Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012


"The Kindness Song" by Peter Ryan

AHMIR - "Perfect" (Cover of Pink's Song)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today, We Remember...9/11.

It is so very important that we remember today and honor the memory of the many victims that died during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


WE wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


Langston Hughes wrote "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" while on a train ride to Mexico, where he would live with his father for one year. He had just graduated from high school in Cleveland, Ohio, making him a mere eighteen years old. The poem was published in Crisis Magazine (the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1921, a year later. When his train crossed the Mississippi River, Hughes was inspired by its beauty and was also reminded of its role in sustaining slavery in America. The sun was setting, and Hughes had a long journey ahead of him. He took out a letter his father had written him and wrote this poem on the back of its pages.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is one of Hughes’s most famous works, as it celebrated the voice and the soul of the black community in a time of great racial intolerance, injustice, and inequality in America. Hughes helped to inspire and unite the black community when their voice was not appreciated by a predominantly white society, and as a result, he became the unofficial poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was a movement during the 1920s and 1930s in America in which black artists, activists, writers, musicians, and performers found new ways to explore and celebrate the black experience. While the movement’s epicenter was in Harlem, New York, cities all across the country became hubs of the renaissance.
A few years after its publication, Hughes chose to dedicate "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" to W.E.B. DuBois, one of the most brilliant scholars, educators, civil rights activists, writers, and thinkers of all time. DuBois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP), and Crisis Magazine. He fought tirelessly for racial equality in America, and Hughes followed in his footsteps.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" connects the soul and heritage of the African-American community to four great rivers in the Middle East, Africa, and America. In this way, the poem charts the journey of African and African-Americans and links this community to the birth of civilization. The speaker tells the tale of freedom and enslavement that his people have endured, and it heralds their wisdom and strength.

Why Should I Care?

You don’t need a reason to care about this poem – we know you already do. By virtue of being a human being with hopes, dreams, and a history, you care about this poem. By virtue of being a citizen of the world, a member of a community, you know the ideas in this poem very well. More than likely, it speaks to you.
Whenever we read this poem, we can’t help but feel really, really lucky. We get to hear the voice of the future poet laureate – the king – of the Harlem Renaissance movement in America. We say "future," because (remember) Hughes is only eighteen years old when he writes this poem. We get to hear the thoughts and ideas of this recent high school graduate who has already lived in Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, who is on his way to live in Mexico, and who will in the next two years travel the world, visiting places like France, Holland, Haiti, and West Africa. Shmoopster, he’s just like us.
He’s looking out the window of his train, unsure of what the future holds (and what it will be like to live with a father he hasn’t seen in a long time), and trying to make sense of life. He notices the land and the monuments that define his country. He’s gazing at the Mississippi River that slices through ten states, thinking about the role it played during the time of slavery. He’s reflecting on who he is, on his family history, on who he might be one day. He is aware of and has encountered injustice, and he’s wrestled with some serious obstacles in his life. He has a gift, a skill, a serious passion for poetry and for writing poems. Like the Euphrates River of this poem that is bathed in the light of young dawns, we see a young man (a teenager) perched on the brink of becoming one of the greatest poets of all time. In this poem, we get a tour of a teenager’s mind and a great poet’s visions.

DIRECTIONS: Write your own poem in which you use the river metaphor to tell your life story OR the story of your people/heritage.

Here's a great song that also uses the metaphor of a river!  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

EXPOSITORY - Quote/Adage Essay (DUE 4/20)

(DUE FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012)

DIRECTIONS: Write quote/adage essay by responding to the quote provided.
A quote/adage essay is categorized as expository writing, so you will use the same format as you would with an expository essay. The paragraphs in your quote/adage essay should include...
1. introduction - what is your thesis/opinion about the quote?
2. analysis - what does it mean?
3. text/world connection - how does this quote relate to another quote or the world?
4. personal connection - how does this quote apply to your life or experiences?
5. conclusion - restate your thesis/opinion about the quote in a new or interesting way.

"To imagine is everything... to know is nothing at all."

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS to consider while writing your Quote/Adage Essay:
  • What is imagination? Where does it come from? What does it do?
  • What is knowledge? Where does it come from? How is it used?
  • Are imagination and knowledge related?
  • Do you agree with the author? Disagree? Why?
  • What is the author trying to communicate to the world (theme)?

Watch this video on IMAGINATION from Jason Silva on Vimeo for inspiration!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


by Maria Popova

“Never write more than two pages on any subject.”

How is your new year’s resolution to read more and write better holding up? After tracing the fascinating story of the most influential writing style guide of all time and absorbing advice on writing from some of modern history’s most legendary writers, here comes some priceless and pricelessly uncompromising wisdom from a very different kind of cultural legend: iconic businessman and original “Mad Man” David Ogilvy. On September 7th, 1982, Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write”:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious butthead.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


DIRECTIONS: Please watch the video and read the article posted.
I want you to think about how this Kony 2012 campaign relates to the Civil Rights Movement. Consider the following questions for conversation during Socratic Seminar:
  • What is the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Kony 2012 campaign?
  • Who were the primary supporters of the Civil Rights Movement?
  • Who are the primary supporters of the Kony 2012 campaign?
  • Does the government actively support the
  • What is a "civil right"?
  • What is a "human right"?
  • What is the difference between a "civil right" and a "human right"?
  • What injustice exists that needs to be corrected?
  • What steps are being taken to correct the situation?
  • Is it important to be actively involved in your community? Why?
  • Is it important to be actively involved in your state/country? Why?
  • Is it our responsibility to fix problems in other countries? Why?
  • Is change important? Why?
  • How does change occur?
  • Who is responsible for change?

"I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand." -Confucius


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I HAVE A DREAM by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



H A P P Y    L E A P    D A Y !
You will not experience another February 29th as a high school student.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


In 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously strikes down segregation in public schools, sparking the Civil Rights movement.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A Dog's Purpose

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who
make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love
the people who treat you right. Think good thoughts for the ones
who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down
is part of LIFE...Getting back up is LIVING...

H A V E   A  B A R K I N G O O D   L I F E !

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"DREAMS" by Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

1. Who is our speaker addressing? Audience? __________________________________

2. Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. What kind of dreams do you think our speaker is thinking about? ________________________________________________________


3. What does it mean to defer a dream? _______________________________________


4. How does one make their dream come true if obstacles stand in their way? __________


5. Are dreams worth dying for? _______________________________________________


6. How does this poem relate to the American Dream? ____________________________


7. What TEXT TO TEXT connections were you able to create? _____________________


8. What TEXT TO WORLD connections were you able to create? ___________________


9. What TEXT TO SELF connections were you able to create? _____________________


10. What is the overall theme of the poem? Message? _____________________________


F o r    i f    d r e a m s   d i e . . .

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Monday, February 13, 2012

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Lorraine Hansberry

Author of A Raisin in the Sun

 Born on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun and raised the money herself to stage it at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway, where it met with great success. The play went on to win the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the film version received a special award at the Cannes Festival. Hansberry died at 35, leaving behind a promising career.


Let's wish our 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, a very happy birthday!

Abraham Lincoln
(b. 2/12/1809 – d. 4/15/1865)
Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s greatest heroes because of his unique appeal. His is a remarkable story of the rise from humble beginnings to achieve the highest office in the land; then, a sudden and tragic death at a time when his country needed him most to complete the great task remaining before the nation. His distinctively human and humane personality and historical role as savior of the Union and emancipator of the slaves creates a legacy that endures. His eloquence of democracy, and his insistence that the Union was worth saving embody the ideals of self-government that all nations strive to achieve.

Friday, February 3, 2012


What is

DIRECTIONS: Research the topic of the American Dream using the IMC library resources and using Gdocs do the following...

Write a paragraph explaining what it means
  • How do you define the American Dream?
  • What does it mean to people? Americans? You?
  • How has it changed? Is it still real?

    Find a text (poem, song, film, etc.) that you believe communicates or promotes the concept of the American Dream and write a paragraph description of why you believe this.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012


If you would like to receive some EXTRA CREDIT for your awesome persuasive essays (recently completed for the benchmark assessment), then please post your Gdoc link to the work in the comment box. If you do not know what I am talking about, then it's probably best to come see me with questions. And remember, extra credit is only icing on the cake... the cake is what fills you up. Nice metaphor, huh?! Yeeeaaah... I knew you'd like that!

Friday, January 27, 2012

"College Readiness: How to Help Students Think Abstractly" by Ben Johnson

By Ben Johnson

 Ben Johnson served as an administrator in large and small schools, and at a charter school. He was the assistant superintendent of the Natalia Independent School District where he helped bring about major improvements in student learning.

A rolling stone, gathers no moss. Mick Jagger has moss? Don't cry over spilt milk. It's only milk, why cry? Too many cooks spoil the soup. I hate soup. Water under the bridge. Of course there is water under a bridge! A tiger's stripes do not change. Of course they don't! Birds of a feather, flock together. Yeah, those Grackles downtown are so annoying. There must be millions of them.
A college-ready student can think figuratively, or in other words associate abstract ideas with concrete examples. One of the best ways to help students think abstractly is to engage them in the ancient wisdom of metaphors and sayings. Initially, their reactions will be like the ones above, but with a little practice, students will be able to arrive at the real meaning of the sayings.
Thinking abstractly is useful in understanding the richness of literature, both classical and modern. Carol's Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Suess' Horton the Elephant, Milton's Paradise Lost would all be incomprehensible without the ability to think abstractly.
The reason that algebra, geometry, and general mathematics challenge students is that they require students to think abstractly. The bane of most students -- the word problems -- are all about taking something concrete and transforming the situation into abstract symbols and numbers. Most problem-solving techniques require students to step back (figuratively) from the problem at hand (it could be at foot) and state the problem in abstract terms.
In order to help my students thinking and using the Spanish language, I printed a dicho (saying) such as, "En boca cerrada no entra mosca!" (in a closed mouth, flies don't enter -- my favorite) on the board and asked them to decipher the Spanish and then the true meaning. Once we got passed the literal interpretations, then students were usually able to arrive at approximate meanings. Some dichos just stumped them: "Al hambriento, no hay pan duro." (to the hungry, there is no hard bread), or "En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo" (in the house of the blacksmith, a wooden knife). I found that the key was not to give the students the answers. I simply put on my Socrates robe and asked questions. These were very hard for my students, at first, but with practice, I had to ask fewer and fewer questions. The students began to see the deeper messages in the dichos and were able to transfer that skill to see deeper messages in Spanish humor and literature.
It was always illuminating and inspiring to watch as students caught the joke, or the meaning of a passage of literature. Students are often smarter than we give them credit for: El leon no es como lo pintan (the lion is not how it is painted).

How do you think abstractly?

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Why SOPA is a bad idea" Presented by Clay Shirky on (DUE 1/25)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume. (Recorded at the TED offices, January 2012, in New York. Duration: 13:59)

Congress is currently viewing a bill that could significantly change the internet.  As a result, Wikipedia and other major internet sites like Google staged formal protests against the potential bill on censoring the internet. 

DIRECTIONS: Watch the following video in order to be prepared for our Socratic Seminar this Wednesday (DUE 1/25/12)! Please leave a comment about this video to generate some discussion prior to our seminar.

Friday, January 20, 2012


No Name-Calling Week is celebrated by numerous schools around the country during the 4th week of January (JAN. 23-27).  The focus is to end name-calling of all kinds and encourage an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying.
In support of No Name Calling Week HOPE members would like to encourage every student and staff member to sign our banner supporting our theme of RESPECT.  Also, within the next few days you will notice posters hanging in our hallways supporting our anti-bullying efforts. 
We will briefly visit AM & PM career programs to encourage all students to sign their name in support of this effort.  We will also have HOPE members stop by academic classrooms & offices to get staff signatures.
Our banner will be displayed in building #4 as a reminder to show RESPECT toward others .
Thanking you in advance for your support!

The HOPE committee & Advisors: Ms. Whelan, Ms. Moffitt, Dr. Hourani, & Ms. Swider

Thursday, January 19, 2012

EXPOSITORY ESSAY! "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou (DUE 1/30)


DIRECTIONS: Submit the final drafts of your expository essays via Gdocs no earlier than 1/25 and no later than 1/30. Please copy the Gdocs hyperlink to your essay and post it to the comment box. If you have any questions, please make sure to ask prior to submission deadline.

H A P P Y   W R I T I N G !

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice."

-Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


FICTION NOTES! Make An Image Become A Symbol

"You want to think about the objects in your story, something concrete, some object you can see or touch or hold. Now you’ll work to add an emotional attachment to that object.

 One student wrote an essay about her high school basketball career, how that sport, that team, that basketball court was her life. On the night of her last game of her senior, she walked out of the locker room and her Dad threw her a basketball. She caught it and held it cupped in both hands, a brown globe, a world that had consumed her last four years.

 Suddenly that circular shape of the ball becomes a globe, a world that represents much more than just a pebbly brown ball that bounces. It held all her high school memories and it was a poignant moment."
-Darcy Pattison


"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." -Michael Jordan

Monday, January 16, 2012


Today, let us remember the man, his dream, and the reality of equality we enjoy everyday as Americans.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

POETRY OUT LOUD! "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou (DUE 1/11)

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.



Maya Angelou has had a varied career as a streetcar conductor in San Francisco, a dancer, editor for The Arab Observer, teacher, and actress. Born Marguerite Johnson in 1928, she gained fame with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, her 1970 autobiography which speaks courageously of her encounters with racism. One of the best-known writers in America, Angelou read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993.

DIRECTIONS: Read Maya Angelou's poem, "Caged Bird", and address the following open-ended questions. Please compose your responses using Gdocs and post your url/web address in the comment box.
  • What is the metaphor contained in the poem? (1 paragraph)
  • How does fate OR freewill factor into the poem? (1 paragraph)
  • What is the theme/message being communicated by the author? (1 paragraph)
 *MAKE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS: Text to Self; Text to World; Text to Text
*USE TEXT EVIDENCE: Information contained in the text that supports your response.
*ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS: Address each one of the questions with a paragraph.

Friday, January 6, 2012

TED - Dan Pink on the surprising science of MOTIVATION (DUE 1/6)

DIRECTIONS: Watch this video from TED and submit a brief response in the comment box about how Dan Pink's presentation relates to education.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

POETRY OUT LOUD! "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost (DUE 1/5)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost is considered the bard of New England. Casual readers sometimes overlook the depth of his poetry and its technical accomplishment. His apparently simple poems — collected in volumes from A Boy’s Will to In the Clearing — reveal a darker heart upon close reading, and his easy conversational style is propelled by an unfaltering meter and an assiduous sensitivity to the sounds of language.

DIRECTIONS: In Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken", he compares life to a road. Please read the poem again and consider what else you might compare life to. Using Gdocs, write an original poem in which you compare life to something that shares many of its qualities and characteristics. Once completed, post the web address/url to your document in the comment box.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Truth of Imagination: Metaphor's Universe of Possibilities" by Dan Albergotti (DUE 1/4)

DIRECTIONS: Please read the poem "Water to Sky" from the article provided and answer the following question in a one-paragraph response in the comment box below this post.


Extra Credit!
DIRECTIONS: Watch the music video for the song, "Lunch for the Sky" by the band Socratic, and explain the connection it shares with the poem, "Water to Sky", in an additional one-paragraph response.