Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Blog #12: Your Nonfiction Project

Due Date: Tuesday, June 7
Minimum Word Count: 400 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 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 was 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 thing you learned that you left out of your project?

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blog #11: To Kill a Mockingbird Readers Notebook #2

This entry should cover the end of the book
Due Date:
 Wednesday, May 25
Minimum Words: 500 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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blog #10: To Kill a Mockingbird Reader's Notebook #1

 This blog post should cover the events of Chapters 1-10 in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Minimum Words: 400
Minimum Text References and Citations: 4 (Including works outside of To Kill a Mockingbird)
Due Date: Sunday, April 23 at midnight. It must be done before large group discussion.
Note: You are very welcome to include references to other works, including books, stories, videos, music, and other things.

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

This notebook entry is supposed to be 100% dictated by your own analysis and relationship to the text. If you can, try to do this without looking at the suggested questions below. However, for those of you who need a little push to begin this voyage, please feel free to consider the following questions or statements:

  • Try to apply a critical lens to your reading, the characters, or Harper Lee.

  • Who is the protagonist in the novel? Who is the antagonist? How does the opposition of these two characters help develop the drama and the unfolding of the tale?

  • How would this story be narrated, in the third person, from the point of view of Dill’s fabulous imagination?

  • How would Boo Radley describe Jem, Scout, and Dill?

  • What motivates the primary characters?

  • What kind of teacher is Miss Caroline, Scout’s first grade teacher?

  • Here are some pictures of America during the time frame in which the novel is set. What connections can you make to the text?

  • Take a look at some of the actual artifacts from the Jim Crow era in America. How does this affect your reading or your perceptions of the novel.

Please cite page numbers and specific passages from the novel to support your inferences and conclusions. We will be using these questions and your conclusions, questions, and insights to spark classroom discussion on Wednesday.

Example citation:
Scout says that " Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it" (Page 4). She seems to be trying to emphasize not just the age of the town, but also the slowness of the town, the values of the people, and the way that summer heat made everything drag on.

or
This isn’t the first time we see one of the Price women choosing materialism over God, despite Nathan’s harsh beatings and warnings. On page 363, Rachel reaches for her mirror instead of for her Bible, explaining “[ . . . ] it didn’t seem worth saving at that moment, so help me God. It had to be my mirror.” Whether this shows rebellion or just the simplistic mindset of a 15-year-old teenage girl, I’m not sure. Perhaps she was, in her own, small way, rebelling from Nathan. But maybe she just wanted to make sure that no matter where she went in Africa, she would always know the state of her appearance. That seems pretty likely.


* The sample reader's notebook above is done by a senior in high school with a lot of experience writing these notebooks. It is also over 600 words longer than the entry you are expected to create. No pressure.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blog #9: Julius Caesar, leadership, and good people

Due Date: Wednesday, March 16
Minimum Words: 450
Outside links required: one
Correctly cited text references required: 2

For the complete text of Julius Caesar, with both the original text and the modern translation, check out No Fear Shakespeare: Julius Caesar.

Consider the story of Julius Caesar and reference it as you respond to the text. Your response should focus on the ideas of Power and Leadership.


Make sure your writing as a clear claim near the beginning and that you introduce your topic ully. You need to give context to your audience at the start of your writing so they know what you are writing about what you may be trying to prove.


Here are a few questions if you need an idea to get you started. You can go in depth about any of these or combine them into your own questions. Don't treat this as a quiz and answer every questions.

  • What modern connections can you make between Julius Caesar and the idea of leadership today?
  • Antony, another member of that ruling class, is also one of the more sympathetic characters of the play. But is he a good ruler?
  • Does this play portray an ideal leader? Does it give any clues about what an ideal leader could be?
  • What is the difference between a good person and a good leader? Are those two things mutually exclusive in certain ways? Are there ways that good people cannot be good leaders and good leaders cannot fully be good people? What implications does this have on your views of leadership?
  • What kind of leader is Julius Caesar? The conspirators say he's a tyrant headed for absolute power. Is there evidence in the play to support this? Is Caesar really a threat to the Roman Republic? Why or why not?
  • Were the conspirators justified in removing a leader who has the potential to be a tyrant?
  • What relationship is there between leaders and those who are led (or, perhaps, followers)? What does this play suggest about the people's ability to choose leaders and the choices they make for themselves? What do the Plebeians suggest in this play?
  • What connections can you make between "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and Julius Caesar.



Here's how you cite examples and lines from the play:

You will receive extra credit points for attempting to quote a passage from the play in the correct format.

25. Verse play or poem For verse plays, give act, scene, and line numbers that can be located in any edition of the work. Use arabic numerals and separate the numbers with periods.
In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Gloucester, blinded for suspected treason, learns a profound lesson from his tragic experience: “A man may see how this world goes / with no eyes” (4.6.148-49).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Blog #8: Claim, Evidence, and Warrant

Due: Friday, February 12 at midnight
Minimum words: 500
Minimum links or evidence: 3

Note: This blog entry is worth more than the traditional 25 point blog entry. You will be evaluated by more than one person, including members of the Journalism 2 class at Buffalo High School.

For the past few weeks, we've been talking about Claim, Evidence, and Warrant as a way of presenting an argument. If you're totally baffled by this, check out this helpful site that will walk you through it. Also, this page may be even more helpful with examples.

We're pretty awesome at creating arguable claims, and we're starting to get great at Evidence. Warrant is giving us a headache.

Warrant is the "So what?" It explains why your evidence is important and how your evidence connects to your claim. It makes a claim convincing.

Your task? It's easy.

Choose a topic. It could be the same as your Satire topic, something that can help you with your nonfiction project, or just something you're interested in. Then, you get to engage it with informational writing using Claim - Evidence - Warrant.

  1. Make an arguable claim that you actually believe.

  2. Provide valid evidence for your claim from authoritative sources and link to that evidence.

  3. Provide warrant.

  4. Anticipate a counter-claim and briefly argue against it, explaining how your argument is better through evidence and warrant.
I ask that you make a claim that you actually believe in or one that you actually can support. Remember that an arguable claim is one that can be debated, so go ahead and pick something that not everyone agrees with you about.

Your writing should be polished and your evidence should be sound. You should put emphasis on proofreading your entry and work toward having a clear and audience-friendly final draft.

Need help? Try it first!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Blog #7: Logical Fallacies Conclusions

Due: Monday, January 11
Minimum Words: 400
Links Required: Your Fallacy Video and perhaps your presentation

For this post please embed your group's fallacy video and strongly consider embedding your Fallacy presentation. This is a great chance to turn your blog into a portfolio.

After you include your work, come to some conclusions about how Logical Fallacies relate to problem solving, debates, or influence. If you need help coming to a conclusion or getting started with your writing, please consider to following questions:

  • What has studying logical fallacies taught you about reasoning, debating, and argument.
  • Where have you encountered logical fallacies in your life? 
  • What fallacies do you find yourself using?
  • How can understanding fallacies make you a more prepared thinker or debater?
  • Why do you think logical fallacies are used?
  • How can understanding fallacies help with problem solving?
  • How can people best use debates and discussions to promote problem solving instead of creating deeper divisions? How can understanding logical fallacies relate to this?
  • Why are debates and discussions so difficult sometimes?
  • When have you seen fallacies used correctly?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Blog #6: First Nonfiction Project Check-in

Due: Wednesday, December 22
Words: 300-350
Minimum Links: 1
This blog is an official check in on your research process.

Welcome to your first blog post on your nonfiction project.

You've decided a topic and even started some research on it. You're in the process of collecting information and finding experts to contact or experiences you can have related to your topic.

This is your first official check-in since you shared your original Google Doc. Some of you have changed your topic and others have altered it from its original form. Let's see where you're at today.

Please try to write this as a cohesive post instead of just listing and answering questions.

Some questions to get you thinking:

  • What topic are you pursuing? How could you turn that topic into a question or two.
    • For example; If you are studying the impact of grades on learning, you may have questions like "When can grades be harmful and helpful?", "Are grades fair?", "What do grades really reflect?"

  • How will you share your project? We'll all be doing some formal writing, but think about how you'll share your discoveries with the class. Think about videos, presentations, Podcasts, websites, VoiceThreads, interactive multimedia, or other options. Don't say "PowerPoint." Describe different ways your finished project could look?

  • What are/were your thoughts or preconceptions on this topic at the start of it. What would you imagine you'd find out about the topic? Go ahead and make assumptions and hypotheses here and don't worry about being right or wrong.

  • What sort of research have you done about your topic through print resources and research databases?

  • What kind of first-hand research could you do?

  • What experts or professionals have you reached out to? What sort of responses have you had? If you haven't where and how can you start looking for these people?

  • What questions you do have at this point or what roadblocks/setbacks have you encountered?

  • What are your next steps going to be?