Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Four Seasons/Allegro from Spring" by Vivaldi*; "Four Seasons" Mongolian folk music; "Four Sticks" by Led Zeppelin]

Leap year got me thinking about the number four.  Four seasons, four quarters to a whole, four year Olympiads, presidential terms, etc.  Be creative: using what you know about the number four, imagine how an author could use this as a symbol in fiction.  (Bring in examples if you can think of some, and also consider the significance of other numbers-- like the culturally lucky "3" or the "10" of iambic pentameter).

1. Journal/check LA notes
2. Sonnet read-around

1. Finish LA
2. Prepare a brief for your LA: one paragraph per open essay question that provides relevant information that would help others learn enough about your book to answer the question

*How cool is this?  While researching Jon's p.2 question about whether the "Four Seasons" included a chorale (yes, I checked Wikipedia) in class, I discovered that Vivaldi actually composed the works to accompany four...wait for it... SONNETS!  As someone (Gary?) said, "The circle is complete."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kudos: February (III)

Congratulations to the following students on their college acceptances and scholarship wins!

Shannon Murray (San Diego State)
Jessica Parra (UC Merced, CSUN)
Tori Thompson (Sonoma State)
Tatiana Alvarez (UC Merced, San Jose State)
Marie Alvarado (CSUN)
Gary Case (CSUN)
Betzy Bras (CSUN)
Kelli Carrillo (CSUN)
Katie Enstad (CSUN, San Diego State)

If I've missed anyone, or if you've done something amazing since I posted this, please let me/us know in class.

February 28

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Sister Moon" by Sting]
Describe (or imagine) a moment in social conversation when a quote from a poem was (or would be) more effective than the speaker's own words.  Explain why the poetry has more impact.

1. Journal
2. Sonnets

You should be at or near the end of your LA work; please bring in active reading notes tomorrow (2/29)

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27

Write a poem about the literature analysis book you are currently reading.  Stop after five lines (unless you've written a Haiku) and concisely evaluate the poem according to the criteria we discussed last week.

1. Journal
2. Explicate your poem to your partner (be sure to resolve any ambiguity or differences in understanding of analysis literary terms)

1. LA (due 3/2; hard copies due in class 3/1)

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Someday We'll All Be Free" by Alicia Keys; "Flight to Freedom" by Arturo Sandoval]

After you complete this journal entry and the required peer edits, you will have choices to make about how best to use your time today.  Given the goals you've set for yourself in this course, what's your plan?

1. Journal
2. Quiz [?]
3. Peer review
4. PR/CWG/blog/BQ/LA

1. Diligently read and prepare your LA notes

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kudos: February (II)

Congratulations to the following students on their college acceptances and scholarship wins!

Edith Gonzalez (CSULA)
Candace Rickman (Cal Poly SLO)
Sarah Rayburn (Colorado State University)
Jessica Manriquez (San Jose State)
Nicole Montoya (University of Hawaii)
Rebecca Patterson (UC Riverside, CSUN)
Dania Hatamleh (Cal Poly SLO)
Jon Hoffman (Cal Poly SLO)
Kristen Frias (Cal Poly SLO)
Kaley Jorgensen (Cal Poly SLO)
Jojo Relyea (Cal Poly SLO, Sonoma State)
Betzy Bras (Cal Poly SLO)
Paola Trujillo (San Jose State)
Marisol Zepeda (San Jose State)
Tatiana Alvarez (San Jose State)
Nancy Rubio (San Jose State)

If I've missed anyone, or if you've done something amazing since I posted this, please let me/us know in class.

February 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: [choose your own]

1. Journal/collect HW
2. Peer editing rubric
3. Peer editing: 1st round

1. Literature analysis reading
2. Prepare/bring materials for tomorrow (AP, blog, BQ, CWG all eligible)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google's New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

How-to Here

February 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Under the Bridge" & "Scar Tissue" by Red Hot Chili Peppers]

As you listen to the lyrics of today's tunes, consult your lecture notes from yesterday and deconstruct these songs as poetry.  Make sure to consider and address all 9 elements we covered.

1. Journal
2. Grade second set of multiple choice questions
3. Essay evaluation (Part I: AP Rubric)

1. Remember the poem you selected for your blog?  Interpret it using the 9 elements we covered in lecture 2.21 and reviewed in today's journal.  You may either post your interpretation to your blog or bring a hard copy to class Thursday, 2.23.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Alligator Story" by Louis Armstrong; "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" by The Beatles; "Wedding Rain" by Liz Story]

In thinking back on the literature analysis book you began reading this weekend (and/or consulting your active reading notes), describe 2-3 literary techniques the author used.  What purpose(s) did these techniques serve?  Be sure to include the title and author.

1. Journal
2. Return/analyze last week's AP multiple choice section

1. [ALL STUDENTS] Continue your reading/notes in your literature analysis book.
2. [CWGs] Email your current status to

Saturday, February 18, 2012

CWGs & BQs

Thanks to those of you who have emailed updates on CWGs & BQs-- keep up the good work!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Calling all mentors

Our network is expanding and mentors are in demand!  Some mentors have already informed me that they'll be meeting at lunch on Tuesday, February 21.  I'll make introductions and provide tech support.

February 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Expectations" by Belle & Sebastian; "No Expectations" by The Rolling Stones]

After considering Pip's expectations, it's time to focus on ours.  What do you expect when you think of the AP exam?  How do your expectations influence your chances for success in general (i.e., do they prepare you, do they make you less willing/able to adapt to the unexpected, or both)?

1. Journal
2. Micro-AP (Part II)

1. Choose your next literature analysis novel and begin reading.  You should plan on having it finished-- and your own notes ESSAY-WRITING READY-- by Friday, March 2

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Will Rock You" by Queen; "Right Now" by Van Halen]

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, whose teams won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, defined competitive greatness as, "Being at your best when your best is needed." Describe a time when you performed well in the clutch and analyze what made you successful.

1. Journal
2. Micro-AP Part I

1. Write 1-2 paragraphs about the test in which you answer the following questions (you may post to your blog or bring hard copy to class Friday 2.17):

  • What was easy/expected?
  • What was difficult/unexpected?
  • What did you learn about the AP questions?
  • What did you learn about your own performance under pressure?
  • How will this experience influence your preparation for the actual exam?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 Commandments of AP Literature & Composition

I was looking for something else just now when I ran across "The Ten Commandments of AP Literature and Composition" written by AP Lit and Comp teacher Martin Beller. Since we recently discussed the Judeo-Christian influences in the writings of Dickens and Shakespeare, and since you're about to undergo your first AP-esque test experience, the advice is timely and worth passing on.

Literary Terms Online Resource

Here's an online resource you can use in various ways to learn and practice the literary terms:

February 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Sign on the Line" by A.J. Croce; "Promises in the Dark" by Pat Benatar; "Tantra Cafe" by Aakarshan]

What does commitment mean to you? Is it merely talking a good game or is action required? I'm wondering, to be blunt, because I just graded last night's HW (at least what you posted) and it's clear that some of your peers have made commitments-- to themselves, to this course, and to you-- that they are unable or unwilling to keep. What is the impact of this on our learning community, and how do you suggest helping/dealing with/punishing those who don't take their commitments as seriously as you do?

1. Journal/collect hard copies of HW
2. Great Expectations lecture (part II)

1. Review your notes (and/or study with a partner) to prepare for micro-AP tomorrow and Friday

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kudos: February

Congratulations to the following students on their college acceptances and scholarship wins!

Jolissa Jiles (La Sierra University; CSU Fresno; Stetson U. [with $23k/year in student aid!]; Art Institute of California/San Bernadino campus]
Kristen Frias (CSU Monterey Bay)
Arianna Farmer (Floro Scholarship; U. of Portland; BYU-Hawaii)
Hannah Hosking (CSU Monterey Bay)
Marisol Zepeda (San Francisco State)
Betzy Bras (San Francisco State)
Kari Griego (San Francisco State)
Jake Dam-Mikkelsen (Sonoma State)
Tori Thompson (CSU Channel Islands; CSU Monterey Bay)
Patrick Sims (Temple University)
Rachel Bumstead (BYU-Idaho)
Gary Case (CSU Fullerton)
Mari Kagawa (Cal Poly)
Shannon Murray (CSULB)
Dania Hatamleh (CSULB)

If I've missed anyone, or if you've done something amazing since I posted this, please let me/us know in class.

February 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "My Funny Valentine" by Chet Baker w/ Gerry Mulligan]

Love may be considered a theme of both Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. Explain how you see evidence of this idea in terms of the characters, plot and any other literary elements you found important.

1. Journal/collect active reading notes
2. Kudos/Process notes
3. Great Expectations lecture I

1. Watch Dr. Tony Williams's Gresham College lecture on A Tale of Two Cities (below)
2. Take lecture notes and post them to your blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Colonel Bogey March

February 10

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: If you can remember it from sophomore year, you can whistle the "Colonel Bogey March" from The Bridge on the River Kwai. If you actually do this I hope everyone with a phone will video and email to me. The more the better.]

(This is another updated AP essay prompt, so please take a moment, consult your materials, and answer this as though you were setting up the essay.) Define the narrator’s attitude toward characters through imagery, diction, narrative structure, and choice of detail.

1. Journal
2. Finish LALA'ing: by the end of the period each member of the group should be satisfied that each of the other members somehow helped extend the group's understanding. If you see anyone who didn't, bug that person with questions until you're sure she knows what she's doing.

1. Finish all LALA work-- I may ask to see notes on Tuesday, and we'll have lots to talk about
2. Review three of your peers' BQ introductions (if you don't already have their URLs consult the "Member Blogs" page). Open a new tab and conduct your own research on the topic. Find five credible, compelling resources that you think would add to their paper. Explain why (2-3 sentences each). Post the annotated bibliography as a comment to your peer's BQ Introduction post.
3. When you receive the comment to your BQ introduction post, review it and check each citation. Evaluate its quality and determine whether or not you will include it in your paper. Write a thank you note to the colleague who sent it. In your thank you note tell your colleague whether you included each citation and why/why not (2-3 sentences each).

February 9

JOURNAL TOPIC: [Note: This is an update of an actual AP Prose Essay prompt. Feel free to take a few minutes longer than usual so you can consult your notes and the text if necessary.]
Explain how Dickens' presentation of details is intended to shape the reader’s attitudes toward the place(s) he describes. Give specific attention to the function of word choice, imagery, phrasing, and sentence structure.

1. Journal
2. LALAs: make sure that EVERYONE in your group is on track to finish the novel for tomorrow's class. You will have a guided review assignment over the weekend, as well as CWG/BQ work.

HW: Finish novel/LALA prep

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Hi Everyone,
Tragic news from the blogosphere. I just heard from a student whose blog was apparently deleted by blogger. It's weird, and it doesn't leave a good taste, but this is their online real estate and they can delete anything at any time. Please immediately back up your post files if you don't already have copies. I procrastinate on doing this too, but none of us can afford to have a semester's work go missing: don't delay.
Dr. Preston

your blogs look great

I'm about halfway through reading BQ intros and this week's Dickens HW, and so far your work looks terrific. Great job! I forgot which one of you had a talk by this guy on your blog, but I remembered his name--Taylor Mali-- and found this one on YouTube. I want to take his class.

February 8

Given what you learned of Dickens' life, and your deepening understanding of the novel you're reading, explain how you think he would have reacted to the Occupy protests. Include at least two textual examples from the novel to support your ideas.

1. Journal
2. LALAs


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Georgia senior launches MIT admission letter into space

Erin King recently received her admission letter from MIT. Then she sent it into space.

The story (originally posted on BoingBoing) is below the video.

"My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow, and set up to collect responses. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

February 7

JOURNAL TOPIC: [choose your own]

1. Journal
2. LALAs

1. Read this quote:
"What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people's hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you're playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack." -Keith Richards
2. Answer this question in a post to your blog:
What is it that made Charles Dickens write the novel you're reading? What in your analysis of literary techniques led you to this conclusion? (Make sure to include textual support illustrating Dickens' use of at least three techniques.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

CSF application

Here is the California Scholarship Federation application-- you can deliver it to Ms. Dolan (room 225), Ms. Coats, (room 312) or the Career Center.

csf app -

Webster's Thesaurus edition of Tale of Two Cities

Since more than a few of you commented about Dickens' diction in your journals, here is an annotated version of Tale of Two Cities for reference.  (I'm looking for Great Expectations; if you find it first please post it to your blog and let us know!)

A Tale of Two Cities -

February 6

In a novel you're not reading, Dickens wrote, "Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature." Explain this idea in your own words, and: 1) find evidence of this philosophy in the novel you're reading, and 2) apply the idea to your own life.

1. Journal/how will your journal affect your grade?
2. LALAs: FAQs, initial feedback & this week's schedule
3. LALA work

1. Continue with your novel per your LALA
2. Read the blog tonight and plan your vision/BQ work for the week

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Mentors' Meemli Meeting Monday at lunch.  If you're a member of the Mentors Collaborative Working Group please check your email.

[*Cayla S., Miranda, Emily, Jessica M.: I don't have your email addresses, so if you see this before someone else forwards the email please email me and I'll send the info in reply.]


Regarding our study of Great Expectations & Tale of Two Cities (henceforth known as the Live Action Literature Analyses, or LALAs):

1. Please remember to take active reading notes. As you saw on Friday, textual detail is essential to this process.

2. Although I will lecture and conduct a comprehensive review the following week before we conclude our study of Dickens and these two novels, this next week's instruction will be guided by your identification, analysis and interpretation of the literary techniques you discover in Dickens' work. To review: identification requires you to recognize a literary technique when you see it; analysis requires you to define and break the technique down into component parts for the purpose of explanation; and interpretation requires you to put the pieces together again in order/context to explain how the technique achieves the intended effect.

Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Get it Right" by Aretha Franklin; "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan]

Reflect on your reading and discussion about Dickens. What worked well? Where do you feel you need more information/support?

1. Journal
2. Dickens presentations
3. CWGs

1. Do whatever it takes to ensure you understand the literary techniques from the first 100 pp. of BOTH Dickens novels.
[UPDATE: "Vision" and BQ posts won't be published until late Sunday night/early Monday morning, so they won't be due on your blog until Wednesday 2/8.]
2. Read the post on "Vision" and write a first draft of a vision statement for your CWG. Post to your blog.
3. Read the post on your BQ-- and my comment on your introduction, which will appear soon-- and create an outline for the rest of your paper. Post to your blog.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"they don't teach you this in school"

Ted Newcomb (who facilitated our conference with Roy Christopher) sent me a link to theydontteachyouthisinschool-- the site calls itself "the other side to education" and offers articles, resources, and videos such as the following from prominent entrepreneurs and thinkers. I love the site, but I worry they may have to change their name once they get a load of what you're doing...

February 2

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Teach me Tonight" by Etta James; "Arabesque #1" by Debussy]
1. Complain about Dickens' use of a literary technique that you felt detracted from your understanding of last night's reading.
2. Praise Dickens for using a literary technique that helped you "get" what was going on and/or what you think he was trying to say.

1. Journal/note re: Dickens' v. Dickens's
2. Novel groups: analyze Dickens' use of literary techniques
3. Prepare to teach the other group tomorrow

1. Review the 1st 100 pp. in light of discussion; add your discussion notes to your blog.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CWGs are up

Check out the Collaborative Working Groups page.

February 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Songwriter" by Van Morrison; "Accidents Will Happen" by Elvis Costello; "Give Peace A Chance" by John Lennon]

In Great Expectations Dickens wrote, "So now, as an infallible way of making little ease great ease, I began to contract a quantity of debt." Given what you learned yesterday, interpret this statement in terms of Dickens's own life and values. To extend your thinking about the idea, consider how you & your peers make bargains in the present that speed gratification or delay pain-- but carry a future cost.

1. Journal
2. CWGs
3. Writers'/bloggers' conferences

1. Read up to p.100 in your Dickens novel
2. Write 10 guiding questions for study-- with answers-- and post them to your blog (suggestion: to allow readers to consider the questions first, position answers as a key below the questions)