Friday, November 30, 2012

thanks to quinn mattfeld

It's one thing to read Hamlet.  It's quite another thing to actually meet Hamlet.  Thank you to PCPA's Quinn Mattfeld for talking with us today-- so cool to learn Shakespeare from a guy who has lived the material.

You can see Quinn in PCPA's current production of The Wizard of Oz.  Buy tickets here.

[UPDATE: The following questions were submitted by Alex for your comment/our discussion-- please think on 'em and comment to this post. :)]

  • What was your first impression as you walked through the door and saw Quinn? 
  • Were you excited about having him in class? 
  • Did your thoughts about him change throughout his conversation with us? 
  • What was one main thing that you got out of having Quinn with us? 
  • Did he make you think differently about Hamlet or Shakespeare’s work in general? 
  • What things did you agree with? 
  • Was there things that you didn't agree with or that you had a different opinion on? 
  • Were there any ways that Quinn inspired you? 
  • Can you relate to Hamlet more now then you could before Quinn came? 
  • If you could say one thing to Quinn what would it be? 
  • Do you have any new thoughts on Ophelia’s role in Hamlet? 
  •  Is there a new way you are going to go about memorizing things? 
  • What is your definition of a good piece of literature? 
  • Has Quinn made you excited about Hamlet or had you always had that spark of loving Hamlet and now it's more of a fire than a spark?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Bob Dylan (which you can mentally remix by substituting "Preston's Class" for "Mr. Jones"); "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield]

Read the following excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and describe how Wallace uses literary elements to describe a large theme through one character's seemingly casual observation.

What's interesting to Hal Incandenza about his take on Struck, sometimes Pemulis, Evan Ingersoll, et al. is that congenital plagiarists put so much more work into camouflaging their plagiarism than it would take just to write up an assignment from conceptual scratch.  It usually seems like plagiarists aren't lazy so much as kind of navigationally insecure.  They have trouble navigating without a detailed map's assurance that somebody has been this way before them.  About this incredible painstaking care to hide and camouflage the plagiarism-- whether it's dishonesty or a [Y] kind of kleptomaniacal thrill-seeking or what-- Hal hasn't developed much of any sort of take.

1. Journal
2. Introspection/reflection (No Exit)
3. Collaboration (Henry V/Great Expectations/Tale of Two Cities/Christmas Carol)
4. Innovation (final presentation proposals)
5. Execution (to be clear, in this strange world; this item refers to implementation and not capital punishment)

1. Study vocab
2. Lit analysis work
3. Post No Exit work to your blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

i am an optimist

I don't get to watch a lot of college football, but last weekend I got to see a few downs-- and the finest commercial for college I have ever seen.  This made me proud to be a Bruin:

November 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Mixed-Up Confusion" by Bob Dylan; "Land of Confusion" by Genesis; "Frustration" by Soft Cell]

Describe the literary elements that make the following excerpt an example of satire.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

1. Journal
2. Sonnets: definition & types
3. Henry V, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations

1. Study vocab
2. Lit analysis work
3. Henry V/Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations (finish text and answer LAQs by Friday, 11.30)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Macbeth-Sinfonia" by Verdi, performed by Pier Giorgio Morandi/Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; "King Without A Crown" by Matisyahu; "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who)

Describe how Conrad's use of figurative language and indirect characterization contributes to the theme and tone of the following passage:

The vision seemed to enter the house with me—the stretcher, the phantom-bearers, the wild crowd of obedient worshipers, the gloom of the forests, the glitter of the reach between the murky bends, the beat of the drum, regular and muffled like the beating of a heart—the heart of a conquering darkness. It was a moment of triumph for the wilderness, an invading and vengeful rush which, it seemed to me, I would have to keep back alone for the salvation of another soul. And the memory of what I had heard him say afar there, with the horned shapes stirring at my back, in the glow of fires, within the patient woods, those broken phrases came back to me, were heard again in their ominous and terrifying simplicity. I remembered his abject pleading, his abject threats, the colossal scale of his vile desires, the meanness, the torment, the tempestuous anguish of his soul. And later on I seemed to see his collected languid manner, when he said one day, 'This lot of ivory now is really mine. The Company did not pay for it. I collected it myself at a very great personal risk. I am afraid they will try to claim it as theirs though. H'm. It is a difficult case. What do you think I ought to do—resist? Eh? I want no more than justice.' ... He wanted no more than justice—no more than justice. I rang the bell before a mahogany door on the first floor, and while I waited he seemed to stare at me out of the glassy panel—stare with that wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe. I seemed to hear the whispered cry, 'The horror! The horror!'

1. Journal
2. Vocab competition; please follow directions on white board and drop exit tickets (2 per class) in crate.

1. Study vocab
2. Lit analysis work

Monday, November 26, 2012


1. Read Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit." You can find the text online here and here, among other places, and you are certainly welcome to check the play out at the library or buy it at a local bookstore or online.

2. Be sure to take active reading notes and answer the questions embedded in the text.

3. Feel free to ask questions and comment to this post.

4. Create a post for your blog entitled "Thinking Outside the Box" in which you compare how Plato and Sartre describe the limitations of our thinking and imply solutions to the problem.  Be sure to analyze their literary techniques, especially their use of allegory and extended metaphor.

5. Invite ten people to read and comment to your post.


November 26

JOURNAL TOPICS: [today's tunes: "Fight the Power" (slightly edited) by Public Enemy; "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye; "Imagine" by John Lennon; "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane; "Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons]

1. Like Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," each of today's tunes expresses a perspective on the idea that the human condition can-- and should-- be better. Analyze the tone and theme of each tune and evaluate its effectiveness. (Regarding the latter, attempt to be objective, i.e., focus on its reasoning/rhetorical appeal-- if you find yourself describing what you "like" then acknowledge this as a matter of personal preference rather than technical or artistic merit.)

2. In The Principles of Psychology (1890), William James wrote, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.” How have your experiences in this course helped you focus your attention? What do you still need to work on? What elements of the following text (from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84) draw your attention and help you construct meaning?

The driver nodded and took the money. "Would you like a receipt?"
"No need. And keep the change."
"Thanks very much," he said. "Be careful, it looks windy out there. Don't slip."
"I'll be careful," Aomame said.
"And also," the driver said, facing the mirror, "please remember: things are not what they seem."
Things are not what they seem, Aomame repeated mentally. "What do you mean by that?" she asked with knitted brows.
The driver chose his words carefully: "It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day-- especially women."
"I suppose you're right."
"Right. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I've had that experience myself. But don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality."

1. Journal (extended)/grade conferences
2. Sonnets
3. Henry V, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations
4. Prepare for vocab final* tomorrow

(*It's only practice, but we're getting closer...)

1. Read Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit."  You can find the text online here and here, among other places, and you are certainly welcome to check the play out at the library or buy it at a local bookstore or online.  We will discuss online and in class throughout the week; there will be an essay exam Friday. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

you google wrong

I just read this article and realized how helpful it will be in your future endeavors.  How do you Google, and what tips from this article do you find valuable?  If you have some time over the weekend please skim and comment to this post (optional, I know you have a lot on your plate already and we'll discuss some of this in class next week :).

online security

After reading this I'm tempted to change my password to "Whoa."

The good news, I guess, is that there will be more and more jobs available in cyberforensics.

Monday, November 19, 2012

rhs graphics awesomeness

This just in from RHS Graphics-- check out the Project Infinity logos here and pick your favorite!

November 20


Describe a symbol that means something to you. How did the symbol come to represent an abstract idea?  Is the idea shared by others or is it yours alone?  If it's an individual interpretation, what does it say about you?  If it's social, how does interpreting the symbol identify the reader/viewer as a member of the tribe who "gets it"?

1. Journal
3. Check out library books

ESSAY TOPIC: Explain Plato's use of metaphor in "Allegory of the Cave." How does his use of figurative language make this an allegory? Who is he really writing about and what is his purpose?  (As per many an AP prompt: Avoid Summarization.)

1. Write a sonnet about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and post it to your blog (title: "Allegory of the Cave Sonnet").  To receive full credit your sonnet must receive 20 positive reviews from your colleagues, each of whom must evaluate: a) whether your sonnet meets the definitional requirements and therefore deserves to be called a sonnet in the first place; and b) whether it's any good, as evidenced by the quality of narration, setting, use of figurative language, etc.
2. Read the library book you selected (or Henry V, if you went that route; look for the script in a post here on the blog later in the day).  Remember to take enough active reading notes to answer the LAQs in a post to your blog.  Everyone who finishes by Sunday night can count this as a Literature Analysis.
3. Go to the member blogs page, find 15 people you don't know well, and comment to their blogs with: a) a compliment about their blog, b) a question you need help with on Henry V or Dickens, and c) the URL of your blog so they can comment back.
4. Happy Thanksgiving.  Thank someone you love, thank someone you like, thank someone you can't stand, and thank someone you haven't met yet.  And, since I don't say it often enough: thank you.

November 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Me and My Shadow" by Frank Sinatra; "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens; "Jumpin' at Shadows" by Fleetwood Mac & Peter Green]

Compare yourself to the denizens of Plato's Cave. Describe something you learned during the mind map experience (about Queenan's article, about the process, about yourself) that will help you break the chains and see more than shadows.

1. Journal
2. Discussion: "Brain with 328 Legs"
3. Discussion: "The Allegory of the Cave"
4. CWGs/BQs
5. Calendar and lit circles 2.0

1. Prepare for vocab quiz & essay on "Allegory of the Cave"
2. Consider which collaborative working group you want to join, follow and/or create
3. Refine your "Big Question" and make sure your partner's is posted
4. Choose: Henry V, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations
*REMINDER: bring IDs to check out library books tomorrow

Saturday, November 17, 2012

the brain with 200-- er, 328 legs--is ALIVE!

[Update Saturday 12:40 P.M.] Watching Hayden, John, Owen, Sara, Vanessa, Eli, Felicitas, and Andrew working on the mind map.  Who knew that the two-minute drill could be this interesting (thanks Feli)? #betterthancollegefootball

[Update: Saturday 2:04 P.M.] Right now it's Ming, Justin, Valerie, Josh, Carlos, Christa, Teanna, Katelyn, and Isiah, the map's so busy John keeps getting blocked out when he tries to post.  (Give the man a chance! :)   #definitelybetterthancollegefootballnowletsgobruins

[Update: Saturday 2:41 P.M.] Christa is having trouble logging onto the mind map so can anyone help by visiting her blog and posting the info (with her name) to the mind map?  Mahalo.

[Update: Saturday 4:47 P.M.] Mackenzie, Alex, Elizabeth, Sam, and Matt are also in the mix.  I ran across the thought, "Books are siege weapons" and realized I'm not sure I know what Queenan means.  Curious to see what you think.  #foramomentcollegefballwasactuallyprettygreatfinalscoreucla38usc28

[Update: Saturday 6:23 P.M.] Thank you Isiah for helping me understand the "siege weapons" reference!  Hey everyone, this looks great so far.  I wish I was an octopus so I could live tweet, post screen shots on Tumblr, and... I'm tired just thinking about it.  Those of you on Twitter will start seeing action from @prestonlearning (about this and coming attractions).  I'm stepping out for the evening, so if you need anything please email.  If you run into trouble that your colleagues can't answer, click the question mark in the circle on the Mindmeister dashboard (top right) and this video series also looks pretty helpful (as always, feel free to search out your own resources and comment here if you find something wonderful).  In a pinch email  See you here and on the mind map tomorrow!

[Update: Sunday 10:56 A.M.]  Top o' the morning to Socorro, Reed, Sebastian, Cassidy, Erika, Dulce, Devon, Josh, Michelle, and Kasie, and thanks to everyone who participated overnight.  This is literally the eleventh hour-- if you haven't contributed yet, this is the moment you've been waiting for!

[Update: Sunday 11:58 A.M.]  Great to see course alum Trevor Hudgins on the map!  Ask him anything, he knows more about the platform than anyone else I know.  Also: our 24 hours is up, BUT FEEL FREE TO ADD MORE WHENEVER YOU GET AN IDEA.  We can always tell from the timeline what happened when, and (as you've heard me say a thousand times) ideas often occur to us  well after the conversation.  It's one of the ways we can tell we're learning.  :) 

Friday, November 16, 2012

plato study questions

Here are your study questions.  Feel free to comment with questions or ideas. (Online original here; thanks to Professor Michael Sudduth of San Francisco State.)

1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?

2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?

3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?

4. What do the imagery of "shackles" and the "cave" suggest about the perspective of the cave dwellers or prisoners?

5. In society today or in your own life, what sorts of things shackle the mind?

6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners?

7. According to the allegory, lack of clarity or intellectual confusion can occur in two distinct ways or contexts. What are they?

8. According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom?

9. The allegory presupposes that there is a distinction between appearances and reality. Do you agree? Why or why not?

10. If Socrates is incorrect in his assumption that there is a distinction between reality and appearances, what are the two alternative metaphysical assumptions?

November 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Searching" by Erykah Badu; "Still Searching" by The Kinks; "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons]

Betrand Russell wrote, “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” Today we're focusing on Russell's second passion. What is your experience in searching for knowledge? Have you ever wandered into a library/store/search engine/community just for the sake of answering a question? If you have, describe the experience: What did you expect to find? How did you unearth information? Where did the process lead you? If you haven't done something like this, visualize a question that intrigues you and imagine how you might go about answering it.

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Brain 2.0
4. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"

1. Brain 2.0
2. Read Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" (click the link or see below)
3. Answer these study questions in a post to your blog entitled "Plato's Allegory of the Cave"

(adopted with gratitude from:

The Republic

By Plato

Written 360 B.C.E

Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Table of Contents

Book VII

Socrates - GLAUCON

And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from

Thursday, November 15, 2012

journal option

We have a long-standing tradition of writing in our journals every single day as class begins.  And, even in the Information Age, I have a personal preference for the physical act of writing.  There's something about the blank page, feeling the pen-- it is at once very "in the moment" and very ancient.

I also like the idea of having a private notebook that isn't for others to see unless invited.  Lastly, there is something inexplicably familiar and wonderful about kicking back after everyone else leaves on Fridays and reading those notebooks.  I don't really like the idea of kicking back and spending MORE time looking at a screen!

Still, I've emphasized hacking the course to meet your needs, and we're learning a lot about Information Age tools, so when Ashlie asked to keep her journal online I said yes.  And since I said yes to her I'm offering (but unashamedly not endorsing) the same to you.

(Please Note: If you make this switch, please be mindful that some of your innermost thinking is not what you want to put online.  Please also make sure to save your work so that if for any reason your online journal gets deleted it won't affect your performance in the course.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the photographers of righetti

This just in from Amanda:

I chose to use tumblr to make a blog for Photography Club because it is very active in publicizing artwork. This blog is about pursuing art careers and being notified about art programs.  I mainly post about what's happening in club and artwork from fellow photographers. To get more details about the club and to fully understand what we're about go to our url:

If you take pictures, join us!  Even if you're better at looking at pictures than taking them, come by the site and check out some cool art.  We look forward to seeing you seeing our pics!

November 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Piano Quintet in A, D 667 The Trout" by Schubert]

[Choose your own topic. Today is an excellent day to show some initiative and creativity.]

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary
3. T.S. Eliot was no Lee Harvey Oswald
4. Sonnets
5. Brain 2.0

1. Stake your claim on "6,128 Books"
2. Study vocab
3. Comment to [HERE/LINK] with your preferred mindmaps

articles on student loans

I tracked down the articles that were mentioned in class:
They are powerful reminders to get accurate information from credible sources and make informed decisions as you start receiving acceptance letters and financial aid packages.  

brain with 200 legs 2.0: mindmaps & strategy

1. [for Thursday 11.15] Read the definition of mindmap in the screenshot here:

2. [for Thursday 11.15] Familiarize yourself with CMAP and--if you like it-- download the mindmap program

3. [for Thursday 11.15] Determine how we can all contribute to the mindmap. If you don't see a way: 1) ask partner/colleagues for help, and/or 2) find, evaluate and propose a free mindmap platform that allows us all to collaborate.

4. [for Thursday 11.15] Find at least two mindmaps you think are good enough to be models for us all to consider. Cut/paste links to them so we can see what you see. After you list the links, so that we know what to look for, briefly describe what these maps do well and what they could improve.

5. [For Friday 11.16] Skim "My 6,128 Favorite Books." Look for words, ideas and allusions that you don't recognize and/or you'd like to know more about.

6. On Saturday [11.17], at a time we all agree on in class, we will begin working together as fast as we can to populate the mind map. We will have a maximum of 24 hours to complete the mission. We can finish before then if someone who's keeping track calls for a review and we discover that we've covered everything. In fact, now that I think about it, we should probably create some sort of strategic plan before we start-- this way we can decide things like whether we should start in sections, or in different places, or whether we should have specific roles (as in the neo-legendary literature circles of sophomore year).

brain with 200 legs 2.0

Can 100+ students in three different classes work together to think together online? Some people think this sort of thing is impossible or pointless. Those people haven't seen what I've seen.

November 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Come Together" by The Beatles; "Why Can't We Be Friends" by War]

What inspires you to be at your best? Do you work more effectively as an individual, as a member of a group, or does it depend on the task/people/situation? Explain the factors that enable teams to succeed in ways "Lee Harvey Oswalds" can't, and discuss the implications for community and country. For instance, after an event that divides winners and losers (a big game, a court case, an election), how can people come back to the table to work together?

1. Journal
2. Vocab/reading test
3. Collaboration and literature

1. Literature analysis work
2. Study vocabulary
3. Read this and do this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

literature analysis reminder

Please select and begin reading your next literature analysis novel, and please bring it to class.  (That will be worth extra credit today; it's an assignment for tomorrow [Wednesday 11.14])

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Money Song" by Monty Python; "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits; "Eat the Rich" by Aerosmith]

In reading about your plans for the future I was struck by the prominent role that money plays in your thinking, whether it motivates you ("I hope to earn $[X]") or worries you ("I can't pay for college"). This isn't necessarily good or bad, it just makes me curious. What if you removed money from the decision-making equation and began a different sort of "self-overhearing" about your future? How would your new performative utterance sound if it were a simple declaration of what you're curious about, or what you do well, or what type of life you'd like to lead? How might it change your thinking and your course of action?

1. Journal/turn in revised Hamlet essays
2. Vocab (you already have this week's list, and it's LONG)
3. Study vocabulary: your partner's grade depends on it
4. Sonnets: types and recitations

1. Make sure you've left no vocabulary stone unturned.  Seriously.
2. Read the article below (and take notes)-- there will be an extensive reading quiz tomorrow along with the vocabulary test (*you read that correctly; welcome to the speed round). As you read, pay particular attention to how collaborative relationships operate offline and think about how we can increase their value by networking online.  Then go back to vocabulary.

DP interdependence article -

josten's information

I just emailed with Danny Hutchinson from Josten's.  Order packets will be available first thing tomorrow morning at the Business Office.  Please make sure to fill out the order form completely so you're ready for order day. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

RHS WASC accreditation

As some of you know, RHS is going through an accreditation process with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Part of the process involves soliciting feedback from community members.  If you have a few moments this weekend please click here to complete a brief survey about your experience at RHS.


November 9

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Save it for Later" by The English Beat; "Waiting for a Miracle" by Leonard Cohen; "If Not Now..." by Tracy Chapman]

Yesterday I talked with Ms. Dirkes about procrastination and I learned a great deal. Part one of this morning's journal is traditional-- please meditate on the nature of procrastination. Ask yourself when it helps you, when it hurts you, and how you can be aware of it and manage it so that it doesn't feel like a(nother) overwhelming force in your life that you can't control.

Part two should be written on a separate piece of paper so that I can read it today (don't want to procrastinate on a procrastination!). Please describe your process for preparing for next year. This may include college applications/deadlines, job searches, travel etc. After reading this document I should come away with a clear understanding of: a) how you plan to use the year, b) what you are currently doing to prepare, and c) how you intend to meet deadlines (include descriptions of what you have to do and the resources/planning you'll need to execute your plan).

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Writer's conferences

1. Finish Lit Analysis #3 by COB Monday
2. Memorize your sonnet (due in class Tuesday if you don't post the recital on your blog sooner)
3. Revise "Hamlet" essay (due in class Tuesday)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

recap of josten's presentation

Here is a recap of today's presentation from Josten's. (thanks, Beka!)

collaborative working group montero-style

If you're interested in this project either comment here or contact Josh, who writes:
The movie's title is The Package: The Movie. It is a work of fiction and uses special effects to create realistic illusions of things we'd never do in real life; the plot includes a car chase, fight scenes, a WMD, and a character who self-identifies as a redneck.  If more than one person wants a certain part we will assess their abilities and make what will appear to be a totally subjective and irritating decision.  Actors must be willing to film for long hours (3 to 4) without complaining.  We will probably start filming during winter break. 

4 main characters
-2 boys (one of whom turns evil and tries to destroy the world)
-2 girls
A Redneck
A Scientist
An Intern for the Scientist
A teacher
An Important Techy Person
A Secret Agent

I would also need several extras
Guards for the guy that will turn evil
Kids for the classroom

I will need 2 drivers (for the "car chase")
Anybody that has props of any type that might come in handy (Costumes, Airsoft guns, the works)

health dummies unite!

If you haven't seen this particular piece of collaborative working group awesomeness, go there now.

November 8

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. Big question + sonnet choice/definition = exit ticket
3. Writer's conferences
4. Independent/group work: vocab, big questions

1. Post your Big Question to your blog (title: "Big Question")
2. Post your notes on sonnets to your blog (title: "Sonnet Analysis Part I")

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

our chat with bryan alexander

Today we were fortunate to talk with Bryan Alexander.  From Bryan's bio:

Bryan Alexander is senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). He researches, writes, and speaks about emerging trends in the integration of inquiry, pedagogy, and technology and their potential application to liberal arts contexts. Dr. Alexander’s current research interests include emerging pedagogical forms enabled by mobile technologies, learning processes and outcomes associated with immersive environments (as in gaming and augmented reality), the rise of digital humanities, the transformation of scholarly communication, digital storytelling, and futurist methodologies
Dr. Alexander is author of The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media, published in April 2011 by Praeger. He is active online, combining research with communication across multiple venues. He runs the NITLE futures market, a crowd-sourced prediction game. He contributes to Techne, NITLE’s blog, and was lead author for eight years on it predecessor, Liberal Education Today (archive). He also tweets steadily at @BryanAlexander.

Born in New York City, Dr. Alexander earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan in 1997, completing a dissertation on Romantic-era Gothic literature. He taught English literature, writing, information literacy, and information technology studies at Centenary College of Louisiana from 1997 through 2002. He was a 2004 fellow of the Frye Leadership Institute. He lives on a Vermont homestead with his family, where they raise animals and crops, combining broadband with a low-tech lifestyle.

Here is the video of our conversation with Bryan (in two parts):

November 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Strength, Courage & Wisdom" by India Arie; "I Just Want to Celebrate" by Rare Earth]

Long before we met, and long after you've passed the AP exam and gone on to greater things, literature has always been and will always be an act of self-expression. Literature 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 (the non-Eminem Marshal with whom Roy Christopher identifies) 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...[?]  Explain how using technology to research/create/share content online can amplify your best qualities and more effectively tell your story. If you don't see a difference between telling your story in online media versus telling it with pen and paper, explain that too.

1. Journal
2. Writers' conferences
3. Vocab
4. Sonnets

1. Resurrect "to be or not to be" and/or begin memorizing the sonnet you selected

please bring your literature analysis books to class

Since our Internet access is unstable this week I am coming to school with three different plans in mind; in case we have time to work independently please have your literature analysis book handy.  In fact, please make it a habit for the rest of the semester.  Mahalo.

Monday, November 5, 2012

november 6 (which looks a lot like, yeah, I know)

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters; "Heroes" by David Bowie]

Heroes are essential to humanity. Every culture throughout history has chronicled their experiences. Today their role is more important than ever; heroes inspire us to think differently, act differently, and ultimately become better versions of ourselves. Even though everyone gets the general idea of a hero, however, the people we admire are as individual as we are. They may have impressive personalities, intellects or physical attributes; they may be ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary goals; they may be public or private. They may even be our friends and relatives.

Write a letter to someone you consider to be a hero. Explain to this person why s/he is heroic and tell the person how s/he has moved or inspired you.

1. Journal
2. Socratic seminar [suggested topics: performative utterances in Hamlet, the essay, vocabulary, recent speakers, study/blog strategies, "Modern Thinkers," how the course can provide maximal value to every participant from now until the end of the semester]; take notes (There's a chance I won't be there, so would you please capture on phones and upload to the YouTube channel?  As always, please be mindful; before you turn on the camera ask everyone whether it's ok to include their image in the video-- if they say "no" please don't.  Thanks.)

1. Post definitions and sentences/remix to your blog under title "fall vocab #11" (due by COB Monday 11.5)
2. Comment to the hamlet essay post from your Socratic seminar notes
3. Write the hamlet essay and bring a hard copy (typed or handwritten) 

we do these things because they are hard

In 1962 President John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech at Rice University in which he set the tone for accomplishing a seemingly impossible goal-- landing on the moon by the end of the decade-- by saying:

"We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

I know tonight's essay is hard.  That's why I assigned it.  I promise that after writing a draft, getting feedback, and revising, the next one won't seem nearly as hard.   We will reconvene the Socratic seminars tomorrow to make sure we answer your questions from tonight, so please write them down and bring them with you.

Now do your homework.  And keep things in perspective.  There is glory in the attempt.  The only way to fail is to avoid trying.  Besides, it's not like I asked you to climb the 103-floor Sears tower with a thought-controlled bionic leg.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

november 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters; "Heroes" by David Bowie]

Heroes are essential to humanity. Every culture throughout history has chronicled their experiences. Today their role is more important than ever; heroes inspire us to think differently, act differently, and ultimately become better versions of ourselves. Even though everyone gets the general idea of a hero, however, the people we admire are as individual as we are. They may have impressive personalities, intellects or physical attributes; they may be ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary goals; they may be public or private. They may even be our friends and relatives.

Write a letter to someone you consider to be a hero. Explain to this person why s/he is heroic and tell the person how s/he has moved or inspired you.

1. Journal
2. Socratic seminar [suggested topics: performative utterances in Hamlet, the essay, vocabulary, recent speakers, study/blog strategies, "Modern Thinkers," how the course can provide maximal value to every participant from now until the end of the semester]; take notes (There's a chance I won't be there, so would you please capture on phones and upload to the YouTube channel?  As always, please be mindful; before you turn on the camera ask everyone whether it's ok to include their image in the video-- if they say "no" please don't.  Thanks.)

1. Post definitions and sentences/remix to your blog under title "fall vocab #11" (due by COB Monday 11.5)
2. Comment to the hamlet essay post from your Socratic seminar notes
3. Write the hamlet essay and bring a hard copy (typed or handwritten) 

hamlet essay

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.

Please comment to this post by COB Monday 11.5 with any questions/ideas about the topic and ways to write about it. Please bring a hard copy (typed or handwritten) to class on Tuesday, 11.6.

vocabulary: fall list #11

hoi polloi

Saturday, November 3, 2012

carlos comix

This just in from Carlos Cruz (RHS '12).  Thanks, Carlos!

carlos cruz osl comic -

our chat with cory doctorow

On Halloween Cory Doctorow joined us to talk about writing, his new book Pirate Cinema, Internet culture, the evils of content filters, and the future of learning in the Information Age.

Here's the video (Note: Cory's image freezes at 23:58 but the audio goes on and it's worth a listen).

Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The End" by The Doors]

Part I
Now that we've finished reading Hamlet, reflect on the play as a whole. Describe the major theme(s) and provide at least two examples from the text to support your ideas.

Part II
Now that we're at the end of the second grading period, reflect on your performance in the course.  Given your scores on vocabulary, grades on writing assignments, and your approach to journals/blogs, what grade do you think you've earned?

[Before turning your journal in for the week please come by for your grade conference.]

1. Journal/grade conferences
2. Vocab quiz
2. Discussion/analysis of Hamlet

1. Follow up on last night's PLN homework by: 1) reviewing five of your colleagues' blogs and commenting about the resources they found; 2) reaching out to one of the communities and asking a question you still have about Hamlet; and 3) posting to your blog about the process under the title "GROWING MY PLN."
2. Find a sonnet you'd like to study and post it to your blog under the title "Sonnet"
3. Read/work on Literature Analysis #3 (due by November 12)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Say What" by Stevie Ray Vaughan; "Say It Now (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. Socratic Seminar: "The Performative Utterance in Hamlet" & vocab
[UPDATE: The agenda got hijacked.  0 finished Act V.  3&4 groups discussed major takeaways and questions from Hamlet.  Please see HW #3.]

1. STUDY "The Performative Utterance in Hamlet"
2. Begin creating your PLN by searching out AP and university courses that include Hamlet.  Review at least fifteen, pick the best five, and post links to your blogs (under the title "AP HAMLET PLN").  Include a brief paragraph for each in which you explain why the resource made the cut.
3. If you're in period 3 or 4: please comment to this post with your group's major ideas and questions.
4. Everyone:  please reply to the group's questions with answers (credit per each).