Sunday, April 30, 2017

may 1

Look back through your journal.  What was your favorite topic so far?  Why?

1. Journal
2. Essays

Friday, April 28, 2017

we eat social media for breakfast

I originally wrote this last year for teachers at Pioneer Valley.  It applies to us too.  Please read and respond on your blog in a post entitled WE EAT SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BREAKFAST.  Here is the formal prompt for your response:

Write an essay in which you analyze the author's use of diction, syntax, tone, and rhetorical strategies to develop his main argument.

This weekend I did something I swore I would never do.

I texted pictures of my breakfast.

Oh no, I thought.  I’ve become one of those narcissistic sharers I used to make fun of.  I’m a wannabe Millenial!

But there’s more to this than meets the eye.  For starters, you need the right tool for the job.

(For a slightly deeper dive on this, and to see how I introduced the idea to students, click HERE.)
Selecting tools requires critical thinking: What IS the job?  What do we want to accomplish by sharing information?  And what tool to use?  How does a tablet compare with a composition book?  Is it best to use an online format that supports text?  Photos?  Video?  Music?  Interaction/ conversation?  What are we trying to say, and what impact do we want to make on the person or people to whom we say it? 

I didn’t really understand the Internet until I learned about its history and its culture from the people who BUILT it.  Now I understand that it’s not a toy, or even a tool.  The Internet isn’t just the next evolutionary step from papyrus or the printing press—it represents a belief system about how we interact and communicate.  If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s because the popular focus has been on developing and celebrating tools.  We have a great opportunity to be more mindful about what we’re doing with these tools, and how we can do it better. (Please click "Read More" below to see the rest.)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

april 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: (on a separate piece of paper)

Today is the end of our second-to-last grading period.  You know what I'm going to ask: Where are you doing well?  Where do you need to improve?  How committed are you to doing your best work?  If you were recording the grade, what would it be?

1. Journal
2. Essay work/ weekend
3. Ignite talk prep

* Please read this post for your essay this weekend; give yourself no more than 5 minutes to read the question and do a pre-write, no more than 25 minutes to write, and no more than 10 minutes to proofread and post the essay to your blog.  Please bring your original hard copy to class on Monday.
** Ignite talks will be next Tuesday (5/2) -- please review this post to prepare

real-time fb news

This just in: Facebook is now using "machine learning and intelligence agency-level analysis" to identify false accounts and propaganda efforts.

april 27

[Choose your own]

1. Journal
2. AP rubric
3. Your essays: Community critique
4. Ignite talks tomorrow (Friday)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

what you don't know will most definitely hurt you

Everything you do on a computer generates data.  That data is so valuable to governments and corporations that companies like Google and Facebook let you use their services for free-- so they can collect your data and sell it.

So what happens to the data you create on school-issued machines and software?  It might interest you to know that "ed tech" has become its own industry, worth an estimated $8B per year.

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 (i.e., anyone who was not in class today), 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