Thursday, February 28, 2013

March 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["For Those About to Rock" by AC/DC]

This is a quick-write that you should complete before the end of the song.  How confident, ready, strong, and smart do you feel going into the test?

1. Journal
2. Essay exam

1. Begin Modernist Author Project (MAP)

what are you afraid of?

Thanks to Ricky from American Lit for submitting this video from JP Bouvet: Now check out JP in action:

writing your essay will be easy compared to this

My AP students are preparing for the exam the hard way:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 28*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "C'mon Get Happy" by the Partridge Family; "The Dope Show" by Marilyn Manson; "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin]

If you compare it with the headlines, Modernist literature can be a depressing, even shocking reminder that society appears to be going awry.  So why do so many people regard it as such a brilliant genre?  Why have generations of high school students been required to read about sex play, book burning, and blank, staring, anesthetized adults engaged in the pursuit of pseudo-happiness?  Is there a silver lining to this dystopian Modernist literature?

1. Journal
2. Essays: review and critique

1. Study Modernism notes and essay strategies for in-class essay tomorrow (Friday)

February 27*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Hunting Song" by Felix Mendelssohn; "Hunter (TV Theme)" by Mike Post; "The Seeker" by The Who]

What are you looking for?  Each day, as you wake up, do this, complete that, worry about this, fix that, talk to him, listen to her, eat this, drink that, what are you looking for?

1. Journal
2. Applied Modernism
3. How NOT to write an essay

1. In a post on your blog entitled, APPLIED MODERNISM, draft a pre-write and an essay in response to the following prompt:

"Why is [Fahrenheit 451, Theme for English B, Richard Cory, The First Seven Years] considered a Modernist work?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26*


What does the word modern mean to you?  Has the meaning of the word changed over time?

1. Journal
2. Modernism lecture (continued)

1. Describe how your writing in this modern moment is different than it would have been five years ago.  What about you/the world has changed in ways that express themselves in what you write?

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "I Melt With You" by Modern English; "Modern Love" by David Bowie; "Modern Man" by Bad Religion]

Agree or disagree with the following quote:

I have always had this view about the modern education system: we pay attention to brain development, but the development of warmheartedness we take for granted.
Dalai Lama 

l. Journal
2. Brief introduction to Modernism

1. Choose an author to study from the following list (or research and propose a Modernist author you don't see here):
2. In a post on your blog entitled MY MODERNIST, declare your selection and explain your reason/s why.

Friday, February 22, 2013

February 22*


Use at least five of this week's vocabulary words to tell a story about a cafeteria worker, a UFO, and a cross-dressing Army general.

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz

1. Finish February's literature analysis (if you haven't already)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

riddle me this

So, Jesse comes by this afternoon and shows me the following puzzle.  I love this kind of @#$%! and I'm always inclined to gnaw on a good puzzle like a dog on a bone, but there are grades (ugh) to file and miles to go before I sleep...

Wait!  I know a bunch of smart people.  First person to comment with the correct answer wins.

February 21*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Parents Just Don't Understand" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince; "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp)" by Allan Sherman]

Compare/contrast the parental relationship in "The First Seven Years" with experiences from your own life.

1. Journal
2. Reading quiz: "The First Seven Years"
3. Discussion

1. Study vocab for tomorrow's quiz
2. Review "The First Seven Years" for lit techniques quiz

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

spot the endangered species

Don't try this at home.

February 20*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Story of My Life" by Social Distortion; "Every Picture Tells a Story" by Rod Stewart]

Tell a story using at least five of this week's vocabulary words. Your story must include the following ingredients: a phone booth, a talking alligator, and a parent who just doesn't understand.

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. "The First Seven Years" by Bernard Malamud

1. Finish reading "The First Seven Years" and respond to the story in a blog post with the same title

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vocabulary: Spring List 5


February 19

Reflect on your weekend and imagine it as a series of pictures, videos and text on a social media site.  How do your experiences describe the person who had them?  How can this be considered an exercise in indirect characterization?

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary
3. A word about the end of the grading period

1. Be sure you're on schedule to finish February lit analysis
2. Define/remix vocabulary on your blog (title: SPRING VOCAB 5)
3. Rank your period's blogs best to worst (one sentence explanation per)-- you may turn this in on paper or post to your blog (title: BOB I)
4. Bring your textbook* (*it's big, it's red, it weighs 20 lbs. and costs $$$ to replace) to class tomorrow
5. Post your best attempt at Fox in Sox by Friday 

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15*

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["King Without a Crown" & "One Day" by Matisyahu]

We adopt sayings like, "You can't tell a book by its cover" because they contain a lot of wisdom in a few short syllables.  Unfortunately, they don't always turn out to be true-- for example, a watched pot does actually boil if you watch it long enough.  Describe a pearl of wisdom that has held true in your life, and describe something that turned out to be incomplete or false.

1. Journal
2. F. 451 presentations
3. Last poetry assignment for now

1. In a post to your blog entitled IN MILDRED'S PARLOR, stage the scene in which Montag reads the poem "Dover Beach" to Mildred's friends-- except, recite the poem you chose from memory.
2. Invite colleagues to view and comment to your post.  In order for it to count, at least five people (three from the course) must comment and answer these two questions: (a) What was the meaning of the poem? and (b) Why did the meaning of the poem make it a good choice for this scene/book?
4. Catch up on anything you're missing (I CAN READ!) and/or get ahead (mess with a senior, pick up another literature analysis book for extra credit)
5. In a post entitled I AM HERE please explain your progress in this course during the first grading period.  Have you made progress toward your SMART goal?  Have you begun thinking/working on your senior project, big question, collaborative working group, or other endeavor/venture that shows how you're putting this course to work for you?  Document and explain your performance.
6. Recharge your batteries

Thursday, February 14, 2013

fahrenheit 451 presentations

Can't wait to see what you all come up with for tomorrow.  For a reminder of the philosophy and rubric, consult last semester's final project instructions.

Ian May just emailed this for totally different reasons, but it immediately brought the book to mind:

ap schmay-pee

Taking the AP Language & Composition exam?  Meet up today in 608 at lunch.

February 14*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Funny Valentine" by Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker; "California Love" by 2Pac]

What are you going to do today that you will remember tomorrow?

(P.S. Help those poor people who paid 3x the price for roses this week by being a role model for love the other 364 days.)

1. Journal
2. Fahrenheit 451 remix/presentations

1. Finish your project for presentation tomorrow

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13*


What do you remember most clearly from yesterday's class?  Why?

1. Journal
2. Essay exam

1. Reflect on your essay in a blog post entitled ESSAY POSTGAME ANALYSIS: What did you do well?  What can you improve for next time?  What grade would you give yourself?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

a vision of students today*

(*Actually, this video was posted in 2007.  And I'm not sure what's most interesting at this point-- the video itself or the comments to it.  Thoughts?)

February 12*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "No Memory" by Stone Temple Pilots; "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil; "Memory Loss" by Deltron 3030]

Describe your earliest memories and/or the things you remember best.  How are they similar or different-- and how is your reaction to them similar or different-- in comparison with the things you are told to remember in school?

1. Journal
2. Discussion about the end of Fahrenheit 451


2. A test on the book that is so savage it will make children weep and sin no more.

Hope you did your homework this weekend.

1. Find a poem that you would have picked to read to the women in the parlor.
2. In a post entitled PARLOR POETRY, explain why Montag (Bradbury, really) picked "Dover Beach" and go on to explain why you chose what you chose.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

wanna mess with a senior?

So, the seniors in the AP course know they may be stopped by someone at random and made to write on the spot under unusual circumstances.

What they don't know is that you're in on it.

 If you participate by stopping a senior and making him/her write, and you follow the posting instructions, and you explain at least one thing you learned about the writing process or the topic, you get extra credit.

If you come up with a way for our course to use the idea, you get mad respect and some sort of tribal honor that hasn't yet been invented.

Have fun... :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

"i never learned to read!"

You know, as much as we talk about literary genres and elements, it's easy to overlook the fact that some of us didn't grow up with books and occasionally have a hard time with the basics.

Consider poor Wayne:

So, how do you know how well you can sound out words and get through a text without mistakes?

Here's how:
1. Watch the video below;
2. Get a copy of Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss;
3. Set up a phone or a camera (or get a friend to help);
4. Read the book as fast and as well as you can;
5. Record your time and the number of mistakes you make;
6. Compare your numbers with mine.  Don't forget to count my mistakes--I just learned that I've been mispronouncing the author's name my whole life!
7. Post your video and your stats on your blog under the heading I CAN READ!

UPDATE: In reply to questions from the email bag...
  • If you're having trouble finding the book, here is the text without the pics. 
  • My reading was a one-take job, but yours doesn't have to be.  You can practice all you want before posting your best effort.
  • To earn course credit you must post I CAN READ! by Friday, February 15.

February 8*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Whipping Post" by Allman Brothers; "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor)

What do you expect from your performance on today's vocab quiz-- torture or triumph?  Explain.

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Read, baby, read

1. In a post on your blog entitled MY F451, summarize the plot of the novel we just read together and explain how Bradbury's style and diction helped you understand the ideas he was trying to get across.
2. Show how well you read by following the directions on the "i never learned to read!" post

Thursday, February 7, 2013

AP exam registration info

This just in:

February 7*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Phone Call" by Los Lobos; "Call Me" & "Hanging on the Telephone" by Blondie]

When you were a kid, did you play the game of "telephone"?  As a high school student, have you played the game of "gossip"?  How do you account for the idea that a person can say something clearly that 1-30 listeners understand totally differently?

1. Journal
2. Read, baby, read

1. Finish the book
2. Study for vocab quiz tomorrow

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 6*

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding" by Elvis Costello And The Attractions; "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding" by Elvis Costello And The Attractions; "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding" by Elvis Costello And The Attractions

In the song of the same name, Elvis Costello asks, "What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?"  What is it that leads so many people (in the media and in daily life) to choose snarky criticism over earnestly trying to make the world a better place?  What do we do about it?

1. Journal
2. Reading quiz pp. 91-110
3. Fun with vocabulary-- no, seriously...
4. Continue reading

1. Read to p. [TBD*]

*TBD = To Be Determined (in class)

February 5*


Cool and hack mean different things to different generations. (GNAR doesn't mean anything at all to most people, especially those of us over 40.) Explain 1-3 terms from your language to the tribal elders.

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Quiz pp. 71-90
4. Continue reading

1. Post all 19 vocab definitions/sentences and/or remix
2. Read through p. 110

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4*

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Monday Night Football" ("Superstar" A.K.A. "Heavy Action") by Johnny Pearson; "ABC's Wide World of Sports" by Jack Shaindlin & Irving Robbins; "TV Party" by Black Flag)

Yesterday Americans celebrated an unofficial national holiday by eating 30 million pounds of snacks and sitting around the house.  Why?  What is it about the Superb Owl that everyone finds so compelling?  Do we watch because everyone else is, or because we all did it last year, or because...?  Given what you've read so far in Fahrenheit 451, how do you think Ray Bradbury would answer the question?

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Reading (quiz?)

1. Post SPRING VOCAB #2 definitions/remix to your blog
2. Come in with 5 suggestions for quiz questions on pp. 71-90
3. Translate the David Foster Wallace quote on your blog (title: TO MODERN OR POSTMODERN)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

start thinking about this quote

Read this. Think about whether or not we can say the same things about our culture, politics and economy; have we as a people really settled for making fun instead of making a difference in the world? Feel free to comment with questions (Who is Bret Ellis? What does mimesis mean?), observations, dis/agreement, and suggestions about how we might study Modernism and Postmodernism. I'm planning to start with a story in which a parent's values conflict with a child's, but the virtual suggestion box is now open. More on all this tomorrow here and in person.  

“If what's always distinguished bad writing--flat characters, a narrative world that's clichéd and not recognizably human, etc.--is also a description of today's world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world. If readers simply believe the world is stupid and shallow and mean, then [Bret] Ellis can write a mean shallow stupid novel that becomes a mordant deadpan commentary on the badness of everything. Look man, we'd probably most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what's human and magical that still live and glow despite the times' darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it'd find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it. 

Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage… The postmodern founders' patricidal work was great, but patricide produces orphans, and no amount of revelry can make up for the fact that writers my age have been literary orphans throughout our formative years. 

We enter a spiritual puberty where we snap to the fact that the great transcendent horror is loneliness, excluded encagement in the self. Once we’ve hit this age, we will now give or take anything, wear any mask, to fit, be part-of, not be Alone, we young. The U.S. arts are our guide to inclusion. A how-to. We are shown how to fashion masks of ennui and jaded irony at a young age where the face is fictile enough to assume the shape of whatever it wears. And then it’s stuck there, the weary cynicism that saves us from gooey sentiment and unsophisticated naïveté. Sentiment equals naïveté on this continent. 

You burn with hunger for food that does not exist. 

A U. S. of modern A. where the State is not a team or a code, but a sort of sloppy intersection of desires and fears, where the only public consensus a boy must surrender to is the acknowledged primacy of straight-line pursuing this flat and short-sighted idea of personal happiness.”

― David Foster Wallace

the ghost of mrs. blake speaks

I just saw the following Tweet and thought back to the Fahrenheit 451 scene we discussed in class last week:

Friday, February 1, 2013

active reading notes

Some of you have asked me about how to take active reading notes. Contrary to traditional stereotype, I am NOT suggesting that you take notes in order to regurgitate meaningless facts on a text. I AM suggesting you take notes as a way to think differently and more deeply about the text so that you understand it better.

I suggest that you focus on three categories of ideas:
1)passages that significantly contribute to your understanding;
2)passages that illustrate a particular literary technique or characteristic of the text; and
3)passages that elicit a personal response from you.

As you can see from the example below, when I read the first chapter of Like Water for Chocolate I underlined passages and made notes about (1) symbolism, foreshadowing, and other hints that helped me "get" what the author was trying to say; (2) examples of magical realism, characterization and plot development; and (3) actions or dialogue that made me sit up and take notice (you may find yourself asking questions, or vehemently agreeing/disagreeing, but any time you have an intense reaction is an important moment in the text).

Because many of you will be taking notes on a book you don't own, use your own paper to write the notes-- and please keep track of the page numbers! That way when we discuss them you'll be able to refer to the context.

active reading notes lwcf jan -

February 1*

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago" by Johnny Cash; "Well Respected Man" by The Kinks; "Accountancy Shanty" by Monty Python)

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word accountable (adj.) means, "Answerable; responsible." Contrary to popular belief, we do not hold others accountable-- we ARE accountable (or not). So, write a performative utterance in which you describe how you will use today's time to pursue your goals in this course and the world at large. Specifically, address how you are incorporating Big Questions, Collaborative Working Groups, independent study, your SMART goals, and the core academic assignments (lit terms, Dickens, etc.).

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. 35 minutes you will never have back

1. Post a description of how you used today's time (title: THE TIME OF MY LIFE)
2. Read pp.71-90 in Fahrenheit 451
3. Start an online discussion with at least 5 peers (platform up to you) and document the experience on your blog (title: A CONVERSATION WITH PEOPLE WHO AREN'T HERE)