Thursday, November 28, 2013

turkey drop?

I learn something new every day... when I get the alumni forum up and running we'll have to ask the collegians whether this is accurate.

practice essay

Here is the essay topic for the weekend:

Something happens in your environment.  It might be a sound just outside the field of your peripheral vision, it might be be an action that inspires or outrages you, or it might be an outright crisis or opportunity.  Adopt the persona of any character from either the "Allegory" or "No Exit" and explain how this character would respond to the event and why.  Explain how the response reflects the characterization, theme, tone, and general philosophy of the author (Plato or Sartre) who created the character.  Compare this analysis with the work you didn't choose (for example, if you choose Estella from "No Exit," explain her response in these terms and then compare with a slave from the cave in Plato's "Allegory).

Helpful hints: (1) Start with a pre-write to organize your thoughts; (2) Include enough about the literary techniques to support your argument without hijacking your entire thesis; (3) Feel free to collaborate-- this exercise is practice/study/review for next week's essay final.

happy thanksgiving

Here are some simple, FREE tips for enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend:

1. Don't go shopping today.  (Learn how Big Retail is trying to kill Thanksgiving)
2. Don't go shopping tomorrow. (Learn the Dirty Secrets of Black Friday "Discounts")
3. Seriously, don't go shopping tomorrow. (video of Black Friday chaos

Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy, less expensive Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

kudos: november

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

Mia Levy (admitted to Penn State University)
Malik Pope (admitted to Northern Arizona University)
Shane Hunter (admitted to Cal Poly SLO/Aerospace Engineering)
Allyson Brown (admitted to Ohio Wesleyan University w/ annual $23,500 scholarship)
Breanna Timmons (signed NLI to play softball for Seattle University)
Maddie Klusendorf (signed NLI to play volleyball for Franklin Pierce 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.

"i never learned to read!"

You know, as much as we talk about reading, it's easy to overlook the fact that some of us didn't grow up with books and occasionally have a hard time with the basics.

Consider poor Wayne:

So, how do you know how well you can sound out words and get through a text without mistakes?

Here's how:
1. Watch the video below;
2. Get a copy of Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss;
3. Set up a phone or a camera (or get a friend to help);
4. Read the book as fast and as well as you can;
5. Record your time and the number of mistakes you make;
6. Compare your numbers with mine.  Don't forget to count my mistakes--I just learned that I've been mispronouncing the author's name my whole life!
7. Post your video and your stats on your blog under the heading I CAN READ!

UPDATE: In reply to questions from the email bag...
  • If you're having trouble finding the book, here is the text without the pics. 
  • My reading was a one-take job, but yours doesn't have to be.  You can practice all you want before posting your best effort.
  • To earn course credit you must post I CAN READ! by 11:59 P.M. Sunday, December 1. (Bonus for add'l. Thanksgiving renditions with friends/relatives :)

november 26

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes:"'B' Movie Box Car Blues" by The Blues Brothers; "Every Day I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello; "Bookshop" by Monty Python]

Ads and reviews frequently promise that a book or movie will "change your life"-- describe a time when one actually did.

1. Journal
2. Some words by & about Dickens
3. Semester endgame

1. Literature/group study
2. Finals prep
3. Final presentation proposal/s
4. Prove you can read
5. Comparative essay: Sartre v. Plato (topic TBD, will be posted by COB today) 

Monday, November 25, 2013

november 25

JOURNAL: [today's tunes: "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver; "Thank You" by Led Zeppelin]

(1) On Thursday millions of Americans will stuff themselves until they are sick.  Why?
(2) What are you thankful for?

1. Journal
2. Groups/lit
3. Discussion: No Exit
4. Groups/vocab review

1. Lit/groups
2. No Exit (due tomorrow)
3. Study vocab (quiz tomorrow)

lunch cwg mtgs this (short) week

today: 5PH1NX
tomorrow: mentors
[???]: novelists (no school thurs and no/vember left)

Friday, November 22, 2013

little things lead to big ideas

When people talk about education they frequently overlook the contributions of parents-- how lucky are the kids who woke up and found this?

november 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Bob Dylan (which you can mentally remix by substituting "Preston's Class" for "Mr. Jones"); "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield]

Read the following excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and describe how Wallace uses literary elements to describe a large theme through one character's seemingly casual observation.

What's interesting to Hal Incandenza about his take on Struck, sometimes Pemulis, Evan Ingersoll, et al. is that congenital plagiarists put so much more work into camouflaging their plagiarism than it would take just to write up an assignment from conceptual scratch.  It usually seems like plagiarists aren't lazy so much as kind of navigationally insecure.  They have trouble navigating without a detailed map's assurance that somebody has been this way before them.  About this incredible painstaking care to hide and camouflage the plagiarism-- whether it's dishonesty or a [Y] kind of kleptomaniacal thrill-seeking or what-- Hal hasn't developed much of any sort of take.

1. Journal
2. Introduction/introspection/reflection (No Exit)
3. Collaboration (Henry V/Great Expectations/Tale of Two Cities)
4. Innovation (final presentation proposals)
5. Execution (to be clear, in this strange world, this item refers to implementation and not capital punishment)
6. Please note: all fall vocab eligible for next Tuesday's quiz 

no exit

1. Read Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit." You can find the text online here and here, among other places, and you are certainly welcome to check the play out at the library or buy it at a local bookstore or online.

2. Be sure to take active reading notes and answer the questions embedded in the text.

3. Feel free to ask questions and comment to this post.

4. Create a post for your blog entitled THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX in which you compare how Plato and Sartre describe the limitations of our thinking and imply solutions to the problem.  Be sure to analyze their literary techniques, especially their use of allegory and extended metaphor.

5. Invite twenty (20) people to read and comment to your post.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

mag requests submissions

One way to become a professional writer is responding to requests like this.

something (else) is rotten in the state of denmark

...and depending on who you talk to, it might be this painting of the Danish royal family.

canadians save shark choking on moose

Q: Why post an item about Canadians saving a shark who beached himself while choking on a 2-foot hunk of moose on a lit/comp course blog?

1. Because it's awesome.
2. Because I can.
3. Because I'm pretty sure there has never been a story about Canadians rescuing a beached shark choking on moose before, and therefore I'm pretty sure there has never been a story about Canadians rescuing a beached shark choking on moose featured on a high school English course blog, so I get to claim this is as a historical first.

november 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Junk Food Junkie" by Larry Groce; "Whole Foods Parking Lot" by DJ Dave; "Alice's Restaurant Massacre" (abridged) by Arlo Guthrie]

Your friends invite you to a fancy restaurant in San Francisco for your birthday-- all expenses paid!  The waiter brings you a soda, calls you "sir" or "miss" and hands you a menu.  With horror you discover that each dish consists of insects and road kill in various states of decay/disembowelment.  How will you handle the situation? (Careful: if your friends eat here, they must be zombies/foreign agents who are trained to deal with this sort of thing.  They may turn on you if they consider you rude.  You can't just leave.  If you don't eat you'll have to talk your way out of it in a way that doesn't raise suspicion.)

1. Journal
2. Literature circles & Henry V or Dickens
3. Return Hamlet & Plato essays [Update: still reading, will return Friday]

1. Write a sonnet about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and post it to your blog (title: ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE SONNET).  To receive full credit your sonnet must receive 10 positive reviews from your colleagues, each of whom must evaluate: a) whether your sonnet meets the definitional requirements and therefore deserves to be called a sonnet in the first place; and b) whether it's any good, as evidenced by the quality of narration, setting, use of figurative language, etc.
2. Begin reading the library book you selected (or Henry V, if you went that route; if anyone found a better script, please let me know and I'll post it).  In addition to your close/active reading notes, and whatever additional roles you decide on as a group, here is an additional incentive: if you answer the the Literature Analysis questions in a post to your blog by the end of Thanksgiving weekend (11:59 P.M. on Sunday, December 1) you can count this as a Literature Analysis.
3. Go to the member blogs page, find 15 people you don't know well, and comment to their blogs with: a) a compliment about their blog, b) a question you need help with for finals prep or Henry V / Dickens, and c) the URL of your blog so they can comment back.
4. Happy Thanksgiving in advance.  (Why wait to be thankful?)  Thank someone you love, thank someone you like, thank someone you can't stand, and thank someone you don't know.  And, since I don't say it often enough: thank you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

november 20


Today's entry will be a post-mortem on your essay. Please reflect on your strategy (How did you study? Did you do a pre-write? Did you allow enough time to proofread?), your sense of outcomes (Did you rock it? Did you suffer? Did you rock it AND suffer?), and your takeaways/lessons for next time (What will you do better and/or differently?).

1. Essay
2. Journal

1. Begin collaborating with your literature group. Agree to an online platform and/or meeting schedule outside school that will support your study of Henry V, Tale of Two Cities, and/or Great Expectations. On that platform, come to an agreement on a reading schedule that will enable all members of your group to complete the reading by the end of Thanksgiving weekend (Sunday, December 1).
2. Post about your literature study/group to your blog (title: BRAIN WITH [x] LEGS). Describe the process of choosing the work, explain how you intend to collaborate on/offline, and share your reading schedule.

this just in from valerie rhs '13

I just received this email from Valerie Gonzalez, who graduated RHS last year. I receive lots of email from alumni but this one stands out. Why take my word for "life after high school" when you can get real-time info from someone who is living it? (FYI: we will be using this as our curriculum post-paper and pre-final.) Please feel free to take her up on personal statement advice-- Valerie is (obviously) a terrific writer and you're lucky to get her help for free.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

november 19

JOURNAL TOPICS: [today's tunes: "Fight the Power" (slightly edited) by Public Enemy; "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye; "Imagine" by John Lennon]

Like Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," each of today's tunes expresses a perspective on the idea that the human condition can-- and should-- be better. Analyze the tone and theme of each tune and evaluate its effectiveness. (Regarding the latter, attempt to be objective, i.e., focus on its reasoning/rhetorical appeal-- if you find yourself describing what you "like" then acknowledge this as a matter of personal preference rather than technical or artistic merit.)

1. Check out Tale of Two Cities and/or Great Expectations from library (if needed)
2. Journal
3. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave": background and essay prep

1. Review vocab for tomorrow's quiz
2. Review Plato/notes for tomorrow's essay 

Monday, November 18, 2013

final presentations

Pondering your presentation preparation?

In contrast to the vocabulary final (Wednesday of dead week, December 4), which will be about as formal and anti-fun as you can imagine, and the essay final (Thursday of dead week, December 5), which will require you to organize and articulate your expertise on multiple texts and literary elements, and which will probably make your pen-wielding muscles ache, your final presentation



This is your opportunity to showcase:
  • What you've learned for the first time;
  • What you've improved the most;
  • What you've done best;
  • What you want to learn more about;
  • What you know;
  • Your strengths and talents.
That's it.

(Imagined) Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will we be graded?
A: Creative/effective communication of a topic that convinces your audience that you've mastered an element of the course = A.

Q: What tools/media can we use to create our presentation?
A: Anything that doesn't harm sentient beings or break any laws/school policies.  Except posters.  No posters.

Q: Is there a time limit?
A: Sort of.  We will be limited by the number of presenting groups in each two-hour final period.  However, if you use online media we can direct the audience to your site for the overtime.  This may be an interesting way to augment/replace what I have in mind over the break.  If your group has planned a presentation that you know won't fit into the final period schedule in its entirety, please plan on showing the "directors' highlights" and walking your audience through it.  Please remember-- and this goes for everyone-- to leave a couple of minutes for Q&A.

Q: Can we collaborate with students in other classes?
A: Yes.  You may collaborate with anyone on Earth.  Extra credit if you collaborate with anyone not on Earth.

Don't forget the secret ingredient.  Please plan to submit your group's proposal in class on Tuesday, November 26.  Have fun and comment to this post with questions/ideas.

november 18

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Symbol In My Driveway" by Jack Johnson; "Money" by Pink Floyd]

Although we all buy, use, wear, and eat real "things" in the world, our selections are also symbolically significant in our culture.  When is a car a mode of transportation and when is it a status symbol?  How much of your wardrobe, home decor, and other "life accoutrements" are designed to "say things" about you in addition to serving their basic function/s?  Can you make a meaningful connection between your thinking on this topic and Plato's style and/or message in "Allegory of the Cave"?

1. Journal
2. Mind map collaboration p/review
3. Plato: style and substance

1. Review vocab lists 3, 4, 6, & 7 for quiz Wednesday
2. Bring your ID if you want to check out Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities on campus Tuesday, November 19
3. Review Plato (essay Wednesday, November 20)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

incorporating twitter

Q: Wouldn't it be cool if Dr. Preston started dropping hints about finals on his Twitter feed?
A: Yes, it would.
Q: What is Dr. Preston's Twitter handle?
A: @prestonlearning
Q: Sweet.
A: Yes, it is.
Q: Why does he only have 423 followers?
A: Because he spends less time on Twitter than you do on homework.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

the student may become the master

It appears a graduate student has built a semantic search engine that's better than Google.

the brain with 156 legs is...ALIVE!

[UPDATE Saturday 1:45 P.M.  Brenna just posted a link to a TED talk by Daniel Kahneman that is so good I'll be stuck at my laptop for the next 20 minutes.]

[UPDATE Saturday 3:35 P.M.  Watching Ashley, Elisia, Lindsey, Maria & Miki work on the mind map (the Dr. Doolittle cover is a nice touch, Lindsey!).  It seems like we're getting the basics covered-- we'd be prepared to help someone answer a basic comprehension/recall question like, What books does Dawkins think world leaders should read?  But the deeper and more interesting question is: Why?  Do these books contain a powerful message?  Are they merely fashionable among certain types of thinkers?  Kudos to Erica for explicating Dennett's book-- I haven't read it and seeing the 7 tools really helped!]

[UPDATE Saturday 4:10 P.M. Thanks for editing the title link, Allyson! :]

[UPDATE Sunday 2:10 P.M. Thanks to everyone who participated during the first 24 hours.  Since this mind map will stay up for the foreseeable future, please feel free to continue contributing. #timeflies] 

Check in on the action here.


Just checked my watch and realized I'd better post to the blog to start the Brain.  Ha, ha.  58 minutes old & it's already shaping up.  Thanks to Andrew, Eli, Erica, and the others who have posted already!

Friday, November 15, 2013

brain with 156 legs: ready...set.

I found a shorter/more current/more allusion-packed article!  Here is the link to "Richard Dawkins: By the Book" which appeared in The New York Times on September 15, 2013.  I've copied the text to an etherpad [here] so that you can skim/ select/ declare the items and passages that interest you most.  I also created the mind map and sent email invitations via Mindmeister's "share" function.  If it doesn't show up please check your Spam folder and email if you need me to resend.

november 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Me and My Shadow" by Frank Sinatra; "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens; "Jumpin' at Shadows" by Fleetwood Mac & Peter Green]

Compare yourself to the denizens of Plato's Cave. Describe something you expect to learn during the mind map experience (about a text, about the process, about yourself) that will help you break the chains and see more than shadows.

1. Journal
2. Discussion: "Brain with 156 Legs"
3. Discussion: "The Allegory of the Cave"
4. Calendar and lit circles 2.0 (Henry V, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations)

1. Prepare for essay on "Allegory of the Cave"
2. Consider which collaborative working group you want to join, follow and/or create

inside the world of competitive laughing

You read that right.  Meet the laughletes.

a personal perspective on haiyan

This first-person perspective is as powerful as the storms of nature and politics that inspired it.

collaborative working group: oh the [project] humanity!

If you haven't already heard, Danny and Lesther have teamed up to create Project Humanity

Here is their most recent announcement to ASB and faculty:

Project Humanity - a RHS Club of concerned students - would like the entire student body to join in and help send our support to the people in the Philippines after the devastating typhoon last weekend. We are asking that tomorrow during 3rd period - a coin can will be sent around to each class. Please just drop in any coins you might have in your pockets. Many have been affected so every cent counts. Let's show that the Righetti Warriors are always willing to help out in times of need so that they will push on and never give up on life which are the true warriors in life. The people of the Philippines will be ever so grateful for your support! Thank you so much!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

canada's newest export: nice graffiti

This graffiti is impossibly gentle and good-natured.  I'm off to draw a smiley face somewhere (legal).

how to waste time properly

According to "How to Waste Time Properly," wasting time can make you more productive and creative.  I'll look into it as soon as I finish the 3017 things on my to-do list.

kevin lake: fashion god and entrepreneur

Last weekend our own Kevin Lake invaded New York and took the fashion world by storm with his new line for the fall.  In addition to being featured in retail stores in Manhattan, Kevin's style will also be featured in a new online mag.  He promises details soon...  (he's sitting in front of me now saying how much better you'd look in one of his shirts)...

stop punting!

According to this article, how does traditional/habituated thinking inhibit success?  Are we "ready for what we think we want?"

collaborative working group: mentors and educators

If you're interested in becoming a teacher, or you're just the sort of person who likes to help others understand schtuff, let's get together.  First meeting will be next Tuesday at lunch (*if you can't make it then please comment or email and we'll find a time that works). Mahalo.

collaborative working group: the game is afoot

Anyone interested in running a game with me?  Comment to this post and/or email so we can find a time and start the conversation next Monday at lunch. (*If you can't make it that day let me know and we'll include you.)  Mahalo.

plato study questions

Here are your study questions.  Feel free to comment with questions or ideas.  Online originals here [Update: they used to be there... in any event, thanks to Professor Michael Sudduth of San Francisco State.]

1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?

2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?

3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?

4. What do the imagery of "shackles" and the "cave" suggest about the perspective of the cave dwellers or prisoners?

5. In society today or in your own life, what sorts of things shackle the mind?

6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners?

7. According to the allegory, lack of clarity or intellectual confusion can occur in two distinct ways or contexts. What are they?

8. According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom?

9. The allegory presupposes that there is a distinction between appearances and reality. Do you agree? Why or why not?

10. If Socrates is incorrect in his assumption that there is a distinction between reality and appearances, what are the two alternative metaphysical assumptions?

november 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Searching" by Erykah Badu; "Still Searching" by The Kinks; "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons]

Betrand Russell wrote, “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” Today we're focusing on Russell's second passion. What is your experience in searching for knowledge? Have you ever wandered into a library/store/search engine/community just for the sake of answering a question? If you have, describe the experience: What did you expect to find? How did you unearth information? Where did the process lead you? If you haven't done something like this, visualize a question that intrigues you and imagine how you might go about answering it.

1. Journal
2. Brain 2.0.2 / platforms and article/s
3. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"

1. Brain 2.0.2 [TBD]
2. Read Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" (click the link or read here after the jump)
3. Answer these study questions in a post to your blog entitled "Plato's Allegory of the Cave"

hard copy hamlet essays

If I didn't get yours yet, please bring it to class today.  Mahalo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

collaborative working group: project positive

Feeling down about the world?  Join Project Positive, where "small changes make big differences!"

novelists unite!

Hats off to everyone who is writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month-- check out the novelists' blog!

november 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Help!" by The Beatles, "Help Me" by Joni Mitchell]

Describe a time you gave or got much-needed help.  Why did it make a difference?  What about the experience can you take with you to make future efforts and relationships more successful?

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary/reading quiz
3. T.S. Eliot was no Lee Harvey Oswald
4. Brain 2.0.2

1. Comment to this post with your choice of mind map and your suggested article/s

brain 2.0.2 with 156 (+?) legs

1. [for Wednesday 11.13] Read the definition of mindmap in the screenshot here:

2. [for Wednesday 11.13] Familiarize yourself with CMAP and--if you like it-- download the mindmap program

3. [for Wednesday 11.13] Determine how we can all contribute to the mindmap. If you don't see a way: 1) ask partner/colleagues for help, and/or 2) find, evaluate and propose a free mindmap platform that allows us all to collaborate.

4. [for Wednesday 11.13] Find at least two mindmaps you think are good enough to be models for us all to consider. Cut/paste links to them so we can see what you see. After you list the links, so that we know what to look for, briefly describe what these maps do well and what they could improve.

5. [For Friday 11.15] Skim [EITHER "My 6,128 Favorite Books" OR AN ARTICLE TBD]. Look for words, ideas and allusions that you don't recognize and/or you'd like to know more about.

6. On Saturday [11.16], at a time we all agree on in class Friday, we will begin working together as fast as we can to populate the mind map. We will have a maximum of 24 hours to complete the mission. We can finish before then if someone who's keeping track calls for a review and we discover that we've covered everything. In fact, now that I think about it, we should probably create some sort of strategic plan before we start-- this way we can decide things like whether we should start in sections, or in different places, or whether we should have specific roles.

r.i.p. clifford nass

Clifford Nass was a Stanford professor whose research on our relationship with technology yielded great insight.  He showed that multitaskers are "terrible at every aspect of multitasking" and our computers make us "feel good or bad" in ways other tools don't.  Read more here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a history of the college application from 1856 to today

The post of this title is actually the subtitle of the article I just read.  The title of the article I just read is...

How Getting Into College Became Such a Long, Frenzied, Competitive Process

they loved your gpa then they saw your tweets

Read this.  Then share it with your colleagues who still don't know better.

take out your mental trash

Isn't that a more interesting title for a blog post than "get some sleep"?

november 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Come Together" by The Beatles; "Why Can't We Be Friends" by War]

What inspires you to be at your best? Do you work more effectively as an individual, as a member of a group, or does it depend on the task/people/situation? Explain the factors that enable teams to succeed in ways "Lee Harvey Oswalds" can't, and discuss the implications for community and country. For instance, after an event that divides winners and losers (a big game, a court case, an election), how can people come back to the table to work together?

1. Journal
2. Regarding vocab (resolved: lists 1, 2, 8, & 9 are eligible tomorrow-- find them here)
3. Regarding groups and collaboration
4. "Best of" discussion/presentations

1. Read Read the article after the jump (and post notes to your blog, title: WE HANG TOGETHER) -- there will be an extensive reading quiz tomorrow along with the vocabulary test (*you read that correctly; welcome to the speed round). As you read, pay particular attention to how collaborative relationships operate offline and think about how we can increase their value by networking online.  Then go back to vocabulary.
2. Study vocabulary
3. Read this and do this.

wrt vonnegut

Don't know how I forgot to include the pic below on the Vonnegut post-- and, in response to Melissa et al, we can certainly read one of his novels together.  I'll put this on our reunion agenda today.

github (and us?)

Github is a web-based hosting service for software & content development projects.  Yesterday a good friend Tweeted a link to non-coding uses of Github, which got me thinking about ways learning and working with Github could amplify & accelerate your Collaborative Working Groups and other endeavors.  If you're interested let's play!

Friday, November 8, 2013

a letter from kurt vonnegut

I see the words in big blue graffiti every day in class.  So it goes.  Every day I read those words, and every day I think of Kurt Vonnegut and the people he's influenced.  Still, it's always great to see something familiar through someone else's eyes (why else would I read Hamlet for the nth time?).    This week Amanda Lyons tweeted me a message about a letter Vonnegut wrote to high school students, and it's a powerful reminder of why his words touched so many so deeply.  Inside each student and professional there lives a human being with a giving spirit, a loving heart, and a curious mind.  That's who Vonnegut wrote for.  And since he's not here anymore, it's up to us to remind each other.  So Read his letter.  Then Read it again.  Then LIVE it.  I'm going to keep trying too. :)
From the Letters of Note website: 
"Back in 2006, a group of students at Xavier High School in New York City (one of whom, "JT," submitted this letter) were given an assignment by their English teacher, Ms. Lockwood, that was to test their persuasive writing skills: they were asked to write to their favourite author and ask him or her to visit the school. Five of those pupils chose Kurt Vonnegut. His thoughtful reply, seen below, was the only response the class received."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

november 7-8


[Choose your own.]

1. Journal
2. Work on: Hamlet remix, sonnet study/big question remix
3. Literature analysis (if applicable)

1. Finish everything to your satisfaction by Tuesday

the french fight school on wednesday

According to this article, "The government's decision to no longer give schoolchildren a break in the middle of the week has parents up in arms."

youtube question

Does anyone know how to post a still photo for a music video, so the video just displays the pic throughout the song?  Please comment with your how-to wisdom.

november 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Lovebug Itch" by Eddy Arnold; "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent]

How long can you stand an itch before you scratch it?

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Remix
4. Sonnet: definition & historical background
5. Big question + sonnet choice
6. [Planning discussion] Mastering, remixing, and teaching your sonnet

1. Revisit your Big Question
2. Select a sonnet that relates to your Big Question
3. Post about your thought process re: 1 & 2 (Title: A POETIC INQUIRY)
4. Post your lecture notes on sonnets to your blog (Title: SONNET ANALYSIS #1)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

got rhythm?

Every once in a while we discover how learning/thinking in one domain helps us learn/think about something completely different (you may remember the dancing stats or the photographer's approach to literature). 

This time, thanks to Ricky, here is more evidence that music makes everything better, including school and learning.  Rock on.

$70M high school football stadium?

According to this article, voters in Texas are being asked to foot the bill for a high school football stadium that "would open in August, 2015, seat 14,000 people and cost $69.5 million. And it would be placed right next to the 10,000-seat arena they already have."

november 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The End" by The Doors]

Long before we met, and long after you've passed the AP exam and gone on to greater things, literature has always been and will always be an act of self-expression. Literature is the human record of how we create stories for ourselves and others. And, as we've discussed, literature also serves as an artifact of how individual authors observed, critiqued and were influenced by the times and cultures in which they lived. As Marshal McLuhan famously observed, "The medium is the message." As we've also discussed, we'd probably get to know Hamlet in a completely different way if he maintained a blog or posted pics to instagram, tumblr, flickr, pinterest, or...[?]  Explain how using technology to research/create/share content online can amplify your best qualities and more effectively tell your story. If you don't see a difference between telling your story in online media versus telling it with pen and paper, explain that too.

1. Journal
2. Socratic seminar (continued)

1. Consider, analyze, and evaluate the remix resources
2. Remix your Hamlet essay (title: HAMLET REMIX)

remix resources

Sarah's take on "to be or not to be" and our conclusion of Hamlet makes this the perfect time to formally introduce the concept of the remix.

Here is Kirby Ferguson, creator of the Everything is a Remix series, explaining his theory of creative inspiration, remix, and cultural commons, and citing some of history's best-loved "individual" creators and explaining how what they did was a remix, i.e., an extension and a part of the work that came before them.

2011/08 Kirby Ferguson from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

Here is an example of an augmentative remix (originally mentioned contributed by course alum Maddy Hunt and referenced by a few of you this year) in which a live talk by Sir Ken Robinson is reconfigured into multiple layers of visual media:

Monday, November 4, 2013

kudos: october

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

Mia Levy (Elks Lodge Scholarship; admitted to Rutgers University)
Javier Solis (Admitted to UCR; Questbridge Finalist)
Lisa Malins (NMSQT Semifinalist)
Rebecca Aldrich (Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarship)
Melissa Steller (Admitted to Purdue University; admitted to NAU)
Kylie Sagisi ($500 YMCA Scholarship; Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce Scholarship [November])
Maria Luna (Accepted to CSU Dominguez Hills)
Amara Sharp (Accepted to Fresno State)
Miranda Nillo (Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce Scholarship [October])

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.

congratulations thunder drumline

Congratulations to (author) Jon Begg, Ricky Luna, and the other members of the RHS Thunder Drumline on their Dia De Los Muertos performance and taking the #1 High School Percussion Award at the 35th Annual Pismo Beach Marching Band Review!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

november 4

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters; "Heroes" by David Bowie]

Heroes are essential to humanity. Every culture throughout history has chronicled their exploits. Today their role is more important than ever; heroes inspire us to think differently, act differently, and ultimately become better versions of ourselves. Even though everyone gets the general idea of a hero, the people we admire are as individual as we are. They may have impressive personalities, intellects or physical attributes; they may be ordinary people who do  extraordinary things; they may be public or private. They may even be our friends and relatives.

Write a letter to someone you consider to be a hero. Explain to this person why s/he is heroic and tell the person how s/he has moved or inspired you.

1. Journal
2. Socratic seminar [possible topics: performative utterances in Hamlet, the essay, vocabulary, speakers, study/blog strategies, "Modern Thinkers," how the course can provide maximal value for every one of us from now until the end of the semester/year]; take notes and feel free to capture on phones and upload to the YouTube channel.  As always, please be mindful; before you turn on the camera ask everyone in your field of vision if it's ok to post their images-- and if they say "no" please don't.  Mahalo.

(To be continued Tuesday.  Please bring your current literature analysis novel to class Wednesday.)

1. Review/prepare for vocab #9 quiz tomorrow (Tuesday)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

congratulations annette and gabby

Congratulations to Girl’s Tennis Champions Gabby Pereverziev and Annette Sousa.  Good luck at CIF!

(I didn't catch this article about Annette when it came out, better to share late than never.  Kudos, Annette! :)

inside the cheater's mind

In attempting to answer the question, "Why do people cheat?" this article concludes, "A solid moral compass can, in other words, lead one safely through dim rooms with graffiti-covered walls."  Hey, wait a minute: WE work all day in a dim room with graffiti-covered walls... 

nominate the youth

If you know a young person in grades 5-11 who would be a good candidate for this opportunity, please share this link with him/her.  Mahalo.

If you ARE a young person in grades 5-11 who was referred here by someone who thinks highly of you (or you are lucky enough to have stumbled on this site by accident), please read the following letter and, if you're interested, compose an email-- WITH a parent or guardian who likes the idea-- and send it to

people to people -

Friday, November 1, 2013

member blogs: best of

I was just reading through the Member Blogs when I realized spent five minutes longer than I thought on Ian Steller's blog.  (I think I wound up there through the Random Absence Mentoring post on Princeton University.)  Why was I reading back through vocabulary and a literature analysis on Siddhartha that I'd already read?  There's a special quality about some of these blogs: the features, the layouts, the music (or quiet), the colors/graphics (or minimalist/functional design)... they just seem to work.  When a site draws you in like this, you begin to understand why there is an entire field of study dedicated to user engagement.  Kudos.  Please Note: There are lots of great ones, please comment to this post with your favorites--it might help someone's grade.

[Speaking of Kudos: I forgot to type/take a picture of the Kudos in class today-- will post Monday.] 

hating on daylight saving time

Until this author gets his way, we're stuck with it.  Don't forget to change your clocks on Sunday. :)

november 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Say What" by Stevie Ray Vaughan; "Say It Now (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" by James Brown; "Say It To Me Now" by Glen Hansard]

How does what we say relate to what we do? Does telling ourselves or other people what we think/feel/intend change our thought process and/or feelings? Does it make us more or less likely to act? Does it teach us anything about ourselves?

1. Journal
2. Read/summarize/discuss Act V

1. Please comment to this post with any questions/ideas about the following topic and ways to write about it. Please post the essay to your blog and bring a hard copy (typed or handwritten) to class on Monday, 11.4.

Using what you've learned about Hamlet the character and Hamlet the play, evaluate the impact of performative utterance on Hamlet and your own sense of self. How does the way Hamlet speaks constitute action in itself? How does it impact the characters and the plot? How does this compare with your own "self-overhearing"? How does the way you reflect on your experience create a sense of memory, expectation, and real-world results? Use the text, your reading/lecture notes, the experience of memorizing the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, de Boer's paper (and Bloom's/Austin's theoretical frameworks), and the many online and offline discussions we've had.