Monday, April 30, 2012

is there anybody out there?

Hey, other five people who're reading the blog right now: comment in next 30 secs for extra credit (if you're not in the course, comment for the love/lulz).

April 30

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Rise to Power" by Tom Morello; "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy; "Power to the People" by John Lennon]

Respond to the following quote. You may choose to focus on the theme or the technical elements of the writing. As you write, consider what power you do have, and how you can most effectively exercise it in your own interest.

Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up. Only one thing matters, one thing; to be able to dare! -Fyodor Dostoevsky

1. Journal
2. Study groups/writer's conferences

1. This week your blog is your AP exam study journal. Post 1-2 paragraphs about today's progress, including what you did and what you shared/learned with others.

Friday, April 27, 2012

mtg with roy christopher 5/22

As Nicole already knows from Twitter, we are having a follow-up conversation with Roy Christopher 5/22. It will be interesting to reconnect in light of all you've learned/seen/done this year, and especially on the virtual eve of your leaving HS and beginning a self-directed learning life. We're probably going to do it during 2nd or 3rd period; if you're in 4th or 6th and you'd like to attend please let me know so I can arrange the paperwork.


The concept is more palatable when you consider: a)you are in charge of it, and b)it's to your benefit. Self-organized study builds willpower. When discipline helps you achieve your goal and claim your due-- a 5 on the AP exam or an "A" on the final, for example--your brain forges connections that reinforce your strengths. Take advantage of all the resources you can: all of those literature reviews that talk about the different books in all those essay prompts, all those sample questions (and more to come) on the Exam Practice & Reference page. Dig deep. Remember this weekend that some of the lessons you're learning to prepare for your AP exams go far beyond high school. This goes not only for your habits of mind but your habits online. Don't forget what you've learned about filter bubbles, passwords and privacy. Some of your colleagues' email accounts and blogs have been compromised this year; remember to change passwords frequently and ignore/delete/mark as Spam any unsolicited or undesired messages. Have a good weekend; I look forward to discussing the Macbeth essays and learning about the progress you're making in exam prep.

about today's substitute

I'm not sure who the substitute will be today, so if it's someone new to our course please show them this post:

Dear Sub(s),
Thank you for covering my classes today-- please allow students in periods 2, 3, 4, & 6 to work independently and use wi-fi/devices.  Thanks again and have a great day,
Dr. Preston

period 6 essay reminder

Hi period 6,
Thanks to those of you who have already emailed the Macbeth essay.  If you haven't already, please email it to me by midnight tonight.
Have a great day,
Dr. Preston

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 27

JOURNAL TOPIC: How did you use your time off this week to your advantage?

1. Journal
2. Whatever helps you with the AP exam and demonstrating your mastery of this course's curriculum in general.

1. Continue your exam study plan and post to your blog about your progress at least once this weekend (extra credit for each additional post).
2. Post 1-3 paragraphs to your blog (title: "A Reflection on Unstructured Learning") in which you explain the theme(s) of the following text.  (We will discuss on Monday.)

From the moment that I decided somewhere deep inside myself that I wanted to try my hand at being a costumed adventurer, to the moment I first stepped out into the night with a mask on my face and the wind on my bare legs, took about three months.  Three months of self-doubt and self-ridicule.  Three months figuring out how the hell I was going to make myself a costume.

The costume was difficult, because I couldn't start designing it until I'd thought of a name.  This stumped me for a couple of weeks, because every name I came up with sounded stupid, and what I really wanted was something with the same sense of drama and excitement as "Hooded Justice."

Eventually, a suitable handle was provided inadvertently by one of the other cops that I worked with down at the station house.  He'd invited me out for a beer after work two or three times only to be turned down because I wanted to spend as much of my evenings working out in the Police Gymnasiums as possible, after which I'd usually go to bed around nine o'clock and sleep through until five the next morning, when I'd get up and put in a couple of hours workout before donning my badge and uniform in readiness for my day job.  After having his offer of beer and relaxation turned down yet again by reason of me wanting to be in bed early, he finally gave up asking and took to calling me "Nite Owl" out of sarcasm until he finally found somebody else to drink with.

"Nite Owl."  I liked it.  Now all I had to come up with was the costume.

-Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, The Watchmen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25/26

JOURNAL TOPIC: "Do every day or two something for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test." -William James

Use this idea as inspiration; choose at least one resource from the Exam Practice & Reference Page to begin your AP study plan. Write about your experience and post the the 1-2 paragraph(s) to your blog.
(Note: this can be especially helpful to everyone if you share meaningful, specific discoveries and challenges. I/we will be perusing blogs for this info Friday & over the weekend.)

1. Lit terms quiz
2. Macbeth essay

1. Journal/execute AP study plan
2. Be grateful you're not taking a standardized test today

testing today & tomorrow

Due to testing, the next post (April 25/26) will apply to all periods (p.2 today; p.3&4 tomorrow; p.6, I will email your essay prompt later today).  Whenever you show up for our class period, you will take the lit terms quiz (on terms 31-60) and the Macbeth essay.  Please do the journal for HW.  Friday 4/27 will be business as usual.

DIY prom fashion

Check out these creations from designer/Missouri HS student Maura:

cardboard dress
goth dress
pull tabs dress

(and my personal favorite)

doritos bag dress

[thanks BoingBoing!]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

this is how much you're worth to FB

This is how much you're worth to Facebook

April 24

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "It's Alright" by Ray Charles; "I'm Alright" (theme from "Caddyshack") by Kenny Loggins; The Kids Are Alright" by The Who]

Consider the following quote, and write about how it applies to any of the great protagonists you've studied this year, including (and most especially) yourself:

"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

1. Journal
2. Return/discuss yesterday's lit terms quiz
3. Review Macbeth
4. Discuss AP plans

1. Review the prose/poetry/open response question pages and recommend three essay questions you think--er, know-- are appropriate for Macbeth.  Please post to your blog no later than midnight tonight.
2. Study 2nd batch of 30 lit terms: quizzes tomorrow/Thursday

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Ragg Mopp" by The Muppets; "Good Morning Starshine" by Roger Whittaker; Hard Charger" by Porno for Pyros {slightly abridged}]

To a child, getting excited about something for a minute is enough;
To an adolescent, getting excited about something and impressing friends with it is enough;
To an adult, getting excited and impressing friends is no longer enough-- you have to deliver the goods.

Describe something in your life that motivates the child in you to get excited, motivates the adolescent in you to share that excitement with your friends, and motivates the growing adult in you to deliver the goods.

1. Journal
2. Lit terms quiz
3. Delivering the goods

1. Post your plan to your blog
2. Study: quiz on 2nd 30 lit terms tomorrow [per 6], Wednesday 4/25 [per 2], or Thursday 4/26 [per 3,4,5]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

what's your plan?

Tomorrow I will give you a few guiding ideas and then ask you to create a study plan for the AP exam (or in-class equivalent). If you haven't already, have a look at the Exam Practice & Reference page and start thinking about what you really need to work on and what resources & approach(es) will help you the most.

be wi-fi ready

Please bring wi-fi devices this week.  I have posted a page with AP practice resources that you will use together in class. I will be adding to this over the next few days.

a formal notice regarding your grade

I held off posting grades until tomorrow (the absolute latest administrative deadline) because last week many of you were in science camp etc. and told me you needed the weekend to catch up.  The grace period ends tonight.  If your assignments-- including the "tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow" soliloquy-- are not posted to your blog by midnight they will not count.  As we have discussed multiple times in class, I have been extremely flexible this year.  'Nuff said.  Late credit will not be considered.

Friday, April 20, 2012

dude, do you know what today is?

Yes, it's a significant anniversary-- and no, not that one. This one.
JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley/performed by The Ataris; "Changes" by David Bowie; "In My Life" by The Beatles]

As the changing weather and the changing moments in your lives signify, what are you anticipating and remembering most poignantly? "I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."
- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

1. Journal
2. Macbeth lecture (part 2 of 2)
3. Lit terms quiz (UPDATE: quiz postponed until Monday 4/23)
1. Annotate and post your lecture notes from today
2. Nourish your network

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 19

JOURNAL TOPIC: [No tunes today, although if you can think of something to hum--and you can write on this topic at the same time--knock yourselves out.]

Consider the following quote and answer two questions: 1) What was Macbeth's attachment/cause? 2) What is yours?

“Are we not all of us fanatics? I say only what you of the U.S.A. pretend you do not know. Attachments are of great seriousness. Choose your attachments carefully. Choose your temple of fanaticism with great care. What you wish to sing of as tragic love is an attachment not carefully chosen. Die for one person? This is a craziness. Persons change, leave, die, become ill. They leave, lie, go mad, have sickness, betray you, die. Your nation outlives you. A cause outlives you.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

1. Journal
2. Prepare for Friday's lit terms test
3. Do whatever else you need to do to recover/excel in this course before the end of the week/grading period

HW: (see #2 and #3 above)

old book smell explained

Like many of you who cited it in last semester's Socratic "books v. e-books" discussion, I love that smell (thanks Dave Pell!):

April 18

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Macbeth Rap" by Flocabulary; "Lady Macbeth" by Barclay James Harvest]

In Macbeth Shakespeare wrote, "Fair is foul and foul is fair." In Infinite Jest (the title itself an obvious allusion to Hamlet), David Foster Wallace wrote, "Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you." What role does fairness play in tragedy? How do you see the concept of fairness?  What role does it play in your life and in our society?

1. Journal
2. Macbeth lecture

1. Annotate your lecture notes with supporting evidence from the text
2. Post your annotated notes to your blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

hey (big) brother, can you spare a wi-fi connection?

Our classroom wi-fi may not work yet, but there are lots of signals in the neighborhood!

a(nother) thing you probably didn't think possible

Meet the only man in the world (at least, that I know of) who hangs out and swims with a polar bear.

April 17

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge; "'All in the Family' TV Theme [Those Were the Days]; "The Gang's All Here" by Dropkick Murphys; "Spirit Nation" by Spirit Nation]
Jane Neville (née Howard), Countess of Westmorland (1533/1537 – buried 30 June 1593), daughter of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Frances de Vere (according to Wikipedia), is quoted as follows:

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

Who is in your tribe/network/family?  Are all the members in the same circle or in different ones?  How do your relationships influence your character, your decisions, and your direction in life?  As you contemplate moving into a new chapter in your life, how will you add on to your network and/or construct new ones?

1. Journal
2. Groups: discuss & correct Macbeth test

1. Finish memorizing "To-morrow, to-morrow, and to-tomorrow..."
2. Revise your Macbeth notes with insights from today's discussion

Monday, April 16, 2012

today's macbeth test

 *Adopted with gratitude from
**Please include Act/Scene so we can refer easily tomorrow.

1. Macbeth won the respect of King Duncan by
A. slaying the traitor Macdonwald.
B. serving as a gracious host for his king.
C. not pleading for advancement.

2. King Duncan rewarded Macbeth by dubbing him
A. the Earl of Sinel.
B. the Thane of Cawdor him.
C. Bellona's bridegroom.

3. In addressing Banquo, the witches called him which of these?
"Lesser than Macbeth, and greater." (I)
"Not so happy as Macbeth, yet much happier." (II)
"A future father of kings." (III)
A. I and II
B. I and III
C. I, II, and III

4. When Macbeth said, "Two truths are told / As happy prologues" he was referring to
A. his titles of Glamis and Cawdor.
B. the victories against the kerns and gallowglasses.
C. the predictions made to Banquo and to himself.

April 16

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Tomorrow Never Knows" by the Beatles/performed by Phil Collins; "All My Tomorrows" by Frank Sinatra; "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie"]

Explain how the following soliloquy from Macbeth manages to capture the essential tone(s) of the play-- and your own experience of this last semester of your formal education.

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

1. Journal
2. Macbeth test
3. Heads-up: lit terms quiz Friday 4/20 (1st 30 terms)

1. Get your mind right. This is truly the beginning of the end.
2. After school today I will post the test; research the answers, post to your blog, and come tomorrow prepared to discuss.
3. Memorize the above soliloquy: due on demand beginning Wednesday 4/18.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Macbeth test tomorrow

Hi! Hope your last K-12 spring break was everything you'd hoped for and more.

Now back to work.

There will be a test on Macbeth tomorrow. You will be allowed to use your reading notes IF AND ONLY IF they are posted to your blog by midnight tonight. You may either print your notes to use on the test or you may consult your blog directly during the test.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Really. I mean it. Mostly.

Hey, have a look at the counter! Three weeks.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

a non-Shakespearean motivational speech

Congratulations to those of you who recovered your St. Crispin's grade.  That was the most motivational speech I've ever seen.  This one takes second place, and it's a perfect beginning to your spring break:

April 5

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Bob Dylan (which you can mentally remix by substituting "Preston's Class" for "Mr. Jones"); "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield]
Read the following excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and describe how Wallace uses literary elements to describe a large theme through one character's seemingly casual observation.

What's interesting to Hal Incandenza about his take on Struck, sometimes Pemulis, Evan Ingersoll, et al. is that congenital plagiarists put so much more work into camouflaging their plagiarism than it would take just to write up an assignment from conceptual scratch.  It usually seems like plagiarists aren't lazy so much as kind of navigationally insecure.  They have trouble navigating without a detailed map's assurance that somebody has been this way before them.  About this incredible painstaking care to hide and camouflage the plagiarism-- whether it's dishonesty or a [Y] kind of kleptomaniacal thrill-seeking or what-- Hal hasn't developed much of any sort of take.

1. Journal
2. Introspection/reflection
3. Collaboration
4. Innovation
5. Execution (to be clear, in this strange world; this item refers to implementation and not capital punishment)

1. Post your LA #3 notes to your blog by midnight Friday (tomorrow, 4.6)
2. Read Macbeth once all the way through and take notes
3. Have a great spring break-- this is one vacation I will actually want to hear all about!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Mixed-Up Confusion" by Bob Dylan; "Land of Confusion" by Genesis; "Frustration" by Soft Cell]

Describe the literary elements that make the following excerpt an example of satire.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

1. Journal
2. Enter Macbeth

Reminder: Please post LA #3 notes on your blog by Friday (and be advised: originality & depth are paramount)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Macbeth-Sinfonia" by Verdi, performed by Pier Giorgio Morandi/Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; "King Without A Crown" by Matisyahu; "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who)

Describe how Conrad's use of figurative language and indirect characterization contributes to the theme and tone of the following passage:

The vision seemed to enter the house with me—the stretcher, the phantom-bearers, the wild crowd of obedient worshipers, the gloom of the forests, the glitter of the reach between the murky bends, the beat of the drum, regular and muffled like the beating of a heart—the heart of a conquering darkness. It was a moment of triumph for the wilderness, an invading and vengeful rush which, it seemed to me, I would have to keep back alone for the salvation of another soul. And the memory of what I had heard him say afar there, with the horned shapes stirring at my back, in the glow of fires, within the patient woods, those broken phrases came back to me, were heard again in their ominous and terrifying simplicity. I remembered his abject pleading, his abject threats, the colossal scale of his vile desires, the meanness, the torment, the tempestuous anguish of his soul. And later on I seemed to see his collected languid manner, when he said one day, 'This lot of ivory now is really mine. The Company did not pay for it. I collected it myself at a very great personal risk. I am afraid they will try to claim it as theirs though. H'm. It is a difficult case. What do you think I ought to do—resist? Eh? I want no more than justice.' ... He wanted no more than justice—no more than justice. I rang the bell before a mahogany door on the first floor, and while I waited he seemed to stare at me out of the glassy panel—stare with that wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe. I seemed to hear the whispered cry, 'The horror! The horror!'

1. Journal
2. Macbeth: historical background quiz
3. Macbeth: Act I

HW: read your LA #3 and schedule yourself to finish reading/ post notes to your blog by the end of the week (Friday 4/6)

Monday, April 2, 2012

mrs dirkes' epiphany

Thank you for visiting today Mrs. Dirkes!

Here's a good idea: when you get to college and prove your academic chops, ask your professors if you can assist them in grading papers; it's a great way to make money and prove yourself at the same time.

Here's a good resource: Cal Poly's testing office calendar (for ELM & EPT)

April 1

JOURNAL TOPIC: ["Destination Unknown" by Missing Persons; "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane]

In The Principles of Psychology (1890), William James wrote, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.” How have your experiences in this course helped you focus your attention? What do you still need to work on? What elements of the following text (from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84) draw your attention and help you construct meaning?

The driver nodded and took the money. "Would you like a receipt?"
"No need. And keep the change."
"Thanks very much," he said. "Be careful, it looks windy out there. Don't slip."
"I'll be careful," Aomame said.
"And also," the driver said, facing the mirror, "please remember: things are not what they seem."
Things are not what they seem, Aomame repeated mentally. "What do you mean by that?" she asked with knitted brows.
The driver chose his words carefully: "It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day-- especially women."
"I suppose you're right."
"Right. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I've had that experience myself. But don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality."

1. Journal
2. Quiz: historical background of Macbeth
3. Scholarship & financial aid fun with Mrs. Dirkes

1. Post your notes on the historical background of Macbeth to your blog.
2. Review historical background of Macbeth for quiz tomorrow (Tue 4.3)

Kudos: March (II)

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

Carlos Cruz (UC Merced)
Matt Sagisi (CSULB)
Laura Wong (UC Irvine)
Marisol Zepeda (UC Merced)
Kelly Brickey (Furman University, Boston University)
Alex McKinney (UCLA, UC Berkeley)
Betzy Bras (UCSB, Northwestern, ADSUM Scholarship)
Sam Moon (UCLA)
Rachel Bumstead (UC Davis, UCSD)
Hannah Hosking (UCSB, UCSD)
Lupe Perez (UCSB)
Jessica Parra (UCSB)
Kaley Jorgensen (UCSB)
Arianna Farmer (UCLA, Boston University, Northwestern, NYU)

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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

why nations fail

Nearly two weeks after we talked about it during the Socratic seminar, Thomas Friedman discusses Why Nation's Fail in this article from today's New York Times.