Friday, January 31, 2014


Read "Politics and the English Language." Find one other Orwell essay and write a one-page critique of it by applying the criteria Orwell presents in "Politics and the English Language." First, perhaps you should jot down the criteria in a list of three-five things: then apply those criteria in an orderly fashion. Does Orwell meet his own standards?

A schedule is on the door for oral commentaries on February 19, 20, and 21. A-day students, please use shaded slots. B-day students, use unshaded slots (to insure that neither class has a great advantage at seizing all the preferred times).

Monday, January 27, 2014


Please forgive my hurry as I posted revisions to this assignment last night...I believe it's all correct now.

In class today (27/28), we discussed "The Spike" and then did the following wrap-up on "You and the Atomic Bomb":

"You and the Atomic Bomb" -- 1945

Write a one-page reaction to this essay. Consider Orwell's use of the terms "modern police state" (he includes us in that distinction), "trends of history," and "claws to the weak." Consider this too: Orwell writes, "The one thing that might reverse it is the discovery of a weapon— or, to put it more broadly, of a method of fighting—not dependent on huge concentrations of industrial plant." HAS such a method come about? Explain a little. I hope you can finish in class; if not, it's due Wednesday/Thursday along with the "How the Poor Die" work.

For Wednesday/Thursday, read "How the Poor Die." Respond in a page in a way that addresses one of the first three questions and number 4. Then extend in whatever way you think. Bring your completed work to the beginning of next class.

1. What is the worst aspect of the hospital you read about?

2. What level of medical care do the poor, the uninsured worker, and the indigent "deserve"? Think of "deserve" in terms not only of the patients' merits but of society's.

3. Are market forces alone a good way to distribute health care services? Explain your thinking with examples of patients of several types, from the very young to the very old.

4. Read this article and contrast this example of American health care to the care described in "How the Poor Die."

For interested parties, here is a link to Tennyson's "In the Children's Hospital."

Thursday, January 23, 2014


This assignment applies to B-day and is due Monday: for A-day, it will be due on Tuesday:

Read "You and the Atomic Bomb" with a pen in your hand. Mark key points.

Take "The Spike" and number the paragraphs for reference. (I numbered 35 paragraphs). Then compose five interpretive questions. First, your questions should make the responder look down into the text, not up into the sky. Responders should search for text to support their responses: the question should stimulate that search. Second, the questions should also require interpretation and thought; they should not be concretely answerable with a definitive "that's it" response. Third, you yourself should not already know the answer. A few examples follow:

Ex. 1: What advantage does Orwell's description in the first paragraph convey to his purpose in "The Spike"?

Ex. 2: According to Orwell, is poverty the fault of the poor?

Ex. 3: How can you determine Orwell's attitude toward the man he speaks with in paragraphs 20-26? What is his attitude?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Dropittome closes at midnight. Grades then will be entered. Hint for people who don't meet deadlines: I'm not coming back to this grade, EVER!

Naming protocol:


Do a GREAT job on "The Spike" for next class. Orals are approaching in February.

Here is the assessment outline for IB.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


We will work on revisions of the written assignments through Monday. Please do not put anything in the dropbox until it is all the way finished, complete, final, absolute.

Monday, January 13, 2014


We work on written assignments tomorrow! Bring your laptop if you have one and can...

Friday, January 10, 2014


In response to "Down the Mine," write your own one-page essay that reveals your interpretation of some hierarchy that exists in America today.

Read "The Spike." Find in it one descriptive passage that you think stands well as an analogy or metaphor for the state of Britain in the time of Orwell's writing. Mark it an be ready to defend your choice. Circle unfamiliar words.

Bring in your laptops if you have them: we will be revisiting your written assignments one last time before their submission. You might want to think about a scan through the books you used.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


For "A Hanging," complete the following assignment:

1. Mark which paragraphs are predominantly descriptive; then mark which paragraphs are predominantly narrative; then mark which paragraphs are predominantly commentarial; and then mark two or three passages that seem to you the most emotionally charged or even biased. What case is the author making?

2. Discuss the role of these details: the dog, the puddle, the dialogue at the end.
3. What three sense details struck you most forcefully? Explain why.
4. Find two metaphors in "A Hanging." Are they decorative for simple visual appeal (many are) or do they convey and idea or meaning beyond the picture? Explain.

Choose one of the following. Write your pieces clearly and be prepared to present them.

5. a. You're editing "A Hanging" for space. Cut 50-75 words and defend your choice. Mark the edits on your copy and write your defense. Pretend you are making a case to the editor-in-chief, and this essay was your assignment to ready Orwell for publication in your magazine.
5. b. Describe a gruesome scene you witnessed: a robbery, fight, accident, a death. Get 15-20 sharp sense details and a purposeful metaphor into the writing.

Also, read "Down the Mine" and mark passages as predominantly descriptive, narrative, or commentarial.

Monday, January 6, 2014


For Wednesday/Thursday, complete this assignment, which was started in class today:

1. Perambulate about the premises until you find the perfect subject: an object or person you can observe minutely. As an exercise in PAYING ATTENTION, write 150-200 words describing your chosen object or person in perfectly objective language -- but with a theme.
2. In a second paragraph, write your thoughts and develop the theme overtly. Make it explicit -- clear to any moron -- what you implied in the first paragraph.

3. Effectively clench the piece with a final short paragraph that shows what you can do. I'd like to have the breath knocked out of me. (Wouldn't you?) 

Be prepared to read your piece to your classmates when you return. The final step will be to reflect on the experience. Grading will be on observed effort and not on close reading on my part. 

Today, I gave copies of "A Hanging," an essay which is to be read by next class as well.