Monday, December 21, 2009

POS: Wheel of Fortune

1. You will spin the Wheel of Fortune. You will be assigned to, and provided with an album containing a significant amount of poetic content, courtesy of Mr. Kefor. You're welcome.

2. We will have the C.O.W.s. Use the web to research the background information of the band/artist and album. Provide a paragraph, in your own language, which discusses the context of the album. Cite your sources.

3. Find the lyrics to one song from the album. Post them here and offer initial observations on any apparent poetic devices.

4. Paragraph Response: What is, in your opinion, the best album of all time? Why? What themes are addressed? What makes the album timeless?

Post your responses to tasks/questions 2-3 as a comment here. Due at 9:10.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lifelong Learners

As part of the Friends of Rachel journal assignment, I will be posting some of my thoughts here.

When people meet for the first time, they tend to exchange the most predictable of pleasantries. Inevitably, the go-to question becomes "So, what do you do?". It's a strange thing, to ask someone what they do. We do a lot. We're conditioned to come up with the appropriate response. "I'm a teacher", I'll reply, and, like a trained monkey, I'll counter with "How about you?" We tend to define ourselves with labels. One of the most important decisions a student can make is to transcend labels, categories, restrictions and limitations. Be a lifelong learner. Open yourself up to whatever excites you and makes you a more complex person.

I'll give you an example. I built a deck on the back of my house. I have no experience with construction but I was willing to learn. My father in-law guided me through the process; it was refreshing to be a student again. Besides the occasional minor injury or setback, I finished it. Now, I plan on building Declan and Mackennah a custom treehouse with all the bells and whistles. I can now apply the knowledge I gained from the deck to a variety of projects.

I draw almost every day. Art is also a fine example of a perpetual path of study. It's tailor made for the lifelong learner. Artists are rarely satisfied with their work. When other people look at my paintings, they often point out the things they like. When I look at my own paintings, my eyes are drawn immediately to the flaws. Every approach, every stroke, every hue, every decision accumulates over time and the artist progresses. The creative search is never-ending, which is at once disheartening and invigorating. Michelangelo Buonoratti said “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all.” I think talent is a rare phenomenon; we use the word “talent” too liberally.

It is important to remember that almost every man-made item in our lives began as a conceptual drawing at the hands of an artist. Your shirt began as a design, so did your car. The logo of your favorite sports team is the work of an artist. Art, particularly drawing and painting, can elicit what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (quite a name, eh?) labels as “flow”, or: the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Athletes sometimes refer to the flow state as “the zone”. It doesn’t necessarily happen every day, but when I am immersed in a painting or drawing, all of my senses are channeled toward the activity; I have no awareness of the passage of time. Sometimes, after working on a drawing or painting for hours and driving home, I have to stop my car and focus or I might float off into the forest. Studies have revealed that people who consistently experience flow are happier. Assembly line workers even develop subconscious systems of flow through which they turn mundane tasks into mental games or rhythms.

To quote Michelangelo again, “A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.” Artists do not have magical hands. They see “better” than non-artists. When I look at someone’s face, I notice how the light source hits the planes of the head. I notice that most often the contrast begins to pronounce itself at the point at which the frontal plate meets the parietal and temporal bones. This is important to the artist because exaggerating the form shadow which results from this physicality is essential to the depiction of the human head in space. When I drive to and from work, I enjoy the views from the highway. I scan the woods and sky and find endless sources of beauty- the misty, cracked, ochre earth of winter; the fleeting electric reds of the sunrise; the walls of spindly trees lined up like giant frozen hairs on the scalp of the earth. Without my interest in painting, I don’t think I would appreciate the world around me as consistently or vigorously. I thank art for making my daily commute, which could consume up to 7,000 hours of my life, more enjoyable.

Figure out which activities put you in the flow state, and surround your life with these activities.

Friday, November 6, 2009

POS: Plagiarism in Song

For blog-work this week, research and listen to some examples of musical plagiarism. Identify: 1) at least one example of a truly plagiarized song and 2) at least one example of a coincidental relationship between 2 songs. Discuss your findings here. Some notable instances include (listed as original/supposed plagiarism): Chiffon's "He's So Fine"/George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"; Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance"/The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California"; and, most recently, Joe Satriani's "If I Could Fly"/Coldplay's "Viva La Vida".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

POS: Metallica and Allusions to Literature

Visit the link below to read about the novel Johnny Got His Gun and its influence on Metallica's song "One".

Wikipedia: Johnny Got His Gun

Open a web page with the lyrics to "One".

Then, view the music video for the song here:

"One" Video

Develop a paragraph response (as a comment here) by Friday. Examine the parallels between the novel and the song.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Art I: Virtual Scavenger Hunt

1. How many windows are in Andrew Wyeth's "Master Bedroom"? What medium does Wyeth use?
2. Identify the figure depicted in a boat in Michelangelo's "Last Judgement".
3. What pachyderm is distorted in the background of Salvador Dali's "One Second Before Awakening from a Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate"?
4. What time is it in Vincent van Gogh's "Night Cafe"?
5. Monet and Manet are both Impressionists and have similarities beyond their names. Compare and contrast these two artists.
6.. Who is Camille Claudel? Examine her "L'Age Mur" and identify the 3 figures depicted.
7. Identify the works stolen during the infamous Gardner Museum heist. Identify and describe your favorite piece.
8. Summarize the "legend" behind the man with the top hat in Eugene Delacroix's most famous painting.
9. What is David Mach's "Gorilla" made of?
10. Describe your favorite Ron Mueck sculpture.
11. Paul Rahilly is one of my former professors. a) What breed of dog is depicted in his "Girl in a Paper Dress"? b) In which of his paintings does one find a chili pepper? c) a brioche?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

POS: Backmasking and Reverse Speech in Music

Backward messaging in music (commonly known as backmasking) has been a controversy ever since the late 1960s, when messages were found backwards on some Beatles' albums, hinting that Paul McCartney had died. Some of these subliminal messages have been identified as purposeful while some are apparently inadvertent. Some believe that many of these backward messages were in fact examples of "Reverse Speech" in music. Speech reversals occur naturally in all forms of speech, sung or spoken. Explore some of the links and sites regarding this subject and offer your opinion on at least 10 specific examples. Do you buy into the theory of Reverse Speech or is it all a bunch of hogwash?


(1) Human speech has two distinctive yet complementary functions and modes. The Overt mode is spoken forwards and is primarily under conscious control. The Covert mode is spoken backward and is not under conscious control. The backward mode of speech occurs simultaneously with the forward mode and is a reversal of the forward speech sounds.

(2) These two modes of speech, forward and backward, are dependent upon each other and form an integral part of human communication. One mode cannot be fully understood without the other mode. In the dynamics of interpersonal communication, both modes of speech combined communicate the total psyche of the person, conscious as well as unconscious.

(3) Covert speech develops before overt speech. Children speak backwards before they do forwards. Then, as forward speech commences, the two modes of speech gradually combine into one, forming an overall bi-level communication process.

List of Backmasked/Reverse Speech Songs

Jeff Milner's Site

Reverse Speech Site

Click here to here a well known sample of backmasking from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". This audio file will play both forward (original context) and backward (backmasking revealed).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ENS Brainstorm

Electric Newt Squad: Post your suggestions for activities here. How can we best use our time this year?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

G Block: Shakespeare and the Degradation of Language

Most teachers and students agree that Shakespeare is challenging to read. Some are even surprised to learn that he falls into the category of Modern English (as opposed to Old or Middle). If his language is rich, layered and thoughtful, what is our language like? Have we moved forward as speakers of English, or are we destroying- even "dumbing-down"- a once gloriously imaginative tongue?

Respond in a well developed, proofread paragraph. Support your response with specific facts and examples.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Freshmen: Shakespeare Excerpts

Refer to your notes and select the most meaningful passage from the play thus far. Quote the passage with proper formatting and respond to the following questions in a complete paragraph.

Click here for a full manuscript of the play.

How might you paraphrase the excerpt? What plot implications does the excerpt suggest? How does the excerpt characterize the speaker(s)? How does the excerpt serve as an example of Shakespeare's craft as a writer?

Due Friday.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

POS: Reflections of Culture in Popular Music

Type your response to the following prompt as a Word document and be sure to proofread and edit before you paste and post. You will be assessed using the English Department's Short Essay Response Rubric.

Check either Billboard or Rolling Stone for the current list of America's top 50 songs. Choose at least 3 songs; avoid any songs you are very familiar with. Listen/study the lyrics to the selected songs. Consider the subject matter, content and point of view of today's top songs and identify lines which contain poetic merit. What do these songs, as a whole, say about our modern American culture? In particular, what do these songs say about your generation as the greatest consumers of music media? How are gender roles represented in popular music? How is success measured?

Monday, September 21, 2009

POS: Songwriter Biographies

You will be assigned the name of a notable songwriter. On your blog, you must now complete a biographical presentation of your given artist(s) including, but not limited to, the following: a list of 10 relevant, interesting facts regarding the artist(s), a timeline, 5 high quality images, a link to relevant video footage, a formal analysis of one song which exemplifies the artist's use of poetic devices, and a short essay examining the artist's contributions to the practice of song-writing. This assignment is intended to acquiant you with some of the capabilities of your blog. I will check and assess your final products on Sunday, September 27th; they should appear on your blogs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shakespeare and Predestination

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

The concept of predestination 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 does predestination relate to, or conflict with, the "American Dream"? 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 9-19).

POS: Theme-Genre Brainstorming

Here is where you will participate in our online discussion by posing 3 potential theme-genre concepts and commenting on at least 10 peer theme-genre concepts. This homework assignment will be graded on September 20th. Make sure to direct your comments with names and to sign all of your comments with your first name and last initial. And- no, that is not my head in the photograph.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer Reading

Although I worked this summer, I managed to sneak in some reading. Here are some highlights:

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins: A firsthand account from a New York Times reporter embedded with Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. Eye-opening. A firefight of a read. (A)

The White Tiger by Avarind Adiga: "Slumdog" depiction of modern India. Tragic and funny. (A-)

Shakespeare in His World by Bill Bryson: a concise and anecdotal profile. (A-)

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: Classic yet unique American epic delivered by a quirky Greek-American narrator with an interesting gender classification. It won the Pulitzer. Long (655) but worthwhile. (A-)

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck: I'm a fan of Steinbeck and enjoyed the motley patchwork of characters in this novella. I was able to visit California this summer and see the areas which served as the settings for some of his work, namely my favorite, Of Mice and Men. (B+)

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris: Quirky collection of essays. Funny and irreverent, but I found myself asking "why didn't I write this book?" (C+)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: A bestseller which tiptoes on the edge of cheesy detective fiction without ever crossing the line. The dynamic characters in the story kept me coming back for more. I'm reading his second, "The Girl Who Played with Fire".

Art I: Introduction to Drawing

-remember that drawing is more about seeing than…drawing
-observe approximately 75% of the time; draw approximately 25% of the time
-orient yourself to your drawing and your subject as both artist and viewer; use a viewfinder when drawing from observation
-take joy in the use of materials; get “in the zone”
-remember that drawing is the creation of an illusion: the illusion of form and space; drawing is the visual language we use to describe what we see

Elements and Principles of Design
shape: the two-dimensional structure of a given object
form: the three-dimensional structure of a given object
value: the degree of light and dark of an area
form shadow: a shadow on a given object which helps to reveal its form
shadow edge: the edge where a shadow meets a lighter value
reflected light: indirect light reflected from surface to surface
cast shadow: a shadow resulting from an object interfering with the light source
highlight: the area of lightest value on a given object
light source: the direct source and direction of light (determines most value relationships)
background: the area and space furthest from the viewer
foreground: the area and space closest to the viewer
contrast: the difference(s) between darks and lights in an image

Final "Basic Forms" studies must include but are not limited to a total of 10 drawings:
-a segmented and continuous value scale (cw)
-5 drawings of imagined spheres; differing light sources (2 in pencil; 2 in crayon; one on toned (Mi Tientes) paper with high/low value colored pencil) (quiz)
-Drawings of an imagined cone, cube, and cylinder (medium is student's choice) (quiz)
-2 observational drawings of simple objects with one definitive light source (medium is student's choice) (quiz)
-Response to Mr. Kefor's blog post regarding basic drawing techniques (hw)

1. THE BLOCK-IN. The block-in is all about observation, shape and measurement. Through your viewfinder, look for linear relationships between objects. Grip your instrument loosely and draw with the arm. Do not over-commit to any of the marks you make. Using very soft, gentle strokes, begin to “map out” the framework of your subject. Do not be satisfied with any lines that appear inadequate or incorrect. Pay special attention to contours and negative space. Block-in shapes first, then shadows. Group shadows as simply as possible; ask yourself: is this a light or a shadow? and group the shapes accordingly. Try squinting in order to "blur" the values and make them more manageable. Any mistakes made during the block-in phase will be amplified by the time the drawing is complete. Step away from your drawing periodically; viewing it from a distance is extremely helpful.
2. BUILDING VALUE. Building value is all about identifying the range of values you observe in the subject. Group your values based on a scale of one to ten. Beginning with your “darkest dark”, begin to build a range of value on your paper. Choose a direction or type of mark and stick with it (avoid any mark that requires a back and forth motion). Areas of shade should be built through repetition, not force. Unnecessary force will scar the paper prematurely, leaving the drawing sloppy and unrefined. Step away from your drawing periodically.
3. EDGING. Making a hard edge is easy; making a soft edge requires more patience. Edges convince the eye that it is viewing something real; edges turn shapes to forms and create space (the most advanced element of drawing). Step away from your drawing periodically.

Edges are sharpest when:
-objects are close to the viewer
-high-contrast values intersect

Edges are softest when:
-objects are farther from viewer
-low-contrast values intersect

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Big Picture: Descriptive Paragraphs/Persuasive Passages

Browse through the hundreds of photographs available on The Boston Globe's "The Big Picture" site. Choose your favorite image and create a word bank consisting of 5 nouns, 5 verbs and 8 adjectives. Develop, edit and proofread a descriptive paragraph which provides the reader with an image which rivals that of the viewer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

School to Career Summer Session: The Teenage Brain

If you have headphones: Click here to view the Frontline special "Inside the Teenage Brain". You will view the first 3 chapters today and the last 3 tomorrow. After viewing the full program, respond to the following short (3-5 paragraph) essay prompt. Integrate at least 3 quotes from the film.

How might teachers adapt their techniques to further relate to, or accommodate, the unique nature of the teenage brain?

Post your response here.

If you do not have headphones: Read Bill Gates' 11 Rules below, which I found on Mr. Dewar's blog. Write a paragraph response for each rule. Consider: is the rule reasonable? helpful? do you agree? disagree? explain.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!
Rule 2 : The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will
expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school.
You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine
about your mistakes, learn from them..
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they
are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your
clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.
So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's
generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but
life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and
they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer.
This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off
and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do
that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually
have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sudanese Posse

Franco Majok came to speak to our English classes today about his experiences as a Lost Boy of Sudan in conjunction with our reading of What is the What. Our posse of fundraisers was able to present Mr. Majok with a donation to help rebuild schools in Wunlang, Southern Sudan. Great work, guys.

Think about what Franco said: he owes his life to education. His education allowed him to read signs and maps in order to escape the war. While we all never hope to live through such circumstances, perhaps we could all learn as if our lives depended on it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Writing and Visual Imagination: Final Blog Quest

Visit the artist sites and respond to the questions below by June 5.

Nick Veasey
1. Read the “About” and “Process” sections of the site. Describe the artist’s philosophy and process in a well-developed paragraph.

Chet Zar
1. Explore his work and comment on his: subject matter; media; style.

1. Click here to link to a short video on this child prodigy. What do you think?

Alex Grey
1.View all (40 or so) of his paintings.
2. If you are a fan of his work, check out this video.


TOOL is one of my favorite bands. Their videos are amazing. As a result of their tendency to create rather long compositions and/or concern themselves with bizzare subject matter, these videos are rarely seen via mainstream media. Two of the artists you have researched above collaborated with TOOL on a video for their songs "Parabol/Parabola"(click here). Strange, huh? Click here for the "Schism" video. See if you can identify the correct artists and their contributions to the video.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stephen Wiltshire

Click here to visit Stephen Wiltshire's website. Mr. Wiltshire is an artistic savant who is capable of reproducing incredibly detailed landscapes from memory.

1. On the left, click on "My Videos". Watch at least four of the videos and offer a commentary for each.

2. Visit his "Gallery" and browse through his work. Identify his most impressive drawing and his most impressive painting; offer explanation for each.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seniors: Olde School Etymology

Research the etymology of some of your Olde-School vocabulary words. Choose 5 of your most etymologically interesting words to post here with complete and thorough histories.

Try this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird Scavenger Hunt

Complete the following tasks/answer the following questions. Use your critical thinking skills to determine the best routes and resources.

1. Truman Capote said "Everything she wrote about it is absolutely true". What is the "it"?

2. What does Lee think of the film adaptation of Mockingbird? Use a quote in your answer.

3. Finish Lee's statement: "Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still..."

4. Identify Lee's 3 favorite authors and name a title from each.

5. Lee is a recluse but for several years she has quietly attended the awards ceremony for a particular contest. Describe this contest.

6. How are the Scottsboro Trials relevant to the novel?

7. Though Lee always declines interviews, she does write each refusal individually. When asked why she did not simply send out a stock response to the media's pleas, she responded that such a letter would simply say...

8. Click here. Listen to the audio. Who was the statewide essay winner? Who potrayed Scout in a school play and developed a repoire with Lee?

9. List and quote 5 parallels between Harper Lee's real life and her novel.

10. Lee's character Dill is based upon Truman Capote. Capote returned the favor by basing what character (from what story) on Lee?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Writing and Visual Imagination: Self-Portraits

Search the internet for self-portraits by the following artists: Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent Van Gogh, Susanna Coffey, Lucian Freud, Kathe Kollwitz, Paul Gauguin, Gregory Gillespie, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Susanna Coffey, Brett Gamache (a 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. Proofread and post your document here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A "Closer" Look

We will view the film "Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress" in class. Respond to the following questions in paragraph form by Friday, April 17.

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 Leo Tolstoy say about Close's work?

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?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Writing and Visual Imagination: Scavenger Hunt

1. Monet and Manet are both Impressionists and have similarities beyond their names. Compare and contrast these two artists.
2. Who is Camille Claudel? Examine her "L'Age Mur" and identify the 3 figures depicted.
3. Identify the works stolen during the infamous Gardner Museum heist. Identify and describe your favorite piece.
4. Summarize the "legend" behind the man with the top hat in Eugene Delacroix's most famous painting.
5. What is David Mach's "Gorilla" made of?
6. Describe your favorite Ron Mueck sculpture.
7. Paul Rahilly is one of my former professors. a) What breed of dog is depicted in his "Girl in a Paper Dress"? b) In which of his paintings does one find a chili pepper? c) a brioche?
8. What colors are used in my "concert bill sketch"?
9. Ryan Smith is an amazing artist and a good friend of mine (he attended Norton High). a) Describe the subject matter in his 2006 piece "Taxidermy Tammy". b) What "sport" is parodied in his version of "Pig Pile"?

Now it's time to play 6 degrees of Wikipedia. Your responses should look like numbered lists beginning with the first item and ending with the last item.

1. Vincent van Gogh=vampire
2. Francisco Goya=cartilage
3. Lucian Freud=Tool (the band)
4. Mark Rothko=serpent
5. Diego Rivera=Roger Williams

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Freshmen: What is the What Supplements

Over the next 2 weeks, per your syllabus, you will complete several supplemental assignments related to your reading of What is the What. All of your work for this assignment should be completed, proofread and posted here as a comment. Make sure to include your name (first name last initial). Your collective responses will be graded as a quest.

Assignment A: Eggers/Deng Interview. Click here to visit the Valentino Achack Deng Foundation. Under "Book", select "Interview with Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng". Read the interview and respond to the following questions (include direct quotations): 1. Describe the unique approach to the development of the book. 2. Do you agree with the choice of format and point of view? If not, do you think the book would be more successful as a work of non-fiction?

Assignment B: CBS Interactive: Click here to visit the CBS page. Click on and explore the Interactive Icon "Struggle in Sudan" and respond to the following: 1. Identify the State Representatives from the photographs under "Darfur Outrage". 2. What is the per capita income of Sudan? How does this compare to the U.S.'s per capita income? 3. What is Sudan's population? How does this compare to the U.S. population? 4. What is the life expectancy in Sudan? How does this compare to an American's life expectancy? 5. Which countries share a border with Sudan? 6. Under "Millions Displaced", identify a photograph which captures your attention. Describe the image in detail. What is depicted? Why do you find it moving?

Assignment C: Click here to visit the Valentino Achack Deng Foundation. Click "Take Action". Read numbers 1 and 2. Click on On the top left of the page, enter your zip code to view ratings of how our state representatives have responded to the situation in Darfur. I will award a "100" quiz grade to those students who write a letter to a state representative as described on this page.

Assignment D: Visit the following sites. Each site contains photography of Sudan. Write a paragraph, citing specific examples, of how the photographs help to shape your view and understanding of Sudan.

J. Carrier (click on "Sudan")

The Big Picture

Irene Abdou

Assignment E: Time Magazine Article: Include direct quotations in your answers the following questions: 1. What do you think of Colin Powell's response to the situation in Sudan? How about Condoleeza Rice's response? How about the President's response? 2. Describe how the geological and geographical makeup of Sudan complicates the current situation. 3. Relate some of the horrifying anecdotes (particularly those of Melkha Musa Haroun), to content from What is the What.

Time Magazine Article

Assignment F: Click here to read President Obama's speech regarding Sudan. Quote at least 3 significant statements from the speech and explain your selections.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Advisory: "I Am" Poems

1. Click here. Complete a poem. Print it. Make it good- you will share it with your fellow ENS members on Friday.

2. Click here. Take the test. Have fun.

3. Click here. Check out today's best photography.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Writing and Visual Imagination: Short Stories

1. Click here to read the 5 rules of short story writing. Note each rule and describe (specifically) how you intend to abide by (or break) each rule.

2. Click here to read a different set of rules. Note each rule and describe (specifically) how you intend to abide by (or break) each rule.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

E Block: Student Choice Essays

Choose your strongest short essay from your writer's notebook. Edit and refine it; proofread and spellcheck it; post it here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

B Block: Short Essays

Post your strongest short essay here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Autostereograms are algorithmic images which allow people to see three-dimensional images by focusing on two-dimensional patterns. In the 90's stereograms, or "magic eye" images were popularized. When I mentioned them during a slide lecture in our Visual class I was surprised by the fact that very few students knew of them. Maybe I'm getting old.

If you're curious, click on the links below. Choose a fixed point in the center of the image and stare, allowing your eyes to relax or "blur". Eventually, you will see a three dimensional image appear. Be patient- it may take a while, and some people are simply unable to see them.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Real Thought Police

Click here. Enough said.

Utopias and Dystopias

Part A: To supplement our reading of 1984, we have discussed the qualities of both utopian and dystopian societies. Visit the two links below. Make sure to view the video segment regarding Denmark. Post your responses here. What utopian qualities are found in Dubai? How about Denmark? Are they realistic? Close to actual utopias? Explain.

The World: Dubai

Denmark: The Happiest Place on Earth

Part B: Last week, you were asked to read an excerpt from Eric Wiener's Geography of Bliss. Answer the following questions regarding the excerpt: 1. What is la chasse au bonheur? 2. Explain how we may be "slouching toward evolutionary terms." 3. Explain the quote from Jeremy Bentham. 4. Describe the anecdote regarding the Polish citizen.

"God Grew Tired of Us"

Freshmen- after viewing "God Grew Tired of Us", consider and respond, with highly specific and well articulated analysis, to the following prompts:
1. A benefit of this documentary lies in the opportunity to view our own (American) culture through the eyes of the Dinka. What aspects of our culture, which we may or may not take for granted, are polarized by this different perspective?
2. Construct a "mini-essay" which compares and contrasts the "American Dream" with the "Sudanese-American Dream". Use specific references to the film and the novel.
3. In the film, John is reunited, after 17 years, with his mother. She expresses her elation through a Dinka song and dance, a traditional expression of joy. How does John respond to this? How does this poignant moment illustrate the paradoxical experience of East African immigrants?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Committee for Sudan

The following students have signed up for the Committee for Sudan: Anthony B., Kristy C., Alexander D., Lindsay G., Bradley J., Kimberli L., Brandon M., Amanda M., Johnathan N., Brianna R., Cassandra S., Natalie T., Panayiotis N., Sarah N., Caisey C., Cameron H., Chris W., Jay H., Ally S., Taryn K., Samantha G., Peter L. and Michelle D.

Our first meeting will be tentatively scheduled for Thursday, February 12th at 2:05 in room 245.

Click here to read the article about Franco Majok's visit to NHS last year.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Writing and Visual Imagination: Choosing a Concept

Choosing a concept for your semester-long Concept-folio can be difficult and is certainly challenging. Let's use this post to declare "working concepts", or initial ideas. Post your possible concepts 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 April? 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 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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seniors: Research Paper Topics

Post your essential questions and potential research paper topics here. Then, offer at least 5 constructive responses to your peers' ideas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Of Mice and Men: Dreams

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?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bad Santa

Short Essay: The Rhetoric of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Click here to read and hear (with headphones) Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Then click here to read his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail". Familiarize yourself with the following rhetorical terms and note their presence as you read:

Argument: An attempt to persuade.

Authorial Intent: The intention of the work is its plan, its purpose. By observing carefully the author's choice of language, organization and content, we may determine the end toward which the author is working.

Intended Audience: The preferred audience, the audience for whom ideas are modified, language is constructed, and positions are modified.

Logos: Argumentation appealing to the logic or reason of the intended audience.

Ethos: Refers to the character or personal appeal of the author. "Trust me, I won't mislead you."

Pathos: Refers to feelings, either sympathetic or antagonistic, provoked in the audience.

Note these terms as they appear in the selected readings. Construct an essay which compares and contrasts Dr. King's writing approach and his treatment of the aforementioned concerns for "I Have a Dream" and "Letter From Birmingham Jail".

Electric Newt Squad Discussion

As Midyear Exams approach, reflect on your high school experience thus far. Was the first half of freshman year everything you expected? Describe some of the positive and negative aspects of the experience in a posted comment here (make sure to sign your comment with your first name and last initial). Mentors- please post a comment highlighting the differences between freshman year and the consecutive academic years at Norton.

After posting a comment, respond to at least five peer comments (make sure to name the person you are directing the comment to and to sign your comment with your first name and last initial).

When you are done with this, click here to visit Mr. Dewar's blog. Read and consider the 7 survival skills described under his "The Global Achievement Gap" posting. Offer a comment to this post discussing your assessment of these skills.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

POS: Sgt. Pepper

Part A: Over winter break, you listened to The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album in its entirety. Based on the listeners' form we discussed in class, identify the most "poetic" song on the album. Using the attached Song Rating form to assess it, provide a final score along with an explanation of the major poetic attributes and deficits. And, finally- do you think Sgt. Pepper deserves consideration for the greatest album of all time? Why/why not? If not, offer a suggestion for an alternate.

Part B: Click here to visit Rolling Stone's complete list of the "Top Albums of all Time". Listen to 3 songs from 3 separate albums from the top 10. Post a brief observation here regarding content, sound and poetic merit.

Part C: Click here to visit Oxford's interactive Sgt. Pepper album cover. (Thanks to Doug V. for finding it)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Senior Short Essay Prompt

Choose one of the following prompts to respond to in short essay form:

Discuss the following quote from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung: "There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."

How does one's educational experience change over four years of high school? Are you more or less intellectually curious as you near the end of your secondary career? Why?

Discuss the following lines from Bob Dylan's song "My Back Pages": "I was so much older then/I'm younger than that now." How does this quote qualify as a paradox?

Steinbeck's Imagery

The first few pages of Of Mice and Men establish the seemingly idyllic setting through a stream of carefully crafted imagery. Revisit these passages and note Steinbeck's attention to plants, animals and sensory images. Steinbeck was clearly very familiar with this area of California. For this assignment I am asking you to describe, through vivid imagery and the "zoom in" technique we discussed in class, the town you are so familiar with- Norton. Create, develop and edit a passage which gives the reader a true sense of the town you live in.