Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays!!!

I'm in Philly with your grades and hope to update Snapgrades soon. Some of you have emailed me with questions about your essays. Please do so. We will be jumping right into A Separate Peace when we return.

This is me before I chopped down my Holiday tree. (Notice the Holden Caulfield hat!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Grammar Fun and a Way to Help this Holiday Season!

Your explication blog is below. If you have questions, please ask. It is due before the break.

Good luck on your presentations!!!! I can't wait to see them.

On the good news front, no blog over the break. However, you will be doing some writing and I found this great online grammar tool to help you with sentence combining. This is a struggle for us all. Go to this link and have fun!

ALSO - I found a great vocab building website that also donates food to United Nations World Food Program. It is called - Go there and test your knowledge and help a good cause!!! Plus, it's fun! The photos above are ones I took of the rice fields in Bali, Indonesia where I spent a month last summer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Animal Farm: Propaganda Explication

For your final assignment for Animal Farm, you will complete a focused explication on a passage. You will chose one of Squealer's speeches and analyze how Squealer uses propaganda to influence the animals.

Refer to your notes on propaganda techniques to aid in your analysis and the sheet on elements of style. Here is the wikipedia link on propaganda. If you scroll down, you will find several of the techniques I lectured on.

For the entry, you must type out the paragraph(s) you are explicating and provide the explication below.

Your explication should focus on:
1) What is occurring in the passage? What message is Squealer attempting to oppose?
2) What words, methods, techniques does Squealer use to influence?
3) Why is this important to the story, character, scene, etc.?


You may chose a passage from the following below:

Page 52-53 - The explanation of the milk
Page 69-70 - The explanation of the windmill
Page 96-97 - The explanation of Beasts of England
Page 124-125 - The explanation of Boxer's death

You will be graded on the open response rubric and this is due by 3 p.m. on Friday December 21st.

Watch this interesting video of American-made Anti-communist propaganda:

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A couple of things...

Your blog entry for the week is below.

We are starting to interweave some poetry into our work. I love Billy Collins and Schoolsville is one of the poems you may respond to this week. If you love cool websites as much as I do, check this out: It is a website of animated Billy Collins poems. Awesome stuff!

Also - regarding the poll from last week, I have matched the answers with the political philosophy. You can click on the wiki link to learn more about this. Obviously, these are generalities and by no means, proscriptive.


1) Government should seek to preserve the status quo, while making only gradual or necessary changes. New policies and change should be done by individuals or businesses. (11%) Conservatism

2) Government should minimally interfere with individual rights and government should be limited to maximize liberty. The more government, the less freedom. 19 (54%) Libertarianism

3) Government should work fully and actively, regardless of cost and size, to create equality in economics and other social areas (healthcare, welfare, education, etc.) 9 (25%) Socialism

4) Government should work to change values and traditions as needed. This should apply to values as well as economics. 3 (8%) Liberal Progressivism

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Animal Farm: Making Connections

For this post, I want to focus on discussion. I want you to take a look at several songs and poems that may lend themselves to connections with Animal Farm. I want you to think about these poems and songs and focus on what ideas they are expressing. Some of the poems are very different, so don't get caught up in trying to connect them together. Some of the works may be familiar to you, but it is okay to be critical of the ideas they are expressing.

Talk to one another - This worked well at the beginning of the year, but then we got away from it with assignment-based blogs. Not any more. Discussion is back!!!!

Overall, choose a poem or two to explore. Answer:
1) What is this poem's overall message?
2) What connections, if any, can I make to Animal Farm?
3) What is my opinion of its idea?

I encourage arguments regarding interpretations.

John Lennon's Imagine - This is a popular song, but what is it really saying? Do you agree?
Charlie and the M.T.A. - Be sure to read the history here and look for irony in how this song is currently used.
Billy Collins - Schoolville - One of my favorites
Robert Lax - The Alley Violinist - Scroll down to find this one
Bob Dylan's Maggie Farm - Avoid the obvious connections here
Wallace Stevens' - The Emperor of Ice-Cream - A difficult one, but I remember giving an explication of this poem in my 10th grade Honors class - years and years ago. There are study guides online for this, but I want you to give it a whirl on your own!!! :)

Here is a video for Charlie on the MTA:

Here is a video for John Lennon's Imagine:

good luck - Blog is due Wednesday December 12th.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Animal Farm: What's your opinion about government?

The novel Animal Farm deals with our understanding of government and rule. For this blog, I want you to begin to formulate your own opinion about government.

I want to return to the idea of a discussion blog. Remember, sarcasm and put-downs are not tolerated. However, I do encourage debate and you should always address one another formally, i.e. "Tony said in his response..., but I feel that...".

You should refer to the book and other sources (history class, newspaper, etc.) in responding to the following questions. You may answer them all, or only some.
Remember, keep your answers brief. This is discussion based. People want to read your response and respond to you. You are encouraged to post more than once.

1) What should the government's role be in people lives? Should the government pay for all services (healthcare, education, etc.) or are those things individual responsibilities?
2) When in comes to moral issues (religion, speech, etc.), what should be the government's position? Are there times when the government should get involved or not get involved?
3) Are the advantages or disadvantages in having a class system? What would it be like if we all were the same "class"?
4) Lastly, follow this link and answer the questions: Campaign 2008 What questions do you have now? Look up information about your top candidate. Were you surprised/shocked? Did you even hear of the person running?

Blog is due Monday December 3rd.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Secret in the Wings

Your assignment for the week is below.

I just wanted to invite everyone to the play production show this week: November 16th and 17th @ 7:30 p.m.
It is a retelling of the Grimms' Fairy Tales. The cost is five dollars - cheaper than seeing "Fred Claus" with Vince Vaughan and twice as funny.

Plus, there is an extra credit opportunity!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Creative Writing FUN

For a switch, I want to give you an opportunity to stretch your creative muscle.

Choose one of the following assignments and post it to the blog. Identify the assignment by letter. You are welcome to choose more than one and post more than one. Also, I encourage you to respond to one another with words of encouragement. To succeed, take time to think about adjectives, interjecting literary devices, word choice, etc. Have fun!!!!!!

A) Describe a landscape as seen by a bird. Do not mention the bird.

B) Write a short scene of dialogue where a dog and a cat flirt with one another.

C) Describe a lake as seen by a young person who has committed a murder. Do not mention the murder.

D) Write an absurdist dream where things change and morph and reality is not as it seems.

I do want to remind you that this is a school assignment and so keep things on the up-and-up.

For your literary terms HW, follow this link.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Antigone and Persuasion

Antigone deals directly with characters struggling to have their voices heard. In Scene Three, Haimon and Creon argue their points and attempt to persuade one another while using different rhetoric techniques.

According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." According to Aristotle, there are three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. To guide you in understanding persuasion, use any of these websites to help you: Art of Rhetoric , Ethos, Pathos, Logos or Modes of Persuasion.

For this blog assignment, I want you to examine the speeches and comment on how the characters try to persuade one another. You should reference one or more modes of persuasion. You should also comment on possible flaws/points in their arguments and your comment should point to what larger idea(s) is being expressed.

Open Response Rubric

4 - 400 words, follows organizational model, refers to and integrates text, analyzes persuasive technique and points to larger idea
3 - 300 words, has organization, refers to text, some reference to persuasive techniques, and points to larger idea
2 - 200 words, may or may not quote text, refers generally to persuasive techniques, may or may not mention larger idea
1 - less than 200 words, does not directly refer to text or elements of persuasion

The text of the speech can be found at this website: The speeches begin on lines 720-820. I will also allow you to take the text home, if needed.

The assignment is due November 9th.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Teaching Reflection - Period 2

In an open response, reflect on your experiences teaching. Your reflection should touch upon the following questions.

What did you learn about teaching?
What did you learn about methods that impacted you?
What would you have done differently?
What worked and what didn't?
Do you feel you have a better understanding of your particular grammatical unit? Why or Why not?
How was being a student for your fellow classmates?

While I encourage you to be specific, I am careful to remind you this is public. I do not want - "It would've worked great if only George did his job!!!!", rather "We should have been more clear as a group in our roles". The purpose of this writing piece is not about the group, but rather your own sense of learning and teaching.

You will be scored with an open response rubric.
4 - Clear topic development, evidence (examples from your experience), and analysis (So what or so what now?)
3 - Addresses most of the questions, provides some examples, begins to analyze what now
2 - Reflects basically on his or her experience, provides a few examples, lacks analysis
1 - Minimal effort in addressing or supporting topic, little or no analysis


Teaching Reflection - Period 4

In an open response, reflect on your experiences teaching. Your reflection should touch upon the following questions.

What did you learn about teaching?
What did you learn about methods that impacted you?
What would you have done differently?
What worked and what didn't?
Do you feel you have a better understanding of your particular grammatical unit? Why or Why not?
How was being a student for your fellow classmates?

While I encourage you to be specific, I am careful to remind you this is public. I do not want - "It would've worked great if only George did his job!!!!", rather "We should have been more clear as a group in our roles". The purpose of this writing piece is not about the group, but rather your own sense of learning and teaching.

You will be scored with an open response rubric.
4 - Clear topic development, evidence (examples from your experience), and analysis (So what or so what now?)
3 - Addresses most of the questions, provides some examples, begins to analyze what now
2 - Reflects basically on his or her experience, provides a few examples, lacks analysis
1 - Minimal effort in addressing or supporting topic, little or no analysis


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Corrrecting The Sentences

And the answer is...
First Question:
Peace and quiet is rarely on the plains in spring.

Peace and quiet are rarely on the plains in spring.

CORRECT Peace and quiet is rare on the plains in spring.

Peace and quiet are rare on the plains in spring.

Peace and quiet is a term that is singular. Despite being two separate items, the expression is singular because they are thought of as a unit; therefore, it needs a plural verb. "Rarely" is an adverb and adverbs typically do not describe a verb of being. Rare is acceptable.

Second Question:
Miraculously we watched as the surgeon operated with a plastic spoon.

Correct Dumpy and overweight, our dog needs more exercise, the vet says.

As a den mother, Mrs. Glossop's station wagon was always full of Cub Scouts.

Strolling along the trail, Mount Rushmore came into view.

These are errors in dangling participles. "Miraculously" in the first sentence is describing the watching not the operating. In the second sentence, the station wagon is being described as a den mother. It is not. Lastly, "strolling along the trail" is describing Mount Rushmore. The second sentence, which is awkward, is correct. "Dumpy and overweight" is describing the dog. The sentence is not directly quoting the vet, so you do not need quotation marks. A better way of writing it is "The vet says our dog needs more exercise because she is dumpy and overweight".

Here is the link for Depressing Garfield

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Conjunction Junction

I figured this was appropriate considering we are in the midst of our grammar study. The post on Antigone for this week can be found below. You can view the Youtube clip at home, but not at school, which is a bummer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Antigone: Dialogue, Character, and Death

Dialogue helps reveal character. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden's tone and his interior monologue help create a portrait of his lifestyle, his background, his wants, his fears, and his goals.

In dramatic works, dialogue is often the readers' only clue into understanding the character.

For your blog entry this week, I would like you to choose a line from the text that reveals something about the character of Antigone, Ismene or Creon (Only choose one).
What does that line show the reader? What insight do you get into the character?
Write down the line and write a few sentences about your understanding of the character.

Also, read Death Knocks by Woody Allen. This is a funny piece. Comment on what the dialogue reveals about the characters of Nat and Death. Also, to keep the conversation flowing, what themes or ideas do you see expressed in the work? Also, if you were to draw a character sketch of Death, what would he or she be like?

To help you understand Death Knocks, you may wish to familarize yourself with Gin Rummy.

The entry is due Friday October 26th.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Catcher in the Rye: Psychology Assignment

Hey everyone, I wanted to point out that I just found out I assigned this topic on World Mental Health Day - October 10th.

The next blog assignment will be due Wednesday afternoon October 18th, not before. Your essay must be posted to the blog website by Wednesday afternoon to receive full credit.

- To correctly utilize online resources
- To provide a character analysis using psychological framework
- To write integrating text

Research one of the following psychological phenomena and provide a diagnosis of Holden Caulfield. State how Holden displays traits of your chosen psychological phenomena and using the text, provide insight into why Holden may have this trait and how this phenomena affects Holden’s relationships, sense of self, and/or maturing.
To structure your essay,
1) Describe your chosen psychological topic.
2) Provide evidence of Holden having this psychological phenomena. (You may wish to highlight areas in which Holden does not display traits.)
3) Using text, analyze why Holden may have this issue. (AVOID GENERALIZATIONS!)
4) What are the effects of this phenomena on Holden and others in the text?

Sections 2,3, and 4 could be separate paragraphs or combined together, depending on how you weave your evidence and analysis. Your conclusion should be a recommendation: After completing a psychological evaluation of Holden Caulfield, it is determined that…therefore, he should…
For your conclusion, research common treatments or medical plans to help an individual who may have this psychological phenomena.

You may choose one of the following to research:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Clinical Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder

How to research:
I am not looking for an indepth understanding of the medical and psychological traits and aspects of these phenomena; however, I expect you to have a fair understanding of its causes, symptons, and treatments. To do so, I suggest looking at these websites:


APA Help Center

You will be graded by using a standard 10 point MCAS Rubric. The response should be 600 to 800 words in length. All quotes from the text, both online and from Salinger, must follow MLA format. You will turn in your works cited/consulted sheet and a copy of your research to me the day of the assignment.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night...

For a change, I want everyone to flex their creative muscle. I want you to practice writing an opening scene to a narrative. Narrative writing is very different than academic writing.

In writing, I want you to make a few choices:
What is the point of view?
What is the setting?
Which character do I need to introduce?

You may wish to write a few brief bits of dialogue, but really what I am desiring is a descriptive scene.


I want everyone to write one paragraph finishing this phrase: "It was a dark and stormy night..." This paragraph can be about whatever you want as long as it is appropriate. Before you write: Read about the history of the phrase here.

To enhance your writing, use active verbs, figurative language (similes, metaphors, hyperbole, etc.), and rich adjectives.

Good luck, young publishing writers!!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Catcher in the Rye 3: Coming of Age

In examining The Catcher in the Rye, we also need to carefully look at the idea of a coming-of-age novel.
Coming-of-age novels are often about characters who searching for his/her own identity and place in the world. The Catcher in the Rye deals directly with Holden's struggle to find himself and define himself in the world.

With this understanding, address the following:

1) What is Holden searching for? How does Holden define and/or differeniate himself?
2) What symbols, scenes, minor characters, etc. help inform you about his search?
3) Evaluate his search. (Is he forming a healthy identity? Is his search for self foolish or invaluable?)

Second Part - Read the two selected chapters from Chris Lynch's Inexcusable. Discuss the use of point of view in the text in relation to how the narrator defines himself. What connections, if any, can you make to The Catcher in the Rye in terms of point of view, self-definition, style, etc.?

Feel free to comment on anything you want. My questions are only your guides.

Good luck!!!! I am excited for your responses!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Catcher in the Rye - Post Two

So Holden is in New York...

In this post, I am asking you to do two things:

1 - Comment on themes or larger ideas that you notice in the text. To be able to do so, as readers, you must begin to think what is J.D. Salinger telling us about the world. (This may be different than what Holden tells us about the world)

What larger ideas do you see in the text? What message(s) are you receiving as a reader? How do symbols and tone help highlight our understanding of theme?

2 - I want you to read the very short story "Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin. Continuing our discussion of point of view and character shifts, how does the author play with our perception in this text? What are you learning about reading? What connections can you make to other texts (short stories, Catcher, summer reading, etc.) What is this text telling us about the larger world?

Good luck!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Catcher in the Rye - Post One

For the next post, I want you to continue focusing on the idea of point of view and its influence on character. Now that you have read or are currently reading the opening of The Catcher in the Rye, tell me what have you noticed about Holden's character and his Weltanschauung (his view of the world - in academics, everyone uses the German word).

I also want you to take a look at these three song lyrics from Simon and Garfunkel. Some of you may own the album or you can download the songs at your own leisure. (Not necessary) Comment on themes or ideas that you see present in the songs. Any connections you can make to the text would be great.

The Sound of Silence
I am a Rock
Homeward Bound

Some hints on where to begin: What is our perception of Holden? What does Holden think of himself? What ideas do you see developing in the text? How does the author use the point of view in this story? Good luck!!!!

HW - Reminder - Chapters 1 to 5, eight dialectical journal entries for Monday. Draft of Essay due Wednesday. My email is in the profile section, if you have questions. Don't be overwhelmed!!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

Follow the link and read the following story "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid.

Then, continue the discussion about point of view and characterization, using this piece, "Bullet in the Brain", and/or "The Last Judgment".
For "Girl", a good starting point is to think about "both" characters in this piece and what they are like. But, don't limit your reaction to that.

Overall question: In these pieces, how do the authors create their characters? How do they shift them (the characters) by using other characters, altering the point of view, tone, etc.? What is your overall impression of the work or the characters?

Good luck. Be sure to reference the text when commenting.

(PS - Period Two, since you are little ahead, avoid the temptation to reference the Salinger story.)

Friday, June 15, 2007


This is a website devoted to posts and discussions regarding literature, rhetoric, and activities in Mr. Walsh's two tenth grade honors courses.

To comment, you need to establish a Google Account, which will allow you to participate and to create your own blog. You will be creating your own blog for independent reading later in the year.

Expectations: You will be expected to check and respond to comments regularly. You must comment at least once a week. I will guide the comments with a question; after that, you are free to comment on one another and are expected to read and respond to each other. Trust me I can tell.

Three Solid Rules:

1. Compose your comments in Word and paste in when you are complete. If the internet crashes while you are composing, you will lose all your work.

2. Sarcasm is basically impossible to pull off in this forum. Keep all dialogue professional, courteous, and appropriate. This is a virtual classroom and once you post your comments, there is a record of them. This is the reality of the world you live in and you may as well learn how to perform in it.

3. Never post your last name. (You do not want a literary stalker.) This site is publicly viewable. Simply write your first name, last initial and period number.

Once you have established your blogger account. Please comment about your summer reading book. Your comment should be a lengthy paragraph, discussing likes/dislikes, themes, characters, and not a mere summary. This is a trial run, but also a great way to share your thoughts.

Your first entry, which is due by Tuesday, is on the above post from Jamaica Kincaid. If you have a problem with posting or the link, email me immediately.