June 5

ELA B30: June 5 Viewing Blood Diamond…

  1. In our course, we’ve just been speaking about Universal Issues and our next theme is about Power and Ambition. The movie the B30 class began viewing today, Blood Diamond, deals with both of these topics, as well as quite a few of the others from the first part of the course. Identity, the value of a name, influences on a person’s beliefs, human qualities and what defines them, responsibilities of individuals to their society – all of these are encompassed in the movie and we will discuss them on Monday.
    -There is a great deal of realistic war violence and profanities in this movie, so students were given permission slips to have signed by their parents.
  2. I will be away tomorrow, so the students will finish watching the movie and it will take up the duration of the class.
  3. Next week, I know some will be preoccupied with Grad appointments and such. It is quite important, though, that you not miss as many classes as possible. We will be doing a study / reading of the ten -chapter 119 page novel Animal Farm. If you cannot make it to class, make sure you get a copy of the novel to read on your own. It will be one of the three options you will have to refer to for your last essay on the Departmental exam. (Hamlet and the novel Night are the other two.)

For those not familiar with the movie Blood Diamond, here is a trailer.

June 4

B30: June 4 Universal Issues poetry / Poetry test…



  1. Students were reminded again that any missing assignments have to be completed and handed in by Friday. I will be gone that day, so any of the presentation-type assignments must be done by the end of the day Thursday. You will be able to hand in all assignments to the sub on Friday.
  2. We reviewed quickly the notion that some issues are of concern to all people, thoughout the world and history. Some of these issues are Love, War/ Peace, History and Honor. We read and analyzed a few poems that touch on these similar ideas and, regardless of the nationality of the writer, the topic is relatable to everyone.
  3. For each poem, the students had to fill in on a handout what the author’s message was, choose a phrase or few lines of the poem that stood out to them and related to the theme of Universal Issues, and then respond to how it addresses that topic. These were personal responses and their answers may be quite different.
  4. For the last poem, titled “Parable”, we read through it carefully, they answered their three questions on the handout, and then they were surprised with a seven-question quiz. The questions were very specific ones regarding this poem. I discussed with the class yesterday how the poetry section of their departmental will require them finding specific responses, quoting from the poem given. Today’s quiz was a practice of that. They could give an answer, but without it being directly found in the poem they risk being incorrect.
  5. We are quickly running out of time for this course. Next Friday is Grad so there will be no class (four day week) and the following week, our last day is Thursday (another four day week). We need to be careful with our time, and that includes coming to class prepared to focus. Please don’t just wait out your time. Use it to prepare yourself for your final.
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June 3

ELA B30: June 3 Discussion of Universal Issues / Preview of B30 Dept exam…

  1. We began the class with a discussion / review of topics we agree as being Universal Issues. Two questions were asked of students:
    1. What does it say about mankind (people) that we share some universal concerns?
    2. What does it say about the issues that they are universally important?
  2. We looked at a poem I wrote on the board (by memory because I left my books at home!!) and read it together, discussing the tone and how it was evident. It seemed that the poem was about a man or woman mourning over a lost love. I asked the students, though, to consider how the poem would be different if the topic of it wasn’t a lost lover, but the lost love of a homeland. What if you lost faith in where you were raised or your country – could you mourn that loss in a similar way? It is one of my favorite poems, this one. See what you think!?

“I am Out of Love With You For Now”

I am out of love with you for now,
cold-sodden in my misery
your contours and allurements
cannot move me.

I murmur old endearments to revive
our old familiar glow again
-like sapless autumn leaves
they rasp in vain.

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June 2

ELA B30: June 2 “Escape” story and assignment…

  1. Students were reminded that any late assignments have to be completed by this Friday.
  2. We began the next sub unit that discussed Universal Issues such as Truth and Justice. We listed a few examples of issues that are Universal to make it clear – that no matter what culture, time period, religion, government style, country, etc, these issues are important to all people.
  3. Students were given a short story to read titled “Escape” that is a science fiction piece. I reviewed for the students that literature written in this genre usually has a negative perspective of the use of Science in the future. In this story, students can decide for themselves whether science is used or viewed negatively or positively.
  4. Students were asked to read the story, answer the six attached questions at the end and then choose one of the following assignments:
          1. Write a formal literary body paragraph using reference from the story to respond to the prompt that “People only do what they believe is right”. Their handout explains the requirements and evaluation for that.
          2. Write a poem that discusses one of the Universal Issues we came up with. It can be free style or rhyming and must include at least four types of figurative language (not four examples of one kind of figurative language). Students were given a handout for this as well, detailing the requirements and the rubric.  Here is a link to definitions of most types of Figurative Language.
    Whichever they choose to do, the assignment is due Friday.
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May 28

B30: May 28 Blog assignment reminder…

  1. Today’s class, because of small attendance due to track, was a work period. All students recently got a list of missing assignments and their current mark. They were asked to work towards completing those missing assignments.
  2. The Grade twelves have to write a blog entry for Friday under the title of “Social Responsibility”.
    The following questions were given for students to use to get them thinking and respond to them collectively.
    – Do you have responsibility because of your age or more responsibility because of the advantages you have?
    – Do you think there is much you are capable of doing or are you limited?
    – Should you worry about what goes on in other countries when poverty and health problems exist in our own country?
  3. For the blog entry, they have to have their two paragraph post, one link to a related article, one video related to the topic, and a link to the comment they made on someone else’s blog of the same topic.
  4. IF… you have not started your own blog and have nothing to create a post in, you can add your entry as a comment to this post, being sure to still include all that is required.
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May 27

B30: May 27 “The Verger” independent reading / questions…


  1. There was a breakdown on the board of where the student marks are in this class. Students were given a mini report (report card) yesterday that gave them their current mark in class. The breakdown on the board showed where they fit into the bigger picture of the whole class. It was as follows:
    5 @ less than 50%
    8 @ 51-60%
    7 @ 61-70%
    5 @ 71-80%
    6 @ 81-90%
    4 @ 91-100%
    Hopefully, students will be motivated to keep working hard through the final four weeks coming, or work hard to catch up before the year is over.
  2. There is a list posted outside the classroom door with Replacement Assignments. (See attached above.) Anyone missing any of the assignments, other than the Hamlet essays, will have to instead complete the replacement assignment. This ensures fairness as the ones who did the original assignment in time feel satisfied that others weren’t given extra time. The ones who missed the originals still get the chance to do well, but have to start over.
  3. Students worked quietly and independently today while reading the short story “The Verger” and completing five questions attached at the end. There is a great discrepancy between how thorough student responses are for questions. I am confident the more thorough responders benefit with much higher marks. Students should practice (are encouraged to practice) being more complete with their work. (Hint: If you answe five questions, each with parts to consider, and your responses are less than ten words and fit on five lines of page, you’re not trying hard enough.)
  4. Most students were able to finish the reading and questions and used their left-over class time by working on their blog entry assigned yesterday that is due Friday.

Read the story “The Verger” here.


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May 21

ELA B30: May 21 Independent reading / work class…

  1. Several students were missing today because of track. The ones who were here were given their instructions at the beginning of class and worked on the assignment for the duration of the class.
  2. Yesterday, they were given a handout that had a story in it titled “The Inheritor” that takes place in Australia.  (Read the story here…)  Attached behind it was a chart where they were to fill in the necessary parts of the narrative Would you risk your life for this ewe, while your own life was in danger?– characters, setting, main parts of the plot, theme, and resolution. They were asked to complete this chart AS they read, as well as make notes in the margins of their story about whether events in the story were the result of human instinct (animal instinct) or reasoning (rational thinking).
  3. Once they were finished reading, there was a separate handout given with questions for them to consider and respond to. This work was to be done entirely independently so they can get more used to relying on themselves for their interpretations of stories and finding the answers in the reading. With the final exam coming, I’ll put more responsibility on them, instead of reading things aloud with the class. No one will read to you or talk through the answers for you on your test, so let’s get used to that way of working now!
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May 20

ELA 30: May 20 End of Hamlet video / Intro Social Condition unit…

  1. Students were given back their essays they just handed in Thursday before the break. (Something that doesn’t happen that often all the time!) Those Hamlet essays still not in will be accepted for two days (due Thursday at the end of the day, as I will be away on Friday and can’t accept it then). Anyone who hasn’t completed or handed it in by Friday will then be given a new essay topic, same requirements and length of time to work on it, but starting over.As mentioned, the intention here is to encourage people to finish their first assignment on time. After a duration of time, though, it is no longer fair to let you hand things in when you have had longer to work on it than others. Thus, the new assignments.
  2. I’ll be giving out Mini reports very soon (tomorrow hopefully) for students to see where their mark is currently. This will include the Blog mark that was 10% of their overall mark, not 10% of assignment marks etc. This will greatly affect some people’s marks, while others will simply maintain a mark they’ve already been working to keep high.
  3. We finished watching the video of Hamlet. I think most of the class (I won’t venture so far as to say “all”) enjoyed this play and our consideration of it. I am glad that they are so enthusiastic when talking about it or answering the “nagging questions” that came up in our discussions. I’ve heard several people say they hated Shakespeare but only because their teacher didn’t care for it or taught it poorly. I enjoy this play a lot and like to have fun with it, so I hope everyone here can have a long-lasting fond taste of Shakespeare now as a result.
  4. Once we finished the movie, we reviewed the Human Qualities that were focused on from the play, Doubt and Fear. I reviewed the other units from our first unit, influences to personal identity, where those influences come from and how they shape us, the relationships we form with others and the types of human qualities we are all born with. These things are all within the person, the individual. I drew a poor stick figure on the board to visually accentuate this concept, that the first unit was about the person. Then I drew the world to the side, society, and said we’re going to look outside the individual now (outside our selves) and evaluate what that individual we’ve gotten to know is responsible for when it comes to the world it exists within. This is the basis for the next unit we will have until their final in June. 
  5. Students were given a handout with several guiding questions that all focus around the concept of society and responsibilites of people. They were asked to consider them, answer at least four of them before the bell, and then were allowed to go. We’ll discuss them and move on to read a story called “The Inheritor” in tomorrow’s class.
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May 15

B30: May 15 Essays due / Hamlet viewing!!

  1. All but a handful of students handed in their Hamlet essays. Their teacher was so pleased with their diligence in meeting that deadline! Late essays may be handed in until I correct these and hand them back. If that is the case, you’ll have to choose another of the 35 essay questions and… St.. St.. Start Overrrrr…. Try to avoid this and hand your essay in on Tuesday!!
  2. We continued watching the movie today. The room was much more quiet today and all eyes stayed on the movie. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was able to show the movie on the screen on the wall instead of the T.V. There’s just a bit left to watch… Act V to be exact. The good stuff!!
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May 14

B30: May 14 Viewing Mel Gibson’s version of Hamlet…

  1. Students were finally able to start watching the movie for the play of Hamlet. This is the same movie version the “Unknown student” used to create the separate acts in his own condensed version of the play. It was nice to see and hear from them that they were remembering parts of the play they’d forgotten had happened, or recognizing things as it was played out. It’s a very good movie. We’ll continue it tomorrow during our class.
  2. A reminder, as well, that the Hamlet essays are due tomorrow. A few people have asked for extensions because they have course deadlines in their Calculus by correspondence and such. All other essays, though, are expected to be in tomorrow or you’ll possibly have to start over again if I mark the rest and return them before you hand your own in. (Them’s the rules, right?!)
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