Thursday, February 28, 2013

March 1


Provide a status update on your project, your plans for the rest of the semester, and your overall evaluation of your performance in the course so far this semester.

1. Journal
2. Lit terms exam


1. Read Chapters 4 (part II) and 5 in Brave New World.  Take active reading notes on each and every single literary technique you see, and post to your blog (Title: Brave New World CHAPTERS 4&5
2. Work on your project
3. Watch Bill Moyers interview Isaac Asimov and answer questions in a comment to the post

awesome writingas5pectatorsport

Kudos, Josh and Alex!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "C'mon Get Happy" by the Partridge Family; "The Dope Show" by Marilyn Manson; "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin]

If you compare it with the headlines, Brave New World can be a depressing, even shocking reminder that society appears to be going awry.  So why do so many people regard it as such a brilliant novel?  Why have generations of high school students been required to read about sex play and blank, staring, anesthetized adults engaged in the pursuit of pseudo-happiness?  Is there a silver lining to this dystopian Modernist literature?

1. Journal
2. Read chapters 4- of Brave New World
3. Lit terms 

1. Study.  Your.  Lit.  Terms.

happy wednesday

AP boot camp in 608 at lunch.

{UPDATE: erp.  AP boot camp happens Mondays and Fridays.  Don't exactly know where all the proaction came from today; leaving this up as a reminder for Friday.}

February 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Hunting Song" by Felix Mendelssohn; "Hunter (TV Theme)" by Mike Post; "The Seeker" by The Who]

What are you looking for?  Each day, as you wake up, do this, complete that, worry about this, fix that, talk to him, listen to her, eat this, drink that, what are you looking for?

1. Journal
2. Reading quiz: BNW chapters 2 & 3
3. Aldous Huxley: the man, the myth, the legend
3. Hunt for lit terms/techniques
4. The jerk some of you loved in 10th grade is back

1. Study...the...lit...terms.  ALL of them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The New World" by X; "(What a) Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke; "Beautiful World" by Devo]

Work with a friend to determine where Huxley got the title for his novel, Brave New World.  How does understanding the allusion extend/deepen the reader's understanding of the novel?

1. Journal
2. Reading quiz: Foreword & Chapter 1
3. Discussion
4. Lit element search

1. Read Chapters 2&3 and respond with notes/ideas in a post to your blog entitled BRAVE NEW WORLD (II & III)

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "I Want to Know" by Ray Charles; "I Don't Know Where I'm Bound" by Johnny Cash; "You Know, We Know" by Jeff Beck]

Twenty-one years after Brave New World was published, Aldous Huxley wrote the following:

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

Is this quote consistent with Huxley's theme/tone/syntax in Brave New World, or does it represent an evolution in his thinking and/or writing style?  Support your answer with at least three literary elements you've studied on the lit terms list.

1. Journal (extended)
2. Lit terms final preview
3. A word about writingas5pectatorsport

1. In a post on your blog entitled WRITINGAS5PECTATORSPORT, review five (minimum) of your colleagues' videos and artifacts (i.e., pre-writes and first paragraphs).  Act as coach and suggest what they should start, stop, and/or continue in order to improve.  Compare their performance to yours-- what are you motivated to start, stop, and/or continue in your own approach?  Please include a link to each performance you review.

Friday, February 22, 2013

February 22


Imagine your own Brave New World as a function of your Brave Familiar World.  How will the performative utterances, goals, actions you make today contribute to the life you will lead in 5 years?

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz

1. Finish February's literature analysis (if you haven't already)
2, Read the Foreword and Chapter 1 of Brave New World and respond on your blog in a post entitled BRAVE NEW WORLD (I)
3. Complete writingas5pectatorsport

Thursday, February 21, 2013

riddle me this

So, Jesse comes by this afternoon and shows me the following puzzle.  I love this kind of @#$%! and I'm always inclined to gnaw on a good puzzle like a dog on a bone, but there are grades (ugh) to file and miles to go before I sleep...

Wait!  I know a bunch of smart people.  First person to comment with the correct answer wins.

this is surreal

The word surreal is defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as an adjective meaning, "Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream."

Most teachers have intense, irrational, waking dreams of students contributing to learning communities in ways that enlighten every member of the community, including the teacher.

Therefore, it's safe to say that this, this, and this are totally surreal. 

Thanks, Sebastian!

it really is a brave new world

You can read Brave New World online or download it to a device at the Internet Archive.

(Thanks, Jose!) 

Kudos: February (II)

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

John Han (Cal Poly SLO)
Matthew Patel (UC Irvine)
Cassidy Ashlock (Cal Poly SLO)
Christa Weston (San Francisco Art Institute with Trustees' Scholarship)
Sam Garrison (UC Merced, UC Riverside, Concordia with Dean's Merit Scholarship)
Valerie Gonzalez (Cal Poly SLO)
Amanda Arnold (San Francisco Art Institute with President's Scholarship)
Elizabeth Pereyra (Cal Poly SLO)
Dani Galindo (Cal Poly SLO)
Kathryn Greenup (Cal Poly SLO)
Sara Armas (Cal Poly SLO)
Ryland Towne (Cal Poly SLO)
Michelle Arriaga (Cal Poly SLO)
Josh Ng (UC Irvine Honors Program)
Jason Reinwald (Cal Poly SLO)
Kris Green (Cal Poly SLO)
Karianne LaPlante (Cal Poly SLO)
Tanner Tuttle (Cal Poly SLO)
Troy Prober (Cal Poly SLO)
Sebastian Guillen (University of the Pacific)
Katelyn Porraz (UC Riverside)
Kaitlyn Furst (San Francisco State)
Kasie Gurgiolo (CSU San Marcos)
Ruth Sierra (San Francisco State)
Ming Chen (Hoftstra University w/ $80k scholarship)
Matthew Patel (UCSB with Regents Scholarship)

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

February 21


Look around the room and pick a person. Imagine a question you want him/her to answer (related to the course or not). Write the question, predict his/her answer, and then conduct the interview to verify your ideas.

1. Journal
2. Study lit terms (see HW)
3. Senior Project/Big Question/Collaborative Working Group

1. Study lit terms. Tomorrow's quiz is all or nothing.
2. Post FIRST QUARTER REVIEW on your blog, in which you: a) Evaluate your performance so far this semester by explaining how you've done on required assignments and how you have moved forward on your Sr. Project/BQ/CWG; b) List your goals and expectations of yourself for the next quarter; and c) Make suggestions for course content/process.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

spot the endangered species

Don't try this at home.

February 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's (slightly abbreviated) tunes: "My Favorite Things" performed by Yo-Yo Ma & (separate recording) Stanley Jordan]

It's been said that teachers and parents have no favorites.  Yeah, right.  So it goes with just about everything.  With that idea in mind, describe your favorite lit term so far.  Which idea/technique catches your fancy, makes sense, enlivens text and enriches your life?  (*OK, that's pushing it.)  On the other hand, rant: which term(s) make(s) no sense and irritate(s) you as (an) unnecessary nuisance(s)?

1. Lit terms
2. Caesar meets the lit terms

1. Study lit terms
2. Reminder: Feb lit analysis

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

collaboration at johns hopkins university

In this course we focus extensively on collaboration, a talent that employers routinely cite as being underdeveloped and in short supply.

Even though emerging social media is changing our world through collaboration such as the Arab Spring and Occupy, students--even at the most elite universities-- are just now getting the hang of organizing through end-user networks.

Friend of the course Cory Doctorow reports on boingboing that Johns Hopkins students took a unique approach to collaborating for a grade.  In the words of their professor, "The students learned that by coming together, they can achieve something that individually they could never have done," he said via e-mail. “At a school that is known (perhaps unjustly) for competitiveness I didn't expect that reaching such an agreement was possible.” Maybe next time they'll figure out a way for everyone to get 100%.

February 19


Reflect on your weekend and imagine it as a series of pictures, videos and text on a social media site.  How do your experiences describe the person who had them?  How can this be considered an exercise in indirect characterization?

1. Journal
2. Lit terms
3. A word about the end of the grading period

1. Be sure you're on schedule to finish February lit analysis
2. Study lit terms
3. Rank your period's blogs best to worst (one sentence explanation per)-- you may turn this in on paper or post to your blog (title: BOB I)

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["King Without a Crown" & "One Day" by Matisyahu]

We adopt sayings like, "You can't tell a book by its cover" because they contain a lot of wisdom in a few short syllables.  Unfortunately, they don't always turn out to be true-- for example, a watched pot does actually boil if you watch it long enough.  Describe a pearl of wisdom that has held true in your life, and describe something that turned out to be incomplete or false.

1. Journal
2. Lit terms test
3. Correct/debunk lit terms test

1. Post everything you're missing
3. Apply for 1-3 scholarships
4. In a post entitled I AM HERE please explain your progress in this course during the first grading period.  Have you made progress toward your SMART goal?  Have you begun thinking/working on your senior project, big question, collaborative working group, or other endeavor/venture that shows how you're putting this course to work for you?  Document and explain your performance.
5. Recharge your batteries

Thursday, February 14, 2013

friday lunch: alumni skype & ap bootcamp

Happy to announce the first alumni Skype tomorrow at lunch.  Krissy Frias and Lizzie Level (RHS Class of 2012) will join us online from Cal Poly to talk life after graduation.

Also, the AP boot campers roll on (Mondays and Fridays at lunch).  Join them for extended practice on multiple choice questions and essay prompts.  Come May some of you will wish you had...

February 14

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

What are you going to do today that you will remember tomorrow?

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

1. Journal
2. Lit terms lit terms lit terms

HW: 1. Lit terms! Tomorrow we will all hang together, or we will all hang separately. Be ready to recognize EXAMPLES of the lit terms in context.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

to err is divine

"A man's errors are his portals to discovery."
-James Joyce

Kudos: February (I)

(*There is too much good news to wait 'til the end of the month!)

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

Sam Garrison (University of Saint Joseph with $76,000 Presidential Scholarship)
Rheanna Crawley (California State University Northridge)
Christa Weston (CSULB; University of Arizona; Moore College of Art & Design with Presidential Scholarship; Virginia Commonwealth)
Alex Lane (CSULB)
Kelli Griffith (Cal Poly Pomona)
Katelyn Porraz (CSULB)
Ming Chen (CSULB; UC Riverside with Highlander Award; San Jose State)
Lizbeth Estrada (UC Riverside with Highlander Award)
Rocio Reyes (San Jose State)
Vinnie Cruz (Sonoma State; Marines)
Alicia Hernandez (CSUN; San Jose State)
Laura Trenev (Cal Poly Pomona; CSULB)
Felicitas Ruiz (UC Riverside with Chancellor's Award)
Iliana Gutierrez (Cal Poly Pomona)
Dani Galindo (CSULB; San Jose State)
Ryan Nguyen (Cal Poly Pomona)
Valerie Gonzalez (CSULB)
Ruth Sierra (San Jose State)
Kaitlyn Furst (CSUN)
Owen Iness (CSUN)
Feli Ruiz (CSULB)
Sara Armas (Arizona State University)

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

February 13

What do you remember most clearly from class yesterday? Why?

1. Journal
2. writingas5pectatorsport: assignment?
3. Deconstructing Friday's thing (continued)

1. Lit analysis
2. Lit terms
3. writingas5pectatorsport
4. Hack the prompt/pre-write per writer's conferences

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

a vision of students today*

(*Actually, this video was posted in 2007.  And I'm not sure what's most interesting at this point-- the video itself or the comments to it.  Thoughts?)

February 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "No Memory" by Stone Temple Pilots; "Short Memory" by Midnight Oil; "Memory Loss" by Deltron 3030]

Describe your earliest memories and/or the things you remember best.  How are they similar or different-- and how is your reaction to them similar or different-- in comparison with the things you are told to remember in school?

1. Journal
2. A few words about writingas5pectatorsport
3. Deconstructing Friday's thing

1. Literature analysis work
2. Define/illustrate/remix this week's lit terms in a post to your course entitled "LIT TERMS 80-100" (I don't have the numbers in front of me, please comment to this post or let me know in class if 80-100 is accurate. Thanks. :) UPDATE: Kasie says it's 83-108. Thank you!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Haven't completed a Feat of Wisdom yet?  Here is another opportunity for glory, lulz, and learning-- and you don't have to be enrolled in the course to play.

You're walking through [ ], thinking about [ ], and/or talking about [ ] when you hear the magic words:

"5PH1NX says write."

You've been chosen to complete a mission that you can post to your blog and/or elsewhere on the Internet.   If you're enrolled in the course this is the equivalent of an essay (and if you're not enrolled in the course, it's the equivalent of awesome.)  Critiques will help you improve.  Kudos will provide the psychic currency that trips the "Success/Eureka/I win!" neurotransmitter.  Everyone wins.

Here's how it works.

You'll need:
  • a friend or two to help you find/accost/video your writer;
  • a piece of paper (or two) and a pen to present to your writer;
  • an AP prompt (you can pick anything from the poetry, prose or open prompt lists, or invent something in the same spirit);
  • ten minutes to watch your writer read the prompt, do some sort of pre-write, and write the first 3 paragraphs (minimum);
  • flexibility, in case your writer decides to hack the experience and make you wait while s/he writes the whole essay (40 minutes maximum);
  • this link to the Monty Python novel-writing competition audio track (also embedded below);
  • to post the video of your writer, coupled with the Monty Python soundtrack (this is why you were asked to figure out how to pair a video file with an audio file a few weeks ago-- if you need help, find a member blog whose author knows what she's doing and make a new friend).
  • to post the document the writer created, along with a preliminary group analysis of how it meets the requirements of the AP grading rubric.
  • 5 comments (minimum) with constructive feedback.
  • to post a comment here with a link to the entry on your blog (which should be titled, WRITINGAS5PECTATORSPORT)
  • A social media strategy for getting the most viewers (if you're into that sort of thing--and you will be, because eventually your network will help determine your final standing in the course)
In addition to posting the video-with-soundtrack, there will be a YouTube channel to feature all of these in one place. 

Have fun, and consider the method to the madness.  A quiet testing room and a blank page in May won't be nearly as intimidating to the wo/man who can explicate a semi-random literary topic, on demand, in front of gawking strangers, right now.

That's why you must complete a minimum of three.  (Q: What if no one picks me?  A: Think outreach, think community, think about how no one likes being picked last-- and if good old-fashioned kindness and common sense don't work, trade favors like politicians.)

As we move on we may establish:
1. A rating system.  The best work should get the most credit from the network and be most visible as models. 
2. A network that includes other AP learning communities.  Everyone is welcome to play, and everyone is coming to this exam through different experiences, texts, teachers, backgrounds, etc.  More people => more information => a better-informed network => higher success rate for everyone on the AP exam.  Seeing an essay from a different class/school/city/state/country and asking the author, "Why did you write it like that?" may be more valuable than any lecture.
3. Challenges/add-ons.  What if the person you target has written more essays than you have?  Should they be able to turn the tables and make you write? [UPDATE 2/10 6:30 AM PST: New Rule: If you are stopped and told to write, you may compare how many times you've written with the person who is making the demand.  If you've done this more than s/he has, you may turn the tables and force him/her to write instead.]


Friday, February 8, 2013

ap exam price reduced by $8

This just in:

February 8

Welcome to Cosa Nostra Day.

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

1. Journal (<1 minute)
2. The thing.

1. Literature analysis work
2. Senior project/Big Question/CWG work

Thursday, February 7, 2013

12 year-old launches hello kitty into space

Cory Doctorow posted this story over at boingboing:

AP exam registration info

This just in:

February 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Phone Call" by Los Lobos; "Call Me" & "Hanging on the Telephone" by Blondie]

When you were a kid, did you play the game of "telephone"?  As a high school student, have you played the game of "gossip"?  How do you account for the idea that a person can say something clearly that 1-30 listeners understand totally differently?

1. Telephonic fun with lit terms
2. Slight Dickens review

Reminder: Tomorrow is Friday.  There will be a thing.  Be ready.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

10 commandments of AP lit comp

I was looking for something else just now when I ran across "The Ten Commandments of AP Literature and Composition" written by AP Lit and Comp teacher Martin Beller.  Given the Judeo-Christian influences in the writings of Dickens and Shakespeare, and the fact that you're about to undergo your first real AP-esque test experience, the advice is timely and worth passing on. 

The Ten Commandments of AP English Literature and Composition:

1. I am the Prompt, thy Prompt; thou shalt have no other Prompt before me. Thou shalt read the Prompt with rapt attention; the Prompt is thy friend. Thou shalt address the Prompt. Thou shalt not just get the general idea of the Prompt, nor shalt thou fight the Prompt or substitute thine own ideas for the Prompt.

2. Thou shalt not postpone, omit or bury thy Thesis Statement.

3. Thou shalt not commit plot-summary, nor shalt thou cohabit with Reading Comprehension, for it is an abomination in my sight.

4. Thou shalt not commit free-floating generalization, but shall support and develop thy every assertion.

5. Thou shalt not confuse complexity with confusion, or subtlety with
indecisiveness; thou shalt not attribute thine own insensitivity or ignorance to authorial ineptitude. The fact that thou gettest not the point doesn't mean that the passage hath no point: thou hast missed the point. Deal with it.

6. Thou shalt read every Multiple Choice question with the same exquisite care that thou devotest to the essay Prompt: thou shalt not 'get the drift.' By the same token, thou shalt strive to read what the writer actually wrote, not what thou expectest him or her to have written.

7. Thou shalt not finish early. Thou shalt spend plenty of thy time planning thine essay responses and reading them over.

8. Thou shalt guess when thou knowest not the answers.

9. Thou shalt not merely identify literary, rhetorical and stylistic devices, but shalt show how they function.

10. Thou shalt never permit thyself to become discouraged: I am the prompt, thy Prompt. Thou shalt maintain thy focus, attention and confidence. Yea, though thou hast totally screwed up thy last essay, this next essay maketh a fresh start.

course blog hits 300 posts

...which still puts it 29 posts behind this guy.  :)

February 6


Write a letter to a junior telling him/her how to study for the SAT.  Describe what worked for you, what didn't, what you'd do again, and what you'd do differently.

1. Journal
2. Fun (!) with lit terms  OR
3. Working period (whatever each period doesn't choose today will be the agenda for tomorrow)

1. Study lit terms
2. Choose and begin reading February's lit analysis book (if you haven't already)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

help a colleague

The course blog is open for anyone who needs collaborators, materials, information, opportunities, and resources for their senior projects.  (BTW, thank you to those of you who donated to help take care of our own-- we're $19 away from the goal).

Today many of you figured out what your senior projects will look like.  The ideas range from ukes to rockets, from clothing lines to restaurants, from musicals to... well, you get the point.  And the thing is, we all need each other.  So many times this morning I walked from one conversation ("We really need someone who can...") to another ("I wonder if anyone here can...") Since we don't have a formal marketplace set up, feel free to use Project Infinity or this space as a way to reach out and begin collaborating-- and, if you can think of a more efficient way to do it, please comment to this post.

In that spirit, this just in from Kathryn:

Check it out guys! Kathryn needs some crowd sourcing help for her senior project. Her idea is to set up a blog or other site dedicated to fundraising for a trip to El Camino de Santiago in Spain. She needs a good title for starters and any other sugestions would be appreciated. Okay, go!

February 5


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

1. Journal
2. Dickens/test Friday
3. Blog reviews
4. Writingas5pectatorsport
5. Exit ticket: senior projects

the ghost of mrs. blake speaks

[UPDATE: This is from yesterday. Thanks again, Sebastian!] I just saw the following Tweet and thought back to Fahrenheit 451:

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 4

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

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

1. Journal
2. Lit terms
3. Cooperative literature analyses: Dickens

1. Finish lit terms & post/remix under title "LIT TERMS 51-80"
2. Writing under pressure

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kudos: January

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

Ming Chen (Fresno State)
Kaitlyn Furst (Fleischmann Scholarship)
Bernardo Gonzalez (Fleischmann Scholarship)
Kathryn Greenup (Cal Poly Pomona)
Iliana Gutierrez (University of Hawaii at Manoa; Centennial Scholarship)
Sarah Gutierrez (Pellissippi)
Alicia Hernandez (Sonoma State) Pablo Nicasio (CSU Fullerton, Humboldt State)
Travis Knight (University of Redlands, Presidential Scholarship)
Karianne LaPlante (Boise State; Chico State; NAU)
Socorro Ramirez (American GI Forum Scholarship)
Rocio Reyes (Fleischmann Scholarship)
Jessica Rothanzl (Colorado Christian University) 
Ashley Wilburn (CSU Channel Islands; Chico State)
Dulce Vargas (Fresno State)

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

February 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago" by Johnny Cash; "Well Respected Man" by The Kinks; "Accountancy Shanty" by Monty Python)

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word accountable (adj.) means, "Answerable; responsible." Contrary to popular belief, we do not hold others accountable-- we ARE accountable (or not). So, write a performative utterance in which you describe how you will use today's time to pursue your goals in this course and the world at large. Specifically, address how you are incorporating Big Questions, Collaborative Working Groups, independent study, your SMART goals, and the core academic assignments (lit terms, Dickens, etc.).

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz
3. 35 minutes you will never have back

1. Post a description of how you used today's time (title: THE TIME OF MY LIFE)
2. Finish the Dickens novel you're reading (hint: active reading notes will help next week...)