Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Blog #4: Happiness and the American Dream

Due: Thursday, November 29
Minimum Words: 500
Minimum Quotations or Paraphrases from works we've read in class: 3
Minimum Links to outside sources: 1

Your evidence from texts needs to be cited properly. Please refer to Purdue's Online Writing Lab for the way to do this correctly.




We all want to be happy, right? But, what happens once we get there?

Happiness is a huge topic. It's the subject of movies, books, music, and countless conversations. You think about it when you pick your friends, your hobbies, and how you relate to others.

Writing this blog prompt is difficult for me, because my friends came up with over 100 important questions about happiness, and the class generated over 60.

So, here's what I'd like for you to do this week. Consider what we've done in class; the stories we've read, the conversations you've had, and the activities we've done. After that, come to a conclusion about the pursuit of happiness and share it here. Connect multiple sources in your writing to use as evidence to support your points.

Here are some possible themes to consider:

  • The pursuit of free, easy happiness with minimal effort.
  • The relationship between happiness and perfection.
  • The dynamic between beauty, nature, science, and technology.
  • The transcendental philosophy of the Happiness of the Journey; Happiness in Imperfection; Happiness in Location; and Happiness in Nature. 
  • The American Dream and the Pursuit of Happiness. 
  • The way we can truly achieve lasting happiness. 
  • Other conclusions you've made about the idea of attaining happiness. 

Reference what we've done, your own thinking and experiences, and outside sources that connect to what you're thinking about.

I'll try not to ruin this one by asking too many questions.

Good luck.

 Things you can and should reference in your blog:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Blog #3: The Stranger

Due: Wednesday, October 10 by midnight

Your blog post this week will be based on a creative response to The Stranger by Camus. You can pick from the following options or pitch a different idea to Mr. McCallum before writing. These prompts will evolve over time, so make suggestions, corrections, etc.

Your response should be at least 500 words long.

Do not do more than one of these prompts.

1. Write an important piece of an alternate ending for The Stranger considering one of these two paths:

  • Meursault does not shoot the Arab.
  • Meursault is found not guilty of murder.
    • Note: If you think there is another pivotal moment in the book that could create an excellent alternative storyline, feel free to explore that in your writing. Some examples that were suggested were Meursault's interaction with the Magistrate, his decisions surrounding his friendship with Raymond, or his choices made about his career and love life.
  • It could be an actual passage from the “novel” or a detailed plot outline of key events.
  • Keep an absurdist slant to the resolution you create. Your writing should reflect an understanding of The Absurd or Absurdist philosophy.

2. Meursault is intriguing, puzzling, and infuriating to those around him, but many people tend to give him the benefit of the doubt and even make excuses for his behavior. Write a detailed character description of Meursault from the perspective of Marie, Raymond, or The Magistrate. It could be from any point on the timeline in the novel or set after the events of the novel have taken place.


  • Your writing can include dialogue and actual events from the novel.
  • Your writing should reveal something about both the characters who are narrating and Meursault.
  • Your character is free to ask questions, speculate, make assumptions, and be wrong.
  • Try to stay “in character” during this writing.

3. Imagine Meursault attended BCMS or was a teacher at BCMS in the year 2018. Describe something unique to this place or this time from the perspective of Meursault that stays true to the style and the internal monologue of The Stranger.


  • How would an absurdist teenager or teacher react to the world around him? How would an absurdist react to technology, school, assignments, Wal-Mart, or other things?
  • Your Meursault could be male or female.
  • Your writing should be in line with the ideas and philosophy presented in The Stranger.
  • How would his family, bosses, girlfriend/boyfriend, and friends react to him?
  • Note: You should NOT make comparisons between Meursault and any real students or teachers at BCMS. You can, however, compare his reactions with yours.

4. Which modern heroes or villains could Meursault best be compared to? You could compare him to characters in plays, movies, comic books, video games, and other novels.

  • The Stranger is an incredibly influential work of literature and many modern directors and authors have studied it. It wouldn’t be surprising if many characters, both heroes and villains are modeled after Meursault.
  • Have any modern heroes or villains personified absurdist philosophy?
  • Back up your assertions with evidence and details.
  • Remember that your audience may be unfamiliar with the work you are referencing, so provide some sort of explanation or context for the work or characters in your writing.
    • For example, if I were to compare Meursault with The Misfit from Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," I would want to make sure to explain exactly who The Misfit is and what about his character reminds me of Meursault.
    • Hey Look! Somebody did it.
Here's one interesting example of a comparison to a modern villain. Don't look at it if you don't want to be influenced.

5. Illustrate Meursault's reaction to (or relationship with) nature at crucial points in the novel.

  • In your blog post, Include the passage or moment you are illustrating and explain the significance of your illustration. This is the part of your blog that demonstrates the critical thinking work behind your work of art.
  • Your illustration to could show positive feelings and relationships, negative feelings and relationships, or both.
  • All the following criteria can be ignored if you have a better idea:
    • Pick a medium you'll work well with. Your options include, but are not limited to; painting, photography, drawing, online art tools, etc.
    • Your illustration does not have to be literal or realistic. You can be abstract. You should take risks.
    • Your illustration can represent feelings and emotions.
    • You could include a series of illustrations rather than a single work.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Blog #2 - Your Life as a Reader

Due: Monday, September 24 by the end of the day.
Word Count: 300
Required: Include a link to your autobiography or, if you are able, embed it in your post using HTML.

Here's a video about how to embed a Google Slideshow into a blog post.

Introduction


Over the past two weeks, you've thought a lot about your development as a reader, not just as a young adult, but also as a small child. You've considered your parents' involvement in your reading life as well as some of the most positive and negative experiences you've had with literature. Just as importantly, you've come to see something about the reading lives of the people around you - your teachers, your parents, and your peers.

Questions to Consider


You may answer any, all, or none of the following questions and prompts. Do not treat these questions as a quiz. If you're answering more than one question, focus on blending multiple prompts into a seamless response.

The best responses will bring in links to outside sources, including videos, cartoons, photographs, and articles.
  • What conclusions can you come to about yourself as a reader?

  • What role did reading or story play in your life as a young child and what affect (if any) do you think it had on your development as a reader?

  • What do your positive and negative experiences with reading have in common?

  • If you were to create a program that would encourage people to read for enjoyment and personal growth for their entire lives, what would you do?

  • Why do you think people stop reading or fall "out of love" with reading as they get older?

  • What did you learn about your classmates' reading journeys? Can you come to any tentative conclusions based on your observations?

  • What do you think you'll discover in your research on reading?

  • How can reading be social?

  • What have you noticed about books you dislike? What have you noticed about books you really like?

  • What single book or story can you attribute with the key moment in your development as a reader?
Samples of Student Work:
Remember, these examples are of work done last year and represent only one possible way of completing the assignment. This is not the only way to do it. In fact, these are products of the first time this assignment was done and your project can be different and better than these models. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Blog #1: What is Truth?

“Fiction is the lie that helps us understand the truth.”
― Tim O'Brien
Due date: Monday, September 10.
Minimum Words: 350
Remember to cite evidence from sources outside of your own opinion. 
We know that writers, especially non-fiction writers, are supposed to be loyal to the truth. That idea seems simple at first, but as we examine the concept more fully, it becomes apparent that truth is a difficult concept to define.
Here, Ken Burns, a respected American director of documentary films, talks about the difficulty storytellers can have with the truth and how filmmakers tell 24 lies per second to bring an audience closer to the truth.

Ken Burns: On Story from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

For the first week of Quest 8 English, we're discussing and expanding on your interpretations of the meaning of Truth. We'll come up with a wide variety of possible definitions and characteristics for the concept of truth, but we were unable to come up with a broad definition that could satisfy everyone. Your first blog entry should tackle this difficult situation.
Take a look at the following questions and respond in any way you choose on your blog. Try to include the word "Truth" somewhere in your post's title. Do not answer each of these questions like they are a quiz. Pick one, none, or a combination of questions and engage with them in a way that shows your developing viewpoint on the idea of Truth.
  1. What is truth to you?
  2. What should all readers and/or writers know about the truth?
  3. What does it mean to be loyal to the truth?
  4. In what ways can a writer best find and report the truth?
  5. Can you find or link to a story/video/podcast that exemplifies the pursuit of Truth.
Your response should be thorough and personal, capturing your unique voice and perspective. Try to write at least 350 words. A true blog will contain links to outside sources or responses to the thoughts of the other blogs in the class. 
Good luck.
Due date: Monday, September 10

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Blog #11 - Option 2 - Your Year

Due Date: Thursday, June 7
Minimum Word Count: 350 words

This blog option is more open-ended than the other choice. In this blog, please reflect on your growth as a thinker, reader, writer, and speaker by exploring the connections and conclusions you've made throughout this year.

Scroll through your blog. Re-read your first post. What have you see changing about your writing? What ideas did you find most interesting? What things have you been thinking about since we first explored them?

To help get ideas sparked, here are some of the things we've looked at in just one year.


  • What is Truth?
  • Happiness and the American Dream
  • The Stranger and the Meaning of Your Life
  • This is Water - Intelligence as the gift of choosing
  • Creating and posters about topics
  • Non-fiction projects
  • Nature and Science and the quest for beauty and perfection
  • The Good Life
  • Goodness 
  • Leadership
  • Asking Questions
  • Choice
  • Connections
  • Critical Lenses and reading Deeply
  • Autobiographies of Self as Reader
  • Satire
  • Video Projects
  • The Importance of Story
  • Research
  • Experience Points
  • Fallacies 
  • Claim, Evidence, Warrant
  • Discussions and Seminars 
  • Critical writing prompts
  • Ccreative writing prompts
  • Interviews
  • Lead-Transition-Quote articles
  • Julius Caesar, sonnets, and tabeaus
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Stranger
  • Vonnegut
  • A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • The American Male Age 10
  • Hawthorne, Thoreau, and transcendentalism 
  • Shoe stories
  • and a lot more



Blog #11: Your Nonfiction Project

Due Date: Thursday, June 7
Minimum Word Count: 350 words

Congratulations, friend! You did it.

You've got your nonfiction project complete and you've shared it with the class. You've put in a lot of time, effort, and energy over the past few months, and you've learned something because of it. Now, it's time to share what you've learned.

This blog has two requirements:

  1. Share your project in some way on here. 

    1. Embed your Prezi, Slideshow, or YouTube video.

    2. Upload your podcast to SoundCloud and embed it.

    3. Share your Google Doc with the world and embed or link to it on here. Do something to make your project available to everyone.

  2. Reflect on your project.

If that is enough information for you and you want to take your own spin on this blog, then go for it!

If you still need more, then continue reading.

A good reflection will:

  • An explanation of how you accomplished what you accomplished.

    • What research did you do and what did you learn along the way about your topic as well as the research process.

    • What were your beliefs heading into the project and how did they change throughout your process?

  • What you think went well with your project.

  • What areas for improvement do you see?

    • Beyond "Start earlier", what would you do differently if you were to do this again?

  • What do you hope your audience would take from your project?

  • What are some things you learned that you left out of your project?

  • What are some things you're looking forward to doing with your next research project?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Blog #10: To Kill a Mockingbird Final Reader's Notebook

This entry should cover the end of the book
Due Date:
 Friday, May 18
Minimum Words: 550 of your own words, not counting quotations.
Note: Be sure you are using a lens and continually returning to the text. Feel free to refer to class discussions.

Helpful links: Sample Reader's Notebook from CIS Literature* | Critical Lens notecards |  Reading Schedule | Reader's Notebook Instructions Spark Notes




For this blog, try to move beyond just the reader response lens - just your reactions to the text. Instead, try to connect your reactions to something else, make observations and predictions, comparisons and contrasts, or use a different lens to shape your entry.

The most important thing to remember is that you should constantly refer to the text. Quote passages and paraphrase scenes.

Here are some questions or ideas you can look at tho get started if you are stuck:

  • Why is the book even called "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

  • Analyze Boo Radley's role in the novel.

  • What makes Atticus the way he is. What is his role in Maycomb?

  • How do characters change throughout the novel? How do they remain the same?

  • What's the role of family in the novel? Pay attention to Ms. Alexandra.

  • Take a look at these Book Club questions if you're really stuck.