20 December 2008

Gamma Rays Response #5 - What's going to happen to this family?

This is the 5th - and final - homework blog response for the Gamma Rays unit... Have you completed them all to earn full credit? The calendar says Monday, but it is due before the end of the school day on Tuesday, Dec. 23.

Now that we've gotten to see the Hunsdorfer family in action, it's time to look back and analyze their behavior as a dysfunctional family.

You have an option of which of the following to which to respond:

Option A

Based on the family upbringing, what do you think will be the effect one Tillie or Ruth. Look at this article about the effect of maltreating families on children. Using information from the article, predict how you think Tillie or Ruth will turn out. What challenges or issues might they face in the future? Explain your reasoning by pointing to specific examples from the play.

Option B
How would you categorize Mrs. Beatrice Hunsdorfer as a mother? Go back and re-read the article on dysfunctional families that we studied in an earlier post. Using information from the article, decide what type of parent category Beatrice fits into. In what way will her parenting style affect her children, either now or in the future? Explain your reasoning by pointing to specific examples from the play.

16 December 2008

Gamma Rays response #4 - Completing your Google documents

This is the fourth blog response for The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and is due before class starts Thursday, Dec. 18.

This response is going to be a little different than the previous three. Instead of putting your response in the comments on this entry, I am asking that you edit your Gamma Rays character conflict chart that you have set up on Google documents. This will also help you complete the character chart, which is due Friday.

Remember, you access the chart by signing into Google Apps from the front of the district website. Or you can access it by clicking this link.

Once you sign in, go to "documents." You should see the document you created with your partner in class last week. Click on it and add to it according to the directions - put in a quote from Act I for a character, or start writing the paragraph connected to the characters.

To get credit for this assignment, you must make an edit or add to your document.

Make sure you save your work and remember your completed document is due Friday, Dec. 19.

15 December 2008

Gamma Rays response #3 - Dreams and the Hunsdofers

This is the third homework blog posting... Did you already complete the post on Marigolds? Have you added to the Google document to gather quotes for each character?

It is due before class starts on Wednesday, Dec. 17

So far in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds we’ve been introduced to the Hunsdorfer family – Beatrice, Ruth, and Tillie.

The Poet Langston Hughes wrote two poems about dreams which may relate to what we’re reading. Read both of the following poems – "Dreams" and "A Dream Deferred." Select the poem you think most speaks to the situation in the play. What is Hughes saying about dreams that can be applied to the larger ideas in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds? Explain your connections with direct references from the play. Remember, to earn full credit, each post must be between 150-200 words, written in standard conventional English, and satisfy the requirements of each prompt.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

- by Langston Hughes

A Dream Deferred*
What happens to a dream deferred*?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

- by Langston Hughes

*to put off action, delay

11 December 2008

Gamma Rays response #2 - Marigolds again? Why?

This is the second homework blog posting... Did you already complete the post on Gamma Rays and Dysfunctional Families?

It is due before class starts on Monday, Dec. 15

In The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Tillie conducts an unusual science project. She subjects three different batches of marigolds to the potentially damaging effects of gamma rays - a topic we addressed in a previous blog post. But why did the play's author, Paul Zindel, choose marigolds as the flower to use in the science experiment? Click on the following links and please read the information on marigolds at wikipedia and this information on growing marigolds.

Do not concern yourself with the all the Latin terms or varieties, but focus on the specific characteristics of the flower... Then post your ideas about the use of marigolds as a symbol in the story. What makes marigolds unique? What do they need to survive? When do marigolds bloom? How might the characteristics or qualities of this particular flower be a symbol that connects to important ideas in the play? Why might have Zindel used marigolds as the flower?

09 December 2008

Gamma Rays response #1 - How do these two things go together

This response is due before class starts Friday, Dec. 12

To prepare us for our reading of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, we spent some time talking about gamma rays and radiation and the different types of dysfunctional families. For your reference, the information brief on gamma rays can be found here and the information on dysfunctional families is here. Based on what you know of both and from what you've gleaned from the play so far, I'd like you to consider the following question: In what ways are the two seemingly unrelated topics - gamma rays & dysfunctional families - related? Where are there similarities that might help us better understand some of the significant ideas from the play? In what ways, might the author use these two ideas in his play to help explore a deeper understanding of a truth about life?

Remember, to earn full credit, your response must be between 150 and 200 words and conform to standard written English. Use full sentences, spell out your words correctly and include proper punctuation. By the way, this posting is 187 words.

03 December 2008

Using Google Documents

This blog response is due before class starts on Monday, Dec. 8

For the last two days, we've utilized Google documents in class to put together a working definition of good literature. Occasionally, we struggled with the technology and the best way to use it.

The assignment was simple enough - brainstorm some criteria for what makes good literature and then write a more coherent paragraph definition. However, you had to complete the assignment as a group and you had to use Google documents to collaborate and work together. Educational experts have identified collaboration as a vital skill in today's society.

For our purposes in class, I'd like to know your reactions to the activity and the use of the technology. In your answer, consider the following guiding questions: What was difficult about using Google documents? In what ways (if any) did the technology help make the process easier? How did it challenge you? How could collaborative tools like this one could be used in our English class? Give some specific examples. How do you imagine that Google docs tools will be used in your future as a college student or as a member of the work force? What do we need to know and understand to be able to effectively use digital tools like this in the future?

29 September 2008

Examining your classmates' short story wiki pages

This response is due before class starts Thursday, Oct. 2

We've all had a chance to work on our short story pages on the classroom wiki. If you haven't done so, you should have information about three short stories on your page.

For this assignment, you are required to look at several of the pages compiled by your classmates, either in your class or a different period. You can view them all by clicking this link. View several of them and then decide who has posted the best symbolic picture on their page. In the comment section on THIS page, answer the following:

Who posted the picture that provided the best symbolic image from a short story? What made the picture so interesting and appropriate for the story? How does it help us understand important ideas from the story? Paste the address of the student wiki page you examined.

24 September 2008

Who made a tougher decision?

This response is due before class starts Friday, Sept. 26

We've read about Jerry's swim through the tunnel, Millicent's personal initiation, and Michael's moustache.

The question for today is this: Which of the three characters do you respect the most for what they did? Select one of the characters and explain your decision using references to specific events in the short story.

21 September 2008

Blog assignment: Update your wiki page

The assignment described below is due before class starts on Tuesday, Sept. 23

We have begun creating short story resource pages on the class wiki site, which is at http://millersenglish.pbwiki.com.

So far, you've begun posting information about the story "Through the Tunnel." To satisfy the homework requirements for this blog posting, you must complete your entry on "Through the Tunnel." That means you must have the following on your individual page:
  • Title and author of the story
  • An insightful passage from the story
  • A several sentence response written by you about why you chose the passage you did
  • A picture or image related to a theme or idea in the story
  • A several sentence response written by you about why you chose the picture you did
Reminder: Go the main wiki page here. Once at the main page, find your individual page in the folder titled 'short story pages.' The folders are listed to the right on the main page. Open the folder and find your page. Remember, you need your username and password to edit the page.

14 September 2008

Jerry, his swim through the tunnel, and us...

This response is due before class starts on Sept. 17, 2008

In the short story "Through the Tunnel," Jerry makes a treacherous swim through an underwater tunnel. It was not an easy accomplishment, but at the end of the story, Jerry is changed by his experiences. Although he is 11 years old in the story, we all can share in his ordeal.

In what way can you relate to Jerry? How are his experiences like some that you've had? What is it that makes Jerry similar to you or to typical teenagers?

Look to go beyond the purely literal in your answer. Don't just view his swim through the tunnel on a literal level. Think about what it can represent as a part of his growing up process.

photo credit: boy swimming in the big blue ocean by NanakofiAcquah on Flickr

09 September 2008

Using participles to write descriptive sentences

In class, we've begun studying the use of participles and participle phrases to help us write more descriptive, evocative sentences. You will also need to do this as part of the Vivid Vignette assignment.

As a way to practice, I'd like you to share an example of a sentence that includes a participle or participle phrase in it. Post your sentence in the comment section. I have posted the first one in the comments as a model ...

Here are the definitions to remind you:

Participle: An -ing word tagged onto the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence

Participle phrase: An -ing phrase tagged onto the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence

If you need help writing a grammatically correct sentence, refer to the following resource page to review the notes and definitions that we have used in class. And remember, if it is a participle or participle phrase, you will need commas to set it off from the base sentence.

02 September 2008

What do we need to learn about using computers?

Hello English 10 students.

Throughout the school year, you will be using this site to review information, share ideas, and complete assignments. To help make that work in class, we also will be regularly using a class set of laptops. It is my hope that by using these computers, the educational experience in English 10 will be broadened.

However, not everyone has shared the same positive experiences when it comes to using laptops. We've read about one school, in Liverpool, N.Y., which has decided to scrap its initiative to issue laptops to all students. The plan, the school officials say, did not lead to improved learning. Here is the link to that article for your reference. The publicity about what happend in Liverpool also prompted many people in education to think harder about the best way to use laptops in the classroom. In response to Liverpool's decision, one educator criticized schools for giving up on technology so easily.

I want you to think about the issue and help us craft a set of classroom guidelines for the use of the laptops and computers in class. As a writing assignment, make suggestions about what we can do in F14 to get the best use out of the laptops. How should we use them in class? What should we be using them to learn? What guidelines do we need? What would you suggest the teacher do to make the most out of the laptops? Post your response in the comment section of the blog. Write your answer in a few paragraphs, using complete sentences and proper grammar. Sign your first name (no last names) and class period after your posting.

photo credit: NY Times, published May 4, 2007

28 August 2008

Welcome back for another school year

Welcome back to Branford High for a new year in English 10.

This year promises many exciting opportunities for learning. A big part of our classwork and learning will include the use of this blog. Here you will find regular assignments, important links, and opportunities to contribute ideas. In many instances this site will also serve as an extension of the reading, writing, and thinking we do in class. Using a blog like this allows us unique opportunity to publish our writing and maintain a record of our thinking and learning through the year.

You'll also notice that there is a calendar on the right of this page which lists upcoming due dates and other important announcements. Right below the calendar is a list of important links for this class. As the year goes on, I plan to add even more materials and information to help you learn in this class.

Good luck and enjoy the year.

12 June 2008

Goodbye English 10 students

I wish everyone and enjoyable summer vacation, and, more important, I hope each of you were able to enjoy learning English this year. It has been a wonderful year for me, too. Thanks for the memories.

Don't forget to come by and see me next year. I'll still be in F14.

21 May 2008

This weak and idle theme - Midsummer Post #5

This is the 5th and final posting for A Midsummer Night's Dream and is due before class starts on Friday, May 23.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare presents us with an unusual and fantastic series of events as fairies and mortals mix in the mysterious woods just outside Athens. The four lovers and the mechanicals each undergo their own experience with the fairy world. However, different characters provide varying takes on the night's strange happenings. Consider the following three reactions/explanations by different characters:

  • Nick Bottom awakes from his dream, his "most rare vision," and offers one explanation at the end of Act IV, scene 1.
  • At the beginning Act V, Duke Theseus explains to Hippolyta what he thinks of the situation in the woods.
  • And finally, Puck re-appears with his own suggestion for the audience in the closing lines of Act V.

Of the three reactions/explanations, choose one that you believe the most significant or closest to how you might try to explain what happened in the woods. Whom do you believe the most? Bottom, Theseus, or Puck? Why? Point to specific lines from the play to help make your point.

13 May 2008

What are these people like? - Midsummer post #4

This is the fourth Midsummer post and is due before class starts on Thursday, May 15.

Shakespeare created numerous memorable characters, who exhibit the human traits that people still have today. A Midsummer Night's Dream is no different. In this play, there are both human characters (mortals) and fairies, and all of them are unique.

Choose one of the characters we've met so far and describe what makes them unique. As part of your answer, choose a line or two of dialogue that the character speaks and use it to help explain that character's personality. Think of descriptive words and phrases to help illustrate just what kind of personality traits your chosen character has. Choose some lines of dialogue that accurately and clearly illustrate his or her personality.

Remember, when you cite dialoge from the play, follow this format: "Full of vexation come I, with complaint/Against my child, my daughter Hermia." (Act I, sc.1, lines 22- 23)

Good luck...

07 May 2008

Could you be a fairy? - Midsummer post #3

At the beginning of Act II, we get a glimpse of the kind of powers and duties the fairies have in the world of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both Puck and and the unnamed fairy at the beginning of Act II describe ways that they interact with and affect the humans in the world.

What would you do if you were a fairy?

Go back to the beginning of Act II and re-read the exchanges between the fairies, including Puck. If these fairies existed in our world today, which power or duty do you find would have the most impact on the world? If you were a fairy how would you use one of the powers described to change something in our world today?

In your answer, make sure you clearly identify one of the powers or duties the fairies have (as described in the play). Make sure you clearly state where in the play the power or duty is described. Then imagine how that power or duty could be used today.

To help you, I posted the first comment which contains one way to start your response. You can use it as a model.

04 May 2008

Shakespeare and comedy - Midsummer post #2

This is the second Midsummer post and is due before class starts on Tuesday, May 6.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a comedy, which is something that today's television viewers should know a little something about.According to Scholastic Scope magazine, Shakespeare wrote about three kinds of classic mix-ups: 1) mistaken identity, 2) love triangles, and 3) strange coincidences. Each of these classic mix-ups are staples on 21st Century sitcoms. The next time you watch your favorite sitcom or re-run, look for one of those classic mix-ups involving the characters.For your assignment, select one (1) of the classic mix-ups from above and find an example of it from a popular sitcom you watch. First, describe the mix-up from the sitcom, and then explain how the humor of the mixed-up situation helps increase your enjoyment and appreciation of the show. What makes it funny?

As with all of these assignments, it is a good practice to write your response in a word processing program like Microsoft Word so you can better edit and proofread your entry before submitting it. It also makes sense to save a copy of your response in case you have problems posting.

28 April 2008

Lord, what fools these mortals be! - Midsummer Post #1

This post is due before class starts Friday, May 2
Welcome back to Millers English 10 Blog. We are starting A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is a complex, fanciful play that lays bare the humor and foibles of young love.

To get us started, we tackled the twisted, complex plot. You have been given a basic summary of the storyline of the play, (titled "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"), which covers the play up to the end of Act III. For your reference, there is a version of the summary here.

Your assignment now is to take this mixed-up love mess and bring it to a conclusion with a happy ending. As it stands right now, everything is messed up and needs resolution. Assume the role of a narrator and finish the story. This is your chance to predict how this all turns out in the real play.

A couple things to remember before completing your posting: 1) your story must have a happy ending, just like a Shakespearean comedy would. 2) you must come up with a way to solve the problems of a majority of the characters. 3) your creative ending must be in the form of a story, continuing the storyline you've been given. Try to be creative and come up with an original, even outrageous, way to wrap up this storyline.

As with all entries, you might consider writing on a word processing program first so you can proofread, edit, and continuously save before your final posting. Saving it in a word processing program will also cover you in case there's a problem posting.
photocredit: Shakespeare by johopo on Flickr.

27 March 2008

Predicting what your books will be about.

One way to get started with our new books is by making predictions about how we think the stories will turn out. Depending on which book you are reading - Black Boy, Frankenstein, The Color of Water - Please complete the following prediction quiz:

Make a prediction about the book based on a specific passage from the first section. Select a passage that has something to do with one of the main characters. Explain how that passage illustrates something significant about that character. How will the character change over the course of the story? What lessons will he/she learn. Use the passage as the starting point for your response.

24 March 2008

Alienation & Isolation

Our next unit of study will focus on the idea of alienation and isolation, and specifically how those concepts are reflected in one of three novels, either Frankenstein, The Color of Water, and Black Boy.

To get us started, we will read the first chapter or chapters of each novel, then use that to help you decide which novel you'd like to read in its entirety. Although each of the novels is quite different, All three novels address these concepts in various ways. The following slideshow helps provide an overview of alienation and isolation.

12 March 2008

What do you fear most? Public speaking? You're not alone

Throughout the film Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating teaches his students the importance of finding their own voice - a lesson that Todd Anderson took to heart. In the spirit of the film, you have been assigned to make a speech to the class on one of three topics. (See assignment here)

Unfortunately, getting up in front of an audience - especially your classmates - is not as easy as it seems on the big screen. The fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias that people have, right up there with death and divorce.

To prepare for next week's speech we will discuss some of the different characteristics of effective presentations. We will talk about what makes a speech good, what kind of preparation can be done, and how we can work to improve our public speaking. Read this article from The Guardian newspaper and this one from Forbes magazine, both of which deal with the fear of public speaking and how to overcome it.

What can we do to make our speeches strong and memorable? What are the criteria of a good speech? Develop a list of five criteria of a good speech. Briefly describe each one and be ready to present it to the class so we can use it to develop a scoring rubric for the speeches. Remember, speeches start Monday, March 17.

photo credit: Public Speaking for Success by wardomatic on Flickr

11 March 2008

Seize the day - and this assignment!

As part of our unit on "Dead Poets Society," you are being asked to find your own voice and make a creative speech in front of your classmates. The assignment, with the three options, is linked here (as a Microsoft Word document.)

In addition, if you are interested in selecting one of the poems, here is a page with links and brief explanations for each.

Above all, this is an assignment that will test your abilities to prepare and present a speech in front of your classmates. Like Mr. Keating taught his students in the film, find your voice and don't let your work be ordinary.

07 March 2008

Dead Poets Society and vocabulary

As we watch "Dead Poets Society," we will be using some of the following vocabulary to help us understand and analyze the film. Once we finish, we will all give speeches in front of the class as we seek to find our own voices.

The following embedded presentation contains all the vocabulary, definitions, and questions you are being asked as part of the film. If you click on the square below, you will be able to view the presentation.

You can also view the presentation here as a 2007 PowerPoint file.

02 March 2008

Getting ready for the CAPT

For the last several weeks, the state's mandated CAPT for all 10th graders has been at the forefront of our classroom work and discussion. We've read a variety of literature and non-fiction, prepared for the different assessments that face you, and discussed numerous different strategies to read and write.

You have also written to plenty of prompts, not just in the last few weeks, but throughout the year. I hope that what we've done will prepare you for what's ahead.

But before we officially send you off into hours of standardized testing, let's look back on two of the major reading and writing tasks that you will face - the Response to Literature and Interdisciplinary Letter tests. We are using the two slideshows below in class as part of learning activity to provide an overview of the two tests and review the writing done in class up to this point.

29 February 2008

Some comma quizzes to sharpen your skills

After reviewing your essays in MyAccess, we've noticed several comma and other punctuation problems. One way to improve in this area is through repetition and quizzing on the skills. Below are three online quizzes that will test your knowledge in the use of commas and punctuations.

In class today, complete all three and show me the screen after you do it, so I know you completed it.

Take this fill in the blank comma quiz.

This one is more a multiple choice quiz assessing different grammatical problems and sentence combining.

Finally, this quiz tests several different punctuation issues.

30 January 2008

Dystopian novel vocabulary - wiki post #1

This posting is due before class starts on Friday, Feb. 1.

We've begun creating our wiki resource page on our dystopian novels. For this unit, all assignments will be posted there, rather than in the comment section of this post.

This assignment requires that you find a vocabulary word from your novel.

When you find a good word (and one that hasn't been used yet this year), please add it to the vocabulary page, along with the sentence from the novel, the page number, and a short definition in your own words. Your word should be unique in the class; that is, you shouldn't post the same word as someone else. Therefore, before you post your word and definition, read through the existing words to see if your word is there already. If it is, you need to find another word.

Post your word on the vocabulary page here. Remember you need to log in and use the password key to be able to edit the page.

Record the following for your word: 1) the word and sentence from the book in which it is used; 2) page number as it appears in the book; 3) easy to understand and accurate definition; and 4) your name, so we can keep track of who is contributing what.

Link to vocabulary page
Link to Dystopian novel wiki resource

27 January 2008

1984 and Fahrenheit 451: Just what kind of world are they?

Note: This blog spells out the assignment for the wiki post #1 due Tuesday, Jan. 29 on the class calendar.

As we continue with our Dystopian Literature unit, we will begin using the class wiki page to compile and gather ideas about the novel. Directions for creating this wiki resource page can be found at that site, but I will continue to post information on assignments here.

Each group will create their own page where they will record their ideas. It is expected to grow and evolve as more ideas are added. The first posting I'd like each group to create involves describing just how the world of their novel is a dystopia. Describe what makes the London of 1984 or the nameless country in Fahrenheit 451 a dystopia. What are the dystopian characteristics of those worlds?

Each group should collaborate in class to write and post a well-developed paragraph that makes mention of events and ideas in the novels and connects it to the definitions of dystopia we've used in class. Post your paragraph on your new wiki resource page.

05 January 2008

The Future is Now? - blog posting #1

This blog posting is due before class starts on Tuesday, Jan. 8 - click here for the calendar of due dates

By now, you should be started on the first part of 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. If you remember from the introductory PowerPoint presentation, we discussed the four perspectives from which we are going to look at the novels.

  • Threats to individual privacy
  • Dangers of governmental power
  • The power of information, propaganda, and language distortion
  • The potential for mindless entertainment to stifle individual thinking

For your first blog response on these novels, I'd like you to go back to the first few pages of your novel. Select a telling quote and write a response that discusses how one or more of those four perspectives is revealed through the quote and why it may be important to larger ideas in the novel. What is the author trying to show?

In addition to your response, record the quote in proper MLA format with book title and page number, like this: "...text of quote, blah, blah, blah" (Fahrenheit 451, 13)