October 1, Banned Books Week and the issue of Censorship

Thanks to all of you who created posters and helped get our school ready to celebrate Banned Book Week! I think many people in the school enjoy the book sale and the morning extended Advisory that will take place Friday.

Some of you will also attend a college class on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd (4:20 to 6:00PM) with Mr. Kent Baxter. Mr. B’s class has been discussing specific issues of censorship. They will be doing presentations in the first part of class. Then, our class will interact. We will be discussing specific questions on censorship and finding out what our differences and similarities are in our points of view. Finally, we will be brainstorming ways to combat censorship. This should make for a stimulating discussion.

On Friday, our guest speaker, Edie Pistolesi, will present a slide show and brief lecture on “Art Education in the Age of Guantanamo.” Ms. Pistolesi recently published a paper on her students’ experience creating a project on peace.

Our Banned Book Week kick-off will provide an excellent introduction to the American Literature thematic unit on the Transcendentalists and the Birth of the Civil Rights movement.

Work due this week included daily journals, reading journals, and posters on the issue of censorship. Next week will see us ready for the 5-week grade.

2007-8 Welcome back to a great year!

To all 11th grade students:  Please try to leave a comment on the blog. If you’d like, leave me one essential question (something you think hard about).  I’m thinking that most of you have blogs and will be able to log-on.  Let me know if it isn’t true.
To all 9th grade students:  Welcome to the world of blogging. As soon as you have i.d. numbers and e-mail access, we’ll be able to add you to the blog. If you don’t have an e-mail account, let me know and I’ll send you to Mr. McPhee for info on how to obtain a free account.

Meanwhile:  here’s one of my favorite books for this month: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Summertime Magic

No matter what else happens in summer, I always look forward to summertime reading. This week was a major event for lovers of the Harry Potter series, the arrival of Book 7,  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll soon find out…what with the buzz and 11 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.

Two days in, I’ve read the first 23 chapters.  I won’t spoil anything, other than to say it is terrific…and I’ve enjoyed my reading marathon enormously.

Introducing Sherman Alexie: week of June 4

Smoke Signals, the 1998 film produced by writer Sherman Alexie provides a serio-comic exploration of the fictional work of a contemporary, native-American writer.

Using the language of film, students will write about the way camera, narration, sound, and screenplay tell the story. As a basis of comparison, students will read “This is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona,” the short story on which the movie is based.

Students will use the attached graphic organizer to take notes on their watching. The first page provides space for notetaking. Page two is a glossary of film-making terms.

Movie Doc

Poetry Anthology Assignment

Due:  May 31, 2007

Anthology of Your Poems (a collection; a set)
•    All five of the poems assigned in class based on the models:  (See blog).
o    Women Who Love Angels
o    What’s In My Journal
o    Street Poet   by  Keith Jones
o    Haiku……..using excerpts from Walden/Haiku Personal
o    Ode to Common Things by Pablo Neruda
•    Illustrations for each poem that reveal the tone of the poem.
•    Reflection on your process for each poem that you have written.
•    Two “Responses” to your poems by someone else in the class.

Haiku: Relating to Nature and Thoreau’s Walden

Walden is one of the most famous American studies on man in nature. As we take a look at the haiku form, Thoreau’s work provides some wonderful words and phrases to make “found” haiku.

The haiku is more complex than it first appears. Short as it is, it must contain suprise, the power of imagery, and fresh language. Sometimes it helps to write out sentences and strip them back to their essence. This is what haiku are all about.

The resulting four to six poems cry out for illustration. Use your imagination (and your artistic skill) to provide a visualization to go with your written work.

Attached, you will find a few words about the haiku form and a few models. Remember: it is not necessary to follow the “seventeen syllable” requirement.


Poems to Use as Models

One great model is William Stafford’s “What’s In My Journal.”  The poet uses a marvelous cluster of noun phrase to emphasize the spirit of “no ideas but in things.”  His phrases show us not only the “things” that are in his thoughts but the feelings he has about them…and the feelings he has about himself.

Write a poem in which you follow the stanzas and patterns of Stafford’s verse. One student wrote “What’s in My Harddrive”; another wrote “What’s in my Closet.”  But, you can also explore what is in your own journal.