"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." -Paulo Friere

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Research Resources

10th graders,

As you work on your research papers, keep considering what we've talked about for website reliability. Here's a handy summary for you of how to determine if a website is reliable. You are required to report, in writing, the answers to the questions on this document with regards to each of your 3 internet sources for information.

Don't forget that your forth source, the interview, must be contacted by tomorrow.

Here is a handy guide to MLA formatting when citing websites as you make your Works Cited page.

Here is the rubric with which you'll be graded. It is a simplified version of the 6 traits writing rubric.

Happy researching!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Short Story Presentations

10th graders,

Here are links to the three short stories that you will be presenting to the class:

The Green Door by O Henry

Roman Fever by Edith Wharton

Two Kinds by Amy Tan

First, read all the stories and do a quick summary of each in your sourcebook. Then your group will be assigned one story to present to the class, including analysis of characters, plot, and literary elements. Check the calendar for due dates!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thinking more about the Tragic Hero

12th graders:

Arthur Miller wrote an article both refuting and updating Aristotle's idea of a tragic hero. He called it "Tragedy and the Common Man."

Read the article. In your sourcebook summarize it and compare and contrast Miller's definition of the tragic hero with Aristotle's definition. This sourcebook entry is due Dec 1, and should be at least 1 page long.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Macbeth Indie Film Project


Here are some helpful links for your Macbeth indie film project. First, here's the assignment sheet, if you lost your copy. I've assigned this project for a few years, so there are many student versions floating around youtube. Here, here, and here are a few of my favorites. To find more, search the keywords "Macbeth, Mira Loma", or "Macbeth, IBSH" but keep in mind that you'll find some versions that succeed better than others. The image to the right is a student example of costume design. The justification talked about Lady Macbeth's sexuality, as well as the choice of black with a line of red running through it for color symbolism.

I can't wait to see the awesome director's notebooks and films you put together.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Multitudinous Seas


Here is where I'd like you to link to something on the internet that quotes or alludes to a line in Macbeth. With the link, write a short paragraph describing the text (song, article, video, etc) and how it uses the quote. What new purpose are the words put to? Then, please read 1 or 2 other links, and comment on them. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two Brave New World Assignments, and one link just for fun


Assignment #1:

This article seems particularly relevant to our discussion of Brave New World, and I hope it won't impinge on any of your Power Read topics.

Please read it carefully and complete the first two article response steps in your sourcebook, like you did for the Moby Dick "Wicked" article.

1. Comprehension. In your sourcebook, summarize the main points of the article in about 1/2 a page. Bullet-point format is fine for this.

2. Analysis. Choose three significant quotes and copy them into your sourcebook. After each quote, discuss why you think that sentence is key to the argument.

We will go through the application, evaluation, and synthesis steps together in class, so come ready to discuss on Tuesday, September 28.

Assignment #2:

Please read this comic, and write a paragraph personal evaluation. For instance, you could describe what the point of this cartoon is and how true you find it.

Also due Tuesday, September 28.

Link just for fun:

I stumbled upon this
article the other day, and just had to share it. It's a list compiled from two other sites giving the most popular dystopian movies ever. I don't necessarily agree with their definition of dystopia, but this was still interesting enough to share. Brave New World is not even on the list, because the only movies that have been made of the book have terrible reviews. It seems to me like it's one of those books that never really works that well as a film.

I'd love to do an assignment with
Brave New World where we compare different dystopias and analyze them somehow....we'll see if we have time.

What are your favorite dystopian movies, students? Discuss in the comments section (purely voluntary, not an assignment!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seniors: First In-Class Essay Prompt

Seniors, you will be writing on this essay during the class period on Friday, 9-17. In the future, you won't know ahead of time what prompt you'll be writing to, but I wanted to let you do a little preparation for this essay if you wish, since it is your first one. I suggest you make an outline before you come to class. You may choose to write on any of the summer read books.

"The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings: “The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events—a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death—but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death.” Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well written essay, identify the “spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation” evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Token Female Role

Mendelson's Memos is an interesting film blog, and I liked this post on token female roles in blockbuster films. This quote is particularly great:

"Actresses in most mainstream pictures are merely placeholders, basically playing one variation or another of 'the girl'. Her name is irrelevant and her character usually is too. She is eye candy for the boys, and for the girls often merely a cynical attempt to pull in females by promising romance and/or a moment or two of alleged 'female empowerment'. In all but the most overtly female-driven pictures (Sex and the City, Mama Mia!, Whip It), the actress is cast only in regards to how well she compliments the hero. She may be twenty years younger than him, but rarely older than him. She is often 'hotter' than him, but rarely taller than him. She is occasionally beside him, but never in front of him. "

What's particularly frustrating about this to me is not only how ubiquitous this "token" role is, but also how surprised everyone is when a movie breaks the mold and gives the female a fleshed out character. Think of Salt, the Jolie action movie, and how much talk it caused about how enlightened the directors were for making the lead a woman. Or Avatar, and how much attention critics gave to the fact that the female lead had just the bare minimum of her own fleshed out personality.

"Great" literature is often guilty of the same kind of tokenism, isn't it? Think Catherine in A Farewell to Arms, or Lenina in Brave New World. Sure, they're slightly more rounded characters than your typical movie romantic leads, but they still basically there to complement the male hero on his journey to understanding himself or his place in society or whatever. A couple of notable exceptions that I'm currently teaching: The Crucible, where Abigail is an incredibly believable and well rounded villain, and Things Fall Apart, where Ezinma shines through the bonds her society puts on her. Both of these are texts written by a man with a lead character who is a man, but they still manage to give other roles to the women than simply being rescued or kissing the hero at the end.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moby Dick sourcebook entry and online discussion

Seniors, I found an article titled Moby Dick, A Wicked Book that I wanted to share with you. Please read the article and complete the following steps. This should be sourcebook entry #9, with the same title as the article.

Response Steps:

1. Comprehension. In your sourcebook, summarize the main points of the article in about 1/2 a page. Bullet-point format is fine for this.

2. Analysis. Choose three significant quotes and copy them into your sourcebook. After each quote, discuss why you think that sentence is key to Sloan's argument.

Now, put down your sourcebook. Instead of writing the following answers in your sourcebook, they should be posted as comments to this blog entry. Write your name in the comment title.

3. Application. Choose a significant quote and discuss how it changes the way you see the meaning of any formalist patterns. For example, could Sloan's argument change what you think the whale symbolizes? Discuss the implications of his ideas. (Please, don't all use the whale example.)

4. Evaluation. Choose a significant quote and discuss to what extent you agree with Sloan's analysis, and why. You may note any flaws you see in his argument.

5. Synthesis. Respond to another student's comment. (You may have to do this separately, after some people have posted answers to #'s 3 and 4)

If you don't complete this assignment in class, please complete it by Tuesday, Sept 14.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Welcome to a brand new year!

Hello students! I'm very excited about all the great books we're going to read together, and all the interesting ideas we'll encounter along the way. I'm experimenting with using less paper this year, so I'm going to try to have you do more assignments digitally.

Your first assignment is to answer the following questions, sending them in an email to me. Follow these directions carefully.

The subject of the email should be your full name and your class. If you have both a Chinese and English name, write the one you want me to call you first, and your other name second. Here is an example of what a subject should look like: Ruth (Ru Shih) Poulsen, 10A.

Answer these questions in the body of your email:

Contact information:

1. Write the email address where I can contact you.

2. Write your parents' full names, their email addresses, and a phone number where I can contact them.

Now I want to check that you can find your way around my blog.

3. On the side of this blog, you'll see a box that says "Classroom documents." Under it, click on the syllabus for your class. What is the last unit of the first semester?

4. Now click on "Sourcebook guidelines." What is Mrs. Poulsen's opinion about the type of thinking you're likely to find on websites like Sparknotes?

5. Go down to the bottom of the blog, and look at the Assignment Calendar. Each class's due dates are written in a different color. What color code did I give your class?

Send the answers to these 4 questions (check that you got the subject right, or I'll take points off!) to my email address: ruth.andronica@gmail.com. This email is due Tuesday, September 7.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ap Exam Information

Your AP English Literature and Composition Exam has two parts: the multiple choice section, which will take 1 hour and accounts for 45% of your grade, and the free response section, which includes three essays, will take 2 hours, and accounts for 55% of your grade.

I just received an email from the College Board (the company that creates the AP Exam) that the way the multiple choice section is scored is now changing. Here is the relevant quote:

"Beginning with the May 2011 AP Exam administration, total scores on multiple-choice sections will be based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers and, as always, no points will be awarded for unanswered questions. "

This might change your exam taking strategies, encouraging you to guess on multiple choice questions that you're not sure about.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oedipus Rex Test

Though there are multiple translations of Oedipus Rex out there, your reading test will be based on the Ian Johnston translation. Click the link to review for the test.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Color Symbolism: Information is Beautiful!

Click this link for a great graphic of what colors mean in different cultures--very useful for literary analysis!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

10th graders Book Reviews

Dear Tenth Graders,
Please revise your book reviews, taking into consideration your peer editor's comments.

Then, go to www.tenthgradersenglishessays.blogspot.com and sign in. If you don't want to cut and paste that address, you can click here.

The user name is: tenth.graders
The password is: IBSHwriters

Please upload your favorite essay as a new blog post, with your name and the name of the book you're reviewing. For example, one title might be: Ruth Poulsen reviews Swarm

Once we have the site up and running, you will comment on at least 3 other book reviews. Remember, this is your way to find another great book to read!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Study Break.

"Scholar Ladies": this has got to be the single best parody of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" out there. I love "Then you shoulda got an A on it."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Homework over Winter Break

Ah, winter break. Time for catching up on sleep, having family reunions, hanging out with friends, and of course, curling up on the couch with your favorite hot beverage and a great book to read.

Here is what you should be reading over break.

10th graders:

Please read 30 pages per week from a novel or nonfiction book of your choice. Each week, fill out a journal, logging what you read and your responses to it. Each journal entry should be about 1 sourcebook page. By the end of break, you should have read 120 pages, and written 4 pages about them.

Each Journal entry should be titled "Winter break reading, week # ____"

Each entry should include the following:
--Title of what you read.
--Page numbers you read. Example:pages 45-75
--A quick summary of what happened in your pages
--Your reactions, such as questions, opinions, and connections to other texts

Happy winter reading!

12th graders:

Please read The Grapes of Wrath, and be ready for a reading test on it the day we get back from break. The reading test will be a similar format to previous ones. I had originally planned on also having you read another book, Things Fall Apart, but I have cut that from the syllabus. I feel it's more important to go deeper on a fewer number of books than to read a wide selection.

If you want to get ahead on your reading (which I highly suggest!), read Heart of Darkness, and then if you're really ambitious, Beloved, which are the other two novels we will get to before the AP exam in May. (Check the calendar for reading test dates, but keep in mind that I'll probably be tweaking these a little over break.

Another optional way to study for your AP English Literature and Composition exam is to do timed essays on your own. You can find past AP essay prompts here. I will be assigning quite a few timed writes next semester, as well, so don't stress about this if you have higher priority things to get done.

Remember, also, to get lots of sleep and enjoy your family.... you won't be home too much longer!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Here are what your finals will be like:

10th grade:

You will read a short story which you've never read before, and answer questions about it. For instance, you will answer questions about plot elements, characters, literary devices, and theme.

12th grade AP:

You will write a practice AP essay analyzing a passage of prose. You will also answer a few multiple choice questions about a few passages of poetry.

Good luck!