Monday, March 31, 2014

kudos: march (II)

Congratulations to the following students on their college admissions, scholarship wins, and amazing accomplishments!  I've always thought this is the most wonderful time of the year, but now there is even more cause to celebrate.

Hannah Savaso (UCSB)
Meghan Martell (UCSB)
Taylor Dugaran (UCSB)
Bailey Wineman (UCSB)
Mia Levy (UCSB)
Ian Steller (UCSB)
Alfredo Arriaga (CSU Sacramento)
Summer Morgan (UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced)
Melissa Steller (Santa Clara University)
Jason Limon (Curt Simmons Scholarship Award)
Daniel Rucker (UCLA)
Becky Aldrich (UCLA, UC Berkeley)
Zach Roy (CSU Sacramento)
Miranda Nillo (UCSB)
Danny Luu (UC Riverside)
Maria Luna (UCSB)
Allyson Brown (UCSB)
Tiana McMann (The King's College)
Jacob Fowler (Pitzer College)
Alfredo Arriaga (CSU Sacramento)
Lisa Malins (Regents Scholarship & Honors Program, UC Santa Cruz)
Allyson Brown (UCSB, Denison University)
Edmond Yi (UC Berkeley)

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.

march 31

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Maggie's Farm" by Bob Dylan; "Maggie's Farm" performed by Rage Against the Machine]

In honor of Cesar Chavez Day

Cesar Chavez was a farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who made many insightful observations about how people work and treat each other.  He once observed that, "It's ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves."  Given your knowledge of irony from a literary perspective, what makes this ironic?  (Thanks for the topic, Erica!)

Bonus: The first version of today's tune was recorded in 1965, and the second version was uploaded in 2008.  Given what you know about those two eras, does each version reflect the zeitgeist of its time, or do you think either is anachronistic?

Lastly: Chavez had a way with words; yoU can see some of his quotes here.  Here are two of my favorites:
1. Students must have initiative; they should not Be mere Imitators. [Q] They mUst learn to thInk and act for Themselves-- and be free.
2. Real education shOUld consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own Students.  What better books can there be than the books of humanity?

1. Journal
2. Leading question: What is it about Macbeth that makes him vulnerable and/or questionable, even though he is introduced as a conquering war hero?  Can you identify moments in the text where you think Shakespeare might be doing something to make the audience think twice about Macbeth, even as other characters celebrate his name and accomplishments?
3. Macbeth Act I Scenes i-iii
4. Experts and mentors

1. Tomorrow is MGOTM-- please bring all necessary devices, materials, questions, ideas, etc.
2. Read this article about mentors
3. In a post entitled MEET MACBETH, answer the following questions. [Note: please don't list them with numbers or bullets; write them in paragraph form].
  • How is Macbeth introduced through in/direct characterization?
  • What elements of foreshadowing do the witches provide?
  • How does Shakespeare's approach to exposition give the reader background information about the setting and characters and a sense of what's to come without spoiling the play?
  • How does Shakespeare's characterization of Macbeth reflect a sense of tone (i.e., the author's attitude toward the character/s, audience, and/or subject matter)?
  • What themes appear evident in Macbeth's character and conduct?  To what extent do you think these themes will drive the rest of the play? 
4. Begin memorizing Macbeth's "tomorrow, tomorrow, & tomorrow" soliloquy (Act V Scene 5). Due by Wednesday, April 16.

thanks rhs class of 2013

Here are my notes from Friday.  Please feel free to edit and/or add your own observations in the comments.  Thanks once again to our panelists!

Ryland/UCLA (on the panel and the presentation):
  • Everyone here has real experiences with the things you have questions about.  It's one thing to hear it from Dr. Preston or Mrs. Dirkes; it's another to hear it from people just like you, so please feel free to ask any questions while we're here. 
  • We have Sam Garrison on Skype from American University in Washington, D.C, and Matt Patel is in Paris for a semester abroad through NYU so he made a YouTube video (both videos are at bottom of this post)
Laura/SDSU (on social life):
  • Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people
  • Be direct and open; stick out your hand and say, "Hi. I'm Laura."  That's how you do it
  • Keep things in proportion and balance your social life with staying on top of the courses and activities that will help you achieve your goals
  • Stay in contact with your teachers; it's too easy to be anonymous in a class of 500+ so email professors and go to office hours so they know who you are

Friday, March 28, 2014

march 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam; "Time to Pretend" by MGMT; "Today My Life Begins" by Bruno Mars]

Why do we have to re/learn as adults the things (like breathing and using our imagination) that come so naturally to us as children?  How can you start over today with an open "child's mind" and see things that you might otherwise have missed?

1. Journal (NOTE: thanks to today's panel, please take your journal home with you this weekend and write.  I will collect and read two week's worth next Friday. youtube links for the tunes included :).
2. RHS alumni bring the college experience to us (Thanks Michelle, Valerie, Laura,
Bernardo, Chanel, Ryland, Sam, and Matt!)

1. Finish Literature Analysis #3, due BY Monday, March 31
2. Be ready for robust 10-minute discussion about mentorship on Monday
3. Be ready to launch into Macbeth on Monday

this just in: the adventures of us project

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Taylor's/Meghan's/Hannah's/Kylie's

The Adventures of Us Project.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

march 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "One Day" by Matisyahu; "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins; "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra]

People talk a lot about "someday."  What if it's today?  What can you do right now-- in this very moment and for the rest of the hour-- to achieve your goals, realize your dreams, calm your mind, surpass expectations, and change the world?

1. Journal
2. MGOTM: vision-->field-->project-->expert-->mentor-->network-->success

1. Read this article on mentors
2. What does the expert (profile) you identified have to teach you?  What questions can you ask to select your mentor and begin the process? (post under title: SEEKING MENTOR)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

march 26

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes [they're back!]  "Resignation Superman" by Big Head Todd & The Monsters; "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon; "My Hero" by Foo Fighters)

Write a vignette featuring a sock puppet-as-hero.  (Whether s/he's a traditional hero, a tragic hero, an anti-hero, or your kind of hero is up to you.)

1. Journal
2. Macbeth

1. Find five (5) resources that you think will be useful in our study of Macbeth. Post to your blog (title: MY MACBETH RESOURCES)
2. Reminder: Masterpiece Resource of the Day (and don't forget to bring materials for tomorrow's MGOTM)
3. Reminder: Literature Analysis #3 due March 31

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

march 25


Describe a time you saw something that made sense-- and the person next to you :// had no 5p idea what the heck you were talk1ng about.

1. Journal/what's next in class
2. Return & analyze m1d.terms and unpublished essays
3. MGOTM: base your conversation on last night's posts

1. Resource of the Day
2. Revisit and curate "test" and "expert" posts as needed
3. Reminder: Lit Analysis #3 due March 31

ucsb study suggests mindful meditation boosts test scores

(Originally posted here a year ago, two days after the study was published.)

"Mindfulness meditation, the ancient and flourishing practice that increases awareness of random thoughts and redirects attention to the present moment, has been used to manage stress, depression and even chronic pain. But can it improve test scores?"

The answer, according to this recent UC Santa Barbara study, is yes.  If you are interested in learning more please email or comment to this post.

Monday, March 24, 2014

march 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Mighty Bruins" by Bill Conti; "Hail to the Hills of Westwood" by Bruin Harmony; "Sons of Westwood" by the UCLA Marching Band]

Congratulations to all who were accepted to UCLA.  Welcome to the Bruin Family.

Finish the following sentence (with a reflection that lasts at least half a page and explains why): "In order to get the score I want on the AP English Literature & Composition exam [and/or finish this course/year with pride], I will have to..."

1. Journal
2. The Week in Preview

1. Post masterpiece "test" (title: THIS IS ONLY A TEST)
2. Post expert profile (title: IS THERE AN EXPERT IN THE HOUSE?)
3. Reminder: Literature Analysis #3 due March 31

this just in

From Lisa:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

march 21 (recap)

On Friday we went analog.  Old school.  I stood up in front of the class, no screen, and actually wrote stuff on the white board while we talked.  Forget the spirit days or the music: this was the most authentically 80s thing we've done all year.

Our journal topic was your account of your learning progress in this course.  As we discussed, that may have to do with the AP exam, and/or literature & composition, and/or your masterpiece (a.k.a. senior project, collaborative working group, big question).  You all have individual goals, and therefore you all have slightly different interests in different elements of this learning experience.

The key theme of the day was "learning experience."  We talked about the fact that learning is an active sense-making process and not just the passive consumption of facts provided by an authority figure who periodically deposits information through lecture and withdraws information through tests.  Education theorist Paolo Friere called that sort of thing "the banking model" of education.  Spoiler: the banking model doesn't create lifelong learners.  It creates oppressed, uncreative people who can't wait to stop being taught.

Creativity is essential.  Creation is the act of putting something into the the world that didn't exist before.  (Which is exactly how Terry Lawless defined music.)  In fourth period Taylor illustrated the point.  She said something quietly to Hannah, which had value to Hannah but not to the rest of us.  But when Taylor was kind enough to repeat herself loud enough for everyone to hear, we all got to consider her words.  She changed the course of the conversation and she changed our minds, if only because we started thinking different thoughts in consideration of her idea.  If you think this is a small thing you are underestimating the importance of creativity, your ability to be creative, and the ways in which sharing ideas facilitates learning in a group.  Your blogs are brilliant examples of how creativity leads to communication, collaboration, and critical thinking, among other positive acts that constitute learning.

By tomorrow you should have decided on a(t least one) "test" for your masterpiece.  This should be a showcase for you to demonstrate what you know and what you can do.  Although some of you are using your masterpiece to prepare for academic coursework or careers, and some of those careers do require tests like the ones you've seen in school, you shouldn't limit a demonstration of your expertise to multiple choice responses when your blogs already say so much more.  You can show what you're learning-- and what you can do-- by writing about it, sharing pictures, embedding video, linking to other sites, and/or using some of the tools we introduced last semester (mind maps, etherpads, etc.).

If you have questions or need ideas, please comment to this post and let us help.  This week you will be inviting at least one expert to your blog-- let's make sure that person comes away suitably impressed.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

kudos: special edition

At this time last year (i.e., the day after UCLA opened its admissions portal) I posted about the experience of sitting in the cheap seats while my students found out if they'd achieved their goals.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Bernardo, Lizbeth, Ryland, and several other members of RHS' Class of 2013) are Bruins now.  UCLA is back to winning NCAA tournament games.  And I'm hoping that those of you who have dreams of Westwood (or Berkeley, or Palo Alto, or anywhere else you haven't heard from yet) are successful.  Keep in mind: successful doesn't necessarily mean gaining admission to a particular school.  I was fortunate to learn this definition of Success from Coach John Wooden, the author of the Pyramid of Success and coach of ten NCAA basketball championship teams:

Peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.  

To be honest, I'm still working on the peace of mind part myself.  But the fact remains: whether or not we are rewarded by institutions or the marketplace, there is no substitute for knowing we have given our all in a great cause.  Let the chips fall where they may and be proud of yourselves for your accomplishments.  And, as I said in class yesterday, if you are not yet proud enough of your accomplishments to be independently content whether or not some admissions office stamps its approval, this is the first day of the rest of your life.  Begin.

This kudos goes out to everyone who dedicates themselves to whatever they're doing.  If you got into UCLA, welcome to the Bruin Family.  (In fact, as an officer of the newly formed Central Coast Bruins, it's my great pleasure to invite you to a Bruin send-off if you decide to attend.)  If you didn't, hold your head up and, to paraphrase Thoreau, continue to go boldly in the direction of your dreams.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

march 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes are a video]

What is it about tests?  They can motivate us and help us prove our knowledge and skills, or they can fill us with anxiety and seem pointless or even insulting.  However we feel about tests per se, ultimately practitioners of every sort are rightly expected to be able to demonstrate what they've learned.   What sort of "test" do you need to pass to prove your worthiness in your Masterpiece field?  How have others in the field proven themselves?

1. Journal/collect Brave New World essays
2. Correct midterms
3. Mike Wallace interviews Aldous Huxley

1. Please revisit the interview and comment as requested
2. In a blog post entitled HUXLEY'S BRAVE NEW WORLD please explain how listening/watching the author himself changed your perspective on the work and the essay you turned in.
3. Design your test/s for Monday, March 24
4. Identify your expert candidates for Monday, March 24
5. Reminder: Lit Analysis #3 due March 31

mike wallace interviews aldous huxley

Here is the interview with Mike Wallace (of eventual "60 Minutes" fame) and Aldous Huxley.

In an essay-let (essayito?) of 1-3 paragraphs, please comment to this post and cite 3-5 ideas from the talk to support your validation or refutation of the following claim:

We are living in the Brave New World.

this just in: melissa's yosemite mtg today at lunch

Actually, Melissa sent this a few days ago... sorry for the delayed post! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

kudos: march (I)

Congratulations to the following students on their college admissions, scholarship wins, and amazing accomplishments!  I've always thought this is the most wonderful time of the year, but now there is even more cause to celebrate.  Seriously: take pride in what you've accomplished.  You've earned it.

Maddi Hill (Admitted to UC Davis/ Design)
Danny Luu (Winner, Santa Barbara County Science Fair; qualified for CA State Science Fair at USC; Admitted to UC Merced, UC Riverside)
Hannah Savaso (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego)
Lisa Malins (National Merit Scholarship Competition Finalist; admitted to UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz)
Ashley Hong (Admitted to UC Davis, UC Irvine)
Bianca Ramirez (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, CSUN)
Allyson Brown (Admitted to UC San Diego)
Becky Aldrich (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego)
Edmond Yi (Admitted to UC San Diego)
Erik Santos (Admitted to Sonoma State)
Sam Wellard (Admitted to CSULA)
Mia Levy (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz)
Taylor Duguran (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis)
Javier Solis (Admitted to UC Irvine/ Political Science)
Miranda Nillo (Admitted to Loyola Marymount University; UC Irvine; UC Santa Cruz; UC Santa Barbara)
Lindsey Wong (Admitted to UC Irvine; Elks Student of the Month Scholarship)
Kendall Villa (Admitted to Sonoma State)
Kristen Crockett (Admitted to UC Santa Cruz)
Daniel Rucker (Admitted to UC San Diego, UC Davis)
Ian Steller (Admitted to UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara)
Kylie Sagasi (Admitted to UC San Diego)
Izamar Diaz (Admitted to UC Merced)
Melissa Steller (Admitted to UC Irvine)
Maria Luna (UC Santa Barbara)

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.

testing schedule today and tomorrow

Our schedule this week is courtesy of the California High School Exit Exam. 

Period 4 will meet today from 11:40-12:35;
Period 5 will meet today from 1:15-2:10;
Period 3 will meet tomorrow from 10:40-11:35.

Monday, March 17, 2014

march 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Rocky Road to Dublin" by The Dubliners; "The Rocky Road to Dublin" by The Dropkick Murphys-- Happy St. Paddy's Day]

Describe one thing you did this weekend related to your Masterpiece.

*If you didn't do anything this weekend related to your Masterpiece, [a] you ought to be ashamed of yourself; and [b] in consideration of today's examples, you can write on how the same text/tunes can be adapted to reflect the current zeitgeist.

1. Journal

2. Preston writes an essay

1. Resource of the Day
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #3 due March 31

Friday, March 14, 2014

march 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: (no journal today, please turn 'em in)

1. Lit terms midterm

1. Reminder: Literature Analysis #3 due March 31 (17 days)
2. Essay draft (on paper or blog) per yesterday's prompt (see below).  Additional criterion: please use three brief quotes from the text and 3-5 literary terms/techniques to illustrate/support your thesis/main points.  Due Monday, March 17.

1979 Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of
recognized literary merit who might, on the basis of the character’s actions alone,
be considered evil or immoral. In a well-organized essay, explain both how and
why the full presentation of the character in the work makes us react more
sympathetically than we otherwise might. Avoid plot summary.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

march 13


Compare and contrast the character of John the Savage with Hamlet.  Consider their relationships with their mothers, their self-abuse in the name of virtue, and their ability to relate to the "mainstream" communities in which they find themselves.

1. Journal & analysis of the prompt
2. AP essay prompt: deconstrucion
3. Lit terms

1. Review for tomorrow's lit terms midterm (Please Note: if you're doing more than a light review tonight, you waited too long)


It's great to get our information from real experts in their fields. We've talked about books with author Cory Doctorow. We've talked about the Internet with Howard Rheingold, who Forbes Magazine called a "digital elder," and Bryan Alexander, a leading authority on the use of technology in liberal arts education.  We've talked music with 2011 Guitar Center Drum-Off Champion J.P. Bouvet (who is made of awesome), and U2 keyboardist Terry Lawless (live in class; notes and eventually video here).  Sadly, neither the best router nor a personal invitation can put us in touch with the most insightful linguist of my lifetime. I know: other people would call him a comedian.  They might even sniff and start in on Chomsky or Pinker. Or David Foster Wallace.  But to me, George Carlin was the best at teaching us about using our own words and considering whether they really mean what we intend.  Here he saves the best for last.  And the lesson is clear: if you want to make yourself understood you will need to become fluent in the vocabulary and terms of art AP readers understand.  Time to think more intentionally about the language you use when you write.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

this just in: additional information re uc's

From Mrs. Dirkes:

this just in: uc acceptance dates

To see the updated UC acceptance dates consult Daniel's blog post on the topic.

this just in: help a high school student and his dad

You are all very well-versed in this conversation, so please contribute your thoughts in a comment.  I will share this link with Randy at the end of the day on Friday. Mahalo.

this just in: alicja wants to know what you're going to do before you die

Alicja is asking for your input, please click this link to contribute:

march 12


Yesterday several students commented that the last couple chapters of Brave New World seem to "happen" at a quicker pace than the rest of the novel.  As preparation for today's discussion of close/analytical reading, see if you can identify the changes in Huxley's writing that create this effect.  Getting the intuitive sense that something changed is an important first step; can you point to specific techniques (diction, syntax) or frame your argument in terms of tone, theme, or plot?  Do your best, we will use what you say-- and what you don't say-- as the foundation for today's discussion.

1. Journal
2. Close/analytical reading & Brave New World
3. AP essays

1. Participate in the AP prompt poll (top right on web version of blog)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

it's on

notes from terry lawless

Thanks once again to Melissa and Terry Lawless for today's talk.  Everything he said about music also applies to life, literature, and learning.  Lesther and Miranda took video of the event and I'm looking forward to seeing Terry's talk again. [UPDATE 4.15.14: "The video is up... and it's good!" at bottom.]  In the meantime, here are some notes I took on his remarks:

  • Music is creating something where nothing was before
  • The greatest moment for a musician is when the crowd writes the solo
  • I play like it's the last time I go on stage
  • Most influential moment was the first time I put a Led Zeppelin album on: Robert Plant singing "Black Dog" blew my mind
  • The best thing to happen to music was a broken heart
  • Musicians tell stories through emotions: loneliness, happiness-- they have a special genre called anthems that put a fist in your chest and make you glad to be alive
  • "Just Kissed My Baby" (New Orleans jazz) & "All I Want Is You" (U2) don't need explanation or interpretation-- these are the rawest, most basic things we feel
  • If I'm driving and Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" comes on, I have to pull off the road-- seriously, I don't want to hit something
  • If my kids download music without paying for it, they're out of the will. (*If you like "Sketches of Spain" please buy it. -Ed.)
  • Most memorable performance moment: playing LiveAid with Paul McCartney and U2, 180,000 people bobbing their heads as one like a giant sea anenome for a great cause, relieving world hunger
  • I don't get nervous on stage.  I'm a two-time cancer survivor who got shot out of a helicopter.  What's going to happen to me during a rock concert?
  • David Bowie (my son's godfather) was good at everything-- writing, performing, sculpting... and once he saw what I was composing and said, "Don't go there with it, go here."  I said no.  There's the question: Do you write for yourself or do you write for others?

this just in: calling all entrepreneurs

Hi everyone, we have been presented with a terrific opportunity.  Doan Winkel, professor of entrepreneurship at Illinois State University, has created a network designed to help students turn entrepreneurial ideas into businesses.  Here is our email exchange from yesterday; please feel free to submit your ideas on Survey Monkey, or contact Doan directly, or talk with me about it.

Besides being a well-connected expert in the field, Doan is also an enthusiastic advocate who understands the power of sharing ideas and being ourselves online.  I think you'll enjoy collaborating with him.

this just in: hancock workshop

Lauren writes:
Yes I can:

Monday, March 10, 2014

expos comp<-->lit & comp

It's about time the two courses met, so here are both course Member Blog pages in one post.  Please feel free to check out what your colleagues are up to; many of you have similar or complementary interests, and all of you have skills, perspectives, and contacts that can help each other.

Expository Comp Member Blogs
Expository Comp Masterpiece Theater

Literature & Composition Member Blogs
Literature & Composition Masterpiece Theater

this just in: yosemite trip?

From Melissa:

march 11

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Ocean" by U2; "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2; "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2

Writing a song, a book, or a blog is a way of putting our ideas out into the world, of sharing something of ourselves in the hope that it will move others.  Often, new ideas carry the potential of conflict as they represent a departure from the familiar and cause people to question their own assumptions.  Sometimes new ideas--especially those, in a cruel twist of irony, that emphasize freedom, thoughtfulness, or love-- have even cost lives (think Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, Socrates, Jesus Christ, and Crispus Attucks, for example).  Describe a powerful "new idea" that carries personal meaning for you.  This doesn't have to be well-known or modern, although it certainly can be, but it does have to represent a break in artistic, social, scientific, or political tradition that required some sort of sacrifice to achieve deeper understanding.

***[3rd Period: Special guest Terry Lawless]
1. Journal (which is deep and may well require continued thinking/composing after school]
*turn in grades
2. Brave New World: the ending, the allusion to The Tempest, and analytical close readings/Q&A

1. Read "How We Read" & be prepared to discuss Wednesday
2. Study lit terms for midterm.  (I know, I know: last week I moved the lit terms midterm to Wednesday. Now I'm moving it to Friday, March 14.  Unless I can find a way to share it online over the weekend without worrying about integrity, in which case I'll do it that way.  If you have suggestions on this please comment or let me know in class.)
3. Resource of the Day

when love (and lawless) comes to town

Tomorrow, thanks to Melissa, Terry Lawless will join us in class.  Terry is the keyboardist and programmer for the legendary band U2.  'Nuff said.  I'm stoked.  Please feel free to share questions as comments to this post; hoping we'll have opportunity for conversation but 50 minutes always feels too short and I want to help make sure everyone can participate.  Here's some info about Terry, and I'm including his calendar because I'm pretty sure it's the only one in existence with both "U2/The Academy Awards" and "Righetti High School Speaking Engagement" on it :)

march 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Home" by The Talking Heads; "Home by The Foo Fighters]

I love traveling, but I love coming home even more.  Which do you prefer?  What do you think of when you feel 'at home'-- and why do you feel more at home in some places than others?

1. Journal/turn in Benchmark hard copies
2. Brave New World: summary of work & prep for the week
3. P2P Evals
4. Ask the experts

1. In a post entitled 10 QUESTIONS, list the 10 questions you want to ask your expert
2. P2P evaluation: peruse each Member Blog in your period for 60-120 seconds.  Assign it a letter grade and explain why in 1-3 sentences.  Please do not do this online; list on paper and turn in tomorrow.

Friday, March 7, 2014

note re benchmark project

Hi, Erica emailed about the Benchmark project and, when I replied, she suggested posting it because it might help others clarify their understanding about what to do.  Good idea, Erica!  Here's the copy/paste:

The Benchmark Project is designed for you to clarify your Masterpiece topic for your blog audience, and for you to assess how you're progressing and what you need to take next steps.  In expository composition I assigned a paper + remix depending on how much information students had already posted.  In AP I linked to that (you can see it in the post), but I left the way you tell your story up to you.  So: explain what you've done and what you need to do next, share what you need so others can respond, and take the opportunity to reflect on your topic.  If that last part seems like something you've done before, consider (a) these are snapshots in time that reflect how your thinking deepens and changes, and (b) new readers on your blog will be seeing this information for the first time.  Hope that helps, please let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

march 6

This week you're working independently.  How does it feel?  Are you making progress?  Are you treading water until the teacher gets back?  Are you on track to finish Brave New World?  Are the in-class exercises helping (and if not, how could they be more effective)? Are you proud of your Benchmark project yet?  What needs to happen so that you're proud of it by Monday?

1. Journal
2. Brave New World work (please make sure you're finished reading the book by Sunday night, and please post your thoughts on the chapters/classwork/your response to the book on your blog in as many posts as you need to articulate your work and how it influenced your thinking)
3. MGOTM: tie up loose ends, take advantage of being with your colleagues while you're with them, and plan the next three days so that you're not scurrying frantically Sunday night.

1. Finish Brave New World and post to your blog in the process
2. Resource of the Day
3. Benchmark papers/projects due Monday 3.10

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

march 5

Choose your own.

1. Journal
2. Implement the Brave New World strategies you selected yesterday.

1. Post to your blog about the experience of generating and participating in learning strategies that helped you to understand Brave New World (title: LEARNING [in a] BRAVE NEW WORLD)
2. Resource of the Day

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

masterpiece theater

Here, in all its glory, is the current list of everyone's masterpiece topic.  They're grouped by class because that's the way I took notes, but I have intentionally mixed up the periods and omitted course/class designations and links.  If you see something you want to learn more about, start a conversation by commenting to this post, commenting to the person's blog, or networking the old-fashioned way and asking around.  For easy reference here is a link to the Expository Composition Member Blogs.  If you see any errors or omissions, or if your topic has evolved, please comment to this post accordingly.  (Tip: one great way to gain followers and begin collaborations is to go on each other's blogs and ask questions about these.  Some of the pairs/triplets are working collaboratively, and others are using the same words to describe very different ideas.)

Austin: stand-up comedy, satire, women in comedy
Mackenzie: sex trafficking in America
Jacob: culinary arts
Dale: freedom
Grant: neuropsychology (and/or astrophysics?)
Nik: film criticism & the technical elements of narrative in film

march 4

Today your journal will serve as the starting point for your table conversations.  Please begin by asking a person (or two) to remind you of their Masterpiece topic/s.  Then take 5-10 minutes to write down all your impressions of the topic/s.  Include 3-5 questions you have as an interested outsider (even if you're not particularly interested in the subject, you share an interest in your colleagues' success, and you want them to share an interest in yours).

1. Journal
2. [10 mins.] MGOTM (I): Begin by answering your colleagues' questions.  If you don't know the answer to one, don't worry-- use this as an opportunity to guide the next steps in your inquiry.  Remember that if you're getting the question at the table, it's highly likely that your blog readers will be curious too.
3. [10 mins.] MGOTM (II): Share ideas about the Benchmark project and create a plan for yourself.  As you know, six days goes by faster than we think...
4. [whatever's left depending on how well you've managed your time] MGOTM (III): Decide as a class which Brave New World thought exercises you should prepare for each other tomorrow.  The agenda tomorrow will focus on the novel, with a little time at the end for you to sustain conversational momentum on your projects as needed.  Here are the ideas we brainstormed yesterday:
  • Finding chapter questions online and answering with remix
  • Controversial ideas in each chapter that lead to conflicting opinions you can debate (and adopt the opposing side to think critically and arrive at a definitive conclusion)
  • AP practice prompts
  • Remixing entire chapters or scenes (can be done online, or offline and curated online)
  • Coming to class with ideas, writing a list on the board (you can erase everything except kudos & wi-fi password), and organizing into discussion groups
  • Writing on essay questions with opposing perspectives
  • Open discussion/ take notes to post on blogs
NOTE: After we talked yesterday it occurred to me that there is a wealth of insight to be found online through examining other AP communities and university courses (stay away from those short-cut sites), so rather than providing you with a list, I'm leaving the keys to the Internet.  If you're not already in the habit, please feel free to bring a device (tablet, laptop, quantum computer) and use the opportunity to connect (and troubleshoot connections if necessary) in class.

1. Resource of the Day
2. Begin work on your Benchmark project, which is due Monday, March 10--if you want more structure or inspiration, check out the Expository Comp version
3. Literature Analysis #3 is due March 31


The literary terms midterm can has been kicked down the road once again.  Since you only have three days in class this week (there is no school Friday), I am postponing it until Friday, March 14.

Monday, March 3, 2014

this just in

march 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by The Dropkick Murphys; "Peace of Mind" by Boston]

Tomorrow I leave for Boston to speak at the 2014 Digital Media & Learning Conference.  Since all of us will be working independently on our masterpieces, and we've been emphasizing collaboration throughout this process, help: what essential elements of Open Source Learning do you consider highlights that I shouldn't forget to talk about?  What about school constrains or challenges Open Source Learning?  Since the talk is at 11:30 Eastern (8:30 Pacific) [***UPDATE: I misremembered the schedule.  The talk will start at 11/8.] Wednesday, and we've talked about connecting period 1, how do you think students should be included?  Do you want to present your work, answer questions from the audience, or ...?
What do we need to discuss today so that we all have peace of mind for GOSD this week?  Make sure to get your questions answered.  I will also remain available via comment/email.

1. Journal
2. DML guest host/panel?
3. The week ahead

1. Resource of the Day
2. Have you started reading for Literature Analysis #3 yet?
3. Finish Brave New World by Monday, March 10
4. Benchmark: Due Monday, March 10

how we read

It stands to reason that anyone who isn't a professional reader (teacher/professor/editor/literary critic, e.g.) is an amateur.  One connotation of the word amateur is a person who doesn't get paid for a particular talent.  In a culture that overwhelmingly--and often erroneously--associates value with money, an amateur is often considered less proficient than a professional who gets paid for doing the same thing. 

But it's the second connotation of amateur that makes something worth doing and life worth living.  The word comes from a French derivation of the Latin verb for "love."  Amateurs love what they do.  In fact, amateurism is often defined as, "the philosophy that elevates things done without self-interest above things done for pay."  In this sense, although I have been paid for teaching, consulting, researching, and writing about learning for nearly 25 years, I am a proud amateur.

I'm thinking about this now because of some recent discussions with students about reading.  I understand how important it is to read what you love and to think about the text in your own way.  When I read for pleasure I want to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in the story.  I imagine the characters so intensely that sometimes when I turn the last page I actually miss them a little.  The furthest thing from my mind is whether I can write an essay explaining the author's tone or theme with a thoughtful analysis of genre or techniques like anaphora or synecdoche.  In fact, analyzing a text in that way distracts me from most of what makes me want to pick up a book in the first place.

We are not alone in thinking this sort of analysis can make a person fall out of love with reading:

However, at this point in history it's easier to portray that idea in a movie, where appreciation of the beautiful approximates Schopenhauer's pure intellect free of any worldly agenda, than in a real-world classroom where the pressures of life so often intrude.  Those of you who spent the $89 want to ensure a successful outcome on the AP English Literature & Composition exam.  This demands that we account for our understanding of the tools and techniques authors use to convey their ideas and connect with our experience.  So, in addition to seeing a novel or poem as a work of art that speaks to the human condition:

you will also need to analyze technical elements of composition to form arguments based on your understanding of academic principles of writing.

Now, you may or may not be interested to know that Leonardo Da Vinci used over 30 layers of paint to add only about half a hair's depth to a painting that looks like it has no brushstrokes.  But millions of people (including me) have stood just feet away from the painting, gawked in amazement, and wondered how Da Vinci did it.  For centuries this was considered a mystery of genius.  Finally,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

importing twitter feeds on wix

This just in from Connor: Does anyone know how to import a Twitter feed on a Wix website?  Please comment here or on his blog.  Mahalo.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

how to embed a link in a comment

One effective strategy for recruiting more followers to your blog is to comment on other blogs & include a link to your own.  To do this, use this HTML code:

<a href="URL">link text</a>

For a more detailed explanation with step-by-step screen shots, click HERE.