Friday, January 31, 2014

january 31

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago" by Johnny Cash; "Well Respected Man" by The Kinks; "Accountancy Shanty" by Monty Python)

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word accountable (adj.) means, "Answerable; responsible." Contrary to popular belief, we do not hold others accountable-- we ARE accountable (or not). So, write a performative utterance in which you describe how you will use today's time to pursue your goals in this course and the world at large.

1. Journal
2. 35 minutes you will never have back

  • Compare your notes with others' and reflect on 
  • your note-taking strategy, 
  • anything you're missing, 
  • or disagree on, 
  • or have questions about.
  • Ask yourself what elements of GE and TOTC would make for meaningful comparisons.  Using what you've learned about AP-style prompts, create a few that invite analysis of similarities/differences.  Also consider how a "big idea" (Open Question) might apply to both.  For example: People change their attitudes and behavior depending on where they are in time and place.  How does this 'doubleness of character' reveal itself and influence the reader's understanding of theme/tone in the following works?
Please write your discussion notes on an Exit Ticket and leave in a pile on top of the journals. (And have a great weekend! :)

1. Post a description of how you used today's time (title: THE TIME OF MY LIFE)
2. Study for lit terms quiz Monday

Thursday, January 30, 2014

kudos: january (II)

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

Javier Solis (Admitted to Mercy Business College with $6k/year scholarship)
Lisa Malins (Landed the role of Juliet in the RHS production of Romeo & Juliet)
Erica Marquez (Admitted to California State University Northridge)
Kelsey Robertson (Admitted to Colorado School of Mines with $12k/year scholarship)
Allyson Brown (Admitted to Princeton University)
Miki Kagawa (Admitted to UC Riverside)
Becky Aldrich ($2500 Floro Scholarship)
Annette Souza (Admitted to California Lutheran University with $22k/year scholarship; admitted to Dominican University with $21k/year scholarship)
Jason Limon (Admitted to Sonoma State)
Ashley Hong (Admitted to UC Riverside)
Meghan Martella (Admitted to Cal Poly Pomona)
Jacob Fowler (Admitted to University of Redlands with $19k/year scholarship)
Maddison Hill (Admitted to UC Riverside)
Maria Luna (Admitted to California State University Northridge, UC Riverside)
Bianca Ramirez (Admitted to Cal State Fullerton)
Rachel Nolan (Admitted to Sonoma State, Cal Poly Pomona)
Kylie Sagisi ($2500 Floro Scholarship)
Bailey Wineman (Admitted to Sonoma State)
Kristen Crockett (Admitted to California State University Northridge)
Ian Stellar ($1000 Comcast Leaders & Achievers Scholarship)
Lesther Valenzuela ($2500 Floro Scholarship)
Mia Levy ($10k/year scholarship to the University of Illinois)
Hannah Savaso ($2500 Floro Scholarship; Admitted to Loyola with $15k scholarship)
Izamar Diaz (Admitted to California State University Northridge in Microbiology)

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.

january 30

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Listen to the Music" by The Doobie Brothers; "Upside Down" by Jack Johnson]

My favorite elementary school announcement: "Free Play!" Little did I know then that "Free Play"is also a philosophical concept created by Jacques Derrida. Derrida argues that when there is no "center" or structure, that all ideas/actions are relative and "play" off of each other. Does your head hurt yet? No? Then let's apply this to Shakespeare: when Harry gives the St. Crispian's Day pre-game speech at the Battle of Agincourt, he depends on established rules ("Obey your king") and mutual/shared understandings of abstract concepts (honor, e.g.).  These shared structures are the reasons why none of the soldiers say, "Oh man, who cares? Who died and made you king? What's the point of existence anyway?" It's clear that everyone understands the rules of engagement and the central purpose for the fight, and the only question is whether they can rise to the occasion.  If they were in a state of "free play" the soldiers would be free to invent roles, use their organization for an altogether different purpose, or strike off on their own for any reason real or imagined (or absolutely no reason at all).

To summarize/simplify through gross over-generalization: To a child on a playground, "free play" means a fun opportunity for independent decision-making. To a philosopher, "free play" means that everything is relative and lacks structure.

When do you think structure is important, and when do you think lack of structure is important?  You may consider this in the context of literature, learning, or life outside the classroom.

1. Journal
2. Derrida's concept of Free Play
3. Discussion/application

1. Study & Reflect.  For tomorrow (Friday, 2.1) you should have a solid handle on the two Dickensian lectures, this week's lit terms, your lit analysis book, and Derrida's concept of structure/free play (so please at least read the Wikipedia entry and skim the Stanford Philosophy entry).
2. Reminder: finish your lit terms for tomorrow (Friday)
3. Reminder: finish literature analysis #1 for tomorrow (Friday) 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

january 29

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Alligator Story" by Louis Armstrong; "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" by The Beatles; "Wedding Rain" by Liz Story]

[New/improved tunes, suggested by Rachel and curated by Maddison: "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin; "One Day" by Matisyahu.  Stay tuned tomorrow for Jack Johnson & more from Melissa...]

In thinking back on the literature analysis you should be finishing up this week (and/or consulting your active reading notes), describe 2-3 literary techniques the author used.  What purpose(s) did these techniques serve?  How would a Dickensian character, theme, or plot line complement or disrupt the structure/tone?  Be sure to include the title and author.

1. Journal
2. Quiz on lecture
3. Deconstructing lecture and comparing notes
4. Segues to Great Expectations & Catch-22

1. Reminder: lit terms (due Friday)
2. Reminder: lit analysis #1 (due Friday)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

cash for essays

This just in from RHS assistant principal Sal Reynoso (Thanks, Sal!):

january 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive; "Taking Care of No Business" by Jimi Hendrix)

What is it about habituated routines that make our lives both easier (more efficient) and harder to change (put down that third bag of Hot Cheetos!)?  Describe a routine you want to start, describe a routine you want to stop, and describe a routine you want to continue.

1. Journal
2. Dickens lecture/video redux

1. Reminder: lit terms on blog by COB Friday
2. Reminder: lit analysis on blog by COB Friday

Sunday, January 26, 2014

january 27

Posting this early to give you a head start on HW.  

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Creativity in Action/I'm In the Mood For Love" by Steve Martin; "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" by the Temptations)

What's the difference between writing fiction and telling a lie?  (Hint: There is a big difference.) 

1. Journal
2. Lit/terms exam

1. Please post this week's (list #4) lit terms on your blog by COB this Friday (Jan 31)
2. Reminder: literature analysis #1 is due on your blog by COB this Friday (Jan 31)
3. Read this quote:
"What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people's hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you're playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack." -Keith Richards
4. Answer this question in a post to your blog entitled WHAT'S THE STORY? (due Tue 1.28)
Why did Charles Dickens write the novel you're reading/reviewing? What in your analysis of literary techniques led you to this conclusion? (Make sure to include textual support illustrating Dickens' use of at least three techniques we've studied/discussed this year.)
5. Watch Dr. Tony Williams's Gresham College lecture on A Tale of Two Cities (below); take notes and post them to your blog (Title: Tale of Two Cities Lecture Notes)

Friday, January 24, 2014

lit terms: list 4

interior monologue
magic(al) realism
metaphor (extended, controlling, & mixed)
omniscient point of view

Thursday, January 23, 2014

january 24

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

Yesterday we identified an opportunity to improve.  Please use today's time in class to discuss the novel you read (Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, or Catch-22) with your literature circle.  In the course of your conversation please make sure each person in your group comes away with a solid understanding of:
  • Evidence-based conclusions with regard to theme, tone, characterization, and plot (i.e., can you accurately describe each of these elements in the novel and point to textual examples that illustrate/support your ideas?)
  • Examples of the literature techniques (from the lists of terms)
  • Ways that the author used the techniques to deepen the reader's understanding (e.g., how does Dickens' use of anaphora at the beginning of Tale of Two Cities illuminate the tone and foreshadow the conflict?).
Please leave ten minutes at the end of the period to reflect on the process in your journal.  What did you talk about?  How did you approach the topic/s?  What made sense and helped you understand?  What do you still have questions about?

1. Please post LIT TERMS: LIST 4 definitions/usage/remix to your blog by Monday, January 27
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #1 due next Friday (January 31)

january 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll" by Blue Oyster Cult; "Better Things" by The Kinks)

If you read Tale of Two Cities, describe the conflict in the novel at each level you perceive it-- within the characters' minds, between the characters, and in the broader society.

If you read Great Expectations, describe the relationship between class and "good/evil" characters.  What role do you think wealth/materialism plays in the ways Dickens portrays his characters?  Do you see evidence of tone here?

If you read Catch-22, describe the use of humor to address what is arguably the most tragic topic in human experience: war.

1. Journal
2. Essay #1 feedback
3. Exam prep for tomorrow

1. Study your novel and your notes. 
2. Reminder: please post your lit terms definitions/usage/remix by COB tomorrow (Friday, Jan 24)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

january 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Expectations" by Belle & Sebastian; "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream; "Tale of Sir Robin" by Monty Python)

Re: the Dickens novel you chose, why the title?  Why Tale of Two Cities instead of Story, Saga, Account, Narrative, (etc.) of Two Cities?  What's so Great about Expectations? (And, for the period 4 winners, what is a Catch-22 and why do you think the phrase has become so widely used, mostly by people who haven't even read the book?)

1. Journal
2. Use today's class period to reconnect with your literature group and refresh your memories.  Start with the journal topic and move through the basics of theme, tone, characterization, and plot.  Then move on to the lit terms/techniques and test the first three lists against the text.  Once you've identified a few, ask yourselves: Does the author favor/repeat a particular technique?  Does the technique enhance or reinforce an element of the overall theme, tone, characterization, or plot?  Please take notes, we will begin Thursday's conversation with your information and questions.

1. Work on lit terms list 3 (post by COB Friday, 1/24)
2. Work on lit analysis 1 (post by COB Friday, 1/31)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"ap student seeks poem for long walks on the beach..."

If you're looking for a selection of poetry to read for AP prep or the sheer love of reading poetry, here is a great resource:

(And, if you're really savvy in your reflection on "Dover Beach" it will help you understand that scene in Fahrenheit 451 when Montag reads poetry to Mildred's friends and they fall apart...)

shall i compare this dominant gene to a summer's day

Scientists have encoded all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets in synthetic DNA.

hold your wo/manhoods cheap whilst this 5 year-old speaks...

In the process of thinking about today's essay prompt I rediscovered a delicious post from last year.  Check this kid out.  (Thanks again, Christa!)

(*And no, I'm not going to put my daughter through the paces...unless she asks! :)

lit terms: list 3

falling action
figurative language
folk tale
free verse
gothic tale

january 21

No in-class journal topic today and only one item on the agenda: A question awaits your answer.

1. Please reflect on your performance on today's essay exam and write about it in your journal.
2. Begin work on lit terms list 3; from now on, you can explain/remix the terms in the ways that most effectively help you and those who follow your blog.  Please post LIT TERMS LIST 3 to your course blog by 5:00 P.M. Pacific on Friday, January 24.

Monday, January 20, 2014

reminder: lit terms quiz tomorrow

As you prepare for tomorrow's essay exam on Henry V's St. Crispian's speech, please stay mindful of this week's lit terms/techniques. There may be separate questions on these, and there may be opportunities to identify/define/apply/use them in the context of your essay.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

AP poetry and prep for tuesday's essay

If you memorized the St. Crispian's Day speech and feel you understand it intuitively, you're off to a great start for Tuesday's essay.  If you feel like a little more guidance/structure/practice will help, try the following:

(*If you haven't memorized the speech, please spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with select passages that you believe capture the overall tone, theme, and sense of the narrator/context.)

1. Reflect on the process of memorization and the meaning of the text. What did you learn through the process of reading deeply? What questions do you have about the context of the speech and the techniques evident in it?

2. Paraphrase Henry V's speech and describe what you know about the narrator, the structure, the theme, the purpose, the tone, and the grammar/spelling/diction.

3. Consult the following chapter on AP writing/poetry (*If Docstoc asks for $, or if you can't read for any other reason, please email for the .pdf-- I will also send the .pdf & embed code to Lisa/Random Absence Mentoring.)

AP ENGLITCOMP writing about poetry -

Friday, January 17, 2014

january 17


Please compare and contrast the spirit/themes of Henry V's monologue with your sense of tackling the last semester of your high school career and/or preparing with your colleagues for the AP exam.

1. Journal
2. Last gasp: St. Crispian
3. Discuss HW

1. Work on literature analysis #1
2. Essay preparation for Tuesday
3. Add a "Followers" gadget to your blog
4. Recruit and add 20 followers (from our three classes) to your course blog

brady gratitude & henry v sarah-style

Yesterday Brady Redman (RHS '13) showed up in fourth period with four pizzas.

Me: "Brady, great to see you!  What's with all the pizza?"
Brady: "I remember how hard this assignment was, especially at this point in the year, and I just wanted to encourage this year's class to put in the work.  It sucks but it pays off."

Thank you, Brady.

Seeing Brady caused me to reflect on last year's course, and suddenly I remembered this gem (copied & pasted from last year's course blog-- thanks once again, Sarah!):

For those of you searching for context and a deeper understanding of the St. Crispin's speech, this should help:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

january 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Ghostwriter" by Rjd2)

What does it mean to be accountable?  To another person?  To a friend?  A boss?  A spouse?

1. Journal
2. Double-check lit analysis books for (late) credit
3. Literature terms remix (remix resources here)
4. "We few, we happy few..."

1. Help each other.  Tomorrow will be the last observance of St. Crispian's Day.
2. Remix the first five lit terms on this week's list and post to your blog (title: LIT TERMS REMIX 1-5)

the internet as we know it is over

Do you know what "net neutrality" is? Neither do most Americans, or more people would be upset today. Read this to find out why.

Can you imagine a world in which every start-up entrepreneur has to have a conversation like this?

optional essay

As you may know, RHS is currently going through an accreditation process with the Western Association of Schools & Colleges.  Accreditation requires that the school show its work; administration and faculty have worked hard over the last few months to document exactly what happens here and why.  Ms. Dolan is leading this effort, and she had the idea to include student voices.  This is purely optional.  If you choose to write, please post to your blog (title: WRITING A WARRIOR).  The credit you earn will be based on the number of students who comment to your post with positive feedback and/or constructive critique.  Please see Ms. Dolan's email and the Warrior criteria below.

The "three aspects of a 'Warrior'" are Academic Excellence, Independent Learner, & Responsible Citizen (more below).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

january 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["No One To Depend On" by Santana; "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor]

In his book The Lonely Crowd, sociologist David Riesman suggested that city dwellers surrounded by millions are actually more isolated than people who live in smaller communities with less company.  My friend Kurt calls this "The Allegory of the Trail"-- almost everyone looks up and greets each other on the trail, even though the very same people may walk right by each other on the street.

The way we relate to each other is sometimes a matter of personality; it's more often a matter of context.  No matter how happy/angry/introverted/extroverted/rational/emotional a person is, for example, she has to act just like her classmates in school.  The nail that sticks out gets hammered. Everyone conforms to the same set of behaviors in a classroom or they get in trouble.

One of the behavioral norms in school is individual performance.  Do your own work.  Keep your eyes on your own paper.  Use your own words.  You've all learned how to do this well (or at least give the appearance).  The problem is, the world doesn't operate that way.  That's why so many organizational leaders look at talented, bright-eyed new graduates and wonder, "Why can't they be better team players?" Lev Vygotsky and many other theorists have observed that we learn better when we collaborate, and in today's networked world this is truer and easier than ever.

So, today's journal question is this: how can each of us help each other succeed this semester?  There is a Chinese proverb that says, "If you save a person's life you take responsibility for it."  The term "no child left behind" has been so abused that it's become meaningless, but what if we took it literally?  How can you help your fellow learners pass the AP exam and achieve their goals?  How can they help you?

1. Journal
2. Check literature analysis books for credit.
3. The military has Boot Camp. Football teams have Hell Week. We have Shakespeare.

1. Begin reading your literature analysis book if you haven't already (due in 16 days)
2. Practice if you didn't recite today
3. Give/get help
4. Make progress on your lit terms (due on your blog by COB Friday)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

january 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [tuneless Tuesday]

Write about whatever's on your mind.  If you're so inclined, practice a literary technique or two.

1. Journal
2. Work: memorization, lit terms, lit analysis

1. Memorization due on demand tomorrow
2. Please bring your first literature analysis book to class tomorrow

Monday, January 13, 2014

lit terms: list 2

[Just realized this got stuck in Drafts.  You have a big week, so please work your way through the list and post by Friday.  Thanks Bailey & Miranda!]


idea for lit analyses

Maddison has an idea for the literature analyses; check it out below and comment here or in class tomorrow.

renaissance application

In case you didn't get one in class...

january 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter from Camp Granada )" by Allan Sherman; "Every Picture Tells a Story" by Rod Stewart]

Describe the most memorable "you had to be there" story you've ever heard.  (If you haven't heard one worth remembering, tell one of your own.  If nothing comes to mind, make a better one up.  If that doesn't work, write a short story involving a squeaky wheel, a dinosaur egg, a bottle of shampoo, a baby rhino, a space station, a prison inmate and the quirky correspondent who writes her letters, and/or a yeti.)

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz
3. Lit analysis reading or memorization (if time)

1. Lit terms list #2; please post definitions and examples
2. Work on memorization for Wed

Friday, January 10, 2014

mini me

Whoa. (Thanks, Rudy!)

january 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Dadra" by Ravi Shankar)

What were the most compelling elements of your learning in Fall Semester? Did you draw inspiration from a Big Question, Collaborative Working Group, remix, new technology, literature analysis book, outside connected project, or something else related to the course? As you think about the options available to you now, which include just about whatever you can imagine, what inspires you as you imagine the next six months?

1. Journal
[following items subject to student teachers' presentation]
2. Lit terms
3. Goal exchange
4. SMART goal--> plan

1. Study for lit terms quiz Monday, January 13
2. Select your first Literature Analysis book & bring to class on Monday, January 13.
3. Begin memorizing the best pre-game speech in history (see below); due Wednesday, January 15

St. Crispin’s Day speech
from Henry V (1599) by William Shakespeare
clr gif

get a clue

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon.
You've read Fox in Sox
Now go find a box 
That you know can carry a tune.

They say you can't tell 
a book by it's cover;
I'm not really sure if that's true.
To whatever extent 
The jokers came and then went,

On Monday they're coming for you.

financial aid workshop

Mrs. Dirkes & Mr. Blanco are hosting a college financial aid workshop on Wednesday, January 15.  If you missed the College Boot Camp, or if you want to brush up, or if you are feeling a little more intense and ready to act on what you hear, please stop by the College Center for a pre-arranged absence/admission form.

kudos: january (I)

(*There is too much good news to wait until the end of the month-- and there's no more room on the board! :)

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

Danny Luu (Santa Maria Elks Lodge Student of the Month)
Ian Steller (Admitted to Westminster College with $16k annual scholarship)
Miranda Gomez (Admitted to CSULA, Sonoma State)
Kirsten Crockett (Admitted to CSU Fullerton)
Kendall Villa (Admitted to Chico State)
Erica Marquez (Admitted to San Francisco State)
Javier Solis (Admitted to Cal Poly Pomona/ Aerospace Engineering Department)
Hannah Savaso (Admitted to Loyola Marymount University & USF with $20k scholarship)
Summer Morgan (Admitted to CSU Channel Islands, UC Merced)
Allyson Brown (Admitted to University of Michigan)
Ashley Hong (Admitted to San Diego State University)
Bianca Ramirez (Admitted to San Francisco State University)
Jenna Noce (Admitted to George Mason University, Sonoma State, San Francisco State)
Serena Nichols (Admitted to Sacramento State)
Meghan Martella (Admitted to Chico State, San Diego State)
Kelsey Robertson (Admitted to Colorado School of Mines)
Amara Sharp (Admitted to Sacramento State)
Miranda Nillo (Admitted to Menlo College with $19k scholarship)
Mia Levy (Admitted to University of Illinois)
Jacob Fowler (Admitted to University of Redlands)
Jason Limon (Admitted to Northern Arizona University)
Bailey Wineman (Admitted to Cal Lutheran University with $22k scholarship, Westmont College with  $13k scholarship)
Sarah Stevens (Admitted to Cal Lutheran University with $17.5k scholarship)
Micaela Hellman (Admitted to Cal Lutheran University with $17.5k scholarship)

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.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

january 9

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "I Know There's An Answer" by The Beach Boys; "I Don't Know" by The Blues Brothers; "I Don't Wanna Know" by Dr. John)

What did you think about as you read the passage from Siddhartha? Did you recognize literary elements? Did you wonder where the passage occurs in the book, or what happened before/after it? Did you connect it to real life? Did you compare the psychology of the character/s to your own or people you know?  What actions did you take while reading (i.e., did you print it, annotate, or take notes)?

1. Journal
2. Discussion: synthesizing style & content
3. [for Friday] Your colleagues are treasure to be hunted* (*catch and release)--remember, when you save a life you take responsibility for it
4. [for Friday] SMART goals redux

* In class today we hacked the Agenda (see #3, 4 above & #5 below).  We also decided that it would be valuable to re-read the Siddhartha selection (see january 8) and identify any literary techniques from this week's lit terms list.  Please do so & come to class tomorrow (Friday) prepared to discuss.
1. Search for AP Literature/Composition questions on Siddhartha (I used the search terms "AP Literature questions Siddhartha") and find five multiple choice/essay questions worth asking.
2. What do these questions tell you about the AP exam? What do you need to "see" when you read a passage?
3. Create a post on your course blog entitled, "AP PREP POST 1: SIDDHARTHA"
4. In that post, please: a) list the five questions you chose and the URLs where you found them; b) answer the five questions to the best of your ability (if you listed an interesting question that you can't answer because it's not covered in the passage, explain what information you'd need to do a proper job); and c) explain what the questions tell you about the skills/content you need to master for the AP exam.
5. On a piece of paper, write the next draft of your SMART goal/s for this semester and bring to class for discussion tomorrow (Friday, 1.10)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

january 8

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Let the Day Begin" by The Call; "Where Do I Begin?" by Jill Sobule; "Begin the Begin" by R.E.M.)

Describe a thought or a feeling that you'd forgotten over break and experienced again when you walked back into this room.  Describe how you will create the thoughts and feelings you want to experience in this room this semester.

1. Journal
2. Reboot
3. Introduction to spring semester (part I)
4. Lit terms

1. Hack your education per our introductory conversation and post about it to your blog (title: HACKING MY EDUCATION)
2. Read the passage from Siddhartha (after the jump) and come to class prepared to discuss on Thursday, January 9.

calvin terrell

Tomorrow some of you will spend the day with Calvin Terrell. Today the faculty had our turn. The conversation positively reinforced the work you're doing and the methods you're using. Here are my notes (if you have any trouble viewing please email and I'll send the .pdf):

My notes help me remember and reflect, but they probably won't make as much sense to someone who wasn't in the room. And most of you won't be in the room when scholars (he likes that term better than students) meet with Calvin this week. So, would the scholars who are collaborating with Calvin please curate the event online (to whatever extent it's OK with Calvin and the other participants) and teach the rest of us about it when you get back to class? We will video and post the discussion to extend the dialogue.

Monday, January 6, 2014

lit terms: list 1

We will discuss in class on Wednesday/Thursday; quiz Monday, January 13.


tips for essays for tips

Check this out.


"Why bother creating our own goals," a student asked me once, "when we're already told what it means to succeed in school?  Aren't we just supposed to get A's?"

Being able to set and achieve goals is important in every endeavor: sports, organizations, self-improvement, emptying the dishwasher before your mother gets home.  Even though they know their roles and agree on the idea of winning, for example, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski requires his players to set goals for themselves and the team each season.  In Coach K's words, “Mutual commitment helps overcome the fear of failure—especially when people are part of a team sharing and achieving goals. It also sets the stage for open dialogue and honest conversation.”

When you share your goals you're sharing ideas that inform and inspire your colleagues.  These goals will form the basis for your Learning Plan over the spring semester, so please read this post and get the job done.  Knowing more about each other will also be important because none of us will prepare for the AP exam alone. 

Keep something else in mind.  Unlike players on a basketball team, you are being allowed, encouraged, and required to change the game itself.  Why not analyze a Russian novel by comparing it with its modern film adaptation?  Watch Anna Karenina and then think about how to demonstrate what you know in such a way that it will help us.  Huh?  You'd rather build a robot that writes, reads, interprets, and explains Russian novels to irritating teacher types?  Cool.  You can do that too.

If you are still thinking of this as a high school course to be gamed, please immediately find your closest friend and ask her to roll up a newspaper and smack you on the nose with it.*  (*If this doesn't work the first time, ask a friend who reads the newspaper on a computer.**) [**In this day and age, I should probably point out that this is not an actual instruction. Hands are not for hitting. Baseball bats are, but that isn't really relevant or appropriate here and now I find myself wondering how Montaigne ever righted the ship once he got off on one of these tangents.] If you're one of those people who cut corners last semester and thought we didn't notice, she will be doing you a favor.  It's better that you get your act together in private before we get started, before everyone sees what you do all the time, before 70% of your course grade is determined by your learning network.

Last semester was rehearsal.  This is showtime.

More on how to achieve your goals and develop your community of critique tomorrow. 

Happy 2014

Hi Everyone,
I hope you and your families have enjoyed your time away from school.

Welcome to the next chapter of our adventure.

Originally I planned on assigning work throughout the break as a way to sustain our momentum.  At the same time, however, I was also aware that (most of) you had done a lot of work and I wanted to avoid burn out, so I decided to give all of us a proper break.  (For the record, no one objected. :)

Now it's time to revisit what we accomplished in the fall and figure out how best to build toward achieving our goals in the spring.  Over the next few days I will post steps for you to take so that you're prepared for the first day.  These are assignments that will be evaluated not just by me, but by your entire learning network (which you will build

The first step is to figure out what you want to accomplish.

I'll go first. My goals for the spring semester are as follows:
  1. To help every member of our learning community accomplish his/her goals;
  2. To help every member of our learning community pass the AP English Literature and Composition exam
In order to accomplish my goals, I will obviously need to know more about yours.  So, as the first steps in this process, please do the following:
  1. Comment to this post with a brief (1-2 sentence) description of what you want to accomplish by participating in this course over the next six months. (NOTE: This should be about your personal passion, not a Hallmark-y "I want an A" or "I'll try real hard" nod to the assignment.)
  2. Post a longer description to your course blog under the title, "What's In This For Me?"
  3. If you haven't yet, write yourself an accompanying email here for delivery in one year.  Ultimately, the future you will have the best idea as to whether or not you have truly succeeded.
Think back on all of the threads we began last semester (Collaborative Working Groups, Big Questions, traditional academic study, Open Source Learning technology, gamification) and literally ask yourselves, "What IS in this for me?"  Some of you want to create entrepreneurial ventures.  Some of you want to explore a question or an idea through original research.  Some of you want to game and continue growing our AP learning network through technology and shared experiences.  Some of you want to keep your focus narrow and get a 5 on the AP exam.  Whatever your priorities, this is the chance to declare what YOU want out of this process so that we can design your experience together.  You may work with others or you may see this as your personal journey, but if you wait and rely on an authority figure or colleagues to tell you what to do, you will fail.  I will post more about how we can go about this in the next day or two.  My reason for posting this first is to get feedback from you about what it is that interests you most so I can plan accordingly.  As promised, you will also have input on the core curriculum.  For now, the key is for you to wave the magic wand and imagine an experience that enables everyone to pass the AP exam and emerge from this course (and HS) having created tangible value in the world.  Another way to think of this: Your senior project begins now.  If you have questions or want to bounce ideas around, please feel free to use the comments and/or email.  The idea here is to give you the opportunity to start the conversation without rubric-style limitations, but if you need structure/help I'm here.  

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year,
Dr. Preston

spring literature analysis schedule

Let's keep this simple and easy to remember.  The minimum requirement is three analyses, due at the end of January (31), February (28), and March (31).  Each additional book you read and analyze will be considered extra credit-- there is no limit.

NOTE: As we are now 121 days away from the exam, please either select your titles from the AP Reading List or check with Dr. Preston to verify that your selection will help you get where you want to go.  

find yourself on the member blogs page

I've updated the Member Blogs page to reflect this semester's schedule changes.  Please double-check the page to make sure you're in the right place with the right URL.  Mahalo.

kudos: december

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

Jasmine Zavala (admitted to Fresno State)
Erik Santos (admitted to Fresno State)
Cesilio Sanchez (admitted to Fresno State)
Daniel Rucker (admitted to Colorado School of Mines)
Kendall Villa (admitted to Fresno State)
Jason Limon (admitted to Azusa Pacific)
Eli Esparza (admitted to Fresno State)
Kelsey Robertson (admitted to Saint Louis University with $1400 scholarship)
Jenna Noce (admitted to University of the Pacific)

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.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

are you ready?

Do you remember your Dickens (or Shakespeare, or Heller) well enough to write an essay?  Do you remember your vocabulary well enough to use it effectively?  Do you remember how to balance your time between binge/purge for optimal performance?  Do you remember our conversations about learning well enough to dive in and build the spring semester together?