September 30

Visual Arts 20: Sept 30 Interpreting Art activity…

Students have reviewed the Principles of Design and several of the Elements of Art. Today, we looked at the actual process of interpreting or analyzing art pieces that is broken down into seven steps. For their first attempt at practicing the steps, we studied a piece of art by an Australian artist. They all considered it individually and came up with different responses on their sheets. What are your thoughts about this piece of art – like it or not?

September 30

ELA 20: Sept 30 “The Piano” poetry analysis…

  1. We began the class with a reminder that the Symbolism Formal Paragraph was due yesterday. (There are a few who think they’ll be able to hand it in by the end of the day and my leniency will extend Just that far.) They also had several assignments handed back to them with comments.
  2. To remind us and really help clarify the embarrassment and frustration kids feel at times because of their somewhat pushy parents, I showed a quick video clip from the popular show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels”. In this clip, they show several of the family videos of the kids when they were younger. The kids, now teenagers, are slightly embarrassed by the videos but also have fun remembering the events in them.
  3. We did an intense study of the poem titled “The Piano”. Their copies of their poem should be littered with annotations and markings after all our discussion and discection of it. One of the biggest things this poem makes clear is that poetry can have a climax in it, even though there’s not necessarily a resolution, and that line length in poetry also has an impact on the tone of the overall piece. (Near the beginning of the poem, the narrator, a young boy, has very long-winded descriptions and details of the events leading up to the climax of his ordeal, but just after that climax the sentences drop short in length (as much as two words immediately after) and are clearly broken apart by periods to make it clear his attitude is angry and bitter. It’s a really interesting, very well put together poem!
  4. We’ll continue tomorrow with our analysis of a much shorter and less complex poem titled “Warren Pryor”.
  5. With just the few minutes left in class, I showed them three or four minutes of a movie I have but haven’t had the chance to watch yet. In scanning the movie, though, there was a part where a man who is terminally ill has the opportunity to walk through his old childhood home, in his search for some meaning to life. His response in being in his old room is surprising, that it gives him no satisfaction and that while he’s even standing there he hardly believes his life was ever happy. “You can’t go home” is the final thought. It is fitting with the first sub-unit we studied and a very similar situation to the essay we read titled “Back to Wolf Willow”.
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September 29

Visual Art 20: Sept 29 Website link for Principles of Design…

  1. We’ve been reviewing the Principles of Design in the Visual Arts class. This website is very useful because it not only describes each of the Principles, but also gives several visual examples of art work that helps clarify them.
  2. We’ve discussed them all and tomorrow students will be tested to see if they can put into practice the theory they have been studying. The test will be very similar to the types of discussions we have been having regarding the art examples. I’ll give an image and ask them to deconstruct it and detail as much about the picture as they can regarding the principles.

Here is the link to the website.

September 26

ELA 20: Sept 26 Skills review / “How to do Battle with Grown-Ups”…

  1. We set Monday as the deadline for the paragraph assignment. Students also took down the list of writing skills we have reviewed and practiced in the course. There will be an exam towards the end of next week to test their understanding of the literature, our focus in discussing it, and the skills they’ve developed.
  2. We looked at a few student examples of the same paragraph assignment they are finishing. These were written by students of mine in Goodsoil last year. By looking at paragraph examples, the benefit is that we walked through the six-sentence functions for each one, pointed out specific errors made or those parts that were well-done, such as a properly integrated reference.
  3. Next, I introduced and showed them a portion of a movie where a divorced father tries to make some quality time with his teenage daughter but she manipulates the moment to create tension and an argument, her way of protesting her family’s situation. We talked about it, as a class, some of the tricks or ploys kids can use against their parents to gain ground or get their way. This was all discussed to introduce the article we read together in class, then, titled “How to do Battle with Grown-Ups”. It was a satirical piece of writing meant to mock the clash between growingly-independent children / teens and the parents who fight to maintain the upper ground. We discussed the questions together briefly but will have to continue and reconsider it on Monday.
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September 25

ELA 20: Sept 25 Practice writing with Present Verb Tense…

  1. There were several students missing today, for whatever reason. (Driver training, sick, etc) Those here read through and participated in a practice sheet that attempted to help them:
    1. identify the verbs in sentences
    2. change the verb tense (from past tense to present tense)
    3. recognize the most common past tense verbs to be able to point them out more easily in the future.
  2. I had taken a short story that was originally written in past tense and typed out the first several paragraphs. On the smartboard, then, I read through the first few paragraphs and used the highlighter function to highlight the past tense verbs. Then, students contributed responses in helping me change the past tense sentences to the present tense. Once we had completed the examples in the first two paragraphs, they tried to complete the rest of the paragraphs on their own handout sheet.
  3. The biggest purpose for this activity is to help them identify whether the writing is in present or past tense. For their literary essays, in this class and future English ones, they’ll have to be careful to only use present tense. (The only exception to point out is if an action has occured in the past in a story, such as Mrs. Givens dying. Her actions cannot be written in the present tense because she is not presently IN the story. That’s where it can get tricky but we’ll stick with the more simple rules first.)
  4. Students then had some extra time that was spent typing out their paragraphs, etc.
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September 24

ELA 20: Sept 24 Practice with Integrating References…

  1. The only thing that took up a good majority of the class was a practice activity on developing a smooth way of integrating references (material directly taken from the literature) into your own writing. This specifically is what students will have to do with sentence # 4 on the outline handout for formal literary body paragraphs. (Eventually, when writing, you hopefully will not have to follow such a structured paragraph outline, but to understand what is necessary for a good body paragraph and the order information should be placed, following that guide can be helpful.)
  2. I did the first three of the practice questions, with students contributing responses pointing out where the “present tense” verbs were that indicated the sentence was in present tense. (This is another thing to develop or work on with their writing, as in formal literary essays the text is always in present tense.)
  3. Students had the rest of the class to do the following questions on their own. Once done that, they could finish working on their paragraph assignment or write out their reflection for the summary paragraph that has to be submitted on the blog. (There’s always something to work on next!!)

Here is the handout they worked on    practice-integrating-quotes-into-your-writing

Here is the copy with examples written on the board    sample-work-integrating-references-in-writing

September 23

ELA 20: Sept 23 “The Rink” read-through and formal paragraph writing…

  1. We read through the story “The Rink” together as a group. Students had read it silently on their own, but it’s a great story and was good to review it for their paragraph writing today.
  2. I asked them to start a fresh sheet of paper and brainstorm ideas for what they thought the object of symbolism in the story was. Some students were a little uncertain about the paragraph they were writing – whether it was a whole essay put into one paragraph. I tried to explain it carefully – that I have an essay on symbolism in literature that I want written and since you always start with body paragraphs, this is just their first body paragraph for that essay. They won’t have to write the rest of it, but this first paragraph is going to use the story “The Rink” as evidence to prove the essay’s point that author’s use symbolism.
  3. We briefly went through a handout that clarified some of the common errors students make when integrating a quote or reference in their writing. The number one mistake they should avoid is “dropping in” a quote, which is writing about the quote you’re going to use, throwing the quote in as its own sentence, and then adding another sentence after to elaborate on it. The quotation has to be integrated into YOUR OWN SENTENCE. We’ll have more practice with it tomorrow.
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September 22

ELA 20: Sept 22 “Penny in the Dust” questions / Formal Literary Paragraph examples…

  1. Students were first reminded to complete their summary paragraphs of the first sub-unit of “Childhood”. Those who were here for the essay typing class in the pc room had a chance to do this. The summary paragraphs, as a whole, will be worth 10% of your overall class mark so it’s important to complete them all, but no absolute due-date is set. They are compulsory but flexible in the time they’re completed.
  2. We reviewed the story “The Penny in the Dust” and went through student responses to the questions they worked on last Friday. Several students were missing last Friday but they still tried to contribute answers based on their memory of the story, so thank you for your participation. We pointed out, specificially, the symbolism of the penny in the story and discussed how the thing / idea it represented changed a few times in the story.
  3. The students were then given a blue assignment sheet that identified their next assignment – to write a body paragraph for a Formal Literary Essay.
    This type of essay differs from a personal or general reflective essay in several ways:

    1. It has to be based on a piece of literature, the topic of it or the author’s use of a type of element of literature or whatever your essay topic is about. It has to give evidence and be based on literature.
    2. It is always present tense. As we discussed in a previous class, if I pick up the book “Twilight”, the main characters are always currently still in action. We read it in the past so our first instinct is to discuss it as “past tense” but it is always still happening, each time we open the book. Because of this, any discussion or analysis of literature is always in present tense. (The author realizes his mistake and attemps to fix his errors.” (The verbs should be in present tense, which can be difficult to spot out so we’ll work on developing that.)
    3. There are no personal pronouns, like “I” or “we” or “us” or “them”. Keep it purely objective and distant from yourself. (Formal.. formal… formal!!)
    4. We talked about the format (just briefly) for integrating quotations or references into your writing. We’ll look at that in more detail but it has to be integrated into your own sentence, not just “dropped in”.
    5. Because it was pretty much me talking / explaining / showing examples of writing on the smartboard and little interaction needed from students, they were pretty tired and it was difficult to keep their attention on the subject, so we narrowed it down to one specific thing to remember from today’s discussion of formal body paragraphs. Each student had to contribute one point I discussed with them, and a few were stumped so their peers helped them out with that. We compiled the list on a pdf document and they’ve all made a copy for themselves. If they remember nothing else from today, they’ll have to remember these nine things!!
    6. Tomorrow, students will have time to look for the symbolism of the story “The Rink” and I’ve given them a hint in saying there is more than one object that is symbolic of something there. We’ll spend time practicing integrating references / quotes before they do their paragraph assignment, but this will be our focus for the next few days.
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September 19

ELA 20: Sept 19 Discussion of “Penny in the Dust”…

  1. The reminder was given that the reflective essay was due today. (I’ll accept them on Monday to give some allowances for driver training interupting our typing time, etc.)
  2. We continued where we had left off – at the moment where the narrator’s father speaks for the first and only time in the story, at the moment where he finally found his missing son, to say only “You’d better git some supper”. It seems a strange comment, considering the circumstances. We talked about the habit some people have of talking about nothing of importance (just saying random things in dialogue) to lessen the tension between two people. It’s a strange way to express something but the best strategy for some.
  3. We finished reading the story and asked a few questions at the end.
    1. Why did the father not give his son the penny back?
    2. Why did the son not keep the penny when he burried his father, instead of leaving it in his father’s suit pocket?
  4. There were questions given in the handout before they read the story. Students worked quietly and independently to fill in these answers before reading another short story that will be the source of our next assignment.

Unrelated to our current topic in class, but directly related to the previous sub-unit of Childhood, here is a video I enjoy of a little girl singing along to a song. The impressive thing is that she’s so young, yet knows all the words to it and sings with such expression and body language! See what you think! Ohh… to be young again!


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September 18

ELA 20: Sept 18 Comma activity / in-depth reading of “Penny in the Dust”…


  1. We began the class with a review of what we did yesterday, since so many students were away. I showed the homework blog on the smartboard screen and walked them through the process of leaving a comment, which was part of yesterday’s required work. Those students who were away will have to complete the paragraph and post it on the blog by tomorrow.
  2. We reviewed the three basic types of comma use that we discussed on Tuesday. Students took the examples / descriptions down as notes but I have also attached them as a pdf. (Again, the penmanship of a document when using a Smartboard is not pretty… be warned!)
  3. Students then did a comma quiz / activity that was open book to test their understanding of the use of these three types. I’ll mark it and return it to them tomorrow.
  4. We discussed as a class the due date for the essay and decided on Friday as the deadline. It was to be completed by Wednesday (to use that class to type) and they’ll have had two extra days after that to finish any editing so Friday seems to be an appropriate and fair deadline.
  5. We looked at the story they read the other day and read it aloud and discussed its parts in detail as we’re going along. I have a document image of my page for them to look at on the Smartboard and it’s seeming to make it easier to point to a part of the page (on the Smartboard) and they can find it more easily on their own page.
    We focused the most, today, on the distance between the father and son despite the fact that there seems to clearly be love shared between them… in a most awkward way. We’ll continue tomorrow.
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