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).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

november 30

Today we are doing the school and the district a favor.  If you have time afterward, please write in your journal about something that matters to you. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

poetry resource

I was just nosing around the Internet and found this great resource for "Immigrants in Our Own Land"-- and then I smiled, because Jessica was a student of mine years ago...  Enjoy.

immigrants in our own land

Immigrants in Our Own Land
We are born with dreams in our hearts,
looking for better days ahead.
At the gates we are given new papers,
our old clothes are taken
and we are given overalls like mechanics wear.
We are given shots and doctors ask questions.
Then we gather in another room
where counselors orient us to the new land
we will now live in. We take tests.
Some of us were craftsmen in the old world,
good with our hands and proud of our work.
Others were good with their heads.
They used common sense like scholars
use glasses and books to reach the world.
But most of us didn’t finish high school.

The old men who have lived here stare at us,
from deep disturbed eyes, sulking, retreated.
We pass them as they stand around idle,
leaning on shovels and rakes or against walls.
Our expectations are high: in the old world,
they talked about rehabilitation,
about being able to finish school,
and learning an extra good trade.
But right away we are sent to work as dishwashers,
to work in fields for three cents an hour.
The administration says this is temporary
So we go about our business, blacks with blacks,
poor whites with poor whites,
chicanos and indians by themselves.
The administration says this is right,
no mixing of cultures, let them stay apart,
like in the old neighborhoods we came from.

We came here to get away from false promises,
from dictators in our neighborhoods,
who wore blue suits and broke our doors down
when they wanted, arrested us when they felt like,
swinging clubs and shooting guns as they pleased.
But it’s no different here. It’s all concentrated.
The doctors don’t care, our bodies decay,
our minds deteriorate, we learn nothing of value.
Our lives don’t get better, we go down quick.

My cell is crisscrossed with laundry lines,
my T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks and pants are drying.
Just like it used to be in my neighborhood:
from all the tenements laundry hung window to window.
Across the way Joey is sticking his hands
through the bars to hand Felipé a cigarette,
men are hollering back and forth cell to cell,
saying their sinks don’t work,
or somebody downstairs hollers angrily
about a toilet overflowing,
or that the heaters don’t work.

I ask Coyote next door to shoot me over
a little more soap to finish my laundry.
I look down and see new immigrants coming in,
mattresses rolled up and on their shoulders,
new haircuts and brogan boots,
looking around, each with a dream in their heart,
thinking they’ll get a chance to change their lives.

But in the end, some will just sit around
talking about how good the old world was.
Some of the younger ones will become gangsters.
Some will die and others will go on living
without a soul, a future, or a reason to live.
Some will make it out of here with hate in their eyes,
but so very few make it out of here as human
as they came in, they leave wondering what good they are now
as they look at their hands so long away from their tools,
as they look at themselves, so long gone from their families,
so long gone from life itself, so many things have changed.

meet jimmy santiago baca

Baca by dpreston1441 on Scribd

Monday, November 28, 2016

november 29

Imagine that you don't know how to read.  A healer tells you that you were born with rattlesnake poison in your blood and this gives you the ability to change, but you don't know whether to believe her.  You go to jail for drug possession.  Will you change?  Will you learn to read?  To write?  If you learn to write, what will you write about?

1. Journal
2. Meet Jimmy Santiago Baca

november 28

Describe your Thanksgiving.  Start with the details: Who was around your table?  What did you eat?  Then think back: What were you especially grateful for?  As you look back on last week and consider today, what are you grateful for right now?

1. Journal
2. Every good story suggest a question for us readers, and today we will ask it of each other about the next few weeks...

What Happens Next?

Sunday, November 27, 2016



If you have questions about Mad Libs or the essay, ask.

If you have makeup work or something original to contribute, post.

Looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

Dr. Preston

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

crap detection

We're going to deal with this.

essay prompt

[Thanks Lesley!  Thought this posted Friday but it got stuck in Drafts. -dp]

Treat the following like your own personal Mad Libs.  Copy and paste the following to a post on your blog [title: MY MAD DREAM OF AN ESSAY]. Fill in the blanks to write your own story.  Then answer the prompt at the bottom.  Feel free to spoof this, play with a friend or relative, read it out loud at the Thanksgiving table, etc.

Remember that time you ate that spicy [noun] just before you went to bed on the night before the big [event]?  Oh, that weird dream you had about the 2016 presidential election.  When you woke up you couldn't quite remember the [adjective] details, but after reading "On Self-Reliance" and "A Sound of Thunder" it's all coming back to you now.

The dream started badly.  You were in line with your family at a [place] waiting to be sent to [a place you don't want to go].  Everywhere you looked there were posters of president-elect [goofy name], looking like a crazy [animal] who could eat a whole [noun].  

Suddenly, there was Ralph Waldo Emerson telling you, "[your favorite quote from his essay]."  You realized that you have something to contribute to the world so you decided to [verb].  But it wasn't easy.  First you had to put on a fancy [noun] and [noun] and then you had make a [noun] to go back in time to the [public place] so you could convince people to learn about the candidates and the [political issue you care about most].

But right there in the [public place] there was a giant [noun] and it started [verb] ing at everyone.  People started to [verb].  You grabbed a [noun] from a nearby [noun] and yelled [something important you have to say].  Everyone stopped and listened, so you kept going.

[Here is where your essay begins.]

Write a speech in which you explain how the choices we make in this moment influence the future.  Using at least one example from your life, one example from "On Self-Reliance," and one example from "A Sound of Thunder," tell your audience how our thinking and our actions create our individual sense of self and the society we all share.

[NOTE: since this is a speech, feel free to give it on a video as well and post!  In the old days this is the sort of thing we would call "extra credit".]

Monday, November 21, 2016

this ain't no day off

Day off from school?  Yeah.

Day off from learning?  NEVER.

I was just reading some of your papers and thinking about class when I ran across this video from Miguel Moreno, one of my favorite students. *  (*Heh.  By now you know my secret.  Every one of my students is one of my favorite students. :) 

Enjoy.  You may learn a little something.

Friday, November 18, 2016

november 18

1. What can you do today that will ensure your success tomorrow?
2. What can you do to be kind to yourself today?

1. Journal
2. Discussion: essay & expectations for next week and beyond

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Architecture, design, environment, space... too often people assume that these are purely functions of materials or location.  They're not.  It's all about people: the stories we tell ourselves and how we interact with each other and the world (however big/small) around us.  This is one of the most naturally engaging design documents I've ever seen, partly because it's not contracted or confused with ideas about what it "should" be (Emerson calls this sort of thing genius).  Have a look:

november 17

According to Ray Bradbury, "It's not going to do any good to land on Mars if we're stupid."  This reminded me of Emerson's ideas about travel.  Can you connect any idea dots between "On Self-Reliance" and "A Sound of Thunder"?  Is Eckels self-reliant, or does he depend on others' ideas to define himself?  Would Emerson endorse going back in time to hunt the T-Rex?  Why/why not?

1. Journal
2. Discussion continued
3. Essay tomorrow

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

november 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Time Warp" by Richard O'Brien from The Rocky Horror Picture Show*; "Time" by Pink Floyd; "Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce]

Think of a moment you'd like to last longer.  Or go by quicker.  Or that you'd like to revisit in the past.  Or go back to long ago.  Or see in the future.


1. Journal
2. Discussion: journal and "A Sound of Thunder"

1. Vocab
2. Write a vignette in time

*The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out in 1973-- it was a cult classic when I was in high school.  Midnight shows with audiences in full costume and makeup, rocking out in the aisles of the theaters.  Or so I was told.  I was doing my homework. :)  

i don't know what she's up to but...

Lesley is planning something for this space and I'm stoked.  If you get the chance, ask her what she's up to.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

thought for the day

A life's work should be based on love.  -Ray Bradbury

november 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Story of my Life" by Social Distortion; "Every Picture Tells A Story" by Rod Stewart]

Two different people in two different classes had the same reaction to "A Sound of Thunder."

How do you account for this?  Describe three literary devices Bradbury uses in his writing to achieve this effect.

1. Journal
2. Yesterday's work continued

Monday, November 14, 2016

november 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" by Smashing Pumpkins]

1. Why is today's tune title appropriate for the story you just read?

2. What was the point of the story?  Why do you think it ended the way it did?

1. Journal
2. Table discussions:
  • vocabulary 
  • theme
  • plot
  • tone
  • diction/syntax
  • who wrote the best essay online?  what makes it the best?
  • what you want/need to cover in class tomorrow
  • 5 test questions

Thursday, November 10, 2016

emerson essay prompt

Over the last two weeks we have spent a great deal of time with Emerson’s “On Self-Reliance.”  Some of us became more self-reliant in the process.  As you reflect on Emerson’s words and the ideas they trigger for you, please answer one of the following three questions in an essay of no less than 5 paragraphs.  Please be sure to support and illustrate your answer with no fewer than three quotes from Emerson’s work.  Title your post EMERSON'S CHILD.  I look forward to your thoughts.

  1. How would Emerson view the 2016 Presidential Election?  How would he suggest we move forward as individuals, as a community, and as a country?
  2. How would Emerson suggest that we learn (in school and elsewhere) in order to pursue our goals?  How would he view our school and career aspirations?  What would he suggest you do after high school, and how would he suggest that you prepare for this?
  3. Some of Emerson’s language is deceptively simple.  “Be yourself” and “trust yourself” may sound easy but you know how hard it is to do these things—especially in a culture that seems to reward acting the way others want you to act.  First of all, who does Emerson mean by "yourself"?  Who are you REALLY when others aren't looking?  What is your true nature?  What do you really think and feel?  What are your true needs?  What do you really want?  How can you reconcile Emerson’s wisdom and inspiration with what you have to do every day to survive and get along? 

november 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Land of Confusion" by Genesis; "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye]
Describe something you count on in your life.  This can be a person (a parent will not move your entire household out of state today while you are at school), an assumption about the physical world (the ground beneath you will not give way so that your next step will land you in free fall for eternity), or a social contract (if you attend and stay out of trouble, you will graduate high school and live a life better than your parents').

What is the benefit of depending on our perceptions of people, the world, and society?  What happens when our trust in these is shaken?

1. Journal
2. Emerson presentations wrap-up
3. Weekend essay
4. "A Sound of Thunder"

1. Post Emerson presentation notes (title: EMERSON PRESENTATION NOTES DAY4)
2. Write the Emerson essay and post to your blog (title: EMERSON'S CHILD)
3. Read "A Sound of Thunder" and post a response to your blog (title: AN EARTH-SHATTERING FART)

*NOTE ABOUT TODAY'S TUNES: They are not only topical, but "Land of Confusion" was released in 1986-- when I was a junior in high school!  The music video features then-president Ronald Reagan, a Republican who was a former movie actor and starred opposite a chimpanzee in Bedtime for Bonzo.  We lived through that.  We will live through this. 

november 9

[Election discussion.]

[Emerson presentations.]

[HW: Post Emerson presentation notes to your blog. Title: EMERSON PRESENTATIONS DAY3.]

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

more emersonian moments day1

Thanks once again to Samary, Cesar, and Lesley (& Cayla for the pictures :)

november 8

Election Day.  I know.  Enough already.  But, this is the job of the Citizen in the Democracy.  We must choose.  And, in a way, choice is the fabric of our life.  The choices we make define who we become.  What we don't/say and what we don't/do eventually become the patterns and the stories that we identify as our characters and our personalities.  This is why Hamlet's "to be or not to be" moment is so important.  So: describe an important choice you made in your life.  Why did it matter?  Did it change things for you?  How?  Did it give you a sense of who you are?  Do you think today's choice matters?  Spend some time on this one.  Choose.

1. Journal
2. Emerson presentations continued
3. Late résumés accepted (LAST DAY)

Post notes on presentations to your blog (title: EMERSON PRESENTATIONS DAY 2)

Monday, November 7, 2016

lesley on emerson

Thanks for presenting this morning, Lesley!  Interesting to hear Emersonian ideas from contemporary artists like 21 Pilots.

november 7


Emerson's transcendentalist contemporary (there's a mouthful!) Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "Men have become the tools of their tools."  What do you think he meant?  Do you agree?  Why/why not?

1. Journal
2. Résumé check-in
3. Emerson presentations: victims & volunteers

Post notes on presentations to your blog (title: EMERSON PRESENTATIONS DAY 1)

Friday, November 4, 2016

los angeles like you've never seen it

This is beautiful.


november 4


Put two hands on your heart.  Think about a moment that made you grateful.  Click "Pause" on everything else.  Wait a couple moments after you think you're done.  Then pick up your pen and write.  (Did you notice any change in yourself?  Does this exercise feel the same as the first time you did it, or do you notice change over time?  What is on your mind now?)

1. Journal
2. Your Emerson project: get to work (plan, schedule, list tasks, execute)

1. Describe your project in a post to your blog (title: MY EMERSON)
2. Finish your project and be ready to present it in class on Monday, November 7
3. Please bring your résumés to class on Monday, November 7

Thursday, November 3, 2016

isn't this what the internet's for?

november 3

How should we wrap up our study of Emerson?  I'm thinking essay but I'm open.  Include what's most important to you in terms of his ideas and your learning.

1. Journal
2. Notes
3. Emerson wrap-up

take note

Many thanks to Samary for sharing how she takes notes-- this is a great resource for studying Emerson, and it's a great example of how to memorialize and organize our thoughts as we read.  Check it out:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

november 2

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Oh Well" by Fleetwood Mac; "In One Ear" by Cage the Elephant]

When is it best to speak up and be honest even though you know it's going to piss someone off?  When is it best to "go along to get along"?  Do you think Emerson would ever recommend following the herd to fit in, even when it goes against your best self or your truest instincts?  Why/why not?  Explain your answer.

1. Journal
2. Socratic Seminar continued

In a post to your blog, describe what you've learned from "On Self-Reliance" in one paragraph that any ten year-old could understand (title: EMERSON FOR THE YOUNG BUCK)

Monday, October 31, 2016

november 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica]

How much of Emerson's message is sinking in?  Rank his ideas on a scale from 1-10, 1 being "Emerson is full of crap" and 10 being "Emerson is exactly right."  Please make sure to provide at least 2 quotes from his essay and at least three reasons that support your position.  We will be using this for today's Socratic Seminar.

1. Journal
2. Socratic Seminar
3. Preview of Coming Attractions

Look up at least five of the quotes you heard in today's Socratic Seminar.  Explain them & explain why they came up in conversation in a post on your blog entitled EMERSON SAID IT

what it looks like when something we read clicks

Glad this happened for Jish.  Doesn't matter if it was motivated by the desire for a good grade or the desire for a better life or the desire to connect with the inspiration of great ideas or the desire to talk to a dead guy the day before Halloween.

Since I'm posting this by request, and there is probably value in everyone being able to see everyone else's blogs in all our classes, here is a link to all the American Literature member blogs.

october 31

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "What's He Building in There" by Tom Waits; "Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett & The Crypt Kickers]

Happy Halloween.  Tell a scary story.


During the time of Dia de los Muertos the veil is said to be thin.  Remember a loved one who is no longer with us.

1. Journal
2. On self-reliance: 175 years later, would Emerson celebrate or puke?

Finish what you should have started over the weekend

i just sued the school system

Thanks Leo for sharing this:

Friday, October 28, 2016

october 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Riders on the Storm" by The Doors]

Rain is often used as a literary device.  Why?  What does it symbolize to you?

1. Journal
2. Emerson feedback
3. Dust off your resume
4. Preview of next week's attractions

1. Reflect on your Emerson writing.  What did you do well?  What do you need to work on?  You can use the journal you wrote yesterday as the basis. (title: AUTHOR IN PROGRESS)
2. Read "On Self-Reliance" to the end and post your notes (title: I'M SELF-RELIANT)
3. It's great reading weather... curl up with a good book-- and work on your current literature analysis

Thursday, October 27, 2016

october 27

  1. How does Emerson's diction, syntax, and tone reinforce his main idea?
  2. Emerson writes, "Every heart vibrates to that iron string."  How does his use of figurative language illustrate his theme?
  3. According to Emerson's logic, how might a "brute" or an infant qualify as a genius?
  4. (EXTRA CREDIT) Explain Emerson's purpose in beginning with, "Ne te quaesiveris extra."
  5. (EXTRA CREDIT) Here in 2016, how do you see Emerson's points that youth has force and seniors are becoming unnecessary? 

Journal Topic: please reflect on your writing today.  What went well in the preparation and execution?  What can you improve? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

the art of amezaiku

Amezaiku, the art of Japanese candy making, goes back to the 1600s. But that's not the point.

There is something extraordinary-- sweet, even-- in watching a person pursue something with so much love.  Enjoy this.  And, after you watch, ask yourself what you might love doing enough to spend a lifetime perfecting it.

tomorrow's test questions today

Thanks for all your contributions today. 

Based on all your ideas, tomorrow you will receive three questions that will ask you for responses of 1-2 paragraphs each. 

Here they are:

  1. How does Emerson's diction, syntax, and tone reinforce his main idea?
  2. Emerson writes, "Every heart vibrates to that iron string."  How does his use of figurative language illustrate his theme?
  3. According to Emerson's logic, how might a "brute" or an infant qualify as a genius?
  4. (EXTRA CREDIT) Explain Emerson's purpose in beginning with, "Ne te quaesiveris extra."

october 26

Stop.  Feel your toes in your shoes.  Put your hand over your heart and reflect on a memory.  Come back to the moment.  What's on your mind?

1. Journal
2. Get out a piece of paper: where you at?
3. Emerson test prep

Know your Emerson

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25


I had a different journal topic in mind until I walked to class with Angel and got to talking tamales.  Now I'm hungry, so...

Describe your favorite memory of a meal.  Was it with family?  On a date?  At a fancy restaurant?  At home?  What made it special?  Was it the taste?  The company?  The emotions you felt?

1. Journal
2. What would Emerson eat?
3. Untangling the mind map
4. Odds and ends
5. "On Self-Reliance" continued

Three days 'til progress reports.

Monday, October 24, 2016

gettin started

I may not get there by the bell. Please begin your journals at the outside tables & I'll join you in progress. Mahalo.

october 24

"Do not think think the youth has no force..."  Find this quote in Emerson's essay (it's in the paragraph just after where we left off reading on Friday) and explain why you think he says this.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?

1. Journal
2. "On Self-Reliance" continued
3. Mind map & next steps

Friday, October 21, 2016

October 21

Describe one important idea you've gotten so far from Emerson's "On Self-Reliance."  How is it relevant or helpful to think about this idea in 2016?

1. Journal
2. Emerson continued
3. Mapping our minds

1. Make 10 edits to the mind map
2. Describe your map work on your blog.  Why did you do what you did?  How did it/will it help you understand Emerson's writing?  (title: MAPPING MY MIND)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

october 20

"This is only a test..."  What does the word test mean to you?  Is it an obstacle in life, a thing you do in school for a score, or something else?  What should it mean?  What is the value of a test?  Do you see any value or importance in doing something that is difficult or inconvenient?  Why/why not?

1. Journal
2. Kissel & Clemente briefing
3. Mind map prep

Contribute to the mind map

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

october 19

Have fun taking the PSAT.  Please write about it your journal and/or post to your blog.

Hey Kissel, do you want to teach tomorrow?  Today would be ideal to prep.

what are you doing up?

Look at the post time.  This isn't a good idea.  Go back to sleep.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

october 18

We attach a lot of importance to achievements like making money, or getting famous, or even a high G.P.A.  What is your greatest accomplishment so far?  Agree or disagree with Emerson: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

1. Journal
2. This essay ain't for children
3. Pro Tools: Mind maps
4. Preview: Brain with 72 legs

1. Post something interesting about the Literature Analysis book you're currently reading (title: SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT THE BOOK I'M READING)
2. Research mind map tools and come to class tomorrow (Wednesday) prepared to advocate for one
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Read more at:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Read more at:

Monday, October 17, 2016

october 17

Choose your own.  What's on your mind?

1. Journal
2. Self-Reliance: Notes about Literature Analysis and Big Questions
3. Self-Reliance: Notes about resumes and cover letters

Have you done Literature Analysis #2?  Select a book for Literature Analysis #3 and post about your choice tonight.

Friday, October 14, 2016

october 14

This morning I was preparing for class when I kept getting interrupted.  It occurred to me that all of our communication-- and sometimes, even the way we see each other-- are products of our culture, our environment, where we live, and what we have to do every day.

As I struggled to regain my focus on today's class, I found myself wondering what Ralph Waldo Emerson would have to say about this.  It's all good and fine to study the "Romantics" or the "Transcendentalists" as a unit of an American Literature class, but does his thinking still apply today or was he just another product of his time, a museum relic that reminds us of what no longer exists?

I'm going to think on this more over the weekend.

In the meantime, it's now 8:24 AM and students are walking in.  How can I make a meaningful connection between where we've been and where we're going in our thinking?

How about this:  we're in a class about language.  The presidential election is giving a master class in the use of rhetoric.  The candidates are symptoms, products of the organizations that nominated them, and they speak speak to motivate their target audiences.  But for all the talk it's 1.0.  None of us feel like we're part of a Democratic Dialogue that might actually lead the candidates or the public to greater understanding or better policy.

So, this period, we get our say.  Please take out a piece of paper and write either/both candidates a letter in which you:
  • summarize what you understand about them so far
  • evaluate them-- yes, JUDGE them-- for their speech and actions as you understand them
  • tell them what you need them to know about your future and their role in it
Then we'll have a conversation.

And I'll think more on Emerson and the rest over the weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

emerson on self-reliance


from Essays: First Series (1841)

(Republished with gratitude from

"Ne te quaesiveris extra."
"Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man,
Commands all light, all influence, all fate;
Nothing to him falls early or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."
           Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher's Honest Man's Fortune
Cast the bantling on the rocks,
Suckle him with the she-wolf's teat;
Wintered with the hawk and fox,
Power and speed be hands and feet.
ESSAY II Self-Reliance
I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come

october 13


Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”  What does this mean to you?  How can you do this in a world that seems to pressure you in so many ways to be something else?

1. Journal
2. "Art of Hosting" quiz
3. Vocabulary Q&A
4. Independent work/collaboration time
5. Post. (Post. Post.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

october 12

I won't be in class today.  Since we talked yesterday about creating community online and offline, and since this course is all about the stories we Americans tell, and since the best way to help other people feel comfortable to disclose their thoughts and feelings is to disclose our own, I'm suggesting that today we do something a little different.  Below is a prompt designed to get you thinking by sharing something I'm thinking.  I'm asking that you do three things with it:

  1. Please write about it in your journal.
  2. Please comment to this post (you can use what you write in your journal, or share a shorter version)
  3. Please post to your blog about it (title: MY AMERICAN VOICE) -- you can share what you wrote in your journal, you can think out loud about the democratic process we use in this course, you can think about other situations in which you have had to decide whether to speak up or stay silent, or you can add to the topic by adding your own flavor.  Please make sure to use at least three of the principles you learned by reading "The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online" and please get at least five people to comment to your post.  You can share your blog link via text/email/social media, you can find other members' blogs and comment to theirs with a link to your own, or you can invite people the old-fashioned way-- walk up and ask them in person! :)

When is it important to speak up, and when is it important to observe quietly?

I'm feeling conflicted and I'm interested in your perspectives.  I noticed that this year's course blogs just tipped 42k page views.  I feel a responsibility as an American teaching a course with the word "American" in the title.  Much of the literature we read focuses on political action and self-actualization.  I am aware that we are in the final month of a presidential election that has very big consequences.  I am also aware that public school teachers are discouraged from expressing opinions about politics in view of students.

So: when do you speak up?  Do you consider it a responsibility or an inconvenience?  Do you speak up when you see someone weak being bullied or abused by someone strong?  Do you speak up when you see someone taking out their temper on another person?  Do you speak up when you see someone cheating (in school or in a relationship)?  Do you speak up when you see someone being unkind?

How do you speak up?  Are your words necessary, true, kind, and timely?  Do you think before you speak?  Do you reflect on your words after you say them?  How would other people describe the way you talk?

There is no right or wrong here.  There is no "how to" lesson.  This is an opportunity for all of us to learn from each other.  I'm interested in your thoughts.  My prediction is that we will all learn something important. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

vocab: fall list #6

open source

october 11

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?" from Sesame Street]

How do you meet people and build relationships?  Offline? (Through school/classes, extracurricular activities, community organizations...)  Online? (Through general social media like Instagram, FB, Snapchat, or forums of interest, or...)

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Networking
4. Online conversations

1. Define and write sentences for the vocab words (or create graphics, or a vid, or post something else to your blog to show you know what they mean and/or why they're important)
2. Please finish reading "how to host..."

october 11

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?" from Sesame Street]

How do you meet people and build relationships?  Offline? (Through school/classes, extracurricular activities, community organizations...)  Online? (Through general social media like Instagram, FB, Snapchat, or forums of interest, or...)

1. Journal
2. Vocab
3. Networking
4. Online conversations

Please finish reading "how to host"

Monday, October 10, 2016

october 10

Consider your friends, your relatives, your teammates, your co-workers.  What makes a good relationship?  What makes a relationship good?

1. Journal
2. Last week's vocabulary this week
3. This week's vocabulary this week
4. Social commentary: from where does a speaker derive authority?
4. The art of hosting good conversations online

1. Vocab
2. Recruit 3 followers to your blog by Friday 10/14

the art of hosting good conversations online

(original online here)

The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online

By Howard Rheingold


Friday, October 7, 2016

just because

French fry face

october 7

Reflect on the introductory paragraph you just wrote.  Was it better than the paragraph you wrote the first time you saw the prompt?  If so, how?  Did the exercise we did yesterday help?  If so, how?  If you still feel like you need to improve or understand the process better, can you describe what you think you need?

1. SMHS Eng 3 CFA
2. Journal
3. Vocab?

1. Finish any late work and post to your blog
2. Be a Good Human Being and post about it to your blog (title: TODAY I'M A GOOD HUMAN)

how we write

Today in class we talked about our writing process.  We started with the journal topic asking you to describe yours, then we shared ideas, and then I took one for the team by talking and writing my way through the prompt we had recently.  Here are the notes and the essay I wrote on the screen while we talked:

Key Elements of Writing Process
  • Read the question
    • not just with our eyes, but for deep understanding
    • scan for the action words that tell us what's needed (in the case of the E.M. Forster prompt, the key word is EXPLAIN)
    • Circle or underline anything we need to emphasize or remember
  • Do a pre-write
    • Thesis statement
    • At least three key supporting reasons, details or facts (depending on type of essay)
    • This is your trail of bread crumbs so you don't have to remember your entire train of thought as you write
    • Can be outline, word web, bulleted list... any structure that helps you (mine below is a combo of a thesis statement and bullets)
  • Write
  • Proofread
    • Hard to overstate the importance of giving yourself a couple minutes for this
    • Close your eyes, stretch, wiggle your fingers, and try to read your paper as if you've never seen it before or someone else wrote it and asked you to fix it
    • As you read, listen for any grammar that clanks-- you don't have to know WHY it's incorrect, you just need to know that it needs fixing
    • Watch for mechanical issues (punctuation, spelling, capitalization, legibility)

Here is what I did:

Agree with EM Forster’s idea that personal relations are more important than patriotism or causes.  Or don’t.  Hmmm.

Thesis: I agree with Forster

Personal relations are the building blocks of countries and causes—you can have personal relations without patriotism, but you can’t have patriotism without some sense of connection to other people.

I. Personal relations are building blocks for community
II. Community gives us a sense of belonging and purpose
III. Personal relations are the stuff of sacrifice

A couple presidential elections ago, a candidate made a commercial in which she was asleep at 3:00 AM and the phone rang.  It was an international crisis.  The commercial asked who voters wanted to answer the phone.

When I’m asleep at 3:00 AM and my phone rings, there is only one reason for me to answer.  Love.  Who needs me?  What am I being called to do?  Is it someone I care about, someone who’s been there for me?  Or is it a military officer or someone who wants me to sign a petition?

There may be causes and countries in the world worth supporting, but E.M. Forster had it right when he wrote that personal relations are more important than patriotism or causes.  Personal relations are building blocks for community. Community gives us a sense of belonging and purpose.  Personal relations are the stuff of sacrifice.

Personal relations are the basic connections we make with other people.  Our lives begin with connections to our parents.  We build connections with friends.  We fall in love.  Our relationships define in ways that lead us to a sense of our life’s purpose and even who we are.

Our personal relations add up to our neighborhoods, our extended families, our communities, and, in the end, our sense of tribe.  We come together when there is a crisis or a need.  If we have confidence in our personal relations, we know exactly who to turn to when the need arises.  In fact, sometimes when a need arises and we turn to the people near us, we find out exactly who our friends really are.

Our true personal relations are those for whom we would give all.  This is also the operating value of every patriot and every follower of the world’s great religions.  The word “Islam” means to break oneself before God; every military demands the ultimate sacrifice.  But personal relations come from a different place.  They come from within.  Each of us determines what is true for ourselves.  In the end, no sacrifice can have integrity if it is demanded.  Sacrifice only matters when it is freely given. 

Therefore, E.M. Forster was right.  However important patriotism and causes are, they are only as strong as the people who support them.  And the business of being people is strongly related to the business of being personal.  This is the wellspring of our connection and our ideals.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

october 6

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Everyday I Write the Book" by Elvis Costello & The Attractions]

Describe your writing process from beginning to end.  What do you do when you are faced with a prompt and the blank page? 

1. Journal
2. Those who Can, Do

Literature Analysis #2 due tomorrow (Friday, October 7)
Vocab quiz tomorrow

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

october 5

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?  You can pick someone close to you, or someone famous, or even someone from the past.  Why this person?  What would you talk about?

1. Journal
2. Essays/feedback continued
3. Rewrite your essay (in a new post entitled ESSAY 1 REVISED-- include an opening/introductory sentence that says, "After reading my colleagues' work and sharing ideas, I realized I could improve my first essay by [...].  I'm proud of the result.  Hope you enjoy reading it!"
4. Letters to mentors

1. 10 mins. min. on vocab
2. Please post Literature Analysis #2 by Friday
3. Please post your letter to a mentor (title: MENTOR LETTER DRAFT 1)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

october 4


Use five of this week's vocabulary words to describe your experience in this class yesterday.  Is it different for you when Dr. Preston isn't here?  How?  Why does the teacher (not) matter to your learning experience?

1. Journal
2. Catching up (1): essays/feedback
3. Catching up (2): Big Questions (*postponed)

***Please comment to at least three essay posts letting their authors know what worked and what could be improved in terms of: Hook; Thesis Statement; Organization; Mechanics; and Parting Shot.

1. 10 mins. min. on vocab
2. Please post Literature Analysis #2 by Friday

Monday, October 3, 2016

so, this is a thing

vocabulary: fall list #5

  1. venomous
  2. stolid
  3. hypnotized
  4. suspended
  5. transformed
  6. accuse
  7. anticipate
  8. fringe
  9. melancholy
  10. earnestly
  11. dissolve
  12. aggravate
  13. illuminate
  14. capillary
  15. proboscis

october 2

*I'm out today.  Please complete the journal and the vocabulary.  If you get it done in class, no homework.  If you get it done in class early, please read your literature analysis book.  Please bring your IDs tomorrow.  Mahalo. DP


Do we still want what we want by the time we get it?  Kids want to be older, adults want to be kids.  We want more independence, we want someone to take care of us.  Do you know what you want?  Does it feel good to get what you want?  Have we just gotten really good at wanting?  Give this your best thinking, to be continued in discussion tomorrow...

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary definitions and sentences

If necessary please finish and post your vocabulary

Sunday, October 2, 2016

want to be happy? quit social media

That's what the young people in this article say, and it would account for the reported 11 million who dumped Facebook between 2011 and 2014.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

september 30

I don't want to spend my weekend editing resumes and reading journals.

You don't want to spend your weekend catching up on old work.

We have a lot to do next week.

Today we have 50 minutes together.  Let's GSD.

september 29

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" by The Pretenders]

What's the difference between love and hate?  Are these emotions truly polar opposites, or are they two flavors of the same energetic ice cream?

1. Journal
2. Intentional v. unintentional argumentation
3. Your brain is messing with you
4. Essay review

Please review at least five of your colleagues' essays and come to class tomorrow prepared to discuss trends in thesis statements, organization, diction, and mechanics.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

just because

Dad skills

september 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "I Want to Hug You" by John Lee Hooker; "Hug You, Squeeze You" by Stevie Ray Vaughan]

Are hugs important?  Why/why not?  How do they communicate ideas and/or feelings?

1. Journal
2. Logical fallacies continued

Write an essay on your blog that answers the following prompt (title: A HUG IS NEARLY A GUN SPELLED BACKWARD)

Agree or disagree with E.M. Forster's view that personal relations are more important than causes or patriotism.

Monday, September 26, 2016

september 27

9:59 PM
A couple hours have passed since the debate.  It's finally cooling off (a little) outside.  Thinking about logical fallacies and how so many people in this country are in so much pain that they may not be thinking clearly.  Thinking about what I want to do tomorrow.  Thinking about the language at school: "Minimum Day."  What does that mean, anyway?  How does it translate to making the most of our learning?  Why do I so often feel like I'm working for students against all the influences that challenge students to be less than their best?  Is it really too hot to learn?  Thinking that I'll pass on doing the agenda now and post it late night or early morning.

*Update/5:31 AM

JOURNAL: [today's tunes: "On the Turning Away" from A Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd]

Who do you think won last night's presidential debate?  Why?  Please explain your answer in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos.

1. Journal
2. Logical fallacies & "winning" last night's debate
3. Consult this list of logical fallacies and work with a partner to determine how many you saw last night.  Please provide an example for each one.

1. Please list your 10 favorite logical fallacies on your blog with an example for each. (title: WHEN LOGIC FAILS)
2. If I don't have your resume by tomorrow (Wednesday) I won't read it.

tonight's presidential debate

The debate begins at 6 PM.  Some of you have asked where you can see the debate.  Answer: Everywhere.  Every major TV broadcast network will carry the event commercial-free.  You can also stream it online (learn how here).

september 26


What does it mean when someone says, "That's just a rhetorical question"?  (Look it up if you need to.)  Describe a time someone asked you a rhetorical question or you asked one yourself.  Why a rhetorical question instead of any other kind?

1. Journal
2. Collect resume drafts
3. TIP/progress and this week's work
4. Rhetoric
5. Logical fallacies
6. Tonight's circus-- er, theater-- er, presidential debate

Watch at least 15 minutes of the debate and comment to your blog with descriptions of logical fallacies you observed (title: MISTAKES FOR PRESIDENT)

Friday, September 23, 2016

september 23


I'm not there.  Hopefully you're seeing this anyway.  Which brings up a question: Where do you go for information when you think something might be happening but you're not sure and no one is telling you?

1. Journal (happy Friday, as they say, please remember to leave your journal)
2. Work by yourself or with a friend to:
  • tighten up your resume
  • make sure your TIP is up to date
  • begin answering questions (or read if you need to) for lit analysis #2
1. Please bring your resume and TIP to class (on paper, in hand, resume TYPED) on Monday
2. Think an interesting thought and post it to your blog (title: SOMETIMES MY MIND...)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

september 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel; "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil]

Describe a recent news story that got your attention.  Did it inspire you?  Upset you?  Make you angry?  Make you curious?  Why?  What was it about the facts of the story or the way it was presented that made you raise an eyebrow?

1. Journal
2. Your objective is our objective
3. Musing on the Big Question
4. Musing on language (preview of coming attractions)
5. Your TIP

1. Read your lit book
2. Write your objective and complete your first draft of the resume
3. Keep your TIP up to date
4. Find an interesting news story and post an editorial about it to your blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

september 21


What's your favorite word?  Why?

1. Journal
2. Resume: G.P.A. / Class Rank / Entry formatting
3. Big Questions continued

1. 10 min. min. vocab
2. 20-30 mins. reading literature analysis book & post response to your blog that focuses on theme, tone, plot, diction, syntax, and/or characterization
3. Please keep your Time Investment Portfolio up to date
4. Resume GPA/Rank/Formatting

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

september 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive)

We use words in so many ways that shape our experience.  Even the way we describe our interest-related activities affect our moods and our performance.  How do you see the difference between work, labor, vocation, avocation, hobby, and play?

1. Journal
2. Resume: the header
3. Vocab: definitions/Q&A (Socratic)
4. Big Questions (Socratic) / Fields & Mentors
5. Time Investment Portfolio (Socratic)

1. Notes [TBD]
2. Begin resume doc in word processor with header and sections
3. 10 min. min. on vocab
4. Describe an ideal mentor (or two) for your Big Question in a post (title: MY YODA)

Monday, September 19, 2016

vocabulary: fall list #4


resume template

Please see below-- we will discuss in class.  And check this post later, because when I have a few minutes I'm going to update with a riff on letters with accents and how to include in your blog :)

AP Resume Embed

september 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Chidori No Kyoku" by Satomi Saeki & Alcvin Takegawa Ramos]

Most of the time your attention is focused outward: on classes, sports, jobs, other people, and the 101 things you have to do in order to get through the day. For a moment, see if you can forget all that. Let your mind grow quiet. Listen to yourself breathe and consider this definition of mindfulness: "focusing one's complete attention on the present moment." Today, rather than responding to a specific topic, simply write down the information that occurs to you right now. This may include thoughts, feelings, sounds/sights, memories, even how your fingers feel on the pen or how your toes feel in your shoes. The only requirement is to record your stress level at the beginning and at the end on a scale from 1-10 (1 being least stressed, 10 being most stressed).

1. Journal
2. Brag sheet/resume
3. Vocabulary: fall list #4
4. Orwell & language takeaways
5. Big Question
6. Time Investment Portfolio

1. Please categorize and list resume items
2. Please post vocab definitions and sentences to your blog (title: FALL VOCAB 4)
3. Please post the fields/disciplines that inform your Big Question (title: BIG QUESTION DISCIPLINE/S)
4. Please begin your TIP log (offline)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

september 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Alive" by Pearl Jam]

What makes you feel Alive?  Not just like you're functioning, not just surviving, but really, truly Alive?  (My inner surfer might call this "stoked.")  Describe a moment that you conquered a fear, did something that made you feel triumphant, or experienced anything else that shocked you into a feeling of being totally Alive.  It can be as simple as the hot water shutting off or realizing you walked into a room for something and totally forgetting why.

1. Journal
2. Vocab quiz
3. Set TIP goals for the weekend

1. Invest your time intentionally
2. Choose your next literature analysis book and bring to class Monday

september 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "I Love to Laugh" by Richard & Robert Sherman from the movie "Mary Poppins"]

Please describe-- in vivid detail-- the last time you laughed so hard you couldn't catch your breath.  Bonus if you fell out of a chair or dropped to your knees.

1. Journal
2. Loose threads
3. Vocab

Study vocab for tomorrow

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


You're more likely to be killed by your own clothes than by an immigrant terrorist.  Read the full story here.

september 14

Revisit goal post (get it? :) and ingredients for next grading period...

Make a plan.  What will you do in this class over the next grading period?  What's your goal?

1. Journal
2. Study/practice vocab
3. Actual TIP vs. Ideal TIP

1. Study vocab
2. Have the time of your life (in a post entitled: I'M HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

vocabulary: fall list #3 (updated)


Monday, September 12, 2016

september 13

[NOTE: Yesterday we talked about you doing your estimated Time Investment Portfolio last night.  I didn't post it, so if you forgot please take a shot at it when you're done with your journal.  Mahalo.]

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" by Irving Berlin/ performed by Ethel Merman]

What did you learn from completing your brag sheet over the weekend?  How did it feel to look back on your accomplishments?

1. Journal
2. From brag sheet to resume
3. Time Investment Portfolios
4. Vocabulary

1. Finish vocab
2. First draft resume (hard copy due Friday)

september 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Time" by Pink Floyd]

Describe your understanding and experience of time.  Is there ever enough?  When does it go faster or slower?  Do you have the sense you use it well?  Why/why not?

1. Journal
2. Time & Language
3. Time & Your Goals
4. TIP
5. Wrap up conferences


categories of time allocation

Here are some excerpts from Time for Success that will help with your TIP:

When you go to work or school, you agree to allocate a specific amount of time to activities determined by your involvement with an organization.  In return, the organization to which you allocate your time agrees to compensate you with a specific amount of money.


(Update 9/12: FIFA sucks. Here's the video. Thanks for the link Liliy!)

"Why bother creating our own goals," a student asked me once, "when we're already told what it means to succeed in school?  Aren't we just supposed to get A's?"

Being able to set and achieve goals is important in every endeavor: sports, organizations, self-improvement, emptying the dishwasher before your mother gets home.  Even though they know their roles and agree on the idea of winning, for example, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski requires his players to set goals for themselves and the team each season.  In Coach K's words, “Mutual commitment helps overcome the fear of failure—especially when people are part of a team sharing and achieving goals. It also sets the stage for open dialogue and honest conversation.”

When you share your goals you're sharing ideas that inform and inspire your colleagues.  These goals will form the basis for your Learning Plan for the rest of the year, so please don't delay: get the job done.  Knowing more about each other's plans will also be important because none of us will prepare for the AP exam alone. 

Keep something else in mind.  Unlike players on a basketball team, you are being allowed, encouraged, and required to change the game itself.  Why not analyze a political argument by comparing it with your favorite book or movie?  If you zone out and watch somebody's cat on YouTube for a while, fine.  And then think about how to demonstrate what you just experienced in your mind in such a way that it will help us.  What's that?  You'd rather build a robotic cat that writes, reads, interprets, and explains political arguments to irritating teacher types?  Cool.  You can do that too.

If you are still thinking of this as a high school course to be gamed, please immediately find your closest friend and ask her to roll up a newspaper and smack you on the nose with it.*  (*If this doesn't work the first time, ask a friend who reads the newspaper on a computer.**) [**In this day and age, I should probably point out that this is not a literal instruction. Hands are not for hitting. Baseball bats are, but that isn't really relevant or appropriate here and now I find myself wondering how Montaigne ever righted the thinking ship once he got off on one of these tangents.] If you're one of those people who cut corners and thought we didn't notice, she will be doing you a favor.  It's better that you get your act together in private before we get started, before everyone sees what you do all the time, before 70% of your course grade is determined by your learning network.  Yep.  That's right.  You won't succeed without them.

The first month was rehearsal.  This is showtime.

More on how to achieve your goals and develop your community of critique tomorrow.