Mr. Scott

First period worked on poetry. Specifically, we finished up the selections by Jacqueline Woodson and began the next collection of three poems.

Second period spent some time in the library doing research for their cyclops poem and project.

Fourth and sixth periods looked at a second poem by Jacqueline Woodson, “Almost a Summer Sky.” We used this to examine:

  • simile,
  • repetition,
  • and free verse.
  • First period: complete reading the three poems from class (roughly 600-606).
  • Second period: none specifically for tomorrow (standing assignment: cyclops poem/project)
  • Fourth and sixth periods: answer questions on pages 227-229 in workbook.

First, fourth, and sixth periods worked on poetry, specifically Jacqueline Woodson’s “Describe Someone.” We practiced as a class revising lines to add alliteration and consonance. Students will be doing the same to their own poems for homework.

Second period went over the Cyclops episode in the Odyssey.

  • First period:
    • read “Summer Sky”;
    • answer questions on pages 227-229 in workbook.
  • Second period:
    • semi-long term assignments (part of reader response journals for Odyssey):
      • a poem from the cyclop’s point of view;
      • read page 809 then work on the question of hospitality as it’s presented throughout the Odyssey;
    • for Monday: read “The Witches’ Circle”
  • Fourth and sixth periods: work on adding consonance and alliteration to your poem.

Second period began looking at the elements of the Coen brothers’ film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? that are taken directly from the Odyssey. We’ll be watching five scenes, and we began today with the Coen brothers’ take on the Lotus Eaters.

First period worked on a rather lengthy quiz, then created signs in Microsoft Publisher for our bulletin board on poetry.

Fourth and sixth periods began poetry by looking at consonance and alliteration, two sound devices used in our first poems. Then we watched a short video in which a poet, Jacqueline Woodson, described her work as a poet.

  • First period: none.
  • Second period: read the section on the cyclops.
  • Fourth and sixth periods:
    • write a poem that describes someone;
    • complete “Works Cited” page (to be turned in tomorrow)
Poetry, Poetry, Poetry Everywhere

All classes are working on poetry. First period has spent a couple of days doing a refresher on the basic elements of poetry. We’ll have a quiz tomorrow.

Fourth and sixth periods began poetry today. We took a leisurely time discussing poetry and what it is for us personally.

Second period is working on the poem, the foundation of Western literature: the Odyssey. Today we finished up Odysseus’s adventures with Calypso, comparing what we read in the epic with Suzanne Vega’s song “Calypso.” I would quote the relevant portions, but this is what I got when I went to find the lyrics online:


You can find the lyrics here.

  • First period: quiz tomorrow on basic terms.
  • Second period: complete reading “I am Laertes’ son.”
  • Fourth and sixth periods: none.

First period began the poetry unit by looking at several elements of poetry, including:

  • consonnance
  • assonance
  • alliteration
  • simile
  • metaphor
  • personification

Second period began reading the Odyssey after we had a quiz on it.

Fourth and sixth periods completed their work on their “Works Cited” page.

No homework for any classes today.

First period completed a second round of MAP testing. We were unable to do anything else today.

Second period began the Odyssey. We looked at elements of the epic form and discussed the background to the Odyssey.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on creating “Works Cited” pages.

  • First period: none
  • Second period:
    • vocabulary work;
    • study for quiz.
  • Fourth period: create “Works Cited” page for research project (project due Monday 8 December).
  • Sixth period: none.

First period had a class meeting, as did fourth. We also did some self-evaulations.

  • First period: complete final draft of research paper, complete with “Works Cited” page.

Today’s starter had puns and possessive phrases; several students asked, “What’s a pun?” and others were confused about ‘s versus s’, so we did a quick lesson on puns and apostrophes in first period. This meant a change in lesson plans, and it meant the EQ didn’t really match up with the work we actually did.

  • First period: complete “Works Cited” page

First period began revising their research papers. Fourth and sixth periods applied yesterday’s lesson to their own papers.

EQs were the same as yesterday.

No homework.

The Mountain

1It seemed we would never reach the top. The winding mountain road in central Slovakia would pose no problem to a motorized vehicle, but after seventy miles on a bike, I was wondering whether we could make it. My wife — then only my girlfriend — probably felt the same way. The journey, even if we made it to the top, couldn’t be considered a success; it was a question of brute survival.

We’d started off in the morning in Poland. The plan was to ride through Slovakia, into Hungary, and spend several days in Budapest. We were a little behind schedule due to rain and an unexpected break as we waited out the cloud burst. For most of the day, though, the road had been easy going: fairly flat, some downhill portions, a climb or two. Nothing serious.

That was before we hit the mountain. It sneaked up on us, really: we felt a gradually increasing incline, and like two frogs in boiling water, we were in danger before we realized danger was approaching.

On two packed bikes, we were struggling fairly quickly after the realization that we were riding up a mountain, not a hill. Each pedal stroke became a battle, and the veins in our temples bulged and quivered as they tried to carry our blood at the furious pace our heart was beating. Our lungs began to burn, then simply went numb as the heavy, post-rain, damp air practically strangled us. Our legs followed suit: first a tingle, then a burn, followed by flames and complete numbness.

2With every switch-back, we were sure it had to be the last; time and time again, we were almost knocked off our bikes by the sight of another uphill stretch concluding with another switch-back. “Maybe that one is the last one,” I said to my girlfriend. When it wasn’t, I’d repeat the speculation on the next one, often following it with a skeptical laugh.

What we both knew we couldn’t do was stop. It wasn’t some kind of macho, push through the pain nonsense. No — the simple truth of the matter is that stopping only makes it worse. Muscles cool down and the pedaling becomes more painful after the break. There’s only one thing to do: be macho and push through the pain.

After a while, though, cyclists climbing seemingly endless inclines stop thinking about reaching the top. Goals become short term: “Just make it to that twig that’s lying in the road twenty-five meters in front of me.” The instant disappearance of pain when stopping is tempting, but one makes an honest effort to go a little further: “Before I can possibly consider stopping, I have to make it to that tree.” And once the goal is accomplished, one thinks, “well, perhaps a little further.”

3At that point, a strange thing happens: the pain becomes enjoyable. There are all kinds of physiological explanations for the euphoria athletes feel when the pain becomes pleasure, but at least part of it is mental. The surety of completing short-term goals and the realization of how many such goals have already been reached transforms the pain into a sure sign — symbol, if one wants to get metaphysical — of one’s ability and a confirmation that one’s self-confidence is not misplaced.

It’s something we can apply to life: a series of short-term goals adds up to a large accomplishment. Focusing on the here and now, concentrating on getting through the present pain, we find ourselves enjoying even pain.

We finally made it to the top, and just to the right was a hotel. “We’re staying here,” I said, knowing we were still fifteen miles from our planned stopping point. “I know,” said a voice behind me.

If you’d asked me that night, I would have said that success is indeed a destination. Success is finally lying down on a bed after climbing a seemingly endless mountain. Two days after that, I would have said that success is finally walking down a street in Budapest, looking for a cheap restaurant.

But when I recall the whole trip, I think back to that mountain, and how some part of me wanted it never to end.

First period began preparing citations in their research papers. I mis-planned, though: I thought the activity would take ten minutes; it took the whole class. Therefore, the EQ for the day was not realized.

Fourth and sixth periods worked on transitions.



First period began working on their second draft by examining the second indicator of the PASS writing rubric and breaking it down into its individual parts. We did this for the first indicator some weeks ago; now we’re adding a second indicator: organization.

It’s always helpful to break down rubrics as far as possible, though, and that’s how we began.

The resulting mini-rubric looked like this:





Organization Has an effective introduction, body, and conclusion. Has an introduction, body, and conclusion. Attempts an introduction, body, and conclusion; however, one or more of these components could be weak or ineffective. Attempts an introduction, body, and conclusion; however, one or more of these components could be absent or confusing.
Transitions Provides a smooth  progression of ideas by using transitional devices throughout the writing. Provides a logical progression of ideas throughout the writing. Provides a simplistic, repetitious, or somewhat random progression of ideas throughout the writing. Presents information in a random or illogical order throughout the writing.

Afterward, students worked in pairs to examine their first drafts for organization (having a clear introduction, body, and conclusion), followed by solo work on transitions.

Fourth and sixth periods slowed things down a little, looking only at the first portion of the second indicator. We concentrated on introductions.

  • Finish second draft (if not completed).
  • Complete introduction.

First period began organizing for a “Works Cited” page. We took our original source cards and worked with our books and a partner to re-create them with the proper MLA format. Once we’re ready to make our actual “Works Cited” page, we’ll only have to alphabetize our newly re-organized source cards and copy them.

Fourth and sixth periods began their first drafts. We’ll be heading to the library tomorrow for more research.

  • First peroid: none.
  • Fourth and sixth: complete first draft.

Today, first, fourth and sixth periods went to the library for some more research. We concentrated on using encyclopedias and, more importantly, documenting them.

Tomorrow we have a big assignment due: the Anne Frank diary project. Hopefully everyone will turn it in.

  • Diary project

First, fourth, and sixth periods are still doing research. We’ll be going to the library tomorrow to finish up, then Friday, we’ll be starting our first draft.

Second period (English I) update coming later.

No homework.