Wednesday, April 26, 2017

april 26 (II)

Thanks to those of you who came to class and wrote the AP practice essay.  I look forward to discussing the AP rubric and doing some collaborative critique tomorrow.

The second item on our agenda tomorrow will be your inquiry and Ignite Talk, which will now happen on Friday.  Please plan on being here tomorrow and Friday.  (Reminder: the current grading period ends Friday.)

Cerenity and friends, please see me on the patio before we begin class tomorrow morning.

april 26

1. Ignite Talks
2. Journal

JOURNAL: (at end of period)
What did you learn today?  Describe at least three observations about speakers' topics, process, or style.  Include at least one example of ethos, pathos, and logos.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ignite talks wednesday

Traditional speakers at professional conferences talk for an extended period of time, either as a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, or panelist.

A few years ago a new trend emerged in the world of sharing ideas.  TED and other conferences made shorter talks popular.  These were kind of like the intellectual version of "speed dating."  At one conference where I presented, there was a series of "ignite talks"-- these were designed to be high-energy, exciting introductions to ideas that would get the audience thinking and hungry for more.  They were also required to be no longer than five minutes.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, April 26) every single member of our learning community will give an ignite talk.  There will be no passes, no "I forgot"s, no exceptions.

How will we manage this?

Our ignite talks will be no more than one minute long.

Here is what each ignite talk will include:
  • Your big question/ masterpiece topic (1-2 sentences)
  • One thing you did over the break to explore your question/topic (1 sentence)
  • One thing you learned by exploring over the break (1 sentence)
  • One connection you see between this course or something we read and your question/topic (1 sentence)
  • What you're doing next (1 sentence)
Since we will not have time for audience questions tomorrow, please also create a post for your blog (title: IGNITE TALK) in which you write out these 5-6 sentences and invite commenters to contribute ideas or questions.  If you have any questions or technical challenges please email or comment to this post.

Looking forward to learning from you!

Monday, April 24, 2017

april 25

(I think today is the mandatory AP meeting.  If you're all doing what you're supposed to be doing, I'll have the classroom to myself.  I will use the time to reflect deeply on your recently posted essays and consider what we need most for the rest of the week.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

april 24

In nature, Spring is a time of birth and renewal.  Flowers bloom, baby animals get born, and outside you can practically hear "The Circle of Life" from the soundtrack of The Lion King.  (*Which I'd be playing alongside this topic if I were in class today.)

We humans have created rituals in our cultures and religions to celebrate Spring.  Apart from formal celebrations like Passover and Easter, and the Pagan rituals that preceded them both, many families practice Spring cleaning.

So my question is this: now that we are solidly in Spring, what can you do to start over, or clean out part of your life, or change for the better? 

1. Journal
2. Peer review
  • Please read at least five (5) of your colleagues' essays online
  • Comment to each with at least one (1) compliment and one (1) constructive criticism (i.e., you should look for something in each author's writing that is effective, and you should look for at least one opportunity to improve)
  • Take your own notes for our in-class discussion tomorrow.  In your notes, you should include at least one example of organization or expression that is so good you want to steal it and use it to become a better writer
If you need to complete this at home, do it; please make sure that you've made your online comments and taken your own notes so that we can have a complete conversation and move forward together on Tuesday.  Mahalo.

time flies and all that

As Spring Break draws to a close and we ramp up for the AP, some reminders:

  1. By now you should have written and posted three essays to your blog, using the AP prompts in the tab above;
  2. This exercise should have given you practice in applying the tactics and strategies I posted last week;
  3. I won't be in class tomorrow (Monday 4/24) -- you should be prepared to read your colleagues' work and post your critiques.  I will post more about this on the day's agenda (next).  We will be aligning your feedback to the AP grading scale on Tuesday, so please be prepared.  If we have to spend time on Tuesday writing or reading for the first time, you will have: (a) lost an opportunity, and (b) contributed to the unnecessary crankiness of a teacher.

Hope you all enjoyed the time away from school, looking forward to seeing everyone Tuesday!  -dp

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ap essay tactics & strategies

I'm posting this by 3:00 P.M. per Samary's request-- I may come back and refine it later.  Please feel free to chime in with observations and questions in the comments! -dp

(specific behaviors you will use on Game Day)
1.     Read the prompt
2.     Circle or underline the key words in the prompt that tell you what is being asked for (words like “analyze” or “describe” or “take a position”)
3.     Do your pre-write (outline, web, list)
4.     Write
5.     Proofread

(ways of getting ready & ideas to remember)
·      Practice essays
o   Start with pre-writes (first 2-3)
o   Graduate to full essays (40 mins. Max)
o   Reduce time to challenge yourself
·      Read essay prompts with SOAPSTone in mind:
o   Speaker
o   Occasion
o   Audience
o   Purpose
o   Subject
o   Tone
·      Connect the source with the prompt
o   If a text is provided, make sure you can restate it’s main argument in your own words
o   If a text is not provided, YOU are the source, so start your brainstorm! (For instance, decide whether you dis/agree with a major idea.)
·      Write down your argument
o   This is still part of your pre-write, and it’s not a thesis statement yet
o   Make sure to consider at least one counterclaim
·      Gather your evidence
o   If you’re given a text, look for key quotes or information (such as statistics) that you can underline and/or list
o   If you’re not given a text, start a list of quotes, examples, or things you know about the topic that may be useful
·      Now make a thesis sentence out of your argument, using your main idea and your main reasons
·      Your thesis sentence should come in the middle or at the end of your first paragraph—open with a strong “hook” that gets the reader’s attention
·      Make sure to include any appropriate literary elements in your opening paragraph (so you can refer to them and explain them later on)
·      Make sure to begin each paragraph with a topic sentence and include transition words (such as “in addition,” “however,” or “similarly”—these create flow between your paragraphs).
·      Include specific evidence and explain it (be sure to keep your quotes to a couple lines or less, and also be sure to “sandwich” your evidence between sentences that you yourself write.  You are the most important author now!)
·      Write a strong conclusion.  Don’t just restate your thesis; leave the reader thinking.  You can do this with a challenging idea or even a question.
·      When you review your first couple practice essays, ask yourself: am I using a variety of styles?  (Hint: if all your sentences are the same length or structure, you need to change them up.)
·      Use sophisticated diction when you want to be specific and you are confident, but don’t reach for a complicated word “just because.”  Sometimes there is elegance in simplicity.  The most effective tool for the job is the one that works.
·      You can check most of your grammar by proofreading—if something sounds “off” it probably is.

april 12

What are your intentions for Spring Break?  How will you balance work, play, social, family, and [?]

1. Journal (quick: <5 mins)
2. A few more words on words
3. Masterpiece Academy

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

april 11

Six hundred years after he stopped writing, we are still quoting Shakespeare-- often without knowing it.  Is there an author, poet, lyricist or rapper writing today who will be remembered as having such an impact?  Who?  Why?

1. Journal
2. I'm out unexpectedly today so:
  • If you were in class yesterday, please share your notes with someone who wasn't;
  • Choose at least three of the AP essay prompts and apply the tactics and strategies to pre-write your essay.  You may do this independently or with colleagues at your table
I plan to be in class tomorrow to set the stage for break and beyond.  If you can't join us for any reason, please check the blog for specifics.  It's important for us to keep up with each other so we don't lose momentum over the break.  Have a great day!

Monday, April 10, 2017

how to install the 'followers' widget

april 10

It's time to wave the magic wand.  Complete this thought: "If I could do anything I wanted over Spring Break, I would..."  Describe in detail.

1. Journal
2. Discussion/study
3. AP essay strategy & tonight's HW


Friday, April 7, 2017

what do you think of this?

Read the story HERE.

wanted: good humans

You're the captain of the team, you have a 4.6 G.P.A., and you started a nonprofit that cured cancer. But are you a GOOD PERSON?

why journalism matters

Read the full story HERE.

pre-essay socratic seminar

  • Montag as dynamic character
  • Montag as role model
  • Themes of the book
  • Writing techniques/ literary elements
  • Symbolism
  • Author tones & reader moods
  • What Bradbury's predictions say about our society and us
  • Individual and group psychology of the characters
  • Preston's scribblings
  • How we write
  • What we should write about

ESSAY (due on your blogs by 11:59 PM PDT Sunday, April 9):

OPTION 1: Describe the difference in Ray Bradbury's tone with regard to Clarisse & Beatty. Support your analysis with examples of Bradbury's diction and detail.

OPTION 2: Analyze Bradbury's language, especially his figures of speech and his syntax, to convey how Montag's inner world differed from the world around him.

OPTION 3: Analyze the language and rhetorical devices that Dr. Preston uses to convey his point of view about reading. (Essay HERE)

***You may write more than one essay for additional credit, practice, and the betterment of humanity.

  • In Preston's essay he points out a different interpretation of Hamlet and says that in school we usually only get one meaning.  It makes me wonder what other meanings we might have missed in the things we've read?
  • I read for the plot, and when I read Preston's essay it got me thinking about the themes
  • I read the book before and I hated it -- because I love books -- but this time when I read it, I got to think through it and find the deeper meaning, so I guess now I hate it less. 
  • In the beginning of the book, when Montag met Clarisse, I wanted her to stay.  Why did she inspire him and then: BAM! Why did the author kill her?
    • The author wanted us to know something else was possible
    • Maybe she didn't get hit by a car
    • Maybe "they" killed her
    • Maybe she's in hiding with the other readers
    • Mildred said she was dead, and Mildred didn't pay attention to anything
    • Maybe she was smarter sooner-- anyone who was still in the city died in the end anyway
  •  Montag may have been a role model, but not in the right way... maybe you shouldn't break safety rules
    • He took drastic action though
    • He stepped out of his comfort zone-- it was edgy but he was inspired
    • He is self-reliant (as much as I hate that essay); he did what he wanted to do 
    • I don't think he was a good role model. He did what he did without thinking.  He is impulsive. He could've gotten Faber hurt. He didn't stop when Faber told him to.
  • I connect this book to events in the world-- we read about the bombing the day before the bombing in Syria
  • I want to burn Trump's book
    • (widespread disagreement/ cooler heads prevailed)

april 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["In One Ear" by Cage the Elephant]

Listen to the lyrics:  
They think they know my thoughts/ But they don't know the least/
If they listened to the words they'd find the message tucked beneath

One thing authors, songwriters, and (now that I'm thinking about it) just about everyone hates is having their words twisted into something they didn't intend.  Describe a time you thought you communicated clearly and someone else didn't agree.

1. Journal
2. Socratic seminar

Thursday, April 6, 2017

pre-ap exam mtg

I just received the following email from Mrs. Martinez.  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this meeting:

april 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Eat It" by Weird Al Yankovic; "Savoy Truffle" by The Beatles]

Describe your favorite meal in mouth-watering detail.  By the time I finish reading this journal entry I should be hungry and jealous.

1. Journal
2. Residual F451 Q & A/ status
3. Deconstructing my essay

*Tonight it would be a good idea to make sure you are up to date.  Tomorrow (Friday) we will have a Socratic seminar in which you will be expected to participate.  Over the weekend we will have an essay, and then it will be writing madness through break...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

this just in

Courtesy of Liliy:

april 5


Sometimes, when athletes at the Olympics complete their event or earn a medal, they cry.  Athletes are stereotypically tough humans, and crying is stereotypically not a tough thing to do, so how do you explain this?

1. Journal
2. F 451 Wrap Up

Monday, April 3, 2017

april 4

Describe a time you finished a book.  How did the experience make you feel?  Proud to have completed it?  Sad to say goodbye to the characters?  Surprised/irritated at the plot resolution?  Please explain.

1. Journal
2. Finishing F451
3. (depending on time) preparing for the essay

explain the ending of fahrenheit 451

In a thoughtful comment to this post, please explain the ending of the book.  Mahalo.

april 3

Why are you tested so much/often?  What are adults trying to figure out?  Why can't they do it another way?

I have no idea who's going to be smarter, more balanced, or in class today as a result of testing, so we'll pick up where we need to when I see you.  Those of us who are here will finish the novel and set the agenda for tomorrow.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

fahrenheit 451 essay on medium

I published another, slightly better (IMHO) version of the Fahrenheit 451 essay I wrote.

You can read it HERE.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

the curious case of sidd finch

This story ran in Sports Illustrated on April 1, 1985, when I was fifteen years old.  As far as I am concerned it is the greatest April 1 story ever.

happy april 1

Thinking that April Fool's Day 2017 is a remembrance of a time when we weren't fooled every day.  Ask questions and express doubt about what you see and what you read today-- and then do that every day from now on.

my thoughts on fahrenheit 451

Thanks in advance for reading and for commenting to this post.  Later this weekend I will also publish this on Medium, and I'll share the link when it's available there.  In the meantime, here are some suggestions for getting the greatest benefit out of the experience, which continues well after the break:

1. Follow the footnotes
2. Click the links
3. Enjoy getting confused or experiencing questions-- and then ask the author
4. Find something you dis/agree with
5. When you see an argument, ask yourself what makes it in/effective
6. Most importantly, find something about reading this to ENJOY

As you scroll down, you will get to what I hope are insights on Fahrenheit 451.  First you will suffer through my thinking about this topic in general. 

We should read the same books more than once, over time.  As we change, the way we understand what we read changes.  This is important. 

The first time I read Hamlet I was in Jerry DeBono's1 AP English Literature class at Cleveland High School in Los Angeles.  We read the play in class.  Actually, that's a lie.  I didn't read the play in class.  I was thinking about other things while my unlucky friends who got chosen for the speaking parts tried unsuccessfully to salvage a shred of cool while mumbling and stumbling through their lines.  The night before the test I read just enough of the play to write an essay.  I understood what my teacher was asking, and I delivered an adequate-enough answer, but I didn't really understand the play-- not just because Shakespeare's iambic pentameter wasn't my native language, or because "To be or not to be" is such a hackneyed cliché, but because I didn't have enough experience to 

Friday, March 31, 2017

march 31

All of his efforts are leading Montag somewhere, both in his inner sense of self and a destination in the world.  Where is he headed?  Where are your efforts leading you?

1. Journal
2. F451: the penultimate session

1. What is the significance of the glass of milk, the apple, and the pear?
2. Montag thought he saw the Mechanical Hound and reached his breaking point. What did he see?
3. After Montag's musing about the Sun and fire, why is it ironic that he sees a fire?  How is this fire different?
4. Who is Granger? Who are his associates? (Spend a few sentences explaining this.)
5. What happens on the "show" portraying the chase after Montag?
6. What does Granger mean when he says, "We made the right kind of mistakes."

Please read
MY THOUGHTS ON FAHRENHET 451 (which will be posted by Saturday at noon PDT)
and comment.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

march 30

Why are people so afraid to make mistakes?  Describe a mistake you learned from.

1. Journal
2. United/ 8 mc questions
3. F451 table conversations (please answer questions and post to your blog)

For pp. 114-122 (title: THE CHASE IS ON)
1. Why did the Hound attack Montag?
2. How did Montag defend himself?
3. What did Montag realize about Beatty?
4. Where did Montag go?
5. What happened when Montag crossed the street?

For pp. 123-132 (title: A STEP AHEAD OF THE HOUND)
1. What did Montag do at the Blacks' house?
2. How does Faber describe the war?
3. Describe Faber's TV.
4. What was on TV while Montag was on the run?
5. What was Montag running for when everyone looked out of their houses?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

because cute

"I wuv you, wobot."

about the ap multiple choice questions

The multiple choice portion of the exam is worth 45% of your total score.  This section usually has 52-55 questions, You will be given several passages to read, with 10-15 questions that refer to the passage.  THIS POST includes a concise description of the eight types of questions.  Please read it and bookmark it for reference.  When I say read it, I mean read it closely and academically.  Devour it.  Follow the links.  Take notes.  Print it out and mark it up.  Memorize the eight categories if you need to.  We will revisit the United article with this in mind in different ways for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

march 29

When Beatty confronts him in front of his house, Montag resorts to violence and torches Beatty with the flamethrower.  Why is this solution, which would never be a first choice in life, viable in fiction?  How does it serve the story?  What do you think it will do for the plot-- what's next for Montag?

1. Journal
2. United article and mc questions
3. F451 table conversations

Monday, March 27, 2017

march 28

Yesterday Paloma asked a very important question: When does art describe society, and when does art become important enough to influence society?  (Note: art can be visual, literary, or even a matter of personal style.  Just a couple decades ago, only bikers and ex-military personnel had tattoos and hardly any men had pierced ears, noses, or nipples-- and then along came Madonna and Dennis Rodman...)

1. Journal
2. Part II
3. AP exam structure
4. Rhetorical analysis: United Airlines dress code

march 27

Much of Montag's frustration seems to stem from the fact that he is so focused on his past and his future that he can't get a grip on his present.  Does this apply in your life?  When you think about your future, does it motivate/inspire you and make you happy that you're doing what you're doing, or does it worry you?

1. Journal
2. TEST (short? or long?  don't know yet. did you read & answer questions?)
3.  Part III

Friday, March 24, 2017

climbable library

This is rad.

march 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Get Myself to Saturday" by Michael Franti & Spearhead]

Franti sings: There is a part of me that always needs to pray/ There is a part of me that wants to run away/ There is a part of me that can't go on today/ There is a part of me that always finds a way

Which version of you shows up when you have to deal with difficult circumstances?  As the rising action continues to intensify in Fahrenheit 451, which version of Montag do you think will show up?

1. Journal
2. F451: Status & schedule
3. Big ideas and documenting
4. Close reading cont'd.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

march 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" by Bruce Springsteen; "Jammin' Me" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers]

Montag is trying to think but the voice keeps coming over the speaker: "Denham's Dentrifice Denham's Dentrifice."  The other day I went to a gas station and got out to fill up the tank.  Now, don't get me wrong-- I love talking to people so much I do it all day-- but I just wanted to put some gas in my car.  By myself.  But NO... the gas pump had a video screen on it and commercials yelled at me the whole time!  Why can't we get away from advertising, politics, and other persuasive communication for just a few minutes?  Why can't we enjoy some peace and quiet just long enough to be with our own thoughts? What do we need to know so that we can either establish boundaries for ourselves, or at least understand it well enough so that it doesn't lead us to bad choices or just drive us crazy altogether?

1. Journal/discussion
2. Continue reading & answer Part II questions

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

mark your calendars

I'll post the obligatory countdown clock, but in the meantime please make a note: our exam is May 10 at 8:00 AM.

march 22


Quick!-- list all the literary elements and techniques you can remember from our explorations so far this year.

1. Journal
2. Practice AP questions
3. F451 close reading cont'd

*Some of your blogs look AMAZING! If you haven't recently, check out your colleagues' work

ap practice mc qs

AP Lang Multi by Anonymous 2vhfDXB3 on Scribd

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

march 21

Describe one thing you learned from writing and re-writing yesterday's journal entry.

1. Journal
2. Guided independent reading

*Please read on your own or with your tablemates
** Please plan on answering the following questions by the end of the week

1. In the scene where Mildred and Montag read books together, what are their separate reactions?
2. What is the effect throughout sections I and II, of the bombers flying over?
3. Who is Professor Faber?
4. Montag’s reaction to the commercial on the subway is a turning point in his life. How does he react and why?
5. What argument does Faber make for books?
6. What is the “small green metal object”?
7. What does the White Clown show lead you to believe about television programming in this society?
8. Why does Mrs. Phelps cry when Montag reads “Dover Beach”?
9. What is Montag’s destination at the end of section II? Why?

Monday, March 20, 2017

march 20


Analyze the following passage from Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  How does Bradbury's use of syntax convey differences in narrative perspective?  How does his use of figurative language convey meaning?

As he stood there the sky over the house screamed. There was a tremendous ripping sound as if two giant hands had torn ten thousand miles of black linen down the seam. Montag was cut in half. He felt his chest chopped down and split apart. The jet-bombs going over, going over, going over, one two, one two, one two, six of them, nine of them, twelve of them, one and one and one and another and another and another, did all the screaming for him. He opened his own mouth and let their shriek come down and out between his bared teeth. The house shook. The flare went out in his hand. The moonstones vanished. He felt his hand plunge toward the telephone. The jets were gone. He felt his lips move, brushing the mouthpiece of the phone. "Emergency hospital." A terrible whisper. 

1. Journal/ Discussion w/r/t AP exam
2. Close reading continued 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

because goldfish

Some of you might be saying to yourselves, "Wow.  Ray Bradbury predicted everything.  What's left to predict?"


For example, vehicles driven by goldfish.  Oh yeah.

Friday, March 17, 2017

about today's journal topic

When I got out of my car this morning the security guard greeted me: "Hey Dr. P, where's your green?  I oughta pinch you!"  My reactions:
  1. Dude.  No one's pinching me.
  2. Oh yeah.  St. Patrick's Day.
  3. Why is that a thing?
  4. Am I wearing green?-- hey wait a sec.  My pants are green.  Keen observational powers.
Then I got to class.  The first students walked in and said hi: "Happy Friday!"

(Happy Friday?  Why is that a thing?  If you really feel that strongly about the weekdays, don't you realize that Friday means that there are only two friggin' days left until Monday?)

Mildred and Montag don't remember the day they met.  We (rightly, IMHO) interpret this as a sign that their relationship is dysfunctional.  Therefore it stands to reason that a sign of a healthy relationship is the shared memory of the day it began.  This story bonds us together; our connection is strengthened by shared knowledge.  Honoring this information enough to keep it fresh and clear in our minds is a signal that it's important to us-- and that the people who share it with us are somehow important too.  The same can be said of belonging to stories that larger number of people share; this is why we remember religious prayers and rituals.  This is why every 49ers fan knows the details of The Catch and The Drive.

To the casual American observer/consumer, St. Patrick's Day is actually the same holiday as Cinco de Mayo. These are marketing opportunities for people to advertise, sell, buy, and consume alcohol.

But to those in the know, both St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo are historically and culturally important.  They mean something to people who identify with Irish and Mexican heritage, respectively; knowing these stories qualifies you to converse and connect with members of the tribe, whether you're full-blooded or just a fan.

Remembering dates and events signify care.  If you forget your Mom's birthday... whoa.  That's a statement.  Some dates and events we remember because they are personally meaningful; others, we remember because they are important to loved ones or family, or our belonging to groups that care about religion, or football, or something else that signifies we are members of the tribe.

So, when I ask what dates and events are important to you, consider what's meaningful in terms of your own feeling, your relationships with loved ones and families, your belonging as a member of an ethnic or religious or racial heritage, or the society you're living in today.  After all, a lot of people think the Super Bowl is pretty important.

march 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Shipping Up to Boston" & "Rocky Road to Dublin" by The Dropkick Murphys]

Montag and Mildred realize they can't remember when they met.  What dates and events are important to you to remember?

1. Journal/discussion
2. Real-world context for F451
3. Part 2

Questions for Part 2:

* What does "Sieve and the Sand" refer to?

1. In the scene where Mildred and Montag read books together, what are their separate reactions?
2. What is the effect throughout sections I and II, of the bombers flying over?
3. Who is Professor Faber?
4. Montag’s reaction to the commercial on the subway is a turning point in his life. How does he react and why?
5. What argument does Faber make for books?
6. What is the “small green metal object”?
7. What does the White Clown show lead you to believe about television programming in this society?
8. Why does Mrs. Phelps cry when Montag reads “Dover Beach”?
9. What is Montag’s destination at the end of section II? Why?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

15 questions you should be able to answer by this weekend

1.The novel Fahrenheit 451 begins : “It was a pleasure to burn.” Why does Ray Bradbury start the novel in this way? Why might it be more pleasurable to burn books rather than read them?
2. In the opening scene, why are the books compared to birds?
3. Discuss the difference between Montag and Clarisse’s lives.
4. Montag’s television includes headphones called “seashells.”  The “wall to wall circuit” allows Mildred to enter the “play” and, therefore, the television programming. How does the technology within the novel compare to our current technology? In the first pages of the novel,does technology improve the quality of life for Montag and his wife, Mildred? Why or why not?
5. Why does the narrator introduce us to Montag at this time of his life, when he encounters Clarisse and confronts Mildred’s overdose?
6. Why does the author introduce the character of Clarisse before Mildred?
7. Why are all the houses fireproof in this society?
8. Why does Mildred require emergency service? What service is provided?
9. What is the mechanical hound and what is its purpose?
10. Why does the society consider Clarisse “anti-social”?
11. When the woman’s house is raided, why does she light the match?
12. Describe the relationship between Montag and Mildred. 
13. What is the purpose of Beatty's visit?
14. Reread Captain Beatty’s monologue (pp.57-59). Discuss his view that school cultivates anti-intellectual sentiment (p.58). In your opinion does it accurately depict your high school? Do books violate the idea that ”everyone is made equal” (p.58)?
15. Why does Montag feel “fat”?

march 16


Think about your day yesterday.  Did your words and actions support your idea of who you want to be and what you want to accomplish?  How can you do better today? 

1. Journal
2. Catching up with each other: Fahrenheit 451

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

the broken link...

...that I mentioned this morning in class has been fixed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

march 15

*First thing's first.  What is "the Ides of March" and which famous character in literature is supposed to beware them?  Post the correct answer in a comment to this post and win!

JOURNAL TOPIC: [if you weren't in class yesterday, it's yesterday's'; otherwise...]

Describe a favorite saying of an adult in your life when you were a child.  What did this person say?  What did it mean?  What did it matter to you, if anything?

1. Journal
2. F451 Q & A
3. Reading

a lesson in copyright law

From the Duke University Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain:

Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1953 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2010.

Under the old law, Fahrenheit 451 would have entered the public domain in 2010.  That means we could print it online, copy it, quote it in as much length as we like, etc. etc.  Sadly, now we won't legally be able to do that with works published in 1953 until 2049.

I don't want to break the law.  I think Ray Bradbury, his estate, and whomever he designated after his death should earn whatever's right under the law.  And I don't need the headache.  So I'm not posting a page with the full text.  At the same time, I firmly believe that if Mr. Bradbury were to take part in this conversation, he would support sharing the book with Santa Maria High School students who don't have enough copies or the money to go out and buy their own.  So here is a link to the full text online (it is not nearly as well-formatted or flammable as a physical book, which I still encourage you to find).

happy pi day

march 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck; "Bird Feathers" by Charlie Parker]

I have lots of questions this morning, and I can't decide which I like asking the best.  So, it's up to you to decide which one(s) you like answering the best:

  • What is Jazz?  Why is it considered uniquely American?  (Feel free to look online for this one.)
  • Several Charlie Parker songs have "Bird" in the title.  As you listen to his music, explain why you think the image of a bird fits.
  • In the beginning of Fahrenheit 451, the burning books are portrayed as birds.  Why do you think this imagery fits?  
1. Journal/discussion
2. Table reading with questions
3. Writers' conferences continued

Monday, March 13, 2017

march 13


Quick-- write the first three sentences that come to mind.

1. Journal
2. Writers' conferences
3. Table reading

Friday, March 10, 2017


If you haven't yet turned in your Income Verification form to register for the AP exam, please do so TODAY.  Today is the deadline.  I did not push this in class because I did not realize that at SMHS the exam is free to all students and administration has to have these forms in order to know how to order the tests.  This was my mistake, and I don't want anyone to lose out on taking the exam!  Please bring the signed form to Ms. Martinez's office by the end of the day.  Thank you.

march 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Walking in LA" by Missing Persons; "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed]

Entrepreneurs do it.  Gandhi did it.  We do it between classes, but we don't usually do it when there's a car available.  What is the value of taking a walk?  Do you get exercise, ideas?  Why isn't Santa Maria designed for walking instead of driving?  Should this be different in the future?  Why/why not?

*Feel free to take a walk as you consider these questions.

1. Journal/discuss "The Pedestrian"
2. Re-imagine the beginning of your story in (the burning) light of Fahrenheit 451's first few pages
3. Remembering Modernism
4. Free play/ writers' conferences

Thursday, March 9, 2017

please read the pedestrian

Please read "The Pedestrian" and come to class tomorrow prepared to discuss.  Please also comment to this post with any first impressions, questions, etc.  Mahalo.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

march 9


Why do we have fire departments?  Seriously: why not pay private companies to put out fires, or just save our tax dollars and do the job ourselves?

1. Journal/ discussion
2. Revisit "The Pedestrian"
3. "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way"
4. Meet Guy Montag

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

march 8

*I'm out today.  Email if you have any questions. -dp


On this day in 1817, the New York Stock Exchange was founded.  So?  What's the big deal?  What IS the New York Stock Exchange?  Look it up if you have to.  It's sort of important to the economy.

1. Journal
2. Write a short story-- on your own or with friends-- that would qualify as Modernist.  Post it to your blog.  In an accompanying paragraph, explain how your story meets the criteria for Modernism (review your notes if you need to) and explain any literary techniques you used, such as imagery and figurative language.

gatsby self-study

As we've discussed in class, one of the challenges of our school schedule is taking time for ongoing reflection.  This is especially true in the study of literature.  As a class, we are moving through Prufrock and into our next novel.  However, some of you may still be chewing on Gatsby and/or wanting a more structured review and/or more AP exam-style practice questions.  If any of that appeals to you, have a look at THIS.  Please let me know if you'd like to discuss in class or launch a lunchtime study group.

march 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Light my Fire" by The Doors]

In the imagery of literature, why is love associated with heat instead of cold?

1. Journal topic
2. The imagery of Gatsby & Prufrock
3. Turning up the heat

*Update: Please post to your blog [title: WHAT I SEE IN LITERATURE] an explanation of how the 3-5 examples of imagery you ID'd with your colleagues helps explain the themes of Gatsby & Prufrock.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

march 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Belong Together" by Los Lobos; "One Woman Man" by John Legend; "Old Fashioned Love Song" by Three Dog Night-- and thanks everyone for your suggestions!]

How has the popular notion of love changed over time?  Do people still value monogamy?  Marriage?  Commitment? 

1. Journal
2. What Eliot meant by "Love Song"
3. Prufrock: Shmuck
4. Following the yellow fog

Friday, March 3, 2017

march 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: (since today is a minimum day, we're combining everything)

How does the establishing shot in the movie The Great Gatsby sum up a theme of the book?

AGENDA: First (n) minutes of the movie The Great Gatsby (the good one)

Please post a version of this to your blog (title: CAN WE WATCH THE MOVIE?) in which you also explain the appeal of watching a movie as a way to better understand a book.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

good idea angel

Thanks to Angel for suggesting that everyone comment to the March 2 post with their favorite love songs.  I'll choose from these for the journal playlists as we read "Prufrock."

march 2

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys; "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley]

What's your favorite love song?  Why is it your favorite love song?  If you don't have a favorite love song, what is the song you love the most?  And why you do you think of your affinity/affection/head bobbing to the beat as love?

1. Journal
2. Come correct
3. A different kind of Love Song

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

comment for grade boost

Dear grade-hungry AP students:

If you're within the sound of this blog, comment with an insight regarding Gatsby and one of today's essay prompts by the time class begins and get a grade boost on today's essay.

march 1


Where is your Paradise?

1. Journal
2. Essay

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

gatsby essay prompts

Here's what we came up with in class today:

·      The last line of the book is arguably the most important: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.”  How does this line embody the thematic conflict that defines The Great Gatsby?
·      Is Gatsby’s desire for success—however we define it—evidence of the American dream, obsession, a personal sense of honor, or something else? Does Gatsby symbolize our culture and even our own desires, or is he an outlier?
·      How does Fitzgerald’s characterization create a tone around the theme of happiness?  What is Fitzgerald’s attitude toward happiness?  Does it depend on love, on external markers such as wealth, on repairing or atoning for the past, or on something that is unattainable?
·      The notion of the American dream figures prominently in this story.  How do readers define the American dream?  Moreover, is pursuing the American dream necessarily a good thing?

february 28


February is over.  In the blink of an eye, March will be over too.  What can we do to enjoy the experience of time, instead of just observe how fast it passes?

1. Journal
2. Test debrief and essay prep

Sunday, February 26, 2017

february 27

This may seem like a no-brainer, but common sense is that sense which we hold in common, which requires us to articulately describe and explain even those things we assume others understand.


Why do we prefer hearing "yes" rather than "no"?

1. Journal
2. Gatsby test Chapters 7-9

for those times when you wish you had the answers before the test

 Now you can.  All you have to do is look them up today.  (Because you will take this very test in class tomorrow.)  
* Please Note: I cut/pasted this from a formatted document and I just noticed many of the words are incorrectly divided by lines-- no time to fix today, so please read carefully.
The Great Gatsby
  Test  Chapters 7-9
During lunch at the Buchanan’s, (with Daisy, Tom, Jordan, Nick, and
Gatsby), Daisy remarks, “You always look so cool.” What is the
significance of this remark?
Gatsby for the first time realizes the
importance of Daisy’s little girl.
Daisy is commenting on Jordan’s app
earance, who sits “like a silver
idol” on the couch.
Daisy is remarking on Nick’s abilit
y to stay both “within and without”
the plot.
After Daisy says this to Gatsby, To
m realizes that Daisy is involved
with Gatsby.
“...that was the inexhaustible charm th
at rose and fell in it, the jingle
of it, the cymbals’ song of it.”
Which of the following is a true
statement about this passage?
Nick’s realization comes from Gats
by’s comment that Daisy’s voice is
full of money.
It elevates Daisy, as part of Ga
tsby’s dream, above the “vast, vulgar
and meretricious beauty” by which F
itzgerald characterizes the ‘20s.
It contains a paradox.
Both A and C
Nick narrates, as he and Tom get ga
soline, “I stared at him and at
Tom, who had made a parallel discovery less than an hour before—