28 October 2007

How would you describe a good group discussion?

This blog posting is due Wednesday, Oct. 31 before class starts.

Throughout our study of A Separate Peace, we have spent several class periods discussing ideas from the book in small Literature Circle groups. Often, members of each group are responsible for coming up with the topics worth discussing in groups. While you've discussed, I've been listening and watching.

Now I want to hear from you. How would you describe a good group discussion? What should it look like from a teacher's perspective in the classroom? In the comment section, record some descriptions and characteristics of a good Literature Circle discussion. In your posting, consider what you think the teacher should see, what the teacher should hear, what students should be expected to be doing and saying?

25 October 2007

Quizzical and compelling quotes related to A Separate Peace

There are two options for this assignment...

(A) Find passages from A Separate Peace that show just what type of person either Gene or Finny is. Look for quotes that seem to illustrate either one of the boy's personality, character traits, and/or major motivations.

(B) Find a passage from The Kite Runner which illustrates a significant connection to large ideas and themes from A Separate Peace.

Post your selected passage here, using proper MLA format for quotes, like this: "...blah, blah, blah text of quote blah blah blah" (34).

Your passage should be long enough to be generally understood out of context, but not more than a paragraph at the most. When we're finished, we should have a good resource of possible quotes to use for the upcoming paper. Good luck.

22 October 2007

Are people naturally good or evil?

This writing assignment is due before class starts on Thursday, Oct. 25

One of the more complex and perplexing questions raised throughout history concerns the true nature of humankind. Philosophers have debated whether people are naturally good or are they instinctively capable of evil. Some of the novels you may have read in 9th grade, including Lord of the Flies, Night, Animal Farm, and/or Ishmael have grappled with that very same topic. In A Separate Peace, that idea is also raised as Gene struggles with his own actions and the realization of his true inner feelings.

What do you think? Do you think people tend to be naturally good or naturally evil? Are we all born with the capability to commit evil, or is it something we learn as we grow up? There is no easy answer to this question, but you should try anyway in the comment section. In addition to your own opinion, your answer should include a specific reference to a piece of literature as part of the evidence to support your opinion. It could be A Separate Peace, or it could be something else you've read.

The F14 laptop policy

During the first month of school, we spent time in class and online talking about how best to use the laptops in class. With the privilege of having the computers available to us in class, comes a responsibility to use them appropriately. Many of you came up with some solid ideas about what our F14 policy should be.

It's been a long time coming, but based on your suggestions, I have compiled a draft policy for appropriate use of the laptops in F14. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and maturity you have shown so far in this process.

  • Use of the laptops, which includes use of any programs and/or accessing the Internet, should only be for class work and assignments in English 10.

  • The computers should not leave the classroom.

  • Laptops should be handled with care and should always be carefully and neatly removed and returned to the cart.

  • During class, the teacher will be responsible for monitoring what student use of the computers.

  • Students are responsible for the laptops assigned to them, and they are responsible for any damage that is done to them, which includes any modifications, alterations, or vandalism to the computers.

  • Students should only use the laptops assigned to them.

  • Any student caught vandalizing, breaking, altering, modifying, installing programs, or using the laptop inappropriately will be responsible for the damages and can be subject to having their privileges to the laptops be suspended.

  • Students will not access any inappropriate content, from the Internet or other sources, that violates the acceptable use policy as spelled out in The Guide.

  • Fod or drinks should not be consumed when using the laptops.

As with anything, it's possible that we may need to revisit these ideas throughout the year as new challenges arise.

18 October 2007

What kind of friend would Gene or Finny make?

This writing assignment is due Monday Oct. 22 before class starts.

Throughout the first several chapters of A Separate Peace, Gene struggles with his relationship to Finny. Finny, athletic and outgoing, is quite a contrast to Gene's moody and introverted personality. Author John Knowles spends a considerable portion of his novel exploring the friendship between the two teens.

If you were classmates with Gene and Finny at the Devon school in the 1940s, who would you be friends with? Knowing what you know of Finny and Gene so far, which of the two do you think would make a better friend for you? Point to specific incidents from the novel to make your decision. Your response should be 150 or so words long and should focus on evidence from the novel to answer the central question.

08 October 2007

The first chapter of A Separate Peace

This assignment is due Monday, Oct. 15 before class starts.

With the opening pages of A Separate Peace, John Knowles sets the scene for the rest of the story. The novel opens with Gene Forrester returning to his high school - the exclusive private boarding school Devon - and recalling the events of the summer 15 years earlier.

As we have discussed in class, the narrator - Gene - is telling the story from the perspective as an adult. Most of the novel is told in a flashback, and chapter one is where the flashback begins on page 14. Authors often drop hints in the opening chapters about the larger thematic ideas of the novel. A Separate Peace is no different.

Your assignment is to record a significant passage from the first chapter and write a 100 to 150 word response to in the comment section of this blog posting. Post your passage - it should be at least a sentence and most likely a little more. Here are some possible ideas to help you write your response: Why did you choose it? What ideas may ti relate to in the book? How does the setting come into play so far? What hints is the author providing about significant character traits or events in the novel? Does it remind you of any other stories or works of literature?

Cite your passage with the page number like so - "Words and sentences from the first chapter, blah, blah, blah..." (12)