Thursday, December 8, 2011

Montgomery Bus Boycott

"My feets is weary, but my soul is rested."
The Montgomery Bus Boycott officially started on December 1, 1955. That was the day when the blacks of Montgomery, Alabama, decided that they would boycott the city buses until they could sit anywhere they wanted, instead of being relegated to the back when a white boarded. It was not, however, the day that the movement to desegregate the buses started. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 1943 when a black seamstress named Rosa Parks paid her bus fare and then watched the bus drive off as she tried to re-enter through the rear door, as the driver had told her to do. Perhaps the movement started on the day in 1949 when a black professor Jo Ann Robinson absentmindedly sat at the front of a nearly empty bus, then ran off in tears when the bus driver screamed at her for doing so. Perhaps the movement started on the day in the early 1950s when a black pastor named Vernon Johns tried to get other blacks to leave a bus in protest after he was forced to give up his seat to a white man, only to have them tell him, "You ought to knowed better." [2] The story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is often told as a simple, happy tale of the "little people" triumphing over the seemingly insurmountable forces of evil. The truth is a little less romantic and a little more complex.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

SWEET POTATO PIE by Eugenia Collier

Sweet Potato Pie by Eugenia Collier

When the Civil War ended, many owners of large Southern plantation split their land up into small plots and set up sharecropping arrangements with former slaves and poor whites. The sharecroppers farmed the land, turning over a share of the crop to the landowners. In return, the landowners gave them seed, tools, and a place to live. Most sharecroppers worked very hard but lived in great poverty, subject to the whim of landowners, weather, and insect blights.

In this selection, Eugenia Collier gives readers a glimpse of what life was like for a family of sharecroppers.

Sweet Potato Pie Resources

Harlem: A History in Pictures

To the narrator, visiting the Harlem area of New York City is like returning "to some mythic ancestral home." This Web site provides a glimpse into the history and importance of Harlem. After reading the information, record in the Web Links Activity Log some of the reasons why Harlem is considered by many to be the cultural and political center of the African American world.

Cooking African American Style

African American food, especially sweet potato pie, plays a central role in Eugenia Collier's story. Visit this site to learn more about the origins of African American cooking. Be sure to click on the Desserts link at the bottom of the page and try out the recipe for sweet potato pie.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

English 10B ACT/SAT Vocabulary Preparation: Unit One

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2008 Period 4,
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2008 Period 1

1.1 ALOOF (uh LOOF) distant, reserved in manner, uninvolved.Memory Link: ROOF--the aloof cat on the roof

Most everyone though Theodore ALOOF when actually he was only very shy.

Nothing ruins a fine dinner at a good restaurant like an ALOOF waiter who makes the entire experience uncomfortable.

At the wedding reception, the bride's relatives were very ALOOF, hardly speaking to the groom's guests and family.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2008 Period 4,
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2008 Period 1
1.2 AUSTERE (aw STEER) stern, as in manner; without excess, unadorned, severely simple and plain.
Memory Link: STEER--a plainly dressed steer at a fancy party

Jill's father was AUSTERE, rarely smiled and was always stern with her about having dates with boys that he didn't know.

The AUSTERITY of life in the village was understandable. Many were jobless and evidence of poverty was everywhere.

Her home was AUSTERELY decorated, very plain furniture without frills and only items that were necessary.


1.3 BULWARK (BULL wurk) a defensive wall; something literal or figurative serving as a principal defense.
Memory Link: BULL WORK--bulls working to build a wall

Quebec City is the only city in North America with a BULWARK built entirely around it.

The budget for national defense is an economic burden for all taxpayers, but we must never forget our armed services are the BULWARK of defense for the nation.

Our mother was a BULWARK against bad times; no matter how bad things became, she always wore a smile and had a cheerful word.

1.4 CACOPHONY (kuh KAFH uh nee) harsh sounds.
Memory Link: COUGH--a bunch of smokers hacking and coughing in a smoking lounge
A CACOPHONY isn't noise alone, it is disturbing noise such as when people shout all at once.

Gene thinks all rock music is a CACOPHONY to be avoided whenever possible.

An unpleasant CACOPHONY of sound was produced when the orchestra tuned their instruments. But once they began to play together the sounds became euphonious.

1.5 CEREBRAL (suh REE brul) of or relating to the brain; an intellectual person
Memory Link: CEREAL--a skinny little boy eating his Cheerios to be a smart guy like his dad

CEREBRAL for a football player, the wily Kansas quaterback rarely called a play that wasn't well planned and thought out.

Dr. Clark was too CEREBRAL to be a boy scout leader. Instead of saying "pitch your tents overy by the cliff," he would confuse everyone with his big words and say, "construct the canvas shelters in the proxity of the promonotory."

1.6 CONNOISSEUR (kahn uh SUR) an expert, particularly in matters of art and taste
Memory Link: KING OF THE SEWER--the rat, king of the sewer, examining all the great garbage to eat
My uncle is a CONNOISSEUR of fine wines.

Art dealer, Jorge Guizar, is a CONNOISSEUR of Mexican art of the 19th century.

When it came to coins, Jerry proclaimed he was a CONNOISSEUR, because he had collected them all his life.

1.7 FORBEAR (for BAYR) to refrain from; to abstain; to be patient or tolerant
Memory Link: FOUR BEARS--forbear from feeding the four begging bears at Jellystone Park
To FORBEAR your opinion on any controversial matter until you have first heard all of the facts is generally the wisest course of action.

Jonathan said his motto was to never FORBEAR a good party for another time when you can have one today.

Henry FORBORE his decision to close the store, deciding to wait until after the Christmas season.

1.8 INCONGRUOUS (in KAHN grew us) not appropriate, unsuited to the surroundings; not fitting in
Memory Link: IN CONGRESS--the Alaskan senator wearing a fur cap, a jacket with fringe, knee high boots and a a bowie knife around his well dressed colleagues

Ed appeared INCONGRUOUS wearing his tuxedo to on an old-fashioned hayride.

The INCONGRUITY with Joseph's chosen career was that he had a Ph.D in chemistry, but preferred to work as a mullet fisherman.

INCONGRUOUSLY, Dianne speant several days a week at the library, even though she professed that she didn't like to read.

1.9 LAMENT (la MINT) to express sorrow or regret; to mourn
Memory Link: CEMENT--mobsters mourning the burying of a friend in cement shoes

The song, "Cowboy's LAMENT," is a ballad about the lonely life of those who drive cattle for a living.

The nation LAMENTS the passing of the President while at the same time celebrating his achievements while in office.

It is LAMENTABLE that Roscoe quit college in his sophomore year; his professors considered hime the brightest engineering student in his class.

1.10 LANGUISH (lang GWISH) to become weak or feeble: sag with loss of strength.
Memory Link: LAND FISH--a fish walking in the desert

An outdoorsman all his life, Mr. Franklin quickly LANGUISHED in his job as a night watchman.

It was so hot in the theatre, Charolotte soon began to LANGUISH.

(To LANGUISH is to be LANGUID) The fish in the aquarium hardly stirred, moving LANGUIDLY when they moved at all.

1.11 ORATOR:
Memory Link:

Please write three sentences using the following derivatives of the words: ORATE, ORATION, ORATOR

Idea & Content Writing Excercise

Special thanks to for this material.

Rewrite a nursery rhyme (Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill, etc.) from a character's point of view.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

Write a 26-line poem using all the letters of the alphabet, where the first line starts with the letter "A," the second "B," the third "C," etc., culminating with the final line starting with "Z."
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine's Day—the one whom you often call "The One That Got Away." What happens?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

What was the first CD (or record or cassette) you ever purchased? Write about the way that particular album made you feel then. Write about how it makes you feel now.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You were recently laid off. Instead of moping around, you've viewed it as a chance to start fresh. Pick a new career and write about your first day on the job.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

What's your number one pet peeve? Develop a punishment for anyone caught in the act.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

Take a character from one of your stories and examine his or her ipod playlist. What 10 songs best describe the character?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You're at a U2 concert when you receive a text from a friend that says, "You'll never believe what just happened to me!" In the form of a text chat, find out what happened to your friend.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

What's the worst present you've ever received? How did you react and what, ultimately, did you do with the gift?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

A man buys a parrot, and is horrified when he discovers the only thing it can say is, “If you ever tell anyone what you saw, I’ll kill you.” (submitted by Khara House)
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You've been hired by a bumper sticker manufacturer to come up with ideas. Write a clever or witty phrase you'd love to see on a bumper sticker. (If you want, write several.)
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You head to the mall for some holiday shopping and, just as you're about to park, someone steals your parking spot. Do you do something for revenge or do you stay in the holiday spirit and not let it bother you—and let karma do the dirty work?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

If you had to choose between yesterday and tomorrow, which would you pick and why?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You're cleaning out your garage and, hidden away in a back corner, you find an old shoebox. The box is heavier than it should be. When you open it up, you find cash—$40,000, to be exact. Where did the cash come from, who hid it there and why?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You're walking through a cemetery and you pass the grave of a World War II veteran. Write a scene from his life story.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

You're taking a business trip and, as luck would have it, you're upgraded to first class—something you've never done before. As you sit down in your new, more comfortable chair, you notice that the person sitting next to you is a famous musician. Write this scene.
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

Thinking back to your childhood and the many Halloween costumes you wore, which costume was your favorite and why?
You can post your response (500 words or fewer) here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guided Practice: Supporting a Literary Analysis Theme in HARRISON BERGERON

Harrison Bergeron Themes

The following are acceptable themes that Vonnegut pursues in his short story, HARRISON BERGERON.  Do your best to find FIVE explainers, pieces of dialogue, literature to support this as a valid LITERARY ANALYSIS.


As a theme, freedom remains in the background of the story, emerging when Harrison escapes from jail. In the story's futuristic society, freedom is no longer a bedrock American value; enforcing the law that makes those who are "above normal'' equal to those who are "normal" has become the major social value. Forced equality by handicapping the above-normal individuals evolved as a response to the demonized concept of competition (which existed in ‘‘the dark ages’’) in all its possible forms. Vonnegut suggests that freedom can be taken away relatively easily, especially since the forced equality in the story has been authorized by Amendments to the Constitution.

Civil Rights
Civil rights have become extinct in "Harrison Bergeron.’’ The culture values mediocrity to the point that the people accept oppressive measures in the name of equality. Ironically, no one really benefits from these misguided attempts to enforce equality, except perhaps the incompetent, such as the television announcer who, "like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment.’’ In Hazel's words, the announcer's incompetence should be forgiven because his attempt is "the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.’’ Should anyone in that society dare to become above average, he or she is immediately punished, as is Harrison, who is executed for shunning mediocrity and attempting to excel. By creating a society where the goal of equality has resulted in a grotesque caricature of humanity, Vonnegut implies that individual civil rights should never be sacrificed, not even for the alleged common good.

Knowledge and Ignorance
Everyone above average in any way has been forced by the government to bear a physical handicap that makes him or her "normal." People who are more intelligent or knowledgeable than the average person have had their knowledge subverted by such devices as the mental handicap ear radio. This device emits various noises every twenty seconds or so to prevent people from taking "unfair advantage of their brains." "Normal" in the story can best be described as subnormal, incompetent, and ignorant. Hazel is a case in point; as a normal person, she wears no handicaps, and she has a good heart, yet she knows very little about anything and cannot remember what she just saw or heard a moment ago. At the end of the story, she takes literally George's intensifying statement, ‘‘You can say that again,’’ by repeating what she just said. Vonnegut suggests that an authoritarian government thrives on the ignorance of the people and on the suppression of intelligence and knowledge.

Law and Order
In addition to the critique of authoritarian government in the form of the Handicapper General agents (H-G men), Vonnegut discusses the ways in which the Handicapper General uses the fear of competition to make obeying the laws an ethical decision. Hazel feels sorry for George, who has to wear forty-seven pounds of birdshot around his neck, so she invites him to lighten his load. He rejects the idea of cheating (breaking the law) with a recital of the punishment: "two years in prison and two thousand dollars for every [lead birdshot] ball'' taken out. He continues by describing the bandwagon effect: other people would try to break the law if George could do so. He asserts that backsliding would result in a return ‘‘to the dark ages, with everybody competing against everybody else.’’ Cheating on laws, George claims (or is about to claim when a siren blast through his mental handicap radio shatters his concentration), would reduce society to chaos. Here, Vonnegut satirizes the fear of change and of uncertainty: victims of the oppressive law want to enforce it rather than take their chances without it.

Strength and Weakness
One of the implied reasons Harrison may want to overthrow the government has to do with strength and weakness. He recognizes the inequality of forcing strong people (those mentally, intellectually, and physically strong) to give up their strength for an orderly society of equal, law-abiding citizens. Of course, the enforcers of the law do not have to submit to forced equality themselves; they have no handicaps, which could signify their inherent mediocrity, as does the implied physical resemblance of Hazel to Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General herself. Vonnegut shows what extraordinary strength can do: defy the laws of gravity and motion. But Vonnegut also shows that strength can be used to oppress the weak, even in the name of protecting the weak against the excesses of the strong.

Ubermensch (‘‘Superman’’)
The idea of the superhuman materializes in the character of Harrison. Though only fourteen-years-old, at seven feet tall with a high intellect, he exceeds the physical and intellectual abilities of anyone else in the story. Likewise, his physical appearance, judged by the kinds of handicaps he must wear, suggests an Adonis-like figure. His handicaps include thick, wavy-lens spectacles; a red rubber clown nose; and snaggle-tooth black caps for his teeth. His natural abilities do not make him immortal, however; like other human beings, he can die from an antiquated weapon like the ten-gauge double-barreled shotgun of Diana Moon Glampers. Harrison's attempt to assert his authority neither lasts long nor has any real effect on anyone. Truly befitting the superman concept, he declares himself emperor, "a greater ruler than any man who ever lived’’ (even with his handicaps). He does not recognize, however, his human flaw: replacing one authoritarian government with another. Like so many other revolutions, Harrison's short-lived attempt to overthrow the ruthless totalitarianism that has become the American government becomes totalitarian itself. Vonnegut suggests that power, whether invested in the government or in the individual figure, corrupts.

American Dream
The American Dream, best described as upward social and economic class mobility through hard work and education has become an American Nightmare in "Harrison Bergeron.'' No one, except the Handicapper General agents, can achieve upward mobility, either because they bear artificial handicaps or because they are naturally mediocre. In a scheme that brings anyone who is above normal in any aspect down to the level of a person who is normal in all aspects, no one can dream about moving upward.

Media Influence
Vonnegut suggests the powerful influence of broadcast media in the story. Radio is the medium of the mental handicap noises used to prevent anyone with the ability to think from doing so. But television accomplishes the same thing for normal people like Hazel, who ‘‘had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts.’’ This lack of concentration has come to be known as short attention span, or attention deficit disorder. Many critics credit television for the decreasing attention span of the population. They also suggest television programming desensitizes people to real life, in part because it requires nothing of the viewer. Significantly, approximately five months before publication of the story in 1961, Newton Minow, new chair of the Federal Communications Commission (a government agency that regulates broadcast media), called television a "vast wasteland'' of mediocrity in programming. Vonnegut suggests the importance of television as a means of controlling information by having Harrison Bergeron take over the television studio and proclaim himself emperor. Vonnegut also shows the numbing influence of television by having Hazel forget what she has seen—her son's killing—even though she reacts by recognizing that something sad has happened.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sample Literary Analyis for Independent Novel

Alyssa Ensminger
Mr. McLaughlin
Literary Analysis
11 September 1998
Deep Desires that Transcend Time

      William Butler Yeats wrote two poems which are together known as the Byzantium series. The first is "Sailing to Byzantium," and its sequel is simply named "Byzantium." The former is considered the easier of the two to understand. It contains multiple meanings and emotions, and the poet uses various literary devices to communicate them. Two of the most dominant themes of this poem are the desire for escape from the hardships of this world and the quest for immortality. These are circumstances of the poet's life that influenced the composition of the poem. Those personal experiences and Yeats's skillful use of words come together to emphasize the need, or at least desire, that many people have for escape and immortality.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011