Archive for November, 2009


I’m listening to The Clash’s classic “Jimmy Jazz” as I finalize this week’s plan, and I’m reminded about how much better The Clash was than just about everybody else in 1979 (and today, honestly). This record turns 30 in two weeks (I have an original copy on vinyl!) and it still rules.

TheClashLondonCallingalbumcover (buy this record)

This is going to be an intense three week stretch. We’ll be reading a bunch. Make sure to allow for enough time to read about 20 pages an evening for the next two weeks, then make enough time to put together a formal essay on Lord of the Flies in the last week before break. I’ll be allowing for some time during class, but make sure to allow for enough time to get the readings done. That said, here’s your week:

Monday: I’ll have a short warm-up for you. It isn’t quite grammar, per se, but it is related. I’ll be posting it immediately after class. Afterwards we’ll be discussing the work on chapter five from last week, as well as taking some time to introduce chapter six.

Homework: Read chapter six and prepare your entry slip for Tuesday (see below).

Tuesday: After another warm-up on word choice we’ll be having a seminar about the relationship between Jack and Ralph, as well as who we think is more powerful within the “tribe.” As an entry slip, make sure to prepare an answer to the following question:

Who do you think has more power, Jack or Ralph? Be sure to include at least one textual citation with commentary to explain your point of view in your answer.

Homework: Read chapter seven.

Wednesday: First, a warm-up on word choice, then we’ll be discussing chapter seven through a worksheet (I’ll post it ASAP). I’ll also be distributing a reading that we’ll talk about on Thursday.

Homework: Read chapter eight.

Thursday: Stay tuned here… I’m working on planning an activity dealing with our supplemental article and chapter eight that should be fun, but I might not be able to pull it off on time. Wait and see.

Friday: I know that this is a reading heavy week, so I want to give you an opportunity to read chapter nine. After a warm-up on word choice. Friday is a reading day, so bring your books, your favorite blankie, and I might bring some cookies. Maybe.

Homework: Finish chapter nine.

One last thought, really quickly. We’ll be finishing the novel next week, so plan accordingly. If you’re behind, this would be the weekend to catch up. If you’re on target, just keep on plugging.


Category : 10th Grade | Blog

And, in other news surrounding the number 12, there are 12 weeks until my wedding. Holy cow. I can’t bring myself to think about how much work I have to do for that. There are still sticks to be painted, wedding bands to be purchased, music to be arranged, flowers to be picked out… I’m becoming increasingly convinced that weddings are absurd. Eloping sounds like the way to go. (Note to self).

None of the preceding is relevant as I have just learned it is not Week 12.

Here’s your week. It is reading and writing heavy, but I hope that it will serve as a time for us to begin to really explore some of the themes and techniques in Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried. Again, if you feel like you’re having a hard time understanding the text, feel free to check out the Sparknotes summaries. While the don’t supplant the reading, they can certainly help you if you’re confused.

Monday: We’ll be discussing the chapter entitled Spin. I’m planning on reading it to you, as it is short, and fairly fun to read. There is a worksheet that accompanies it. I’ll project it during class, but if you don’t finish, you can find it here and in the Grade 12 Handouts section of the site. It will be due Tuesday.

Homework: Make sure to complete the questions on Spin, especially the final analysis part. It will be the entry slip for our discussion on Tuesday.

Tuesday: We’ll start the day with a seminar on the final analysis question from the worksheet for Spin. If you aren’t done at the start of class I’ll be asking you to complete your work in the hallway, and you won’t be eligible to receive credit for the discussion. As we wrap up I’ll be allowing some time to read the next selection.

Homework: Read On the Rainy River. It will be the subject of an in-class writing prompt for Wednesday.

Also, remember that your Slaughterhouse Five essay is due by 11:59:59 on

Wednesday: We’ll be addressing the pivotal chapter On the Rainy River through a writing prompt designed to encourage you to think about Tim O’Brien’s purpose in telling us the story. Remember, being able to identify author’s purpose is one of the best ways to demonstrate understanding of a text. You can find the prompt here.

Thursday: Our writing from the previous day will serve as the fodder for a discussion of the text. We’ll also be having an interesting conversation about the nature of a little thing called “truth.” That’ll be interesting.

Homework: Read How to tell a true war story. This might be the most important chapter in the novel.

Friday: Naturally, we’ll be discussing the reading from the previous evening after exploring our own thoughts through a guided writing prompt that I will be collecting. You can find it here.

Homework: Read Sweatheart of the Song Tra Bong.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog

Apologies for the late, late post. I’ve been wedding planning all weekend. And playing pedal steel. On this super-short Thanksgiving week, I thought that a brief reflection on Thanksgiving would be appropriate.

First, it is worth noting that there has been (recently) a body of research to suggest that the meal we remember with Pilgrims dining at Plymouth Rock was not the first time that a European sat down with Indians (which is what my Cherokee grandfather went to the grave calling himself). Second, most of what we know about Thanksgiving is crap. Mostly revisionist history, which is ironic because that label has been stamped upon all those seeking to set the record straight. Ok, enough proselytizing. Here’s your week.

Monday: We’ll be jumping back in to Lord of the Flies with a worksheet designed to address the first part of the readings for the week. You can find the assignment here. We’ll also have a short warm-up dedicated to comma usage.

Tuesday: Part two of our work for the week will focus on chapter 5. I’ll be posting the assignment on the 10th Grade Handouts section of the site shortly. Again, we’ll be reviewing comma usage as a warm-up.

Wednesday: Comma Day! We’ll be playing a couple games, watching a video (and trying desperately to correct its grammar), and generally making merry. Happy Thanksgiving.

Homework: Log in to by 11:59:59 PM on Wednesday and turn in your Hero’s Journey Essay.

Category : 10th Grade | Blog

Ah, the golden week. Okay, I admit it, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as “the golden birthday,” but this week is golden just the same. We’ll be starting our second novel of the year, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. It is a complex novel about war, remembrance, and the challenges soldiers face. Additionally, like Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five it challenges the way we read a text. First off, it is a novel. Read: it is fiction. Yet, like S5 it blurs the lines between reality and fiction in some very interesting ways. That said, here’s your week:

Monday: We’ll be checking out The Things They Carried then watching a short film on the Vietnam war. I want to help you picture the places that this war is about, and Vietnam in a very complex, layered place. It is simultaneously lush jungle, stunning beaches, thick marshes, and soaring mountains. I hope this film will also help to give us some (small) understanding of the political context of the war. I’ll have a bunch of links up later this week.

Homework: Read chapter 1 entitled The Things They Carried

Tuesday: We’ll be discussing chapter 1 and its major themes, including that of physical and emotional burdens. Check out the Sparknotes page on the subject– it is quite informative.

Homework: Read Love. (It’s chapter 2).

Wednesday: On this last day before Thanksgiving we’ll be talking about love. Well, sort of. We’ll be talking about loves lost, relationships squandered, and how we deal with them. This seems more appropriate for Valentine’s Day, but we’ll manage.

Homework: Log in to by 11:59:59 and turn in your Slaughterhouse Five essay.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog

All- This may not post quite right, as I am writing from my iPhone, but I wanted to let you know that the Hero’s Journey essay is not due until next Wednesday, immediately prior to Thanksgiving.

Category : 10th Grade | Blog


Here are the Lord of the Flies worksheets for the week. Check back later tonight for an updated section on Lord of the Flies, complete with analysis and some additional resources.

Chapter 2 Worksheet

Chapter 3 Worksheet

Category : 10th Grade | Blog

Apologies for the lack of a definitive week number. I received an email from Mr. Schwab today in which he claimed that we had begun week 9. I’m pretty sure he’s wrong, but who knows? And I’m not going to argue with my principal 🙂

Here’s the week. It is reading heavy, so make sure to bring your book to class everyday.

Monday: I’m going to read a bit more of the novel Lord of the Flies for y’all, then give you some time to read yourselves after introducing some of the novel’s major themes. We’ll also review the episode of the Simpson’s (Das Bus) as we discuss these ideas.


1. Read through page 48 for class on Wednesday.

2. Make sure that your “Dirty/Pretty” drafts of our Hero’s Journey essay are ready to go for Tuesday.

Tuesday: Today is a peer editing day! There will be a specific process to go through and you’ll be turning in your edits, so make sure you have printed it out before class.

Wednesday: We’ll be discussing chapter 2 from LotF and working on a worksheet designed to have you start thinking about some of the novel’s major themes. Here’s the worksheet. Print it.

Homework: Read through page 58 in LotF.

Thursday: We’ll have another worksheet, this time based on chapter 3. Again, I’ll post it as soon as I have a better idea which way we’re going for class this week.

Friday: In keeping with our development of our on-demand writing skills, there will be an in-class writing prompt on Friday. Come in, sit down, write for 40 minutes. Super easy.

Homework: Read through page 94 in LotF.

Category : 10th Grade | Blog

I’ve done it again. I’ve managed to have a timetable in my head that in completely insane. Apologies. Consequently I’ll be changing the due dates for our Hero’s Journey Essay.

Please come to class on Tuesday, November 17th, with your “Dirty/Pretty” draft. (A typed rough draft). You will need it to receive peer feedback, which I will be grading you on. You will also receive the breakdown for how I’m grading this particular essay.

The final draft will be due on Friday, November 20th. Please log in to and submit your essay before Saturday officially begins. All late work will be docked an automatic 10 percent.

We’ll be starting Lord of the Flies tomorrow. Should be a ton of fun. (Bring a blankie, if you want. I’ll be reading to y’all).

Happy Friday.

Category : 10th Grade | Blog


It is pretty clear to me that our time with the graphic organizer for our hero essay needs to be extended. Rather than ask for a 1st draft of the essay for Thursday, I would like to go over the completed graphic organizer. I’ll be collecting them, so make darn sure that they’re done for class.


Category : 12th Grade | Blog

10 weeks down, 7 billion to go. Or something like that.

All joking aside, I need to say something: The end should be in sight. I understand that this is scary. But you need to start thinking about the fact that in a mere 30-some weeks you’ll be graduating. So ask yourself this: What do I need to do between now and then to make sure I’m good to go?

Scary, isn’t it?

Here’s the week.

Monday: First, I’ll be re-distributing your Proposals. I am done dedicating class time to them, but will still look at them under the following conditions:

1. You have somebody else (your advisor) look at it first.

2. You come during tutorial.

Good? Good.

We’ll also move towards discussing the Notebook, but not for a week or so. I want to teach English.

Monday will also be a reading day. I’ve done a poor job allowing you to get reading done in class, and need to do something about it. Bring your copies of S5.

Tuesday: Dance Party. (That’s a lie). We’ll actually be watching an excerpt from a PBS documentary about the experience of foot soldiers during WWII in order to get a better idea of what Vonnegut went through and what it meant to be on the ground in Europe. I think this is valuable for two reasons: first, it gives us a better sense of why Vonnegut feels as strongly as he does about Dresden. Second, it helps us start to ask some serious questions about proportionality and WWII. There’s a worksheet that goes along with it, and you can find it here.

Homework: Read through Chapter 9 in S5.

Wednesday: No School. Thank a veteran. I’ll be calling my little brother to thank him for his service. Politics aside, to be willing to die for us is freaking incredible.

Thursday: After reviewing our film experience, I want to allow for a bit more time to read. You need to be through chapter 9 for class, as there is a writing prompt that you need to have read through chapter 9 to discuss.

Friday: Think I lied about wanting to give you more time to read? Here’s the proof that I didn’t: Friday is all about finishing the novel S5. Bring your books. Pretty please.


Category : 12th Grade | Blog