Sunday, September 30, 2012

college rankings

Anyone who is making decisions based on college rankings should have a look at this.


Kudos n Stuff: September

Introducing "Kudos n Stuff"-- a monthly summary of good news and general updates.  Please report your news/updates in class or email to:

  • Kudos to Megan Hardisty, who will be attending MIT on a softball scholarship
  • Kudos to Abby Kuhlman, winner, Elks scholarship
  • Tanner Tuttle, winner, Elks  scholarship
  • Here is the FB page for last year's RHS Seniors, which I'm including because I forgot the information about the one Ashlie and co. organized-- would someone kindly comment with the info?
  • For those who wanted the whole story of the FG-kicking Homecoming Queen:

If I missed anyone or if you've done something amazing since I posted this, please let me/us know.

October 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: up to you]

In schooling the word "test" has a particular set of connotations.  In the world, being tested means different things altogether.  Describe something from your life outside school that tested you.  How?  What did you learn?  Did you pass or fail?

1. Journal
2. Midterm preparation:
  • Determine what resources you'll need (vocabulary lists, to be sure, but what else will help you study?  flashcards?  software/apps?  other people?)
  • Talk and collaborate with people you want to team with
  • Create a schedule for yourself from today until Friday
  • Write a checklist on a piece of paper or device so that you can measure your progress each day
[UPDATE: I'm posting this the day before so that those of you who want to think about this and organize online can get started.]

1. Post your midterm review/study strategy to your blog.
2. Review at least 10 of your colleagues' blogs and comment with suggestions, questions, and thank-yous for good ideas.  If you get an idea worth using from someone else's blog, revise the strategy on your post to include it.  Credit the person who shared the idea by citing his/her blog as the source and including a link back to it.
3. If you find a blog that's worth an honorable mention for content or design, please comment to this post with the URL so that we can all see.

Rheanna just submitted this picture, what does it say to you?

reminder: vocabulary midterm fri 10.5

To those vocabulary champions who have been watching the blog and wondering why List #8 hasn't been posted, this is a reminder that this week is the midterm.  Everything on lists 1-7 is eligible.  You will have time in class on Monday to organize yourselves for the purpose.

The goal is perfection. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012 of conner

Conner said this in class today:

I don't think before I speak so that I can be surprised just like everyone else."

We all felt like we'd heard the idea before but we couldn't find the quote; could this be the Conner original that gets him into Bartlett's?  Comment to this post if you find the original (assuming there is one).

September 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Indecision" by Eagle Eye Cherry; "King Without a Crown" by Matisyahu]

Hamlet wrestles with difficult decisions and problems by talking them through. Based on what you've read so far, how do you think Hamlet will be influenced by such elements as his family, where he lives, emotion, and the differences between Hamlet's inner world of thoughts/feelings and the outer world that surrounds him? Feel free to apply your own experiences on these topics.

1. Turn in character study
2. Vocabulary quiz
3. Intro to Hamlet
4. Journal

1. Research Hamlet online and answer the following questions (with citations for any website you consult and/or quote) in comments to this post: 1)What is the play about? 2)Why is interpreting the play such a challenge? Why doesn't everyone agree on what it means?
2. Find a minimum of three other learning communities that are studying Hamlet (either in an AP class, a college/university course, or independently on FB or elsewhere).  Introduce yourself and use the principles of "The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online" to do exactly that!  Report the experience(s) on your blog.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Are the Champions" by Queen; "The Real Me" by Johnny Adams; "Who Are You" by Tom Waits]

What's the difference between who you are and who you want to be?

1. Journal
2. An epic is a poem
3. Personal statements
4. A word (several, actually) about scholarships
5. Chaucer's dead
6. Characterization (I-V) revisions/exit tickets
7. This agenda is long

1. Study for vocab test Fri
2. Answer these "Pre-Will"questions in a post on your blog: a) What do you know about Hamlet, the "Melancholy Dane"?  b) What do you know about Shakespeare?  c) Why do so many students involuntarily frown when they hear the name "Shakespeare"?  and d) What can we do to make studying this play an amazing experience we'll never forget?

characterization questions for literary analysis #1

They're here.

September 26

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel; "Just the Way You Are" performed by Diana Krall]

The French novelist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote (in French), "The more things change the more they stay the same." Evaluate this idea in terms of a character you've recently read or written. To what extent does the character's transformation involve new traits/information, and to what extent does the process magnify qualities that were there all along? Apply this thinking to a person you know in real life; how has this person changed as a result of his/her learning? Do you think the change is a product of qualities that were there all along or do you see something new?

1. Journal
2. Personal statements returned personally
3. Characterization & literary elements

1. Character study (IV)
2. Answer characterization questions for LA #1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

esprit de corps

The last line of the first paragraph in Wikipedia's entry sums up my understanding of esprit de corps:  

"While the term is often used by authority figures as a generic value judgment of the willpower, obedience and self-discipline of a group tasked with performing duties assigned by a superior, more accurately it refers to the level of individual faith in the collective benefit gained by such performance."

These people get it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 25

JOURNAL TOPIC: [radio silence, Project Infinity credit if the class can agree on a tune, hum in unison, and video/post to someone's blog]

Choose your own topic.  Since this should be of more interest to you than whatever someone else assigns, write closer to a page (or keep writing the whole period).

1. Journal
2. Work independently on vocabulary, literature analysis questions, and/or characterization

1. Continue working on literature analysis
2. Continue studying vocabulary
3. Visit 5 (more) blogs and critique literature analyses

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vocabulary: Fall List #7

ad hoc
de facto
piece de resistance

Friday, September 21, 2012

questions/ideas for howard rheingold

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Open Source Learning is connecting directly with authors and thinkers who create the materials we read and discuss.  At the end of October we will be talking online with Howard Rheingold.  (In addition to his own writing and teaching, Howard moderates online events for the University of California Irvine's Digital Media & Learning Hub, which is funded by the Macarthur Foundation.)

Another distinguishing characteristic of Open Source Learning is the idea that every participant can "write" to the curriculum-- in other words, we all create and refine our path(s) of inquiry by asking questions and suggesting resources, ideas and actions that accelerate understanding.

Lastly, Open Source Learning is transparent; online data can be shared in its original form.

Here's an example: Howard and I exchanged emails in which we discussed the online conferences.  I asked him about topics and he said it's up to you.  So, please comment to this post over the next month with anything you'd like to see considered in our conversation with Howard.

"self-regulated learners"

I just got an email advertising the online conference below, which costs $345 to attend.  Shouldn't college freshmen-- who are legally adults and theoretically able to lead independent lives in our culture and economy-- be able to think, plan, and take action independently by the time they graduate HS?  Please comment with your thoughts.


Once upon a time, before the ubiquitous Fahrenheit 451-esque ear buds turned opuses into ringtones and made us deaf to each other, music was a shared experience. Since I wasn't in class yesterday I suggested that students take the reins.

Nice work, Dulce & Co.!

September 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["You Learn" by Alanis Morissette; "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil]

President Roosevelt visited nonagenarian Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the hospital and was surprised to discover Justice Holmes reading a book on Greek grammar. "Why are you reading Greek grammar?" the president asked. "To improve my mind," the justice replied. Many students rightly want to get out of school, but mistakenly believe that their learning ends when they drop out or graduate. What is the difference between learning and schooling, and what is the value of learning in your life? How long do you plan to keep it up?

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Characters of Canterbury Tales
4. Character Study (III)

1. Your first stab at lit analysis should be complete; answers to questions and notes should be posted to your blog by the end of the day.
2. Complete Character Study (III)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [radio silence, Project Infinity credit if the class can agree on a tune, hum in unison, and video/post to someone's blog]

Choose your own topic.  Since this should be of more interest to you than whatever someone else assigns, write closer to a page (or keep writing the whole period).

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Read literature analysis novel
4. Catch up on any outstanding assignments

1. Study vocab for tomorrow's quiz
2. Post literature analysis to your blog by COB Friday 9.21

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the art of hosting good conversations online

(original online here)

The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online

September 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett; "Strength, Courage & Wisdom" by India Arie]

Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden observed, "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."  Briefly describe your character and your reputation.  What differences do you see between the two?

1. Journal
2. Reading quiz: Prologue to Canterbury Tales
3. Discuss Prologue

1. Character study (II)
2. Read "The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

update: chicago

As we began thinking out loud about personal learning networks, several of you asked about Chicago students and what they're doing during the teachers' strike.  Here are a couple items on the topic:

And, from this morning's paper:

September 18

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Hello, I Love You," "Love Her Madly" & "Love Me Two Times" by The Doors]

Bukowski's "Laughing Heart" communicates abstract, complicated ideas (inspiration, risk, independence, fulfillment, the meaning of life) in just a few lines.  How is it possible for something this short to convey as much meaning as a 700-page novel?

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Evolution of purpose/style: Bede & Chaucer

1. Read/review Bede (pp.74-82) & read Prologue to Canterbury Tales (pp.90-115) in textbook-- please bring active reading notes to class Wed 9.19

Monday, September 17, 2012

online security links from ian may

This one's on me: after Ian's presentation many of you asked him for the links.  He told you they'd be on the course blog & he sent them to me the same day.  Sorry it took so long to post.

How to get rid of pop-ups

How to get rid of adware


Firefox Ad Blocker

Password Lockers

Password Checker

Email for course-related tech help:

screen shot solutions

How are you taking your screen shots, saving them, and emailing them as attachments?  Describe the tools/commands you're using in a comment below.

September 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh; "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole]

Sometimes we're so focused on improvement that we look at everything with a critic's eye and forget what's going right in our lives. What in your life is so consistently terrific that you can afford to forget about it and take it for granted? How can thinking about this put you in a better state of mind? Does your state of mind affect people who know you? Is there some truth to "the power of positive thinking"?

1. Journal/collect personal statements
2. Vocab
3. Review "Mind Amplifiers"

1. Vocab
2. Lit analysis
3. Take screen shots of your blog's page views, posts, and comments & email to

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vocabulary: Fall List #6

bete noire

Friday, September 14, 2012

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!

mind amplifiers prezi

Since we're pressed for time, here is the rest of the Mind Amplifiers* prezi. Please have a look and comment to this post with observations and/or questions. We'll reserve time in class next week to discuss whatever needs discussing.

[*The term "Mind Amplifiers" was coined by Howard Rheingold (site here, wikipedia bio here) who has been studying technology and media for longer than I've been alive. Howard wrote a book on Mind Amplifiers and he currently teaches courses on technology, journalism and virtual community (a phrase he also coined) at Stanford and UC Berkeley. He has also created a series of independent online courses. I used the "Mind Amplifiers" title with Howard's permission for this prezi, which I presented at an RHS faculty inservice in August, 2011.  Howard is a friend of the course and he will join us in an online conference later in the semester.]

crowdsourcing the curriculum: 1

As we move away from the epics and toward the character studies of The Canterbury Tales, we will be talking about the observation of others and characterization:
  • How do our schema/expectations/memories/emotions How do authors capture the essence of a character in ways that bring real people to mind? 
  • How do we observe static and dynamic aspects of people in our lives, and how do we relate these ideas in the stories we tell?
  • A key element in characterization-- and in real-life interactions-- is change.  People intentionally transform themselves and we are also transformed through life's circumstances.  
Please find poetry that addresses this subject matter.  Check out poetry sites, AP sites, university-level English sites, and anywhere you find credible, accurately quoted material that you think is appropriate for our purpose and study.  We will decide together which texts to use and how, after which I'll introduce the AP poetry analysis rubric.


Ron Wayne sez do your homework

In every endeavor some people take more risks than others.  You who are doing an amazing job will be remembered whenever people speak of this learning experience (there's a Shakespearean allusion/preview for your next memorization-- let me know if you get it).  I was thinking about this last night when I fell asleep.  Then Ron Wayne came to me in a dream and told me to tell you his story.  No, not John Wayne.  RON Wayne.  I hadn't heard of him either.  But he directed me to p.65 of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and this is what I found:

[After agreeing to partner with Jobs and Wozniak in exchange for a 10% ownership stake in Apple...]
Wayne then got cold feet.  As Jobs started planning to borrow and spend more money, he recalled the failure of his own company.  He didn't want to go through that again.  Jobs and Wozniak had no personal assets, but Wayne (who worried about a global financial Armageddon) kept gold coins hidden in his mattress.  Because they had structured Apple as a simple partnership rather than a corporation, the partners would be personally liable for the debts, and Wayne was afraid potential creditors would go after him.  So he returned to the Santa Clara County office just eleven days later with a "statement of withdrawal" and an amendment to the partnership agreement.  "By virtue of a re-assessment of understandings by and between all parties," it began, "Wayne shall hereinafter cease to function in the status of partner."  It noted that in payment for his 10% of the company, he received $800, and shortly afterward $1,500 more.

Had he stayed on and kept his 10% stake, at the end of 2010 it would have been worth approximately $2.6 billion.  Instead he was then living alone in a small home in Pahrump, Nevada, where he played the penny slot machines and lived off his social security check.

Do your homework.  Know the risks and rewards.  Take action.  As Bukowski wrote and nearly 100 seniors recently recited: "The gods will offer you chances.  Know them.  Take them."

more on the personal statement

Here is a(nother) resource from Mrs. Dirkes:


personal statement worksheet

Hi everyone, the following comes to us courtesy of the College Counseling Office. Please write a draft and bring hard copy to class on Monday, 9.17.

ucsb personal statement worksheet

September 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes "Zigzagging Through Ghostland" by The Radiators; "Jai Ho" by AR Rahman, Sukhvinder Singh, Tanvi Shah & Mahalaxmi Iyer]

Words are fickle. A word like fair, for example, can mean equitable, good (as in weather), or a get-together where people show pigs and fry Twinkies. Even seemingly straightforward phrases like "I love you" are changed by tone, volume and context. Describe a simple term or statement that could be (or was actually) misunderstood. What is your remedy-- how can you use words to make your meaning more specific?

1. Journal/return résumés
2. Vocab quiz
3. "Mind Amplifiers" (part II)

1. Literature analysis
2. Personal statement (hard copy) due Monday, 9.17

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" by Julie Brown; "Delicious" by Jim Backus & Friend]

Texts-- in all media-- are often read differently by different readers. What is funny to one person can be offensive to another. One reader "gets the message" while another wonders, "What's the point?" How does the author of your literature analysis book use techniques such as figurative language, parody, satire, and allusion to encourage the reader to interpret the text?  Think of an example (from anything you've read) and describe how it can be interpreted in more than one way.  Is this more effective than coming right out and telling the reader everything s/he needs to know? Explain your answer.

1. Journal
2. AP Rubric
3. "Mind Amplifiers" (part I)

1. Study vocab for tomorrow's quiz
2. Lit analysis (ongoing, due 9.21)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2011 AP essay rubric

ap11_engl_lit_scoring_guidelines -

September 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Eminence Front" by The Who; "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley & The Wailers]

Epic heroes have qualities that make them examples for the rest of us. How does a person acquire the courage, humility, intelligence and instinct that enables him/her to act heroically? What is it that distinguishes a hero from a wannabe who "acts as if" or tries to "fake it 'til he makes it"?

1. Journal
2. Review reading notes/quiz for content
3. Bede
4. AP Essay Rubric/active (a.k.a. close) reading notes

1. Read & take notes on rubric
2. Finish reading & taking notes on first Literature Analysis book (due by COB Fri, 9.14) [UPDATE: LA notes/questions now due by COB Fri, 9.21. NO SHORTCUTS.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

textbook reading quiz: pp. 64-82

Here is a copy of yesterday's quiz. Use it to ensure that you have a complete/accurate set of notes on this material.
Reading quiz pp

textbook reading notes: sample

Here are the reading notes I took when I did the reading I assigned.

Some tips:
1. Note the page numbers so that you can refer to the original if you need to;
2. Use the subject headers from the text to organize your thoughts outline-style;
3. Make sure your notes help you think and find material-- this resource isn't just another "external hard drive"

reading notes sample

September 11

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Someday We'll All Be Free" by Alicia Keys; "Fragile" by Gordon Sumner; "Redemption Song" by Wyclef Jean]

Today is the 11-year anniversary of 9/11. Why do people celebrate anniversaries? What is it about noting a date on the calendar and following an associated ritual (giving gifts, going to a house of worship, taking a day off work, shooting fireworks, eating turkey, et al) that we find so important?  [UPDATE: And why do we focus our attention on something traumatic?  Doesn't every Little League coach say, "Shake it off and get the next one"?  When is it important to remember, when is it important to move on, and is there a way to do both?]

1. Journal
2. Reading notes & quiz
3. Vocab
4. Beginning a new chapter

1. Check quiz against reading/notes; revise notes and post to your blog

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "On the Road to Find Out" and "Peace Train" by Cat Stevens]

When you say something is "valuable" what exactly do you mean? Do you define value in terms of money, emotion, scarcity, what the marketplace thinks, or do you have a different standard? What is the value of your work in school? What is the value of this moment, or the thinking/writing you're doing right now?

1. Journal
2. *[Surprise!]*
3. Vocab

1. Vocab definitions and sentences

Sunday, September 9, 2012

archival subject release form

Please print, review, sign, and return the actor/documentary/archival subject release form.

Now that we're all online, and now that many of you are recording the on-the-ground course and using video and pictures for other course-related activities, and now that we are learning how to create and manage our online identities for the purpose of building ethical, productive communities, it's important for you to learn about privacy, fair use, and how to avoid being perceived as a digital jerk. 

Next week we will begin the online peer editing process, and we will use the experience to begin learning about communities of interest and critique.  In the process we will discuss copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons licenses like the one that governs the use of material on this blog.

The release form includes both "Open Source Learning"-- which is all of us-- and "We Are Superman," a Collaborative Working Group that is creating a documentary about Open Source Learning.

Please Note: If you have a specific reason for guarding your privacy, please stop by in person or email so we can make arrangements that address your concerns and protect your likeness.  

archival subject release form

beowulf essay

You're off the hook this weekend-- details in class Monday. In the meantime enjoy the following (original here). Please copy, paste, and translate in a post to your blog.

Beowulf ond Godsylla

Meanehwæl, baccat meaddehæle, monstær lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce, hie luccen for fyht.
Ðen Hreorfneorhtðhwr, son of Hrwærowþheororthwl,
Æsccen æwful jeork to steop outsyd. Þhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom! Ðe bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak, byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla wæld on his asse.
Monstær moppe fleor wyþ eallum men in hælle.
Beowulf in bacceroome fonecall bamaccen wæs;
Hearen sond of ruccus sæd, "Hwæt ðe helle?"
Graben sheold strang ond swich-blæd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht ðe grimlic foe. "Me," Godsylla sæd, "mac ðe minsemete."
Heoro cwyc geten heold wiþ fæmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe bac to fen
Beowulf belly up to meaddehæle bar,
Sæd, "Ne foe beaten mie færsom cung-fu."
Eorderen cocca-cohla yce-coeld, ðe reol þyng.

Vocabulary: Fall List #5

mot juste

Saturday, September 8, 2012

résumé schtuff

Here is the ppt presentation from college boot camp (thanks, Valerie!):


Here is the model/template based on our conversations in class:

ap resume embed -

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" and "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" by Bob Dylan]

Describe a moment when something unexpected happened and you learned from it.

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary test
3. Resumes

1. Resume due Monday, 9.10
2. Please complete the Actor Release and bring hard copy to class Monday 9.10
3. Read pp. 64-82 in textbook; notes due in class or on your blog by lecture Monday 9.10 (UPDATE: PLEASE BRING TEXTBOOK TO CLASS MONDAY)

the persistence of writing

Next week we will have a Socratic seminar that focuses on how we use and experience information through different media.  Please read the following article and answer the questions below in comments to this post.  Feel free to engage each other with questions and responses; I will chime in as well.

1. What is Burkdall's thesis?
2. Given that students in our classes seem to be divided about e-readers (see comments here), why do you think the media so eagerly concludes that reading books is dead and young people all want new tech (with chips) instead of old tech (with pages)?
3. Explain the allusion to Ulysses.
4. What reasons does the article provide for the importance of reading? Do you agree? Why/why not?
5. How do you think this moment in history will be remembered? Will technological advances continue to support intellectual development, as it did with writing and the transition from scroll to codex, or is our reliance on tools encouraging us to relax our brains to the point of atrophy? Explain your answer.
6. [BONUS: What is the purpose of the allusion in the title?]

preliminary literature analysis questions

Literature Analysis Questions

Here is an initial set of questions to consider as you begin your first literature analysis (reminder: you should have a book, and you should be reading it). We will refine this list and add to it after reading the first round of each others' analyses.  Plan to finish your book, answer these questions, and post to your blog by Friday, 9.14.

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read.
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.
3. Describe the author's tone.  Include three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).
4. Describe five literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthen your understanding of the theme and/or your sense of the tone.  Include three excerpts (for each element) that will help your reader understand each one.

beowulf essay topics

During yesterday's on-the-ground classes, students suggested essay topics for Beowulf.  Here are some of the topics that were mentioned:
  • qualities of an epic hero (honor, courage, etc.) as a reflection of the culture in which the epic was produced;
  • the role of religion in the plot and in the culture
  • the role of hubris in Beowulf's character
  • how a modern epic saga would reflect 2012 America
What do you think would make a good essay topic (i.e., what sort of prompt would invite you to share your knowledge about the poem)?  Comment to this post with your suggestions.  The essay topic will be posted by COB Friday, 9.7.  The essay will be due on Monday, 9.10 (please bring handwritten or typed hard copy to class).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "History Lesson" by Dave Grusin; "Sometimes" by London; "History Lesson-Part II" (slightly abridged) by the Minutemen]

As George Santayana and Edmund Burke (among others) have observed, those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. However, our culture focuses on the modern, the "new and improved." In this day and age, is there a point to looking backward? Why bother studying the etymology of words and the history of language? How can understanding the past help us prepare for (or even shape) the future?

1. Journal
2. Beowulf wrap-up
3. Vocab
4.  Résumés 

1. Study vocab
2. Study Beowulf
3. Tweak résumés (due Monday, 9.10)

hero's journey

There are many, many resources with information about Joseph Campbell and the monomyth (hero's journey)Dulce sent this link, which I particularly like because of the opening paragraph that says, "I assumed everyone who has taken High School English would know the steps of the journey..."  It's one of those boxes people check when they ask themselves whether so-n-so is an educated person.  Since Dulce also did us the favor of distilling the elements of the cycle, I copied/pasted her version below.  We'll be working with this on and off throughout the year, so if you find a resource worth consulting please include the link in a comment to this post.  Thanks!

[Adapted with gratitude from]

  1. The call to adventure is the point in a person's life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
  2. Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.
  3. Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.
  4. This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known. 
  5. The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person's lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.

  1.  The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.
  2. The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the "hieros gamos", or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.
  3. At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
  4. In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be "killed" so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
  5. To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
  6. The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.

C  Return
  1. So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?
  2. Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
  3. Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn't realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
  4. The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.
  5. In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
  6. Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

your opinion on school

Some members of last year's founding network created an international, multi-media research group.  One of the collaborators, Jasmin Baier, lives in Austria and extended her work into a project entitled, "How the United States culture is reflected in their high school system."  To further inform her work, Jasmin has posted an online survey here; please take a few moments and share your perspective.  I'm sending Jasmin the link to this post, so please also feel free to comment with your ideas and/or get in on the international think works.  Mahalo.

September 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Chidori No Kyoku" by Satomi Saeki & Alcvin Takegawa Ramos]

Most of the time your attention is focused outward: on classes, sports, jobs, other people, and the 101 things you have to do in order to get through the day. For a moment, see if you can forget all that. Let your mind grow quiet. Listen to yourself breathe and consider this definition of mindfulness: "focusing one's complete attention on the present moment." Today, rather than responding to a specific topic, simply write down the information that occurs to you right now. This may include thoughts, feelings, sounds/sights, memories, even how your fingers feel on the pen or how your toes feel in your shoes. The only requirement is to record your stress level at the beginning and at the end on a scale from 1-10 (1 being least stressed, 10 being most stressed).

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Beowulf group questions

1. Study vocab
2. Hero assignment due on your blog by COB Friday, 9.7
3. Resumes will be due in class on Monday, 9.10

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vocabulary: Fall List #4

sine qua non
non sequitur

renaissance application

renaissance application

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 4

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["My Friends Always Ask Me" by Mary Lane; "Ask Me Now" by Thelonious Monk]

Does language merely describe reality or does it create a sense of reality? Do speakers of different languages just use different words to describe the same things, or do they actually think and see the world differently because of the language they use? Explain your answer.

1. Journal/turn in resumes
2. Reverse engineering the study of language and the telling of stories
3. Beowulf
4. Why Star Wars and Joseph Campbell
5. Vocabulary: Fall List #4
1. Deconstruct your favorite hero's journey and post to your blog.

"what should I have on my blog?"

As I click through your blogs I'm impressed by the way your individual styles and perspectives provide windows to the course. Most of you already have the basics and you've added elements of your own. Since the first couple weeks blew by in a flurry of newness, however, it might be useful to audit your blog against the following list to make sure you've got what you need going forward. If you have any questions please comment to this post.

So far, you should have:
  • Summer reading notes
  • "This Life Is Your Life" recitation (if you didn't do it in class)
  • Reflections on the Austen/Montaigne essay that got interrupted by textbook errand
  • 1987 AP answers (I haven't received any Pathbrite invitations)
  • Reflections on Week 1
  • Notes/observations from 8.21 Socratic seminar
  • Hack to School Night interview with parent (thanks again, Michelle, and as long as we're on the topic, why does it have to be one night?  You can video any interesting conversation about the course and post it at any time!)
  • Beowulf questions
  • [UPDATE:  I forgot to include last week's vocabulary definitions/sentences-- thanks Will!]
  • (as of the end of today) Your 1st AP reading list choice/reason
Did I miss anything? :)