Friday, February 27, 2015

february 27


Today the focus is on collaboration.  As you watch Mike Wallace interview Aldous Huxley, consider how having an audience and expressing ideas out loud help both Wallace and Huxley clarify and expand their ideas.  Think about the direction your masterpiece is headed, and ask yourself how talking about your work can refine your thinking and help identify additional skills, talents, & resources to help you?  What skills/talents/resources do you have that might help someone else?

1. Journal
2. Huxley interview

1. Complete the Huxley interview essay

mike wallace interviews aldous huxley

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

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

We are living in the Brave New World.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


There is nothing wrong with confidence.

february 26

Alec distracted me. Write about something interesting.

1. Journal
2. Self-assessment/ turn in hard copy
3. Storytime with Aldous

1. In a comment to this post, please list any major questions or observations you have about Brave New World Chapters 1-5

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

february 25

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Walking in LA" by Missing Persons; "Walking After You" by The Foo Fighters; "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn)

Is walking from place to place something people do anymore?  Do you walk in your community/neighborhood?  (Slouching from locker to locker during passing periods doesn't count.)  What can you tell about a person or a culture by how much/how fast/how often they walk?

1. Journal
2. A closer read of BNW Chapters 1-3
3. Chapter 4

1. Make sure your literature analysis is done/published by Friday
2. Analyze Chapter 4 & read Chapter 5 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

february 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Message in a Bottle" by The Police; "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen; "Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison)

Tomorrow morning you wake up to discover that you are utterly alone.  (This is a familiar premise that narratives from "Twilight Zone" to "28 Days Later" have used.)  There are no neighbors, relatives, passersby, zombies-- absolutely no one.  What will you have to learn to survive?  How will you determine the value of what you learn without someone saying "good job" or giving you a grade?  Assume nothing and take nothing for granted: explain your next moves in detail.

1. Journal
2. What's in a Word? Etymologies & Meanings of Utopia & Nirvana
3. Discussion: Chapters 1-4 of Brave New World

1. Be compassionate.

Monday, February 23, 2015

february 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Run This" by Missy Elliot; "Upside Down" by Jack Johnson]

Everything you know about school has been reversed in this course.  The student is at the top of the organizational chart; the teacher, the community, and the tools of the Information Age all work for you now.  As the CEO of your personal learning organization, you recognize that power brings responsibility-- most importantly, the responsibility to evaluate your performance and set a course that leads to success.  So, today's journal topic is this: how are you doing on your masterpiece so far and where do you see it heading?  Are you taking initiative or waiting for direction?  Are you satisfied with the work you've done so far?  Are you optimistic about what's next?  Do you see opportunities we haven't discussed?  What guidance/support will you need in Masterpiece Consultation #2?

1. Journal
2. Jayce calls Brave New World "mind blowing"-- have a conversation with your colleague/s about your experience of the book so far.  Take notes and post to your course blog.  Make sure to include your perspective on Huxley's writing as well as his ideas.

1. Post your notes
2. Analyze chapter 4 of Brave New World
3. Bring a list of questions & ideas for discussion on Tuesday

Friday, February 20, 2015

february 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The New World" by X; "Song For a Future Generation" by The B-52s; "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie]

Describe the elements of our real-time world that you think relate-- or don't-- to Huxley's Brave New one.

1. Journal
2. Lecture/discussion on Foreword & Chapter 1

1. Analyze Chapters 2 & 3 of Brave New World and post to your blog
2. Write a draft example of your Masterpiece as a project and bring to class next week.  Include milestones, dates by which you'd like to accomplish them, and what your desired outcome/s might look like by June.  This doesn't have to be polished, it's a starting point for your next Masterpiece Consultation

Thursday, February 19, 2015

february 19: i've been stolen

What elements of our current culture do you consider utopian?  What elements do you consider dystopian?  What elements do you think are undesigned?

1. Journal
2. Since I'm stuck here
3. I'm asking you to self-study the foreword and Chapter 1 in groups or as a class (each period's choice).  Please answer these questions for the Foreword:
  • What is Huxley's perspective on sanity?  How does this relate to participation in social order?
  • What is the "third option"?
  • Why does Huxley refer to Churchill's use of "the iron curtain"?
Please also use those time-honored literature circle roles to analyze Huxley's writing: vocabulary/lit terms, connections with outside ideas/other media, research on the author/publication of the text, and plain ol' wicked good writing.  (If you can think of other important roles, please feel free to include them as well.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

february 18

Here is the translation of the epigraph to Brave New World:

Utopias seem to be much more achievable than we formerly believed them to be. Now we find ourselves presented with another alarming question: how do we prevent utopias from coming into existence? …Utopias are possible. Life tends towards the formation of utopias. Perhaps a new century will begin, a century in which intellectuals and the privileged will dream of ways to eliminate utopias and return to a non-utopic society less “perfect” and more free.”

Please interpret the epigraph and explain whether or not you think the logic is valid.  Why do you think Huxley chose this text to serve as an "appetizer" for a novel that is arguably a full meal of Utopia?

1. Journal
2. Chewing on the Epigraph & Foreword
3. Courtney (whose brother was born 100 years to the day before Huxley) sez: let's watch a show

1. Read Chapter 1 of Brave New World.  Take careful notes on anything you see that: a) strikes you as significant to the theme, plot, tone, or characterizations in the novel; b) exemplifies any of the lit terms you've learned so far; and/or c) is extremely well-written.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

faculty association scholarship

If one of your parents is a member of the Faculty Association you may qualify for a scholarship-- see below for details and make sure the appropriate rep knows you're here!

lit terms: list 6

Please post definitions/remixes etc. to your course blog and prepare for a quiz in class this Friday (2.20).

stream of consciousness
suspension of disbelief
tongue in cheek

february 17

Given your thoughts on the interviews over the weekend, and your personal perspective, please comment on the following quote:

Those who merely know about things, or only think they know, live in a state of self-conditioned and culturally conditioned somnambulism.  Those who understand given reality as it presents itself, moment by moment, are wide awake.
-Aldous Huxley, Knowledge & Understanding (1952)

1. Journal
2. Discussion: journal + video interviews
3. Lit terms #5 quiz
4. Check out Brave New World (please be sure to bring your I.D. or a schedule with a bar code on it)

1. Read the Introduction/Preface to Brave New World (*Note: you are welcome to read as fast and as far ahead as you like; as a class, we will be doing a scheduled close reading beginning with Chapter 1 tomorrow.  Please bring your book to class each day.)
2. Study & post definitions/remixes for lit terms 6 by Friday, 2.20

Friday, February 13, 2015

february 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Funny Valentine" by Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker; "California Love" by 2Pac]

How will the love you express today be remembered tomorrow?  Why do we have a holiday for love when it should really be a full-time endeavor 24/7/365?

(P.S. Help those poor people who paid 3x the price for roses this week by being a role model for love the other 364 days.)

1. Journal
2. Independent work

1. Find something to read about Aldous Huxley and report it on your course blog.
2. Prep for lit terms #5 quiz on Tuesday.
3. Watch the following interviews and write a brief essay describing how the love of learning can inspire a vision of the future.  Please post to your course blog.

georgia senior launches m.i.t. acceptance letter into space

Erin King recently received her admission letter from MIT. Then she sent it into space.

The story (originally posted on BoingBoing) is below the video.

"My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow, and set up to collect responses. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

lest we forget

In case you ever go online without thinking about all of the people who can see what you post, read "How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life."

lit terms: list 5

point of view
rhetorical question
rising action

2015 ap exam format

february 12

What's on your mind?  What part of that first answer would make for a good story?  Why?

1. Journal
2. Fundraising
3. Decisions

1. Lit terms #5 (quiz Tuesday)
2. Reminder: lit analysis #2 due 2.27
3. Have a look at the AP resource materials on the blog and post a first impression of the questions & essay prompts


As we move toward implementing our Masterpieces, some of you will need to think about budgets for the resources you need.  Since money is tight and college is on the horizon, fundraising may well become an important part of our conversation.  The Yosemite trip has provided one good example for this, and (as you can see from the #dplitcomp Twitter feed) our friends in Britain have already begun.  As this develops it may well present a chance for us to raise funds to help everyone.  In fact, today at 10:30 we will Skype into Laura's class because they are meeting with a fundraiser from the Royal Trust-- she has raised something like $40M, and we all stand to learn something valuable.  Next week we will discuss this in class and have a lunch meeting for those of you who want to participate directly in a crowdsource campaign, events, and other efforts.  For now, here is an immediate opportunity for those of you who participate in campus clubs or teams (Sadies is March 14 from 8-11 PM):

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

12 year-old launches hello kitty into space

Cory Doctorow posted this story over at boingboing:

february 11

Write three words--and ONLY three words-- to describe your feelings about the AP English Literature & Composition exam.

1. Journal (<1 minute)
2. As a class, discuss whether we want to read Macbeth, Brave New World, or [have a better idea?] next
3. Do your thing

1. Post definitions for lit terms #5 (quiz Tuesday, 2.17)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

february 10

Describe a time when you were well and truly p*ssed off.

1. Journal
2. Collect essays
3. Lit terms quiz (list 4)
3. Plan our week

1. Most of the homework is mine right now.
2. Reminder: Literature Analysis #2 due February 27

Friday, February 6, 2015

yosemite collaboration

This morning I spoke via Skype with Laura Ritchie, LeeAnne Del Rio, & Mark Cabrinha.  Check it out below.  Comments welcome!

scholarship opportunity

More details here.

february 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Are Young" by Fun; "Little Boxes" by Walk off the Earth (*Walk on, Pete Seeger); "Psychedelic Sally" by Lionel Hampton, from the album "Fun"]

Describe a time when you got so interested in a school assignment that you forgot it was for credit.  If you haven't had this experience, describe a time when you got so "into" what you were doing that you lost track of time.  If you haven't had that experience either, think back on your childhood and describe the last awesomely creative thing you did that was so cool it still puts a smile on your face.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

february 5

JOURNAL TOPICS: [today's tunes: "Logical Song" by Supertramp; "Kinder Words" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones]

Cool and hack mean different things to different generations. (GNAR doesn't mean anything at all to  people over 40.) Explain 1-3 terms from your language to the tribal elders.

1. Journal
2. Lit terms-apalooza
3. Masterpiece consultations

1. Reminder: lit terms quiz Friday 2.6 (lists 2 & 3)
2. Reminder: lit terms quiz Tuesday 2.10 (list 4)
3. Reminder: Great Expectations essay due Tuesday 2.10
4. Literature Analysis #2 due Friday, February 27

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


At lunch today I chatted with Melissa on Skype about Yosemite-- please contribute questions or comments.

csf applications

HURRY.  This just in from Ms. Dolan (application below):

'tis the season

AP Exams are now on sale.  Please see the following informational fliers and put the April 14 meeting on your calendar.  I will scan and post an order form later for anyone who didn't get one.  Also: the tests are $91 apiece.  If you pass, it's a great investment, but I haven't seen anyone throwing wads of money around here recently, so if you have questions regarding the waiver (that allows students in need to pay $5 per test) or how to afford the fees let's talk.   

orcutt library book sale this saturday

february 4

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Monday Night Football" ("Superstar" A.K.A. "Heavy Action") by Johnny Pearson; "ABC's Wide World of Sports" by Jack Shaindlin & Irving Robbins; "TV Party" by Black Flag)

On Sunday Americans celebrated an unofficial national holiday by eating 30 million pounds of snacks and sitting around the house.  Why?  What is it about the Superb Owl that everyone finds so compelling?  Do we watch because everyone else does, or because we all did it last year, or because...?  Choose an author who wrote about the (dystopian or utopian) future and imagine how s/he would answer the question.

1. Journal
2. Great Expectations essay prompt
3. Lit terms
4. Finish round #1 masterpiece consultations

lit terms: list 4

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

great expectations essay prompt

Please respond to the following prompt on paper (single-sided, blue or black ink only).  Due at the beginning of class on Monday, February 9.  Please include your pre-write.

Explain how Great Expectations qualifies as a bildungsroman.  Support your thesis with a well-organized analysis of Dickens' use of symbolism, characterization, and cultural context to portray Pip's maturation from childhood fantasist to adult realist.  Avoid plot summary.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

february 3

Today is the 3rd.  My grandmother's "lucky number" is 3.  Do you have something in your life (a number, a place, a stuffed animal) that you consider symbolic?  Why?  How did this take on special meaning?  If you don't have something lucky, why not?  Just because, or do you think this sort of thing is superstitious? 

1. Journal
2. Please use this period to catch up on loose ends: work for this course, work for other courses, or (under the circumstances) connecting with friends and/or getting yourself organized for the rest of the week.
3. For those of you who feel ready, I will post the Great Expectations essay prompt next.  When you write it, please do so on paper and give yourself no more than 50 minutes.  I will collect the essays at the beginning of class on Monday, February 9.

1. Catch up on anything you need to catch up on, including sleep.

Monday, February 2, 2015

from melissa re yosemite

Please feel free to comment to this post or email me directly with any thoughts, questions, ideas, suggestions, etc.

february 2

Write about something or someone you love.


with breanna in mind

We are all connected.  Last year Melissa Steller brought U2's Terry Lawless to class.  It turns out Terry is friends with Bill Peterson, the former president of the musicians' union and a brilliant trumpeter who played with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, John Williams and many others.  Bill's son Eric was my best friend growing up, from the time we met in the third grade until the day Eric died in the summer after our senior year of high school.

Melissa was also Breanna's and Haley's advisor on the Yosemite trip they recently announced.  Last year Melissa organized a trip that Nature Bridge (formerly known as the Yosemite Institute, the oldest education organization in Yosemite Valley) called "the most amazing student experience we've ever had."  Breanna and Haley were planning to top it.

I am sorry to announce that we lost Breanna over the weekend as the result of a car accident Friday night.  Many of you connected in person or via social media this weekend, and I'm grateful for the character you have shown in celebrating Breanna's life and comforting her family.

These are moments that make everything else both totally insignificant and somehow more important.  When Eric died I remember feeling that all at once nothing else seemed to matter-- not my college plans, not my job, and certainly not the stupid argument he and I had just had over a concert ticket.  At the same time, Eric's death gave my life a more important meaning; I wasn't going to take anything for granted or miss a single opportunity, because I was the one with the chance--with the obligation-- to make good on the promises we made ourselves and each other.  I have kept him and that feeling close ever since.  Eric was with me when I became a UCLA Bruin, when I bicycled the Col du Tourmalet, when I got married, when I became a father, and when I did a thousand other things that he and I imagined when we were your age.  This may or may not seem strange to you, but thinking about Eric often guides my decisions.  Saturday morning when Nik Koyama asked me if he could have Breanna's desk, it may as well have been Eric who said, "If you can find someone with keys on campus, come and get it."

In education we often talk about differentiation, i.e., making a concept or a skill accessible to learners with a wide range of experiences, abilities, and learning styles.  It's a good idea that's difficult to implement with 35 people in 50 minutes.  Part of the reason I started Open Source Learning was to help learners understand themselves well enough to adapt information to their needs.  As it is with learning, so it is with grieving.  Each of you are unique people with unique connections to Breanna and the people who love her.  There is no one right way to experience this moment.  Some will need to talk, some will need the show to go on, some will need to hug and cry and remember the good and maybe even make sure the earth isn't giving way under their feet.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I started typing this twice and gave up because I couldn't see through the tears.

Today's agenda is open.  We will do what we need to do, and that may differ from period to period or person to person.  I spoke with Mr. Blanco yesterday afternoon and there are counselors available to help those in need.  If you'd rather hang out with people you know, we're here for you.  And if you'd rather take the planned lit terms quiz, we can do that too.  The important thing is to remember, and connect, and make today your masterpiece.  I am grateful for the short time I got to work with Breanna, and I am grateful for the day I get to spend with you.  Thanks for reading.  DP