Saturday, December 29, 2007

Interdisciplinary Freshmen

Freshmen: you need to obtain a copy of David Eggers' What is the What. It is available in paperback. The Old Town Hall Bookstore in Norton has graciously agreed to offer the book to us at a 30% discount. It is available now (1-3). Wheaton students are enjoying their long vacation, so please call for store hours. 

You can read some of the reviews here:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Seniors: North Korea

Watch (at least) the first chapter of the following Frontline program: "The Baffling 'Hermit Kingdom'" (10 minutes). Note the parallels, some indirect, some literal, between Orwell's 1984 and modern North Korea. 

Congrats, Mrs. Kefor

I would like to congratulate my wife, Kristine. Her classroom lessons are profiled in the new book "Writer to Writer". Since she is humble, I figured I would acknowledge her achievement via Keforia. I am proud of you, Kris!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Writing and Visual Imagination: 12-21

Post your individual progress report and your 8 literary term quotes here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seniors: Propaganda Projects

Seniors: Please post the statement that you plan to argue for in your 1984 Propaganda Project. It's first post, first serve; there will be no duplicate statements. Choose something interesting or daring. Post your name, the names of any group members, and your statement in quotes or italics. If your post contains any abbreviations, errors or misspellings it does not count until you correct it. Webspeak is the new Newspeak, and, quite frankly, it scares me.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Writing and Visual Imagination: Narratives

Haleakala Crater, Maui

Most of the stories we read, particularly the good ones, convey some type of essential idea, philosophy, system of belief, exemplum, moral lesson or theme. Writing and Visual Imagination students: for your next narrative piece, I would like you to inject an underlying idea that you feel strongly about. If this poses a challenge for you, which it should, consider doing some research on different ideas which have worked their way into literature: existentialism, transcendentalism, phenomenology, etc. Feel free to post comments, ideas and questions here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Meeting Dr. Hosseini

The images above show Katherine A. and Ryan G. hobnobbing with Khaled Hosseini, author of "The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns". We were lucky enough to attend a fundraiser which sponsored the construction of a school for girls in the village of Da' Subz. I am proud to say that these two students made the choice to attend; after all, how often do we get to meet the author of one of the books we are reading in high school? It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Dr. Hosseini spoke about his two novels, the plights of modern Afghanistan, and the aforementioned Zabuli School Project. He was also gracious enough to sign all of our books and take some pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I would like to thank Ryan and Katherine for joining me.

Writing and Visual Imagination: Paired Dialogue Poems

Post your paired dialogue poems here by Friday, December 7.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Seniors: Video Supplement to The Kite Runner

Per your syllabus, visit the link below to watch Frontline's "The Return of the Taliban" (60 min.). Please note that each segment contains multiple chapters. Take solid notes- I will be asking you specific questions and I expect specific answers. Consider any parallels between the reality of the Taliban and Hosseini's depiction of the Taliban in The Kite Runner. Due November 30th (assessed by discussion and note-check). If you cannot access the technology to view the film, let me know as soon as possible and I will arrange it for you.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Closer Look: Writing and Visual Imagination

We will view the film "Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress" in class. Over Thanksgiving break, respond to the following questions in paragraph form.

1. Describe Close's work. How has it changed over time? Do you favor his early or late work? Explain.

2. Does photo realism have artistic merit, or are photo realists merely "one-trick ponies"? What would Plato or Leo Tolstoy say about Close's work? (use at least one quote from both philosophers to defend your statement).

3. As you have learned, Chuck Close suffered a collapse of a spinal artery which left him partially paralyzed. Explain the modifications he makes to continue his artwork and what these adjustments reveal about his character.

4. In the Jackson Pollock BBC film, we learned that Pollock's personal and artistic downfall was fueled by his decision to reveal his process in a documentary. Having viewed Chuck Close's process, do you gain more respect and understanding for his work? Or, do you think his images lose their mystique now that you have seen his process?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Poe's "Poe"try "Poe"sting

Hello, freshmen- you will complete the following activity in the computer lab during class time this week.

Create a Word document. Complete the enumerated tasks below in well-constructed responses.

Go to: (or just search and select “knowing Poe”).

Under “Poe the Writer,” select “The Poetic Principle.”
Launch, and carefully complete the interactive guide.

1. Look for your “checklist;” note the 5 quotations you have agreed with.
2. Under “Poe the Writer,” select “Poe the Perfectionist.” In a brief paragraph (5 sentences or so), indicate what the excerpts of “The Lake” tell you about Poe as a writer and as a person. You will need to analyze closely and think carefully.
3. Under “The Poe Library,” select and read “The Poe Toaster.” Respond in a paragraph.
4. Under “The Poe Library,” select and read “The Baltimore Ravens.” Respond in a paragraph.
5. Explore Poe’s house under “Poe the Person”.
6. Cite 2 specific facts or points of interest, which you find important,
from elsewhere on the website.
7. Finally, link to:
Read Poe's poem, "A Dream within a Dream". Using direct quotes, answer the following prompt: how does the poem offer direct correlation to Poe's real life? Why might the questions and philosophies raised in this short work have a greater significance to both Poe and the critical reader?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Writing and Visual Imagination: Self-portraits

Monday: Computer Lab. Search the internet for self-portraits by the following artists: Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent Van Gogh, Kathe Kollwitz, Paul Gauguin, Gregory Gillespie (see image to right), Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Susanna Coffey, Brett Gamache (a good friend of mine).

Create a Word document.

1. For each artist, record the title, year of completion, and country of origin.

2. Identify three comparable (composition, color, mood, etc.) self-portraits from the list. Construct a paragraph which identifies the parallels between these 3 works.

3. Identify the strongest self-portrait. In a paragraph, explain the elements which make it stand out; use your vocabulary words.

4. Typically, self-portraits are not lucrative efforts for living artists. Why might an artist choose to focus on self-portraits? What may drive an artist, like Rembrandt, to devote so much time and effort towards depicting himself? Explain in paragraph form.

5. On Thursday, you will use the Infocus machine to share an image with your classmates. Find an easily retrievable image which best embodies your concept and name it here. You will be asked to share as much information regarding the piece as possible, so do some research. Also- steer clear of apocryphal resources.

6. Proofread and post your document here.

Any additional time (wow- you're efficient!)? Work on your concept-folio.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Seniors: The Kite Runner

As you begin reading The Kite Runner, use this post to comment on the following: Hosseini's prose, subject matter, and use of relevant literary terms. Please take extensive notes for both note-checks and discussion facilitation.
During and after our visit(s) to the computer lab, post any worthwhile supplemental facts, research, links or other resources here. Please be sure to cite your sources.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Interdisciplinary Freshmen Project

Freshmen: post your ideas for topics here. Be sure to include all of the names of your group members and your topic of choice. Postings with errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation will be filtered out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freshmen: Shakespeare Prompt

As we study William Shakespeare and read Romeo and Juliet in class, consider the following prompt:

In Shakespeare's time, predestination dominated the belief system of England. This concept is reflected in the work of Shakespeare. The lives of men and women are mapped out in the stars, and attempts to transcend or disrupt this order, or chain of being, only lead to tragedy. Does belief in predestination exist in some form today? Do we subscribe to a similar or different philosophy? How might you categorize the belief systems of our world today? Do you believe that your destiny is mapped out for you, or do you think that you control your own fate? (3-5 paragraphs; due via post and hard copy 9-28).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Freshmen: Blogging 'bout the Bard

In class, we are reading Romeo and Juliet. Soon, Mr. Greene and I will introduce a major interdisciplinary Renaissance project. In preparation for this, I would like you to utilize this post as a spot to gather and share both scholarly and trivial information regarding William Shakespeare and life in general in Elizabethan England. If you discover an interesting fact, post it as a comment. Make sure to credit your source. If you find a website of particular interest, consider sharing it with the class. Also- make sure to read my inroduction below, which contains guidelines for posting. Five unique comments/and or links per student are due by 9-21.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Writing and Visual Imagination: Choosing a Concept

Choosing a concept for your semester-long Concept-folio can be dificult and is certainly challenging. Let's use this post to declare "working concepts", or initial ideas. Post your possible concepts by 9-21 and offer an explanation for your focus. After you post your concept and offer an explanation, be sure to view your classmates' concepts. Offer commendations or criticism and don't be shy. After all, wouldn't you rather reformulate your concept now as opposed to in November? And remember- your concept should transcend disciplines; it must be applicable to:

-visual references: at least 10 color copies of images which exemplify the chosen concept; a list of at least 20 additional images which exemplify the chosen concept- every work of art must be cited with artist, title, date, country of origin, and medium

-3 student-authored critiques of 3 of the chosen color images which display mastery of the visual vocabulary terms addressed in this course; 2 samples of existing criticism, critique, review, or biographical information regarding the other 2 chosen color images

-5 student-authored narratives based upon 5 relevant color images which display a comprehensive understanding of the grammar and sentence pattern techniques addressed in this course

-2 student-authored examinations, with quotes and/or excerpts, of the 2 remaining color images which analyze the works of art in relation to the philosophical viewpoints presented in Plato’s Republic and Leo Tolstoy’s What is Art?

-at least 5 excerpts from literature, poetry, or non-fiction which support or reflect the chosen concept- every excerpt must be cited with author, title, date, and country of origin; a list of at least 20 additional pieces of literature, poetry, or non-fiction which support the chosen concept

-list of at least 10 websites or links which contain highly relevant information regarding the chosen concept

-evidence (photos, journal entries, etc.) of interaction with the community based on the spirit of the concept; for example, a concept-folio entitled “Perceptions of Beauty” may elicit a community-wide visual survey and a concept-folio entitled “Nature and the Arts” may elicit the promotion of a landscape painting excursion to the Norton Conservation on North Worcester Street

-2 page typed reflection outlining the concept-folio conception, process and results (FINAL EXAM IN-CLASS COMPONENT)

-color copy/copies/original of student artwork inspired by the chosen concept

-other additions may include: list of musical references, music, performance, web publication of concept folio with links, power point presentation of concept folio

The bottom line is: choose a concept that interests YOU. If you do, you won't even notice that you are working; if you don't, it will be a long semester.

Seniors: The Value of Beowulf

Seniors: we are reading excerpts from Beowulf and gaining and understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture and values. In my eyes, there are two primary reasons why analysis of Beowulf is critical for a student of English: 1. It provides us with a taste of Old English and a sense of history, thereby giving us a sense of ownership and depth of understanding. 2. Comparative analysis of Anglo-Saxon culture against our own modern American culture opens our eyes to both the virtues and pitfalls of our value system and moral sense.

Consider and respond to the prompt (in bold) and post your essay by no later than Sunday, September 23. You must also offer paragraph responses containing commendations and/or constructive criticism to at least 5 of your peers' essays.

Literature only matters if we can relate to it, if we can connect it to our lives- Beowulf is no exception.
Anglo-Saxon values, as presented in Beowulf, are rooted in honor, respect, courage, and virtue (refer to your handout "The Beowulf Poet and his World"). Here in 21st century America, do we hold the same values in such high esteem? If so, where might one find sound evidence of this? If not, what other qualities does our society now promote and embrace? Does our culture promote a value system that is healthy and admirable, or flawed, even destructive? Who are our heroes? What makes them heroic? Be specific.

By Friday, October 5, your second assignment is due: Media Assignment: My Pop-Culture Consumption. Our value system, in many different forms, is reflected and possibly influenced by and through media. This assignment asks you to catalog and analyze your personal consumption of media over the course of a week (9/23-10/1). Look for polls on our blog which relate to this assignment.

Part A: For the week, catalog/chart your own consumption of pop-culture. Consider movies, television, music, advertisements, magazines, the Internet etc.

Part B: Choose at least 2 of your prominent popular culture items to consider through a formal response to the essential questions below.

1. Who is the target audience or recipient?
2. How do the characters/people interact and relate to one another?
3. What values are promoted and held in high esteem by the characters/people and the program in general?
4. If a foreign student were to analyze the source/program as you are, what conclusions might he or she draw about American culture?
5. What is the core appeal of the program? What does one gain from viewing or consuming it?
6. How do the values promoted compare and contrast with the Anglo-Saxon value system presented in Beowulf?

Post both your pop-culture logs and your responses to the questions above. Be sure to look for polls on our blog which relate to this assignment. I will provide you with additional explanation/clarification in class. Check your syllabus for due dates.

Happy thinking, happy writing,

Mr. Kefor

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My question for you is: what makes Norton special to you?

I was raised in Norton- Chartley, to be exact. I am often surprised by the frequency of a particular question posed to me, often by students: "You grew up here? Why did you come back?" Well, people, it is not as bad as you might think. In the years after high school, I was fortunate enough to spend much of my time, academically and recreationally, in other parts of the world. I lived in Mission Hill, Boston for six years. I have studied in Italy, England, Holland, and France. I have had a carefully prepared meal stolen from me by a pack of apparently famished howler monkeys in Costa Rica. I have been lucky enough to visit Hawaii eight times, and as beautiful and majestic as it is (see my photograph), you may actually rather live in Norton. The point is, no matter where your life takes you, you should always be proud of where you come from. Your thick Boston accent, your reservoir, your world famous Wendell's buffalo wings, your family, your friends and yes, even your teachers, are all a part of who you are and what you will become.

My question for you is: what makes Norton special to you?


Hello, students. Here you will find an amalgam of assignments, prompts, questions, thoughts, ramblings, links, and related images. I would like to use this site as an extension of both edline and our classroom. Your syllabus will be your guide; if it leads you here, remember several things: 1. Never trust a computer. Save all of your work. Save it again. Back it up. 2. Always be respectful and appropriate. 3. Avoid "webspeak"- if we continue to abbreviate everything, our language will dwindle and our individuality will suffer. 4. Extra credit for those of you who identify my linguistic errors first. 5. Label and title all of your work clearly, formally and fully (name, block, date, etc.).