Monday, October 26, 2009

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Part IV “Austen”



This is a 100 point assignment in the ‘Participation’ section of your of your grades.
  • You will be graded on the Malden High School Open Response Rubric.
  • You need to make 2 posts in total. There is a Part A and a Part B to each post you make.
  • Both posts are due by Friday, Oct. 30th @ 11:59 p.m., though you should make your first post as soon as possible. Keep in mind others depend on your comments to continue with their own.

Please label your posts.

Part A: Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking in the book (though this is not a minimum, your post should be at least a few hundred words.) Feel free to ask questions in this section as well, since everyone will be reading these posts.

Part B: You should also respond by elaborating on another comment in the stream (about the same length--a couple hundred words as a minimum.)

The above prompts are vague because it is up to you as a group to start to develop your own focus. You can feel free to bring in outside research etc, just make sure you cite or give a link to your sources—but I’m most interested in your “philosophical” discussions about specifics in the book and your ability to discuss the writer’s technique and how she affects meaning.

Image of Nafisi from The New York Times article, which also covers her new memoir Things I’ve Been Silent About. Feel free to use as fodder for discussion topics.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Part III “James”

This is a 100 point assignment in the ‘Participation’ section of your of your grades.
  • You will be graded on the Malden High School Open Response Rubric.
  • You need to make 2 posts in total. There is a Part A and a Part B to each post you make.
  • Both posts are due by Wednesday, Oct. 28th @ 11:59 p.m., though you should make your first post as soon as possible. Keep in mind others depend on your comments to continue with their own.

Please label your posts.

Part A: Post your reaction to something specific and thought provoking in the book (though this is not a minimum, your post should be at least a few hundred words.) Feel free to ask questions in this section as well, since everyone will be reading these posts.

Part B: You should also respond by elaborating on another comment in the stream (about the same length--a couple hundred words as a minimum.)

The above prompts are vague because it is up to you as a group to start to develop your own focus. You can feel free to bring in outside research etc, just make sure you cite or give a link to your sources—but I’m most interested in your “philosophical” discussions about specifics in the book and your ability to discuss the writer’s technique and how she affects meaning.

Image: "Two Orientalist paintings: Sir Frank Dicksee's Leila and William Clarke Wontner's Safie, One of the Three Ladies of Baghdad; Three colonial picture postcards of young Algerian women--staged, produced and bought by French colonial officers; The original picture from which the cover of Reading Lolita in Tehran was cropped." (Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM 1996) Click this link for image in context & source of info.) An interesting perspective from a non-American source. Feel free to use as fodder for discussion if you want.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Agenda for 10. 22 - 30. 09 (end of First Quarter)

10.22.09: Work on Question 3 style prompts: crafting a subtle and sophisticated thesis; rubric calibration with sample essays. Work with A Doll’s House to prepare for Question 3 style prompt.
10.23.09: continued. Turn in 3rd draft of college essay.


10.26.09: Long block.
Reading A Doll’s House in Tehran assignment due. In-class Question 3 style essay on A Doll’s House: Collect Reader’s Notebooks.
10.27.09: Plan 2nd quarter book clubs.
10.28.09: continued. Post blog entries on Reading Lolita in Tehran, Part III by midnight.
10.29.09: no class.
10.30.09: Class TBA (starring Mr. Weir). Post blog entries on Reading Lolita in Tehran, Part IV by midnight.

Quarter ends.

READING A DOLL’S HOUSE IN TEHRAN assignment

100 points. Major assignments & papers
due: Monday, class time

In “Part II: Gatsby” in READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN, Nafisi puts Gatsby on trial in her class. In past years teaching Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, I have had my students put Nora on trial for her decision at the end of the play. This year, I’m synthesizing some of my previous assignments.

Objective: You are to write a chapter as if you were Azar Nafisi and have decided to put Nora on trial instead of Gatsby. You will be graded on your ability to

  • successfully capture the tone and style of Nafisi[1]
  • accurately portray characters from Nafisi’s memoir by how they could be expected to react to Nora (or any other characters from A Doll’s House.)
  • present an insightful & sophisticated character analysis of Nora from A Doll’s House
    50 points: all areas demonstrate an exceptional level of mastery
    45 points: all but one are demonstrates an exceptional level of mastery
    40 points: one of the areas demonstrates an exceptional level of mastery
    35 points: all areas show good quality and effort; demonstrates progression towards mastery. Papers with mistakes in grammar and mechanics (which do not interfere with meaning) can not be scored higher than 35.
    30 points: demonstrates some progression towards mastery. Papers with mistakes in grammar and mechanics (which interfere with meaning) can not be scored higher than 30.
    Less than 30 points: demonstrates a lack of understanding or effort with assignment.

If you quote anything directly from Nafisi, please italicize. Use Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced, 2-3 pages. If you do not follow these format guidelines, I will not accept paper.

Your meta will be in a different format this time, though still graded on the
APE rubric.

You are to use the ‘comment function’ on Word to highlight what you are doing with the choices you are making, instead in an essay form.

[1] (which includes, but is not limited to: how author presents dialogue, appropriate word choice, symbols, punctuation tendencies, etc.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Which portrayal of characterization is better?

Watch the following two interpretations of the opening of Ibsen's A Doll's House & respond to the prompt below:

video
Directed by George Schaefer; Julie Harris as Nora and Christopher Plummer as Torvald (1959)

video
Patrick Garland; Claire Bloom as Nora and Anthony Hopkins as Torvald (1973)

Objective: Watch the following two versions (posted above) from the opening of Ibsen's A Doll's House and argue which of the two videos is the best interpretation of either Nora or Torvald's character.
  • Offering your opinion on this subject with specific reasons on why will help you craft a sophisticated thesis.
  • The rest of your essay will go into detail explaining your thesis.
Your critique of the video must be based on your knowledge and understanding of the passage, so you must provide textual evidence from A Doll's House as well as provide descriptions of the video. (I can't watch the video and read your post at the same time, so you need to make me see what you see with your words. It will also help you to take notes on the video while you watch it. Pay attention to what you captures your attention. Notice what you notice!)

Pay attention to:
  • delivery of the lines
  • imagery the setting / scenery
  • the portrayal of the actor
  • lighting & camera effects
  • sound effects or music

Random Notes:

You have the names of the actors and the directors. Make it clear whether you are commenting on Ibsen, the director, the characters, or the actors.

It should be about 1,000 words. Edit and put spaces between paragraphs before you post please!

These should take more than one sitting to complete and show some depth and organizational structure.

I am well aware that neither video follows that play exactly. Your objective is not to point out the differences from the text. Your objective is listed above.

Though this is opinion, there is no need to use first person pronouns, and certainly not the 2nd person.

Some Helpful Hints:

Thesis paragraph:
Should state which movie clip presents the best version of either Nora or Torvald and explain why.
· You may only focus on the movie which is best.
· A sophisticated thesis will explain how characterization is created through author, actor, and director’s techniques.

Body paragraphs:
Should each focus on a specific topic which helps prove your thesis.

· Topic
· Provide context and “integrate evidence from the play”(37).
· Explain how author creates characterization with evidence.
· Explain why the movie version you picked represents this well.
· Give specific evidence (description) from the movie.
· Explain effect(s) of what you see actor doing, or techniques of the director.


You have until Monday 10.18.09 @ noon to complete this assignment.
It is worth 100 points and will be graded by the following rubric.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Agenda for week of 10.12.09


10.12.09: No school, no class. Columbus Day.
10.13.09: College Essay due. (You are more than welcome to rewrite this as many times as you want for a higher grade, but this will be the last required time.) Also read Ibsen's A Doll's House. Post-it note the play for moments which highlight how Ibsen creates characterization. If you are interested in hearing actors read it to you, it is in the public domain. In class, we will be working with A Doll’s House.
10.14.09: College Fair 8:30 – 9:30, 9:30 – 12:30 G.E.D. sample test & pizza party. No class.
10.15.09: Long Block. In-class work on performance project. Details coming soon.
10.16.09:
Mass Poetry Festival Field trip. Those of you not going will have some computer time to do work for my class, revision of new projects.
Upcoming Events:

10.19.09:
Video critique of scenes from Act 1 in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Assignment coming. (If you attend the
Mass Poetry Festival on Friday night or Saturday / Saturday night and go to some readings / panels, then you can opt out of this assignment. You will need a visual, i.e as in a photograph of yourself at the events, preferable with one of the poets, and a short write-up as to your experience. The field trip on Friday does not count.) You will present your scenes in class.

Image is of
Anne Waldman, a performer you would not want to miss at the festival.

Monday, October 5, 2009

College Essay Scoring Guide



50 points--Grammar, mechanics, typos, spelling, & usage. Remember, this is your only impression to show yourself through language. No matter the content of your essay, careless mistakes make you seem--well, careless. And you do not want the college admissions team to think you are apathetic. I expect you to make sure the essay is flawless. I would be happy to suggest how to phrase things grammatically better, but I should not be spending my time fixing your careless typos and spelling errors (and I won't).
  • 50 points--Writer demonstrates control of sentence structure, grammar and usage.
  • 40 points--Errors do not interfere with communication. There are few errors relative to length.
  • 30 points--Errors interfere with communication.

50 points--Insight and creativity, readability, and is your essay compelling? A note to remember your audience here and the purpose of your essay: All writers do this on some level--we consistently look at audience and purpose when we analyze writing. If you are using this to apply to college, keep in mind that the admissions officers are looking for intelligent and motivated students who will be successful at their school. Your essay should:

  • Be personal (instead of general)
  • Be concrete (instead of abstract--can you make your reader "see" your world?)
  • Include anecdote (instead of summary--this is not a resume)
  • Include a hook or lead
  • Have sophisticated and / or subtle organization
  • Show a sophisticated or subtle mastery of language
  • AND AVOID CLICHE!

PLEASE PRINT THIS PAGE OUT AND ATTACH TO THE BACK OF YOUR ESSAY SO I CAN WRITE COMMENTS. WHEN YOU PRINT, MAKE SURE YOU ONLY PRINT THIS PAGE.

College Essay Prompts



image: Jay DeFeo The Veronica, 1957; painting; oil on canvas, 132 in. x 42 3/8 in. (335.28 cm x 107.63 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Irving Blum; © Estate of Jay DeFeo / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The prompts provided are often a starting point—it’s not really about which prompt you choose to answer, but HOW you use the topic to write an essay.

Remember Borges, “people tend to prefer the personal to the general, the concrete to the abstract”. You will notice that the questions are vague, repetitive, and general. You could almost adapt any good essay to fit a prompt.

Anyway, here are the common application prompts:

Personal Essay Please write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.
  • Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
  • Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  • Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
  • A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  • Topic of your choice.

Image of Jay Defeo working on an early draft of "The Rose."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Agenda for week of 10.5.09


Shameless self-promotion: If you are interested, feel free to read some of my translations and 'metas' on eXchanges (I'm second from the bottom.) It is the University of Iowa's MFA online journal for literary translation candidates and they were nice enough to solicit me for some work this summer.

10.5.09
: Your final translation assignment is due on Monday, Oct 5th in class. Monday is a shortened period, so I'll have just enough time to collect work. I'm also going to take this opportunity to hand work back to you (I'm completely caught up in grading.)

10.6.09: Nothing due in class. We are going to be discussing the college essay during class. The first draft of your college essay will be due in class on Thursday, October 8th. I'll make a separate post early this week about things we will discuss in class, including a rubric.

10.7.09
: No class (due to the unfortunate nature of rotation.)

10.8.09: 1st draft of college essay due in class. Bring three copies. We'll workshop them.

10.9.09: Class will meet in the library; guidance will be running a college application / life after high school seminar thingy. You won't want to miss.

Upcoming Events:

  • read Ibsen's A Doll's House for Tuesday, October 13th. Post-it note the play for moments which highlight how Ibsen creates characterization.
  • final draft of college essay due on Tuesday, October 13th. (You are more than welcome to write as many versions of this essay as you want and sit down with me after school and I will continue to offer suggestions and critiques.