Monday, December 8, 2008

Group Work

Students in all groups are working diligently. Interview write ups are due Wednesday. A group grade is issued for each member turning his/her interview write up in on time or earlier; an individual grade is issued for the content of the write up. Surveys must be complete and tallied by Friday. Presentations start next Monday.
Remember, too, our reading schedule of three chapters per evening, so that we finish the novel by Friday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Group Work and Ordinary People

As we just start the group research project , which ends in a major group presentations, students are encouraged to explore group dynamics. The majority of the points in this project are group points, with each individual receiving the same points as a group. For success, students MUST communicate within their groups; they MUST hold one another accountable; they MUST help one another find individually success for the group's (and consequently their own) success.
This is new. This may be uncomfortable.
So far, I have seen most groups step up to the challenge. However, a group, or two, has yet to recognize that individually "blowing off" group time will lead to disaster. Worse, the group allowing that, even laughing at that, will crash.
GROUPS, start and continue to assign, check, and do work. Create and follow your plan. On the plus of all of this, there is dramatic freedom of choice in content, development, and style. Instead of resisting all that responsibility, embrace it as an opportunity to finally do what YOU want in school. Then do it.
Ordinary People reading schedule is also out. The final pages are due next Friday, and the test is the 19th, following the presentations that start the 15th.
Before you know it, we're at Winter Break!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Past the Life Philosophy

Now that everyone has turned in his or her life philosophy paper, I look forward to reading them. While I'm working on that, we are reading the novel, Ordinary People. Already, we are finishing chapter 9, and will have a t/f quiz on chapters 1-9 next week, early.
This unit includes a major group and research project. This is big. HUGE. Ultimately, students will be presenting findings to the class in a 30 minute presentation. To be successful, collaboration my also be successful. Work together toward the common goal. Achieve more than you could by yourself.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Transcending to the test and Dark Romantics

In mid Thoreau and with voting yesterday, I posed Thoreau's statement after our discussion on "Walden": That government which governs best, governs least. Students reacted with their opinions about that thought and applied it to the day at hand. Our "Walden" discussion clarified answers to questions, compared mankind to elements of observed nature, such as the ant battle between ants of two colors, that was brutal (can we say "civil war"?), and spun into provoking comments about man's nature. I liked how Chris put it: man's "refined brutality". Ladybug
The test is moved to this Friday. Students went home to read Thoreau's biography and complete some last questions on "Walden" before we watch the Dark Romantic's, Nathaniel Hawthorne, story, "Rappuccini's Daughter". IF a student misses a day, the text is available on-line from a link on my web page. Here we will see what happens when man tries to play God and control nature. Flowers

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The past few class days have included a great deal of lecture on what Transcendentalism is, from the philosophy, to the religion, to the literary theory. It is a new way of thinking that students may not agree with, but should understand. It truly is a way of thinking that very much still exists today (like all of our other -isms). A modern "transcendental" thinker would be Dr. Wayne Dyer, as well as others like those behind 'the secret'.
Students have worked in small groups on a worksheet on Emerson's "On Nature" (having read it last week individually) and have jigsawed his "Self-Reliance". Wednesday is a pop quiz on "Self Reliance" (main ideas include: trust thyself, non-conformity, society is against the individual, work to your full potential, and to be great is to be misunderstood).
Following that, we'll move into Thoreau's "Walden" selection in the text book. In fact, Thursday is the vocabulary quiz on the list of words and definitions I provided students. I expect that Friday we'll watch a National Geographic video with Leslie Neilson that very much mimics Thoreau. GardeningIt's both gross and beautiful, the essence of nature for transcendentalists, who see all as beautiful if a person is really looking closely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Uncharted Territory...

Here comes the hard stuff: philosophy of sorts.
We are in the middle of Romanticism...the focus on nature for truth, utilizing the 5 I's of Romanticism to get there (to truth) while surrounding by nature. Most of the Romantic literature matches our expectations by being in poem form, but not all ; furthermore, it's not "romantic" like Hallmark. It's full of flowers from nature, not hearts from Hallmark. In reaction to the Rationalists' reliance upon logic, Romantics strove to break the logic barriers and go with their guts. Their literature reflects this.
We read William Cullen Bryant's (yes, he was 16 when writing) poem, "Thanatopsis," and have a Thanatopsis Wheel project due Monday. Tonight, students are reading up on Transcendentalism, an off-shoot of Romanticism, starring Emerson and Thoreau. In a mascot-icon, Buzz Lightyear says it best, "To infinite and Beyond!" Again, all through nature. Tomorrow (sub, Thursday), students will read Emerson biography and "On Nature" selection with questions in the text book to answer. Friday, much lecture information. Part religion, part philosophy, part literary theory, transcendentalism is here. It should hurt to think about; it means you're going beyond your logic boundaries and challenging you pre-conceived concepts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Isn't it Romantic?

Tomorrow I will collect the virtue papers. I will also collect the reading worksheet on the introduction to the American Romantic period in literature during the early 1800s. After the Puritanical truth only by God and many rules, the Rationalists reacted by finding truth from within, using Logic and Reason, and certainly acted against authority when breaking from English rule. Now, we have the Romantics reacting to the logic users by relying on emotions and intuition to find truths. No longer did the settlers stay East; westward expansion had them moving and exploring nature. This is not the Valentine's Day sort of Romantic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Most Important Virtue for Teens Today

After studying Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography", we are exploring his 13 listed virtues that he considered necessary for moral perfection. NOW, which one of the thirteen is most important for teenagers today, in today's society and culture? What is missing in teens and in teens' lives? What do teens need more of? WHY? Are teens missing the virtue and it causes problems? The lack of the virtue bring "bad things"? IF it is the most important for teens to practice now, why? How does it make a difference? Hmmmm?
Each student will write a paper discussing the most important virtue to teens today.
The final draft is due Friday, October 17th. Careful! The week is shortened by a day off and two shortened days.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

“The Autobiography”

Have a question on Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography"? Post a comment here at this post. Feel free to also answer any questions. I will respond to the same question only once, so read the blog comments first!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Age of Reason Rolls Forward

Last night, students were to read and take notes on the background information in the textbook, pages 13-18. Much of it reinforced the lecture information from the class PowerPoint, with some deeper implications and specific details surrounding the generalities.
Tuesday, students will read Thomas Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence" as a piece of literature, analyzing his writing style and specific techniques he used to 'make his point'. We will also examine the edits he made in the process, discussing why he made them, and how they changed the meaning of the document (on Wed.).
Following the small group work on the declaration on Wed., and our consequent discussion, students will read Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography" (such an original title, eh?). We will discuss many aspects, and have a possible pop quiz on the reading.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Final Crucible Days

Ding-Dong the play is done! After taking the part scantron, part essay (in a time efficient, planned manner, much like students will have to do on the ACT) on Thursday, we finished the homecoming week of on Friday with watching the movie, starring Daniel Day Louis and Winona Ryder, an excellent rendition (scripted by Arthur Miller, as well). NEXT WEEK: Age of Reason, with an introductory lecture, reading, and notes, followed by some B. Franklin, T. Jefferson, and T. Paine. After all that rebellion during Puritanism, times shift into organized rebellion in the Age of ReasonUS (time period in literature when revolutions were changing history).

Friday, September 26, 2008


If you have any questions or concerns about your project, please add a comment to this blog post. I will receive email notice and respond ON this blog, under your comment (thus adding another comment). By this, everyone can benefit from the question and clarification.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Today in class we discussed Act IV (after a pop quiz!). Much of what we discussed included change in characters, relationships, and the town since Act I (and what that change reveals), as well as Proctor as a tragic hero. To do this, I spoke on how "The Crucible" fit Miller's definition of a tragedy, which we used in the beginning of the unit.

SCHEDULE change is required and is now as follows:

Act IV mini quiz - Thursday
Act III/IV short answer quiz-Friday
Assessment Test-Monday

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another start to another week: "The Crucible"

This week provides students with many opportunities. Monday was Act III station work, in a packet; Tuesday is the Act III 'mini'-quiz, followed by reading to finish the play. The entire study guide packet will have to be completed, each page, before I collect it later. Thursday is the Act III and IV short answer quiz; Monday the 29th the projects are due; and Wednesday the test will wrap up the unit. For most of us, the play, with all of its injustice and fear-based stupidity, makes us mad. It was has been a part of our country's history a few times. Grrr
Also throughout the week, I will take questions and help on the major, 100 point, in-depth project.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Today was a quiet day in the classroom! Well, once they all settled after the bell it was. Today was the grade-boosting, hopefully, quiz on Act II - - the "mini" quiz. Once students turned them in, they were to read through page 100 and answer questions 1-4 on the Act III study guide sheet in their packets. Tomorrow is the final quiz of the week (the long, last of quizzes).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


In the shortened period, students took the 24 word vocabulary matching quiz. Some did well; others, clearly, need to put more time into preparation for class quizzes. Scores are available on-line. As we move from Act II to Act III and IV, the driving force in the play shifts from fear to incredulous injustice. How could 19 people, without discrimination to age, gender, economic status, or social standing, hang for lies based in fear? Watching history repeat itself evokes only more fear that such injustice continues despite our "knowing better."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Tuesday, we managed much work. After checking homework and discussing Hale's search for truth and Proctor's search for reason, I intimated how fear stops some people from doing what is right. Next we stopped by the Book Fair before returning to the classroom to read the remainder of Act II aloud. Students are to complete two worksheets from today, as directed, as well as the corresponding study guide questions. One of our closing thoughts was doing what's right limitations , or, "it depends" situations.
WhistleTomorrow is the vocab quiz
Thursday is the mini Act I quiz
Friday is the short answer Act I and II quiz


Monday was a working day with reading more of Act II, and completing the accompanying study guide materials. I also asked students to list 5 'things' that have changed since Act I.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Finally ending the week, we discussed the opening scene of Act II between Elizabeth and John Proctor. This all followed yesterday's connections of 1600s witchtrials to 1960s McCarthyism to terrorism today: how do we balance our fears with our sense of right?
Next week , more discussion, more reading, more work, and a vocabulary quiz on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today was a work day. With tomorrow's quiz on Act I fast approaching, students finished reading Act I in class and completed the study guide sheet on the Act and the two worksheets I distributed today. I took questions before and after the work period.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Today we read through page 36 in the play. The study guide, page 2, questions 1-4 , and question 1 on the first page , are to be completed for tomorrow.

Quiz Dates:

Thursday (11th) - Act I only quiz
Wednesday (17th) - vocab list quiz Blowing Bubble
OPEN HOUSE is the 17th , as well, after a shortened school day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week of 9.08.08

Today, we will start reading "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. The study guide and vocab. list go out today, and should be maintained through the assigned reading, automatically and in addition to any other homework assignments with the play. This week we will have a quiz on the portion of the play we've read.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Respond to the following by September 4th at 10:30pm

What is a personal tragedy for you? Please post your comment as anonymous.