English 11


Wednesday, 1/21:  Read Walt Whitman's poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" and discuss how in such a short poem, through his choice of words (diction) and imagery and specific actions, the speaker of the poem (Whitman) reveals his desperate need for peace, simplicity, beauty, wonder, faith.

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


Tuesday, 1/20:  

1. Bring Death of a Salesman to class.  5 pts.

2.  Langston Hughes E.C. poetry assignment  +5 pts.  In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, please read the classic Hughes poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and discuss how he uses the body of water, a river, as well as other images of his people's history to reveal their strength, hope, and perserverance.  1/2 page min.  in notebook or looseleaf.

3.  E.C. 20 pts.  See American Sniper this weekend and write a one page (typed) response.  One paragraph on what you liked most about the film and why--was it someone's performance, the dialogue, the story itself?   Then one paragraph on similiarities between the film and O'Brien's The Things They Carried.  Staple ticket stub to paper.




FRIDAY, 1/16:  Intro paragraph due. THEN...

in-class literary essay on The Things They Carried and The Human Comedy, 100 pts.   

MAD EFFECTIVE VERBS FOR LITERARY ESSAYS: REVEALS, DEMONSTRATES, AFFIRMS, PROVES, EXPLAINS, UNFOLDS, PRESENTS, ILLUMINATES, INFORMS!

After you introduce your example (scene/line) from the novel, remember to discuss its importance in proving the lens--in other words ANALYSIS!  You may finish each discussion with of the work with a sentence on the literary element (+5 each; -5 for each missing literary element).  

I will have a handout for you with all of the important reminders for a good solid essay!  Remember, you won't be able to have your outline/notes in front of you while writing the essay. 

Wednesday, 1/14:    1.  10 pts. Make a brief outline and pre-write for Friday's big essay on The Things They Carried and The Human Comedy.  Write down which 3 scenes/lines from each novel you believe will most successfully and eloquently prove the following critical lens statement: "For what does it mean to be a hero? It requires you to be prepared to deal with forces larger than yourself."  Norman Mailer

ALSO, find ONE literary device for each work (conflict, theme, symbol, characterization, etc.) and briefly discuss how each author uses it to enhance the scene (and prove your thesis).

2.  Read the poem below from the "enemy's" perspective.  How does the speaker's actions, thoughts, and words give you a new glimpse into the tragedy of war?  How does it change your perspective and thinking?  Your heart?  What images moved you?  Make sure you make references to at least 3 lines to support your response.  1 page in notebook.  10 pts.




A Vietnamese Bidding Farewell to the Remains of an American

Was your plane on fire, or did you die
of bullet wounds, or fall down exhausted? 
Just so, you died in the forest, alone.

Only the two of us, a woodcutter and his wife, 
dug this grave for you, burned joss sticks*,
prayed for you to rest in peace.

How could we know there’d be such a meeting,
you and I, once separated by an ocean,
by the color of our skin, by language?
But destiny bound our lives together. 
And today, by destiny’s grace,
you are finally going home.

I believe your American sky
is as blue as the sky above this country 
where you’ve rested twenty years.

Is it too late to love each other?
Between us now, the ocean seems so small. 
How close are our two continents.

I wish a tranquil heaven for your soul,
gemmed with twinkling stars and shining moon.
May you rest forever in the soil of your home.

*incense burned at wakes or funerals in honor of the dead

[From the original Vietnamese poem by Tran Thi My Nhung, translated by Phan Thao Chiand adapted by W. D. Ehrhart.]






FRIDAY, 1/9:  Vocab 7 Quiz, 50 pts. and Unit 7 exercises due, 10 pts.

Thursday, 1/8:  Read the famous Vietnam poem by Yusef Komunyakaa "Facing It" and write a 1 page reaction to it in your notebook (10 pts.). This is part of your transition from prose to poetry while staying with the theme of war.  Make sure you discuss his emotions and why he's feeling them.  Make sure you discuss how he uses imagery to get the theme of sadness, loss, and regret across.  How does the title have a double meaning?

CHRISTMAS BREAK ASSIGNMENT, Due Monday, 1/5:  The Things They Carried descriptive/personal essay (100 PTS.).  TYPED.  2 PAGES. Times New Roman, 12 pt. size, full heading, no cover sheet.  This is one of my favorite English 11 assignments!  Imagine you are going to war tomorrow and can only take 3 personal items.  Describe each item in detail, and explain the reason why you want to carry it with you.  (Remember, no cell phones, ipods, or any electronics!  Also, you can't bring an entire photo album--it won't fit in your backpack. If you pick a photo, you must describe the subjects/setting in great detail as well.)  Remember, 3 things that are special and meaningful, and will somehow keep you grounded, as well as closer to your loved ones, and your true self!

Wednesday, 12/17:  Write a letter to a friend telling him/her the importance of reading The Things They Carried especially with all of the wars going on in the world today.  

Due Monday, 12/15:  The Things They Carried descriptive/personal essay, 100 PTS.  TYPED.  2 PAGES. Times New Roman, 12 pt. size, full heading, no cover sheet.  Imagine you are going to war tomorrow and can only take 3 personal items.  Describe each item in detail, and explain the reason why you want to carry it with you.  (Remember, no cell phones, ipods, or any electronics!  Also, you can't bring an entire photo album--it won't fit in your backpack. If you pick a photo, you must describe the subjects/setting in great detail as well.)  Remember, 3 things that are special and meaningful, and will somehow keep you grounded, as well as closer to your loved ones, and your true self!

Due Monday, 12/15:  Military Draft (Conscription) assignment, 10 pts.  Now that you've read Tim O'Brien's masterpiece (and the article on the draft), please ponder what you would do if the U.S. instituted the draft and your name was picked to join the military (6 weeks of training, then heading to the Middle East for a one year tour of duty).  Consider the pros and cons and see which outweigh the other.  Do some soul searching before you answer.  1/2 page minimum in notebook or loose leaf.

Thursday, 12/11:  The Things They Carried reading exam, 100 pts.  (Format is paragraph responses--probably choosing 4 out of 8 questions. Make sure you know main characters well and their experiences:  Tim O'Brien (and his daughter later on in the novel), Elroy Berdahl (who he stays with before the war), Lt. Jimmy Cross, Kiowa, Ted Lavender, Norman Bowker, Rat Kiley, Henry Dobbins, Mary Anne in Vietnam, his first crush Linda, and Bobby Jorgenson. Bring a pen.

Tuesday, 12/9:  Vocab 6 Quiz, 50 pts. and Unit 6 exercises due, 10 pts.

MONDAY, 12/1:  Vocab Unit 5 Extra Credit (up to 10 pts.).  Write 12 sentences using 12 words from Unit 5 based on The Human Comedy characters, scenes, and themes.

Monday, 11/24:  Vocab 5 Quiz, 50 pts., and Unit 5 exercises, 10 pts.

Wednesday, 11/19:  Catcher in the Rye body paragraph re-write!  50 pts.  Typed.  You  must staple your original essay to the back of the new body.  From our class discussions and one-on-one interviews AND my comments/suggestions, please pick the weaker of your two body paragraphs.

Monday, 11/17: Show me my essay comments written in the back of your English notebook. 5 pts.

FRIDAY, 11/14: In-class assignment in your notebook.  10 pts.  Discuss two of the following literary elements and how Saroyan uses each to enhance the scene's drama and thematic meaning.  Your critical lens statement could be something like "You never walk alone."  Imagery, symbolism, characterization, conflict.  You are basically writing two body paragraphs for a literary essay.  Remember the importance of ANALYSIS--your ideas, insight, critical reaction to reveal the importance and meaning of your choices!  (We will also finish our Catcher in the Rye essay interviews.)

Thursday, 11/13:  Vocab Unit 4 Quiz, 50 pts.  AND Unit 4 exercises due, 10 pts.

Thursday, 11/6:  The Human Comedy Reading Exam, 100 pts.  Bring a pencil!  

ALSO:  For extra credit, write about your favorite character in the novel and explain why. What does he or she do/say that made an impression on you?  What traits of his/hers do you possess, or wish you could possess, and why. 1/2 page min.  Up to 10 pts.!

Wednesday, 11/5:  Bring The Human Comedy to class. I will give you most of the period to read/prepare for Wednesday's reading exam, OR, finish your Catcher essay.

Tuesday, 11/4:  Catcher in the Rye literary essay, in class. 100 pts.  More tips to come!

MONDAY, 11/3:  Intro paragraph due!  10 pts.  Your critical lens statement will be "Letting go requires more strength than holding on."  Your essay will require two specific scenes when Holden, if only for a moment, is able to let go of his feelings of anger, doubt, self-destruction, etc.  What character(s) if any helps him and how?  Remember, in body paragraphs you must include lines from the scene to support your response.  ALSO, you must make a reference to one literary element in one of your body paragraphs (-5 if you forget, +5 if you remember).  Your intro paragraph's first sentence must be a clear thesis statement that includes the title (underlined), the author, the main character's name and  how he/she fits into the critical lens statement.  See sample intro & body for Of Mice and Men below.

In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George is heroic because he faces forces larger than himself, whether it's having to care for Lennie or trying to keep hope alive in a hopeless Great Depression landscape. He is a man of character because he keeps his promise to Aunt Clara to watch out for Lennie and try to give him some life of normalcy and joy. He is also a man of optimism because he believes, if only for a short time, that he and his best friend can have their own place and actually achieve a small slice of the American Dream. Tragically it all ends with the death of Lennie, but George's mercy killing still shows his love and concern to the very end--the trait of a true hero.

One of the most heroic things George does for Lennie is give him a sense of independence and importance. In the "fatta the lan'" dream of having their own place and being their own bosses, he makes it very clear to Lennie that he will be in charge of feeding and caring for his beloved rabbits. This brings Lennie such a sense of responsibility and joy that it gives him what every human being needs to survive--a sense of purpose. When Lennie realizes that he will always have George, his sense of security is so strong and confident, that he practically giggles like a child: "'...because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why.' He laughed delightedly."  When any human being makes this challenging life a little easier and more bearable for his fellow man, he is truly a hero and a unique individual worthy of praise. The fact that this makes George a little happier also shows his concern and compassion for his simple minded friend.

Wed., 10/22:  Vocab Unit 3 Quiz (50 pts.) and Unit 3 exercises due (10 pts.).  Bring a pencil.

Due Thursday, 10/23:  My Glass Case, 10 pts.  What is the most joyous moment of your life you would like to preserve the way Holden wants to preserve his youth and innocence (and Phoebe, and Jane, etc.)?  1 page min. in your notebook.  Be specific, use lots of details and imagery so that the reader experiences this moment, too!
ALSO: Bring The Human Comedy to class! 5 pts.  Order asap or go to your local library

TUESDAY, 10/14:  "Saving Holden" Essay due, 100 pts. 2 pages typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. size.  Create a new scene (with a new setting) for The Catcher in the Rye in which Holden meets YOU and you help save him through words and/or actions.  Make sure to write in HIS voice, 1st person narration ("goddam,"  "...and all," "that kills me," etc.).  Make it unique, powerful, and have fun with it!  Note: Scene must have dialogue, imagery, and a new symbol (worth 10 pts.).  Don't forget full heading.  

THURSDAY, 10/9:  Vocab 2 Quiz (50 pts.) and Unit 2 exercises due, 10 pts.


“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”  Abraham Lincoln