Thursday, December 15, 2011


Don't forget your question on "Preludes" under the Tuesday post. Also, note the "enduring product" portion of the assignment for January 6. That means a video, a whiteboard lesson, a powerpoint, a piece of student-created art, a set of screenshots -- something that will contribute to how we study for the Eliot chance on the oral commentary AND that will contribute to next year's students.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Prepare a lesson with your small group for January 6 that will teach us something new about Eliot's "Preludes."

Typed plan with
1. objective
2. plans to meet the objective: activities, handouts, shows, demonstrations
3. an enduring product to contribute to a legacy on this subject
4. a rational, thoughtful, specific, and fair rubric for me to assess you with
5. a way to assess the learning of the class

You have between 10 and 15 minutes. Otherwise, you are pretty free.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


B-day, read "Preludes" and post one question below. Ambitious A-day students can jump right in there as well, but you'll have to find the poem in the "EliotPack" to the right.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Find one snippet about Guy Fawkes that no one else is going to find and bring it in with you to the next class.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Read or re-read "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Read all of it, but focus your thinking during and after reading on paragraphs 9 and 17. How does Eliot challenge your thinking about art and poetry in these paragraphs? Can you explain what these paragraphs mean -- what is the emotional content of poetry, according to Eliot? How do these paragraphs affect how you read "Prufrock" or "The Hollow Men"?

As you know, the entire text of "Tradition and the Individual Talent" that we will discuss is embedded on the right side of this page.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


For Thursday/Friday, revise and develop your commentary; type and format it. Keep up with all drafts and the feedback.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


For Friday/Monday, again look at the first four paragraphs of "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Focus on paragraph 4 and write two honest interpretive questions about the material.

Write a commentary (by hand if you wish -- this is a draft) on the stanza from "The Journey of the Magi." Remember that every technique and method has a purpose. If you notice an allusion, first point it out and then explain  (why Genesis and Revelation, why birth and death in the same poem?)  its effect on the overall communication of the poem.

Monday, November 28, 2011


For Wednesday/Thursday, do two things:
1. Look at the little stanza about vegetation in "The Journey of the Magi" and mark every biblical allusion you recognize. Look up (in a Bible of your own or online, perhaps at any word or image that you THINK might be an allusion. Write your findings in the margins of a copy of the poem.
2. Read the first three paragraphs of Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent." Focus on the third paragraph and write out three clear, honest questions about it.

You can follow the above links for Google doc versions of each piece, or you can download "Eliotpack" from the right. It has all of these pieces in it.

Monday, November 14, 2011


II have made the preparation document public (it was not before). You should be able to open it or download it now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Two new documents are embedded to the right of the page: a rubric for the dramatic interpretation of "Prufrock" and a planning guide that you should look at and complete after giving some thought to what you are going to do.

Check again later. I'm getting some ideas up here in Beantown.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


After viewing the assassination of Duncan, write about a page for sharing in class (not a PAPER, but a written response) on one of the following ideas. Think of how the movie's choices communicate something from the play:

  • hands, as highlighted in the scenes immediately after the assassination

  • Lady Macbeth's faint

  • the role of Macduff as he knocks and as he enters and exits Duncan's may consider H of D as you respond

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I thought we had some very strong performances today. Congratulations and thanks.

The written commentaries are looking a little thin, however. To start, ask yourself, 'What is the author doing with this scene? What is its purpose, and how does the author accomplish that purpose?" The characters are simply tools and have no importance in and of themselves: they communicate something. What is the author communicating, and why this way in this particular extract?

Then, recognize the sentence as the basic unit of logic. Each one must make sense and transition logically (in time, space, and meaning) to the next. Finally, use these sentences to construct one paragraph at a time. Write good paragraphs. That's important. It's not about dashing off sacred genius thoughts. It's about figuring out a tough problem and explaining it to someone else.

Then look at this model for body paragraphs:

Hypothesis (or topic sentence; it should include a word suggestive of WHY the author chose the methods he did).
Evidence from the text (quotes or very close references)
Analysis of component parts of the quoted text (break it apart and look at how each piece functions to do the WHY of the hypothesis. You are looking at sentence and paragraph structure; word choice (diction); figures of speech; temporal and spatial arrangements and changes; punctuation; ANYTHING that signifies.
Evaluation of the analysis and connection to what has come before. No randomizing here; every piece contributes to some overall effect (theme, character, mood, tone (try looking up the difference between tone and mood if you insist on not listening)). All the analyzed parts work to communicate something. What? Answer, on the paragraph level, SO WHAT?

Now look back. I called the first sentence a hypothesis. Does your evidence support it? If not, go back and modify it. You are not ramming a thesis through the text, or cramming evidence into the Procrustean bed of a thesis, but you are testing your way through the text to find out what hypothesis the evidence can support. Then double check to make sure you make sense, sentence by sentence from beginning of the paragraph to the end.

Conclude the multiparagraph commentary by making meaning of the entire extract and how it fits within the whole work. Connect up as many loose ends as you can. If you are deliberate and logical, and don't hurry just to dash something down, you will enlighten yourself through this process. Plus, your paper and your score will be MUCH BETTER!

You have to work to get anything. If you don't do something, nothing will happen.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Since the college day will interfere with individual performances for A-day on Wednesday, those performances are rescheduled for Monday, as they were originally.

Have fun at the ball game...GO STALLIONS!

(Just kiddin'.) (Not about the Stallions).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


OK OK OK. I'm the soft one.

See calendar update.

Monday, October 17, 2011


See the individual rubric to the right. Note that performance and commentary have equal weight. See the descriptors as you prepare. I will apply it as it is written. If you spot problems or have suggestions, post as a comment or email me.

October 20-21: individual parts
October 24-25: group skits

The group rubric is also to the right. It is beneath the individual rubric and is far more simple.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Discussions led us to declare due dates of October 20-21 for the memory pieces and October 24-25 for the skits.

The calendar has been updated.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday, Part Deux

Are you remembering the blog assignment?

See below (Wednesday) for the next big assignment. Meanwhile, look at the following responses and vote on the right for the one you think is the best IB answer. We'll discuss your responses in class.

A. There are two pictures, one of Willert and one of a stone idol. It is a much darker image than at the beginning of the movie, which has fire in the background. There is a sound over it all: "The horror. The horror." The idea has changed completely from when all Willert wanted was a mission.

B. The image communicates the transition of power from Kurtz to Willert through Willert's killing Kurtz. It also shows the harsh effects of the river and the jungle and how they change the personalities of Willert and the other soldiers. It shows how Willert has changed, but also how he leaves and does not want to stay in the jungle and assume the role of a new Kurtz when he knew it was possible. It is obvious that, though he sides with Kurtz over the army, he does not want to stay and become Kurtz.

C. The visual shows how the war went from the soldiers all the way to the native culture and that it affected all and how they could never truly be meshed together.

D. It looks as if Willert has become Kurtz, and they also show a stone idol which strengthens Willert's tranformation into Kurtz because Kurtz was an idol to his people. Also, compared to the opening credits, Willert has face paint on and knows the effect of his journey on him.


As assigned in class:

  • Students must, as singles or as pairs, choose from Macbeth a monologue of at least 20 lines for singles or 40 lines for pairs to memorize. Each group (or individual) should choose from Act 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 in sequence until every act is covered by at least one group. Performance groups are not to let their scenes overlap, and the beginning, middle, and end of the play should be represented.
  • When the speech is memorized, it is to be performed in front of the class. The performance should include
    • An intro that contextualizes the speech and explains its importance to the meaning of the play as a whole.
    • A fluid demonstration of memorized lines.
    • A review, after the main performance, of the scene in a line-by-line fashion that thoroughly investigates every image and figure of speech, connecting them to meaning. The speaker should re-recite two or three lines, and then stop to explain them thoroughly, so that a fifth grade CP student could understand it AND so that a scholar could recognize the speaker’s insight. That is, be critically astute but plain-spoken in explanation.
    • A written commentary on the same scene to be turned in on the day of the performance.
    • The tentative date for performance is October 12 and 13. I will further discuss this date with you if there are known conflicts.
  • Also, form larger groups of four and ADAPT a complete scene from the play – the way Apocalypse Now adapts Heart of Darkness. Use new language to suit a new time and place. The adaptation should emphasize at least one motif from the original play. Actors may hold a script – it does not have to be memorized. This scene should be about ten minutes in length, and the actors should be ready for an interview about their choices after the performance. The tentative due date for this performance is October 18 and 19.
If you have questions, post them as comments here and I will answer in another comment.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Write one or two fully developed paragraphs in response to one of the following prompts. Post your responses as comments below this post. Interact with each other's thoughts. The deadline is class time Wednesday/Thursday.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Review the handout and try to be familiar with the speeches mentioned. I will not hold you to any written responses because the page numbers are incorrect. I think they must be from the previous edition of the textbook). Apologies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Finish the Act III guide and prepare for reading discussions or quizzes next class period. B-day has the guide; A-day gets it Thursday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Ok Ok. No assignment for next class. Sorry. Click your choice in the poll to your right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


With B-day, we'll hear Act I homework information and begin the movie if we get that one missing permission in. If not, we will have a reading quiz and begin another assignment on Acts 2 and 3.

Keep reading Macbeth -- finish the play by Tuesday/Wednesday.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Remember those permission forms!


For Wednesday/Thursday, read Acts 2 and 3.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Group 1 assignment: Read Act I.1.1-11 and I.3.1-75. From these lines, draw inferences about what powers the witches possess. Also, what are the limits of their powers? How, exactly, from these lines, do you know?
Group 2 assignment: Read Act I.2.1-55. Mark and explain images of equivocation or of things being in precarious balance. Then focus tightly on lines 25-34 as the Bloody Captain (or Sergeant) speaks. Explain, line by line and word by word, what this passage means and what it implies about the play and about Macbeth.
Group 3 assignment: Read Act I.3.38-152. Contrast Banquo's reactions to the witches with Macbeth's reactions. Focus tightly on lines 120-142, Macbeth's soliloquy. Explain, line by line and word by word, what this passage means and what it implies about the character of Macbeth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


For Thursday/Friday, bring in your permission forms and read Act I of Macbeth and Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave."

Monday, September 12, 2011


Remember the files of the WLA 1 paper! See naming protocol below.

John and Grant: something is awry. No email from you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Written commentaries Friday and Monday...Prepare!

WLA 1 due with the peer feedback Tuesday/Wednesday with a revised version given to me electronically. Naming protocal:


Thursday, September 1, 2011


I uploaded a new passage for discussion. It is on the right side of the blog and is labelled "9.1 Passage for comment." B-day should respond by Sunday midnight (Sept. 4) and A-day by Monday midnight (Sept. 5). Grant volunteered to start us today, so you can work anytime between today and the deadline.

1. Engage the previous entries in the discussion thread: be specific in your reference to it.
2. Use one or more of the following critical terms correctly in your comments: narrator, digression, allegory, ambiguity, connotation, diction, irony, metaphor, paradox, satire, or tone. You may also use others of your own choosing (Of course!). Look these terms up and make efforts to understand them.
3. Write one interpretive question (one that requires us to look at the text itself and create an interpretation of its meaning) to prompt future thoughts on the passage.
4. Develop your thoughts clearly. You are not required to apply your critics. You MAY do that, but focus tightly on the passage provided. Quote from and interpret its style, on the ways Conrad creates his effects and complicates or clarifies meanings. Try to get the passage all over your hands in this response. Do not try to sound pretty. Be clear. At the same time, do not be afraid to experiment with your thinking. Clear language HELPS you to lead you to new thinking -- it really does...I promise.

I would write in Word and then copy it to the blog to keep from losing big blocks of material when the internet flickers. Comment here under Thursday's post.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The future holds this: see the calendar. In addition to the critical essays you present, read both Watt (349) and Brantlinger (386). Focus like a laser on what they have to say about Conrad's style. If one of these critics is your assignment for presentation already, read the other one and at least one more criticism.

I am grading blog posts strictly on fulfillment of requirements with a bonus for really thoughtful entries. I am grading the discussions on fulfillment of requirements. Be clear and focused about your three main points. I will not grade your written commentary until you convince me you have read the novel, and you better hurry up and do that. I'm here before and after school, you know. I will then assess the commentaries with the IB commentary rubric available from the IB Handbook posted to the right.

Keep an eye on your WLA 1 revision!

These scheduled events develop your grade on Heart of Darkness and complete the progress report period.

Monday, August 29, 2011


CORRECTION: WLA 1 is due, file and paper, on Tueday/Wednesday, September 13/14. Sept. 13 is an A day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Reminder: As you bring in your WLA 1 files, be sure they are saved as something compatible with MS Word 2003. Use the drop down "save as type" box and click .doc or .rtf. Documents saved as .docx and .xml do not look right when opened with school computers. WLA 1 revisions will be due September 14.
Now, the assignments for Monday/Tuesday:
A. Read your selected criticism. Note its three main points and compose five good questions on a selection of your choosing from Heart of Darkness that will help others see those main critical points. Confer with your partners about the selection and questions; talk over the implications of the critic's essay. Present your points and lead a short discussion of your selection Monday/Tuesday.
B. Read the passage posted to the right and dated 8.25. Then read all comments from your classmates in this thread. Post here, as "comments" on this assignment posting (Thursday, August 25), a commentary on it. Include a reference to the student who has posted just before you (extend or argue one of her points); an interpretive question on the passage (perhaps based in your critical reading) that will prompt thoughts from your classmates; and an application of some idea from your critic (be sure to acknowledge the critic by name). Develop your thoughts clearly. You may consider speaker, tone, imagery, diction, figures of speech, style, structure, and progression of ideas in the passage. I would write in Word and then copy it to the blog to keep from losing big blocks of material when the internet flickers. Everyone should have an entry posted by Saturday midnight for A-day and Sunday midnight for B-day, or you will be charged a late fee. Think hard and write clearly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


See Tuesday's post for your assignment. Check Parent Portal to see your grade if think you might need to retake the Part 3 quiz.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Bring in your WLA 1 files to work on in class. If you want a retake for H of D reading quiz one, two, or three, come prepared Thursday/Friday.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Finish Heart of Darkness for next class (Tuesday/Wednesday).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Read Part II. Firm up your choices about WLA 2: rank three sets of options in case the first choice is not available.

Monday, August 15, 2011


For Wednesday (A)/Thursday (B), read Part I of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Bring in your WLA 1 as a file and as a paper copy for revision. Bring your handout "The Social Me" by William James. Begin thinking about the works on which you would like to base your WLA 2.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Remember that the explication is to be a full attempt. It should be finished and formatted and documented. If it is not complete on time, you lose 20%. If it is not finished in one week (excepting the break, of course) you get no credit, which in these strange times means you make a 40. Still, you must HAVE a second draft with my feedback before turning in the THIRD draft. So you can't get around it. Be sure to show that you addressed my previous comments from the first draft, and turn in the old draft with the new one (so I can check that you have addressed my comments without having to dig up the comments on my computer).
Too many drafts are coming in partial or oddly formatted. Use MLA style. You might have to rearrange some DISCUS citations to fit MLA. I don't know what style they are using that puts the title first, but we use MLA.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Sometimes, you know, with advanced students, I just make assumptions. When you write your slightly researched explications, do not google up any random dude in cyberspace and quote him as if he knows something.

Command one: If you do not go to the library and use some of the critical resources there, go to DISCUS and look for your poem on "Literature Resources from Gale." These sources are valid. Nameless goobers from the internet are NOT valid sources. Stop resisting doing things right.

Command two: Create, right now, your works cited page. Create it the right way. DO NOT copy up some urls and paste them into your paper as if that constitutes citing a source. If your internet source has no author, editor, or sponsoring organization, it is NOT a valid source. Try DISCUS. It doesn't hurt at all. Use MLA style. Don't know what that is? FIND OUT! It's easy. Try the OWL at Purdue.

Command three: Make unmistakably clear which thoughts in your explication are yours and which are from a published critic. Unmistakably clear.

Have you not done research and used reliable, valid resources before? COME ON HERE!

See Megan B. if you need to know how to do an in-text citation and use a critic properly. See Elicia if you want to know, just flat out, how this is done, top to bottom, with works cited.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Check calendar and receive assignments for last nine weeks. This nine weeks will conclude on March 22 and will contain the revision of the Orwell pieces and the "Coy Mistress" group commentary.

Friday, March 4, 2011


For Tuesday/Wednesday, hand write your section about the poem.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wednesday and Thursday

Oral commentaries, LIVE! Be ready, and good luck...

Friday, February 18, 2011


I will see all of you for Monday's trial oral commentary.

Your WLA 2 is due on February 28, electronically in WebLocker and hard copy to me. Format exactly as last year's WLA 1. Have access to your files EVERY CLASS DAY between now and February 28.

The real oral commentaries will be March 2 and 3. Watch for schedule posting on my door.

From there, I will begin working with you with the material for the final IB exams.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


B-day, please refresh your reading of "Down the Mine." We will discuss it in class Thursday based on YOUR five interpretive questions.

Also, remember the five common traits of Orwell's essays that you are to discern from "The Spike" and all previous essays.

You will receive "Shooting an Elephant" and the remaining essays Thursday.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Read "The Spike" and figure out five literary features that are common to all the Orwell essays. List them on paper and mark up a section on that basis. We may also return to "Down the Mine."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


WLA 2 drafts for B-day Wednesday. Bring walking shoes and coats to class Thursday/Friday. We'll go on a little expedition. Also, keep WLA 2 materials handy at all times so that you can work on the big kahuna whenever there is a spare moment and a rack of computers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


For Friday/Monday, complete revisions and bring in WLA materials to work in class.

Monday, January 24, 2011


For Wednesday/Thursday, read George Orwell's "A Hanging" and choose a short passage to parse. Present in class.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


For Monday/Tuesday's assignment, use "Lastname.Hollow.doc" as file naming protocol. Put papers in "Hollow Men" folder in Web Locker. Exactly one double-spaced page with no header (your name is in filename). If you cite the critic, simply use his name: "As Grover Smith suggests, the poem has a great deal of convergence with Heart of Darkness." In this case, do not make a Works Cited page. We all have the critical essays.


Lots of no-shows in the Web Locker for WLA 1. That's a graded deadline.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Click here to go to School Web Locker, where you can store your documents for the rest of the year. It is like Dropbox but I can access it, so it is a good place to put schoolwork. You can access it from anywhere through the internet. It does not have that great desktop folder like Dropbox, but you can see its usefulness.

Turn in your paper FINAL final WLA 1 at the start of your next English class period. Place your electronic file of FINAL final WLA 1 in Dropbox by midnight on the due date.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Looking at calendars makes me want to vomit, so what can I say when the schedule gets changed on me? B day class, have your final final on Wednesday. A day, have your final final on Wednesday also.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


For Monday, bring in any revisions you have made on WLA 1. It is due on Tuesday/Wednesday in its final final form. Also for Tuesday/Wednesday, read the Eliot essays and report on them and how they relate or explain "The Hollow Men."

Friday, January 7, 2011


Bring a file copy of your WLA 1 to class on Monday and Tuesday. We will work on them during class, and I will show you a couple of ways to make use of Word to proofread.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Bring in WLA 2 plans on Wednesday/Thursday. You will receive a handout to help with this. Be prepared to discuss and defend your ideas.