Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Almost Over!

Here is the revised schedule of events for the end of the semester!

Thursday, November 19th: Essay 3 is due
Tuesday, November 24th: NO CLASS
Thursday, November 26th: NO CLASS
Tuesday, December 1st: Extra Credit Day
Thursday, December 3rd: Portfolios are due
Tuesday, December 8th: Catch Up Day
Thursday, December 10th: Last day, Portfolios are returned

Driving to the Funeral

In class today, we discussed Anna Quindlen's essay "Driving to the Funeral." Quindlen writes about the fact that the number one killer of teenagers is car accidents. We spent class trying to figure out why this is true.

First, we discussed whether sixteen-year-olds are old enough to drive. Many of us said, yes. Age does not determine maturity. Sarah R. told us that in her home state of Michigan, kids begin to learn how to drive at fourteen and nine months. In many states out west, the age to drive is even lower. So we can't argue that sixteen is too young.

We decided to examine the different kinds of accidents that teenagers have on the road. Many of us felt that it takes time to understand the road. Teenagers simply haven't had the life experience to handle driving. Em argued that our parents can be at fault too. We learn from them - and they haven't had drivers' ed in years. Overall, we felt that it comes from teenagers driving too fast and driving drunk.

At Jenn and Ali's high school, wrecked cars were left out front of the school as a reminder to students that they were not invisible. It worked, too. There were no other accidents that school year. It's messed up though, Paige added, when kids see their friends die and it doesn't stop them from being careless.

Questions for Writing

1. Why do you think car accidents are the number one cause of death in teens? Support your belief with a story from high school. You can write about an accident or you can write about what you know about teens. What is it about teenagers that causes them to get into accidents?

2. Most adults believe that teenagers think they are "invisible." Is this true? Write about a time when you came a little too close to danger. How did you end up in this predicament? What did you learn from the experience? Consider the stereotype that adults have about teens. Do all teens think they are invisible? Make sure to think back and remember what it was like to be a teenager. If this question was asked of you when you were a teenager, how would you respond?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

Stephanie Ericsson's "The Way We Lie" approaches lying from a unique perspective. She casually describes different kinds of lies. It's something everyone does, she implies. But at the end of her essay, she argues that lies are not harmless and do hurt people. Our class examined the topic of lying by talking about our experiences with lying.

We started off by coming up with examples the different kinds of lies described in Ericsson's essay. There are lies that are told because the truth hurts, as Sarah R. pointed out. There are lies that make you look better, said Katie. Britt added that there are lies that make life seem more exciting, like embellishing a story. Joe brought up "A Child Called It," a true story about an abused boy who lied because of fear. There are also lies, like stereotypes, that are told casually every day. Lies range in levels of seriousness. So can we really say that all lies are harmful?

The discussion veered into stories about lies we've told our parents. Then it swerved into lies our parents have told us.

It seems like when we're the ones getting lied to, the lies feel more hurtful. Also, lies feel more harmful when they have a negative consequence. This is something to think about further. We may not know the consequence of our lies. Does that mean that lie is harmless?

Questions for Writing

1. Write about a time when you told a lie or someone told a lie to you. What was the lie? Why was it told? What were the consequences? Think about Ericsson's argument in relation to your story. Does your story prove that lies are harmless or harmful?

2. Ericsson's essay categorizes many different lies. Do you agree or disagree with her categories? Choose one category of lies to analyze in an essay. Write about a time when you told that particular kind of lie or someone told that particular lie to you. Use your experience to prove whether you agree or disagree with Ericsson's description of that lie. Feel free to write about a lie that she forgot to include, or a category that doesn't work as a lie, in your opinion.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homework for Tuesday, November 10

Please use your Grammar Worksheets to edit Essay 1.

Study your Grammar worksheets as well. There will be a quiz on Tuesday, testing you on what you learned from our "Speed-Teaching" class.

Essay 1 and your Grammar Worksheets are due on Tuesday, November 10th.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Forget!

This upcoming week, bring "The Everyday Writer" to class. You may also want to bring a current draft of Essay 1. We will be working on honing our editing skills. Don't get too excited!

Go Phils!

Friday, October 23, 2009

That Damned Human Race

In "The Damned Human Race," Mark Twain argues that man is the "lowest animal." Our class found this to be true and false at the same time. Ultimately, we decided that it's hard to know. Especially when we're a part of the equation.

We started off comparing human beings to animals. Stacey pointed out that human beings have been at fault for atrocities like the Roman Colosseum and the Holocaust. Animals don't kill other animals for sport, she argued. They only take what they need.

Brittany reminded us that we know nothing about what animals think. We can only guess. And when we do guess, we do so from our own perspective, as humans.

Nikki stated that animals don't know the difference between right and wrong. Moral sense is what makes human beings the lowest animal. We know the difference between right and wrong - and we choose wrong.

Our discussion shifted into discussing morals. Moral sense, we said, is what separates murderers from victims. It's what separates thieves from the stolen. It is what separates us from animals.

So is Twain right?

Everything added up. But still, we weren't sold on his argument. Finally, we decided that there wasn't a right or wrong answer. Twain wrote this piece to be funny and ironic. The key to understanding his point is to look at what he's NOT saying. There lies the truth as to which species is the "lowest."

Perhaps neither one of us is lower or higher? Perhaps, we are simply together.

Homework: Essay 2

Begin to work on Essay 2.

Your essay should be somewhat related to one of the three essays we discussed over the last few weeks: Tweens, The Damned Human Race, and Why We Crave Horror Movies.

Your essay should be argumentative. That means you state an opinion, perspective, or argument, and prove it with evidence. You can still be creative and tell stories. For this essay, you are required to use at least one acceptable secondary source as evidence.

What is an acceptable secondary source?

Not google. Not wikipedia. Not dictionary.com. No .com, or .net sources. .Gov, .edu, and .org are okay. BUT make sure to check the reliability of the site.

As we talked about in class, the BEST sources are library sources. Books. Newspapers. Magazines. The best of the best? Academic journal articles. Like CQ Researcher, they can be accessed through the databases link on our school's website. One of my personal favorite databases is JSTOR. CQ Researcher is equally amazing. Both are wonderful resources, containing tons of academic journal articles.

Bring Essay 2 to class on Thursday, October 29th. Please include a code name, instead of your real name, in the heading. If you want, you can come up with a code name using a favorite character from a book, TV show, movie or band.

On Thursday, we'll be workshopping our papers. If you come to class without Essay 2, you will not be able to contribute to the workshop, and you will have to make it up on your own time.

Email me if you have any questions!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Do We Crave Horror Movies?

That's what Stephen King wants to know. His essay, "Why Do We Crave Horror Movies," attempts to answer this question. According to him, we crave horror movies because we are all a little mentally ill.

In theory, it makes sense. To start off discussion, Joe said, We all know that human beings can be savages. Horror movies help us release that savage side, so we don't turn into homicidal maniacs.

Even though it sounds right, our class didn't buy it completely. Several of us don't like horror movies. Christina said that she never watches them. If King's theory is true, that would mean that Christina's "gators" are not "fed." We don't know what she does in her off time. But I think we can safely assume she's not running out to murder people after class. There'd be blood stains. The papers would've said something.

A couple of us felt that King really projects the "crazy" tag onto us. He assumes that we are crazy for watching horror movies. But really, who's crazier? The people who watch horror films, or the people who write and film them? Patrick mentioned that many horror films are based on real life events. That's pretty messed up! It's also exploitative of the real life people who suffered terrible murders and frightening experiences.

There's real violence everywhere, Brittany pointed out. Movies don't eliminate it from our world. So how can they add to it?

Our discussion closed with some of us sharing our fears. A few of us talked about little tricks we do to get through watching scary movies and going to bed at night. This made me wonder if we had Stephen King's message all wrong. Perhaps he was trying to make a statement - not about rage, but about fear.

Think about it. Our lives are pretty ordinary. Maybe it's not that we need to release our rage, but that we need to scare ourselves, remind ourselves that we are mortal. Horror movies help shake us up a bit. They remind us to stay on our toes. They remind us that anything can happen. They remind us that OUR WORLD is a little bit crazy, if not us.

A couple propmts for writing:

1. Who is crazier? The people who make the horror movies or the people who watch them?

2. Think about a movie that really scared or disturbed you. What about it upset you so much? Where were your gators when you were watching it? Does your reaction support or debunk King's argument?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


For Thursday, October 15th: Please prepare for Discussion 4. Read Mark Twain's "The Damned Human Race" on page 525. If you have not handed in your revision of Essay 1, please bring that as well.

For Tuesday, October 20th: Please complete the Midterm Assignment.


So far this semester, we've spend a lot of time analyzing. We analyze when we read the essays in our book. We analyze topics out loud in discussion. We analyze arguments on the page when we write.

For your midterm, you are going to analyze an episode of a TV show. You can pick any show you like. It helps to choose a show that has some ratings to back it up as a viable piece of entertainment. In my classes at Neumann University, we watched Family Guy. Other shows I’d suggest include Scrubs or The Office. It should be a quality show that’s entertaining and meaningful. Reality TV won’t work. (That includes The Hills.) If you have an idea of what you want to watch, but aren’t sure if it will fly, email me.

Just like essays, episodes have thesis statements, or messages that the writers want to convey to the audience. As you watch the show, take notes. Think about what the thesis, or message, of this episode could be. Write 1-2 pages of analysis.

In your analysis, you should:

1. State the message, or thesis statement, of the episode.
2. Describe and analyze three events that happen in the episode and support this message.
3. Explain why is this message important to everyone. What’s the universal message?

Bring your midterm essay typed and stapled to class on Tuesday, October 20th. Please make sure your essay follows the requirements listed in the syllabus as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homework: Next Week

Revise Essay 1.

Bring the first draft and the revised draft to class next week, either Tuesday or Thursday.

Make sure it is typed, stapled, and follows the essay guidelines listed in the syllabus.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Discussion 3: Tweens

In class last Thursday, we discussed Kay S. Hymowitz's essay, "Tweens: Ten Going on Sixteen."

The youth of today is growing up too fast, says Hymowitz. Girls dress like teenagers at ten. They put away their dolls and put up posters of "hot celebs." Meanwhile, boys start experimenting with petty theft and drugs. When they get together, it's trouble. Kids are having sex, as young as twelve years old.

Our class felt that the essay spoke true. Some of us shared observations of young girls copying this trend. The baby-sitters, dance teachers, and coaches in the class had a lot of evidence to back up Hymowitz's argument. Once we told our stories, we went on to figure out why. Why do kids grow up too fast?

In a few cases, we found that girls grow up too fast because their parents let them, or even encourage them. In others, we found parents absent and working all the time. Older siblings watch over the younger ones. But - as Katie pointed out - the older sibs can be bad influences.

There are other factors that contribute to kids growing up too fast. Like TV.

"Why does the media have so much power over kids?" Stacey asked.

Paige replied, "Well, we watch TV all the time."

To prove the point, we talked about Miley Cyrus. She's the role model for young girls today. She's been photographed half naked, straddling motorcycles in miniskirts, and pole dancing.

It's not the most wholesome image. Bombarded with this on a daily basis, it's no wonder girls grow up thinking it's normal.

Some of us were not so easily convinced. Brittany pointed out that hundreds of years ago, it was normal for girls to get married at fourteen years old. Jess argued that the problem could be fashion. Stores manufacture "Bootylicious" shorts and "100% Naughty" training bras for ten-year-olds. "Kids buy what places sell," she said.

Perry argued, "It's not about fashion, it's about sex." That's a really interesting point. If kids grow up too fast because they are interested in sex, we have to wonder what's making them interested. Are they repressed? Or are they too free? Or maybe... are they normal?

We ended our discussion, telling stories of getting teased in school. As random as it sounds, we weren't really off track. Think back to when you were a kid. What motivated you to go along with the crowd? Sometimes, it was fear of getting made fun of. Perhaps these over-sexed kids are simply trying to keep up with their peers? The more ahead of the game they are, the less behind they will fall.

Some questions to pursue further in writing:

1. What causes tweendom? Is it absent parents, the media, or peer pressure?

2. What does tweendom say about our culture? Does it prove that our society is morally disintegrating? Or is it simply a sign of changing times? Consider what we argued about in class. Remember that nearly every generation has looked at future generations and thought the world doomed.

3. Hymowitz wrote this essay in 1998. This means that most of us were tweens at the time it was written. Analyze your own tweendom. Does it fit to Hymowitz's assessment?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NO CLASS: Tuesday, September 29

Hey Everyone,

It's around four o'clock in the morning. I have been up all night sick. I'm sorry, but I don't think I will be able to make it to class tomorrow.

We will reschedule Discussions and everything else on Thursday.

Thank you for your understanding!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Homework: For Tuesday, September 29

Please prepare for Discussion 3. Read "Tweens: Ten Going on Sixteen" by Kay S. Hymowitz on page 189. Be ready to talk and write in class on Tuesday!

Spies Like Us

A week ago, we workshopped our first essays. To keep our writing anonymous, we came up with code names for ourselves. They were so creative and funny. I had to list them here. Anonymously, of course.

Zalika Khadijah
Rose Queens
Barren Dillster
Ice Cream
Matt Bellamy
Corona Hinesleigh
Ruthy Goldbirch
Sylvia Buttonwood
Elizabeth Maple
Bradlie Conrad
Orange Jello
Purnell Maivas

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homework: Due Tuesday, September 22

Write a 600-750 word essay for Tuesday, September 22.

Hand it in typed and stapled. Also please check the Essay Guidelines listed in the syllabus.

If you quote or paraphrase any secondary sources in your essay, please cite those sources correctly.


On Friday and Sunday, I'll be on AIM throughout the day. Hit me up at AnneyEJ if you need help or have any questions!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Discussion 2: What are Friends For?

Yesterday, Nikki, Amber, and Hannah led us in a discussion on the essay, "What are Friends For?" We analyzed the types of friendships covered in the essay. We also tried to figure out if those types accurately reflect the friendships in our lives. We wanted to know if the essay contained generalization or truth.

Our findings? The essay is full of generalizations. However, unlike "Beauty and the Beast," these generalizations were presented in a comical tone. The tone made it easier for us to take. We laughed, instead of feeling offended.

Through talking, we also found that these generalizations can be supported with real life examples. In class, we went around the room, telling stories about friends that fit into the categories. Most specifically, we discussed three types of friends.

1. The friends with whom you grow apart, but when you get together, you can pick right back up where you left off.

2. The friends who make you feel better about yourself.

3. The friends that "nobody likes."

We found abundant examples of each. It's interesting to wonder: Why do so many of us have the same kinds of friendships? What does this say about us as people?

Perry made a really smart comment, regarding friend #2. He pointed out that it's easy to identify a friend's flaws and project them on yourself. But often, we have more in common with those flaws than we think. It's interesting to consider why we choose the friends we do. Are we looking to spend time with people who are just like us? Or do we pick friends who are nothing like us? Do we actively try to make friends? Or do friends develop organically out of chance encounters?

Tricia mused on the role that college plays on friendships. It tests the strength of relationships. Some friends go to different schools and never reunite. Others are able to get together and pick right back up, as if no time has past.

At the same time, college forces us to become friends with people who we wouldn't normally seek out. For example, our school merges "city folk" with "country folk." Being stuck on the campus together causes everyone to be much more open minded and accepting of each other's culture and past.

Personally, I regret that we didn't get to talk about one of my favorite friend categories: the FRIENEMIE!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homework for Thursday, September 17th

Freewrite 1-2 pages on your personal philosophy on how to write an essay.

What is an essay? What have you learned about writing essays? What do you like about writing them? What don't you like writing about them?

Describe your writing process. What steps do you go through when writing an essay? Do you compose several drafts and revise along the way? Or do you work best under pressure, banging out an essay the night before its due?

Bring the freewrite stapled to class on Thursday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Discussion 1

On Thursday, we discussed Dave Barry's essay, "Beauty and the Beast." The discussion was lead by Ali, Sarah and Marisa. These lovely ladies got us started by asking some great questions. The class agreed that Barry believes men and women are held to different standards of beauty. Our discussion revolved around understanding those standards, and if this argument is true.

There's evidence that society expects a lot from both sexes. Em talked about Barbie - how she is an example of the unrealistic standards set for women. Guys have the same standards set for them with toys like GI Joe. While GI Joe is not always the hottest looking action figure on the shelf, he's a tough guy. Like Pat said, he's bad ass. Barbie and GI Joe set the bar. All women must be pretty and thin. All men must be bad ass.

Our discussion delved into the importance of appearance. While it's the "inside" of a person that counts, many of us agreed that looks matter. As Perry said, you should be able to be attracted to your mate. But attraction is messy.

Everyone has his or her own standard for appearance. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We discovered, however, that appearance is not skin deep. Personality matters more. Not because personality is what's inside. Because personality makes us more attractive. Paige said: "You want someone who's attractive, but not someone who's full of themselves." Kindness is attractive. Conceit is not.

It sounds like we have grown up with standards set before us, but those standards have not molded us. As a society, we know that appearance is important, but it's not skin deep. We are able to laugh and poke fun at the generalizations. We're able to challenge the standards. Sometimes it's by trying new dating methods, like Dating in the Dark. Sometimes it's by keeping our mouths shut!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Commenting on LiveJournal Blogs

Some of you may have noticed that you are unable to comment on the LiveJournal blogs. This is easily remedied. With a little help from our LiveJournalers.

If you have a LiveJournal blog, you need to play around with your comment settings. Your blog needs to accept comments from Open IDs. Those of you not on LiveJournal can use your Blogger or WordPress ID as an "Open ID" when commenting.

I'll mention this again tomorrow in class. See you then!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Discussion Schedule

Throughout the semester, we'll be reading, writing, and discussing essays in our book, "The Longman Reader." Here's a schedule of the discussion days. We read the essay the night before discussion, so we are prepared to write and discuss it in class on that day. Notes of the discussion will be posted on this blog a day or two after each discussion.

Discussion 1
Thursday, September 10th
Group Members: Sarah Rynbrandt, Marisa Levin, Ali Ventresca
"Beauty and the Beast" by Dave Barry on page 370

Discussion 2
Tuesday, September 15
Group Members: Hannah Rupert, Amber Gilson, Nicole Goldsmith
"What are Friends For" (No Author or Page Number Given)

Discussion 3
Tuesday, September 29
Group Members: Katie I., Lauren B., Brooke Himes, Stacey D'Orazio
"Tweens: Ten Going on Sixteen" by Kay S. Hymowitz on page 189

Discussion 4
Thursday, October 15
Group Members: Patrick Allison, Sean Brown, Perry Martin
"The Damned Human Race" by Mark Twain on page 525

Discussion 5
Tuesday, October 20
Group Members: Darnell, Brittany, Em
"Why We Crave Horror Movies" by Stephen King on page 400

Discussion 6
Thursday, November 12
Group Members: Tricia, Christina, Sarah O., Hannah W.
"The Ways We Lie" by Stephanie Ericsson on page 253

Discussion 7
Tuesday, November 17
Group Members: Jennifer, Paige, Jessica
"Driving to the Funeral" by Anna Quindlen on page 532

What the Hell are We Doing Here?

A lot, actually.

Let's start at the beginning. We're learning. We're reading. We're writing. We're growing and changing right before your very eyes. Just give us a minute. Or maybe a semester. We'll wow you with brilliant thesis statements, hard evidence, smooth logic and moving stories.

Welcome to the class blog for English I! Check back here for updates, assignments, reminders, notes, and random tips on writing and blogging. If you'd like to visit our individual student sites, click on the links at the left.

The life of a student never ends. This semester, we'll be reading and writing-but we'll also be weighing what we read against our own experiences. If anything, our blog is a great source of up-to-the-minute theories on writing, reading and life.