We have been spending some time with my Dad who has been visiting us from Australia. During his stay with us I realised, more than usual, how the internet makes no impact on his life. It led me to think through the behaviours that many of us have grown accustomed to.

I kind of get the impression that members of his generation either made a choice to have a computer and so eventually to use the internet, or indeed let it pass them by. My Dad worked in insolvency for many years, times of tape dictaphones and typists. His business offices were all about paper information and it was physically organised. I remember book keeping – spreadsheets must have been a sight for sore eyes.

Dad lives in South Australia for most of the year now and enjoys writing letters to us about all of his adventures. His penmanship is fantastic and I always enjoy reading them. It almost feels strange to hold a personal message for me, handwritten with a fountain pen. Usually his missives are two or three pages of A4. We may have learned to communicate via 140 characters (or less) but what has that restriction done to old fashioned letter writing? What have we given up?

I was lucky enough to have Google Voice Search demonstrated to me by the mobile Product Manager at the Teacher Academy in London. It works really well and with the new Froyo 2.2 update will allow you to control much of your phone with just your voice. I showed Dad and tried it with the search term “Best restaurants in Adelaide”. As the phone recognised what I had said and immediately displayed a map with the eateries he was pretty impressed. Then he went through the list and said, “Eaten there, yes and that one, and that one, enjoyed the starters there…” He hadn’t done such a search but had probably visited these places in his own journey to find out the restaurants he enjoys. Perhaps they were recommended, but I can safely say he wasn’t swayed by a single online review. What experiences he must have enjoyed exploring those places. His opinion probably contradicted that of some reviews – good that he hadn’t run that search after all, perhaps he would have missed out. How much do we truly make up our own mind these days?

If we so choose, we can control a deluge of information and news to come to us, on our mobiles, on our televisions. A constant feed or stream. Every day Dad heads to the shops to buy the newspaper. That is his way of gathering the daily news, from the printed press. The obvious criticism is of course that it is from one source, but what must he gain everyday from his journey to gather it? Would you walk somewhere to pick up a blog update? The physical act of collecting it is an investment, everything is a click away for us, we don’t invest in the gathering of information in the same way – we can pick it up and drop it just as quickly. It is the impact of this on the information sources themselves that is the most intriguing.

Every evening/morning he listens to the radio, well he calls it the “wireless” – my “wireless” is no less important to me.

The crossword he does is the cryptic one, you know the really tricky one. He doesn’t jump on Google at the first sign of trouble but puts it to one side and gets a cup of tea. He lets the information brew as well and slowly he forms connections with something he read here, a past crossword clue there or a fact he knew. It might take a few moments or a few hours but suddenly he would let out a victorious serendipitous yelp as he figures it out. Not a search query in sight other than his own synaptic workout. Sometimes he finished the puzzle, sometimes not, but he has probably on average 18-24 moments of serendipitous victory a day. That can only be good for your brain.

It has been interesting to make these comparisons in internet and non-internet use, however I wouldn’t change the way I interact with it now. It offers me a great perspective on my self and my work. It allows me to connect to others both near and far. I can find out stuff without really trying, I don’t even need to type.

But my behaviours raise questions too – do we have a stronger sense of self nowadays or are we too reliant on our networks, connections to others and “you may also like”? Can we form genuinely unbiased opinions of products and services, restaurants and experiences with the internet? Do we need to? Will the good in life always rise to the top of the web? There are things we don’t consider important anymore because we can Google it – surely the journey to the papershop can be just as important as what we collect.

Thanks Dad for causing me to think this through.

I say more yelps of serendipity please. accessed 9/13/2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Princess Di

Read the Princess Diana pieces starting on page 29 in the TLC book and going to page 34.

That's it.

Except if you haven't sent me your blog address yet, please email it to  See the previous post for instructions.

On your homework from last night...good work overall. Most of the posts (the ones I have seen so far) are clear and provide specific examples for each claim. Yea! :)

Some good examples are:
This one and this one. These are NOT the only good examples of what I'm looking for (no complexes out there, please), but are two good examples of two different approaches.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Setting up your blog and trying out Google Docs

  1. Go to:
  2. login using your school username and "password" as your password
  3. Go through the rigamarole to change it.
  4. Check out your new email account. If you go into settings, you can change the theme and labs allows you to customize your tools quite a bit. That's you school email account. Yea!
Now click the link in the upper left of the page that says Documents
  1. Click create new and create a new document
  2. Reflect on how you think you might use this new tool.
  3. Name it. We'll use the following naming function:
    • Per# Last First Assignment Title
    • We'll call this assignment: Trial Doc
    • for example: Per5 Giddings Andrew Trial Doc
  4. Share it with me (agiddings) using the Share link in the upper right of the document window. Allow me to edit and I can leave comments for you.
Now go to
  1. login using your FULL fifeschools email address
  2. create a blog (you'll need your cell phone, or one of someone next to you)
  3. email the link to your blog to .
  4. play with it and learn how to use it. Make it pretty if you want to. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Arrangement and Patterns of Development

Read pages 13-25 in the TLC book for Thursday. The point here is to be exposed to and understand the different arrangements and forms of writing and speaking. Also, blog the assignment in the box at the top of page 26.

Here's a link to the jobs article I mentioned in class today.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Analyzing Political Cartoons

We'll be setting up our school Google email/docs and blogs this week. If you have not turned in your form, do son on MONDAY.

Read Pages 10-12 in the TLC book (the Visual Rhetoric section) and do the assignment on page 12. We will be presenting them on Tuesday in class. I'll go first. :)

Some good places to find political cartoons are: (link on the top right of the page)
Local cartoonist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize ... twice.
Also local.
NY Times cartoonist page

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Greek triangles and pathetic, ethical logos

Aristotelean Triangle
Read pages 1-9 (don't do the assignment in the blue box) for tomorrow in The Language of Composition (TLC -- that's what we decided to call it last year) book.

Come with any questions about the reading you may have.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Look at you checking the blog even though I didn't show it in class yet! You're awesome!

Just a reminder to bring in your signed Google account slips and syllabi.

I look forward to having a great year with you all. 3rd period seems like a great group...we'll see about 5th. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Almost Here!

We may not be quite ready, but the new school year is approaching very quickly. I'm hoping to finish painting my house this weekend and then shift my focus back to incorporating all my study from earlier in the summer into making this class better. I hope you are all wrapping up work on your summer assignment (yes, I know at least a couple of you just started looking around for a copy of Huckleberry Finn -- yes that is HUCKLEBERRY FINN. I heard a rumor that someone was convinced the book to read was Tom Sawyer.). See you soon. It's going to be a great year!

Some of you might be interested to find out who you write like. If so, check out this page. I copied several paragraphs from some of my old papers and I got three different results using different papers. Out of five tries, three came back the same though. I'd try it more than once. Kind of interesting. Evidently I write like H.P. Lovecraft with some features of Daniel Defoe's style as well. Though this blog post makes them think of Cory Doctorow. Different voices for different purposes, right?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Next Year

If you're here looking for the AP Summer Assignment, you found it!
Is it late August and are you terrified you won't finish the summer assignment and thinking about dropping the class?

Hey, future students!!
The Atlantic in my mailbox just today (July/August edition) has declared the End of MenRead about it. It’s a long article, but it is well worth it.
If you’re a girl, be afraid of the demise of men.
If you are a guy, get mad. Get riled. Decide that you will not be left on the scrap heap of culture and history. Tap into your competitive nature. Decide to demand your education. Demand your future. Then earn it.
The world needs more Jacob Rummels and Maverick Antonios and Cody McKenzies (guys who work hard pursuing excellence in everything, at least everything I witnessed them do over the last couple of years).
We'll be talking about the issue of pursuing excellence this coming fall.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Run, Lola, Run!

Found watching giant dump truck videos with Charlie. Enjoy.  Don't forget to read the last paper post below...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This I your last paper!

Your this I Believe essay is due on Friday June 11th. 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

If you look at the Calendar, you'll see that with the movie et al, we are running right up to the end with Gatsby. So, I advise working on this in the background. If we have time one day, we will look at some examples on the website, though I recommend looking some examples on your own. Often the ones put on the radio are a bit better, but not necessarily so.

Andrea Kang's This I Believe essay. They reposted it from its original posting so all of the comments are gone, but her essay is there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Discussion Ideas

[caption id="attachment_1207" align="alignright" width="270" caption="Paris Cafe Discussion"]ParisCafeDiscussion[/caption]

Here's the Literary Conflicts sheet we used in class today. It's also linked on the Class Info & Docs page.

Remember as you're planning your discussions, you can have whole class on the board, giant circle, or small to large group. there are many other ideas and feel free to experiment. Just have a plan for what you want us to discover and see in your chapter. Don't forget to connect it to the novel as a whole. Tuesday is a work day for these discussions.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend...and the future!

greatgatsbyJust read through Chapter 4. We will discuss on Monday.

Just so you know, you will be getting the opportunity (don't read into that too much, it's required) to lead the class discussion on a chapter.  You'll go in groups of 3 or 4 starting with chapter 5. We'll have a sign-up sheet on Monday.

It will look shockingly like this:

  1. Chapter 5: May26th (whoever signs up for this date will of course get extra consideration for being first and brave and awesome)

  2. Chapter 6: May 27th

  3. Chapter 7: May 28th

  4. Chapter 8: June 2nd

  5. Chapter 9: June 3rd

  6. American Dream Gatsby Summative Discussion Extraordinaire: June 4th

Tuesday will be a prep/work day in your groups. I will be largely silent during these discussions, or at least I will need to raise my hand and wait to be called on. YOU will be responsible for the discussion.

I will grade these on the following criteria:

  • preparation

  • how well the discussion goes

  • if discussion stalls, how well the group kick starts or redirects the discussion

  • Insights not garnered from Spark Notes or its competitors (Maybe I'll just print out the chapter write-up and have them with me during the discussion in case I forget something).

This is a very rich book with plenty to work through. We will take two timed writes on this book as well and you'll be able to pick your favorite to be graded in lieu of a big paper.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Blogs

[caption id="attachment_1193" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Party Scene"]partyscenegg[/caption]

It seems the book blog assignment was unclear.

We are doing one blog post per chapter.

Unless otherwise instructed for a particular chapter, focus your observations on the following:

  • The American Dream

  • Character Development

  • Literary Devices (metaphor, sensory details ie. color, foreshadowing, etc)

Make at least one observation per chapter from each category.  I apologize for any confusion.

I finally take my National Boards test tomorrow. I promise that when I'm done and after I relax a bit this weekend (we're going to the Paramount to see the Mark Morris Dance group), I will do things normal teachers do like grade papers again. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.

gatsby1This weekend, read chapter 1 of The Great Gatsby. Write a "book blog." You may have heard of a book log before in which one writes their thoughts and observations about a book in general or focused around a particular theme or motif. Well, we will be doing just that, with the entries on our blogs.

Focus your observations on the following:

  • The American Dream

  • Character Development

  • Literary Devices (metaphor, sensory details ie. color, foreshadowing, etc)

Make at least one observation per chapter from each category. At times, there may be other particular foci for the book blog. A reading schedule is forthcoming.

Don't forget to come out to Annie this weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Period 2 Party

Post what you’re bringing to celebrate our brilliance and being done with the AP exam!!!!

If you are buying your Gatsby book, the ISBN is 978-074327356-5.
If they don't have that version, Brittany, try this one: 0-02-0198817. The pagination is different, but it's the version I have. We might be the only two on the "right page".

Period 1 Party

Post what you're bringing to celebrate our brilliance and being done with the AP exam!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

AP Test!!!!!!

512px-5-skylt,_Swedish_roadsign.svgRemember your Magic AP Pencil!

Remember a Blue or Black pen!

Remember to bring it!!!!!!

You're going to do great! 4's and 5's all around!!!
Mind what you have learned. Save you it can. -Yoda