Here is the planning guide we looked at in class for the short story final project.

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Tonal Shift and Chapter Five

English 8 students continued working with Nightjohn, working through chapter five, the final long chapter.

English I Honors students began looking at Billy Collins’s “The Lanyard,” going over the homework and discovering a few new things.


Afterward, they got turned loose on their own with a new poem for complete analysis, Billy Collins’s “Forgetfulness.”

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the analysis of “Forgetfulness” by answering the following questions:
    • Where is the tonal shift?
    • What is the tone above the shift?
    • What is the tone below the shift?
    • What constitutes the epiphany of the lyric moment?
Tonal Shift and a Quiz

English I Honors students continued working with tone to see what the tonal shift and accompanying lyric moment of a poem is.


English 8 students took a quiz on chapter four after reviewing the in-class work of the last few days and working on the article of the week.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • begin working on your short story final project;
    • answer the three questions about the poem from today:
      • What is the gift?
      • What is the worn truth?
      • What is the rueful admission?

English I Honors continued with tone, looking at “My Papa’s Waltz” after finishing “Do Not Go Gently.”

English 8 students continued with Nightjohn — sprinting to the finish.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • determine tone of “My Papa’s Waltz”;
    • begin working on final project for short story unit.

English 8 students began working on chapter four from Nightjohn. We’re having a final practice of effective readers’ skills before next week’s test.

English I Honors students began looking at the question of tone in a poem. We’ll move to tonal shift tomorrow as we begin looking for the lyric moment.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the work with “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” from class.

Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme…they must be naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.


My wife snapped this picture of me grading articles of the week yesterday morning.


From the same album as last week: Bangin’ by The Outfield. Popular when I was in eighth grade. Never could figure out why they didn’t release this as their first single — it’s a much better song.

Connotation and Socratic Seminars

English I students worked with connotation in the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden.

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

English 8 students worked with chapter 3 of Nightjohn, running a Socratic Seminar to discuss the question of whether or not Sarney should take the chance and learn to read.




We will be working on our weekly Friday individual work tomorrow.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: 
    • complete and turn in your irony/symbolism work at Moodle;
    • determine the five most important words in the whole poem, “Those Winter Sundays.”
Poetry and Finishing Chapter 3

English 8 students finished working on effective readers’ skills and chapter three from Nightjohn. We’ll be moving on to the next chapter tomorrow after we debrief today’s work.


English I Honors students began our new unit, which focuses on poetry. We started with “Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry.”

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

We’ll be looking at other poems through out the next weeks, applying the same process to increasingly difficult work.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: complete the paragraph on irony or symbolism analyzing “The Necklace” or “The Gift of the Magi.”
Socratic Planning and Effective Readers' Skills

English 8 students continued with their effective readers’ skills work for chapter three of Nightjohn.


English I Honors students had a Socratic Seminar to discuss the two stories students have to choose from for their final writing in the short story unit.

  • English 8 Studies: none.
  • English I Honors: write the final paragraph about irony or symbolism in either “The Necklace” or “The Gift of the Magi.”

Due to the chess club meeting, I neglected to update this particular day. Apologies. 0

Heart of the Sunrise

I was in eighth grade when I discovered, through my best friend and his uncle, the most amazing prog-rock band ever — Yes. Here was a band that seemed to take all the rules of popular music. It was as if someone took the free-form nature of jazz and combined it with the complication of some classical music and then played it with a distorted electric guitar. There was no verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus three-and-a-half minute pop sensibility to the songs. They were ever-changing pieces that evolved over nine, eleven, fourteen, twenty minutes or more. Just when you think you have a song pinned down, it changes completely.

No one in rock today makes music this complicated.

When I was in eighth grade, this song was fairly popular. I liked it enough that I bought the cassette. I listen to this, remember what it was like to be thirteen again, and look forward to seeing you guys on Monday.

Eighties gold!