Thursday, December 15, 2016

our big questions

Cayla: Do you think we'll ever find the truth? --> I want to investigate the nature of creativity.

Lesley: What does it mean to make music?

Liliy: Is there anything besides the obvious that determines when we die?

Rosie: What happens after we die?

Ale: How can we find and identify our soul mates?

Jesse: Why are there words such as race and racism?  Why can't we coexist as members of one species?

Brigett: How do we define and achieve success?

Gabriel: Why are people so quick to judge others?

Leydi: When did stereotyping begin?

Marino:  Why don't we do the things we know we should be doing?

Angela: Why do we dream?

Angel: What am I going to do after high school?

Monse: How do we deal with old age in our culture?

Katryna: Why do we wait until something tragic happens to cherish the person or the moment?  How can we start now before it's too late?

Melina: Can gratitude change our state of minds and by extension the world we live in?

Daniel: What would the world be like if there was no school?  Would people educate themselves?

Abigail: Is it too late to change?

Samary: What is perfection in life?

Jaquie: How will the future change with technology and new ways of learning?

Peter: Do people see colors differently?  Is that related to how people have different perspectives?

Kayleen: Why is it that in school we learn unnecessary things we won't use in the future?  What is the point of college?  What about learning practical things like how to pay taxes?  Don't we learn most of what we need to know from our parents?

Cerenity: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; it's that we are powerful beyond measure."  Are we afraid that we are not good enough, or are we afraid that we are too good?

Paloma: Why do we trust people?  Why do we want to be successful-- and at the same time do things that sabotage our ability to be successful?

Clemente: Is there a chance that human beings are inherently evil?  Can we make society good?

Cesar: Where does motivation come from?

Luis: Why are grades necessary?

Eldrin: What happened before the Big Bang?


Jackie: Why are we planning to colonize Mars?  Who gets to go in 2027 and how will that make life better?

Jordan: How can our generation fix the world when things seem so far beyond repair?

Fatima: What is the after-death experience?

Alexis: Do aliens really exist?  What is the evidence?

Stephania: What causes suicide?

Linda: Does luck exist?  Do some people have more luck than others?

our final

Favorite quotes this morning:

"This is Plate #1."

Q: "Why are you so tired?"
A: "I got up at 3 AM to put myself together and finish cooking."

"I don't know, that's what my grandma calls it so that's what it's called!"

"This is like an Italian Mexican Thanksgiving right here."

Thank you all for a memorable semester and a memorable final.  This is what learning is all about.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

december 13

[force of habit. still, I'm wondering: are you thinking anything interesting?  bet you are.  or maybe you're just wondering why I'm not capitalizing anything here ee cummings style.  what if you got in the habit of writing your thoughts down on a regular basis without being asked?  what would that do for you?]

1. Return/discuss essays
2. Final planning & big questions

Be a better person today than you were yesterday.

Monday, December 12, 2016

just so you know i wasn't kidding

After making those comments in class just now I looked back to see if I could find this... Check out the date.  At least once a semester ever since.

december 12

[Just kidding.]

1. Return/discuss essays
2. Summative assessments for the semester
3. Planning for the week

Friday, December 9, 2016

december 9: fall semester final essay prompt

According to author Salman Rushdie:

"A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep."

Ordinarily, a student's job is more like, "Get to class on time, do your homework, stay out of trouble, get good grades, and make adults proud of you."

Today you are a poet.

Analyze Rushdie's quote and contribute your own verse(s).  Write an essay in which you explain yourself as a learner in this course.  Describe how reading the texts and listening to discussion has advanced your thinking and enabled you to more effectively participate in the world outside high school.  In the process, address as many of the elements below as you can.  Please remember to do a pre-write (heaven knows you'll need to organize this!) and if you use this semester's vocabulary words please underline them.

  • Explain the theme, tone, and mood you associate with Rushdie's words, and analyze in terms of diction and syntax
  • Address ethos, pathos, and logos as rhetorical tools (and use your own truthful premises and sound reasoning to persuade the reader)
  • Explain how the juxtaposition of this quote with the role of the student addresses intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Include at least three examples of literary devices and/or quotes (with citations) from this semester's readings that illustrate and/or support your points
Please make sure to use blue or black ink.  Please write on one side of the paper only and write your name on all pages you submit.  Please (please, PLEASE) proofread for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  And-- however perverse this may strike you-- have fun.  You have learned a great deal this semester; this is your hour to show off.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

december 8

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Beginnings" by Chicago]

This is your last journal entry for the semester.

What have you learned in this course so far?  About English/rhetoric/story/communication?  About learning?  About yourself and what you want out of life?  About [?]?

1. Journal
2. Final review

Get a good night's sleep and look forward to tomorrow's exam in a post entitled WOW, THAT WAS QUICK

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

december 7

*Surprise!* What a terrible thing to say on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Homo Sapiens are the only animals that contemplate our futures (and imagine our own deaths)-- why is it important to remember the way things were even as we contemplate what will come? 

1. Journal
2. Final review

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

our final

Final.  That word sounds so... well, final.

The truth is, learning's never over.  We're just going to take an hour at the end of the week to see what we've learned so far.

So: what have you learned so far?

Please comment to this post with something you think is worth remembering from this semester.  Also please note anything you'd like me to emphasize/explain during our in-class review conversation.

december 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Watch Me Shine" by Everlast]

This is a time of year when many people make wishes and resolutions.  Do you have any wishes, for yourself or others?  Is there anything you plan to do to improve your life in 2017?

1. Journal
2. Interactive final review

Sunday, December 4, 2016

december 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon & Garfunkel; "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by The Bangles]

Today you have a choice.

You can either write about winter-- whatever comes to mind-- or you can listen to the two versions of this song and think on paper about how two different bands can interpret the same idea.

1. Journal
2. Return essays

Think about something interesting and post about it to your blog (title: SOMETHING INTERESTING)

Friday, December 2, 2016

ways to win

Did you recognize the essay prompt?  Here it is again:

Describe Baca's attitude toward life, learning, and prison.  Use your analysis of diction and detail to support your points.

I ripped off the idea from question 2 in the 1981 AP exam (so I guess here I was partying like it was 1981, but whatever-- you can see it top/center here).

As we discussed, this is a formative assessment, and my intention is to help you learn, so if you didn't feel like you crushed it in class, you have options.  Here are a few:

  • take another crack at the essay with more time and thought, and post it on your blog;
  • memorize and recite a stanza (or the whole poem, if you're rad like that) and post the video on your blog;
  • create a photo essay, animation, or some other kind of multimedia wonderfulness about the poem and post that on your blog;
  • research Jimmy Santiago Baca, fall in love with a different poem he wrote, and post that with your commentary on your blog;
  • compare Baca's poetry with someone else's poetry, or a different sort of writing altogether, and post that on your blog;
  • research strategies for answering questions like this on the AP exam and post that on your blog;
  • come up with an idea I didn't mention here and post that on your blog;
  • create intellectual value and establish yourself by [?] -- and post that on your blog.
Whatever you do, don't forget to post it on your blog. :)

december 2

Today we partied like it's 1982*:

I'm looking forward to reading your journals this weekend, because I want to know exactly how you see "Immigrants in Our Own Land" and how you see yourself as a learner at this point in your life.

I'm also looking forward to reading your essays and seeing whether you adopt any of the other opportunities we discussed (video, recitation, photo essay, etc.) over the weekend.

(*This is an allusion.  It's a reference to a lyric in the song "1999.  The album came out in 1982, when I was 12 and Prince was the Future.  Enjoy.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

december 1

[*Happy December!  Unfortunately I won't be on campus today, so please complete the following journal topic and assignment to prepare for our conversation tomorrow.]

Every culture throughout history has had some idea about peace.  Some cultures do peace better than others.  What do you think is necessary for peace?  You can think about peace within yourself, peace within your close circle of family or friends, or peace between nations.  How can you relate the idea of peace to Jimmy Santiago Baca's "Immigrants in our own Land"?

1. Journal
2. Table discussion:

a) Consider Jessica Parra's blog entry about the poem
b) Compare your answers to the questions about theme, tone, mood, and devices
c) Change your mind about (at least) one of your answers based on the conversation and update your blog

PLEASE NOTE: Either every single one of us will have a blog entry to show for this week's thinking about the poem, or we will have a gut-wrenchingly difficult in-class exam on the poem tomorrow (Friday).