Friday, November 20, 2015

Reading Period 10: November 21 - December 4: A Christmas Carol

Class meeting: December 4
Due date: December 3, 7pm

Long read:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Staves 1 and 2.

Short read:

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry.

Poem:

"The Child is Father To the Man" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
"Christmas in the Workhouse" by George R. Sims

If you've been doing NaNoWriMo all through November, your vacation from creative and writing assignments is officially over! Congratulations on writing 5000 words of a novel! Now get back to work! 

Creative Assignment:

Draw two pictures: one of Marley's ghost and one of the ghost of Christmas past. Use specific details from the story to inform your drawings. Next week there will be an assignment to draw the ghosts of Christmas present and Christmas yet to come, so if you're interested in those, choose a medium that you can sustain to make four really good portraits.

OR

Our poem today is an argument that Gerard Manley Hopkins, a British poet, is having with William Wordsworth, the British poet who wrote "My Heart Leaps Up." He doesn't understand one of Wordsworth's lines, or else he has a big problem with it, philosophically. Write a dialogue between these two poets. They never met in life -- in fact Hopkins was only six when Wordsworth died. In the spirit of our Dickens story, pretend the ghost of Wordsworth visits Hopkins and has a conversation with him. What would they say to each other? Why do you think Hopkins had such a hard time with Wordsworth's line "The Child is Father To the Man"?

Writing Assignment:

Ebenezer Scrooge suggests that as long as there are workhouses for the poor to live in, he doesn't need to give to charity. But what are workhouses? We don't have them today. Learn about the Victorian workhouses by visiting these pages: Workhouse food, Workhouse rules and punishment, Workhouse labor. Write an essay of at least 100 words about workhouses -- what are they, who goes there, and what happens there?

OR

Read the poem, "Christmas in the Workhouse" by George R. Sims. Sims was a journalist who wanted to expose and protest the awful conditions in workhouses, so this poem is meant to be a protest poem. Write 100 words summarizing the story the poem tells, and explaining why the man in the poem doesn't want to eat the Christmas pudding that's been provided for him by the rich visitors.

Quiz:

This quiz is about finding evidence in the text to support an idea.

1. In Stave One, the story opens by telling us about the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Find two specific physical details the author gives us about Scrooge to establish that he is a nasty, bitter person.
2. Find two specific lines of description that support the idea that the weather was cold and gloomy.
3. Find two specific lines of dialogue that show Scrooge does not like Christmas.

4. In Stave Two, Scrooge sees himself in his old school, the only child left there at Christmas. Find a line that gives evidence Scrooge once had a boyish imagination.
5. Find a specific line of dialogue that shows the reader Scrooge is reconsidering his behavior in his current life, after looking at scenes from the past.
6. Find a line in the scene where Scrooge sees himself talking with his fiance that shows he had already begun to turn into a money-loving miser, even in the past.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Reading Period 9: November 14 - 20: A Little Princess

Class meeting: November 20
Due date: November 19, 7pm

Long read:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, chapters 15-19

Short read:

"Rikki Tikki Tavi" by Rudyard Kipling
Make sure you read this! We're going to act it out in class.

Poem: 

"First Fig"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

Creative Assignment:

Read this article about diamond mining. Take another stab at creating an open pit diamond mine in Minecraft, as realistic as you can make it. Use dynamite to create your crater.

OR

Create a video in which you recite "My Heart Leaps Up" by William Wordsworth and "Dreams" by Langston Hughes and "First Fig" by Edna St. Vincent Millay. You may want to use the same strategy to memorize "First Fig" that we used to memorize the first two poems. After you've made your video, post it! You must be looking right at the camera during the video -- we'll know if you're sneaking peeks at the words!

Writing Assignment:

Let's practice the art of summarizing! When your words are limited, you have to choose carefully what to include and what to leave out of a shortened version of a story. You may have to leave out dialogue, but if you leave out too much sensory detail, you lose the idea of the story. Experiment with one of the options below.

Write a 200 word summary of the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi. Try to include all the salient points of the story in your summary while keeping it short. What must you include, and what can you leave out? How short can you make your introduction? You must not go over 200 words.

OR

Write a 200 word summary of the episode where Sara finds the fourpence and buys the buns, which we practiced summarizing in class. Try to make it exactly 200 words! What details must you include, to commmunicate the meaning of the episode, and what can you leave out?

Quiz:

1. What makes the inconquerable Sara cry?
2. Who tattled on the girls in the attic to Miss Minchin?
3. How does Sara know she is not dreaming after the Magic transforms the attic?
4. What was Sara's punishment supposed to be after her interrupted feast with Ermengarde?
5. How does Sara send a communication to the person who is sending the gifts?
6. Why is Mr. Carrisford disappointed with Mr. Carmichael's report?
7. Why does Sara come to the house of the Indian gentleman?
8. What does Miss Minchin want when she hears Sara's fortune is restored?
9. Who calls Miss Minchin a "hard, selfish, worldly woman"?
10. What happened to Becky and the beggar child outside the bakery?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Reading Period 8: November 7 - 13: A Little Princess

Class meeting: November 13
Due date: November 12, 7pm

Long read: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, chapters 8-14

Short read: "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes

Poem: "Dreams" by Langston Hughes

Creative Assignment:

Draw/paint/color/create a picture of Melchisedec's family behind the wall, as Sara might imagine them. Do you think she would imagine them in stark circumstances, like her attic room, or in luxury, like she used to enjoy? Include some significant details in your drawing so that we can tell exactly what kind of like Sara pictures the rats experience. It's okay to dress them in human clothes and give them furniture and whatnot -- after all, this is the world of the imagination!

OR

Click through this slideshow of images from India. Make sure you read the descriptions of each picture. If you want to see more pictures, try this video. Imagine you are Ram Dass, the Indian manservant that lives in the next house to Sara. When Sara observes him watching the sunset, she imagines he is thinking of his home in India. Write a poem from his point of view about how much he misses his home, and what colors, sounds, sights, and feelings he is missing.

Writing Assignment:

Write a short essay comparing and contrasting Sara's life before and after the news comes about her father's death and her poverty. Remember that comparing means telling about the things that are the same, and contrasting means telling about the things that are different, so you need to do both things in your essay. You'll want to talk about external things (like her room, her food, her activities) and internal things (like her attitude, her mind, her voice).

OR

Sara pretends she is a prisoner in the Bastille. Learn about the Bastille on the internet, and write a short essay telling about what it is. You can start with this article which is very short and this Wikipedia entry which is very long. If you're interested in the terrible conditions Sara describes the prisoners enduring, you may be disappointed, as it seems that our Sara has been a victim of prison reform propaganda. Try this out for an explanation. Note for Googlers: I'm talking about the prison, not the band!

Quiz:

In this quiz you'll once again be finding evidence in the text to support an idea. Please provide a quotation from the novel that proves each of the statements below.

1. Sara still has an active imagination, even after her troubles begin.
2. Sara is able to identify positive things about her attic room.
3. It bothers Sara to accept charity.
4. Sara makes Ram Dass happy.
5. Mr. Carmichael is looking for Sara Crewe.
6. Sara's pretends don't always help.
7. It was hard for Sara to give away the buns.
8. Sara inspires goodness in other people.
9. Ram Dass knows a lot about Sara.
10. Ram Dass had already started in on his plan, before bringing the secretary to the attic.