Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Welcome MSSM!

As you watch the video above by spoken-word artist Prince Ea ("Can We Autocorrect Humanity?"), comment on anything that seems important to you, familiar, or something you might do yourself. If you can make connections with the images we looked at from Eric Pickersgill, that would be especially great, and I know you will see them!

Remember: there are no right or wrong answers! The idea is to make observations and think about what has meaning to us.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of "Live Tweeting," it looks something like this:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

AP English Croquet Party!

Be there, or be square!
—Your Super Cool English Teacher, Dr. B.

Green Bean Casserole by Timothy Farrelly

Tim's Green Bean Casserole (taken in class, Thursday, June 15th!). Great job Tim!
It’s a chilly Thanksgiving evening on Vinalhaven, Maine, and my family and I are around the dining room table. My mom and others have just finished cooking dinner, and Green Bean Casserole will be served. Of course the other common Thanksgiving foods will be served as well: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and more, but the Green Bean Casserole is my chief focus. Baked Green Bean Casserole with French cut green beans and French’s Fried Onions is ready when the creamy mushroom sauce bubbles.

I’m not sure how I came to like this dish so much, nor can I remember the first time I had it. There was probably a time, when I was younger, that I thought it was gross by the mixture of the green and brown colors. Now I know having bright green in a dish is a good thing because it means it is healthy and fresh.

However I do remember the first time I helped make it. My mom and I were in our kitchen and she walked me through the steps as I did them. “Don’t use that many onions!” she instructed. Through my mom’s guidance, I realized cooking meals like Green Bean Casserole is not too hard.

Green Bean Casserole
  • 1 (14 oz) bag of French cut green beans
  • 1 (10.5 oz) can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ⅓ cup of milk
  • 1 dash of black pepper
  • 1 (16 oz) can of French’s Fried Onions

How to make it
  1. Place the frozen beans into a bowl to thaw.
  2. Combine the cream of mushroom soup, milk, black pepper, and half of the French’s fried onions into a separate bowl; mix with the green beans when they’re thawed.
  3. Spray 9x9-in. baking dish with cooking spray and fill with green bean mixture.
  4. Top with remaining French’s onions and bake in oven at 350℉ for 30 minutes. Serve when onions are brown and sauce is bubbling.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

AP English: Maurice Sendak (Part 2)

In yesterday's class, we worked on the first two parts of our creative writing project: steps 2 and 3 of our children's book assignment, here.  You selected your conflict (step 2) and organized your plot (step 3). Many of you also posted step 4, which was to identify your main characters.

For today, we will begin class by finishing Stephen Colbert's 2012 interview with literary giant Maurice Sendak (here) and I will show you my own copy of I Am a Pole (and So Can You!).

When we are finished, please get with your partners and jump into steps 4 and 5. Step 5 is now the most important: Write a rough draft. Make sure to confine yourself to twenty pages (see the back of your assignment sheet) and let me know if you have any questions.  When you are done, please post your answers to steps 4 and 5 in the comments section below.

English Essentials: Topic Sentences

As we continue our work this week revising and workshopping your papers on Chris Kyle, I thought it would be a good idea to review Topic Sentences.

Now, a lot of you know what a topic sentence is: it's the first sentence of each of your body paragraphs that says what your paragraph will discuss. Topic sentences, however, are not just that simple! They involve a very clear set of characteristics that we will discuss and check in our papers today.

For today, please watch the video above and in the comments section below write the topic sentence for one of your body paragraphs. Be sure to identify your important parts: Topic and Main Point. For example, if I looked at my first body paragraph in the paper I wrote in class, this is what I would post:

Topic Sentence 1: In order to understand how Kyle changes over the course of American Sniper, readers must first understand the Christian values instilled in him by his father and his mother: to help others and to protect members of their community.

Topic: how Kyle changes over the course of American Sniper.
Main Point: the Christian values instilled in him by his father and mother: to help others and to protect members of their community.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

AP English: Writing Your Own Children's Book

Part 1 of my favorite 2012 interview with Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are) with Stephen Colbert.

My lovely AP students, I was so moved yesterday when we went down to the library, pulled out some children's book and began to read. It felt like that day in elementary school and when your teacher says, "We're going to the library!" and every kid jumps up from their desk and says, "Yay!" As I looked around the library yesterday, you were all laughing and excited about the stories you were reading, and something suddenly became clear: some of our favorite books are not long, three-volume Victorian novels, but those written for children.

Today, we will be finishing step two of our Children's Book Project (assignment sheet here), making an outline of the story. I encourage you all to also finish step three, characters, so you are ready to jump into the rough draft tomorrow.

For today, we will warm-up by watching this 7-minute interview (Part 1) of Stephen Colbert's interview with children's book author Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, which was first published in 1963, and very much like Lewis Carroll's Alice stories, still resonates with us today.

When we are done, get with your partner and complete step 2 (and 3 if you can) from your assignment sheet. Post your answers in the comments section below to turn in your assignment.

Standard/Rubric for this Assignment (here)
W3, "I can write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences."

Monday, June 5, 2017

Coach Carter Writing Prompts (11/12 English)

In Friday's class, a very persuasive young man convinced me to let us watch more of the 2005 movie Coach Carter so that we would have lots to write about in our next writing prompt. First, bravo for showing me your persuasive speaking and listening skills! I love how you showed our class we were part of a team making a group decision.

Now the time has come to discuss what we've learned in our most recent viewing. Please pick one of the following prompts and answer in your journals. If you finish early, please go back and answer my most recent questions, or pick another prompt!

1) Why does Coach Carter ask, "What's your deepest fear?" to his athletes? Does this motivate them? Why or why not?

2) Is a Coach's job just "to win basketball games" like Carter's principal suggests?

3) How does a Coach know to give a player a second chance?

4) What does it mean to act like winners? Cruz: "Coach, we undefeated; we won the Championship. Isn't that what you wanted? Winners?"

AP English: Adaptations of the Croquet Match in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Writing Prompt:
As we close in on the end of our discussion of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it is time for us to look at my (Dr. Brigman's) favorite scene: the croquet match with the Queen of Hearts that goes incredibly wrong. 

As time changes, so do the characters in the stories we tell, and I find the changes to Alice's foreboding, hot-headed queen some of the most interesting! I have often thought Carroll (and his illustrator, John Tenniel), based her off of the most famous queen of their Day: Queen Victoria.

Do you see the similarity between the image (above) and the one Tenniel illustrated (below)?

Clip from the 1951 Disney animated feature, Alice in Wonderland.

2010 Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland featuring Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton's wife!) as the Queen of Hearts.

Questions for Discussion:
1) In your opinion, which Queen of Hearts is the most like the one that appears in Chapter 8, "The Queen's Croquet Ground" (60-67)? Please use specific textual evidence.

2) Vice versa, which Queen of Hearts is the least like the one that appears in Chapter 8?

3) Pick one of the two Queen of Hearts we saw today and discuss appropriation. Remember: appropriation means, "to take something and make it your own." What was the creator (either Tim Burton or Walt Disney) taking? What were they making their own? What do you think the creator was trying to accomplish with this version? 

4) Lastly, why a Queen of Hearts?

English Essentials: Writing Workshop

Writing Prompt:
All of last week, we participated in an intensive, collaborative writing workshop. Each of you put copies of your rough draft up on the projector and we discussed your thesis statements, topic sentences, evidence, and ideas.

For today, we will do something a little bit different.  I want you to spend 20 minutes doing the following:

1) Write down your answer to the question, "How does Chris Kyle change?"

Your answer should look like this: "Chris Kyle changes through ___, ___, and ___." Each blank will be one of the arguments you make your body paragraphs.

For example:

Chris Kyle changes through the lessons his father teaches him about protecting those who are weaker than himself, the lessons he learns as the number one sniper for the US military, and the discovery that he can still be a sheepdog protecting his family and military veterans at home.

2) Then, spend the next 15-20 minutes writing quietly. You should focus on making sure you explain how the evidence in each paragraph answers this question.

After your quiet writing, we'll pick a volunteer and put your answers on the board, workshopping for the rest of class.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

AP English: Cheshire Cat

Hands down, the Cheshire Cat remains one of the most iconic images from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He speaks in riddles, floats through the air, and grins without stopping. What makes him so interesting is often hard to describe, and there are many ways to read this magical, mysterious, and curious character.

For today, watch the following clips and answer the discussion questions in the comments section below. Pay close attention to how the Cheshire Cat is characterized and how he is like/unlike the one represented in our books.

1951 scene from Disney's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

1999 Cheshire Cat scene from the made-for-TV movie Alice in Wonderland

Questions for Discussion:
1) In your opinion, which cat (from the above adaptations) is most like the one that appears in Chapter VI of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? Please use specific textual evidence to support your ideas.

2) Which cat is the least like Carroll's Cheshire cat? Why?

3) Pick your favorite Cheshire Cat quote. Explain the nonsense and the logic behind it.

4) Lastly, why a Cheshire cat?