High School English

November 17

It’s nice to have electricity again.  Sorry for the delay posting this!

Focus here:

  1. Commas test.  Check your grammarbook folder for practice tests; check the grammar book for the rules.
  2. Read “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker.  Write a fat paragraph explaining what you think the author’s purpose was in writing this story.  (Two hints:  the purpose was not to compare and contrast the sisters — although that is a vehicle for revealing purpose; and authors always have a purpose whether writing fiction or non-fiction.)

November 10

Write the final draft of your C/C essay.  There are so many things (and I don’t even like that word!) to pay attention to when you write.  So many!  Check the check sheet so you’ll not be taken by surprise.

HSE Checksheet comparison contrast

Oh, ho!  One surprise-y thing, though, is that I’d like you to Write Like a Pro in at least one paragraph by including a schnazzy stylistic device.  We worked on that today, but in case you’ve misplaced your worksheet, here it is again.  Just one…in just one paragraph…unless you’re feeling spunky and then you can add more.  Be sure to underline the device you’ve used, and indicate somewhere in the margin what it is.

Write Like a Pro

Otherwise commas test is coming up not next week but the week after.  Practice more quizzes in your online grammarbook folder.


November 3

Begin drafting your C/C paper, choosing from one of these topic ideas:

  • Slave insurrection to the Revolutionary War.
  • Poverty to paranoia.
  • Christopher Columbus to early astronauts.
  • Acting to lying.
  • The 1970s to another decade.
  • The decisions of Red Riding Hood to the decisions of Goldilocks.
  • Wandering on the African plain to drifting in the open sea.
  • Being afraid to being bored.
  • The influence of music to the influence of books.
  • The influence of celebrities to the influence of parents.
  • The Sound of Music (movie) to The Parent Trap
  • The Three Bears to the Three Little Pigs.
  • Being a teen to being a toddler.
  • Working as a waitress to working as a flight attendant.
  • Camping in the deep woods to sleeping in a motel.
  • Physical beauty to inner beauty.
  • Being grounded to being in jail.
  • The benefits of cold to the benefits of heat.
  • Advertisements for automobiles vs advertisements for food
  • The Apostle Paul to Peter
  • Moses to Jesus
  • Western Washington to Eastern Washington
  • Hamlet to the Lion King

If none of these seems to suit, you are welcome to propose a new topic idea, but you must clear it with me first.  (Remember:  NO sports teams, computer/electronic games, or mundane topics.)

This essay must be written in third person POV, meaning no first-person pronouns and no “you.”

Besides your rough draft which is due next time, study commas.  There are quizzes in your folder, and the rules are in your blue grammar book.

October 27

Your next essay will be written as a comparison/contrast paper.  I haven’t assigned this essay yet, because we’re going to work up to it by exploring the c/c method.  As we discussed in class today, we use c/c all the time — when deciding what snack to eat, game console to buy, politician to vote for.

This week, please write another Fat Paragraph comparing and contrasting the two pictures I gave you today, “American Gothic” and “Rural Reconstruction.”  Using the list we began in class, write your paragraph showing how these two works of art are similar and different.  Now, your paragraph may start sounding like a back-and-forth exchange (think spectator tennis!), but that would not be good.  Instead of just stating point-by-point differences and similarities, pick and choose the ones that will serve your purpose.

Purpose?  Do I need a purpose?

Well, yes.  C/C essays serve a purpose — to win an argument, make a decision, further examine two types of characters in a short story.  Your purpose for this paragraph is your choice, and I promise not to care as long as you have one.  (If you’re worried, I understand.  Do your best.)

No grammar this week.

October 20

Your writing assignment this week is to choose from these topics and write your answer “fat paragraph style”.  If you’ve forgotten Fat Paragraph Style (how could you though?), see the post from September 8.  The FP checksheet is there, too.

Here are the possibilities:

  1.  Write a FP which takes the opposite viewpoint of Suzanne Britt.  Defend the neat person and criticize the sloppy person.
  2. How would you describe your household?  Are your parents organized?  Disorganized?  Are some family members neat and others sloppy?  How does this affect your neatness/sloppiness?
  3. Suzanne Britt claims that sloppy people cannot part with anything.  Write a FP analyzing your own attitude about possessions.  What are the things you have a hard time parting with? What things do you especially like to collect and save?
  4. Britt makes several generalizations in her essay.  What are two of them, and are they fair?  Why or why not?  How does Britt use them effectively?

And, we’ll have a test on capital letters next time.  Check your grammarbook folder.


October 13

To those of you who “won the million dollar prize” today, good work.  The rest of you need to cut loose a bit more and impress me with your intro paragraph.

And then, write the final draft of your Process Analysis 5PE!  Woo hoo!


You’ll need a schnazzy intro, a solid main body of three paragraphs, and a conclusion.  We talked about those today —

  1. Revisit your thesis!
  2. Show a benefit to be gained!
  3. Tie up any loose ends!
  4. Suggest an application or course of action!
  5. Emphasize something you want the reader to remember!
  6. Write no fewer than five sentences.

Those points in red are crucial…the rest is suggestion.  I owe you a check sheet, and here it is!

HSE Checksheet PA 5PE

Look at the chapter on capitalization in your grammar book, and check your online account for new quizzes.

October 6

While I read your Process Analysis outlines, you are to throw yourself into writing an introductory paragraph.

I’m the one you have to impress, remember.  You want me to be astounded by your wit, amazed by your craftiness, bedazzled by your nifty introductory paragraph.

Rough it out this week, and don’t worry about English grammar rules for a while.  Picky Mrs. B will be back later when you turn in the final, but jaunty, creative, fun-loving Mrs. B would like you to NOT BORE HER TO DEATH with lousy writing.


That’s it for writing, folks, but you do have a “writing numbers quiz” next week, so check your online folder and study.


September 29

Our next essay has a name:  Process Analysis 5PE.  For this one you will write five paragraphs like normal, but this time you will focus on either a “directive” process analysis or an “informative” one.  Either is fine with me; just please make sure you are writing at  high school level about a high school worthy subject.

Here are some possibilities, but you are not limited to these:

  1. Dress for success
  2. Survive an earthquake
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Gain weight
  5. Have a good time for free
  6. Continue a friendship over long distance
  7. Throw an impromptu party
  8. Enjoy a movie at the theater
  9. Clean house for your mom
  10. Flea your cat
  11. Survive without a car
  12. Kick a bad habit
  13. Overcome insomnia
  14. Enjoy the weekend
  15. Complain effectively
  16. Pitch a tent in the rain
  17. Find a great job
  18. Get an “A” in English.
  19. Avoid cavities
  20. Be a good friend

For next week complete the worksheet questions as you did in your group today.  You do not need to write a rough draft yet, but are welcome to if you want to get started and save yourself some work later.

Besides this, go to grammarbook.com and complete the Writing Numbers quizzes in your folder.  Big test coming October 13.

September 22

Let’s just get this paper finished, shall we?

Write your final draft 5PE about your special person.  The big deal this time is to get those main body paragraphs into T-SEE-SEE-C form, which I explained today in class and on the handout.

You will include an introductory paragraph – here, fishyfishyfishy! – to lure your audience on this essay trip with you, and a concluding paragraph to bring your audience back home in one piece.  Remember:  your audience is the fish…you are the fisherperson…the bait is a well-written, interesting paragraph to draw your audience in.  (You are not hunting for bear.  Your audience will not rip you to shreds, but your English teacher might.  Heh.)

At the END of your introductory paragraph write a thesis sentence.  This is a sentence that summarizes the topic of each paragraph so your reader knows why she’s taking this essay trip with you.  Like this:

Dad is clever, compassionate, and the most comical man I know.

Do your best; checksheet below.

5PE Checksheet

Also go to grammabook.com and do the quizzes I have for you there.  Expect another numbers quiz next week.

September 15

Your Fat Paragraphs are in the grading queue right now, folks.  Expect to get them back next week; expect also to receive a grade report emailed to your parents and/or you by Friday.

Now, onward to the Five Paragraph Essay, which I am going to nickname the 5PE.  This week you are to write a rough draft of the main body paragraphs in a descriptive essay about a person.  We did three exercises in class today to help you think of a person you could use for your subject and ideas of what you might write about him or her.  Since the 5PE will include one introductory paragraph and one concluding paragraph, that leaves three main body paragraphs for you to fill with descriptive information.

To begin, you will need to decide on three paragraph topics.  These could be “Zelda is creative.  Zelda is funny.  Zelda is compassionate.”  For each paragraph topic, you will include examples and details to support your topic and flesh it out for your reader.  I would suggest that you outline/brainstorm/make a list of ideas before you begin to write; however, I won’t be collecting that for this assignment.

In addition to the 5PE writing assignment, begin learning how to write numbers correctly.  Read “Chapter 5:  Writing Numbers” in your grammar book.  (Well, as we discovered, this is indeed Chapter 5 in MY book, but maybe not in yours.  SO,  find the chapter about “writing numbers” and there you go.)  In a day or so you will be able to logon to grammarbook.com and find a quiz or two in your folder.  Complete the quiz by next Tuesday.  Logon with the first letter of your first name followed by your last name; then use that very special 4-digit number you wrote for me as your password.  Like this:

If your name happened to be Mergatroid Simpleton, and you chose 3887 as your 4-digit password, you would logon as



Okay?  Let me know if you have troubles with this but don’t even try until Thursday.  I have to input a lot of info before the system will recognize your new class.  Thanks.

I also told you that you would be very, very bored if I were to give you a punctuation/grammar lecture each week.  Instead, I will assign pages in the book or particular rules for you to learn, and expect you to learn them by the deadline.  Next week expect a quick, in-class quiz on the first five rules in your chapter.  The test will be on October 13.

That’s all.

September 8

Welcome to your English class homework blog.  This is the place you’ll come after 9 a.m. on Wednesdays to discover exactly what I want you to complete for homework this week.  Everything I assign is due in one week; therefore, make it your habit to understand what you need to do, and then to plan your time well so that you get it done.

My rule for homework is that if you miss a deadline you are in “grace week” and have one more week to finish.  If you fail to turn your work in at the end of grace week, I will not take it and you will earn a “0”.  Of course, if you’re sick or away on a trip, let me know and I will grant you extra time.

Here is your assignment for this week, due on September 15:

Write a Fat Paragraph explaining your thoughts on the short story, “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes.

Here is a more detailed explanation of this assignment:

A Fat Paragraph is a paragraph of approximately 8-15 sentences written on the same subject.  When I ask you to write a Fat Paragraph I am looking for these elements:

  • A topic sentence which states the main idea of your paragraph.
  • Details, examples and reasons to support the topic sentence.  These will make the body of the paragraph, and will provide the “fat” in your Fat Paragraph.

A clincher sentence which restates the topic and gives the reader a feeling of satisfaction.  (Did you know that “fat” is satisfying?  For example, think of how much more gratification you receive from a strip of bacon compared to a broccoli floweret.)  For this particular assignment on the short story, “Thank You, Ma’am”, I would like you to simply respond to the story.  What are your thoughts?  What did you learn from our class discussion?  How would you interpret the story for another person?  Caution:  You’ve read the story, and so have I – so don’t summarize it for me.  Instead, analyze it.  Think about what meaning it holds for readers, you and others like you.

Now, there is another element of this assignment I need you to focus on, and that is the form of your paper.  English teachers are concerned about many aspects of writing – content, mechanics, style, form – and we will tackle all of them this year.  Of these, “form” is both the easiest to master, yet the gnarliest to do correctly right out of the gate if you’re not paying attention.  So, pay attention:

  • Type your paper.  Set your margins to 1” on all sides (top, bottom, right, left).
  • Use a standard font like “Calibri” or “Times New Roman” set at 12 pt.
  • Head your paper with, in order:  Your Name, My Name (spelled correctly!), High School English, and the date the paper is due (in this case, 15 September 2015).  Notice how I wrote that?  Headers should be double-spaced.
  • Double-space your paper.
  • Include a title, written in the same font and size as the rest of your paper, and center it.  Do not include extra line spaces, please.  Do not underline, italicize, or bold your title.
  • This particular paper must be exactly one page long.  Not one page minus one line of type…and not one page plus one line of type on another page.  Linked below also is a sample Fat Paragraph so that you can see what yours should look like.

Seymour’s Fat Paragraph

I will evaluate and grade your paragraph based on the criteria in the Fat Paragraph Check sheet, also linked below.  Happy writing!

Fat Paragraph Check Sheet