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)