Friday, January 30, 2015

calling all music-inclined masterpiece authors

Laura Ritchie and her university music education students have offered to be mentors.  If you are interested please contact her via email at:

january 30

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: you can sing "Happy Birthday" if you want.]

Why do we make such a big deal out of birthdays?

1. Journal (and please remember to turn yours in)
2. Free play: lit terms, lit analysis #1, Great Expectations, Masterpieces, ....

1. Enjoy your weekend.
2. Prepare for Monday's quiz on lit terms (lists 2 & 3)
3. Finish and post Literature Analysis #1
4. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

this just in from breanna

this just in from izamar rhs '14

Thanks Izamar!  Links are here and here:

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 last year by Rachel and curated by Maddison: "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin; "One Day" by Matisyahu.] 

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. Segues to Great Expectations
3. Masterpiece consultations

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

this is all i'm going to say about it

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

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. Free play (including but not limited to: lit terms, lit analysis, Dickens notes, makeup work, Masterpiece work, scholarship applications, determining once and for all the meaning of life, etc. etc.)

1. Reminder: lit terms on blog by COB Friday 1.30
2. Reminder: lit analysis on blog by COB Monday 2.2

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

facebook's tibetan filter bubble

Facebook is censoring images of Tibetan protest because they violate its "community standards." Too bad genocide doesn't violate its community standards.  Story here. (thanks, BoingBoing!)

january 27

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. Free play/masterpiece consultations

1. Please post this week's (list #3) lit terms on your blog by COB this Friday (Jan 30)
2. Reminder: literature analysis #1 is due on your blog by COB next Monday (Feb 2)
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 Wed 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)

Monday, January 26, 2015

january 26

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. Masterpiece consultations & individual/group work
3. The military has Boot Camp. Football teams have Hell Week. We have Shakespeare.

1. Study/remix/practice using lit terms (quiz Friday 1.30)
2. Lit analysis progress (ongoing; lit analysis #1 due 2.2)
3. Give and/or get help from someone (and tell 5PH1NX about it)

shakespeare essay

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

(*If you didn''t memorized the speech [which puts you in the overwhelming majority], 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 studying the text as it relates to your understanding of its meaning.  What did you learn through the process of reading deeply (or memorizing, or reading more than once, or remixing, or whatever else you did)? 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-- if I get more than a few emails I will find a different way to post.)

AP ENGLITCOMP writing about poetry -

"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...

While thinking about Dickens, Shakespeare, etc., I rediscovered a delicious post from last year.  Check this kid out.  (Thanks again, Christa!)

(*And no, my daughter isn't memorizing Shakespeare, although I have no doubt she could if she wanted to! :)

lit terms: list 3

Learn them. Know them. Love them.  Quiz (on these and list 2) Friday, January 30.

falling action
figurative language
folk tale
free verse
gothic tale

Friday, January 23, 2015

santa barbara foundation scholarships

Thank you Mrs. Dirkes!  The deadline is January 31.  To get started please visit the Santa Barbara Foundation website.

january 23

My Mom used to tell me: "It's not what you said, it's the way you said it..."  Has anyone ever said that to you?  When?  Why?  Were they right?  Explain.

1. Journal
2. Revisiting "How We Read"
3. Naiomi's blog post
4. Great Expectations from a different perspective: on top of Dickens' piano
5. Preparing for your 1st Masterpiece consultation

1. Read Great Expectations
2. Prepare for your 1st Masterpiece consultation

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22

What are your own Great Expectations?  What are you prepared to sacrifice or compromise in pursuit?

Continue yesterday's  work/conversations/thought processes and curate in a post to your blog (i.e., summarize the highlights and explain the value).

See you tomorrow. -dp

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

january 21


Describe the relationship between class and "good/evil" characters in Great Expectations.  What is Dickens' tone with regard to wealth/materialism?  What clues do his characterizations provide?

1. Journal
2. Have an interesting conversation about the journal
3. Have an interesting conversation about yesterday's lecture
4. While you're doing #2 & #3, practice tinkering with the lit terms.  Find/use examples of last week's, and make sure you're able to define this week's
5. Find a way to record/document #2 & #3 and post to your course blog

1. Read Great Expectations 
2. Write a post for your course blog in which you reflect on your reading and thinking about the novel

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

lit terms: list 2


january 20

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, why the title?  What's so Great about Expectations?  How does this phrase define or establish ideas about the plot, tone, theme, setting, and/or characterizations you've encountered so far?

1. Journal
2. A good ol' fashioned lecture on Dickens & Great Expectations, with good ol' fashioned students taking good ol' fashioned notes (*electronic devices and doodles are still welcome as long as they help you remember and process the ideas).

1. Please post a response to the following ideas on your course blog (title: ALL THAT DAVID COPPERFIELD KIND OF CRAP)

The first line of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye is this:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." 

"Now that you've read some Dickens, what do you think Salinger means by "all that David Copperfield kind of crap"?  (If it helps, look up David Copperfield and compare with what you already know about Great Expectations.)  What distinguishes Dickens' style, and what statement is Salinger trying to make by distancing his protagonist from Dickens?
2. Work on lit terms list 2 (post remix to your course by COB Wednesday, 1.21; quiz on Friday, 1.23)
3. Work on lit analysis 1 (post by Monday, 2.2)

Friday, January 16, 2015

i have 6 oz of tuna fish... do you feel lucky? well, do ya, punk?

The Week's "Only in America: The Weaponization of Canned Food" has a link to the local CBS affiliate's report with interviews and school documents.

kudos to you blog

Thanks to Naiomi & Lily for creating the Kudos To You Blog!  They've invited everyone to contribute, so please check your Inbox and join the celebration.

january 16

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

Describe the most un/inspiring moment you've ever experienced.

1. Journal
2. Library
3. Lit terms quiz
4. Siddhartha
5. schtuff

1. Read Great Expectations
2. Get ready to share your Masterpiece
3. OPTION: memorize & recite the single greatest halftime speech in history

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

this just in: 2015 yosemite masterpiece

shivers could be contagious

Neil Harrison, a neuropsychiatrist who led the study, has a theory: matching someone else’s physical response can help us live together more harmoniously. “Mimicking another person is believed to help us create an internal model of their physiological state which we can use to better understand their motivations and how they’re feeling.”  Read the full text here.

are you smarter than a rat?

Meet the scientist who runs rats and people through mazes to find out how intelligent they are.  Full article here.  (Thanks, boingboing!)

kudos: january

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

If I've missed anyone, or if something wonderful happened for you over the break, please either put it up in class or comment to this post.

Alyssa Oh: Admitted to CSU Fullerton
Jordan Tomooka: Admitted to University of Oregon, University of Arizona, CSUN
Aaron Laflin: Admitted to Azusa Pacific, UC Merced (with basketball scholarship)
Naiomi Desai: Admitted to UC Riverside
Laike McFarland: Admissted to HSU, CSU Bakersfield
Sierra Betts: Admitted to University of Arizona, Fresno State
Ephraim Rodriguez: Admitted to SDSU
Chase Hugh: Admitted to University of Hawaii
Val Richardson: Admitted to Northern Arizona
Tia Jones: Admitted to San Francisco State, CSU East Bay
Omar Dominguez: Admitted to California Lutheran University
Mellany Cunningham: Admitted to CSU Channel Islands
Chrystal Dulay: Admitted to CSU Fullerton, Fresno State
Elizabeth Smith: Admitted to California Lutheran University, Olivet

ids please

I like titling blog posts e.e. cummings-style.  It makes "IDs" look like ids

Please bring both tomorrow.  We'll be checking out Great Expectations.

january 15

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. Lit terms
4. [for Friday] Your colleagues are treasure to be hunted* (*catch and release)--remember, when you save a life you take responsibility for it
5. [for Friday] SMART goals redux

*Memorize definitions for lit terms quiz tomorrow
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, 1.16)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

january 14

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.  Given our conversations late last semester about how we contribute to this campus community and environment, 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.
3. If you haven't already, pick a book for your first Literature Analysis that somehow goes with your Masterpiece topic.  (We're here to help. :)

lit terms: list 1

We will discuss in class on Thursday; quiz Friday, January 16.



"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 in class. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

kudos: december

(Among my New Year's Resolutions: post kudos more promptly :)

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

If I've missed anyone, or if something wonderful happened for you over the break, please either put it up in class or comment to this post.

Danielle Cadena: Admitted to SDSU
Alec McFarland: Admitted to Humboldt State, Fresno State, CSU Fullerton
Chrystal Dulay: Admitted to Fresno State
Connor Rickman: Admitted to Fresno State
Ashlyn Bishop: Admitted to Baylor University, TCU
Elizabeth Smith: Admitted to Point Loma University
Melissa Sobczak: Admitted to SDSU
Jayce Alegre: Admitted to CSULA
Anaya Navarro: CSULA