Friday, December 18, 2009

In case you are bored over break. Here is an extra credit opportunity worth up to 5 points to engage and entertain you. Trust me; these little points add up, so take advantage of the opportunity. Read and consider the following poem as it relates to the texts we’ve read thus far in English 10.

By Raymond Carver

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive. 1
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.
Fear of anxiety! 1
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children's handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.

Your mission should you choose to accept it:
Part I
1. Divide the poem into six sections.
2. Keyword Note the poem. For each section of the poem, write down 2-3 of the most important words or concepts
3. At the bottom of the page, using the words from the six sections above, write a 2-3 sentence summary of the main idea or purpose of the poem.

Part II
1. Rewrite Raymond Carver’s poem from the perspective of one of the characters we’ve read about this year in English 10. Your poem must be the same length as Carver’s poem and must follow his same form. You may select any character, minor or major from one of the following texts:
a. The Namesake
b. Siddhartha.
c. The Road
d. The Odyssey
e. All My Sons

2. Do not reveal the name of the character in your title or in the poem. The examples and details that you incorporate into the poem should reveal the complexity of the character, and make evident who it is that you are describing. What are his or her motivations, fears, desires, flaws, and/or strengths? Think beyond the obvious and use your creativity.
3. Create an appropriate thinking map to help you chart out your ideas before you begin writing the poem.
4. Turn these in no later than Friday, January 8.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My son's accident

If you haven’t heard yet, my son Joe was in a car accident on Thursday night and broke his neck. We are hoping that he will have surgery tomorrow (Monday), and if that goes well, the recovery should be fast. I hope to make it to school for Tuesday’s classes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Extra Credit for Thanksgiving Week

Extra Credit Opportunities

You may complete one of the following for extra credit in Quarter 2. I will make another option available at the end of the quarter. Th assignment below is due by Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.

The Road: Movie vs. Novel
The movie version of The Road will be released on November 25. As an extra credit opportunity, you should attend the film with a parent/guardian. Then complete the following steps in order to earn up to 5 extra credit points. Trust me; these seemingly small assignments do make a difference in your overall grade for the quarter.

1. Go to the theater and watch the movie, The Road. You will need to attend this with a parent/guardian since the movie is rated R.
2. Save your ticket stub to submit with your paper.
3. Create a detailed double bubble comparing/contrasting the movie to the novel. Each bubble requires a specific example from the film and the novel.
4. Type a 3/4 to one-page, thoughtful observation about the most striking similarities and differences between the film and movie. This must provide evidence that you considered both texts carefully. Do discuss at the end of your paper, which version of the story you preferred and why. Offer specific examples.
5. Discuss the film's themes and comparisons to the book with your adult viewing partner. After this discussion ask the parent/guardian, with whom you viewed the film, to hand write or type his/her reflections about the film and sign the paper.
6. Submit the movie stub, double bubble, your paper, and your adult's reflections (these can be brief) by Friday, December 4.

If you are unable to attend the film but would still like to do an extra credit assignment, complete the following:

Invocation of the Muse

Your Task: Imitate the first sixteen lines of The Odyssey, imagining that this is the opening to an epic about your life.


1. Think about a Hero Quest you’ve taken in your own life. Make this the basis of your piece.
2. Begin with an invocation to the Muse: “Tell me, Muse…” or “Sing to me, Muse…” or similar.
3. Include epithets about yourself and the other characters of your epic.
4. Give a snapshot of your quest.
5. Include a bit of “formal-sounding” language. The idea is to play with Homer’s language in order to become more comfortable with it.
6. Describe the setting. Make the setting sound grand in scale.


Tell me, Muse, about the man of many miles,
Who many times dashed as he ran through the streets of Santa
Monica. He saw the Fatigue of his teammates and knew their pain.
On the course, he too suffered great pains within his lungs,
Yearning for the finish line, and his teammates’ success.
He could not guide his team to victory, though he wanted to:
His teammates had lost the race because of their laziness.
The slackers had disregarded the wise words
Of the well-traveled coach Cady, who knew the path to victory.
Tell the tale for us, beginning with the previous day,
Sometime after the piercing bell had sounded.
When all the others, seeking refuge from the torments of school
Had fled, light-footed to the safety of their homes.
Yet he alone, longing for the final mile and his own return,
Wan confined by sound-minded Coach Cady, who strives for excellence,
To the fenced-in, crimson rubber surface that was his training ground.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, November 17
Last day to turn in The Road essay for full credit

Friday, November 20
Final exam on The Odyssey--25 scantron questions and theme paragraph

Tuesday, December 1
Vocabulary test of The Odyssey and "Transformation"

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Odyssey Characters

Below is the list of characters in The Odyssey that you will be tracking during the film and selected book reading sections. For the books that we read in class (Books 5, 9, 10, 12, 21, 22 and 23) note direct quotations that prove character traits on the chart in your notebook.

The Suitors
Scylla and Charybdis

The Odyssey on Google Earth

Now that you are getting into the epic with Odysseus trying to get home from Troy to Ithaca, you may enjoy charting our hero's course. Click here to see Odysseus's journey on google earth.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Road Essay

The Road Essay blue prewriting packet is due Monday, November 9.
The typed rough draft is due Wednesday, November 11.
The final essay's last day for full credit is Monday, November 16.

Writing Prompt:

In a well-organized and thoughtful essay answer one of the following questions. Work to say something that is uniquely your own about this text and to move beyond plot summary to thematic analysis.

1. What is McCarthy’s thematic message about good versus evil? Create a complex thematic statement and use well-selected evidence to support your statement. To get at your theme statement you may compare and contrast good and evil in a double bubble or examine causes and effects of both good and evil in two multi-flow maps.

2. Is this novel optimistic or pessimistic about humanity? In other words, does McCarthy believe that humans are basically good or evil? Take a stand on one side or the other and use convincing evidence from the text to prove your position.

3. According to McCarthy, what causes people to remain good in the face of evil and what are the effects on their humanity? Create a complex thematic statement and use insightful quotes to defend your ideas.

Grading Rubric


___ The introduction engages the reader, introduces the topic, and includes a thesis statement that will serve as a blueprint for the main ideas developed in the body paragraphs.
___ Body paragraphs follow solid paragraph structure by beginning with a topic sentence, including two or three PIEs, and ending with a concluding sentence which refers clearly to thesis statement. PIE = Point, Illustration, Explanation
___ Transitions from part to part and paragraph to paragraph are smooth and logical.
___ Conclusion summarizes the ideas presented in the paper and leads the reader to an interesting idea—the So what? or the So why does this matter to life?


___ Thesis is clearly stated, fully expanded, specifically states the main ideas of your paper
___ Thesis says something specific about the topic being explored. Theme = topic + author’s lesson about topic
___ Ideas are presented logically and clearly in body paragraphs that are relevant to the thesis
___ Each paragraph includes at least two illustrations quoted from the text to support ideas.
___ All ideas are explained and analyzed fully.
___ Papers that exceed expectations also analyze how the elements of McCarthy’s style contribute to the theme—in other words, how McCarthy uses language to convey a message.


___ Words are clear, precise and spelled correctly
___ Sentence formation is clear and varied
___ Proper punctuation is used, especially with conjunctions.
___ MLA format is used to document direct quotations, and a works cited entry for The Road is included at the end of the essay. Other sources used are properly cited.

Due Dates

Typed rough drafts, with proper MLA formatting, are due in class on Wednesday, November 11.
Final draft window: 8:30 a.m. Thursday, November 12 to Monday, November 16 at 3:10 p.m. Papers submitted on the 17th will lose 25%. Papers submitted on the 18th or after will lose 50%.

Tips for Better Writing

Common Mistakes from The Namesake Essays

Your essay needs a creative title. Using the title of the novel, play, or short story is not okay.

Make sure you get the title of the book being discussed correct. Look at the cover of the book. Underline book titles and capitalize important words of the title.

Include the author when discussing the title the first time you mention the book.

Don’t use numerals for numbers under 10—you have to write them out.

Your body paragraphs need topic sentences that are tied to your provable thesis statement. Your paragraphs need summary sentences and transitions.

In the conclusion make a connection to the world and the significance of the text.

You should focus on ANALYSIS instead of on retelling the plot. Speaking of analysis, your quotes need to advance your analysis, not prove plot. It’s not interesting for you to tell me that Ahsima is lonely and then offer a quote that reads, “Ashoke, I feel so lonely.” The explanation of your quotes has to include DISCUSSION—what is the author SAYING? What’s the message? What’s the point? Why is this significant? SO WHAT?

Never, EVER, EVER use “I” in a paper (I believe, I think, In my opinion). You can’t write in the second person either. Every time you write, “you,” replace it with “Jackie Roehl” and see if it makes sense. It won’t. Write in the third person ONLY.

Don’t start or end a body paragraph with a quote. Quotes need to be discussed and used as proof of your argument and to further your analysis.

The text is a NOVEL, not a STORY. For future reference, the text might be a PLAY, not a STORY. Make sure you write the correct genre distinction.

It’s/its. Of/have. Your/you’re. Witch/Which. They’re/There/Their. Whether/Weather. To/Too. Then/Than. Make sure you know the differences. Don’t rely on spell check.

Don’t forget your friend the apostrophe, but ignore him when he’s not needed.

Don’t include long quotes in your paper—use only what’s necessary.

Refer to authors by their last names. “Lahiri writes…” She’s not Jhumpa.

Double space your paper and also follow the MLA format for internal documentation and works cited.

Avoid vague pronouns.

Don’t say things like, “This shows,” or “That is important.” Say what “this” and “that” are.

Don’t misspell character names. It makes me think you haven’t read the book. And while you’re at it, don’t misspell the AUTHOR’S name. That one’s on the cover of the book.

Don’t pose questions—the purpose of the paper is to ANSWER questions, not pose them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Was it a meteor strike?

Today in class we read an excerpt of a National Geographic article on how a meteor strike could cause the Apocalypse. If you want to read the entire article, click here. The date of the catastrophic meteor strike has been updated to 2068. Check out Dr. Tholen's latest findings.

One of the scientists featured in the article was Dr. David Tholen, who is the uncle of English 10 teacher Ms. Rachel Tholen Hatten. So Ms. Hatten contacted her uncle for more details about what the world would be like so that we could prove or disprove that Cormac McCarthy thought a meteor strike would cause the end of the world as we know it.

Here's the email response from Dr. Tholen:

From: David Tholen
To: Rachel Tholen Hatten
Sent: Mon, October 19, 2009 1:16:11 AM
Subject: Re: Meteor strike

Ms. Hatten: Question for you. Next week, I'll start teaching Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road, to my sophomores. I don't know if you've read it,

Dr. Tholen: Nope, haven't read it.

Ms. Hatten: It's the story of a father and son struggling to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world. McCarthy never explicitly says what the cataclysmic event was that destroyed the earth and civilization, but I think it was probably a meteor strike. When you have a second, could you email me a description of what the world would be like if Earth suffered a major meteor strike, both short and long-term effects?

Dr. Tholen: Well, a lot depends on the size of the strike. We had a strike last October over the northern Sudan, but all we got out of it was a bright flash and a nice collection of Ureilite meteorites. A strike the size of the one that killed off the dinosaurs raised enough dust into the
stratosphere to block out sunlight for years. If you've ever seen the sky after a major volcanic eruption, you might begin to imagine what it's like, only many times worse. Also, it's believed that a major firestorm would be triggered by the impact, generating a lot of soot that would remain in the lower part of the atmosphere for a shorter amount of time. With sunlight blocked off, photosynthesis stops, and plants die out. Without plants for food, livestock starts to die out.
Without livestock for food, people start to die out. It becomes a fight over dwindling food supplies. Very much the sort of thing imagined for the so-called "nuclear winter." Unlike nuclear winter, where radioactivity can persist for a long time, depending on the isotopes producing the radiation, asteroid winter lasts only a few years. As the atmosphere begins to clear, the Earth starts to warm up again. But wait! The impact released a huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, from the carbonate locked in a lot of bedrock. Now we've got the greenhouse effect going, and the Earth could be too hot for decades until plant life regains a foothold and starts to consume the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Ms. Hatten: I'd like to be able to share your response with the students, so they could have some real knowledge of what we'd be facing if something like that happened.

Dr. Tholen: Some books have been written about it. Might make for a non-fiction reading assignment for your students. A few years ago, Gaddy Bergmann sent me a copy of his book, The Migration of the Kamishi, which is intended to become a trilogy. In this fiction, Apophis did hit and nearly wiped out humanity. But some did survive, basically sending mankind back to the stone age. Interesting book. The author's power of description of living things is what caught my eye. The plot isn't quite as strong, and I did encounter some technical errors (the waning crescent Moon is a before dawn sight, not an after dusk sight).

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Today in class we are going to transform our vocabulary words by changing the word into its other parts of speech so that we discover how all of our words become verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs. William Shakespeare loved to transform words, and if you understand word affixes (prefixes and suffixes), you can uncover Shakespeare's meanings.

Passage Analysis Paragraph

Point: Identify rhetorical elements and introduce the effect on the reader
Illustration: Quotes
Explanation/Analysis: Pull out ideas about how the style of the quote is connected to the theme of the entire novel

McCarthy’s asserts that the post-apocalyptic world is both literally and figuratively hell on earth, in which evil threatens to overtake any remaining goodness in the world. He begins literally by vividly describing the entire country as being “looted, ransacked and ravaged. Rifled of every crumb” (McCarthy 129). McCarthy’s precise diction creates the picture of utter destitution, of a barren landscape that has been robbed by circumstance and humanity of its life-sustaining properties. Additionally, McCarthy’s metaphoric comparison of night to “casket black” suggests that the entire world is a tomb. The boy and the man are the occupants, struggling to push open the door of the casket in order to see light, to maintain hope. Finally, in crafting this picture of hell on earth, McCarthy draws the comparison, through simile, that the world islike a dawn before the battle” (129). The word “battle” implies that the boy and dad must fight everyday to scavenge for scarce resources and to fight off would-be attackers. Yet, more importantly, this day’s battle, like the sun rising at “dawn,” is part of a larger symbolic war in which survival represents a triumph of humanity and perseverance in a world that has become a living hell.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ely, The Prophet

Check out an email that I just received from Ms. Hatten:

So, looks like the prophet Elijah is the harbinger of the apocalypse—the “great and terrible day of the Lord.” Oh, McCarthy. You’re so cool.

“According to the Books of Kings, Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and ascended into heaven in a chariot. In the Book of Malachi, Elijah's return is prophesied "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord,"[2] making him a harbinger of the Messiah and the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible.”

Roehl note: Eschaton means judgement day or end of the world. I had never heard that word before.

Rhetorical Elements and Literary Strategies

Strong writers master the art of rhetoric. Literary devices are a subset of rhetoric. Strong writers are able to incorporate elements of rhetoric in their own writing, and reading and analyzing literature for elements of rhetoric is an important step on your path to strong writing.

Click here to review a brief list of rhetorical elements.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Close Reading of a Text

Close reading can and should promote insights and questions about texts beyond the specific passage under consideration. Close reading should develop your ability to:

1) Identify specific rhetorical elements and literary strategies within a short passage.
2) Consider the effect these techniques have on a reader’s perception of tone and content.
3) Explain ideas about how the style of the entire text is connected to the content and theme of the entire text. These deep explanations are what is missing in your E's of your PIEs.

The Passage:
“He found pieces of flint or chert in a ditch but in the end it was easier to rake the pliers down the side of a rock at the bottom of which he’d made a small pile of tinder soaked in gas. Two more days. Then three. They were starving right enough. The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb. The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it. Like a dawn before battle. The boy’s candlecolored skin was all but translucent. With his great staring eyes he’d the look of an alien” (129).

1. Underline any word, phrase, or line that jumps out at you, even if you’re not sure why. Think about sound, diction, anything that even suggests style, whether you can put a name to what’s going on or not.
2. With a partner, see how many of your underlined words or phrases you can label. If you don’t know the actual name of the technique, or if you aren’t certain, describe the effect as best you can. Write your ideas in the margin.
3. Make a thematic connection to the underlined words or phrases. How does this stylistic element add to the text as a whole? Reflect not just on the element, but on the whole text—how are they related?

Try it again with one of the following passages:

“They scrabbled through the charred ruins of houses they would not have entered before. A corpse floating in the black water of a basement among the trash and rusting ductwork. He stood in a living room partly burned and open to the sky. The waterbuckled boards sloping away into the yard. Soggy volumes in a bookcase. He took one down and opened it and then put it back. Everything damp. Rotting. In a drawer he found a candle. No way to light it. He put it in his pocket. He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it” (130).

“When he woke again he thought the rain had stopped. But that wasnt what woke him. He’d been visited in a dream by creatures of a kind he’d never seen before. They did not speak. He thought that they’d been crouching by the side of his cot as he slept and then had skulked away on his awakening. He turned and looked at the boy. Maybe he understood for the first time that to the boy he was himself an alien. A being from a planet that no longer existed. The tales of which were suspect. He could not construct for the child’s pleasure the world he’d lost without constructing the loss as well and he thought perhaps the child had known this better than he. He tried to remember the dream but he could not. All that was left was the feeling of it. He thought perhaps they’d come to warn him. Of what? That he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was ashes in his own. Even now some part of him wished they’d never found this refuge. Some part of him always wished it to be over” (154).

For the second passage that you selected, write a paragraph in which you sum up how the style of the passage is instrumental in conveying the idea of the text as a whole.

Active Voice

Avoid weak structures like there is and it is at all costs!

There is another videotape that tells the story of Charles Darwin.
Rewrite: Another videotape tells the story of Charles Darwin.

It is important that hikers remain inside the park boundaries.
Rewrite: Hikers must remain inside the park boundaries.

Avoid weak to be verbs!

Escaping into the world of drugs, Gogol was rebellious about many rules set down by his parents. Rewrite: Escaping into the world of drugs, Gogol rebelled against many rules set down by his parents.

The subject of sentence should do the action!

The fly ball was caught by Hernando.
Hernando caught the fly ball.

Revise the following sentences into active voice:
1. The tree was hit by a car.
2. These planes are flown by experienced pilots.
3. There are five students studying Japanese.
4. The car was washed by us.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Song On the End of the World

Friday in class students read the Milosz poem below, annotated the poem looking for lines that show imagery, tone, mood and irony. Students also gave each stanza a title to try to get at the main message of the poem. After discussing the poem, students individually answered the following closing questions on the back of their poem.

What is Milosz message to us about the end of the world?
What would McCarthy say to Milosz about the end of the world?
Which one has it right? Why do you say this?

To watch a visual retelling of the poem that concentrates on images, click here.

To see a video of the poem being read over some haunting images, click here.

A Song On the End of the World
by Czeslaw Milosz
Warsaw, 1944

Translated by Anthony Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Road Reading Schedule

The date indicates the due date for the reading selection. Be prepared for discussion or a quiz.

Oct 20: pgs 3-27
Oct 21: pgs 28-mid 52
Oct 22: pgs bot 52-mid 77
Oct 23: pgs bot 77-102
Oct 26: pgs 103-top 129
Oct 27: pgs mid 129-top 161
Oct 28: pgs 161-mid 180
Oct 29: pgs bot 180-204
Oct 30: pgs 205-top 231
Nov 2: pgs mid 231-256
Nov 3: pgs 257-287

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sorry I've been sick

So my fever is still over 100 degrees, and school policy for H1N1 precautions does not allow me to return to school until my fever drops below 100 degrees for 24 hours.

I am sorry that I have been missing discussions on Siddhartha; however, I hope that I will be back on Tuesday so that we can have one full day to discuss the book before you take the 25-question multiple choice final exam on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Vocab will not be on Wednesday's exam, so you should just think of the test as a big reading quiz. The vocab test will be after the long weekend, on Tuesday, Oct. 20, so that you have the weekend to study the words.

Read the blog posts below. They summarize the Siddhartha unit and assignments.

Siddhartha Extra Credit

For your second extra credit opportunity of the quarter, consider writing a paragraph on Siddhartha that answers one of the prompts below. The paragraph is worth five points, and although you may not think that five points is a lot, it really does help your grade. If you are also completing "The Overcoat" extra credit, due this Tuesday, those 10 points would really boost your grade.

Typed paragraphs are due by Friday, October 23. Remember that a paragraph should have at least two PIEs, and make sure your points, illustrations and explanations prove your topic sentence (which is basically your thesis). Remember that direct quotations are the best illustrations for your analytical points.

Paragraph Prompts
  1. Discuss the influence of Kamala on Siddhartha’s life.
  2. Discuss the influence of Vasudeva on Siddhartha’s life.
  3. Discuss a thematic aspect of discontent as it is found in Siddhartha.
  4. Discuss Hermann Hesses’s success in teaching concepts of Buddhism in the novel Siddhartha.
  5. Discuss Hermann Hesses’s success in teaching concepts of Hinduism in the novel Siddhartha.
  6. Discuss a thematic aspect of learning or education as it is found in Siddhartha.

Siddhartha Hinduism and Buddhism Terms

In class last week, you should have completed the Hinduism and Buddhism sheet by defining the term and offering a quotation or example from the book that shows this element of Hinduism or Buddhism in the text.

Hindu Terms


Buddhist Terms

Four Noble Truths
Eightfold Noble Path
Nirvana / Enlightenment
Historical Buddha (Sakyamuni)

Siddhartha Vocabulary Words

You should be making flash cards to study for your vocabulary test on Tuesday, Oct. 20. If you made a four-square vocab on each index card, you would really learn the words as you go.

Here are the words to know:

vocation (4)
orator (oration) (4)
atone (atonement) (5)
ascetic (9)
austere (18)
ostracize (45)
prudent (63)
compel (66)
desolate (desolation) (66)
concede (70)
formidable (79)
permeate (94)
diligent (95)
carouse (97)
benevolence (147)

Siddhartha Reading Schedule

Here are a few reasons why you should care about Siddhartha:

1. Reading about him improves your knowledge and cultural literacy about world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.
2. He is a dude who is searching for more in life. He wants to move beyond all of the worldly trappings of jealousy, lust, and greed to find ultimate inner-peace. Sounds nice, right?
3. Siddhartha's quest is a classic story of discovery. It is one that is patterned after The Odyssey. Knowing his story helps us to better understand the single monomyth that is told and retold throughout different times and different cultures. Think about Gladiator, Star Wars, Finding Nemo, Siddhartha; these are all the same basic quest stories.

Reading Schedule

The date indicates the due date for the reading selection. Be prepared for discussion or a quiz.

Oct 6: Chapters 1 & 2
Oct 7: Chapters 3 & 4
Oct 8: Chapters 5 & 6
Oct 9: Chapters 7 & 8
Oct 12: Chapters 9 & 10
Oct 13: Chapters 11 & 12
October 13: Final Discussion
October 14: Final Test

Vocabulary Test: October 20

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Essay Window Due Date Closes Oct. 5

The last day to turn in your Namesake essay without penalty is Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 at 3:10 p.m.

Papers turned in on Tuesday, Oct. 6 will receive a 25% deduction off the score earned.

Papers turned in on Wednesday, Oct. 7 or later will only receive half credit.

MLA Citations and Format

EHS follows the citation and formatting rules of The Modern Language Association (MLA).

To format MLA papers correctly make sure that you double space throughout the paper, have 1-inch margins, and use Times New Roman 12-point font.

MLA papers also have a header on each page with the student's last name and page number flush right. To add a header in Word, go to View Header and Footer. The Header box will appear on the top of the page, and you can align right your name and use the insert page number [#] icon.

In-text citations for MLA papers look like this after each direct quotation:

"Blah, blah, blah, quotation, blah" (Lahiri 23).

Be exact. The period only goes after the ending parenthesis. There are no commas between the author's last name and the page number.

MLA also requires a Works Cited page to correspond to your MLA in-text citations. For this first paper, you should only have one citation, The Namesake, because you are using only your brain and no outside research from the Internet, etc. on your topic.

The Works Cited page is technically its own page. However, for this essay assignment, you may type your works cited entry at the end of your essay to save a piece of paper. Here's the works cited entry.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2004.

Use the hanging indent feature under paragraph formatting in Word so that the second line of each works cited entry is indented five spaces. Works cited entries are also double spaced.

Avoid Personal Pronouns in Academic Essays

When writing a formal, analytical essay, a student's academic voice needs to shine through. A main voice problem in student academic writing is that students use personal pronouns.

Academic writing requires essays to be written in third person, so the second person voice of you cannot be used. When reading you, readers replace their name for that word, which often confuses the sentence.

Academic writing also avoids first person pronouns like I or we. Writers should simply make statements directly instead of writing "I believe."

Conjunction Punctuation

Types of Conjunctions

**Coordinating Conjunctions—connect grammatically equal elements—for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

**Correlative conjunctions—pairs of conjunctions that connect grammatically equal elements. Example: The work is not only profitable but also pleasant.

** Subordinating conjunctions—introduce subordinate clauses, usually adverb clauses.

**Conjunctive adverbs—indicate relation between independent clauses. Example: I ate breakfast; however, I am still hungry.

Coordinating Conjunctions Punctuation

**Thumb test--do you have two complete sentences on each side of the conjunction?
**When the coordinating conjunctions join two independent clauses, a comma is placed before the conjunction.

**When the coordinating conjunction joins parts of a compound subject, predicate or object, no comma is used before the conjunction.

It was after midnight, and I missed my bus. (compound sentence)
I missed my bus and forgot cab money. (compound predicate)

Subordinating Conjunction/Adverb Clause Punctuation

**Adverb clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions (common ones—if, as, because, since, after, before, although, though, unless, while, so that, in order that, that, than, until, when)

**Adverb clauses mainly emphasize verbs, answering how, when, where, why, to what extent

**When an adverb clause appears at the beginning of the sentence, a comma is placed at the end of the introductory clause.
**No commas are used when an adverb clause appears at the end of the sentence.

Punctuation--The two above sentences were actually your examples. In other words, introductory adverb clauses have commas after them; ending adverb clauses do not take a comma.

Peer Review

Tell your responder what you need from them. (For example, “I am most concerned that my thesis isn’t strong.” “I don’t know if the explanations of my quotes are clear enough.” “I can’t think of an attention-getter.”)

1. Read introductory paragraph and bracket the thesis statement.
2. Circle the causes mentioned in the thesis and underline the effects mentioned in the thesis.
3. Before continuing your reading, check the topic sentences of each body paragraph – does each correspond to a cause or effect mentioned in the thesis?
4. Read the first body paragraph.
5. Identify the Points (P from PIE). Put a star by each P.
6. Identify the Illustrations. Underline each one.
7. Evaluate each Explanation – does the writer clearly explain how each illustration proves the topic sentence of the paragraph? Write + or - in the margin next to each E.
8. Repeat for each additional body paragraph.
9. Read the conclusion. Circle the section wherein the author explains the “So what?” of her/his argument. Does the author show how this topic connects to life?
10. Go back to the essay to help the writer with her/his particular question or concern. Talk together about it, and come up with a plan for the writer.

Review responder’s notes and ask any questions you have. Make notes about what you need to improve.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Overcoat Extra Credit

At least one time per quarter, the English 10 teachers offer an extra credit assignment to extend the learning. This assignment is open to all students; however, students who have missed turning in a daily assignment should pay special attention to this opportunity to make up for those lost points.

For the first extra credit assigment of the year, students may read Nikolai Gogol's short story "The Overcoat," the story that saved Ashoke's life in The Namesake and complete the questions below.

"The Overcoat" may be read online by clicking here.

Turn in your answers to the following questions by Tuesday, October 13 for five points of extra credit.
  1. The name Akaky comes from a Greek word meaning "no evil." How does the origin of Akaky's name relate to his character and to his experiences in "The Overcoat"?
  2. How does Akaky change after he purchases the overcoat? In what ways does he remain the same?
  3. Discuss how the overcoat can be symbolic of all three of the following ideas: security, risk-taking, and identity.
  4. Discuss the theme--material possessions have a dramatic impact on the way people view themselves--as it applies to both "The Overcoat" and The Namesake by writing one PIE of literary analysis on this theme. The illustration for your PIE should be a direct quotation from "The Overcoat." Site the quotation in proper MLA format with Gogol and the page number from the online PDF file that links this blog post to the short story.
  5. Discuss another thematic connection that you thought of between "The Overcoat" and The Namesake by writing one PIE of literary analysis. Your illustration for the PIE should be a direct quote from "The Overcoat." Remember MLA citation for your direct quotation.

Poetry Party Assignment

If you were absent on Friday, Sept. 25, be sure to pick up the poetry packet in class to complete. The two poems that you will analyze our "Prospective Immigrants Please Note" and "Lost."

Namesake Essay Prewriting

By Monday, Sept. 28 you should have your prewriting completed for The Namesake essay. Your prewriting involves two notebook pages. One page lists all five possible topics and a brainstorm list of times that the topic appeared in the novel. Write down as many ideas for each topic as you can.

The second notebook page is a multi-flow map that analyzes the causes and effects of your chosen topic. The frame of reference should contain direct quotes with page numbers that support your points. Your frame should also contain a first draft of your thesis statement. Be sure to review the cultural conflict multi-flow page in your notebook as a model for this page.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Namesake Essay

Writing Prompt

Write a two-page paper that discusses the causes and effects of one of the following topics in terms of a theme Jhumpa Lahiri develops in The Namesake. This essay is not a research paper, so you should not consult outside sources for ideas. The teacher wants to assess your thinking and your analysis of the novel.

• Isolation
• Dual identity
• secrets
• Successful Relationships
• Parental expectations

Grading Rubric

 The introduction engages the reader, introduces the topic, and includes a thesis statement that will serve as a blueprint for the main ideas developed in the body paragraphs.
 Body paragraphs follow solid paragraph structure by beginning with a topic sentence, including two or three PIEs, and ending with a concluding sentence which refers clearly to thesis statement. PIE = Point, Illustration, Explanation
 Transitions from part to part and paragraph to paragraph are smooth and logical.
 Conclusion summarizes the ideas presented in the paper and leads the reader to an interesting idea—the So what? or the So why does this matter to life?

 Thesis is clearly stated, fully expanded, specifically states the main ideas of your paper
 Thesis says something specific about the topic being explored. Theme = topic + author’s lesson about topic
 Ideas are presented logically and clearly in body paragraphs that are relevant to the thesis
 Each paragraph includes at least two illustrations quoted from the text to support ideas.
 All ideas are explained and analyzed fully.

 Words are clear, precise and spelled correctly
 Sentence formation is clear and varied
 Proper punctuation is used

Due Dates
• The rough draft is due on Wednesday, September 30 for peer review points.
• The final draft due date window is from Thursday, October 1 to Monday, October 5 at 3:10 p.m.
• Papers turned in on Tuesday, October 6, will be graded, and then 25% will be deducted from the score earned. However, the lowest score earned will be 50% off.
• Papers turned in on Wednesday, October 7 or later will only receive half credit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thesis and Organization from a Multi-Flow Map

After you have generated ideas on your multi-flow map, it's time to think about a thesis and organization. Both are easy to do from the multi-flow map. The thesis should incorporate the general causes and effects in the boxes and be a blueprint for the body paragraphs.

Read the following draft of my thesis statement that tells a theme about the causes and effects of the topic "cultural conflict."

In The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri claims that people who face cultural conflict caused by a separation from their familiar lifestyle end up rebelling against their traditional culture, assimilating to the new culture, or living a somewhat isolated life from the culture of power in their new society.

Did you notice how the boxes on the multi-flow map came alive in the thesis? Did you notice my cause and effect verb bank too?

You can also organize the essay right from the multi-flow map and thesis. Here are my potential body paragraphs:

1. Causes of cultural conflict on separation caused by fear and being homesick. That paragraph would have a PIE on fear and a PIE on being homesick.

2. Effect of cultural conflict being rebellion as illustrated by Gogol and Sonia.

3. Effect of cultural conflict being assimilation as illustrated by Ashoke's dress and naming of children.

4. Effect of cultural conflict being isolation as illustrated by Ashima's Bengali friends, food and clothing.

As another model to help you write your essay. Here's a draft of part of the body paragraph on isolation and Ashima with the PIE about food.

TOPIC SENTENCE - Ashima’s acute sense of cultural isolation is caused most profoundly by a sense that something is missing, even in the most familiar of things.

POINT First, as Ashima looks for comfort in the cooking from her home country of India, even the foods that she craves most are lacking in some satisfying, key ingredient.

ILLUSTRATION For example, in chapter one when Ashima, attempts to make the spicy Rice Krispies snack with peanuts and red onions that she used to buy in the streets of Calcutta, she is wishes “there were mustard oil to pour into the mix…[it] is a humble approximation of the snack sold for pennies on Calcutta sidewalks and on railway platforms throughout India.” As she tastes it from her palms, she thinks “as usual, there’s something missing” (1).

EXPLANATION Even the most familiar things that bring her comfort are only “humble” or inferior substitutes for what she misses in India. The “something missing” in the food is symbolic of the cultural isolation that Ashima feels in her life in America.

Cause and Effect Verb Bank

Strong writers avoid passive verbs like is, are, were and other to be verbs. In your quest to improve your writing, work on using active verbs, especially in your thesis statement and paragraph topic sentences.

Below is a list of possible verbs to use in a cause and effect essay. If you can think of others, please add them through the comments option on this blog post. Your community of learners will thank you.

results in
affects (effect is a noun; affect is a verb)
brings about
leads to

PIE Paragraph Structure

The PIE structure for paragraph development is a great tool to use for analytical essays. You should recognize the Point, Illustration, Explanation component of the paragraph because that's what your blog post over the weekend was like.

Organize your body paragraphs like this:

TOPIC SENTENCE: This sentence must serve as the blueprint for the paragraph and is similar to a thesis statement. The topic sentence focuses on one aspect of the thesis statement that will be proven in the paragraph.

POINT: This general analytical statement goes beyond plot summary to make a claim about a sub-point of the paragraph topic sentence. On a multi-flow map, these general statements may come from the general ideas in the cause and effect boxes.

ILLUSTRATION: Direct quotations from a text are the most credible proof for your points. Be sure to use MLA in-text citations so that the reader knows the page where the quotation appears. If you know a specific example from the book that proves your point and you are unable to locate the quotation in the book, you may re-tell the detail for the illustration--as a last resort. Also, be sure that you select the most relevant portion of the passage to include so that your essay does not contain a number of lengthy quotations. On a multi-flow map these illustrations are found in the frame of reference as supporting details for the cause and effect boxes.

EXPLANATION: This sentence is often the most difficult to write because it requires that the essay writer think about how the point being made intersects with the illustration to give a deep understanding of the central meaning of the text as a whole. If you are having trouble thinking of further explanation, try thinking about how the point relates to the thesis or other paragraphs in the essay (in other words, other boxes on the multi-flow map). For the explanation you might also wish to analyze the connection between the ideas developed in the point and the style of the author. In other words, how does the figurative language of the quotation relate to the thematic ideas.

Additionally, REPEAT PIE one or two more times in the paragraph to provide enough detail to prove your topic sentence.

CONCLUDING SENTENCE: This sentence goes beyond simply recapping the paragraph. It also provides an extension of ideas. This is the So what? of the paragraph that relates to the thesis statement that you are proving. When writing this sentence consider what is relevant and meaningful to readers about the ideas expressed in the paragraph.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Passage Analysis

Remember to complete a four-step passage analysis for two more passages from the pink sheet.

Here are the directions in case you misplaced your sheet.

1. Explain the literal meaning of the passage.
2. Underline most important words or phrases and explain why you selected them.
3. Identify and explain the effects of connotations and metaphors.
4. Write 1-2 sentences of explanation regarding the importance of the passage to theme. Why is this passage important to the overall meaning of the novel?

Here are the other passages to choose from:

2. “For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.” (Lahiri 50-1).

3. “Together as the Gangulis drive they anticipate the moment the thin blue line of the ocean will come into view…Gogol darts in and out of the ocean, making faint, temporary footprints, soaking his rolled-up cuffs. His mother cries out laughing, as she lifts her sari a few inches above her ankles, her slippers in one hand, and places her feet in foaming, ice-cold water. She reaches out to Gogol, takes his hand. ‘Not so far,’ she tells him. The waves retract gathering force, the soft, dark sand seeming to shift away instantly beneath their feet, causing them to lose their balance. ‘I’m falling. It’s pulling me in,” she always says” (Lahiri 53).

4. “But after eighteen years of Gogol, two months of Nikhil feel scant, inconsequential. At times he feels as if he’s cast himself in a play, acting the part of twins, indistinguishable to the naked eye yet fundamentally different. At times he still feels his old name, painfully and without warning, the way his front tooth had unbearably throbbed in recent weeks after a filling, threatening for an instant to sever from his gums…” (Lahiri 107).

5. “Within twenty-four hours he and his family are back on Pemberton road…Once again they are free to quarrel, to tease each other, to shout and holler and say shut up. They take hot showers, speak to each other in English …They call up their American friends, who are happy to see them but ask them nothing about where they’ve been. And so the eight months are put behind them, quickly she, quickly forgotten, like clothes worn for a special occasion, or for a season that has passed, suddenly cumbersome, irrelevant to their lives” (Lahiri 88).

6. “He is woken by the sound of the phone ringing persistently in the main house. He gets out of bed, convinced that it’s his parents calling to wish him a happy birthday…He stumbles onto the lawn, but when his bare feet strike the cold grass there is silence, and he realizes the ringing he’d heard had been a dream…A bird begins to call. And then he remembers that his parents can’t possibly reach him; he has not given them the number, and the Ratliffs are unlisted. That here at Maxine’s side, in this cloistered wilderness, he is free” (Lahiri 158).

Figurative Language Definitions

Today we will be working to unpack some passages from The Namesake. In order to be effective at analyzing and explaining what you see in a work of literature, there are a few basic literary terms that you will need to know and master.

Here are a few of those terms:

Figurative language - speech or writing that departs from literal meaning in order to achieve a special effect or meaning.

Metaphor – a direct comparison where one kind of thing is applied to a distinctly different kind of thing or something used to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

Denotation – primary signification or reference (the dictionary definition).

Connotation – the secondary or associated significations and feelings which a word commonly suggests or implies (the baggage that the word carries).(


Denotation of eagle: any of several large, soaring birds of prey belonging to the hawk family, noted for their size, strength, and powers of flight and vision: formerly widespread in North America, eagles are mostly confined to Alaska and a few isolated populations.

Connotations of eagle: freedom, liberty, America, the U.S. military, strength, independence

Friday, September 18, 2009

Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation

Today in class we completed an anticipation guide to prime our brains before reading an excerpt from The Washington Post's "Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation." (Notice how blog posts have hot links to articles in case you have forgotten yours at school.)

Here were the questions you marked agree or disagree and stated why:

___ 1. Schools have a responsibility to promote American culture.

___ 2. Immigrants are often unskilled and uneducated.

___ 3. Immigrants should be encouraged to assimilate into the American national identity.

___ 4. When learning about a new culture, it’s better to overlook differences and focus on similarities.

___ 5. It would be easy to move to a new country.

___ 6. People should follow the customs of the country they live in, regardless of where they’re from.

Your homework for the weekend, in addition to reading to p. 158 of The Namesake, is to comment on this blog post. Your comment needs to make a connection between the article "Immigrants Shunning Idea of Assimilation" and The Namesake. You should consider the assimilation of Ashima, Ashoke, Gogol, Sonia and other immigrants in the novel.

A thoughtful comment deserving of an "A" would include three sentences.

Sentence 1: Write the POINT being made about assimilation and the immigrant experience. This is a general, analytical statement about an idea that is found in both the article and the novel.

Sentence 2: This sentence is an ILLUSTRATION of the point being made in the previous sentence. Direct quotations from The Namesake would be the most credible illustration here. When using direct quotations, be sure to cite the page number where the quotation is found. MLA format looks like this (Lahiri 15) for a quotation that appears on page 15.

Sentence 3: This sentence contains further EXPLANATION of your main point and illustration. Think about why the main point matters today to you and to the world and further explain your ideas.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Four Square Vocabulary

Remember to create your four-square for your assigned word for Thursday's vocabulary party, featuring Hip Hop flocab songs and a mixer to get to know words.

If you have some holes on your Namesake vocabulary list because you couldn't think how to paraphrase the definition or simplify it, you will be able to seek out the class expert on that word during the party to jazz up your vocab sheet.

Here's the four-square format:

SAT Vocab List From Flocabulary

The 500 SAT vocabulary words that comprise the guiding list for English 10 were taken from the Flocabulary series. The English 10 teachers have cross referenced those words with the books that you are reading this year to devise vocabulary lists. Occasionally, we will listen to the Hip Hop songs that contain the vocabulary words as another strategy for getting the words embedded into your brain. And through that you will learn the words that do not appear in our books.

If you would like to own your own copy of the CD of Flocabulary songs to reinforce your studying, you can order it from a number of bookstores or at

The CD comes with a book of lyrics and sample tests to make vocabulary learning fun!!

The Namesake Vocab

Below is the list of words for the vocabulary test of The Namesake words on Thursday, Oct. 1. We will work on learning the words through vocabulary strategies in class for part of each Tuesday and Thursday class; however, you will need to extend your studying and strategy work outside of the school day to do well on the test.

acute (22)
morose (33)
despondent (50)
precarious (82)
diminutive (88)
benign (89)
empathy (109)
goad (111)
affluent (141)
anomaly (146)
sate (165)
abhor (176)
abate (181)
innate (200)
tranquil (205)
disparage (214)
subsist (218)
infuse (234)
quotidian (236)
discreet (250)
premonition (255)
aloof (257)
pliable (258)
pedagogue (260)
envious (270)
malaise (273)
uniform (adjective) (274)
renovate (275)
retract (275)
ruse (283)
colossus (285)
diminish (290)
forsake (290)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A rose by any other name would be as sweet . . .

Who is your namesake?
What's the story behind your parents naming you?
What does your name mean?
Do you have any great "name" anecdotes to share?

As we begin reading our first book together this year, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, we will share all of the trivia surrounding our name that we know. The questions above should get you thinking about your name, and you should talk to your family about your naming process if you don't know the story. You could even research what your name means. These will be fun stories to share on Friday, September 11, so be prepared to do so when you get to class. Over the weekend I want you to comment on this blog post with one or two fun facts about your name. Make sure that you only use your first name though since EHS's Web 2.0 Code of Ethics require that you do not use last names.

So I know that you are dying to know the answers to those questions for me, so here goes . . .

My namesake is Jacqueline Kennedy. My mom loved the Kennedys. I use the past tense not because my mom stopped loving the Kennedys, but because my mother died when I was 26. She was hit by a truck while walking across a road. Anyway, I was born in the 60s, my mother loved Jackie Kennedy, so she looked up the spelling of Jackie's full name, and Jacqueline Mary Roehl was named.
My mom took a lot of grief from family and friends for her choice for my name, not because people were opposed to the Kennedy reference, but people were opposed to the Jack connection. You see, Jacqueline is just a variation of Jack which is a variation of John. So technically, Jacqueline is a male name. And the irony is that I have five older brothers and no sisters. My mother's friends and family couldn't believe that after all the years of having boys that my mother finally got the girl that she always wanted, and then she gives the baby a BOY'S name. I guess that's what constitutes scandal in the 60s in the farming community of Medina, Minnesota.
In addition, my middle name is Mary, even though many people including my own brothers, still believe it's Maria even though I keep correcting them. I also didn't change my last name when I got married, so I have always been Jacqueline Mary Roehl.
My Namesake
My mother, her mother, my son, and me in 1987.

The Namesake Reading Schedule

The date indicates the due date for the reading selection. On those days be prepared for a discussion, assignment, or a quiz on the assigned pages. On the free day, be sure to catch up on your reading if you are behind, or read ahead to make the next week easier.

Sept. 11: pp. 1-21
Sept. 14: pp. 22-47
Sept. 15: pp. 48-71
Sept. 16: free day
Sept. 17: pp. 72-96
Sept. 18: pp. 97-124
Sept. 21: pp. 125-158
Sept. 22: pp. 159-187
Sept. 23: pp. 188-218
Sept. 24: pp. 219-245
Sept. 25: pp. 246-267
Sept. 28: pp. 268-273
Sept. 29: pp. 274-291

Cyber Bullying

Remember that this blog is an extension of our classroom, so every comment that you write needs to follow our established class rules around the words Work--Respect--Belong. All of your comments and posted images need to be appropriate.

To watch the famous cyberbulling talent show clip, click here.

Remember--If you wouldn't say it to the person's face, don't say it online.

The school district has established web 2.0 guidelines. Please read them by clicking here.

Obama's Back-to-School Speech

What's all the fuss?

If you've been following the news in the last few days, Obama's Back-to-School speech has people talking. Some believe that Obama's message is inspirational and motivational, others see it as a blatantly political ploy and are keeping their kids home from school. I think we should find out for ourselves. After viewing the video, I'd like to hear your opinions. Please post your comments on this blog. It is my hope this blog will become a safe place to extend discussion beyond the walls of our classroom. Please remember to be respectful of others, even if their opinions are different from your own.

Consider the following questions:

What do you remember most from the speech?

Was it worth watching in school? Why or why not?

Was it too political? How so?

What if anything will you take away from the speech? In other words, does anything Obama says relate to you and your educational journey?

A few reader letters from the Star Tribune on September 7, 2009:

"For goodness sake, parents, and school administrators, don't let President Obama try to inspire your students to work hard and be responsible in school. And above all, don't let the children freely discuss those virtues exemplified by Obama...Better you tell them to wait until they are grown up, when the... pundits (experts) and bloggers can do their thinking for them."

"Here's a thought: If Obama's speech to schoolchildren today is to be about setting goals and accomplishing things in life, then maybe that speech should be deferred to Wednesday night's address to Congress."

As a parent of school-aged children, I am begging school administrators... to please disrupt our children's day so they may hear - together with their classmates and teachers - President Obama speak to them about the importance of working hard in school. As a parent, I tell them this, their teachers tell them this, but for the president to take time out of his busy day to tell them this, I can guarantee you, my kids will remember this. Or is that what everyone is afraid of?"

"In the 1930s, the German government indoctrinated the school-children with their white supremacy and socialist culture. Our U.S. government has now sent the first "education" package to our schools. When do our children receive the Obama arm bands?"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mary Oliver's "The Journey"

Below is your homework assignment for Wednesday night. Plus, remember to bring your supplies to class on Thursday.

  1. Read the following poem.
  2. Summarize the main ideas of the poem through the key word notes strategy.
  3. Write a paragraph on theme and language that is due on Thursday, September 10. See detailed instructions below the poem.

"The Journey"
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Writing Assignment

In response to Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Journey,” please write a well-organized, thoughtful paragraph considering the following questions:

What is the main idea or theme of the poem?
How does the author’s language enhance the poem’s meaning?

Paragraphs should consist of at least 5-7 complex sentences. Typed, double spaced, 12 pt. font.



1 = needs improvement
2 = good
3 = excellent


___ Main points are clear
___ Detailed and specific analysis of the poem
___ Thematic examples are thoughtful and well-chosen
___ Specific examples of figurative language are mentioned and explained


___ Engaging, creative, and original attention-getting device
___ Clear thesis statement
___ Paragraph is cohesive and flows smoothly
___ Conclusion that summarizes and synthesizes

Obama's Address to Students

To watch President Obama's address to students across the United States, click here.

Think about what his address says to you about your educational goals for the year. What would Obama say to you about how to be successful in English class this year?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Download Thinking Maps Software at Home

EHS and Valley View own a campus community license for Thinking Maps software. This easy-to-use program will allow you to install the software on your home computer at no cost to you.

You can then create thinking maps that can be exported as PNG or JPEG file formats that can be uploaded to blogs, inserted in PowerPoints, and pasted into Word documents. In PowerPoints and Word the exported picture files appear in the same high quality that the files appear when viewed in the original Thinking Maps software. However, when the files are uploaded to blogger, much of the clear focus is lost when enlarged.

The easiest work-around for the clarity issue is to upload the picture files in "small" picture size in blogger. The "small" size allows blog readers to click on a picture to take it full screen. Then the Thinking Map is clear and easy-to-read.

To get your copy of Thinking Map software on your home computer, follow the directions below:
Log in to Edline.
Go to the Contents section of the main page.
Click on the folder marked Thinking Maps Software.
Go in to the XP install and install on your school and home computers.

To watch a quick video on how to download Thinking Maps software from Edline, click here.

Bubble Map Paragraph

After completing your bubble map, draft one paragraph that details one of your adjectives. Remember to concentrate on one adjective to give focus to the paragraph.

The typed paragraph is due on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 along with your completed bubble map. Your bubble map should include at least six adjectives that describe you, and each adjective needs one or two specific details that support them in the frame of reference. The paragraph should be typed, 12-point font, double spaced and be at least six sentences long. Also, please consider including a recent photo of yourself on your bubble map or your paragraph so that I can begin to learn your name.

If you would like to create your bubble map electronically, Thinking Maps software is available free of charge to all EHS students. Simply go to Edline and find the Thinking Maps software file folder on your main page. You can easily download the software from there to your home computer. If you have trouble downloading the software, simply create a bubble map on paper.

Here is the paragraph inspired by the green adjective on my bubble map.

Roehl Seeing Green

Having grown up on a farm in Medina, I have an affinity for rich, black soil laced with a little cow manure. Such a garden that yields the juiciest tomato or the tenderest ear of corn is a thing of beauty. In my small yard in St. Louis Park I have a fairly large vegetable and fruit garden to keep my farming ancestry alive and showcase my green philosophy. I also belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. My CSA farmer Richard delivers one box of fresh, organic vegetables each week for my family to enjoy. I make an awesome chocolate zucchini cake and a beans and greens dish sure to please the most sophisticated Italian palette. Richard also provides my family with organic fruit that he gets from his farming friends on the West Coast and in Mexico. For nine months out of the year my produce needs are met by this buying-locally, earth-friendly CSA method which allows my family to know we are being as green as possible where groceries are concerned. I have taken this green philosophy to other areas of my life. Two years ago I began mowing my lawn with a reel mower; that's the type of push mower that's powered only by humans. Although the reel mower might not leave the most manicured lawn, I enjoy the quiet, peaceful mowing experience that saves gas and carbon emissions. Speaking of emissions, I have also reduced my clothes dryer emissions by hanging most of my family's laundry on the line. While my family was in Spain for three weeks in 2007, I noticed that most, if not all, Spanish families hang their clothes on the line from their apartment windows. I figured that if they can do it without a backyard, then I was being wasteful of the planet's resources my using a machine to dry my clothes. Although being green takes a lot of work, I am glad that I have taken a few simple steps to reduce my carbon footprint.

My backyard vegetable garden supplies my family with lots of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, etc.

This is one of my favorite family farm photos. It features my father and his sister, Sr. Aelred, in the 1950's working in our family garden.

Course Syllabus

Course Description

English 10 refines the language arts skills of reading, literary analysis, writing, vocabulary development, research, critical thinking, speaking, listening, visual literacy, and digital literacy. Some selections align with the World History sophomore course so that students can make interdisciplinary connections. Selections include both Western and non-Western texts that reflect diversity in race, gender, age, economics and geography. In addition, students will contribute to a class blog to create an online learning community that extends classroom discussions.

Regular instruction in vocabulary will use both explicit lessons and vocabulary specific to the literature being studied in class. Vocabulary words have been chosen that appear on an SAT Vocabulary study list.

Intensive writing instruction will help students develop thinking skills and a personal voice. Students will write one formal, typed assessment each quarter for a total of four formal assessments per year. Essay assignments throughout the year will include multiple modes such as narrative, persuasion, and critical analysis. Grammar and usage review will include explicit lessons, but focus on using correct conventions in writing. Writing instruction and assessment will use the Six Traits of writing, rubrics and exemplars. Students will write a major research paper during third quarter.

Major Texts in Each Unit

Identity and the Journey as a Universal Ritual:

The Namesake
The Road
The Odyssey
O, Brother Where Art Thou?

Ethical Dilemmas: Individual vs. Society:

All My Sons
A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Much Ado About Nothing

Cultures Collide:

Nectar in a Sieve
Things Fall Apart
The Mission
Bride and Prejudice


• Choice Unit: In the Time of the Butterflies, Slaughterhouse 5 or The Weight of All Things
Rabbit Proof Fence

Ongoing areas of study:

• Visual and Digital Literacies
• Poetry
• Vocabulary
• Writing, grammar, usage, and mechanics
• Reading Comprehension and Analysis

Literature Selection at EHS

1. Literature that is studied and read as part of a course has "been sited for excellence by an independent source (for example it has won literary awards, received positive reviews by independent book reviewers and/or recommendations from professional organizations, etc.) and/or the author has been sited for excellence by an independent source.

2. Students should read and analyze a variety of literature in print, auditory and visual texts including fiction, poetry, drama and nonfiction; literature should be both classic and contemporary and cover a variety of diversity topics including race, gender, age, economics, and geography.

3. In grades 9-12 literature studied moves from young adult literature to adult works of fiction and non-fiction.

My Beliefs

• I believe in a safe working environment for all of my students.
• I believe in the power of texts to help people understand the world and the human condition.
• I believe that I have a responsibility to prepare you for the real world to work and think on a critical, analytical level in a media-infused 21st century.
• I believe that through English 10 you will learn to write more fluently, read more deeply, question more critically, and empathize more compassionately.
• I believe that student engagement is the critical element in learning and achievement.
• I believe in nurturing a respectful, working relationship with each student that also recognizes the passions and interests of my students.
• I believe in social justice and educational reform.
• I believe in all of you!!!

My Expectations of Students

Work: Show up for class—physically and mentally. Your fellow students and I need you here. Your primary purpose is to participate in your learning and to produce work that contributes to the good of our class community. As Michael Hartoonian, scholar of education and public policy, says, “Work that we do to improve our personal circumstances always affects others. If we do good work, that good radiates to others. Of course, poor or bad work also radiates to others, causing a general decline in the wealth of the community.” Knowledge, which you gain through work, is key to successful citizenship in a multicultural world. To this end, expect homework each night and prepare to speak in class each day.

Respect: At all times, be respectful of scholarship, of yourself, of each other, and of me. We are in this together.

Belong: Foster community by taking care of each other, being ready for anything, and appreciating the differences that each person brings to class.


Grades are figured according to the following scale based on cumulative point totals:

100-93% A
92-90% A-
89-87% B+
86-83% B
82-80% B-
79-77% C+
76-73% C
72-70% C-
69-67% D+
66-63% D
62-60% D-
59-0% F

Academic Integrity

Consider that your character and good name cannot be easily reclaimed once you make the decision to cheat. If you do decide to cheat or plagiarize in any portion of the academic work for the course, you will earn a zero for the assignment and may be referred to administration for disciplinary action. Do not compromise your integrity by cheating. Please pay attention to penalties for scholastic and academic dishonesty outlined on page 18 of the student handbook, and be aware that cheating is both the giving and the receiving of answers on a test or assignment.

English 10 Policies

Major papers: Major papers will be accepted within a 3-5 day amnesty window of the due date. While the size of the opening of the amnesty window will remain at my discretion, I will alert you to the dates when major papers are assigned. This should give you ample time to complete the paper on time and resolve any technical or personal issues that may arise. As long as your paper is handed in within the window, it is considered "on time" and will be graded without penalty. Papers are graded in the order that they were handed in. If you hand in your paper one day after the time frame window has closed, 25% will be taken off of your final score, resulting in a C being the highest possible grade that you could earn on that paper. If you hand in the paper any time after that, 50% will be taken off of your final score. All major papers will be worth 100 points. If you are absent on the closing due date, the paper needs to be emailed to me that day by 8:30 a.m. as an attachment if it is to be graded without penalty. Additionally, you must plan to hand in a hard copy of your paper upon your return to school.

Daily work: Research indicates that assigning homework, providing timely feedback, and obtaining assessment of student learning are important in enhancing the teaching-learning process. The purpose of homework is to either prepare you for the following day’s lesson, or to enhance and practice the skills learned in the previous lesson. This purpose is lost if the homework is not completed on time. For this reason, late homework will not be accepted. However, two times per quarter an extra credit assignment will be given that extends a student's learning, and students may complete that new learning assignment to make-up for lost daily points.

Tests: If you are absent the day of a major test, you will need to attend the make-up test session that I schedule. Make-up tests are comprised of short answer questions, while the regular test will have a variety of question types, including multiple choice. Retesting is not allowed. Be prepared for tests the first time.

Reading Check Quizzes: Occasionally, you may need to complete a quiz on the previous night’s reading assignment. Quizzes may be unannounced. If you are absent and miss a reading check quiz, you will need to complete questions on the reading instead of taking a make-up quiz. Completing the questions will excuse you from the missing test, but will not be worth points.

The Notebook: All students will be expected to maintain a classroom composition notebook that includes comprehensive classroom notes, journal entries, daily assignments, vocab lists, etc. The notebook will also have a detailed table of contents. The individual pages of the notebook will be checked at random during class every two weeks. After an absence, it is your responsibility to check with a trusted classmate and to copy down the notes that you missed within two days of returning to school.

Mice and New Carpet

There are mice in the building, and they move into any classroom where food or sugary drinks reside. In addition, we have brand new carpet, which is awesome, but hasn't happened since 1990. We don’t want mice, and we don’t want to ruin our new carpet. To that end, water ONLY (no additives) is allowed in this room. Please use reusable water bottles as there is only paper recycling in this room. Go GREEN!!!


Please have the following supplies in class by Thursday, September 10:

In Your Backpack each day . . .

  • a single subject notebook that is used exclusively for English 10
  • a pen, pencil, and highlighter
  • a planner or some way to keep track of assignments and tests
  • index cards if you like making vocabulary flashcards
Please bring two of the bulleted items below to leave in Room 271 for common use . . .

  • box of facial tissue
  • bottle of hand sanitizer
  • container of disinfecting wipes
  • package of loose leaf paper
  • a package of construction paper
  • a pack of printer paper
  • package of four glue sticks
  • adult size scissors
  • packs of markers
  • package of 24 pencils
Remember all supplies are due on Thursday, September 10 when I will check them off for daily work points.

Keeping in Touch
If you have any questions or feel as though you need additional help throughout the semester, please ask! I am available most days before and after school in my classroom. Please call or email with any questions or concerns. I’m looking forward to sharing a productive and enjoyable year together! I believe in you!!!

Ms. Jackie Roehl
Room 271