Friday, February 28, 2014

kudos: february

Congratulations to the following students on their college admissions, scholarship wins, and amazing accomplishments!

Paige Logan (Admitted to Cal Poly SLO/Political Science, San Diego State, CSULB)
Alex Hunter (Admitted to CSULA, Cal Poly Pomona, Fresno State)
Malik Pope (Admitted to San Jose State)
Erica Marquez (Admitted to San Jose State)
Summer Morgan (Admitted to CSULB)
Daniel Rucker (Santa Maria Elks' Club Scholarship)
Gabi Pereverziev (Admitted to Sonoma State)
Amanda Cagle (Admitted to Arizona State University)
Jake Hoffman (Admitted to CSULB, Stanislaus State, CSUN)
Ashley Hong (Admitted to CSULB)
Miranda Nillo (Admitted to St. John's University with $18k/year scholarship; admitted to CSULB; admitted to San Diego State University; admitted to University of Pacific with $6k scholarship)
Becky Aldrich (Admitted to UC Irvine)
Serena Nichols (Admitted to SDSU, Arizona State University with $12k/year scholarship)
Sarah Stevens (Admitted to CSULB)
Kendall Villa (Admitted to Cal State Monterey Bay)
Micaela Hellman (Admitted to CSULB and CSUSM)
Marisol Duarte (Admitted to San Diego State, UC Riverside, CSULA; Dell Scholarship semifinalist)
Taylor Duguran (Admitted to Cal Poly SLO)
Bailey Wineman (Admitted to Cal Poly SLO)
Izamar Diaz (Admitted to UC Riverside)
Annette Sousa (Admitted to University of La Verne, Cal Poly SLO)
Kristen Crockett (Admitted to Cal State Monterey Bay)
Elisia Estrada (Admitted to San Diego State, Sonoma State, CSULB) 
Becky Aldrich (Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce Scholarship)
Meghan Martella (Admitted to Cal Poly SLO/Civil Engineering)
Sarah Stevens (Admitted to San Diego State)
Micaela Hellman (Admitted to San Diego State)
Jenna Noce (Admitted to Cal Poly SLO)
Allyson Brown (Awarded Full Tuition Scholarship at Ohio Wesleyan University)

If I missed anyone, or if you've done something amazing since I posted this, please let me/us know in class or comment below.

february 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" by Edith Piaf; "No Regrets" by Tom Rush]-- [UPDATE/HACKED BY WEATHER (AND MELISSA/ALLYSON): today's tunes now "Riders on the Storm" by The Doors & "Singing in the Rain" by Gene Kelly-- honorable mentions for "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage & "Walk Between Raindrops" by Donald Fagen]

As Alexander Graham Bell observed, "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."  What doors are open for you right now?  What opportunities do you have to take a positive step in the world that leaves a valuable footprint in this community?

1. Journal
2. ...

novelist wants feedback

This just in:

If you're interested, you can visit Jon's blog by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

february 27

What do you need?

1. Journal
2. Masterpiece (list) theater
3. Teach me.

1. Resource/vocab
2. Recruit 20 peer followers to your network (faces/avatars should be on your blogs by Monday 3.3)
3. Identify 5 potential experts who can serve as role models and/or endorse your work (post under title SUPER 5) by Monday 3.3
4. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due TOMORROW
*[UPDATE: Please read Brave New World Chapters 8-9 for tomorrow.]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

february 26


Tomorrow morning you wake up to discover that you are utterly alone.  (This is a familiar premise that narratives from "Twilight Zone" to "28 Days Later" have used.)  There are no neighbors, relatives, passersby, zombies-- absolutely no one.  What will you have to learn to survive?  How will you determine the value of what you learn without someone saying "good job" or giving you a grade?  Assume nothing and take nothing for granted: explain your next moves in detail.

1. Journal
2. MGOTM [1]: Brave New World
  • Discuss Chapters 5-7
  • Confirm your understanding of plot points, thematic implications, evidence of tone, and characterization
  • Identify literary techniques as you see them (this is a cheap and easy way to review for the midterm).  For starters, focus on the narrative structure of the chapters and the figurative language/symbols Huxley uses.
3. MGOTM [2]: Team [Your Name Here]
  • Get to know everyone in the room and discover what they're working on.
  • Find ways to share content, experiences, contacts, and skills.
  • Identify five people as your "go to" support system (Note: you will eventually include Members in all 608 classes, but start with people in your class today)-- this will become the core of your peer network.  Besides providing immediate help and reinforcement, it will give you a foundation to work with as you expand.
  • Consider what/who else you need in your network
  • Take notes on it all so you can do the HW easily (or simply write your notes on a device and upload in a post to your course blog)
1. (To think about out loud during the period, due Monday 3.3) Per yesterday's conversation, please find and document three resources that will help you on the path toward your Masterpiece.  Tell your blog readers where you looked (and why), what you found, what makes the resource credible/insightful, and how it helps you think and move forward. 
2. In a post entitled MY TEAM, publish your thoughts from class today.
3. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due this Friday, 2.28 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

february 25

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Join Together" by The Who; "Baby, We Better Try To Get It Together" by Barry White; "With a Little Help From My Friends" by The Beatles]

Today the focus is on collaboration.  As you think about the direction your masterpiece is headed, what additional skills/talents/resources would help you?  What skills/talents/resources do you have that might help someone else?

1. Journal
2. 10, 9, 8...
3. MGOTM: planning the next 1.5 weeks

1. Check out Expository Composition's masterpiece gallery
2. 1. Post your LAUNCH [Your Launch is the formal, polished version of the thinking you've been doing for the last 2 weeks.  Recipe: start with your answers to those six questions; stir in the feedback you've gotten in class and on your blog; cook until the idea is complete enough for you to commit to; check in with peers and/or Preston if you need to; write.]
3. [UPDATE: Please read Chapters 6 & 7 in Brave New World for P2P discussion in class Wednesday.]

Monday, February 24, 2014

february 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Judgement Day" by Van Halen; "Hangman Jury" by Aerosmith]

How do you judge your work?  How do you judge others'?

1. Journal
2. Learn something interesting about your peers' writing process over the weekend.

1. Please visit >5 of your colleagues' blogs and comment on their Brave New World essays.  Summarize your findings in a post entitled I, JURY.  In the same post, please comment on how reading these essays gave you ideas of what to include and/or avoid in your next essay.
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due this Friday, February 28

Friday, February 21, 2014

february 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Run This" by Missy Elliot; "Upside Down" by Jack Johnson]

Your teachers see your thinking for 50 minutes a day, five days a week (if you show up every day, and there aren't any breaks in the schedule, and you share what you know).  You see your thinking every waking moment of your life.  So... who is the best judge of your thinking?

Everything you know about school is being reversed in this course.  The student is at the top of the organizational chart; the teacher, the community, and the tools of the Information Age all work for you now.  As the CEO of your personal learning organization, you recognize that power brings responsibility-- most importantly, the responsibility to evaluate your performance and set a course that leads to success.  So, today's journal topic is this: how are you doing on your masterpiece so far and where do you see it heading?  Are you satisfied with the work you've done so far?  Do you see opportunities we haven't discussed?

1. Journal
2. Evaluations
3. MGOTM: BNW, lit terms, launch plans

1. Audit 10 blogs for BNW essay prompts.  Find one you like and write the essay on your blog (title: BRAVE NEW ESSAY)
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due next Friday (2.28)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

february 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The New World" by X; "Song For a Future Generation" by The B-52s; "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie]

Describe the elements of our real-time world that you think relate-- or don't-- to Huxley's Brave New one.

1. Journal
2. Lecture/discussion on chapters 3 (cont'd.) - 5

1. Find an AP essay prompt that is related to Brave New World.  Post it to your course blog along with your strategy for answering it (title: BRAVE NEW ESSAY TOPIC)
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due 2.28

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

february 19


Reflect on the past week and imagine it as a series of pictures, videos and text on a social media site.  How do the experiences and artifacts describe the person at their center?  How can this be considered an exercise in indirect characterization?

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz
3. BNW test
4. A word about the end of the grading period

* Finish journal (if necessary)
1. Be sure you're on schedule to finish February lit analysis
2. Begin lit terms review for midterm exam Feb 28
3. In a post entitled I AM HERE please explain your progress in this course during the first grading period.  Have you begun thinking/working on your senior project, big question, collaborative working group, or other endeavor/venture that shows how you're putting this course to work for you? Document and explain your performance.
4. Rank your period's blogs best to worst (one sentence explanation per)-- you may turn this in on paper or post to your blog (title: BOB I)

Monday, February 17, 2014

the facebook comment that ruined a life

 "Approximately one hour after Justin Carter posted a sarcastic comment on a Facebook thread, his life began to ­unravel."  Read the full article here.

february 18

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Vote on a song to sing as a class. If you can come to consensus (everyone agrees with enthusiasm) in less than three minutes, organize yourself as a choir, get someone to point a phone camera at it, and belt the song out at the top of your lungs. If you can't come to consensus in less than three minutes, today's tunes will not be vocalized.]

Reflect on the experience above. What factors facilitated and/or challenged the group's ability to come to agreement? Did leadership emerge? In what form-- was it an individual who took charge, a small group, or the power of an idea? Did you see any lessons for America's democracy in the process?

1. Journal
2. MGOTM: Prep for lit terms quiz Wednesday, generate 10 multiple choice questions (with answers) for quiz on BNW Chapters 1-5 Wednesday, share masterpiece ideas, and work on Literature Analysis #2

1. Study lit terms for quiz Wednesday
2. Study for BNW Chapters 1-5 test Wednesday
3. Work on Literature Analysis #2 (due Feb 28)

Friday, February 14, 2014

fish on wheels

I'd love to hear this fish talking to his friends at the pet store: "You want to bet I can't drive?"

february 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Funny Valentine" by Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker; "California Love" by 2Pac]

How will the love you express today be remembered tomorrow?

(P.S. Help those poor people who paid 3x the price for roses this week by being a role model for love the other 364 days.)

1. Journal
2. Houston we have an opportunity
3. Essays, lit terms, and the essence of AP
4. BNW

1. Study lit terms! Next week we will all hang together or we will all hang separately. Be ready to recognize EXAMPLES of the lit terms in context.
2. Read Chapter 5 of BNW and be ready for test on Chapters 1-5 Wednesday
3. Work on Literature Analysis #2

Thursday, February 13, 2014

bill moyers interviews isaac asimov

february 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "(What A) Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke; "The Seeker" by The Who; "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley & The Wailers]

Think of any object or event in your life.  Now imagine all the academic subjects that might have something to say about it.  Driving a car becomes a study in physics, computer programming, psychology, energy... Falling in love becomes a meditation on poetry/song, (more) psychology, probability, biology... Describe something in your life that can be enriched by a deeper awareness of the leading edges of human understanding.

1. Journal
2. Literary devices in BNW/discuss Ch.3
3. Interdisciplinarity

1. Read Chapter 4 in BNW
3. Reminder: post lit terms to blog by COB tomorrow
4. Reminder: literature analysis #2 due 2.28

georgia senior launches m.i.t. acceptance letter into space

Erin King recently received her admission letter from MIT. Then she sent it into space.

The story (originally posted on BoingBoing) is below the video.

"My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow, and set up to collect responses. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

february 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "No Memory" by Stone Temple Pilots; "Memory Loss" by Deltron; "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil]

Describe your earliest memories and/or the things you remember best. How are they similar or different-- and how is your reaction to them similar or different-- in comparison with the things you are told to remember in school?

1. Journal
2. Turn in launch drafts (or a piece of paper pointing me to your blog)
3. Deconstructing Cosa Nostra
4. Reading quiz/table conversations about lit techniques in BNW

1. Read chapter 3 of BNW
2. Reminder: lit terms 6 due on blogs by COB Friday
3. Find one amazing resource related to your launch/masterpiece and bring Thursday prepared to discuss/present

12 year-old launches hello kitty into space

Cory Doctorow posted this story over at boingboing:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

february 11

Welcome to Cosa Nostra Day.

Write three words--and ONLY three words-- to describe your feelings about the AP English Literature & Composition exam.

1. Journal (<1 minute)
2. Check out Brave New World
3. Our thing

1. Lit terms list 6 (due by COB Friday)
2. Revise your masterpiece for Wednesday
3. Finish Foreword & read chapters 1-2 of Brave New World 
4. Read "My High School Hoax" (try the link first; the comments are priceless--if the link doesn't work, you can read the text of "My High School Hoax" after the jump)
5. Then read "Committing to Play for a College, Then Starting 9th Grade" (if link doesn't work, see "Committing..." after the jump)
6. In a blog post entitled HAFTA/WANNA explain similarities/differences you see between your life during high school and life after high school.  Is there a significant difference?  Will people somehow magically transform the day after graduation, or will they take their current habits of mind/word/deed into their next set of daily activities?  How do you balance the things you want to do and the things you have to do, and what are your expectations of yourself and the world around you as you move on?

Monday, February 10, 2014

lit terms: list 6

stream of consciousness
suspension of disbelief
tongue in cheek

please bring your ID to class tomorrow

Please bring your ID to class tomorrow.

reading quiz

For credit please post the answers on your blog. Please use the title of the story as the title of your blog post. 

1. What does Ivan Yakovlevich do for a living? 
2. What does Ivan find in a loaf of bread? 
3. How does his wife respond to Ivan's discovery? 
4. What does Ivan set out to accomplish? 
5. When Ivan tosses the "package" in the river, for a brief moment he is happy; then he is arrested. What does this scene suggest about the role of happiness in Ivan's life/community/society? 
6. Where does the title object belong, and how does it finally get there?

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Four different people said to me yesterday (in so many words): "There are some really SMART people in this course and I feel like I need to up my game." Look for an opportunity to help someone this weekend. And if you feel like or are one of those four people, you're in a great position to help. Your candor represents the only essential ingredient of a learning community--inspired learners--and collaborating is most definitely going to up everyone's game.

Friday, February 7, 2014

strategy guide for life

Check out Oliver Emberton's strategy guide for life.

please watch this

A former student of mine just sent this to me. Watching it was eerily familiar & super inspiring, and I'm going to see if Chase has a few moments to talk with us. In the meantime, in the best traditions of critical thinking/"don't take my word for it"/"If you meet the Buddha in the road..." etc., please have a look this weekend. If your time is limited don't miss 17:00-24:00.

Chase Jarvis from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

february 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Are Young" by Fun; "Little Boxes" by Walk off the Earth (*Walk on, Pete Seeger); "Psychedelic Sally" by Lionel Hampton, from the album "Fun"]

Describe a time when you got so interested in a school assignment that you forgot it was for credit.  If you haven't had this experience, describe a time when you got so "into" what you were doing that you lost track of time.  If you haven't had that experience either, think back on your childhood and describe the last awesomely creative thing you did that was so cool it still puts a smile on your face.

1. Journal
2. Monster Garage of the Mind (MGOTM)
3. How to begin your masterpiece

1. Either on paper or in a blog post entitled LAUNCH/DRAFT, please answer the following six questions to the best of your ability:
  • What am I passionate about?  What do I want to do?
  • How can I use the tools from last semester (and the Internet in general)?
  • What will I need to do in order to "feel the awesomeness with no regrets" by June?
  • What will impress/convince others (both in my life and in my field)?
  • How will I move beyond 'What If' and take this from idea --> reality?
  • Who will be the peers, public, and experts in my personal learning network?
2. Reminder: study lit terms & lit analysis due 2/28

Thursday, February 6, 2014

today's essay prompts

[NOTE: None of these prompts explicitly ask you to cite literary terms/techniques.  However, the terms you've been studying are the lingua franca of literary criticism, the language in which you are now expected to write, so please illustrate/support your points accordingly.]

American literary critic Harry Levin once described comedy as, “Responding to the conditions of tragedy by laughing in the darkness.”  Do you think this accurately characterizes Joseph Heller’s tone and/or use of humor in Catch-22?  Please respond in a well organized, articulate essay that includes textual examples and does not merely summarize the plot.

How does the opening of Tale of Two Cities reflect the conflict/s in the novel and Dickens’ attitude toward the characters, the story, and the audience for whom he wrote?  Please respond in a well organized, articulate essay that includes textual examples and does not merely summarize the plot.

In Great Expectations, Pip perceives lessons and even future versions of himself in the adult characters he meets.  How does this dynamic influence his development, and why is it an important feature of a bildungsroman?  What (if anything) does it suggest about Dickens’ perspective on growing up?  Please respond in a well organized, articulate essay that includes textual examples and does not merely summarize the plot.

february 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [no tunes today; write in your journal after your essay exam]

What worked well for you today?  How well did you understand/address the prompt, organize your argument, and articulate your thoughts? 

1. Essay exam
2. Journal (HW if no time)

1. Journal (if necessary)
2. Reminder: lit terms 5 due on blog tomorrow (Friday)
Fits and starts
Starts and fits
So it goes in a game of wits.
If you're going to win,
You'll need to read.
"What?" you ask
"Where is our task?"
Collaboration's no sin
QRs planted the seed.
The text is a click away 
for everyone in need.
"Huh!" you say
"Where's the place?"
If you can find A. Grace
She'll tell you it's as plain as
The ________ on your face.
Fun day, fun day!
Hope we all get to play.
And if you need an "A"
know the text for a quiz on Monday.

kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boy

Read the story here.  Then think of something amazing to do today.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

february 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["All My Life" by Foo Fighters; "Memory" by Barbra Streisand]

Write a letter to a junior telling him/her how to study for the SAT.  Describe what worked for you, what didn't, what you'd do again, and what you'd do differently.  Is there anything you learned during the experience that will help you in the future?

1. Journal
2. Catch-22

1. Reminders: lit terms (Friday) & lit analysis #2 (2.28)
2. Review notes and prompt possibilities for essay exam Thursday

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Three times today I got to the end of the period and rushed the most important quote from the novel.

We'll start tomorrow by discussing what a catch-22 is and how it went from title to indispensable term that describes an experience so frustrating you wind up writing about it in run-on sentences while simultaneously gesturing with your hands.

Here is the quote:

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

10 commandments of AP lit comp

I was looking for something else just now when I ran across "The Ten Commandments of AP Literature and Composition" written by AP Lit and Comp teacher Martin Beller.  Given the Judeo-Christian influences in the writings of Dickens and Shakespeare, and the fact that you're about to undergo your first real AP-esque test experience, the advice is timely and worth passing on. 

The Ten Commandments of AP English Literature and Composition:

1. I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy friend. Thou shalt address the Prompt. Thou shalt not just get the general idea of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt.

2. Thou shalt not postpone, omit or bury thy Thesis Statement.

3. Thou shalt not commit plot-summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Reading Comprehension, for it is an abomination in my sight.

4. Thou shalt not commit free-floating generalization, but shall support and develop thy every assertion.

5. Thou shalt not confuse complexity with confusion, or subtlety with
indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or ignorance to authorial ineptitude. The fact that thou gettest not the point doesn't mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the point. Deal with it.

6. Thou shalt read every Multiple Choice question with the same exquisite care that thou devotest to the essay Prompt: thou shalt not 'get the drift.' By the same token, thou shalt strive to read what the writer actually wrote, not what thou expectest him or her to have written.

7. Thou shalt not finish early. Thou shalt spend plenty of thy time planning thine essay responses and reading them over.

8. Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answers.

9. Thou shalt not merely identify literary, rhetorical and stylistic devices, but shalt show how they function.

10. Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention and confidence. Yea, though thou hast totally screwed up thy last essay, this next essay maketh a fresh start.

february 4

JOURNAL TOPICS: [today's tunes: "Logical Song" by Supertramp; "Strawberries" by Why?]

Cool and hack mean different things to different generations. (GNAR doesn't mean anything at all to most people, especially those of us over 40.) Explain 1-3 terms from your language to the tribal elders.

1. Journal
2. Dickens/Heller lecture (part II/Q&A tomorrow; essay exam Friday)

1. Reminder: lit terms list 5 (due on your blog Friday)
2. Reminder: literature analysis #2 (due on your blog Feb 28)
3. Begin thinking about your masterpiece

Monday, February 3, 2014

lit terms: list 5

point of view
rhetorical question
rising action

february 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Monday Night Football" ("Superstar" A.K.A. "Heavy Action") by Johnny Pearson; "ABC's Wide World of Sports" by Jack Shaindlin & Irving Robbins; "TV Party" by Black Flag)

Yesterday Americans celebrated an unofficial national holiday by eating 30 million pounds of snacks and sitting around the house.  Why?  What is it about the Superb Owl that everyone finds so compelling?  Do we watch because everyone else is, or because we all did it last year, or because...?  Choose an author who wrote about the (dystopian or utopian) future and imagine how s/he would answer the question.

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz

1. Read the Wikipedia entry for Joseph Heller's Catch-22 
2. Begin work on lit terms list 5