Thursday, December 13, 2012


Oh man, to see the almost non-existent light at the end of the tunnel is bitter sweet! This semester was soul draining, and it’s sad that my time at a community college did not prepare me whatsoever for what UMD had in store for me!

Aside from all the never-ending hours of work I had to do for my classes, I am sad to see some of them finish, this class being one of themL. Making friends (and taking courses with old ones), learning valuable lessons (on how not to plagiarize!) and reading a dozen beyond amazing slash words-can’t-describe type of books was unforgettable!

Unfortunately, I have to start with the fact that this class helped me to realize that I am not right for teaching. Aside from my vast fear of public speaking, even if it is just ten students, I had to eventually come to terms with that. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was little, and it was kind of assumed that I would just go for it, which I sort of did, but as the time passed and my experience increased, I just kept getting these “WHAT am I doing here” warning flags in my head. Fortunately, I will still be pursuing a major in English, since I will never stop loving literature of all sorts, and I am excited to see what I can get out of all the classes UMD has to offer. I also am making plans (slash goals) to attend grad school for Higher Education. Although I do not want to be in front of a classroom full of testosterone filled teens ready to pounce on me, I still do want to help out students, inspire them and guide them to what they want to do with their lives, so I am looking into advising for my career. I think this would be very suitable for me, and I think I will be very happy in that field.

Now, for all the books we read in class… I’m not even sure where to start! Of course being able to reread some of the high school and middle school classics that I wasn’t able to (or didn’t care to) appreciate in school was awesome. I loved being able to cry along and empathize with the characters of The Outsiders, Night, and The Catcher in the Rye. I also loved being opened to new classics that I never had a chance to read, like To Kill a Mockingbird, which offered endless themes and valuable lessons to take away with me once I was finished. I also liked reading these books and then watching their movie counterparts, and comparing the two and noting all the differences and valuable aspects that films don’t touch on that are read in the books. It reconfirmed the fact that literature can be so eye opening and reading allows you to pick up on all the little things that movies don’t (or can’t) fit in. I also enjoyed reading the different types of genres, specifically graphic novels, which my high school teachers would have never even considered using. Not only were Diary of a Part-time Indian and Persepolis two amazing books, but the visual images helped everything come together and make it whole, it helped me to see events and scenes in the perspective of the author and how they wanted it to be portrayed. Not only did these two books offer images, but they also touched on cultures and ethnicities that I had never been exposed to. They were such amazing, heart-touching stories and it absolutely broke my heart to read some of the things that go on in other people’s lives and other parts of the world. These two books are perfect for adolescents because it would help to bring them down from their often self-centered pedestals and teach them to empathize, care and understand other cultures and people, as well as allow them to appreciate what and who they have in their lives. Speaking of cultures, I liked rereading Buried Onions, because it reminded me of Part-time Indian, in how they live in low income areas and how they didn’t have inspiring people in their lives to root for them, but rather numerous aspects that constantly tried to pull them into the wrong direction. It helps you get a touch of reality reading about the deaths and addictions some people have to experience, but it’s nice to read about those characters who do try to break through the norm and from what is expected of them, even when everyone around them is a negative influence, it makes them that much stronger to me. It makes me want to cry just thinking of them! (I’m a crybaby by the way).

Another thing I enjoyed was learning about all the lenses. I was taught by a bunch of strict, by the book, there-is-only-one-right-opinion-and-it’s-my-opinion type of teachers. Although I passed all these classes with flying colors, I never really got anything out of them other than what we were told to memorize, and unfortunately, none of those teachers were inspiring to me. What I loved about this class and the texts we had were that they allow you to think not outside of the box, but like there is no box. They allow students who are often shooed away by their teachers to bring in opinions and perspectives that added value to the texts and class discussions. Things are never one-sided, but they are often told one-sided, and this class helped us to stray from that notion. All the different lenses that we used and learned about made me appreciate literature about a bazillion times more than I had already did. It just opened my eyes to so many different possibilities and ways to interpret texts and it made me so much more confident in my work to not have Megan and Lisa tell me that what I thought didn’t matter or was wrong. I think these lenses were probably the most valuable set of things that I can take away from this course.

Another thing I really enjoyed was how close-knit our class was, from our lectures, discussions, even down to the scolding, everything was of value to me. I loved that it was barely a dozen of us in the room, yet our voices and opinions were so powerful and resulted in such amazing, sometimes overwhelming, discussions and debates that further resulted in me running home to write up a blog post. I loved working in groups, in chats and in literature circles with everyone and I am truly going to miss every single one of them. Everyone was so supportive and positive towards one another, something I have never experienced in other classes, or even with many people period. It is so wonderful to know that these classmates of mine will be leading a classroom in the future, and I will definitely be hunting them down and distributing my offspring to each one of them!

It’s sad to see everyone go and I am truly thankful for this class and all the help that Megan and Lisa have provided for us. I wish everyone happy holidays and that we please all keep in touch! Hit a sister up sometime! J


Mabelyn Mijangos

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Folk Literature Unit

Folk Literature Unit Outline


·         Understand folk literature and “The Hero’s Journey”

·         Understand and be able to use the Social Class Lens to analyze a text

·         Be able to connect how Greek culture has influenced folk literature

·         Participate in class discussions


(In Class Discussions and end of unit project)

RL2 CCR: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.  

RL2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

·         Analyze ideas, literary techniques, and specific details in a text that develop a theme or central idea.

·         Objectively summarize a text by including the appropriate details.

·         Participate actively and appropriately in discussions about literature.

(In Class Discussions)

RL3 CCR: Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.   

RL3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

·         Analyze and explain how complex characters develop, interact, and change over

the course of a text.

·         Analyze, explain, and evaluate the impact of complex characters on advancing the

plot and developing the theme in a text.

(In Class Discussions)

RL6 CCR: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

RL6: Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

·         Understand, appreciate, and make connections with different cultures and points of view.

·         Identify, analyze and explain the influence, effect, or impact of historical and/or cultural experience on narrative text.

Texts & Materials

·         The Odyssey (text)

·         Gilgamesh (short story)

·         The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell (documentary)

·         Critical Encounters in High School English by Deborah Appleman: Chapter 4’s Social Class Lens/ pass out a summative worksheet

·         Unit Project prompt & rubric

·         Monty Python and the Holy Grail (movie)

Weekly Lesson Plans/Assignments

Week 1:

·         Watch: The Power of Myth documentary by Joseph Campbell to define the theory of myth

·         Introduce: The Social Class Lens: What, how & Why worksheet

·         Introduce: Folk Literature & “The Hero’s Journey”

·         Assigned Reading: Gilgamesh by next class

Week 2:

·         In Class Discussion: Summary of Gilgamesh & analyze how characters develop throughout the text

·         Assigned Reading: The Odyssey (first half)

·         Research: Greek (culture) folk literature for in-class discussion

·         In Class Discussions: Greek culture and folk literature connection to Gilgamesh & The Odyssey

Week 3:

·         Assigned Reading: The Odyssey (second half)

·         In Class Discussions: Use the Social Class lens to relate to one of the characters

·         In Class Discussions: Summation of first half of The Odyssey and “The Hero’s Journey”

Week 4:

·         In Class Discussions: Summation of the second half of The Odyssey and its themes

·         Project: Create a pamphlet discussion what we learned in the unit as well as a summary of either Gilgamesh or The Odyssey (Due at the end of the week)

·         Watch: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Online Chat

Since I wasn't able to make our class' first online chat due to my lack of power, this was my first experience.  Overall I have to say that it was a success and recommendable.

The directions to install the Blackboard IM were extremely easy to follow and a quick process, so no complaints in that department. It is also nice to know that it works with all of the classes that the student is enrolled in so we can recommend it to other professors.

The fish bowl technique was good. It gave everyone an opportunity to talk and time in between to collect their thoughts and get their information ready to discuss. I also know that personally, in class, I tend to get a little shy and hold back on my opinion. With the online chat, I was able to throw out all my opinions without worrying whether or not it was good enough or if I would even get a chance to talk or that all eyes were on me. It ensures that everyone gets a chance to speak without the added pressure that everyone is watching and judging your answer. I also liked that the chat made time fly like no other. Sometimes the class can lag and with the chat, it went by remarkably fast.

The only complaint I had was that it was a bit hard to keep up with everyone. Since it is a group chat, IMs were flying in at lightspeed, and my eyes were having trouble keeping up and reading everything.

The class chat is perfect for an online class, a blended class or even a class that meets in person. I know that it is unrealistic to expect everyone to be on time and in class each day so this is a quick and easy alternative to the regular in class discussion/lecture. Not to mention that I'm sure most of my classmates would be thrilled to wake up to an email addressing a class meet up for an online one! These chats are also helpful for group project meetings and discussions and especially  literature circles. With lit circles, this would be beneficial because at the click of a button discussions can be expanded through links, definitions and even videos pertaining to that specific novel.

As I said above, overall, the online class was a wonderful experience. I feel that it helped students come out of their shells, keep the flow of the discussion and time going well and it is beneficial to numerous projects and class types. We should have more in the future! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Autobio & Memoir

This week we were assigned to read Beach's chapter 7: "How do I Help Students Understand What They Are Reading" along with our assigned autobio/memoir, I chose Ellie Wiesel's Night.

Night is about Eliezer, a Jewish teen from Transylvania. Things get out of hand when his teacher returns after getting deported with a horrific story of the Nazi's that took over his train and assassinated everyone on board. Unfortunately, no one believes Mr. Moshe. In the Spring, the Nazis take over Hungary, forcing the townspeople of Transylvania into ghettos. Soon after, everyone is forced onto cattle cars like a bunch of animals where the real nightmare begins. After being split up by the rest of their family, never to see them again, Eleizer and his father are sent to work, they are scarred when noticing a horrendous fire pit where the Nazi's are burning innocent babies alive. Eleizer, a once religious and hopeful teen loses his faith in God and humanity as he lives through the torture and humiliation around him. The once close knit community also shattered. Once again his camp is evacuated and forced to a deadly march, only twelve out of one hundred surviving. Soon, his father, the only man he was able to depend on and stick with dies, leaving Eleizer to fend for his own, a job he does until the U.S liberates them in April of 1945.

Night is an extremely touching and somewhat difficult novel to read, bringing me to the Beach chapter. It is important for students to understand the topic of this novel prior to its reading especially with the Jewish terminology throughout the book, that was a bit confusing to me as a reader knowing nothing about it. I think students would have to prepare to read this graphic book after being taught about the Holocaust  One activity I suggest is watching the Anne Frank memoir and even taking a field trip to the Holocaust museum would be a thoughtful hands on approach for the students to get to know the basis of this story before jumping into Night. Another way would be to have the students try to relate to the aspect of discrimination, possibly even abuse: if they've experienced it or know anyone whose been involved. I think this would be an eye opening unit, making the students humbler, more grateful for what is in front of them (perfect for the week of Thanksgiving!) and more compassionate with others around them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Absolutely True Diary of Pure Ignorance

I read the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie in one sitting! I was so absorbed in the story and the graphics of this novel. I haven’t been exposed to history about Native Americans so this was an eye-opening and a very sad smack in the face. This part fiction part autobiography part graphic novel had me laughing, crying and furious within the first few pages. It was so emotional and enrapturing. To read such a sad story and learn about some of the ignorance that people had towards Junior was heart breaking.

Of course, not to my surprise, Alexie’s response to Gurdon’s article had me huffing and puffing just as much as his novel, so much that I’m not even sure where to begin! I felt that Gordon was speaking one-sidedly about the issue of vulgar and inappropriate literature. Gurdon failed to realize the truth that these novels bring to the table. All of the issues portrayed; rape, abuse, drugs etc. are part of some teens’ everyday lives. I feel like to hide this portion of reality is equal to promoting ignorance. I have never come across or even heard of a young adult novel that promotes and glorifies these issues. In fact, most young adult literature that I have come across teach valuable lessons and have respectable themes that show the consequences of these issues and help readers to not chose the wrong path. Gurdon is telling us to dismiss these issues, but ignoring problems won’t make them disappear, they won’t make a teen suffer less, and it won’t bring back the innocence that has already been taken away.

What I appreciated Alexie noting is how these novels help to fight the monsters in teens’ lives. When someone is going through such a rough path all by themselves, it’s nice to have literature to escape to. Alexie also talked about the “seemingly privileged,” a term I defined as those who have not been exposed to the harshness of reality, and those who have not had their “innocence” torn away from them. In class we discussed the possibility of this pertaining to social class. Of course I am a firm believer that money won’t solve your problems. The rich are just as likely to experience tormenting and traumatic events as someone from a lower class.

A question many of us had trouble finding a solution to be whether or not it should be the teacher’s initiative to bring these issues into the classroom. From my own experience, I’d have to say yes. In my family, drugs, alcohol, sex etc. was never talked about. Maybe it had to do with the old fashioned generation my parents came from, but these issues were never brought up. Fortunately, none of us had to ever come across these, but it isn’t to say others won’t. I think teachers should aspire to have their students understand these issues, if not tolerate the students who do come into contact with them. Otherwise, I feel that student’s will grow up ignorant, naïve, and oblivious to what can potentially happen to them or around them. We need to teach our student’s to empathize with others instead of ridicule or look down upon them, and creating stereotypes, especially if their parents are in denial or ignoring potential hazards.

In chapter 8, Appleman discusses how minority students are able to understand and learn from literary theory just as well as majority students. Because of their social class, minority students are able to relate more to literature. In fact, many students use their lives to relate to literature, and when controversial literature is taught in the classroom, it can help all students to appreciate their lives and empathize with students who do have to go through these matters. We may not be able to put an end to it, but we can at least come together and give support to those who do experience it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Report Alternative

Blog prompt: Discuss the process of crafting your Book Report Alternative. Did you think it was a successful activity? Why/why not? How might you adapt it? And the all-important question: how do you know this assignment is not “fluff”? It might be helpful to think about the question, “Just what is academic writing anyway?”
Crafting a prompt and project for the book report alternative was somewhat difficult. I had to create something up that was academic that would lead to an aesthetically pleasing project to the audience (me).
My purpose was to invoke thoughtful thinking and ideas. I didn't just want to have a list of crucial events, or sway the audience to thinking there was only one correct set of answers. This is why I had to include convincing reasoning for each event/person, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This helped to inspire me and think outside of the usual chronological order of events in a story.
To me I think it was a successful activity. I chose Ella Enchanted, a fun and fantasy based novel, perfect for an adolescent. To go with the theme I chose to make a poster of what I considered to be the most influential events and people, exaggerating the charcters' features where I could to emphasize their roles in the novel and to help get the point across. To keep my poster from being just an art project, I wrote up a seperate paper explaining why I chose each aspect. It was fun getting into the creative side of education since I am used to solely writing papers, this was a nice fresh breath of air.
I found this book report alternative to be academic because it involves you having to read the novel. You also had to take time to look at each character and event and invokes further thinking as to why it is placed in Ella's path. I had to look further into the symbols and imagery used to help put myself in Ella's shoes. In the end, my project is humourous and creative and I believe it has convincing reasons attached to each picture.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Readicide by Kelly Gallagher last week was a decent read. Gallagher had some points I agreed with, and some that I didn't. While he had some activities and tips worthy of experimenting in the classroom, his repetitiveness made me want to throw the book out the window, causing me to read it in increments in order to tolerate its monotony.

One of the ideas I particularly enjoyed was that of not chopping up or over teaching literature when teaching it to the students. I understand that teachers have a set curriculum to comply with and an endless list of standards and expectations to meet, but it is still important to teach the book as a whole. I’ve had teachers who could never find a balance between cutting up the novel and interrupting us every five minutes to teach us the meaning of every word on each page. Both which led us to not understanding the key points.

I feel like this form of teaching would only teach students to hate reading, another point Gallagher mentioned. What we should want to accomplish as teachers is to have our students want to become lifelong readers. If we over teach or chop up books we will only give them reason to loathe and  misunderstand the value of what is otherwise known as good literature.

One great tip mentioned was to find the value of a novel and find ways to relate it to our students' lives and modern day society. This would help students to connect to classical and even new-age literature. It will help them to appreciate the value of books and accept the lessons they can teach them.

I didn’t agree with Gallagher’s strong belief in diving up 50% to both academic and recreational readings. Like I mentioned before, teachers have the responsibility to teach all assigned material along with what students need to know for standardized testing. I don’t think it is realistic for a teacher to set aside that much time for recreational reading. Gallagher should keep in mind that students have hectic schedules to abide by, activities, sports and usually seven separate classes, not to mention college prepping. I think 75% or 80% academic reading and 25%-20% recreational reading would be more appropriate for students in secondary school.

Gallagher also mentioned standing up for what you want in the classroom, whether it was by going all out to the media or approaching your superiors and administration, he believed that this was a valid act to execute. I however, believe the opposite. I feel like Gallagher’s novel was meant for new and up and coming teachers. For him to suggest making decisions as strong as those when we would barely have our foot in the door or any seniority or guarantee to our careers is completely absurd. Teachers during this period in their career are inexperienced and unfamiliar with teaching; they shouldn’t be instructed to do something that could rile up the wrong kind of attention that has the potential to put their jobs on the line.

Readicide was also extremely repetitive. I felt that the book could have been half its length if he hadn’t chosen to summarize and repeat certain ideas over and over. All he accomplished with that was to have me uninterested and almost bored to death. I understood his views the first time he mentioned them, there was no need to tediously repeat as much as he did.

Other than a few things, to me, Readicide was a good read and I recommend it to those majoring in the education field as well as to students. Gallagher brings up several important issues relevant to teachers while explaining tips and tricks that students could also learn from that have the potential to help them succeed in school. Overall, I enjoyed the book.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird Prompt

Going through the experience of writing a prompt was difficult for me. I found it difficult to keep a balance between structuring my prompt and giving them a prompt where they can construct their own ideas and opinions on the novel. For me it is important to give your students a pathway without letting them dismiss their own creativity as long as it fits into the given prompt.

Creating a rubric was extremely difficult because I was unsure of where to begin. I have never had any experience in making or analyzing one so I had to do my own research and still, I think it could have been more detailed.

My prompt was created by Shirley I which I had to come up with the pros and cons as to how a certain literary lens can affect a person's interpretation of a reading. All though I think it was a good prompt, I think it lacked a bit more detail and structure. As a student myself, I usually have trouble knowing where to begin with my essays and I had the same issue with my response to her prompt.

Regardless, I think To Kill a Mockingbird was a great novel and the activity Lisa had us do in class was a good way to wrap up that piece of literature by making it a more eye opening experience and inviting us to share our insights on the characters and helping one another see through different perspectives that we might not have picked up on prior to the activity.

I definitely agree that this novel will be taught by most teachers in the future and fortunately there are endless activities that can be linked to this novel, including the prompt to keep our students academically stimulated.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Catcher in The Rye: To Read or Not to Read and the War On Neverending Cencorship

J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger  is one of my favorite books. I read it in high school and I enjoy it now just as much as I did back then. The story revolves around Holden Caulfield, a 16 year old rebellious outcast. The novel brings me back to those angst ridden emotions of the teenage years, and in my opinion makes Holden one of the most relatable protagonists in literature. The only argument concerned parents may have is that the novel uses an immense amount of profanity, and is sad underneath its cynical and sarcastic humor. Despite that, throughout the novel you get a sneak peek into the lingering consequences that death and trauma have on a teen, helping the reader to understand his somewhat of irrational actions. The novel also exposes the reality that social class and wealth does not create happiness but rather the loneliness and sense of being a social outcast it may bring.

Holden is significant to teens everywhere as we read about his struggle to fit in while remaining an individual among all the “phonies.” I think this is a book that will have all the students in class coming together to enjoy and relate to due to the narrator’s ability of being a spokesman for teens, even after so many generations. Even today it sparks my interest to reminisce the agony of adolescence. Although the book was published sixty years ago, adolescent alienation is something every future generation will never grow out of.

Reading the novel I can't help but notice the connection to power and wealth. The story revolves around a rich teen who goes from one expensive boarding school to another expensive boarding school and running a muck the city being a "spendthrift". Regardless of his wealth (or his parents), Holden is always unhappy and on the lookout for his identity. This is all just a reminder to me that money can't buy happiness, no matter how hard you try. 

Maybe it has to do with his gender, but as a male he is taught to hold in his feelings or face the consequence of being shunned by society. Unfortunately, this only adds to Holden's deteriorating emotional state throughout the novel.

This is a definite must read for our students, and something we should never hold back from teaching so the fact that there are people fighting to keep this story out of our classrooms is immensely disappointing.

We (are supposed to) live in a society that praises our right to freedom of speech and the freedom of press, but as teachers we are experiencing differently. We became teachers because we had a passion for writing and a love for reading. Yet in our classrooms today we are being used as political puppets to prove a point, and are being forbidden to teach outside our prearranged boxes and of letting our students think beyond the classroom.

How can we be told what and how our students read? Isn’t it the decision of the teacher how our students learn and how we prepare them for the future? Apparently not. Unfortunately, many of us are scared to challenge these committees and these parents who threaten and offensively question our ability to teach. We can’t even express our opinions on how absurd this censorship is because our careers are on the line, and who are we without these live changing careers?

Realistically, we are fighting against groups of biases: the political, the religious, the uneducated, the old fashioned and worst of all: the ignorant and unwilling to understand. How can we be told we can’t teach a classic novel because it may or may not suggest homosexuality, because the book uses words that make a group of people uncomfortable, or because the book expresses an emotion that we are often told to repress? These novels are the ones that inspired and motivated us to be the leaders of society today. These books deal with the real and often common issues our teens are experiencing and living through today; rape, death, relationships, abuse, gangs etc. We can’t shun them from the obstacles of life just because we want to protect them. We are only hurting them by doing so.

Our students look up to us for guidance, they look up to us to hear the truth, and they look up to us to prepare them for the real world. How can we do any of that when the real world is being censored? The issues that these books cover are real; they are raw and they need to be explored. We as teachers need to stand together and win this war over censorship. We can’t let this ridiculousness overcome us, because to live a lie, we might as well not be teachers at all…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monster- WDM

Monster- WDM
Main characters:
Steve Harmon: 16, male, black: main character, on trial for being a lookout to a robbery/murder case
Kathy O’Brien: Steve Harmon’s defense attorney, indecisive to whether or not Steve is guilty
Sandra Petrocelli: Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes Steve and James. She brands them “Monsters” in court.
James King: the defendant who encouraged Steve to be involved in the robbery and the one responsible for the murder.
Richard "Bobo" Evans: the defendant who planned the robbery. The prosecution uses his testimony in an effort to put King and Steve in jail.
Asa Briggs: James King’s defense attorney
The Judge: Trial judge, 60 yrs. old
Osvaldo Cruz: 14 yrs. Old. Hispanic. Tatted. Belongs to Los Diablos gang
José Delgado: drugstore clerk
Sal Zinzi: a nervous man, slightly overweight, who sells stolen goods.
Wendell Bolden: a boy in jail due to numerous crimes: b&e, possession of and intent to sell drugs. Called to trial for additional info on Steve and witnesses.

Introspection: Steve must come to terms with his own identity. He accomplishes this throughout the novel in his journal entries which he makes during his time in jail awaiting trial.
Peer Pressure: This theme is the basis for how he ended up in his current situation. Had he not given into the peer pressure by James King he wouldn’t have been involved with the robbery that led to the death of the store clerk.
Humanity/self-acceptance/quest for identity: Steve is called a "monster" by the Prosecutor at the beginning of the novel and Steve grapples with the question of whether or not he is monstrous for his actions in the robbery. He is constantly reflecting upon this in his journal entries. The word can also be found scribbled faintly and scratched out on pages of the novel itself.
Important Events:
Jerry/Steve discuss being super heroes and removing the bad guys (ironic)
Steve arrested for involvement to the robber/murder and put on trial
Steve’s decision to write his trial experience into a screenplay, he is an aspiring film maker
Steve receives support from his family, they visit him in jail. Family goes through turmoil.
O’Brien teaches Steve the cup technique for his answering methods in trial
Mr. S (Steve’s former teacher ) comes to stand and answers questions about Steve
No hints as to whether Steve is guilty or innocent until the end of the novel

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


For my contemporary novel I read Monster by Walter Dean Myers. It was about a sixteen year old boy, Steve who finds himself on trial for murder and accused of aiding as a lookout in a robbery-homicide of a store clerk in Harlem.

Although the novel was interesting, for me, this was a difficult novel to read considering the size and the short amount of time. the way the story is written makes it a bit hard to follow, and i had to make a ton of notes in order to keep up and make sense of everything. This is discouraging considering it is meant for teens in secondary school and here I am, a university student, struggling to read it.

Realistically I don’t think I would be teaching or assigning this novel to my future students during the school year, however, it think students could learn a lot from the novel (loyalty, peer pressure, self identity, friendship, laws,  and the realistic outcomes/consequences crime have on oneself and those around us) and it would make a great summer read.

What I did enjoy about the novel was the way it was written. Steven writes first person journal entries and some form of a screenplay as he lives through the reality of the trial and the possibility of living the rest of his life behind bars.

I think that this book does a good job of teaching journal entries, something I would definitely like to explore in my class and do believe my future students would enjoy. I think the students could partake in an activity where the students write journal entries through the eyes of Steve and apply it to their own lives. The screenplay can also get the students’ creative writing to a start and I think these two activities would be both fun and academically acceptable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Outsiders

This week I read The Outsiders which was written by a then 18 year old S.E Hinton. The Outsiders is a coming of age novel about two rival groups of teens, The Greasers and The Socs, who live on the opposite sides of town.

The main character Ponyboy and his friend Johnny find themselves in trouble when they kill one of The Socs after getting jumped by them. At that age they know nothing more than the streets and decide to run away with the help of a fellow Greaser.

 Ultimately, Johnny the killer decides to turn himself in. Headed for home they see a burning church with children stuck inside. The Greasers run into save them but the flames get the best of Johnny.

Once home, The Greasers visit Johnny in the hospital consecutively until the night he passes away.

Meanwhile, the rival between the two gangs is heating up and a big fight is planned between all of the gang members. The Greasers win and everything is ok until one of the Greasers gets into trouble and is killed by the police. The Greasers are devastated for their two losses.  

Once Ponyboy returns to school he is in danger of failing. The story ends with him deciding to write a theme based on Johnny’s note he found in his favorite book “Gone with the Wind.”

This was a great book for me as it let me reminisce to my middle school days where I first fell in love with the story. It’s a perfect teen novel that deals with friendships, rocky home lives and death. It taught me about loyalty and love and I wasn’t surprised when I found myself downloading the movie yesterday to finish off this literature circle.

I could definitely see a classroom being taught a lesson using the student centered theories we learned about in chapter three. I feel that students would not necessarily relate to the story but definitely find it interesting and actually want to do work on it. I think this eventful story would benefit the students if they took the idea of using sticky notes to mark all of the important events and make notes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poetry Workshop

A Prodigal- Elizabeth Bishop

The brown enormous odor he lived by
was too close, with its breathing and thick hair,
for him to judge. The floor was rotten; the sty
was plastered halfway up with glass-smooth dung.
Light-lashed, self-righteous, above moving snouts,
the pigs' eyes followed him, a cheerful stare--
even to the sow that always ate her young--
till, sickening, he leaned to scratch her head.
But sometimes mornings after drinking bouts
(he hid the pints behind the two-by-fours),
the sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red
the burning puddles seemed to reassure.
And then he thought he almost might endure
his exile yet another year or more.

But evenings the first star came to warn.
The farmer whom he worked for came at dark
to shut the cows and horses in the barn
beneath their overhanging clouds of hay,
with pitchforks, faint forked lightnings, catching light,
safe and companionable as in the Ark.
The pigs stuck out their little feet and snored.
The lantern--like the sun, going away--
laid on the mud a pacing aureole.
Carrying a bucket along a slimy board,
he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight,
his shuddering insights, beyond his control,
touching him. But it took him a long time
finally to make up his mind to go home. 

Initial Gut Reaction:

To me, hearing the poem I got the image of someone running away from home. I could go as far as saying that they dropped out of society and chose to live the “simple life,” natural and raw. In time, this person realizes this “easy” life is not all it’s cracked up to be and eventually decides to go back home.

First Reading:

Important words and phrases

  • ·        Too close
  • ·         Self-righteous
  • ·         Pig’s eyes followed him
  • ·         Sow that always ate her young
  • ·         Mornings after drinking bouts
  • ·         Sunrise glazed
  • ·         Burning puddles
  • ·         Reassure
  • ·         Endure
  • ·         Exile
  • ·         “Sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red the burning puddles seemed to reassure. And then he thought he almost might endure his exile yet another year or more.”

Collaborative Reading:

“Sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red the burning puddles seemed to reassure. And then he thought he almost might endure his exile yet another year or more.”
To me this meant that the life of living on a farm or as a farmer had its flaws, yet when the beauty of nature displays itself, this man reconsiders his thoughts, thinking the place is not as bad as he makes it out to be and that he may even enjoy staying another year.

Group Discussions:

After listening to everyone’s thoughts and perspectives on the poem, I continue to stand by my belief that the man has left his home, but not necessarily dropped out of society or run away. Everyone in class agreed that the man was on a farm and didn’t enjoy staying there; however they opened my eyes to the idea that he may even despise staying on the farm. I also got to thinking on what was keeping him there, and if he was unable to leave, that he may ultimately become insane. Despite the glimmer of hope the poem entails (sunrise glazed, puddles reassured), he still ends up leaving before it is too late. We believe that he is suffering by remaining there.


What is plaguing him?  

I believe that being away from his home or family is taking an emotional toll on him. This man is alone and other than the little comfort he may get from the animals, he is without company. This farm is not welcoming, and he doesn’t feel safe, which is why he is drinking his sorrows away. He must leave before it is too late.

Partner’s view:
(Same question)

This man has escaped his life and moved to work on a farm. He finds comfort and familiarity in the animals he takes care of. He is plagued by the thought of having to go back to reality and leave this new place he finds home. He doesn’t want to leave, but it is beyond his control, (shuddering insights) life is coming to collect his decision, and unfortunately he has to go back home.

Concluding Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this activity. Of all the times that I have had to work with poetry I have never been this successful. I took pleasure in being able to dissect the poem little by little and let myself become enveloped by my thoughts. This method really got my creative juices flowing, and helped me to look at the poem from numerous views, especially when hearing everyone’s ideas and their reasons behind them. I hope to do this again in class and I definitely look forward to working this way in the future with my students.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blog #4: Multi-perspectives,untold theories & The Holy Mountain

I personally define theory as something concrete. A specific idea that I automatically associate with science, and something that needs to be proven or appropriately backed up at the very least.

When I think of an ideology I see it as a person's philosophy on how they view the world or an idea, depending on who they are and what influences their thoughts.

These two concepts can be difficult to define as they are similar, but I distinguish them by believing that a theory is something you learn, and an ideology is created through experience.

The minute we began to talk about ideologies, theories and multiple perspectives, the movie The Holy Mountain popped into my head. The Holy Mountain is a 1973 cult film where a Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful individuals, each representing a planet in the solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guide's assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek out the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.

If you allow it to, this film can alter your beliefs. It is somewhat disturbing and very thought provoking, and makes you question what reality really is, if it even exists, or if we are a projection of images. Even the way it is filmed is aesthetically pleasing, trippy, and psychologically provoking. It really gets your creative juices flowing and almost forces you to view life through a set of different lenses. This movie is definitely a must see! Let me know what you guys think. :)

Comments Pending Approval

On Blogger, you have the ability to go to your settings, and by clicking on the Comments and Posts section, you can alter who and how people comment on your posts and whether or not you want to approve them before allowing them to publish on your page.

I only have a blog on this site, so unfortunately I do not have any knowledge as to whether or not this can be done on other blog sites.

Hope this helped :)

Blog #3: Portfolio Reflection

Portfolio Reflection- Beach pg. 36

“Reflect back to your own adolescent years and recall your own reading and media interests. What are some reasons for your engagement with particular books, films, TV programs, music and/or video games? How did those interests/preferences reflect your particular needs and traits as an adolescent?“

As a teen, my reading and media interests varied. I liked to watch and read about the unnecessarily provocative and unrealistic sexual lives of fictional characters, If only my parents knew what I was actually reading... I also enjoyed the typical young adult literatures of fantasy, adolescent rebellion and puppy love. One of my favorite things to read were self-help books, Chicken Soup for the Soul was my bible. Sometimes I enjoyed a good murder-mystery and even children’s books; Henry & Mudge was my favorite as a tween!

I feel like I read a lot of the teen dramas out of curiosity and to fit in with my peers. I enjoyed fantasy and romance because it was a fun escape from the real world.  I went as far as to imagine myself in the characters’ shoes and found it easy and enjoyable to pretend to live like them. I liked the romance genre because it gave me an idea on, what at the time I thought, love should be like, since it wasn’t exactly the emotion portrayed in my home. This also made me quite in tune to my sexuality because at a young age I was able to accept being bisexual, but not having actual people in my life who supported that was devastating, so it was nice to be able to read other people's stories on that, so I knew I wasn't alone or unlovable. To this day I still read self-help books, I like feeling humble, appreciative and self-less, and those aren't my everyday emotions that I usually express, so it has always been a pleasant experience to learn to be grateful of the little things and to become a better person. Although I have always been aware of my flaws, it still took me becoming an adult to actually be able to change those negative aspects that I portrayed and picked up as a teen. Children’s books were also great; they brought me back to a happy childhood, where I could feel carefree and innocent joy opposed to what a teenage narcissist would believe to be, life ruining drama.

Unfortunately, reading these kinds of literature and watching these trashy shows made me not necessarily naive, but slightly careless. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of reality and what was wrong with the world, I just sort of pushed it in the back of my mind. I also was capable of becoming a bit too enveloped in these works of fiction and ridiculous TV shows to where I had trouble accepting reality as it was, and always longing for something else or to be older, instead of appreciating what I had and living in the now.  I also think it made me know a bit too much for my age, which didn’t exactly help me in life. Even now, I still have trouble accepting things as they are, and learning to let things go, I’m always looking for the fairy tale life, but let’s face it, I will never be that perfect main character and my life will never be a Disney movie, but that’s ok. J