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.).