Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin.  Bonus: Stanley Jordan's version]

Those of you in the on-the-ground course have all seen the sign: "There is glory in the attempt." Describe how this idea applies in your life.  Season your answer by listening to the music and reflecting on the evolution/remix of English and the stories we tell.  How does your understanding of the same idea change as you age/mature/gain more experience?

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Resumes
4. Beowulf
5. Preview of coming attractions

1. Choose first literary analysis book, post choice/reason to your blog, and start reading.
2. Complete/curate Beowulf materials.
3. Check the course blog and double-check your blog.
4. Read "From Scroll to Screen" (as follows) and please comment to this post with your views on e-readers versus books.  Be ready to discuss Tuesday 9.4.

The Mechanic Muse: From Scroll to Screen
Illustration by Joon Mo Kang (in original, which you can see via link:
Published: September 2, 2011
The New York Times

Something very important and very weird is happening to the book right now: It’s shedding its papery corpus and transmigrating into a bodiless digital form, right before our eyes. We’re witnessing the bibliographical equivalent of the rapture. If anything we may be lowballing the weirdness of it all.

The last time a change of this magnitude occurred was circa 1450, when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type. But if you go back further there’s a more helpful precedent for what’s going on. Starting in the first century A.D., Western readers discarded the scroll in favor of the codex — the bound book as we know it today.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Lady Writer" by Dire Straits; "Everyday I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello; "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles]

What is the hardest part of writing? Is it facing the blank page, keeping track of your ideas while you write, editing, or having your work read/evaluated by others? Explain your answer.

1. Journal
2. Discuss AP reading list and Literature Analysis requirement
3. Resume feedback
4. Vocabulary
5. Peer editing

1. Select a novel from the AP reading list and post your choice-- and your reason(s) for it-- to your blog by COB Monday, 9.3

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29

[Note: YIKES!  I forgot to post this until the end of the day.  You have until Friday 8.31 on the journal & homework.]

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: radio silence]

Given what you've learned about the first heroic epic known to be composed in English, and how it reflects the culture/values of its times, nominate an epic story from our times that will be remembered as an emblem of this culture in two thousand years. Explain your choice.

1. Journal
2. Online security briefing with Ian May

1. Consult the literature analysis reading list and choose your first title

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

intro to online security tomorrow

"How do I ennumerate a 128-bit cryptographic sequence?"

That question won't be answered in class tomorrow.

BUT... in the spirit of Open Source Learning, any of your other questions might be.

SO... what questions do you have?

We'll be covering the basics of digital identity/literacy: passwords, pop-ups, and social networking. If you have a specific question or an idea about what you'd like to see, please comment to this post.

This is the beginning of a longer conversation, so if you get an idea after the presentation, please post that here too. Thanks!

"Hey! Why should I be on the Internet?"

Are you smarter than a (1995) 5th grader?

beowulf essay topics for group discussion

beowulf essay topics for group disc

August 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Twenty Questions" by The Beastie Boys; "Philosophers Stone" by Van Morrison]

Describe how reading and thinking about obesity relates to your original Big Question. This may take some thinking, so reflect for a moment before you begin writing. AGENDA: 1. Journal 2. Discussion: mindfulness and connecting the dots 3. Applied mindfulness and the art of the essay/brainstorm essay topics 4. Vocab HW: 1. Study/practice vocabulary (>15 mins.) 2. Post about connecting topical events to your Big Question (title: MY BIG QUESTION IN THEORY & PRACTICE)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vocabulary: Fall List #3

sub rosa

August 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Early Morning Wake Up Call" by The Hives; "Early in the Morning" by Ray Charles]

Today is the first "early out" on our calendar. Some say this is a bad idea (given all the demands on our already-crowded learning time). Others say this is a good idea (given that they'd rather be anywhere else in the universe besides school). What is your opinion of early outs? What will you do with the time?

1. Journal/return work/review Beowulf HW on blogs
2. Vocabulary: Fall List #3
3. Have you recited "Laughing Heart"?
4. Status: resumes & peer editing

1. Post vocabulary definitions/sentences
2. Bring hard copy of resume draft to class tomorrow (Tuesday, 8.28)

Friday, August 24, 2012

youth of the month scholarship

smcoc youth of the month

elks club scholarship info

Good luck (and remember: you can't win if you don't play! :)

Elks Scholarships

SAT info

By popular demand:

california scholarship federation app

Here is the application; please print, complete, and deliver to Ms. Dolan in Room 225. California Scholarship FederationRHSAPP09

Thursday, August 23, 2012

collaborative working groups have begun

Congratulations to Will Veroski and "RHS Global Perspectives!"  (Didja see the mention they got on Project Infinity?)

Check out the Collaborative Working Groups page to see what else is brewing.  Think about projects you want to create or talents you can use to support others.  It's on-- to paraphrase Connor--in a manner reminiscent of Donkey Kong.

August 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Reflections (I Remember)" by Mary J. Blige; "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil]

When we read we make connections between the text and what we already know.  Sometimes we find ourselves surprised when a book calls to mind an old memory we haven't thought about in a long time.  What are your earliest memories?  What makes some things impossible to remember and other things impossible to forget?

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz/correct
3. Posting essays for peer editing
4. Beowulf work

1. Finish the Beowulf questions and post the answers to your blog.  At the beginning, please describe how you went about it (whether you worked individually or in a group, in person or online, how much time it took, etc.)
2. Post your writing to your portfolio or your blog and recruit five peers to read your work and give you feedback.  Create a post on your blog entitled "Peer Feedback #1" in which you invite those who read your work to comment about where you're strong and where you need to improve.
3. Read your peers' work and do the same for them.

project infinity sez

This just in from Project Infinity:
"If you haven't visited today, check out what's going on at Project Infinity. Tributes have been given and the leaderboard has changed. There are new posts and emerging collaborative working groups. Have a look and send your tributes to"

The game is afoot!

hack to school night

(my t-shirt from OSCON)

To be clear: the word hack has been associated with definitions ("sharp cough, "cut with unskillful blows," & "illegal/unauthorized computer access," e.g.) that do not describe what we do.

We make connections and facilitate conversations that help people learn.   We build, evaluate and modify things to make them work better.

You know how they say, "[So'n'so] just can't hack it?" Well, maybe [So'n'so] can't.  We can.

So, at Back-- er, Hack to School night, we are at it again. Get here whenever you can. Bring whoever you want. Offer them the benefit of what you know and find a way to learn from them too. Share new ideas about technology and how you can use it to get ahead in life.

Here is the program:
1. Learner-led conference (see below)
2. Periodic "Intro to Digital Life" presentations
3. Sign-ups for "friend of the course" events and "digital drop-in" nights

Here is the process:
1. Think about these questions and your answers to them;
2. Bring someone who cares to Hack to School Night;
3. Have them ask you these questions, be suitably brilliant in your replies, and demand that they take notes so that you know they're paying attention;
4. Turn in their notes to me, get your extra credit, listen to me brag about you briefly;
5. Go home and finish your homework.

Here are the questions:

student led conference script

rhs college boot camp

RHS college boot camp registration form -

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "St. George and the Dragon" by Stan Freberg, "Knights of the Round Table" and "The Knights Who Say Ni!" by Monty Python, and "Knight Rider" (TV theme) by Glen A. Larson]

How do modern representations of knights and honor differ from ancient/traditional ones? What do modern portrayals of knights and honor suggest about the culture(s) that produced them?

1. Journal
2. A proper introduction to Beowulf

1. Study Beowulf by reviewing the resources under the Beowulf post and answering the comprehension questions. Post questions and comments to begin the discussion over the weekend, and be prepared to continue live on Monday, August 27.
2. Find your own resources.  (I just found this one.)  There are many, many sites dedicated to Beowulf... if you find something amazing/insightful/truly awful, please share!


Here are some resources to help introduce you to Beowulf. Please read/listen/read some more, then answer the comprehension questions at the bottom of the post. [*You may want to read these first.]

The Norton Anthology of English Literature is an outstanding reference work-- but we don't have copies on campus, so I am embedding pieces here.

First, an introduction that provides some historical context.

beowulf commentary from norton anthology


[These are cut/pasted with gratitude from the following URL with thanks to Prof. Boyer and St. Xavier University of Chicago:

The best beginning procedure is always to read the assignment all the way through, keeping track of characters, so that you know what's happening. If possible, read the whole work first. Try to get the big picture of the book (or section, or chapter) before getting bogged down in details. Read through, then go back and clear up details. Then you're ready to read the work closely with these questions in mind. (In the discussion below, page numbers in parentheses refer to the translation by Seamus Heaney in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th ed., vol. 1 [2000] unless otherwise indicated.)

Beowulf and Grendel (lines 1-1250)
Beowulf and Grendel's Mother (lines 1251-2199)
Beowulf and the Dragon (lines 2200-3182)

Important Characters

Beowulf, a Geat
Hygelac, King of the Geats
Hygd, Hygelac's Queen

Hrothgar, King of the Danes
Wealhtheow, his Queen

Wiglaf, a kinsman of Beowulf

Grendel's mother

a dragon
BEOWULF AND GRENDEL (lines 1-1250, pp. 32-60)

[Prologue: The Rise of the Danish Nation] (lines 1-85, pp. 33-34)

1.Realize that this prologue introduces the Danes, not Beowulf or his people the Geats. What was unusual about the way Shield came to be ruler of the Danes? What was his funeral like? What relation is Hrothgar to Shield?

[Heorot is Attacked] (lines 86-188, pp. 34-36)

1.What magnificent work did Hrothgar undertake? Who attacked it, and with what result? How long did the attacks last? What was the response of the Danes?

[The Hero Comes to Heorot] (lines 189-490, pp. 36-42)

1. What does Beowulf do when he hears of Hrothgar's problems with Grendel?
2. Whom do the Geats first meet when they arrive in Denmark? What does he do, and what do they do?
3. They next meet Hrothgar's herald. Who is he? What does he tell them? What does he tell Hrothgar? What does Hrothgar respond? Are you surprised that Hrothgar knows Beowulf so well?
4.What does Beowulf tell Hrothgar when he enters? What did Hrothgar do for Beowulf's father?

[Feast at Heorot] (lines 491-661, pp. 42-46)

1. What does Unferth accuse Beowulf of? How does Beowulf answer him? How is this episode relevant to the poem as a whole? What does Beowulf accuse Unferth of?
2. What is Queen Wealhtheow doing during the feasting?

[The Fight with Grendel] (lines 662-835, pp. 46-49)

1.Heroic poetry normally has a scene in which the hero arms for battle. What is different about Beowulf's preparations for his fight with Grendel?
2.What happens when Grendel enters Heorot? How does Beowulf fight with him? What happens when Grendel tries to leave? Does Grendel escape? What does he leave behind?

[Celebration at Heorot] (lines 836-1250, pp. 49-60)

1.When the Danes and Geats return from following Grendel's tracks to the mere, someone sings in Beowulf's presence, comparing him to Sigemund and saying that he was not like Heremod (lines 883-914). How is Beowulf like Sigemund? How is he not like Heremod? (Be alert for inserted stories such as this one. Beowulf contains many of them, most much more complex that this one.)
2.How does Hrothgar respond to Beowulf's deed? What does he offer to do for him? What does Unferth have to say now?
3.The singer sings of Finn during the feasting (lines 1070-1158). The exact details of the Finn story are not clear, but in general, what happens? What does it suggest about the wisdom of using a woman as bride to heal enmity between tribes?
4.When the feasting resumes, what does Wealhtheow ask Hrothgar not to do?
5.Wealhtheow gives Beowulf a large, broad necklace. What later happens to it? What does Wealhtheow ask Beowulf to do?
6.Why do so many men remain in the beer hall to sleep? Why is it a mistake?

BEOWULF AND GRENDEL'S MOTHER (lines 1251-2199, pp. 60-79)

[Another Attack] (lines 1251-1382, pp. 60-62)

1.Why has Grendel's mother come to Heorot? Is it the same reason Grendel had?
2.What is Hrothgar's response? Whom has Grendel's mother killed?
3.What sort of place is the mere?

[Beowulf Fights Grendel's Mother] (lines 1383-1650, pp. 63-68)

1.How does Beowulf tell Hrothgar to respond?
2.What happens at the mere before Beowulf enters it?
3.How does Beowulf prepare for the battle? What sword does he take with him?
4.What happens when Beowulf enters the mere? What is surprising about where Grendel and his mother live in the mere?
5.What happens to the sword Beowulf borrowed from Unferth?
6.At one point Beowulf is on the floor, with Grendel's mother sitting on him and drawing her knife. How does Beowulf escape?
7.How does Beowulf kill Grendel's mother? What weapon does he use? What happens when she dies? What does Beowulf take with him from her home? What happens to the sword he used to kill her?
8.What happens when Beowulf returns to the surface? Did his men expect him to return?

[Further Celebration at Heorot] (lines 1651-1798, pp. 68-71)

1.What does Beowulf give to Hrothgar?
2.What message does Hrothgar have for Beowulf? What and why does he tell us about Heremod? Why and how did Heremod die? What lesson does Hrothgar teach with the Heremod example?
3.What does Beowulf give to Unferth as he leaves?

[Beowulf Returns Home] (lines 1799-2199, pp. 71-79)

1.What future does Hrothgar predict for Beowulf?
2.Who is Hygd and why is she not like Modthryth?
3.Beowulf reports to Hygelac that Hrothgar may marry his daughter Freawaru to Ingeld. Why does he plan to do that? What does Beowulf expect the result will be? (Remember the Finn story, lines 1070-1158.) How does Beowulf think the peace will be broken? Is this the type of report we expected from the hero Beowulf, or are we seeing a new side of him?
4.How does Beowulf report about his own adventures? Does he report accurately?
5.What does Beowulf do with the treasure he was given? What does Hygelac give him?

BEOWULF AND THE DRAGON (lines 2200-3182, pp. 79-99)

[The Dragon Wakes] (lines 2200-2509, pp. 79-86)

1.How much later does Part 2 take place? What kings have died in the meanwhile? What danger now exists?
2.Why is the dragon angry? Why did the man take a cup? How did the treasure come to be there in the first place? (The speech of the lone survivor, the one who put the gold in the barrow, is in a typically Old English elegiac tone.
3.What did the dragon destroy that evening?
4.Why does Beowulf think his home was burnt? Why does he order a new shield? How will he fight this battle? What will happen to him?
5.How did Hygelac die? (The description in lines 2354-2379 begins one of several versions of Geatish history and Hygelac's death we will get.) What did Beowulf do after Hygelac's death? What happened when he returned home? Did he accept Hygd's offer to become king?
6. What happened to Hygelac's son Heardred? (That's the story in lines 2380-2390.) How did Beowulf plan to revenge Heardred's death (lines 2391-2396)?
7.How many men accompany Beowulf as he goes to meet the dragon?
8.What happened to Hygelac's oldest brother Herebeald? Who killed him? What did this do to his father King Hrethel? (This passage, lines 2425-2509, is the second account of Geatish history and of the death of Hygelac.) What happened between the Swedes and Geats after Hrethel's death? What happened to Haethcyn? How die Beowulf revenge Hygelac's death?

[Beowulf Attacks the Dragon] (lines 2510-2820, pp. 86-92)

1.What does Beowulf tell his companions to do?
2.What happens the first time Beowulf and the dragon fight? What do his companions do? How is Wiglaf different? What does he tell the others? What does he then do?
3.What happens the second time Beowulf meets the dragon? What happens to Beowulf? Who kills the dragon?
4.What does the dying Beowulf ask Wiglaf to do? What happens when Beowulf sees the gold? How does Beowulf want to be buried?

[Beowulf's Funeral] (lines 2821-3182, pp. 92-99)

1.What happens when the companions return? What does Wiglaf say to him? What does he expect will happen in the future?
2.What does the messenger tell the city? (This passage, lines 2900-3027, is the third account of the history of the Geats and the death of Hygelac. These are the enemies that will attack the Geats when they learn of Beowulf's death.) What happened overnight in Ravenswood after Ongentheow killed Haethcyn? What happened the next morning? What happened to Ongentheow? What does the messenger say to do with the gold? What is the final image (animal) of the messenger's speech?
3. What does Wiglaf tell the crowd that comes to see the dragon and Beowulf?
4.What happens to the dragon?
5.What happens during and after the funeral celebration?
6.What did the Geats say about Beowulf in the last three lines of the poem? Are these the terms one would expect to be used to describe a military hero?

August 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Celluloid Heroes" by The Kinks, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon, and --depending on time-- "Heroes" by David Bowie]

What does it mean to be a hero? How are heroes depicted in modern movies and literature? How do you think these portrayals are different from classic and ancient ideas of heroes?

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary quiz (Fall List #1)
3. Recap yesterday's experiment/readings on concentration
4. Heroes in literature/intro to Beowulf

1. Begin reading here; read the first section of the modern text (Prologue-Chapter X) and take reading notes
2. Read the excerpts in your textbook (pp.31-60) and take notes.

learning is our living bridge

I used to think learning was an individual capacity that each of us builds for our own purposes-- now I see it as something bigger, something we all participate in and steward for the next generation.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Freedom of Choice" by Devo; "Freewill" by Rush]

We use phrases like "pay attention" and "make a decision" all the time-- what do they mean to you? How would you teach a child to do either?  How might you improve your own abilities in these areas?

1. Journal
2. 1987 AP Exam feedback from partners
3. Socratic seminar: "The Right to Your Own Opinion" (featuring the summer reading and an introduction to the English language)
3. A brief, cold experiment in concentration

1. Read the articles linked to the decision-making post and answer questions by commenting to the post.
2. Post comments from today's Socratic seminar to your blog.
3. Read pp. 2-14 in the textbook
4. Study vocabulary

decision-making fatigue: fact or perception?

Last year New York Times Magazine featured this article* [*this link is inconsistent and sometimes directs to NYT sign-in page; if it doesn't display the article, see the text below questions] about the effects of decision-making, and it got me thinking about how students take exams. I read a little deeper and began to think that ego depletion may have physical foundations; then I read this Stanford study and found myself wondering whether decision fatigue is actually in our heads or whether it's all in our heads, if you know what I mean. When you add modern technology and the concept of multi-tasking (courtesy of this article), 21st century concentration becomes a rather complex topic. Comment to this post with answers to the following four questions:

1. Based on your personal experience, these readings and our in-class study, do you think decision fatigue is a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e., an outcome created by an expectation of the outcome) or a physiological condition? Is technology enabling you to achieve your goals or just distracting you from them? Make sure to support your ideas with reasons/evidence (one point from each article, and at least one point from your own experience.
2. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being least able and 10 being most able), how able are you to concentrate for long periods of time on tasks you don't really want to do in the first place?
3. Are you prepared for the possibility that you may be able to concentrate much more effectively than you previously believed?
4. How can you use what you've learned to increase your capacity for concentrating over an extended period of time?


Text of NY Times article:

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?
Published: August 17, 2011

Three men doing time in Israeli prisons recently appeared before a parole board consisting of a judge, a criminologist and a social worker. The three prisoners had completed at least two-thirds of their sentences, but the parole board granted freedom to only one of them. Guess which one:

Case 1 (heard at 8:50 a.m.): An Arab Israeli serving a 30-month sentence for fraud.

Case 2 (heard at 3:10 p.m.): A Jewish Israeli serving a 16-month sentence for assault.

Case 3 (heard at 4:25 p.m.): An Arab Israeli serving a 30-month sentence for fraud.

There was a pattern to the parole board’s decisions, but it wasn’t related to the men’s ethnic backgrounds, crimes or sentences. It was all about timing, as researchers discovered by analyzing more than 1,100 decisions over the course of a year. Judges, who would hear the prisoners’ appeals and then get advice from the other members of the board, approved parole in about a third of the cases, but the probability of being paroled fluctuated wildly throughout the day. Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.

"do things that have never been done before"

Eventually we all come to realize that our education is an amalgamation of many sources: family, school, friends, books/media, the Internet, and sometimes an old man in a coffee shop.  Comments welcome.

(Thanks, Dave Pell!)

Vocabulary: Fall List #2


August 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Learning to Fly" performed by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and "Learning to Fly" performed by Pink Floyd)

What did you learn in this class last week?

1. Journals
2. Observations on Week 1/feedback on journals & assignments so far
3. Vocabulary
4. Poetry

1. Read your partner's 1987 AP essays and evaluate according to the AP Scoring Guidelines (due Friday, August 24)
2. Review "The Right to Your Own Opinion" for tomorrow's Socratic seminar.
3. Answer the following questions in a post on your blog entitled, "Reflections on Week 1"
  1. Are there any factors that you think are going to affect your participation or experience in this class? (Access to a computer, cell phone, transportation? Family that can help or hassle? Friends that can help or hassle? Scheduling factors that can help or hassle?) 
  2. Think of an awesome (or the best ever) learning experience (or an experience where you changed) What was it you learned? [call it X] Where were you? What happened? Who else was there? Did it teach you anything about how you learn (or pay attention... or ?) How did you know what was happening? 
  3. What are you most [excited/concerned] about in this class? What do you look forward to in learning?  How do you think it can/will make a practical difference in your life?

AP Eng Lit Scoring Guidelines

Use the following AP scoring guidelines to evaluate your partner's essay. Substitute the ideas from our questions for the novels/concepts referenced here.



This weekend I needed to read and grade:

  • 168 blogs
  • 168 journals
  • 168 vocabulary tests
  • 74 vocabulary test add-ons
  • 188 essays
  • 94 essay add-ons
I almost made it.

Spending time with your work gave me a few ideas:
  • Since some of your work is either personally sensitive or data-sensitive (e.g., a resume that contains your home address & phone number), we need a secure place besides your blog for work that you only want to share with people you select.  Using an online portfolio will also give you a way to showcase your best work if you want to use it as part of an application or presentation in the future.  I like pathbrite but I'm open to suggestions-- click the link, play around with it, and see if you can find something better by Friday, August 24.
  • Peer-to-peer feedback is going to be especially important in a writing-intensive course with so many members.  Long-form writing is a huge key to success in learning this material, and obviously I can't do this every weekend, so this week we will talk about peer-to-peer feedback strategies and tools to reward success, including Project Infinity.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

so it goes

As you create your blogs and recruit a following you join the ranks of authors whose words and ideas touch others in ways you just can't predict. Casey Harms (RHS '09) took the spray-painted words of Kurt Vonnegut from our back wall to heart (and right forearm):

college/scholarship info page

Don't you wish there was a great, easy-to-find library with resources about college search, admission, and financial aid that we could all share? Let's build it. Introducing the College/Scholarship Info page, where we can contribute all the resources we find that can help students find and pay for the education they need. Everything on the page will come from you, so when you find something worth including please email it to

Friday, August 17, 2012

blogger how-to

Here is a tutorial on how to get started with Blogger. The first couple minutes are about registration and set-up, which most of you have done. Around 2:30 he gets into posting and design, layout, and embedding pictures and videos.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

online sharing and community

As I learn about new tools and opportunities I will pass them along. For instance: Shannon Fahey (RHS '12) introduced me to a relative who works for When I emailed to suggest the company collaborate with us, she shared a little about the company, including the CEO's initiative, which was created in response to the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

As you think about our work together and the work you're doing to get where you want to go in life, do you see these online tools (and others with similar features and values) as opportunities for self-expression and community-building? How might you use them for the purposes? Comments welcome.

August 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Little Know It All" by Iggy Pop and "Words (Between the Lines of Age)" by Neil Young]

Consider the following image (courtesy of the fine folks at BoingBoing). What issues/problems/challenges in your life once seemed HUGE but got smaller as you gained a greater perspective on things? [Update: Watching students write, re-reading this and thinking the topic needs more seasoning: a) How does gaining a greater perspective motivate you to make the world a better place; and b) when is it appropriate to use words that have an emotionally cathartic effect?]

1. Journal/turn in
2. Vocabulary quiz/correct
3. Preview of coming attractions

1. Poetry Assignment #1 due Monday, 8.20.
2. Read the Personal Statement Worksheet and complete the Senior Resume Worksheet by Monday, August 20.
3. Take the 1987 AP Exam and write yourself notes about which questions you found easy, which questions you found challenging, and which questions will haunt your dreams until you pass the exam.  Exam answers and notes also due Monday, 8.20.

senior resume worksheet

Also courtesy of our College Counseling Office:

senior resume worksheet

ucsb personal statement worksheet

Hi everyone, the following comes to us courtesy of the College Counseling Office. Please read and be prepared to think on paper next week.

ucsb personal statement worksheet

additional thoughts: austen/montaigne essay

Today's "essayus interruptus" gives you a chance to put your blog to work.  Remember all those conversations when you thought of the perfect thing to say-- too late?  Now you can think of the perfect thing to say and publish it!

Tonight please post your thoughts on the experience of writing the essay to your blog.  Specifically, you might address these questions:
  • what would you have written if you had more time?
  • what occurred to you after you left?
  • how did the interruption affect your thought process?
If you think of something else that's relevant but not covered by these questions, please include that too.  

To jog your memory further, here is the original prompt:

As David Foster Wallace wrote in his 2001 story "Good Old Neon":

What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.

Using what you've learned from your reading of Montaigne's techniques and topics, do you agree?  How does Montaigne's style provide a window into his thinking?  Compare with Austen's style in Pride & Prejudice.  Include examples, and avoid merely summarizing the main points of the former or the plot of the latter.

August 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Fela Kuti's "Teacher Don't Teach Me No Nonsense"]

How would you go about writing a satire of The Poisonwood Bible? Would you focus on the same issues/themes as Barbara Kingsolver? What techniques would you use to draw the reader in and cause him/her to think differently?

1. Journal (or use the time to review summer reading notes for the essay)
2. Essay exam

1. Quiz tomorrow on Vocabulary #1 & The Right to Your Opinion
2. Make sure to submit Poetry Assignment #1 and memorize the poem by Monday, August 20

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Mozart's Symphony #25 in G Minor]

There is a story about Thomas Edison in which one of his assistants said something like, "We've tried this a thousand ways and it doesn't work! We've accomplished nothing!" Edison reportedly replied, "Nonsense. We've learned a thousand ways it doesn't work." What's the moral of the story, and what is your perspective on the idea?

1. Journal
2. Orientation
3. Assignments & opportunities
4. (Vocabulary #1)

1. Define/study vocabulary [quiz Friday 8/17]
2. Read "The Right to Your Opinion" [questions may accompany vocab on Friday's quiz]
3. Poetry assignment [due Monday 8/20]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

beware: killer cows

This blog isn't just a learning game-changer.  It's a life-saver.

Fall Semester Survival Tip #1:  Cows kill more people than sharks.

(Thanks, BoingBoing!)

the right to your opinion

It's such a simple way to end an argument: "Well, I'm entitled to my opinion."

Not according to logic. As author Jamie Whyte points out, one person's entitlement creates another's obligations. Think about it: if you are entitled to cross the street safely, I am obligated to not run you over in my car. But what if you're wrong in your thinking? What if we're in London, about to cross the street, and you look the wrong way and think the coast is clear? Am I obligated to watch you step off the curb and get crushed? Comprehension questions will accompany the vocabulary quiz Friday, August 17.

The Right to Your Opinion -

vocab: fall list #1

Be ready to define/conjugate/contextualize these words by Friday, Aug. 17:

faux pas

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield]

"Action expresses priorities." -Mohandas Gandhi

What are your priorities? Specifically, what are you doing here? Why are you enrolled in this course? What actions can your colleagues and I expect from you this year that will express your priorities? What does success look like to you? How will we know when you've "made it"?

1. Journal-as-HW (normally we'll do this at the beginning of each class period, but since you're writing all period today, please get a spiral notebook-- if you don't already have one-- and write today's journal entry in it before class on Wednesday)
2. Essay/collect &/or account for summer reading notes

1. See
2. Research the following quote, translate it, and explain its relevance to this moment/course in a brief comment to this post:
dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude, incipe
(due by the beginning of class Thursday, August 16)

poetry assignment #1

This commercial below was produced by Levi's (and then pulled from the airwaves in the UK due to the image of the young person staring down riot police), and it raises questions. Here are the ones you are required to answer by Monday, August 20 (please post your responses to #1-4 here on the blog; #5 will, natch, be a live performance):

1. From what poem/author does this commercial borrow (without credit)?
2. Why might the use of this poem by a corporation be considered ironic?
3. Does the poem reflect the reputation of the author? Why/why not?
4. How did you find the answers to #1 & #3? Describe your research process and your sources in detail.
5. MEMORIZE the poem and be prepared to recite it on demand.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

does anyone want to test drive this?

Check this site out.  After you get a sense of what it is, and how you might use it, please comment to this post and explain why you're interested or not.  Feel free to follow the thread and respond to others' comments. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

thinking ahead to week 1

School may take summer off but learning never stops: I'm stoked! It's been a great summer for the new model of learning you'll be experiencing in this course. Many learners around the globe are trying new things with technology and they are eager to share and learn with us. Students and I had online interviews with thought leaders such as Steve Hargadon and Howard Rheingold (for the Macarthur Foundation-sponsored Digital Media & Learning Hub at University of California, Irvine). A couple weeks ago I described the model and the outcomes in this talk at OSCON in Portland, OR.

Part of the success story is the way the Class of 2012 accepted the challenge. Check out this interview Ian May & Trevor Hudgins did a couple days ago with an ed tech community based in Calgary, Canada.  It will be terrific to have Ian, Trevor and other members of the Class of 2012 join us for online conferences and forums to shed light on tech, learning, and life after HS.

But even though you'll have alums as a resource, remember the "etch-a-sketch" factor. You are completely different people and this is a brand new year.  Times have already changed. There are tools and ideas on the Internet that didn't exist yesterday, much less last year. The political and economic climate around us changes day by day. So, even though I have some idea of how this might go, and you're certainly welcome to build on and expand the ideas and ventures that last year's students began, I invite you and I encourage you to build from scratch. Imagine how you can connect your goals and your passions to the course in meaningful ways.  We're all in for a surprise as you discover what ideas and tools move you to action as you learn your way through this experience.  Incoming students are already designing new learning experiences and ventures-- who'd've thunk I'd be encouraging an architectural redesign of the room or a mother/daughter team-teaching the literary techniques and themes of Dickens and Dr. Seuss?

Reading this blog, however, is like a scene from one of those old westerns where the sheriff slowly walks down the empty main street and mutters, "It's quiet. Too quiet." And the etherpad is about as interesting as [whatever/not inspired enough to finish the simile]. So, if you haven't yet created your blog or contributed a comment or warmed up with your reading notes...

On the first day of school you'll be [spoiler alert!] writing an essay on the summer reading. On Wednesday we'll begin a conversation about how to make this blog and other 2.0 tools help you contribute ideas and collaborate in new ways. In the meantime, the following tips will help prepare you for the first week:

1. Get to class as early as you can. We'll need every second.
2. Bring a spiral notebook or comp book in addition to your binder (returning students will recognize this as the infamous journal).
3. Post your summer reading notes to your blogs. If you haven't posted them, please bring them to class and be prepared to turn them in. I will return them Thursday so that you can use them on the in-class essay. (Oh, by the way: we're having another in-class essay on Thursday).
4. Make sure you're in the right class. I don't mean according to your program, I mean according to your own heart and mind. This course demands intellectual courage and intestinal fortitude, and it is not for everyone. Be honest with yourself and see me if you have doubts.
5. The following posts (which you'll probably see before this if you're not following the blog or frequently checking it) will provide vocabulary and poetry assignments for Week 1. There will be a vocabulary quiz on Friday, August 17, and you must have the poem memorized by Monday, August 20.

Hope you had a great summer. I look forward to exchanging ideas about the reading and embarking together on a memorable journey. See you 8.14.