Archive for the ‘Language and Composition’ Category

All right, Kinder.  You have two assignments left — a presentation and a portfolio — before the summer arrives.  This post archives the materials you need for them.

  • Document #1 — An overview of the presentation and portfolio requirements.
  • Document #1a — The revised portfolio requirements.  Ignore the second half of Document #1; this details what is required, how it should be completed, and so on.
  • Document #2 — The order of presentations for both classes.
  • Document #3 — A copy of the handout you will complete for each of your peers, once he or she has presented.
  • Document #4 — The Excel sheet containing the wheel graphs you must complete for your portfolio.  Download this file, type in your scores in the appropriate box, and then print.  The graph will be generated for you.
  • Document #4a — A copy of the wheel graph sheet that is compatible with earlier versions of Excel.
  • Document #5 — The letter template for your introduction.  Download it, replace the text as indicated, and print.
  • Document #5a — A copy of the letter template that is compatible with an earlier version of Word.

This should be everything you need for now.  Let me know if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

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This post contains feedback and grades for the following assignments:

  1. Your adversarial discussion before the AP exam (4/27—5/6)
  2. Your blog-based discussion of Brother Ali’s music (4/5—4/19)
  3. Your blog-based discussion of NHS (4/20—5/17)
  4. Your wiki-based multiple-choice explications (2/1—4/15)
  5. Your required pre-exam/midterm conference (2/1—5/11)

Note that the smallest amount of time given for any of these five assignments was ten days, and except for that adversarial, these were remarkably long-term, cumulative assessments.  Each one required planning, focus, and hard work.


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A little less than a year ago, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened to overwhelmingly negative reviews.  This did not stop it from earning $400,000,000 domestically and more than $800,000,000 worldwide, making it one of the top-ten highest grossing films of all time (click here for the full list).

Among the most scathing reviews of the film is this one by Roger Ebert.  He continued his thoughts here, through his blog, which generated nearly 850 comments — enough for Ebert to pen “I’m a Proud Brainiac,” which is the subject of our own discussion here.

Once you have read the review and blog entry, click here to load the “Brainiac” article.  Take in Ebert’s argument, and then turn your attention to the comments, where you will find Ebert responding directly to visitors of all kinds.  Skim over this discussion (don’t try to read all 1,000 comments).

Your task here is simple: Begin your own discussion in the comments about the issues Ebert raises and the arguments he makes.  Let his readers help guide you, too.  This is a conversation about opinions, disagreement, taste, the Internet, contemporary dialog, respect, excess… There is a lot here.  Ground your discussion in the texts, and you should be able to have fun with this.

Later this week, I’ll cap this adversarial with a due date, and I’ll offer updates on some of your recent assignments and assessments.

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The purpose of a reflection is relatively straightforward: It should help you to analyze the process, product, and feedback associated with your response.  Each of those pieces deserves equal time, and, if you shouldn’t be exhaustive, you should aim for thorough.

The process: This particular paper involved a more complicated proccess than most of what we’ve done.  You had a choice between four prompts, and each choice involved a different set of skills and subjects.  You were given three days to prepare your response in any way except by drafting it.  Then you spent a period writing.

The product: The timed response was read, scored, and annotated; you received feedback both on your paper and through that score.  This response was a bit different from your previous writing, however, in that it was the result of several days’ ostensible preparation.  Keep that in mind.


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Click for the full strip.

Applications for the National Honor Society will be reviewed here at the high school over the next few days, with accepted students notified soon afterward.  Members become part of an organization that has existed since 1921, with its own consitution and National Council dedicated to recognizing excellence in these areas (definitions taken from the Glossary of Honor Society Terminology):

Scholarship — One of the core principles of the Honor Societies, used as a criterion for selection to assess levels of academic performance of a candidate; a cumulative standard of scholarship is defined by the local chapter as the performance indicator of this criterion. The National Constitution established the minimum standard for this criterion.

Leadership — A position of being in charge, guiding, or otherwise directing a group of individuals or an organization; a collective set of skills that can be taught to make one a leader; one of the core principles of the Honor Societies, reviewed for selection, skills for which are taught through chapter activities during the year.

Service — One of the core principles of the Honor Societies, namely referring to actions done for or on behalf of others without any compensation provided to the individual performing the actions. Each chapter is required to conduct a minimum of one chapter service project each year, per the national constitution.

Character — One of the essential criteria for the Honor Societies. NHS and NJHS refer to the definition of character provided by Character Counts!, namely a person of character demonstrates Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.  See also www.charactercounts.org.

But we are less interested in national definitions than practical realities.


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This next song has a little bit of cursing in it, too, but not in the service of a (potentially, forgivably) anti-American screed¹.  Instead, you have a narrative poem about stopping a male neighbor from beating a woman.  The cursing comes from the speaker’s rage and sense of what’s right; as a storytelling device, the language is both authentic and involving.  It may give us a way to enter the story and see how we might feel about the relationships in play.

Here are the lyrics for “Dorian.”  (I apologize for the quality of both the site and the quality of the lyrical transcription; if I had the time to transcribe these songs myself, I would.)  You can load a video that plays the song here — don’t shy away from clicking through to purchase the song and/or album, of course.


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