Friday, December 14, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012


To ensure that your files open on my computer, I advise you “save as: filename.rtf.” An “.rtf” is a Rich Text Format document, and in that format, you can open it almost anywhere.


.pdf is also a good choice.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Read below for the list of poems and the order of presentation. The flipchart page is linked in the November 16 post below.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday: The Basics of Reading a Poem.

Basics of reading a poem:

1. Identify the speaker. What can you tell about the speaker? You may not know a name or gender or anything else, but identify the perspective: poems, at some level, will always have a consistent perspective if they have nothing else. The lines do not drop from the sky but from a perspective.

2. Identify the audience. Often the audience is the general reader, but just as often there is an audience for the speaker within the poem, a person or idea that the speaker addresses. Occasionally, as in Hughes, the audience will be white Americans or black Americans specifically. Determine which, and be clear and consistent.

3. Identify the subject. The subject of the poem is literal and clear. Be sure you recognize it and give it a name.

4. Identify the plot. In a poem, this task can be a little tricky, and the plot, or narrative, might not be very strong or complete, but something happens. What?

5. Identify the big structural components of the poem. Does it have a beginning, middle, and end? How do you know where the poem progresses from one part to another? There might be more than three parts. What does each part do, or what is its function?

6. When identifying structural components, explain how the poem works as it progresses from one part to another. If “God” appears in the first part, and “Lucifer” appears in the next, explain the connection, or how the first part moves into the second with contrast or opposition as one organizing principle.

7. Identify key small structural components. Are there patterns of line length, of repetition, of rhyme? What patterns do you notice at the “micro” level, and if they have an effect you can identify, make that effect explicit and explain.

8. Identify the theme. How does the poem’s concrete language suggest universal abstractions or social commentary? (Social commentary is a poet’s judgment of some aspect of society).

9. Identify the mood. The mood can shift as the poem progresses. A definition of mood and a great many words to describe mood can be found here. Explain how you know the mood using evidence from the poem.

10. Identify the tone. Tone is usually quite consistent. A definition of tone and many useful words for describing it are also here. Explain how you know the tone using evidence from the poem.

11. What part do musical devices (sound devices, like alliteration, assonance, consonance, repetition, internal and end rhyme, caesuras, end stops, line length, meter) play in accomplishing any of the poem's effects? Do not emphasize these without pointing out their effects!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday: Instructor rubric

Here is the "Instructor for a Day" rubric. Please LOOK at this rubric as you prepare.

Here is the list of poems and instructors and their order. I have updated this list to include the numbers for B-day, which had originally been written outside the margins of the flipchart page.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday: Daily rubric

Here is the daily rubric, which I will use to determine 20% of the quarter grade -- along with other daily grades that may come up from time to time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poetry choice for absentees

If you want to claim a poem, email me. See the final list on the earlier post, and you may not teach a claimed poem. A-day claims are in orange, B-day claims are in red.


A-day made poem choices. All choices are shown here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday: Final 20

B-day has finalized the twenty poems by Hughes, and here is the list with each student's choice to teach. "Instructor for a Day" begins on November 20. A-day students may teach the same poem as B-day students.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday: Poetry choices

Here is the flipchart (in .pdf format) with B-day's choices on the first two pages highlighted in yellow. There are twenty of them. On the third page are A-day's choices. The poems both classes chose are highlighted in orange. A-day's other chosen poems are highlighted in yellow.

See, B-day picked twenty, A-day picked twenty, and there were six poems on both lists. Those six are in, no further debate. Twenty minus six equals fourteen. Half of fourteen is seven. Therefore, A-day picked, from its original twenty, seven more poems. Thirteen poems are now in the final list. Now B-day should, from its original twenty, select its seven favorites to complete the final twenty.


Here is today's handout on "Harlem: Whatever Happens to a Dream Deferred?" and "Dreams."

Friday, November 9, 2012


Here is B-day's list of titles from Langston Hughes. The twenty finals are highlighted in yellow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Here is today's markup of Langston Hughes' "Mother to Son." Your homework is to determine which twenty poems you would like to study. Keep a thought on the calendar.

Monday, October 29, 2012


A-day grades are not complete on the report cards. The district office declared that grades should be due at 11 am on the work day rather than at the end of the work day. I will supply you with a printout in the morning if you wish, but about half of you will have an incomplete until I enter a grade change, which I will do as soon as the office says I can. This incomplete will be printed on the report card, but of course the changed grade will be the transcript grade.


Late papers or papers without all the requisite parts (prior drafts and my printed feedback) also ended as incompletes for the quarter. Incompletes for these students are appropriate until I get to them or until they get the missing pieces in place.



Friday, October 12, 2012


For your presentations next week, be sure you meet the rubric criteria!

Here is a good web site instructing you how to compose and structure body paragraphs in literary analysis -- you know, like commentary papers.

Here is a simple guide for constructing paragraphs in literary analysis. The "comment" part can be many sentences long:
1. Topic containing critical concept
2. Transition and set up: provides context for quote.
3. Quote from book punctuated correctly, or a very clear, direct reference to the literary work
4. Explanation and comment: what does your quote prove about your topic?
5. Wrap: last sentence says something worthwhile AND contains a key word from the topic sentence AND transitions forward.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Hope you're having a good day job shadowing (wink). See the post to the right: examine the rubric and see if you can pinpoint problelms or make suggestions on it. (The two-person and four-person rubrics are combined into one .pdf document).Otherwise, use it to structure your presentations. You might need Flash or a computer to see the embedded file. Or you can use the link right here.

Note that there is an element set aside for professional attire.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday -- about due dates and requirements

1. On Monday for A-day, and on Tuesday for B-day, revise your commentary drafts. Your papers are due regardless of other activities such as history tests. Bring me your papers on the due date. Late papers will be docked 20 points, and I do not guarantee in-depth feedback for them. After the due date for the final, the second draft will not receive credit at all.

2. Bring in the entire packet: your first draft, the feedback you received from another student, and the second draft. Put the first draft on the bottom, the feedback in the middle, and the second draft on top. Staple all of it together. Failure to follow this instruction means you have NOT turned in your drafts on time. Failure to staple them together in order, but with all elements present, will result in a 10-point dock for not following the assignment instructions. Why would anyone not do this as instructed?

3. Format your paper according to MLA style. I have a sample paper on the blog. It is a commentary on Arna Bontemps’ “Southern Mansion.” Better yet, you can look up “mla style” and choose “The OWL at Purdue” for a great resource on writing. There is an MLA section that gives examples and explanations, though formatting does not really require a lot of expertise. Just do it as it says. Failure to format according to MLA style, including the use of 12-point, Times New Roman font and double spacing, will result in a 10-point dock of your second draft grade. Express your individuality in the content and thought, not in your font selection.

4. On my end, I will do my best to give you in-depth, personal feedback on each of your papers in a very timely fashion with plenty of time for revision before the final due date of October 22/23.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


For a grade: all students should have their commentary files with them or easily accessible on the web (email, web lockers, Google docs, Dropbox) so that they can work productively during class.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Somebody -- let's call him X for short -- has book #39...

Three of you have still not claimed any text for your commentary.

Here is my suggestion for your introduction:

The beginning should contain the title, the author, the genre, and general comments about setting and subject. It should contain the specific context of the passage you choose: This passage comes from a middle scene when Boy Willie brings a girl home from a night out and Berniece sends her out. It should contain the significance of the scene you have chosen: The extract serves to introduce the need the characters have for love and physical comfort and contrasts Boy Willie’s lively desires with Berniece’s rule-bound, self-restricted behavior. Finally, it should introduce the principles of division you intend to employ: First, this passage employs disruptive sound effects and actions in the stage directions to intrude on the peace of the house. Second, the language of Boy Willie contrasts with the language of Berniece, emphasizing the difference in their views of their own selves and their culture. Finally, the stage’s physical arrangement provides further information about Boy Willie, Berniece, and their relationships to each other and their history.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Hardly anyone from A-day has chosen a passage for commentary. If you simply show up on Friday with a passage, do NOT expect credit. Your parts must be run through an approval process to be sure there are not endless repetitions. Part of the reason for this assignment is to teach each other about various sections of the play. Not everyone can have the first page.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First deadline

First draft of written commentary is due on Thursday 27/Friday 28. Pick your passages and some backups.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Preliminary notice of quarter assignments:
      A. Choose 30-60 lines on which to do a written commentary of 4-6 pages in length (MLA format, Times New Roman 12 point font). No more than two people may do a single extract.
B. Choose one of the following (or devise one of your own) to present in teams of two or four (four people per team simply means you prepare both sides with two "lawyers" per team):

1. Make a case for or against
Boy Willie's rights to the piano
Berniece's rights to the piano
Present with an opposing team in the form of a trial
  • Introductory arguments (generalities that you intend to prove)
  • Presentation of evidence
  • Visual aid to enhance arguments (not to replace or substitute for them)
  • Cross examination of the opposing team
  • Closing arguments

2. Make a case for or against
The piano as blessing
The piano as curse (you may change the dichotomy if you like)
Follow form of trial as above.

3. With a partner, present an argument detailing the roles of dreams, visions, and mysterious monologues in the play. You must present with a visual aid that enhances your argument but does not replace or substitute for it. You must build a case for a purposeful role.

4. With a partner or not, present an argument detailing the role of songs in the play. You must use a visual or audio-visual aid. You must build a case for a purposeful role.

5. With a partner or not, present an argument detailing Berniece's role in the play with regard to her various relationships. You must use a visual or audio-visual aid.You must build a case for a purposeful role.

6. Develop a case on a topic of your own device. You must use a visual or audio-visual aid. You must build a case for a purposeful role. (ghosts, trains, money, burdens, or  others).

Presentation of trials should last for 20-30 minutes. Presentations of roles should last for 10-15 minutes.

If you have wishes or desires to contribute to the rubrics and timelines, think of them for next class (Thursday/Friday). You may also choose parts and teams on those days. These will be the major grades of the nine weeks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

for Thursday/Friday

Revise this passage, an exchange between Lymon and Avery, into correct Standard English. After doing so, think about the difference the change in language would make in the scene.

LYMON:  How you know the rope ain’t gonna break? Ain’t you scared the rope’s gonna break?

AVERY:   That’s steel. They got steel cables hold it up. It take a whole lot of breaking to break that steel. Naw, I ain’t worried about nothing like that. It ain’t nothing but a little old elevator. Now, I wouldn’t get in none of them airplanes. You couldn’t pay me to do nothing like that.

Here are the classwork guiding questions for note-taking:

Act I, Scene 1 (continued)
3. Classify the characters who have appeared so far with a brief description and some evidence of their character cited from the text. (Boy Willie, Lymon, Doaker, Berniece, Maretha, Avery, Wining Boy)

4. What or who are the "Ghosts of the Yellow Dog"?

5. Compare and contrast Boy Willie's attitude toward the piano with Berniece's.

6. How does the allusion at the end of the scene influence your evaluation of Boy Willie's attitude toward the piano?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Today’s class created posters of quotes and discussed “The Social Me,” by William James. No additional work yet assigned. Please join the blog if you have not done so. There are still 24 open invitations. When I make an assignment to post on the blog, some of you will have problems if you do not get them resolved now.

Monday, August 27, 2012


On Friday/Monday, we read “The Social Me.” You are to finish up your three interpretive questions per person by next class. You have turned in your “culture” single drafts.


Please become a member of the blog if you have not done so already. I encourage you to put Dropbox on your smart phones and home computers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blythwood game

Follow this link for live updates of the South Pointe-Blytheqood game:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First day! Wednesday/Thursday

Create a response to the following:
6. What is most important to you about your own culture? How do you keep it going, and how will you pass down this important element of culture to your own children?

Also, find from any source an inspirational, funny, or powerful quote and bring it with you. Be sure to get it exactly right and remember to note WHO said it. We will make wall posters Friday/Monday with your results.

My favorite, so you can't have it:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." – Teddy Roosevelt

Find your greatness and those who can help you reach it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I originally thought our last day before exams was April 30. It is in fact May 1, and you sit for English Paper One on Wednesday, May 2. That means B-day will meet as a class on Tuesday, providing B-day students with one additional day to do the recitations. The explication due date remains April 30 for everybody. ONLY the recitation for B-day has a one-day extension.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


If you do not email me your explications, keep up with all drafts. I want to see that you have addressed my comments.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Let me clarify a little about the "oral commentary" part of your presentation. Of course, you start by presenting all the information that you have on your study guide (only you will not have the guide with you -- you have to know it). You have, as a pair, exactly ten minutes to convey your material.

I give you an extract from one of your poets. You prepare. You MAY use up to six minutes to prepare. You have a TOTAL of ten minutes for this section, so you then have FOUR minutes to fill with meaningful commentary about the extract and the poem it came from. If you really know your stuff, you might prep for four minutes and talk for six. That would be great.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Attention to dates

See your explication dates and note consequences of missed deadlines! No second drafts without the full process of the first draft. Understand this!

Grade Three (40%): complete a thorough, researched explication of one of the poems that is at least twenty lines in length. For poems longer than thirty lines, you may work stanza by stanza rather than line by line. Draw conclusions about the poem based on this close reading.
• Draft one with research sources and at least five lines attempted: March 26, both classes.

• Draft two with complete attempt, typed and formatted, my comments addressed: April 16

• Draft three with my comments addressed: April 23

• Proofread and finalize: April 30

• Graded on deadlines and response to comments. Twenty points deducted for missed deadlines; lost credit for work over a week late.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

See Wednesday's post

If you passively waited until today to send in an explication without arranging which poem to work on with me, I will not proceed with you. The same will hold true for the memory piece if you do not arrange it with me to avoid countless repetitions of “The Mower’s Song.”

Situation at 9:27 pm

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Good luck on your exams. Be sure to sign up for your partner, your poets, and your poems this week! A-day especially needs to secure assignments.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Final nine weeks

Final nine weeks

Grade One, due on April 16 (40%)

50% neat, organized, well-formatted, easily followed study guide submitted to me with the following information:

• your two focus poets

• three focus poems from each (one will be the flagship poem)

• five key philosophical points relevant to each poet and his age (metaphysical, romantic, Victorian)

• clear illustrations of each point with a few lines of his poetry and brief, relevant commentary

• five key biographical points about each of your focus poets that are related to their times and poetry

• three concise, pithy comments from world-class critics about each of your two poets and brief application of your understanding of these comments with reference to poetry

• adequate evidence that you have read all required poems by both poets

50% oral commentary in which you will be required (in buddy groups) to do the following during the week of April 16. Unreadiness when called on constitutes late work:

• Ten minutes for this part:

o identify, contextualize, and explain an extract from each of your poets

o apply knowledge from above (avoiding the biographical approach)

o identify key literary features (metaphor, simile, hyperbole, line length, meter, conceits, structure of entire poem or of extract, and more) and explain their contribution to meaning

o use world-class critics in a useful, pointed, appropriate way

o compare and/or contrast the work represented by each extract to another poem by the same author

o compare and/or contrast the work represented by each extract to the other extract

• Ten minutes for this part: Respond to a question in a fully developed way with reference to the Paper 2 rubric adapted for oral response

Grade Two (20%): due week of April 30 or before.

Memorize, introduce, and perform one poem from the poet you have not researched. You may pair for longer poems and interpret as we did “Prufrock.”

Grade Three (40%): complete a thorough, researched explication of one of the poems that is at least twenty lines in length. For poems longer than thirty lines, you may work stanza by stanza rather than line by line. Draw conclusions about the poem based on this close reading.

• Draft one with research sources and at least five lines attempted: March 26, both classes.

• Draft two with complete attempt, typed and formatted, my comments addressed: April 16

• Draft three with my comments addressed: April 23

• Proofread and finalize: April 30

• Graded on deadlines and response to comments. Twenty points deducted for missed deadlines; lost credit for work over a week late.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More WLA!

See format sample to the right. (Thanks, Augusta!) The works cited page comes from another source, but it shows the right indentation. Send your papers to me by email AND print them.

The cover sheet, the body contents, and the works cited page should be one document with continuing page numbers. Send both the revised WLA 1 and WLA 2 as separate documents.

File naming protocols: Last.First.WLA1.doc or Last.First.WLA2.doc

Your deadline grade will be YES or NO, and it is absolute. Any questions?

Last night at Zaxby's I asked for a side salad. The little girl did not ask for any clarification of any kind. She sent up a house salad, which is huge. I thought to myself, as many of you would, How hard is it to take an order at Zaxby's?

Monday, February 27, 2012


WLA 2s due as finals, ready to package, on March 5. That represents a difference from what I had told A-day because Mrs. Cox says they have to be sent more than a week ahead of the IB due date in the place of assessment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A-day: finish up the Conrad outline and compose a Shakespeare  one. Bring materials and resources for the WLA 2 to work on during class as I confer with individuals.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

for Wednesday/Thursday

Bring in your files to work on WLA 2. I will confer with each of you about your work so far. We’ll prep a Shakespeare passage the class after. Be rereading the longer works such as Heart of Darkness and Macbeth.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Come to class ready to work on WLA 2. It will be a work block for that. Deadliners for the first, I'll see you at our next class meeting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Read "Down the Mine" and choose a 30-40 line section to use as a basis for an oral commentary. Be prepared to defend your choice. Why this section? What do you see in it that makes it a good selection for such a task?

Monday, January 23, 2012


Read "The Spike" and prepare for a practice oral on the assigned passage.

Monday, January 30, B-day performs a self-assessed oral commentary on a new passage chosen by chance that day. Tuesday, January 31, A-day performs a self-assessed oral commentary.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Friday, January 13, 2012


Sign up on the sheet taped to my door for a writing conference about your WLA 2. See note below about what you need to bring.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Finish up the writing piece after the walkabout. Read "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell. What statement does this piece make about empire? In what way, or how, does it make this statement? Do you recognize any symbols? (The symbol must have some consistency -- an elephant can't mean one thing here and another there).

Also, define these three terms in order to understand the differences among them: simile, metaphor, and analogy. Use the most appropriate terms as you discuss "Shooting an Elephant."

Plan on signing up for a time on January 19 to discuss your WLA 2. Have a tentative thesis (or hypothesis) and at least five quoted selections from which you intend to develop your hypothesis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


On Thursday and Friday, we're taking a walk on the wild side. So wear good shoes and bring a coat. (It will be colder Friday than it is today, Thursday!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Since Mr. Galeota is out tomorrow, the whole IB English class will meet in A221 for some prep time for each group before Friday. Bring whatever materials and ideas you think you might need!