Thursday, February 4, 2016

Advanced Creative Writing: Independent Study Proposals

Please complete the tasks listed below by the end of the period. You will submit this work as a comment to this post (click "No Comments" or "# Comments" and paste in the box). Feel free to save your work in a separate document in case we encounter any technical difficulties.

1. First, be sure that your Moth/This I Believe blog work has been posted. If it hasn't please take care of this.

2. I would like you to spend the bulk of today's class block generating a draft of your Independent Study Proposal. The Independent Study allows you to design your own set of expectations for an ambitious piece of creative writing: a collection of short stories, poems, or essays; a draft or portion of a novel, play, or novella, etc. You will not be bound to the ideas you share today; this exercise is meant to prompt you toward a final proposal while soliciting valuable feedback from peers and teachers. Please use the following template for today's draft. Please be as specific and clear as possible.

Part 1: Narrative Overview (Introduction) This concise section provides an overview of the entire project in relative chronology. It may be helpful to write this section last.

Part 2: Objective(s) These should be measurable and clear. What are your prime goals?

Part 3: Process Timeline including Checkpoints and Percentage Representations (25, 50, 75, 100) What will you complete for the 4 submission increments?

Part 4: Resource List with Explanations What will you read? Review? Seek out? Who can help you? How?


Part 5: Rubric This should echo your objectives. For today, you need only submit one their of standards (the highest).

3. Once you've posted your proposal components, view the proposals of your peers. Offer some constructive feedback for their expectations. Be sure to address your comments with the writer's name (the blog doesn't allow for multiple conversation threads). I'll do my best to publish comments and provide feedback from home. 

4. If you happen to finish, consider revising your draft or your upcoming presentations. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Advanced Creative Writing: "This I Believe" & "The Moth"

For this introductory unit, you will compose a "This I Believe" statement and deliver a "Moth" story.

Before you develop your own “This I Believe” statement, peruse and listen to existing testimonials here. Use the “explore” tab to search for 5 intriguing statements. For each statement, note the following:



1. author/speaker

2. crux or “thesis” of statement

3. 3 observations regarding style, delivery, structure, or other storytelling elements

4. your attitude in relation to the speaker’s

Once you have completed this step, begin constructing and refining your own statement.



Visit “The Moth” site. Select and listen to 3 stories. For each story, note the following:

1. speaker and title

2. theme of the story

3. 3 observations regarding style, delivery, structure, or other storytelling elements

4. your attitude in relation to the speaker’s story

5. a score (based on our rubric)

Then, click here to learn some storytelling tips. Once you have completed this step, begin constructing and refining your own story.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Kite Runner: Frontloading


(due as a comment to this post; worth a quiz grade; 0 to + holistic scale)


Part A: Click here to visit the CIA's World Fact Book. Peruse the Afghanistan page on this site and respond to the following questions:

1. What are the top eight agricultural products? What product is #1? 
2. What is the life expectancy rate? What is the infant mortality rate? What deeper issues are typically reflected in these statistics?
3. How many kilometers of coastline does Afghanistan possess? How might this number have contributed to the country's history?
4. Identify the transnational issues that Afghanistan faces. 
5. Construct a thesis statement that encapsulates the essence of the Afghan nation (both its assets and its challenges). 

Part BClick here to visit The Boston Globe's "The Big Picture: Afghanistan." View each photograph (use your judgement for the objectionable pieces) and read the corresponding footnotes. Choose the most powerful image to prompt a piece of short fiction. Write a descriptive passage that embodies the "show vs. tell" technique.

Part CArticle: "Hazaras: Afghanistan's Outsiders" (9 pages). Produce a thesis statement that encapsulates the author's message and illuminates the deeper meaning of the text.

Part D: FOR EXTRA CREDIT (200-point Quiz): Click here to view the Frontline Program: "The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan." Take notes as evidence for your viewing.

Part E: create a bulleted list of 5 interesting facts from Dr. Sadat's Historical Overview (hard copy).

If you happen to finish early, please proofread your work carefully. 



Monday, October 26, 2015

English IV: Sentenced to Sentence Purgatory?

Click here to read an article written by an author who teaches his first college writing course. Then, answer the questions that follow.

1. First, offer a concise explanation as to what the flaw is in each of the egregious sentences cited by Mr. Laser. Then, rewrite each one.
  • Neglecting to recognize the horrors those people endure allow people to go to war more easily.
  • The money in the household shared between Nora and Torvald contrast the idea of a happy marriage.
  • The similarities among the speakers and their author are illustrated differently through their speaker’s separate tones.
  • The conflict between Sammy and Lengel are mainly about teenage rebellion.
2. Do you find the author's generalizations about your generation accurate? Why/why not? If teachers are indeed witnessing the degradation of students' grasp of linguistics and grammar, what do you think has caused it? What's the solution?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Journalism: Sentenced to Sentence Purgatory?

Click here to read an article written by an author who teaches his first college writing course. Then, answer the questions that follow.

1. First, offer a concise explanation as to what the flaw is in each of the egregious sentences cited by Mr. Laser. Then, rewrite each one.
  • Neglecting to recognize the horrors those people endure allow people to go to war more easily.
  • The money in the household shared between Nora and Torvald contrast the idea of a happy marriage.
  • The similarities among the speakers and their author are illustrated differently through their speaker’s separate tones.
  • The conflict between Sammy and Lengel are mainly about teenage rebellion.
2. Do you find the author's generalizations about your generation accurate? Why/why not? If teachers are indeed witnessing the degradation of students' grasp of linguistics and grammar, what do you think has caused it? What's the solution?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Journalism: Bias Exercise

After reviewing the partial list of biases, select 5 forms of bias that may be found in works of journalism. Then, find pieces of existing journalism that demonstrate these biases. For each example, include the following annotations: citation; bias; explanation; supportive excerpts. Post your work as a comment to your blog by the end of our class time on Tuesday. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Journalism: Photo Essay Assignment


Photograph by John Tlumacki
In preparation for your own photo essay, I'm asking you to peruse and learn from existing exemplars. One such model is Boston's own The Big Picture. Another is the National Geographic Photography Awards.

1. Select at least 7 different Big Picture photo essays to view and read. Browse through and read the National Geographic photos as well.
2. Select your 3 favorites from each source and discuss their strengths in the context of our rubric's expectations.
3. Publish your synopses as a post to your blog. Title it Photojournalism Review.
4. If you'd like, you can check out Dr. Kefor's photo blog here.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

English I: Of Mice & Men Blog Work for 9-30

1. George and Lennie are bound by a common dream. Identify this dream and consider the following: Is their dream realistic? Do they both value the same aspects of the dream? How does Steinbeck use the other characters to further define George and Lennie's dream?

2. Now that we’ve read a few chapters of the novella, we’ve discussed how Steinbeck lays the groundwork for each chapter with a careful depiction of settings. He also uses local color- details indicative of a particular environment- to add realism to his setting. Write a short passage (in the style of Steinbeck) that describes, in lucid detail, a setting that you know well.

3. Click here to access a Quizlet review of Steinbeck’s characters. Play “Scatter” and complete a test for a grade of “A.” If at first you don’t succeed, take the test again.

Journalism: Local Source

Journalism students: please identify a local environment, group, individual, location, etc. that you would like to explore for an upcoming journalistic endeavor. Submit your source as a comment here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Journalism Students: Forms of Journalism


Per our syllabus, your first journalistic adventure is self-directed but must be based on a particular journalistic form. Please submit a comment identifying your form and approach to this post.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pet Peeves

First, your Peer Profile Quizlet

In no particular order:

1. Alex Trebek: Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy, is super-annoying to me. I love the show, and my wife and I enjoy playing along. Alex, on the other hand, possesses a subtle type of pompousness that just gets me fired up. He has all of the answers on the screen in front of him, so why must he correct the contestants as if his intelligence is so impressive? Each evening, it is inevitable that he says something that aggravates me, but I tolerate his presumptuousness for the sake of the game.



2. Phil Simms: He's the former Giants quarterback who works as a game analyst/announcer for the NFL on NBC. He just plain old bothers me. What bothers me even more is the fact that I cannot articulate exactly why he bothers me- he just does.

3. Parking Near Me: Don't park near me. I park, in most cases, as far away from other cars as possible, yet often I return from a place of business to find a vehicle parked uncomfortably close to my truck in some subconscious attempt to make my vehicle feel less isolated. There are hundreds of free spots; why is there a need to bump doors? Go away.


4. "Hon": I don't like it when women call me "hon", especially when they are younger than I am. My mother, grandmother, and wife, along with elderly women, are allowed to call me "hon".

5. People Who Don't Pull Forward at Drive-Thru's: Congratulations, you've placed your order! But you're job is not done. There are seven people behind you, all of whom have not placed theirs, so creep on forward to allow others to do so.

6. "Could Care Less": It is I "couldn't care less". "Could care less" implies the existence of a level of care; "couldn't care less" implies a level of care so minuscule it is impossible to care less. So, "could care less"= I care. Yes, I know- there are so many egregious grammar violations pervading our world today- but this one is so ubiquitous it makes my list.

7. Being interrupted. When I'm not teaching, I'm rather taciturn. I like peace and quiet. So when I am speaking, I find it especially annoying when I'm interrupted or cut off.

What are some of your Pet Peeves? Develop a list-style post on your blog- remember to have fun with this, but be careful and respectful- don't even think about attacking someone directly (or indirectly) and do not include anything that may offend your peers, classmates, or teacher. 

AP Seniors: Dynamic Sentences

Click here to access the Atlantic article regarding what may be "the greatest sentence ever." Post your own grammatically sound 200+ word sentence, along with your original examples of the Sentence Wizardry forms, here.

B & E Seniors: Dynamic Sentences

Click here to access the Atlantic article regarding what may be "the greatest sentence ever." Post your own grammatically sound 200+ word sentence, along with your original examples of the Sentence Wizardry forms, here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Creative Writing: Picture Perfect Winners

1. Brooklynn Porter's "That Looks Dope"
2. Kerri Weber's "August in NewYork"
3. Nicholas Joyce's "Wispy Fog"
4. Hannah Patalano's "Walk Through the Mountains"
5. Kaylin McMahon's "Her Words"
6. Alison Whitman's "A Shriveled Toothless Creature"

Monday, June 8, 2015

Film as Literature: Alien Film List

If an alien asked you to compile a list of films that represent the breadth and depth of human experience, which movies would you include? Why would you select those movies?



Objective: Students will compose an annotated list (10+) of landmark films. Students should include at least one film from our Film as Literature offerings.

Consider: How does each film selection reflect an essential aspect of the human experience? How can you justify each selection? What thematic elements reinforce their value? Your annotations should defend your selection and articulate the themes and nuances that make your film so valuable.


Assessment: You will submit your annotated list as a blog comment to this post. Your teacher will focus on how you defend and articulate your selections and the depth of your reasoning. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Film as Literature: Dystopias Part 2

1. Consider The Truman Show as compared to our previous Dystopian films. Which is more representative of a true dystopia- a visible totalitarian force or an invisible orchestration of control? In other words, which is scarier- a force you can see or a force you cannot? Defend your claim.

2. Do you think that the level and extent of invasiveness exemplified in The Truman Show is possible? Is there evidence of this type of fixation in media today?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Advanced Creative Writing: Feedback for Seniors

Underclassmen: please offer feedback to senior presenters regarding their body of work from the semester and their final examination presentations.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Advanced Creative Writing: Prompt List Development

I'm working on developing an "ultimate" list of creative writing prompts. Today, I'd like your help and input for this. Please develop and post at least 3 unique creative writing prompts here. Then, peruse the internet for 3 worthy writing prompts and post them separately.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

F Block Seniors: Rhetorical Distillation Article

Click here. 

Film as Literature: Dystopian Unit (Part 1)



1. V says that "people should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." How do you feel about this statement? Why do you feel this way?

2. Click here to read an article exploring the popularity of the Guy Fawkes mask. In what ways does the mask reflect its historical origins? In what ways has it taken on new meaning or connotation?

3. Which dystopia do you find more plausible? Defend your position.

4. How do the two films' aesthetics differ? Which film is more successful aesthetically? Defend your position.

5. What does each film say about the writers'  and filmmakers' attitude(s) toward the direction of our society? What fears are represented in each film?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Creative Writing & Advanced Creative Writing: Preparation for Final Examination

Objectives: Students will develop and share a portfolio of their work from this semester. Process: Select a medium through which your work is best showcased (PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.). Then, build a reflective showcase of your work. You should also devote time to revision and polishing. Include excerpts, pertinent images, and reflective contextualization. Be sure to include (and read) samples- strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement (drafts are useful for this). Your showcase should be balanced- expose the breadth of your work but take time to explore particular items in depth. Your presentation should last at least 10 minutes and must be accessible/displayable in class on the due date. Assessment: The ubiquitous creative writing rubric will be used to assess the quality of your writing as a whole.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Creative Writing: Irony (Eggers)

1. After reading the first Chapter of What is the What, identify 3 excerpts from narration or dialogue that contain irony. For each selection, compose a statement that defends your observation of the irony within.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Seniors: Class Poem

Seniors- submit your class poem here! Your teachers will select the best poem, and that poet gets to read his or her work at graduation!

Monday, May 11, 2015

AP Seniors: "This I Believe" & "The Moth"

Before you develop your own “This I Believe” statement, peruse and listen to existing testimonials here. Use the “explore” tab to search for 5 intriguing statements. For each statement, note the following:


1. author/speaker

2. crux or “thesis” of statement

3. 3 observations regarding style, delivery, structure, or other storytelling elements

4. your attitude in relation to the speaker’s

Once you have completed this step, begin constructing and refining your own statement.

Visit “The Moth” site. Select and listen to 3 stories. For each story, note the following:

1. speaker and title

2. theme of the story

3. 3 observations regarding style, delivery, structure, or other storytelling elements

4. your attitude in relation to the speaker’s story

5. a score (based on our rubric)

Then, click here to learn some storytelling tips. Once you have completed this step, begin constructing and refining your own story.