Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thursday, May 23, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird Essay Comment Instructions

I would like your To Kill a Mockingbird essay comments to answer the following four questions. Write two sentences for each of the four questions.

I – How does the essay begin? It should start on a general note about your topic, and then narrow to a specific thesis about the story. What is the essay’s thesis?
II - Of the three examples and quotations contained in this essay, which is the best? Why? What made it stand out above the others?

III - What is one thing this essay does well? It could be its organization, word choice, writing style, choice of quotations, introduction, or conclusion. In addition to mentioning what the author does well, copy and paste an example of what you thought was particularly effective. Be sure to put the example in quotations.

IV - What is one area of this essay that could use some improvement? It could be editing and capitalization, it could be that the essay is missing three quotations for each of the three examples, it could be that the writer doesn’t have a conclusion. Please review the criteria for the essay and think about one improvement that would make the essay better. Be as specific as possible so the writer knows what to change or revise. Don't worry about hurting the writer's feelings. Saying "I liked it. It was really good." won't help your classmate improve his/her weaknesses.

Your comments should appear below the story you are responding to. When asked to choose an identity, use your Google/Blogger ID. Comments not posted according to these instructions should be deleted.

I would like you to respond to a minimum of one essays per class (3 total). Please have your comments ready to show me at the start of class on the day they are due, as I will check them then. Your classmates and I thank you for your valuable feedback.
    One comment = 33% 
           Two comments = 66%       
        Three comments = 100%    
            Four comments = 133%       
     Five comments = 166% 
 Six comments = 200%

Mockingbird image from http://media1.shmoop.com/images/teachers_editions/to-kill-a-mockingbird.jpg, accessed 5.23.13

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Speak Statement Response Comment Questions

Please read and respond to two of your classmates' Speak responses. Answer all of the questions for each response. 

I - Do you agree with this person's stance on this topic? Why or why not?

II - Which of the three examples was most persuasive? Why? What made it stand out above the others?

III - What is one thing this response does well? It could be its organization, word choice, writing style, examples, introduction, conclusion, etc. In addition to mentioning what the author does well, copy and paste an example of what you thought was particularly effective. Be sure to put the example in quotations.

For each question, write a full paragraph. In total, your responses will be three paragraphs.

I would like each of you to respond to two Speak statement responses.

Three comments = a "check plus"
Two comments = a "check"
One comment = a "check minus"
No comments = zero credit

For general information about posting blog comments, see this link.
I would like your Siddhartha Comes to America short story comments to answer the following four questions:
I - Which part of the story - quiet ascetic or sensory indulgent - did you think was most well done? What, specifically, did you like? Summarize your thoughts in two to three sentences, then copy and paste a passage in quotations that you liked best. Explain your selection in one or two sentences.
II - Which part of the story - quiet ascetic or sensory indulgent - did you think the author could have done better? Pick at least two specific things you feel could be improved (description, use of dialogue, references to the text, greater explanation, proofreading for errors, etc). Offer two specific solutions to help the writer. Then, copy and paste a passage in quotations that you feel needs the most work. Offer the writer a specific idea on how to improve it.... or, rewrite it and paste it below in quotations.
III - Identify one of the four textual references to the book Siddhartha found in each section of the story. If it seems to fit naturally in the piece, write down what the writer did that made it "flow." If it seems out of place, offer a suggestion to help better integrate it into the work.
IV. - Take a look at the essay's introduction. Do the first few sentences grab your attention and make you want to keep reading? If so, mention specifically what you liked. If not, offer an idea or two about what the writer could do to make the beginning more captivating and engaging.
Comments should be four paragraphs (1 paragraph per question). Your comments should appear below the story you are responding to. When asked to choose an identity, use your Google/Blogger ID.
Comments not posted according to these instructions should be deleted.

I would like each of you to respond to two essays.

Three comments = a "check plus"
Two comments = a "check"
One comment = a "check minus"
No comments = zero credit

For general information about posting blog comments, see this link.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Reading Essay Comment Instructions

Writers need readers. As a way to give your summer reading essay an audience beyond myself, I would like you to read and respond to your classmates’ summer reading essays. 
Accelerated English 12 students should read and respond to three Accel 12 essays.
College English 9 students should read and respond to two College 9 essays.
All students should answer the following four questions for each of the essays they read:

I - Describe your personal reaction to the story. How do you feel after reading it? What do you remember? What images do you see? What concepts or ideas are in your head? What did the story make you think about?
II. What aspect of the setting did you feel was best described? When did the writer use elements of strong description? Pick a line that you liked, copy and paste it into the comment box, put quotes around it, and explain why you thought it was well done.
III - Did the conversation between the two characters seem authentic? What details, specifically, made the characters seem real and natural? If the character's dialogue was not believable, what is one thing the author could have done to make it better?

IV - Find one thing about the essay that you found distracting or problematic. This could be anything from improper use of dialogue, misused words (your vs. you're, it's vs. its, their vs. there), run-on sentences, sentence fragments, subject/verb agreement, simple word usage, boring verbs, etc. Then, offer the writer a piece of advice that he/she might consider for future writing assignments. This should be phrased constructively (try doing ------- next time, consider --------) or inquisitively (what do you think would happen if you -------------?)

Comments, in total, should be four paragraphs long (one paragraph for each question). Your comments should appear below the story you are responding to on your classmates’ blogs.
Comments should be posted by the start of class on Tuesday, Sept. 13th.
For general information about posting blog comments, please click here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Reading Essay Formatting Instructions

Please adhere to the following:

1) Give your summer reading essay a creative title.

2) In parentheses above the text of your essay, include the names of the two books you used.

3) Before you post your essay to your blog, please label it "Summer Reading Essay." This will make it easy for me and your classmates to find it on your blog. The "label" function can be found to the right of the blog text area.

4) You do NOT need to include a traditional MLA style heading on this essay, as we know you're the author because you're posting it to your blog, we know the date because Blogger records the date of each post, and we know the class you are in because I've arranged all of your blogs under the appropriate class heading.

If you have any questions, please let me know!


Accelerated English 12 Summer Reading Essay Examples

(On her Majesty's Secret Service & Bean Trees)

Another day, another mission, except this one was slightly different from what I usually do. This was more of a favor than a true mission, but it still was for an important cause no less. I sat in the dingy restaurant that seemed to not have had a customer in years, and waited for a long lost friend's son. Baba had gotten me out of a slight problem about fifteen years back, so this was my chance to now repay my deceased friend by helping his son. An Englishman never backs out of his promises. It was not easy getting into Taliban territory, as I am usually a white, British male, but with Q's help, and Farid's transportation, I was able to sneak in with a genuine disguise.

As I scan the area of any dangers, I hear the door creak open and quickly but sneakily chance a glance. Right away I knew this was Amir, from his slight resemblances to Baba and the obvious fake beard on his chin. He glanced in my direction and I give him the signal to “come hither.” With swift, anxious strides he quickly sits in the chair across from me making the patron very happy by ordering a drink. What I wouldn't do for a Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred of course, but I knew they wouldn't have that here, so I sat and waited for him to start the conversation.

“Hello, I am Amir, and I was told you would be able to help me,” he said before quickly taking a sip of his drink.

“Bond, James Bond,” I replied, holding out my hand for him to take. “I heard you have a problem I might be interesting in fixing.”

“Yes, yes, I have made many horrible mistakes in my life and now I want to ratify them. May I ask a question first though before I explain my story?” I nodded giving him the go ahead. “Why would you help me? I can not pay you, yet here you sit ready to help in any way,” he asked totally confused. I pondered if he was okay with my mentioning his father, but in the end I thought it was alright.

“About fifteen years ago your father helped me out of a tight situation. I always repay those who help me, but because he died my dept to him transfers to you,” I explain hoping that would satisfy his questioning. It seems it did, for he just nodded his head and started to explain his problem.

“As a boy I was very selfish and jealous, only caring for two things, myself and Baba's approval. I grew up with a boy named Hassan. He was my servant, and he always took care of me, protected me, and watched my back whenever it was needed. Then, the one time I could repay him for all the goodness he gave me, I became a coward and ran, and I have regretted that decision for the rest of my life.” He took a deep breath and I could tell he was having a hard time speaking about his past. “But now I have the chance to redeem myself, to do what I should have done all those years before.”

“So what is it that we will be doing?” I asked with true curiosity.

“We need to sneak into a Taliban official's home and rescue Hassan's son Sohrab.” He said this with so much conviction that I knew that whether I agreed or not, he would give his life to save this child's and to gain his honor back.

I gave him a piercing look, looking deep into his eyes and gave him my response, “Let's go.” We moved quickly, jumping into Farid's car that he let us borrow. Traveling down the streets, I couldn't help but stare at the destruction of what once was a glorious city filled with merchants and children, yet held nothing but weak and lost people trying to find their way through life. We pulled up across the street to a fairly large house and I was in my element.

“Stay right behind me,” I ordered and with a nod of confirmation, I quickly scaled the wall, helping him up as well. We were lucky when we ran into nobody as we forced our way through the front door, by melting the lock, and then sneaked through the hallways, but I felt our luck was about to run out.

Peering into a room I got the sight a young boy dancing in front of a man. Turning around I let Amir peak in. “Is that him?” I asked hoping it was.

“That is Sohrab, and the other man looks familiar, but I can't place him,” he responded starring off into space.

“Alright, stay here. When I attack get the kid out of harms way.” I took a deep breath before quietly sneaking up behind the man. With the moves of a killer, I quickly wrapped my arms around the man's neck cutting off his air supply. It was a rough fight to try and keep him from moving from my grasp, but after awhile his struggling stop. Dropping him to the floor I searched for Amir, finding him holding the boy but glaring at the official on the ground. There must have been a questioning look in my eyes for he suddenly said, “That is Assef the one I couldn't stand up to, the one who destroyed Hassan's life.” I didn't respond, only staying quiet so he could have his moment, before grabbing the boy from him and heading out the door, and then soon out the building.

It was a quiet ride as we tried to find a safe place to stop. Pulling over, I shut the engine off and got out of the car only to be greeted by Amir with his hand out. “How can I ever re-pay you?” he asked.

“You don't have to do anything but take care car of the kid,” I responded while shaking his hand. I swiftly turned and started walking away, hoping to get out of this hopeless country as soon as possible. Before I went out of sight, I called over my shoulder to Amir, “Though, a beautiful woman would be nice,” and I kept walking, listening to the sounds of Amir laughing once again.


A Rare Encounter

(Bean Trees and Friday Night Lights)

    The long stretch of asphalt began to blend into the bright horizon. A sign passed saying “Welcome to Texas,” which actually kept me from zoning out due to the dull scenery. I was surprised that my car had made it that far from Tucson. I hoped that Mama would be surprised when I came to visit her. I noticed the radiator gauge fluctuating at a continuous rate. I watched it out of the corner of my eye just to be safe. The last thing my 1955 Volkswagen bug needed was more issues. A strange sound was coming from under the hood. A cloud of white smoke began to block my vision. I looked down and saw that the needle was completely over the line towards hot. As I was putting my focus back on the road, the car began to swerve. I gained as much control as I could, but I ended up stopping on the side of the road.
    After shutting off the ignition I stepped out of the car to make sure no damage occurred. I walked around the other side noticing a flat tire. I didn’t understand how that could have happened. At that moment a small beam of light grabbed my attention and of course it was a chunk of glass wedged into the rubber. Sighing in frustration, I plopped on the ground contemplating on my plan of action. My train of thought was interrupted with the sound of another car engine. I peaked from underneath my hair and saw a car approaching. The person began to slow down as they came near. I stood up and saw a guy step out of the car.
    As he got closer he says, “Car troubles?” In the back of my mind I thought he looked familiar. “Yeah, you can say that again. My radiator over-heated and I’ve got a flat tire,” I told him. I could have sworn that I knew him from somewhere, but I could not remember for the life of me. He asked me, “do you have a spare?” I replied yes. Returning to his car, he rifled through his trunk and pulled out a jack. He told me that we were close to town and could get a container of water for the radiator there. As he unscrewed the bolts to remove the tire, it finally came to me. It was my cousin Mike and I didn’t even remember him at first glance. “Mike? Mike Winchell? It’s me Taylor...I mean Missy Greer,” I said.  He had the look of confusion, but then his memory bounced back. “Oh, I’m sorry I barely recognized you. How have you been?” He asked with interest. As he began to place on the new tire, we briefly reminisced about our childhood. When he finished, we got in his car and headed towards the nearest store to get some water.

   “So what have you been up to all this time,” I asked with curiosity. He told me he played football for his school. He was the quarterback and even made it to the semi-finals in the state. He accomplished more in his senior year than I did. I found that impressive. “What have you been doing all this time?” Mike asked. I told him the truth, “I ended up leaving home because I felt that was what was best for me. I did not want to become pregnant and trapped in that town. Of course Mama wasn’t happy at first,” I said. He nodded understandingly. After he pulled into the convenience store parking lot, I went inside and purchased a gallon of water. As I returned to the car, he backed out of the lot and headed in the other direction.
     On our way to the car, I asked him what his plans were now that football and school were done. He began by saying, “Who knows. I wanted to play college ball, but that idea is gone out the window,” he sighed, “I’m not getting my hopes up about it because the disappointment will hurt more if I’m counting on it.” I sat there thinking that he does not think on the bright side. Based on what I heard nobody told him to shut up and to make his own future. We finally reached that old car. Mike grabbed the water and stepped out of the car. I followed right after and popped the hood for him. As he poured the water into the radiator, I decided to speak up.“You know if you want to be a college ball player, you can be. If you want to be great at something, then do it. Don’t be moping around about it. I ended up adopting a three-year-old girl. She was thrown into my life without any warning. That was a challenge all by itself. I met some people along the way too. Now, if I can do well enough to raise a three-year-old, I think you can do football somewhere else. So just do it,” I told him. He slammed the hood of the car and looked up in silence.
      Mike put the water in the back seat of the car and walked back to his. He looked at me and said, “I guess you have a point. It hasn’t been put that way before, especially the whole kid part of it. I'll think about what I’m going to do.” I told him he better think about it. We exchanged goodbyes as we got into our cars. He drove up to my window smirking. He said, “No more accidents now. Drive more careful since you have a kid.” I turned my key in the ignition and switched into drive. “Yeah, yeah, I hear you,” I said sarcastically. Mike drove off into the distance as I did as well.


 (Kite Runner & Bean Trees)

It was a dull and rainy day in Arizona and people were filing out of the small coffee shop as usual.  The normal morning rush had emptied out and it was that time of day where there were barely any customers around.
Taylor was starting to grow bored of the slow business and decided to take a break; she plopped herself onto one of the bar stools and glanced outside the window hoping she remembered to close her car windows as the rain was starting to downpour.  Her trail of thoughts quickly became interrupted as a customer rushed in.  It was an Afghani man, probably in his mid thirties, and he was shaking his head back and forth to dry off.  He walked up to Taylor, flashed a cordial smile, and took a seat one away from hers on a bar stool.  The man seemed eager to take off his damp jacket and warm up in the coffee shop and Taylor hopped off her seat to take his order.
            “Hello.  My name is Taylor.  What can I get for you today?” she asked.
            “I’ll just have a small coffee.  Dark,” the man said, flashing one of his friendly smiles again.  Taylor smiled back and went to get his order.  The other employees were dozing off in the kitchen, taking full advantage of the seemingly vacant coffee shop.  She grabbed a mug and a coffee pot and walked back out to the man.
            “Here you go...” Taylor said enthusiastically.
            “Thank you.  My name’s Amir, by the way,” the man replied.
            “What are you doing out here Amir?  If you don’t mind me asking...” she said.
            “Not at all...  I’m actually on my way home to California.  I came out here to visit a friend,”  Amir told her and he continued, “As nice as it is here I’m very much looking forward to getting home and seeing my wife and son.”
            “I have a daughter, Turtle,” she said excitedly, “she’s a little over one.  What’s your son’s name?”
            “My son’s name is Sohrab.  My wife and I actually adopted him,” Amir said.
            “I adopted my daughter too.  I mean it’s a long story actually...” Taylor stated.
            “Mine is a long story too.. But I have time.  Want to share?”  Amir asked.
            “Sure,” Taylor replied, “I guess I’ll go first.  So basically a random woman just handed Turtle over to me through my car window one night after I was leaving a bar.  I didn’t even know anything about Turtle but she was in bad shape.  She had been abused...  I could tell that much.  So I knew I wanted to try my best to give her a better life..  Although, at first, taking care of a baby was the complete opposite of what I wanted to do in life, I don’t have a single regret and I’m grateful I have her in my life today.”
            “Wow.  That must’ve been a lot to take on by yourself..” Amir said genuinely, “Like I said before I too adopted. My son, Sohrab, was actually my friend Hassan’s son.  I went all the way back to Afghanistan and fought for him.  I actually almost died if it weren’t for him...  Anyways my friend and his wife were shot right in front of Sohrab’s eyes and he was taken away by the man I fought, Assef.  I could tell that, like Turtle, Sohrab had been abused as well, and I knew that I too wanted to give him a better life.  So I adopted him and took him to America to have a safe life where I knew I could provide for him and also be a way of fulfilling Hassan’s dying wish.”
            Taylor blinked back at him as she struggled for words.  “That must’ve been so hard to go through...  It says a lot about you that you went through all that for your friend,” she said quietly.
            “It was actually more of a way I redeemed our friendship but yeah, it was hard to go through...” Amir said.  After saying this, a silence fell over both of them as they were thinking about what they had both been through.  But yet again a customer rushed in and interrupted Taylor’s thoughts.
            “I should go take her order...” Taylor said as she climbed off the barstool, “It was nice meeting you Amir.  I really enjoyed this talk.”
            “It was really nice meeting you too,” Amir told her and he added, “Good luck with Turtle.”
            “Thanks,” she replied, “And good luck with Sohrab.  Feel free to come back to Arizona and visit anytime.”  And with that, more customers started filing in and Taylor had to get back to work.  She quickly waved goodbye to her new friend Amir and started to take orders.  Just another day at the coffee shop…


 Her Majesty’s Secret Kite Runner

(On her Majesty's Secret Service & Kite Runner)
      Dusk approached as Bond took a deep drag from the cigarette he held in his hand.  He had been telling himself for quite a while that he would kick the habit, but that would have to wait for a less stressful point in his life.  At this point everything was all but okay; Blofeld had narrowly escaped once again, Bond wasn’t sure whether or not he wanted to quit the service after all that had happened and on top of it all he had no idea where the love of his life, Tracy, was.  Bond kicked the butt of his cigarette and almost instantly his phone rang.  Knowing instinctively who it was, he answered in his usual monotone voice.
    “Hello?” Bond asked even though he knew perfectly who it was.
    “Good evening 007,” replied the familiar voice Bond knew was his secretary, “We just received a great deal of intel on Blofeld’s whereabouts.”
    Surprised that HQ had tracked Blofeld this quickly, Bond paused then replied, “Where am I headed to this time?”
    “Kabul, Afghanistan,” stated Bond’s secretary.
    “Okay,” Bond said, not even saying goodbye in his haste to apprehend Blofeld.  He had not the slightest idea what Blofeld would be doing in a war stricken, middle eastern country, but there was no time to think, he had to act fast in order to catch Blofeld.

    *  *  *
    Bond touched down in a remote area in Kabul with his private jet.  This place was a nightmare; military personnel were all over the place whom he assumed to be none other than the ruthless Taliban.  Orders were being shouted in an Afghani tongue that Bond didn’t understand as the informants rushed about furiously constructing barriers, road blocks and setting numerous buildings ablaze.  In all of the commotion it wasn’t hard for Bond to slip around unnoticed.  After carefully making his way past numerous guard posts, Bond swiftly slipped down a dank alleyway where he noticed a boy in distress, surrounded by three others slightly older than him.  One drew a switchblade and instinctively, Bond rushed to the boy’s defense.  In one swift motion he disarmed the attacker, knocking him out all at once.  The other two fled in utter fear.
    “Are you alright?” Bond asked the young boy.
    “Yes thank you for saving me sir.”
    “It’s all in a day’s work,” Bond replied almost snidely, “What’s your name?”
    “My name is Amir.”
    “Well Amir, my name is Bond, James Bond.  Now that this little incident is over, would you happen to know anything about what’s going on here?”
    “All I know is that these soldiers call themselves the Taliban and they rule this place now with an iron fist.  And a lot of people keep talking about some guy by the name of Blofeld, but I don’t know what he has to do with any of this,” explained Amir.
    So Blofeld was here after all Bond thought to himself then asked, “Do you know anything about his whereabouts?”
    “I would guess your best bet is the palace in the center of the city, you can’t miss it it’s the biggest building still standing.”
    “Thank you very much Amir, now take care I must go,” Bond said in a professional tone.
    “No thank you Mr. Bond for saving me.”
    After a quick nod of recognition from Bond, Amir ran off with what Bond now realized was a mangled kite in his hand.