Friday, October 30, 2015

Reading Period 7: October 31 - November 6: A Little Princess

Class meeting: November 6
Due date: November 5, 7pm

Long read:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, chapters 1-7

Short read:

"The Open Window" by Saki (H.H. Munro)


"The Rainbow" by William Wordsworth

Creative Assignment:

Sara thinks of writing a poem called "The Last Doll" but she doesn't do it. So YOU write a poem called "The Last Doll." You can write it in Sara's voice, as you imagine she might have written it, or you can write it as you would write it yourself, if you feel you are reaching a point in your life where you're too old for dolls. It might be interesting to write the poem as Sara might have felt at the end of chapter 7.


The diamond mines are never shown to us in the novel. It's questionable whether they were real or whether they were just a fantasy among men hungry for wealth. Create a picture of what you imagine these fantasy diamond mines would look like. You can do this in any way you want, including using screenshots from a scene you create in Minecraft!

Writing Assignment:

Read this quote from the book:
"Things happen to people by accident," she used to say. "A lot of nice accidents have happened to me. It just HAPPENED that I always liked lessons and books, and could remember things when I learned them. It just happened that I was born with a father who was beautiful and nice and clever, and could give me everything I liked. Perhaps I have not really a good temper at all, but if you have everything you want and everyone is kind to you, how can you help but be good-tempered? I don't know"—looking quite serious—"how I shall ever find out whether I am really a nice child or a horrid one. Perhaps I'm a HIDEOUS child, and no one will ever know, just because I never have any trials."
"Lavinia has no trials," said Ermengarde, stolidly, "and she is horrid enough."
Do you agree with Sara or Ermengarde? Are people's characters developed by the things that have happened to them, or by some inner identity that would be the same regardless of circumstances? Often people's bad behavior is explained or forgiven because they have had a terrible life or a difficult childhood. Is it fair that some children are born into such wealth and ease, as Sara is, and some have trouble getting enough to eat or finding a place to sleep?


Sara says she has "scattered largess" to the populace just like a real princess after she feeds Becky and tells her a story. What is scattering largess? Can you figure it out from the context? You migth also want to look it up. Think about things that you might do to "scatter largess." Maybe you are already doing some things like this -- if so list them, and add a few more things you can think of to be more "royal" in this respect, in your daily life.

Quiz: Find the Evidence

This quiz is all about finding evidence in the story to support an idea. I will give you an idea about the story or characters, and you'll find me a line from the book that supports that idea, and quote the line.

1. Sara Crewe is very young.
2. Sara's father loves her very much.
3. Sara has a kind heart.
4. Sara has a strong imagination.
5. Becky has a miserable life.
6. Becky and Sara are similar.
7. Sara has a temper.
8. Miss Minchin does not think of Becky as a person.
9. Lavinia and Jessie began to make fun of Becky when she was still rich.
10. Sara takes the news of her father calmly.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Reading Period 6: October 10 - 30: The Once and Future King

Class meeting: October 30
Due date: October 29, 7pm

Long read:

The Once and Future King, Books 2-4
The Queen of Air and Darkness
The Ill-Made Knight
The Candle in the Wind


"The Passing of Arthur" from Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

You might also want to look over "The Lady of Shalott" which we read in class last week, from the same book by the same author.

Creative Assignment:

The poem we read in class, "The Lady of Shalott," is one of the most often illustrated poems around! Create your own illustration of this poem. If you want, you can model it on an existing painting, like this famous one by John William Waterhouse:

Or you can go to this web site to see a huge list of a number of different illustrations of different parts of the poem -- the lady in her tower, in her boat, etc. Use whatever medium you like, but please use unlined paper and some kind of color in your work.


Create an internet personality quiz based on the The Once and Future King. You may have seen quizzes like this around Facebook -- like this one: "Which Harry Potter Character Are You?" To keep it simple, choose four characters to be your results. Then write some questions with multiple choice answers, associating each of the answers with one of your results. Try not to make it obvious which character each answer is connected to, so your quiz-taker has suspense about his or her results! If you want to, you can use an online quizmaker to bring your quiz to life! Or you can just post it in the Google+ community and let us enjoy taking it there. (This assignment was Sadie's idea!)

Writing Assignment:

In the early part of Arthur's reign, there are a lot of wars and chaos as other rulers challenge his position on the throne, and also battle each other. Arthur says that Merlyn is helping him win battles, even though battles are wrong, so that he can put the world to rights. What does he see that's wrong in the world, and how can he fix it? The discussion of this point can be found in Book 2 chapters 2, 3, 4, and 6. Include in your discussion the idea that "might makes right" and present Arthur's alternate solution to resolving conflict. If you like, you can give your opinion too. Do you think that might makes right? Do you think battles are a solution? Write at least 100 words.


The character of Arthur changes significantly from the beginning of The Once and Future King to the end. He goes from a carefree boy with hopes for the future to a tired old king, looking at the passing of his kingdom. Even if you haven't finished the novel, take some time to read the very last chapter of the whole book: Book 4, chapter 14. Would you say that the story of King Arthur was a sad story or a glad story? Is it a story of triumph or failure? This is one of the most important and widespread myths in Western Civilization. Do you feel, in the end, that King Arthur's round table was a failed experiment or a grand example? Ultimately, is this story a tragedy? Write at least 100 words giving your opinion.


Choose ten of these characters from the Arthurian legend that T.H. White interprets in the three sections of the book you read for this week. For each character, give a short description of their role in the book, the part they play in the story. Number your quiz from one to ten. If you haven't read enough of the novel to find ten of these, you can look them up.

King Lot of Orkney

Friday, October 2, 2015

Reading Period 5: October 3 - 9: The Once and Future King

Coronation of King Arthur, from "Flores Historiarum,"
by Matthew Paris, c.1250-52.
Class meeting: October 9
Due date for assignments and quiz: October 8, 7pm

Long read:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Book One "The Sword in the Stone" chapters 13-24.


"I Syng of a Mayden", 15th Century Anonymous

This was one of the songs sung at Sir Ector's castle on Christmas night. Here it is in middle English and modern English:

Middle English

I syng of a mayden
That is makeles,
king of alle kinges
to here sone che chees.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dew in Aprylle,
That fallyt on the gras.

He cam also stille
To his modres bowr
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the flowr.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder lay
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the spray.

Moder & mayden
Was nevere noon but she:
Well may swich a lady
Godes moder be.

Modern English:

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother’s bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never, ever one but she;
Well may such a lady
God’s mother be.

Here are two different musical interpretations of this song:

Creative Assignment:

The geese have a lot of wonderful songs for singing in different situations. Write a new song, for any bird you like: pigeons, geese, owls, hawks, etc. You don't have to include music, but you could! Try to imagine what your chosen bird would sing about. For example, a woodpecker might sing to the delicious bugs hiding in a tree.


Illustrate the climactic scene in chapter 23 when Wart pulls the sword from the stone. Include as many details as you can, from the real scene and from Wart's imagination. I would love to see some of the advisors in your picture, the animals who help Wart with the task of pulling it out. Please use unlined paper so we can clearly see your work.

The Grey People
Writing Assignment:

Our story is set after the Norman Conquest of England. The nobility like Sir Ector and Uther Pendragon are Normans, while the regular people are Saxons. Read about the Norman Conquest here, then write a short essay (100 words) containing the following facts: When did it happen? Where were the Normans from? Who was their leader? Who was the leader of England? What was the battle that launched the invasion?


When Wart is sighing over his low station in life, Merlin said, "Only fools want to be great." In this case, "great" doesn't mean "extra good" but instead means "important" or "famous" or "powerful." Merlin seems to be saying that being an important powerful person like a knight or a king is not necessarily a good goal. What can this possibly mean? Doesn't everyone want to be famous? Write 100 words giving your opinion.


The quiz is over The Once and Future King, Book 1, chapters 13-24. The numbers reflect the chapters in which the questions can be found.

13. What are the only two adjectives in ant language?
14. In the letter from the king, what does Uther Pendragon say that Sir Ector must do?
15. At the feast, what do we learn about King Pellinore and Sir Grummore?
16. What has happened to the questing beast?
17. According to Merlin, where does the language of birds come from?
18. What object does Wart eat to transform into an owl?
19. What do the geese do while they are flying, to express themselves and pass the time?
20. What does Wart say he would pray for if he were to make a knightly vigil?
21. What are the two things the badger can teach Wart?
22. When King Pellinore says that Uther Pendragon had no heir, what does he mean?
23. What lie does Kay tell after Wart gives him the sword from the stone?
24. What secrets does Merlin reveal at last about Wart's birth?

BONUS: What is the thing that only ants and humans do?