Sunday, November 30, 2014

apple laptops for <$200

RHS senior Noah Hernandez has found an online source for inexpensive, refurbished Apple laptop computers.  If you're interested in learning more please either comment to this post, visit Noah's blog, or mention it in class.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

thank you

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

It reminds me that I don't say thank you often enough, even though I say it more than I used to.

So, in the spirit of the season:

Thank You.

Each and every single one of you, in some small way, has been my teacher this semester.

Thank You.

You have taught me patience, compassion, empathy, humor, and occasionally fussiness.

Thank You.

You have taught me how differently we respond to the good and bad in our lives.

Thank You.

You have inspired me.

Thank You.

You have responded to media-enhanced madness with maturity beyond your years.

Thank You.

You have given me reason to wish this weekend was over, just so I can see you smile as you put college application season in your rearview mirror.

Most of all, you have succeeded in reminding me why I do this job in the first place.  You matter a great deal in this world and I'm proud to be on your team.  I look forward to the second half of our journey; in a blink it will be June, and I intend to suck the marrow* out of every minute we have together.  For now, enjoy this time with family and friends, and tell at least one of them:

Thank You.

[*There is a part of my brain that is still immature enough to imagine taking that quote out of context so that it reads "I intend to suck." That is most definitely not the spirit in which I intend it. The idea is actually an allusion to Henry David Thoreau, who wrote: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”]

hamlet essay

Select one of the key quotes we discussed from Hamlet, such as:
  • To thine own self be true
  • To be or not to be
  • Though this be madness, yet there is method in't
  • O! That this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew
  • Something is rotten in the state of Denmark
  • What is a man,
    If his chief good and market of his time
    Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
    Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
    Looking before and after, gave us not
    That capability and god-like reason
    To fust in us unused.
  • A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
These are merely suggestions; you may choose anything from the play in any length that suits your purpose (e.g., instead of just the phrase "To be or not to be" you can include additional lines or the entire soliloquy).

Your purpose is this:

In an essay that demonstrates your wild brilliance and for Pete's sake avoids plot summary at all costs, please explain how this quote contributes to your understanding of the tone and theme of Hamlet.  Specifically: Which character speaks the line/s?  At what point in the play/plot?  How do the words affect the character's own understanding, the other characters' understandings (if applicable), and the audience's understanding?  Top shelf responses will include definitions of these literary elements, demonstrated understanding of the play's central message, tone, and characterization, and application of the concept of Performative Utterance.

Please feel free to comment to this post with questions or ideas, and post your essay to your course blog by Sunday night (11.30).

HUGE CULTURAL LITERACY/5PH1NX BONUS to anyone who can make a meaningful connection between Hamlet's line (in Act V Scene i) that, "The cat will mew and dog will have his day" and Sidney Deane's (played by Wesley Snipes) philosophy in the movie "White Men Can't Jump."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

it's up... and it's good!

Kudos to Alec, Victoria, Lukas, Terry, and the thousands of people who are about to tell their stories about Righetti High School, which promise to be very different than the story portrayed in the mainstream media last week.  Their site is currently a blank slate, so contact them and tell your story.

Friday, November 21, 2014

5PH1NX 2015

Kudos to Omar & Jayce for launching this.  Seek them out for more info & authorship privileges.

november 21

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. Hamlet: end game

Finish reading Hamlet and watch/follow this space for instructions... Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!  See you in December. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

november 20

Sometimes life is our literature.  Yesterday, this happened:

So, today we'll be creating space for any discussion that needs discussing, and we will be integrating our ideas about reality with our ideas about poetry.

For starters: an exercise in Remix and "the medium is the message."  Watching the news visual with each of today's tunes: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen & "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones

As author Salman Rushdie put it, "A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep."  Write a poem about yesterday's events, or what you think it says about our culture and the people in it, or anything else that fulfills Rushdie's description of the poet's work.

1. Journal
2. Discussion
3. Hamlet
4. Poetry option: "Immigrants in Our Own Land" by Jimmy Santiago Baca

1. Begin reading Act V of Hamlet
2. Option: Write a 1-2 paragraph response to "Immigrants in Our Own Land" in which you describe your relationship with RHS and school in general.  Are you a proud native, a curious tourist, an optimistic immigrant, or a pessimistic immigrant?  Why?  Use real examples/stories to illustrate your ideas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

new forum topic thread

If you haven't been to the forums recently, check out the new thread re: "Campus Disturbances"-- all perspectives welcome. 

snow's up

"It's about 26 degrees outside. Winds are at 35 MPH. With the windchill, it says it feels about 13. We're gonna go check out the waves."

WNY - Blizzard Surfing from Kevin Cullen on Vimeo.

november 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Ends" by Everlast)

Do the ends justify the means? 

1. Journal
2. Cake n College

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

books that change minds

I'd love to make a course out of this curriculum:

november 18

What does Claudius hope to accomplish by getting rid of Hamlet?  Do you predict this will end the matter?  Add to Claudius' sense of guilt?  Cause a whole new set of problems?  Explain your answer by citing 1-3 examples of foreshadowing from what we've read so far.

1. Journal
2. Hamlet: Act IV Scenes 4-

1. Finish reading Act IV

Monday, November 17, 2014

november 17

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, in the end literature is an act of self-expression.  It 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...[?] Does the technology we use to communicate change our message?  If our message is self-expression, does it therefore change how we are seen or even who we really are?

1. Journal
2. Hamlet: Act IV

1. Read to the end of Act IV Scene 3.  If you get the first couple questions right in conversation tomorrow, we'll have no need for a reading quiz.

Friday, November 14, 2014

november 14

Integrity is the principle of aligning (or integrating) our thoughts, words, and actions.  What makes integrity appealing and personally/socially valuable, and what makes it such a challenge for so many of us?  Does Hamlet have integrity?  Why/why not?

1. Journal
2. Extensions of yesterday's conversation re: Act III & "The Performative Utterance..."

1. Please post an essay to your course blog in response to one of the following prompts. (Note: If you are in need of practice and/or acclaim, or if you feel moved to write on both topics, or if you are a gonzo writer/extra credit fiend, please feel free to write two essays.)

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.

Do you think Hamlet's nuts?  After our discussions today I reflected back on all the commentary and all the productions I could remember, and it seems like the overwhelming majority talk about Hamlet being mad.  But I still wonder whether his ability to see the ghost is commentary on Gertrude's blindness to the truth and Hamlet's ability to see right and wrong.  In fact, I wonder if it's the sanest thing in the world to be freaked out by feeling obliged to kill someone, and I also still wonder about Hamlet's ability to plan and say the right things (with double meanings!) under pressure.  I guess he could be an endearingly fiendish sociopath, but he seems too self-critical for that.  What do you think, and what is your evidence?  Especially curious about your perspectives after you read DeBoer's paper. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

you can't spell ukulele without the uk

Thanks Nathan and Laura Ritchie's class at the University of Chichester for a great time this morning!  Hoping this is the first of many collaborations.

november 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Say What" by Stevie Ray Vaughan; "Say It Loud (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. Let's talk to ourselves: Act III & The Performative Utterance

1. Post notes on today's conversation to your course blog

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

how to be a better writer: spoiler alert

This article pretty much sums up spring semester.

osl alum in the news

Congratulations, Nik! (full article here)

the benefits of having more than one channel of communication

Without interrupting today's presentation from UCSB, Courtney and I dealt with an important priority:

november 12

I'm a little bummed we didn't read Act III together-- the plot moves quite a bit, Hamlet finally kills someone and then finally loses control of his temper, for real-- so tell me, what did you think of what you read?  What questions do you have?  What do you want to see answered/discussed/reviewed in class?  Tomorrow we'll be using your ideas to create the agenda, so please be as specific as your memory allows.

1. Journal
2. Cake
4. College/scholarships/Hamlet/etc. as time allows

1. Please re/view Act III and come prepared tomorrow.

this'll make you want to uke

Tomorrow Nathan will be leading a music class-- in England-- in a ukelele jam from Room 608 via Skype.  If you're in period 3 get ready to sing along; if you're not we'll post the video here afterward.

Friday, November 7, 2014

november 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Step Right Up" by Tom Waits; "Bloody Well Right" by Supertramp]

Terms such as values and common sense can take on different meanings (which is a matter for psychologists; how can something you define as common sense confuse me?  Isn't common sense the sense we share in common?). Cultural anthropologists and social psychologists describe values as "learned, enduring, epistemologically grounded moral conceptualizations that assist us in making judgments and in preparing us to act." What values do you see in Hamlet? In online/contemporary American culture? How do the characters in the former and decision-makers in the latter use values to inform and justify their decisions and behavior?

1. Journal
2. Hamlet: Act III
3. Performative utterances in Hamlet

1. Read "The Performative Utterance in William Shakespeare's Hamlet" and post notes to your course blog
2. Finish reading Act III and post notes to your course blog

hamlet act iii scene i vids

Including several versions of "To be, or not to be..." (including one by a girl with a guitar who wrote a melody to memorize it for an English course):

Thursday, November 6, 2014

yale young global scholars

Do you want to be a Yale Young Global Scholar?  Register for November 19 information session here.  (Thanks, Mr. Blanco!)

november 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Symphony #1 by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein)

Why does Hamlet go to the trouble of orchestrating an elaborate ruse with the play-within-a-play, when the ghost's testimony and his intuition appear to provide sufficient justification for revenge?

1. Journal
2. Lecturette/breakdown of "To be..."
3. Act III

1. Catch up on "To be..."
2. Catch up on literature analysis work
3. Catch up on college/scholarship

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Introducing KUDOS-- a monthly summary of good news and general updates.  Congratulations to the following students on their college admissions and scholarship wins!

Courtney Reyburn: Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
Hannah Hurd: Elks Scholarship
Judith Lee: Comcast Leaders Scholarship
Daniel Black: Elks Scholarship; Santa Maria Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
Stevie Wisz: CFW Scholarship
Cameron Walker: Admitted to Stanford University
Lukas Sheckherd: Admitted to University of Montana, Humboldt State University
Siera Betts: Admitted to Fresno State
Miles Jorgensen: Admitted to Northern Arizona 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.

cameron: to be or not to be...

He may be Stanford's tomorrow (go #22!) but he's Shakespeare's today:

november 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Lo Que Dice" by Ozomatli; "Mercy" by The Shys; "Once in a Lifetime" by Talking Heads]

Among the topical possibilities for today's journal:
1) Listen to the lyrics and connect them to Hamlet;
2) Ask yourself, "How did I get to this point in my life and where am I going from here?"
If neither of these resonates, observe where your mind takes you and invent your own.

1. Journal
2. Finish Act I & II presentations
3. "To be..."
4. College/scholarship apps

1. Finish "To be..." if necessary

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

presentations on acts I & II

"We chose the scene where Hamlet acts all crazy and talks to Polonius.  We chose music and elements of humor to make the ideas more accessible and easier to understand." -Naiomi

"We intended this remix to get attention through humor, so we included intentional errors in continuity, soundtrack features, and allusions to other works." -Miles

"We tried to condense the first two acts into action, and infuse some humor to make it more accessible." -Imanie
"And, since the language in Hamlet is so flowery, we made it a silent film so the viewer wouldn't be distracted." -Hannah

november 4

***IF YOU ARE 18, VOTE.***

Today most Americans will not vote, but they will go right on complaining about the government, the infrastructure, taxes, campaign finance, health care, gas prices, the environment, cable, these kids today, and whatever else bothers them. Why do so many whine so much and do so little? What is the importance of a vote in today's world? How can you take a more vocal role in other areas of your life that require decision-making, like learning?

1. Journal
2. To Beez or not to beez
3. Act I/II presentations

1. Vote.
2. Nag someone else to vote.

Monday, November 3, 2014

november 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: ("Riders on the Storm" by The Doors; "Here Comes the Rain Again" by The Eurythmics)

Over the weekend it rained for the first time in a long, long time.  How do authors use rain to establish setting and tone?  Consider this example from Ray Bradbury:

“I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry.

Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it's just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on.”
Ray Bradbury, Green Shadows, White Whale: A Novel of Ray Bradbury's Adventures Making Moby Dick with John Huston in Ireland

1. Journal
2. Paragraph explaining your grade
3. Grade conferences/"To B or not to B..."

1. Preview Act III Scene i