Archive for January, 2010



Here’s a quick reminder of our task for tonight:

Complete a first draft of a poem for class tomorrow. It should be a draft and you should be ready to read it to your group. Make sure that it has a clear narrative (point A to point B).

I’m totally looking forwards to hearing what y’all have to say!


Category : 10th Grade | Blog

O'Connor Header

I’ll keep this really short, as I’m updating via iPhone for fun. Here’s what the week looks like.

Tuesday-Thursday: We’ll be in the LibLab/Library Computers working on our analyses of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. You can find all the necessary info here.

Friday: We’ll be splitting our time on Friday into two parts. First, I’ll redistribute your writing from the semester and discuss the last piece of the writing portfolio, the revision phase. Essentially, it will be your job to go back through your writing, revise as necessary, and craft a brief reflection. More info to come ASAP. Second, we’ll discuss the Senior Project notebook, the Journal, and my expectations for next week. In short, I want to see evidence of at least 10 hours already spent on the project by next Thursday.

That’s all for now! More to follow.

Oh! The essay is due on Tuesday at 11:59:59 via

Category : 12th Grade | Blog

After a quick check I have confirmed that this next week is, indeed, week 18. Here’s the skinny on this week, as well as a look forwards into next week as well.

Week 18

Tuesday: After a quick Brags & Bombs I’ll introduce the criteria for our spoken word and poetry slam mini unit. We’ve been reading/listening to a number of spoken word poems and this week you’ll be creating your own. You can find instructions here.

Just to get us started, I’ll be sharing two poems by Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States. The first is a video piece of him reading “Litany” (I’ve included a link below) and the second is a fun piece he wrote called Introduction to Poetry. Check out a link to it here.

Finally, we’ll be brainstorming a list of potential themes for your poems. I’ll post the list here as soon as it is done.

Wednesday: I’ll be sharing another piece, though I haven’t exactly decided upon what just yet. I’m looking for something different, perhaps a Sekou Sundiata piece. The rest of the period will be dedicated to you guys and gals and your small writing groups.

Homework: Make sure to have at least one poem ready for peer editing with the PQP forms that I’ll hand out. Bring in three copies of your poem for the group.

Thursday: Thursday will be dedicated, much like Wednesday, to your small writing groups. As you read your poems for the group, pay special attention to how they are received. Do people seem to relate to them? If so, figure out why. If not, you’d better figure that one out, too. Don’t be afraid to ask serious questions about your own work. It will only help you in the long run.

Friday: More writing, more editing. I’ll try to make myself as available as possible during this time so that if you have any questions you can make sure to ask me after you’ve asked your peers. We also need to assign food for your slam next week.

Week 19

Monday: Monday will be the last day for writing and editing your poems. We’ll also assign/remind ourselves about our obligations for food during the slam.

Tuesday+Wednesday: Poetry slam! There will be food! Prizes! Clowns! Okay, that last one was a lie, but this will be a ton of fun.

Thursday: This will be the final day to turn in any revisions to your writing for the semester. I’ll have a bunch more information on this shortly.

Here’s that great Billy Collins reading of Litany. The intro is hilarious, and helps the poem make a bit more sense.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog


In the mid-1980’s Marc Smith, along with a gaggle of word-wielding friends, began what would become the poetry movement known as Spoken Word. To be honest, the movement isn’t so much a movement as it is a series of related movements– from spoken word to slam to hip hop to, well, forms of poetry that haven’t even been named yet. At its core was, as former poet laureate of the United States Billy Collins said, a desire to free the poems from “the prison cell of the page.” For this reason, we’ll be listening to tons and tons of poets reading their own work as well as writing and performing our own work.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog

Sorry for the late-ish post. I forgot to type this up last night.

A quick reminder that the last day to turn in your Sr. Project proposals is this Friday.

Here’s the week:

Monday: I’ll be distributing Flannery O’Connor’s story entitled A Good Man Is Hard To Find and giving you guys and gals a chance to read through it. We’re going to be beginning a mini-unit on O’Connor and her work, and this story is perhaps her most well known (though, admittedly, not my favorite).

Here are a couple of links for those of you so inclined to learn a tad more about her and her work.

Comforts of Home – This is a pretty complete site detailing her life, her work, and her peacocks. It also has some pretty interesting articles, though not all of them will work for our purposes.

The Dark Side of the Cross – A killer essay about O’Connor, authorial intent, and her spirituality.

Tuesday: After a writing assignment that you can find posted below we’ll be discussing the story and the notion of grace in O’Connor’s writing. The assignment will be collected in class.

Wednesday: I’ll be distributing O’Connor’s classic Everything That Rises Must Converge. In this bizarre tale of a trip to town O’Connor manages to expose our own misgivings about each other. This one is in my top two or three.

Thursday: We’ll be discussing O’Connor’s story after doing a bit of a writing assignment, then transitioning to a short discussion of what I expect on the Proposal for Friday.

Friday: We’ll be working on a jigsaw reading assignment. More to follow shortly.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog


Here’s a short list of poets to check out for your own TPCASTT. Log onto the YouTubes, look up a poet or ten, and pick one that you like. Then, track down the text of the poem, print it, and bring it in. We’ll be working with them on Thursday and Friday, so be sure to do some prep work. For those of you who like lists more, here are step-by-step directions.

1. Pick a poet and look up a poem.

2. Look up or transcribe the poem.

3. Bring in the poem!

The List

Billy Collins

Regie Gibson

Quincey Troupe, Jr.

Kent Foreman

Edward Hirsch

George David Miller

Marvin Bell

Yusef Komunyakaa

Jerry Quickley

DJ Renegade

Tara Betts

Celena Glenn

Kevin Coval

Saul Williams

Jean Howard

Cin Salach

Todd Alcott

Lisa Buscani

Terry Jacobus

Taylor Mali

Sherman Alexie

Andrei Codrescu

Mark Smith

Michael Warr

Brenda Mossy

Michael Kadela

Jack McCarthy

Jeffery McDaniel

Patricia Smith

Beau Sia

Roger Bonair-Agard

Viggo Mortensen

George Watsky

Category : 10th Grade | Blog


Two weeks remain before the end of the semester and we still have plenty to do. We’ll be working more with the TPCASTT tool for poetry analysis this week, reading and listening to more spoken word and slam poetry, and starting work on our own poems for our poetry slam during finals week.

Quick note: Finals week is the week of January 25th.

We’ll also be starting to work on our writing portfolios for the semester. Expect more information on that by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Note: I’d love to post the .mp3 audio of these poems for you, or even the text. But, as they are mostly¬†under copyright, I can’t. Make sure to be in class to see/hear them!

Also, I should point out that an awful lot of spoken word is more about the performance than about the written text– the voice is an instrument here, and therefore just reading it is rarely enough.

Monday: We’ll be continuing our work with the “C” of TPCASTT. As we work on Connotation, I’ll be giving you a few additional tools to use as you dig into the meat of Taylor Mali’s poem My Mother’s Ponytail.

In-Class – We’ll be completing our TPC—T and turning it in.

Tuesday: I’m going to take a chance today and play a poem called First Period, by Kevin M. Derrig. We’re going to be looking at “A” for Attitude and “S” for Shifts.

In-Class – We’ll be completing our TPCAS-T and turning it in.

Wednesday: We’ll take a look at George Watsky’s poem V is for Virgin as we look at “T,” Theme. I encourage you to check this one out– I think it might be the coolest poem we read/watch during this unit.

In-Class – We’ll be completing our TPCASTT and turning it in.

Thursday-Friday: We’ll be listening to a number of poems, all of the spoken word variety. These will, along with the others we’ve seen/heard, serve as examples of what you guys and gals could do next week as we prepare for our own friendly little slam. Stay tuned for more about the work we’ll be doing here.

Category : 12th Grade | Blog


I’m not convinced that tasting a burrito twice is really something that I want to do….

Category : 10th Grade | 12th Grade | Home | Blog

I’ve uploaded the TPCASTT document detailing what, exactly, each of the letters stands for. You can find the document here. Additionally, the documents that we’ll be using next week regarding poetic forms and tools have been uploaded, and you can find them in the 10th Grade Handouts section of the site.

Today we’ll be working on paraphrasing. As we listen to Taylor Mali’s poem How falling in love is like owning a dog we’ll be creating a section-by-section paraphrase of the poem which will help us form a deeper understanding of what Mali is really getting at. If you were absent, you can find a link to the poem on Mali’s website. You’re final product should look something like this:


Category : 10th Grade | Blog

I need to keep this short, so pardon the lack of anything particularly interesting to say.

Monday: After catching up on what I’m sure was a lively two week vacation, I would like to discuss the end of the novel with you all. If you’re absent, here are the two discussion questions:

1. What is O’Brien’s purpose in ending the novel, a novel largely about war, with the story of a girl who died when she was nine?

2. How does this ending connect to the rest of the novel?

Homework: You’ll need to come up with two discussion questions for class on Tuesday. One can be a general question, but the other needs to relate to a theme that you see in the novel.

Tuesday: We’ll be engaging in a seminar on Tuesday around the novel The Things They Carried with the primary goal enlarging our understanding of the novel. Additionally, I’ll be handing out the prompts and rubrics for our final essay on the novel. You can find the link here or in the 12 Grade Handouts section.

Wednesday – Friday: In the interest of speeding up the writing process we’ll be spending the latter half of the week in the Library working on our essays. I’ll be there to help, but be sure to come ready to write. Bring your books, too.

The essay will be due by Friday at 11:59:59 on

Category : 12th Grade | Blog