Thursday, May 22, 2014

Final Post for Freshmen

Well, you made it... this far. You can do it. Finish Strong. 

As I said in class, thank you for being you. It's been a fun first year for me, and you have taught me much this year. I hope I have taught you a few things too - we shall see ;) But seriously, being new to school, as some of you know, can be challenging. I have great respect for EA and EA students - it is amazing all that you do. I look forward to watching you excel in the future. Don't be a stranger.

A few final words of advice and encouragement that might help you for exams - and beyond.

Do your best. 
But understand...

2. Deep breaths... maybe meditate.

Workout - a healthy study break. 
Consider it "emotional hand washing"

4. Eat Right - be sure to have a heathy breakfast: your brain needs fuel. 
Sugar is like a gasoline - it burns fast and then you crash. Avoid overdoing caffeine and energy drinks.

5. Sleep - your brain needs rest and time to recover.
All-nighters or late nights over the weekend will set you back big time.

6. Choose your study partners carefully. Bring out the best...
Remember stress can be contagious - don't panic.
Help each other. And be kind, be kind, be kind...

7. Really study: learn for mastery and understanding 
- not just familiarity.  Watch MACBETH, reread The House on Mango Street, etc.

8. Make good use of your time next week. Avoid procrastination, especially unnecessary drama, social media, Netflix/gaming marathons, you-tubing cat videos, etc. 
Practice self-discipline. 

9. But remember to keep a sense of HUMOR. 
The light is at the end of the tunnel. 
And one more time...

Yes, that was hypocritical of me to play a cat video, but I couldn't resist.

10. Lastly, ride the wave.
Make exam week an extended metaphor :)

A passage from one of my favorite books on mental performance in sports, The Inner Game of Tennis:

              I began by pointing to surfing as an example of a form of recreation which didn't involve one in competitiveness. Reflecting on this remark, Dad asked, "But don't surfers in fact compete against the waves they ride? Don't they avoid the strength of the wave and exploit its weakness?"
             "Yes, but they're not competing against any person; they're not trying to beat anyone," I replied.
             "No, but they are trying to make it to the beach, aren't they?"  
             "Yes, but the real point for the surfer is to be beautiful, to get into the flow of the wave and perhaps to achieve oneness with it." But then it hit me. Dad was right; the surfer does want to ride the wave to the beach, yet he waits in the ocean for the biggest wave to come along that he thinks he can handle. If he just wanted to be beautiful, he could do that on a medium-size wave. Why does the surfer wait for the big wave? 
                The answer was simple, and it unraveled the confusion which surrounds the true nature of com- petition. The surfer waits for the big wave because he values the challenge it presents. He values the obstacles the wave puts be- tween him and his goal of riding the wave to the beach. Why? 
                Because it is those very obstacles, the size and churning power of the wave, which draw from the surfer his greatest effort. It is only against the big waves that he is required to use all his skill, all his courage and concentration to overcome; only then can he realize the true limits of his capacities. At that point he often slips into a superconscious state and attains his peak. 
                In other words, the more challenging the obstacle he faces, the greater the opportunity for the surfer to discover and extend his true potential. The potential may have always been within him, but until it is manifested in action, it remains a secret hidden from himself. The obstacles are a very necessary ingredient to this process of self-discovery.
                Note that the surfer in this example is not out to prove himself; he is not out to show himself or the world how great he is, but is simply involved in the exploration of his latent capacities. He directly and intimately experiences his own resources and thereby increases his self-knowledge.   
                From this example the basic meaning of winning became clear to me. Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached. Reaching the goal itself may not be as valuable as the experience that can come in making a supreme effort to overcome the obstacles involved. The process can be more rewarding than the victory itself.

Go for it. Embrace the wave. 



Monday, May 19, 2014

Review the blog, notes, and tests on MACBETH, POETRY, & HOUSE ON MANGO STREET

Reading Day Appointments: Meet in Room 204 - across from the English Dept. Office

Tues. 27th 1:15-3:15
Intro Lit F
Classroom 215
Intro Lit Z
Classroom 217

How to study for the English exam: See previous posts - study guide, etc.

1. Poetry multiple choice 

You'll be given whole poems or parts of poems. (Poet biographies will NOT be on the exam).

They may be poems you've seen in class; there may be new poems you haven't seen (but you should feel confident in your ability to apply the poetry terms to the example).

a) make up list of literary terms 

We have already done this - you need to be able to identify these terms within examples 
(that you may or may not have seen before).

(we did this in the study session; get the notes from a buddy) and know how to use them

Remember: GOATVOK (imagery)
            G = gustatory (taste)
            O = organic (internal sensation)
A = auditory (sound)
            T = tactile (touch)       
V = visual
            O = olfactory (smell)
            K = kinesthetic (movement)

Review the adjectives for TONE.

b) practicing sight-reading poems from your poetry book (this is a GOOD thing to do with your teacher on Reading Day!)

2. Macbeth passage analysis 
The task is to identify context, summarize/paraphrase the passage, connect it to a key theme, and use a key literary term to enhance your explanation.  
MIT's Online: full play

When you answer these questions on the exam, point to specific language from the passages to support what you are saying.  That way, even if you are wrong about context, you may score some partial credit by allowing your teacher to see your reasoning.  Always give evidence to support what you are asserting.

a) prepare for context by remaking a Freytag's Pyramid or bullet point plot summary
b) make up a list of literary terms
Remember these:

c) make up a list of themes
See the many posts (and passages and video clips) on the blog.

d) practice reading passages from tests and worksheets (this is another GOOD thing to do with your teacher on Reading Day!) 

3. Essay - The House on Mango Street - 

Write a multi-paragraph thesis/support essay on a general question. 
It'll be the same question for ALL classes, no matter what book you read.  

The form (i.e., following the rules of structure and organization) matters as much as the substance (i.e., what you say about the book).  
DO NOT write a good intro and conclusion and then fill the space between with plot summary.  
All of the examples you give from the text should support the position you are taking.  
Don't go on tangents.  Stay focused.

a) review organization rules for intro, body PP, and conclusion

b) make a list of themes 

we have done this - see these posts: Essay, Annotating, Themes

c) formulate thesis sentences for themes and make bullet point outlines
Reread the stories so you can be specific with characters and examples.
Listen to Sandra Cisneros read The House on Mango Street as you read along

Consider other possible themes that may be on the exam -  see some Example Outlines Below.

YOU WILL BE EXPECTED TO OUTLINE YOUR ESSAY ON THE EXAM - show your prewriting work on the exam.

Student Example #1 - here's an example that is good start, yet could be more specific with the argument/thesis.

The textual examples are very good in that they are specific and connect with the topic.

Education is a way out
·      Example #1
o   “Smart Cookie”
o   Mother wishing she had stayed in school
·      Example #2
o   “No Speak English”
o   The fat lady is unable to speak English, leads to her staying inside
o   Uneducated, no escape
·      Example #3
o   Sally
o   Foil of Esperanza
o   Leaves school and gets married
o   Shows how education is able to help Esperanza escape the vicious cycle 

Feedback from Mr. O'Brien: Here's a suggestion for an introductory paragraph:

                While education offers a way out of poverty, Esperenza sees first hand at home and in her neighborhood what happens without education. With friends that have lost their husbands, her mother wants her to be financially independent of men. Meanwhile, Mamacita and other women become prisoners in their homes since they are unable to assimilate and work outside the home. Friends like Sally marry young and endure physical abuse by their husbands. Esperanza uses education to gain independence, avoiding isolation and abuse that happens in many marriages in her neighborhood.

Student example #2

Feed back from Mr. O'Brien: The following outline is also a good example - yet as you can tell from the outline, it may be too ambitious of an essay in terms of trying to cover too many topics. My suggestion would be to elaborate and develop one of the subtopics such as the struggle of growing up into one essay related to otherness.

  • Thesis
    • The House on Mango Street demonstrates the theme of otherness due to the examples of segregation, being different, and the struggle of growing up.
  • Otherness
    • Segregation
      • tv vs real life
        • tv always shows stereotypical family
      • her name
        • non stereotypical name
        • people just assume that she is bad because of her name
      • Louie, his cousin and his other cousin
        • louie is driving a nice car with his cousins
        • cops were coming towards him with sirens on for no reason at all
          • did not do anything wrong
        • arrested him
    • Being Different
      • latina’s are a minority
      • My name
        • Esperanza’s name is different from american names
      • Family with little feet
        • people don’t expect that a 12 year old latina girl would have such nice shoes
        • thought that she stole them
    • Struggle of growing up
      • Red clowns
        • Esperanza is supposed to meet Sally by the red clowns at the fair but she never shows up
          • being a woman
          • patriarchal society
      • Marin
        • Marin is esperanzas eye into the world of boys
        • Esperanza kind of likes him but she is not sure
      • A rice sandwich
        • jealous of people who get to eat lunch at school
        • does not know how lucky she is to get to come home to her mom’s cooking  

Student Example #3

Feedback from Mr. O'Brien: This thesis is a good start, yet could use some focusing. The second bullet point represents a better thesis. The examples represent excellent support evidence. 

  • Community - bonds of love and connection but to others outside the community it can be considered dangerous
  • Within a community there is love and connection between neighbors, and a sense of belonging, but there are also threats and danger that come with it.
    • she doesn’t like Mango Street, but it has shaped her
    • she doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere
      • she doesn’t want to be in the community of Mango Street
      • doesn’t fit in Mango Street
      • doesn’t fit in the white communities
        • estrangement; she doesn't belong anywhere
    • community of the canteen
      • poorer kids who don’t go home to eat
      • she wants to eat here
      • she doesn’t belong here
        • she can’t even show where she lives because she is so ashamed
    • city life is not tight knit
      • Ruthie
        • trapped inside, her husband won’t let her out
        • not social
        • not close
      • Mango Street
        • everybody knows everyone else and things about them
          • even the ones that are trapped by their husbands
    • The Monkey Garden
      • place for the children of the community
        • all are brought together to play here
      • to others this may seem very dangerous for kids to be playing in
        • big garden (they could get lost)
          • poison ivy, thorns
      • bad things can happen here

Grammar Review: Learning from Our Mistakes

Edutopia article: "Teaching Students to Embrace Mistakes"
"Mistakes are the most important thing that happens in any classroom, because they tell you where to focus that deliberate practice. 
So why don't students view their mistakes as a valuable asset? Well, students don't think about their mistakes rationally -- they think about them emotionally. Mistakes make students feel stupid. "Stupid" is just that: a feeling. Specifically, it's the feeling of shame, and our natural response is to avoid its source. If we say something embarrassing, we hide our face. If we get a bad grade, we hide the test away. Unsurprisingly, that's the worst move to make if you ever want to get better. Academic success does not come from how smart or motivated students are. It comes from how they feel about their mistakes."

If you struggled with grammar and punctuation test, please see these websites: 
Grammar Bytes pretest examples: 

Directions: Choose the option that corrects an error in the underlined portion(s). If no error exists, choose "No change is necessary."
1. Morgan explained to his roommate Richard that he needed to work overtime if he was going to have enough money to pay this month’s share of the rent.

A. Change Morgan to He.
B. Change his roommate Richard to him.
C. Change he to Richard.
D. No change is necessary.

This item tested your ability to find and fix an error in pronoun reference. 

In the locker room, each football player adjusted his gear as they waited for angry Coach Hayden to deliver his half-time criticism of the demoralizing game.
A. Change each football player to all of the football players.
B. Change his to their.
C. Change they to he.
D. No change is necessary.

This item tested your ability to find and fix an error in pronoun-antecedent agreement.

2. Savi hates spending 10 dollars for lunch in the cafeteria. Moreover, the food looks unappetizing and tastes bland. Because of this, Savi has begun driving to Tito's Taco Palace for a burrito to go

A. Change this to that.
B. Change this to it.
C. Change this to the poor cafeteria choices.
D. No change is necessary.
This item tested your ability to find and fix an error in pronoun reference.

3. Shaunice carefully completed her statistics homework and tore it out of her notebook. Then she remembered that Prof. Armour abhorred fuzzies. So Shaunice found scissors in the kitchen drawer and used it to trim the pages so that they all had four straight edges.

A. Change tore it to tore them.

B. Change used it to used them.

C. Change they to it.

D. No change is necessary.

This item tested your ability to find and fix an error in pronoun-antecedent agreement. 

From Oxford Dictionaries: Using commas to separate clauses

Commas are used to separate clauses in a complex sentence (i.e. a sentence which is made up of a main clause and one or more subordinate clauses).
The following examples show the use of commas in two complex sentences:
Having had lunch,
we went back to work.
[subordinate clause]
[main clause]
I first saw her in Paris,
where I lived in the early nineties.
[main clause]
[subordinate clause]

If the commas were removed, these sentences wouldn’t be as clear but the meaning would still be the same. There are different types of subordinate clause, though, and in some types the use of commas can be very important.
A subordinate clause beginning with ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘that’, ‘whom’, or ‘where’ is known as a relative clause. Take a look at this example:
who have young children
may board the aircraft first.
[relative clause]

This sentence contains what’s known as a ‘restrictive relative clause’. Basically, a restrictive relative clause contains information that’s essential to the meaning of the sentence as a whole. If you left it out, the sentence wouldn’t make much sense. If we removed the relative clause from the example above, then the whole point of that sentence would be lost and we’d be left with the rather puzzling statement:
Passengers may board the aircraft first.
You should not put commas round a restrictive relative clause.
The other type of subordinate clause beginning with ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘whom’, etc. is known as a ‘non-restrictive relative clause’. A non-restrictive relative clause contains information that is not essential to the overall meaning of a sentence. Take a look at the following example:
who has two young children,
has a part-time job in the library.
[relative clause]

If you remove this clause, the meaning of the sentence isn’t affected and it still makes perfect sense. All that’s happened is that we’ve lost a bit of extra information about Mary:
Mary has a part-time job in the library.
You need to put a comma both before and after a non-restrictive relative clause.
Extensive PowerPoint on Commas: