Monday, September 30, 2013

Homework and Tips for A-Day Students - 9/30/2013

And with that we say good-bye to September and hello to October and the last half of the first quarter.  Here are your reminders for tonight to take you through to our next class. 

AP English III

Your homework for tonight is the same that it will be tomorrow night - prepare for your examination.  Your exam on Friday will consist solely of short answer questions.  These are not essays, but you may find that they require more of you than just a paragraph as these questions will be quite complex.  I will not give you any questions for this test.  The questions are all in your notes, you just have to find them first.  As you go through and study your notes, focus on noticing trends and patterns throughout the texts as well as drawing connections between them.  This will be an important and productive way to study.  As well, write sample questions and then time yourself as you respond.  The biggest challenge that most of you will have with this test is the time constraint, the only way to conquer this is to practice a timed testing environment.

For next class, we will have our meeting with guidance as well as a quick discussion of "Once More to the Lake" which is our last piece for the exam.  If you have any questions for me about what we have covered so far, be sure that you raise them on Wednesday.  I will not answer questions about this test past that date.

Russian I

For tonight you need to finish your handout on identifying gender as well as working through your handwriting practice.  As we are moving forward with our grammar, please remember that we will constantly be building on what we've done before.  That's how a foreign language works, which is why you need to be so solid on your foundational elements.  Please make sure that you constantly study your vocabulary and try to use it daily.  We will soon have vocabulary quizzes and assessments, but we have to learn some of the nitty gritty of the grammar first.

Lastly, be sure to hang on to your НАЧАЛО sheets as you'll need that for every day of class.  They will be collected for a grade.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Homework for B-Day Students - 9/27/2013

Honors English II

I want to start this post with a reminder that you have to be responsible for your learning and for what you are accomplishing in this class.  It is unacceptable that when given two days to pick up a reading assignment that some of you did not do this.  It's especially troubling that not completing homework assignments is developing into a very dangerous trend for some of you.  Keep up with all of your assignments.  Every single day.  Here's what you need to accomplish over the weekend - your study guide for your first test.  You should look at each of the texts that we have studied so far in this unit and consider the following information on each:

  1. What is the theme (are the themes) that the author is presenting in the piece?  How?
  2. Who are the major characters?  Do these characters undergo significant changes?  Why is this change significant to the overall text or to the author's theme?
  3. Are there significant literary devices at play such as irony, tone, or others?
  4. What is the main plot of the story?
  5. How is the author using language and specifically word choice to further his/her ideas.
  6. How does this piece reflect the idea of culture?
  7. Do you have any questions about this piece?
We will start class by doing our review and from there we may begin work on our first major text of the year.  Remember that your test will fall on Thursday, October 3rd.

ESL English III

Over the weekend you should take the drafts of the assignments you did and apply my feedback.  Try to follow the suggestions that I've made for you so that you can revise what you've done and then move on to the next phase of the assignment.  Please come and ask if you need any help with this.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homework for A-Day Students - 9/26/2013

AP English III

Let me begin this post by saying how impressed I was by both classes today.  Your attention to detail and the depth of our discussion today was absolutely fantastic.  Remember that we really only looked at several small pieces of the overall "Letter", yet we were able to fill over an hour with solid discussion.  Way to go.  Here are your reminders for tonight.

1.  Remember that you will have your unit test on October 4th.  Any text that we have read in this opening unit is fair game for your exam.  To prepare for the test I would recommend that you write sample questions and then time yourself as you write your responses.  This test will be made up of several short answers.  Practice!

2.  We will begin our study of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby during the week of October 7th.  Please have a copy of the text.  You can purchase a used copy, which is totally fine with me or you can get a new one.  If you need me to furnish you with a copy of the text, please let me know in advance.

3.  Your final reading selection for this unit is E.B. White's "Once More to the Lake" -- You can find it in 50 Essays or at this link.  As you read, be sure to focus on the rhetorical effect of White's use of detail and description.  It's a beautiful piece that reminds me a lot of summers in Alaska.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Russian I

Congratulations!  You've survived your first unit exam.  I'll be working hard to get them graded and returned to you early next week.  If you still have gaps in your alphabet knowledge it is imperative that you shore up those gaps this weekend.  As I've said consistently in class, "I can't learn this for you.  I already learned it for myself."  Commit to memorizing the alphabet and internalizing it.

Over the weekend you should be learning your new vocabulary.  Read the words several times and practice using them.  We will begin next week by investigating the grammar of the Russian language.  It's about to get harder and much more intense from here on out, be sure that you're ready.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Homework for B-Day Students - 9/25/2013

Honors English II

For homework tonight I want you to read the excerpt from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 1970 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.  As you read, focus on the two questions that I've given you at the top of the speech.

  1. What is Solzhenitsyn's view on the purpose of authors and literature?
  2. How does this piece reflect the idea of culture which we've been focused on in this unit?
There is also a lot of vocabulary that you can glean from this excerpt, make sure that you're adding to those vocabulary bookmarks.  Finally, be sure that you annotate this text heavily.  I'm looking forward to a great seminar on Friday to finish our week.

ESL English III

Tonight I want you to read independently in our story "A Taste of Home".  You need to read to the top of page 199.  As you're reading, continue to focus on what we learn about the narrator, take notes as you read to help you remember what you're reading.  Also, like always, focus on your vocabulary.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homework for A-Day Students - 9/24/2013

AP English III

Tonight you need to finish your reading and annotation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham City Jail".  As you read, remember the connection between this piece and the shorter letter we read today in class.  Make sure that you draw connections between the two pieces so that you can see just how effectively King refutes and then utterly destroys their argument.  Remember to always read closely and to draw connections!  Also, be sure that you continue to develop your vocabulary lists.  I will collect a bookmark next week.

Russian I

Your alphabet unit test is coming on Thursday and Friday.  Be sure that you are studying your cultural notes on formality and names as this will be an important part of your exam.  Review your phonics, handwriting, and all notes up to this point.  Consider this your last chance to solidify your skills before we move on to the grammar and structure of the language.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homework for B-Day Students: September 23, 2013

One day down and just four more to go this week.  Here are your reminders for Wednesday's class.

Honors English II

Tonight you have an online reflection due for class.  Please either e-mail your response to me, complete it as a comment on this post, or complete a written response on paper and turn it in at the beginning of class on Wednesday.  Here is the prompt -

What is one element of upper class Russian culture which you understand from reading "A Problem" by Anton Chekhov?  Is this element of the culture important or unimportant?  How do you know?

Furthermore, if you did not turn in your vocabulary today at the end of class you MUST submit it for a grade on Wednesday.

ESL English III

Tonight for homework you should continue working on your vocabulary and your reading skills.  I would suggest that you practice your skills of annotating by applying them to another text you are reading right now. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Homework for the Weekend - 9/20/2013

I forgot to post this before I left the building, so I'm taking care of this from my kitchen table.  Then I'm going out for my run as I hope the clouds don't open up on me.

AP English III

Over the weekend you should begin reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior's "Letter from a Birmingham City Jail."  This piece is quite lengthy and will take you some time to get through; that's why we won't be discussing this piece until Thursday.  You can find the piece in 50 Essays or at this link.  As you read this piece keep track of Transcendentalism and the Over Soul.  You'll see a lot of that here.  Also, continue looking at your vocabulary sheets.  I will be collecting those next week.  Enjoy this piece, it's one of the most important things written in the twentieth century.

Russian I

Over the weekend you need to prepare for your presentations on Tuesday/Wednesday.  In addition, you should work through the worksheets I gave you today on Russian naming customs and on the distinction between formal and informal.  You'll see a lot of that information on your test on Thursday and Friday.  Be ready.  Study.  Ask for help if you need it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Homework for the B-day Classes -- September 19, 2013

We've had our last B-day of the week, so it's time to rev up for the weekend.  Here is what you need to make sure to take care of before we see each other again on Monday.

Honors English II

Over the weekend I want you to read Anton Chekhov's "A Problem" from our literature textbooks.  As you read the story, the key idea I want you to look for is the idea we saw reflected in Szymborska's poem "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself."  How are you seeing the characters praising their bad feelings about themselves?  What about the narrator?  How does the language of the text reflect these ideas?

Be sure that as you read Chekhov that you continue working on your vocabulary bookmarks.

I was very pleased with your performances today!  I look forward to our next skit day!

ESL English III

Over the weekend I would like for all of you to move forward with your vocabulary bookmarks.  Use the article we read today as well as the other texts we've read so far to fill up your first bookmark.  Remember that you've got to make sure to understand the definition in order to put it on your bookmark form.  We will have a bit of time to finish these bookmarks on Monday, but you should try to get a lot done this weekend.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homework for 9/18/2013 - A Day Classes

Students!  I hope that your Wednesday has been as wonderful as mine!  Lots of stimulating conversation in my AP classes and some amazing progress in our Russian speaking ability in class too!  Keep moving forward!  Never stay still!

AP English III

Tonight you have two key tasks to prepare you for our class on Friday.  First, I would like for you to read an annotate the excerpted version of The Grapes of Wrath which I gave you in class.  The text is from my own copy so you can see how I annotate a text.  As you work through the four excerpts, I want you to "find the Over Soul" -- How do you see Emerson's philosophy reflected by the characters and scenes I've given you.  Focus on the five essential elements of Transcendentalism as well as our discussion to get you through this.

In addition, you need to read Henry David Thoreau's "Where I Lived and What I Lived For" which is in 50 Essays or available at this link.  Remember to use this as an outgrowth of our discussion of Emerson.  How is Thoreau living the philosophy?  Where are some issues related to practicality?

I look forward to another hearty discussion on Friday!

Russian I

Tonight you need to all practice your reading, writing, and phonics.  Practice the lines in your skit.  If you're still having trouble with the alphabet - then continue to study that.  Your test is coming next week!  You need to be ready.  If you're having serious trouble, then come see me so that I can help.  Remember, I can't learn it for you.  You've got to do it for yourself.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homework for Tuesday - 9/17/2013

Honors English II

Your key homework assignment for tonight is to finish preparing for your skits and presentations which you will have on Thursday.  Remember that we are starting with the skits before we move on to finishing our work on "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself".  Remember that each member needs a copy of the script, a role in the presentation, and any necessary props.  I look forward to seeing what you all have come up with.  If you have any powerpoints or images to load onto the Brightlinks screen, please email those files to me.

ESL English III

Tonight you should continue to review and revise your writing assignments as well as work on your vocabulary bookmarks.  I will be returning your first drafts back to you on Thursday so that we can continue working through and finishing these first assignments.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homework for Monday - 9/16/2013

AP English III

By next class all of you should have finished Emerson's "The Over Soul" and have thorough annotations to take you through the piece.  As you read, continue to mark vocabulary and add to your bookmarks.  I'm looking forward to our seminar on Wednesday; remember that participation comes through both asking and answering questions!

Russian I

Next class we will continue to work on phonetics related to consonants and voicing rules.  For tonight, you should complete your worksheet on the different cities in Russia and the handwriting practice.  Continue researching your city if you need to.  Next class we will start writing scripts for our presentations.

Homework for the Weekend/Monday - 9/16/2013

This post is for my B-day students.  A-day students will be able to find their homework in the post at the end of the day.

B-day students:  I'm sorry for not getting this up earlier.  I had a crazy busy day yesterday and then Friday and Saturday were eaten by Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur.  Here are your notes to get you ready for tomorrow's class.

Honors English II

For homework you need to construct an extended response which uses two pieces of textual support to develop your answer to a question of your choice.  At the end of Sundiata there are several questions for you to consider.  I would like for you to choose either number six, nine, or eleven and complete your extended response.  You must have a clear topic sentence which clearly answers the question; in addition, there needs to be two pieces of evidence taken directly from the text which you then explain to show how it helps to prove the point you are trying to make.  Remember to take our discussion from today's class about writing - make sure that you aren't leaving me to draw my own conclusions - make your point clear, always. 

Next class you will be working in your dramatization teams again - make sure you have anything that you need for your group to work well together.

ESL English III

I was very pleased to see all of you develop your writing today by considering the positives and negatives of a particular issue.  Next class we are going to spend some time working through our writing pieces and revising them to consider both sides of the idea of being an immigrant in America.  Make sure that you have your original drafts in which you only considered one side of the issue.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Quite the Day Today. 9/12/2013

Today was quite the day at Jordan High School.  I don't know where all of you evacuated to during third period, but I want to say a special thanks to my 3A Russian class for staying together, staying calm, and following instructions.  Спасибо!  AP Students, this update is especially important for all of you.

AP English III

With today's evacuation we did not have fourth period so Monday's class is going to become Wednesday's class to make sure that all students are in the same place in the calendar.  You should still put in and hopefully finish "The Over Soul" this weekend.  The extra day will be great for you to review it before class and to write down any questions which you're going to ask in class during our seminar.  You've also got some time to work on your vocabulary bookmarks.  I will want to collect one of those from you soon, be sure to go through Emerson thoroughly as he's got a highly elevated diction in his writing.

If you need the link to the article, see last class's post.  If you need a paper copy, please see me tomorrow to collect one.  4A - You will get your essays back on Monday and we will have today's class then.  2A - We will have an enrichment day on Monday.  I look forward to that with you.  It may also give us a chance to read a bit more together.

If you have any questions, please come see me tomorrow.

Russian I

I want all of you to think of this first quiz as a challenge.  Even if you did very well, there are still places where all of you can improve.  Focus on reviewing your handwriting very thoroughly as we go through the weekend.  We will begin with a speaking and culture activity on Monday and Tuesday.  I wanted to give 3A the handout today, but we were busy evacuating and not only did I leave my phone and car keys in the classroom, I left your handouts too.  I'll get these to you tomorrow morning during our short time together (see below).

To those of you who did not perform as well as you had hoped on the quiz, I especially want you to practice and study and review.  Remember that language needs to be experienced daily.  Over the weekend, it's your job to expose yourself to Russian!  Write your name, review your alphabet, listen to recordings as you look at your handouts and notes.  Remember that I'm also available during some lunches, before and after school for help and to review.

Here's that film we watched today in class.  I hope that you all enjoyed the beauty of Moscow.  Those of you in 3A - you're among the few people who know why I don't chew gum.  Congratulations.

All Students

Mr. Leathers will be calling tonight about tomorrow's schedule.  We are starting with 3A and then going to our normal schedule.  This will allow you to collect any belongings you left behind.  We will be in 3A only for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homework for Tuesday - 9/10/2013

What a lovely day with all of you.  I was impressed by the seriousness with which the Russian students completed their quizzes and the amount of discussion and thinking we had going on in AP English III as we worked through our key characters.  Here are your reminders for tonight!

AP English III

Tonight ladies and gentlemen you have one of the hardest pieces to read this year, Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The Oversoul".  Due to the fact that I was running around like mad this morning I didn't have a chance to make copies of the article.  There's a link here - or you can come and pick up a copy of the essay next tomorrow.  You do not have to have this read until you come in to class next week.  Next class we're going to be focusing on starting our Writing Bootcamp and you'll get back your first essays.  Remember, we're ripping off the band-aid; it's going to hurt.

As you read "The Oversoul" you should annotate heavily.  Keep taking yourselves back to our notes on Jim Casy's philosophy.  Find those elements in the text.  Those will be your anchors as we go through the text.  Remember to ask questions of the text, and keep up with your vocabulary logs!

Russian I

Today you completed your first quizzes on the alphabet.  If there was anything at all on the quiz or any letters that you don't feel sure about make sure that you go back and study tonight.  Also, look over and begin to learn that new vocabulary, we'll be studying and working through that next class as well as a few other small notes.  It's time to start writing dialogues!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another Manic Monday - 9/9/2013

B-Day Students - This Monday has just flown by, but unfortunately my to do list has just gotten longer.  Here is your to-do list for tonight to prepare you for Wednesday's class.

Honors English II

Tonight you need to read the handout I gave you which is the excerpted version of Sundidata as well as some background information on epics and Mali.  Please make sure to read everything, including the background information.

Tonight you need to read the epic and you need to take notes as you read in your text.  This is called annotating.  For tonight, I want you to focus on the main character and his antagonist.  As you read the text, mark quotations and moments which develop each of these characters for you.  Be sure to make a note when you underline or highlight something to remind you as to why you marked that particluar passage.  As you read you should also continue working on your vocabulary bookmarks.

ESL English III

Tonight you should continue working on your definition paragraphs.  Next class we are going to finish our work on "Puertoricanness" and then we will move on to finishing our definition paragraphs. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homework for the Weekend - 9/6/2013

One more week down everyone!  Here are your notes for the weekend.

AP English III

First of all, here is the link to the Ken Burns documentary on PBS about the Dust Bowl.  I'd recommend looking over the photos and videos this weekend to add some more to your knowledge of what exactly this environmental catastrophe was like.  In addition, make sure that you have your copies of The Grapes of Wrath with you in class on Tuesday.  You should have notes to the end of chapter eight by the time we meet together on Tuesday.  We're doing all Grapes on Tuesday, so prepare yourselves for a great discussion and some thorough analysis. 

Did I mention having your books on Tuesday?  Make sure you bring them.

In addition, continue working on your vocabulary bookmarks.  Define the words you found today and use them in your regular conversation.  The more you use this language the better you'll find your vocabulary becoming.

Russian I

You all have your first quiz on Tuesday/Wednesday.  It will include speaking, listening, reading, and writing focusing primarily on the Cyrillic alphabet.  Make sure that you have studied thoroughly and that you are prepared by knowing all thirty-three letters of the alphabet, their sounds, their shapes in both print and handwriting, and any relevant cultural notes that we've gone over.

Please ask questions if you have them.  I'll be here after school on Monday for any last minute help.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Homework for A-day Students - 9/4/2013

L'Shana Tova!  Happy New Year Everyone.

I know it seems a bit silly to wish you a new year now, but tonight is Erev Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year's Eve.  Even if you're not Jewish, we can all still celebrate a good start to our new school year together.  Here are your reminders for Friday's class.

AP English III

Next class we are going to finish our work on Eighner's "On Dumpster Diving" as well as begin our work on The Grapes of Wrath.  Be sure that you have both texts with you in class on Friday.  To prepare for our work on Friday, be sure that you've reread and annotated chapters one through four of The Grapes of Wrath.  You don't need to read it as carefully as the first time, but going back through it to refresh yourself will lead to a good class seminar. 

Also, remember that your "Introduction" Assignments are due on Friday.  You'll submit the rough draft from peer editing with the final draft.  Remember that I'm looking for the following in your drafts:
  • a clear narrative approach
  • strong and specific details
  • clear use of language
  • an effective title
  • personalized voice
These writing assignments are always fun for me to grade since I get to know a lot about each of you.  Make sure that it's your best work.

Russian I

A-Day Students, I hope that you enjoyed today's first culture day.  B-Day Students, you'll enjoy this on Thursday.  For tonight you want to continue studying and working through your alphabet.  By this point you should be confident in the alphabet and are now moving to reading whole words.  We will review the alphabet on Friday/Monday in preparation for our quiz on the 10th and 11th.  You will be expected to read, write, listen, and speak on your quiz next week.  Spend the weekend practicing and studying. 

Be sure, as well, that all of your writing practice sheets are done for our review day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

B-Day Homework Assignments: September 3rd

B-Day Students -

As a reminder, I will not be here next class.  All of you have important work to accomplish with the substitute teacher, please make sure to do your best with him/her.  If you have any questions, come see me on Friday to discuss those.  Here are your reminders for tonight.

Russian I

Look at yesterday's post to see your assignment as well as links to several online resources for studying and learning your letter sounds.

English II Honors

For tonight since I won't be here to collect your assignment I would like for you to use the website to turn in your work.  Any assignment e-mailed to me ( will also be accepted for credit.  Please respond to the following prompt using clear details from the story and a solid paragraph to explain yourself. 

The story "The Train from Rhodesia" contains two contrasting settings - the train and the village.  How does Gordimer's use of the two contrasting settings emphasize the larger injustice and flaw of the society in which the characters live?

You may use the website to post a comment with your response or you may e-mail it.  As a last ditch, you can also turn it in to me on Monday.  Continue to review your vocabulary and add to your vocabulary lists in your notebooks.

English III ESL

After all of the work we've done on writing, you should be able to finish your "Defining an Immigrant" paragraphs.  Please continue to review and study your writing notes as you will want to be able to apply those notes almost without thinking.