High School English

May 12

Woo hoo!  If you turned your research paper in today, you’re lookin’ good for this week.  If not, you’re still fine — but I need it by next Tuesday, May 19, without exception.

Besides this, study Chapter 3 on punctuation in your blue book, and take the grammar quizzes online.  We’ll have a punctuation test next week.

May 5

Next week is due your final research paper.  I’ll link to the checksheet below so that you can see how I will evaluate your offering.

Otherwise, go to grammarbook and practice confusing homonyms.  Also look over chapter 2 in your Blue Book.  Test next week on these; especially know accept/except, affect/effect, among/between, ant/aunt, allusion/illusion, capital/capitol, cent/scent/sent, clause/claws, desert/dessert, elicit/illicit, farther/further, fewer/less/under, irregardless/regardless, lay/lie, retch/wretch, then/than, their/they’re/there, vary/very.

HSE Research Paper Checksheet

April 28

Noodle Tools Express is where it’s at, people.  Go here and use this handy-dandy tool to generate proper MLA citations for your Works Cited page —


Then go to grammarbook and practice writing better sentences.  Test next on problems with prepositions and effective writing.

As I explained today, I am happy happy happy to read your last rough draft.
Email it to me as an attachment, and allow 48 hours for me to get back to you.

April 21

May 12 is the date you’re shooting for, folks.  You will recall that my proposed deal is for you turn in your final draft on May 12, and you will be finished with class on May 19.

Miss that deadline and you turn in your paper on May 19 and then return on May 26 to get it back and call it quits for the year.

Work on your paper this week.  Blend those quotes!  Write logical, thoughtful analysis sentences.  Draft your Works Cited page.  (Do NOT cite Pro/Con.org — go to the source).

For grammar, read the section in your book titled “problems with prepositions”, do the book quizzes, and check your account at grammarbook.com.

April 14

Writing is hard.  Make it easier by first building a solid, LOGICAL foundation with your thesis and supporting statements!  If your “organizer” came back with lots of red ink, and you realize your outline is faulty, fix it before you go any further.  (Come in for a conference?  I like to talk!)

Show me a rough draft next of at least three paragraphs — any three will do.

April 7

Ours is not the only way to write a research paper, yet it is a good one.  To give you experience with other “modes of arrangement”, I would like you to write one “fat paragraph” in one of the modes we discussed today.  These are

  • description
  • definition
  • cause & effect
  • process

You’ll have to decide which fits your topic the best, and then write a paragraph of at least 10 sentences in that arrangement.  Here’s a review:

Description:  Use lots of imagery and adjectives.  Help your reader to make an emotional connection with the topic.

Definition:  No dictionaries!  Define by example, by metaphor, by opposite.  Use specific language to answer questions your reader may pose:  what?  where?  why?  how?

Cause & Effect:  Just like it says.  What are the causes of this?  What effects can we expect because of this?

Process:  Here’s the good ‘ol “how to do this” style.

Besides, go check grammarbook and take the quizzes in your account.  Test next week on who/whom/whoever/whomever/which/that/adverbs/good/well.

March 31

Out like a lamb, folks. So long March, hello April and hello countdown-to-Research-Paper #2-due-date. Next week I need to see a graphic organizer of your paper, including thesis, counterargument point, and four main body paragraph topics. Handout attached below to help with this.

Research Paper Organizer

Then, grammar. Login to grammarbook.com and complete the quizzes there for who/whom/whoever/whomever/which/that practice. If you have forgotten your login information, send me a proper email asking for it.

In your blue grammar book this nifty bit of knowledge corresponds to pages 8-10 and 82-85.


March 17

Resist the urge to ignore this post and begin your spring break now.  Resist!  Be strong! It’s tempting, I know; just like the couch monster is tempting me to go upstairs and relax now before I finish writing your assignment.  (The couch monster is a passive one; he just waits, all comfy and soft, with nary a sound to remind me he’s there.  But I know he’s there.)  Contrary to pop culture, resistance is never futile.

Wasting time is, though, so let me get to the point:

1.  Put in 2 hours of time on your research paper.  Take some notes, read an article or three; whatever will be most productive.  No check on this; you’re on your honor to do it.

2.  Send me an email.  Use one of the two scenarios below, pretend that you don’t know me, and send your email to my regular address (kimbaum@writinghome.org).  Address me as Mrs. Baumgaertel (not Mrs. B, even though I don’t mind this title normally.)

a.  After looking at your online math grade for pre-calculus, you realize that you scored a 85% instead of 58% as indicated for Exam #7.  Write to your teacher, explaining the mistake.

b. You attended a seminar at the Gig Harbor library last Saturday called “Marine Life in Burley Lagoon” and would like to know more about summer internship programs with Puget Sound Marine Research Group.  Write to the director, asking for information on how to apply.

The couch monster calls, and now I shall answer.

Enjoy your break; I’ll see you on March 31.

March 10

Way to go today, actors and actresses!  I was pretty impressed with your rewritten scenes, and your performances.  The only thing left is the “teaching”, so plan on that for next week.  Again, we’ll go in chronological order.

Besides this, continue working on your research.  Bring in all of the notes you have made thus far, along with at least TWO web addresses you’ve used for information.

March 3

It’s SHOW TIME, finally.  Everybody performs next week; no exceptions.  Have your “teaching” ready, know your lines so well that you don’t have to look at your script too often, and make sure your props/costumes are good to go.

Otherwise, you are now in the research-and-take-lots-of-notes phase of RP#2.  Do that this week, staying aware of apparent bias and sketchy Web sites.

February 24

Here we go again!  Today we launched Research Paper Number Two, so you need to take that deep breath, buckle down, tighten all those other clichés and have at it.

The topics you may choose from are —

  • Should vaccinations be mandatory?
  • Is drinking milk healthy for humans?
  • Should animals be used for scientific or commercial testing?
  • Is obesity a disease?

Starting slowly, choose two of the above topics and complete some pre-research on each. Linked here is a worksheet with more directions and questions to answer.

Research Paper 2 preresearch

We have one Hamlet group presenting next week, and I am looking forward to it.

February 17

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…

This from another of Shakespeare’s famous plays, As You Like It.  At first glance, it seems to fit our current situation, yes?  I assigned a group project, you’re working on it, you’ll perform in front of your peers for a grade…but this is not the meaning of those lines.

“Stage” has a double-meaning:  as an area to act out a play and as a phase of life.  The infant stage…the toddler stage…the teenager stage…

There you go.  A little bit of trivia for you this week as you work hard to finish your group project.  Make sure you are contributing to the success of this project, and if you need to use our classroom space for a gathering/practicing area, contact me please.

Otherwise, don’t count on any English class time for working next week.  We have other pursuits!

February 10

Well, here we are almost finished with Hamlet and ready for a bit of a drama, eh?  I just decided, for no particular reason except that it is almost 5 p.m. and I just woke from a lovely little nap, to ask you to read to the end of the play but not to require you to answer questions on it.   No.  Instead, channel all of your energies this week into prepping for your BIG PERFORMANCE in two weeks.

Sounded to  me like you were off to a good start in class today, and although you can count on most of the hour next time to work together with your group members, do your part this week.  Review your scene.  Understand meaning, motivation, connection — be prepared to make a contribution.

February 3

According to both Aristotle’s and Shakespeare’s definitions of tragedy, the Seahawks’ loss of the Super Bowl was not one. Why not? Explain in a well-developed paragraph!

Then, do lots of reading and keep track of the body count while you’re at it: Act III, scene iii – to the end of Act IV. Yes, it’s a lot. Take small bites and chew on it with these questions:

Act III, sc. iii

  1. In King Claudius’ soliloquy, we learn that he feels guilty, but isn’t willing to give up the prizes he’s won from committing the murder of his brother. What’s your opinion of Claudius? Give a reasoned answer.
  2. Hamlet sneaks up on Claudius while he is praying and decides not to kill him.   Why not? When is a better time? Explain.

Sc. iv

  1. Some critics suspect that Gertrude was wooed by Claudius before the death of King Hamlet, and may have even played a part in his death. Others argue that this is not correct and the Gertrude was won by Claudius only after her husband’s death. Which side are you on? Explain.

Act IV, sc. i

  1. Why can’t Claudius just announce to everyone that Hamlet killed Polonius and have him put on trial?

Sc. ii

  1. Read Hamlet’s last line in the scene. Does he say this seriously or playfully do you think? Upon what do you base your answer?

Sc. iii

  1. When Claudius asks Hamlet about the location of Plonius’ body, Hamlet says that Polonius is in “heaven. Send hither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ th’ other place yourself.” What is Hamlet really saying to Claudius here?
  2. Claudius has written a letter to the King of England. What is Claudius’ command?

Sc. iv

  1. Examine Hamlet’s soliloquy and explain how Fortinbras unknowingly becomes Hamlet’s motivation to return to Denmark and take his revenge against Claudius.

Sc. v

  1. Describe Ophelia’s odd behavior.


Sc. vii


  1. Just in case the first plan doesn’t work, what is Claudius’ back-up plan to ensure that Hamlet dies at the duel?
  2. What’s interesting about Claudius’ preferred method of killing people? What does this show us about the man?
  3. Do you think Ophelia’s drowning was accidental or a suicide? Why?

January 27

Today I told you that “Hamlet” is all about revenge — about a guy who has good reason (does he?) to take vengeance on his uncle who killed his dad (did he?) BUT the guy suffers from…what?  A lack of motivation?  Wimpy-ness?  Not enough hard evidence?

All of these.

Read Act III, scenes i and ii.  Here are the questions:

1.  In Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, what is his point?

2. As he finishes his speech, Hamlet says, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought…”  He’s speaking in general terms here about mankind, but this line also directly applies to his own life.  How?  Explain.

3.  What lines show us that Hamlet suspects he’s being spied on by both Claudius and Polonius?

4. At the end of the scene, what does Claudius want to do with Hamlet?  What is Polonius’ suggestion?

Scene ii

5. Of all the characters in the play, which one does Hamlet trust the most?  How do you know this?  Write a line that proves your answer.

6. Hamlet makes the murderer in the play the king’s nephew, not his brother.  Give two reasons why Hamlet may have made this choice.

7. In criticizing the performance of the queen in the play, Queen Gertrude says, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  What does this famous line mean?

8.  In the soliloquy at the end of the scene, what power does Hamlet seek in his own heart?

January 20

The plot thickens, does it not?  Read Act II and answer the questions, below.  Though you needn’t write copious amounts of words in each answer, you do need to answer each question completely and thoughtfully.

Act II, scene i

1. What’s the specific job Polonious gives to Reynaldo at the beginning of this scene?  Is Polonius  being a good dad?  Explain.

2. Describe what Hamlet does when he enters Ophelia’s room.  Why, do you suppose, Hamlet chose Ophelia to be the first person to whom he reveals his new, strange behavior?

3. Why does Polonius want to tell King Claudius and Queen Gertrude about Hamlet’s odd behavior?

Act II, scene ii

4.  Explain how the request of Claudius and Gertrude upon Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is similar to the mission given to Reynaldo by Polonius in the last scene.  What point is Shakespeare making to the audience here?

5. Early in the scene Polonius delivers this famous line:  “…brevity is the soul of wit.”  What’s ironic about this?

6. Why is Hamlet’s choice of hearing the speech about Pyrrhus, Priam, and Hecuba an interesting choice?


January 13

Words! Words! Words! Thus saith Hamlet, in a future scene. In the meantime, we will pay close attention to his words, and the words of the other characters as we decipher this play.

You may not want to, but read Act I again, closely. Answer these questions as homework:

Act I, scene i:

  1. Early in the scene, Horatio, one of Hamlet’s friends, cracks a small joke to show the watchmen (and us) that his heart is not fully into joining the ghost-hunt. Write the line that an actor portraying Horatio should read wryly.
  2. Aside from the ghost sightings that have happened two nights in a row, why is a strict watch being maintained outside Elsinore castle?
  3. Horatio, an educated young man, likely studied the history of ancient Rome. He says that the appearance of this ghost reminds him of odd occurrences in Rome shortly before the assassination of Julius Caesar. Look back over Horatio’s passage that begins, “A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye,” and describe three things that Horatio says happened in Rome just prior to Caesar’s death.

Scene ii:

  1. At the end of this passage, King Claudius says, “So much for him.” The use of the “him” pronoun is interesting here because it creates a double-meaning in the line. Which two different men might the King be referring to? What does each of the two different readings of the line show us about King Claudius?
  2. Claudius agrees to send Laertes back to France. He wants Hamlet to stay put. Why do you suppose Claudius wants to keep Hamlet close?
  3. Hamlet says he must “hold his tongue” and not discuss his displeasure about the marriage with anyone, including his mother. Why, do you suppose, he feels he can’t talk about his feelings with his mother? If your own mother married your uncle just a month after your father’s death, what would you think? What would you say to her?

Scene iii:

  1. What is Laertes’ advice to his sister, Ophelia, in regards to Hamlet? What reason does he give?
  2. What is one bit of wisdom that you value that Polonius did not include in his advice to Laertes?
  3. Hamlet is dealing with his grief and rage about his father, mother, and uncle/step-father. How, do you suppose, might Ophelia’s obedience to her father’s command affect him?

Scene iv:

  1. When Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, he says, “It will not speak. I will follow it.” Why, do you suppose, Hamlet refers to the ghost as “it” instead of “him?”
  2. At the end of the scene, the famous line, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, is delivered. Who says this line? What, in general terms, might it mean if someone used this phrase today to describe a situation?


And, next week you and your little group shall perform your pantomime. Practice…try to “get into character” with your facial expressions and actions!

January 6

“‘Tis bitter cold, and I am sick at heart.”

Well,  I’m not, but that guy was — and for good reason. Do you know the reasons? Read all of Act I this week. It begins on page 2 and ends on page 75; this is a bit misleading because our “No Fear Shakespeare” text has the original modern English on the left (yep, Shakespeare is considered “modern”) and the English we all speak on the right. I think it is important for you to learn and enjoy Shakespeare’s language, so we will discuss mostly his version. However, I also think that the “more modern” version is pretty nifty, so use it to enhance your understanding. All this to say that 75 pages is really more like 33 pages, which is not that much.

Then answer the questions, below. You will turn these in for homework, and you will discuss them in class next week. At the beginning of class I will give you a one question quiz worth 5 points. Answer the question correctly and you’ll earn 5 points; no answer or an incorrect one is 0 – no in-between scores. (This is a sneaky little method of ensuring that you actually do the assigned reading, and not attempt any trickery.)

Lastly, and this is the fun part, watch the rest of the David Tenant “Hamlet” documentary. The link is here:


Questions on Act I, scene i:

  1. What mood is established in this opening scene? How does Shakespeare establish this mood?
  2. Horatio was a skeptic, but he is quickly convinced that King Hamlet’s ghost is walking the grounds of Elsinore castle. What tow distinctive things about the ghost convince him that he is seeing King Hamlet’s ghost and not just any ordinary ghost? Write the line numbers from where you found this information.
  3. What element towards the end of the scene could be read as foreshadowing of tragedy?

Act I, scene ii:

  1. Look at the first section of lines he hear from King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle/stepfather. What should rub you the wrong way about the King’s message to the court? Write a specific passage from the section of Lines 1-16 and explain what bothers you about the passage.
  2. Hamlet uses a subtle pun to express his displeasure at having Claudius as his new father. Write the line that includes the pun.
  3. Hamlet is more than just a little depressed. He is heartbroken, devastated not only by the death of his father but also by alarmingly fast nuptials of his mother. Write the line that shows us he wishes he could die, just to end the pain he’s feeling.

Act I, scene iii:

  1. Look over Polonius’ famous monologue in which he gives his son, Laertes, many pieces of advice. In your own words, write down six of the bits of wisdom Polonius wants Laertes to remember as he faces the world.

Act I, scene iv:

  1. While Hamlet is out with Horatio and the guards looking for the ghost of King Hamlet, what is King Claudius doing? Why does Hamlet find this offensive?

Act I, scene v:

  1. What do most people think was the cause of King Hamlet’s death? What was the actual cause of his death?
  2. What does the ghost want Hamlet to do?



November 25

Whew.  Feels good to have that paper out of the way, doesn’t it?  Now the only thing between you and too much turkey is some extra credit, if you want it.

The deal:  Below is a link to three Thanksgiving Day poems and two Shakespeare-is-a-Pop-Star rewritten songs.

Thanksgiving Dinner Poems

Choose one and recite it to your family/friends at your Thanksgiving day gathering.  Before turkey or after; it matters not.

What does matter is that afterwards you ask a parent (or other responsible adult who heard you recite) to email me by Monday, December 1, to confirm that you did so.


Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and I’ll see you on January 6.

November 18

Research paper is due, finally.

Final draft, and the rough draft that has been marked need to both come to me next week.

Then, you will be finished.

Checksheet below —

HSE Research Paper Checksheet

By the way, if you are confused at all about how to blend quotations, write a works cited page, format in-text citations or anything else, please contact me via email right way!

November 11

Draft your research paper.  Get it to me BEFORE next Tuesday and I’ll have a chance to comment on it.

November 4

Recall that I told you today how I wouldn’t let you fail the research paper assignment?  Wasn’t that magnanimous of me?  (Magnanimous = generous).  The catch is –and there’s always a catch — in order to not fail this assignment, you have to write well enough to receive a “C”, and if you don’t…I’ll just make you rewrite the paper until you do.  Most of you would prefer to do holiday things during your break instead of rewriting an English paper, so work steadily now and that won’t be an issue.

Also recall that I acknowledged that there is such a lot to remember when writing a longish paper like this one.  Big things, such as T-R-I-A-C and little things like hanging indents all combine into one ginormous issue for you when you write and for me when I grade your writing.  THEREFORE, I would very much like to have time to evaluate a draft before your final is due on November 25.  Please make arrangements to email this to me before November 18, or give me a paper copy before then.  Thanks.

I bet you’re wondering when I’m going to get to telling you about this week’s homework, yes?

Here ’tis:

1. Write a thesis.

2. Outline your paper.  Both of these can be accomplished by printing and completing this form, right here — Research Paper Organizer

3.  Write.  Write, write, write.  Write those main body paragraphs!

4.  Pronouns test next week.  Go see more practice quizzes in grammarbook.

October 28

It’s all about making yourself look smart, ya know?  Credibility is the ticket when writing a research paper, and yours will be strengthened when you give a nod to the opponent.  Yes, it’s true that raising the driving age to 18 will inconvenience many families, and yet…

Write your counterarument paragraph this week, following the T-R-I-A-T-R-I-A-C model on the handout I gave you today.  (I’ll link it below just in case…)  This is a rough draft, but take it seriously and you’ll be that much closer to the end of your research paper.

Structure of Counterargument Paragraph

Also, go to grammarbook and work some more pronouns quizzes.

October 21

I distain cold swimming water. If the temp is not at least 820 F, I see no reason to take a dip, and even then will enter the pool gradually – preferring to acclimate my body to the frigid liquid one toe at a time rather than to just dive in and get it over with, like the rest of my family does.

In keeping with this attitude, I am asking you to dip your toe into the research paper pool this week and write one – just one – main body paragraph. If you do this correctly you will be nearly 15% closer to the finished draft. (Admittedly this doesn’t sound that breathtaking, but hey. Fifteen-percent off of a $100 pair of shoes brings their price down to $85, and that’s always nice.)

Write one main body paragraph for your research paper, following the T-R-I-A-C style and integrating quotations correctly. Below is the link to the information we discussed in class today regarding quotation integration. As I mentioned, the T-R-I-A-C style is too skimpy for the final draft of a weighty paper such as yours, but for now it’s fine. (Later you’ll expand to T-R-I-A-I-A-C

Quotation Integration handout


Please write both a down draft and an up draft for this paragraph. In other words, draft it, print it out, edit it, and then make it better. This is not a final draft, but a second draft, which will be better than the first draft but not perfect yet. Both drafts are due next week.

Also check grammarbook.com for your next grammar quizzes.

October 14

Ladies and gentlemen, we are so close to writing the research paper. So close. But first, just a bit more planning and organizing has to happen.

Today I discussed the Works Cited page and had you look at the sample research paper entitled, “The Blame Game”. We looked at “in-text citations” and “works cited entries”, but concentrated mostly on the works cited entries, which are included as the last page of your paper.

This week write a rough Works Cited page, citing all of the articles I have given you for source material. These are listed below.

  • “Is Online Social Networking Good or Bad?”
  • “Does Facebook Replace Face Time or Enhance It?”
  • “Clinical Report: The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families”
  • “Social Networking Benefits Validated”
  • “Facebook and Bebo Risk ‘Infantilising’ the Human Mind”
  • “’Flocking’ Behavior Lands on Social Networking Sites”
  • “Bullycide: A Brief History of the Phoebe Prince Phenomenon”

The general rule for citation entries is this –

Author’s last name, author’s first name. “Title of article in quotation marks.” Name of web site in italics. Date of publication DD MMM. YYYY. Web. Date of access DD MMM. YYY.

Which looks like this –

Palmer, Josephine.  “The Life of a Flea.” Insects.  17 Feb. 2013.  Web.  4 Apr. 2013

Then, I need you to get serious about the prompt, “Is social networking good for our society?” and choose a side to support.

Prompt: Is social networking good for our society?

What is your position on the prompt? Beneficial? Detrimental?

No matter which position you take, you will have to make claims and back them up with specific evidence. We did an exercise a few weeks ago about claims/evidence; this time your evidence will come from your source texts. Below is an example; use it to see how I would like you to list at least three claims for each side and evidence from your reading to support it.


Position: Social networking is beneficial to society.

Claim #1: Social networking connects people with like interests.

Specific Evidence: From “Social Networking Benefits Validated” – “before social networking, the one kid in school who was, say, a fan of Godzilla or progressive politics might find himself isolated. These days, that youngster has peers everywhere.”

Continue, with at least three claims and specific evidence for each.

Ready…go. Tell me your position. List at least three claims to support your position. List specific evidence from your source texts that you could use as examples.

In review:

  1. Create a rough Works Cited page. Do it according to the MLA style we discussed in class today (just mimic the one on “The Blame Game” for spacing and format).
  2. Pre-plan your position on the prompt by jotting your ideas on paper, just like I did above.

October 7

Good news! After you annotate and take notes (with your preferred note-taking method) on the two articles I gave you today – “Bullycide” and “Flocking Behavior” – you will be finished with note taking. Whew.

Unless, of course, you did a mediocre job and realize later that you need more source material. If that happens, you’ll be backtracking, backpedaling, redoing, catching up, shifting ground, doing an ‘about face’ and – aren’t synonyms amusing? – working harder later.

Ahem. Your assignments this week are

  • Take notes on the above-mentioned articles, and show them to me on 10/14.
  • Prove to one of your parents that you have developed a system of organization by completing the chart I emailed to them. This requires a parent signature.
  • Studying for the subject-verb agreement test we will have on 10/14. You will do this by checking your grammarbook account, and by reviewing the section on “subject-verb agreement” in Chapter 1 of your Blue Book of Grammar.

Have a good week. I will be out of email contact for a few days beginning Thursday, so if you have questions about anything relating to English homework, please contact me ASAP or be patient. Thanks.


September 30

Steady as we go! Continue taking notes, this week on “Social Networking Benefits Validated”  and the study from the Pediatric Journal. Remember that you only need to take notes on information that will apply directly to the prompt: Is online social networking good for our society?

I showed you the “note page” method of note taking today. You have a choice of using note cards, electronic note cards, or note pages for this paper. Just be sure that you choose ONE method and stick with it.

Next week show me a page of notes using the note page method. Be sure and include source information AND section divisions. Do this for either of the two articles I gave you. Then, if you have decided to use note cards, take notes on the other article using them. If you’ve decided to use note pages, take notes on the other article using the note page method. At any rate, I need to see your notes for both articles next week.

Also, I encouraged you to develop a system of organizing all of your articles and notes in one place — a binder with dividers, perhaps.  To check up on you, I’m going to personally visit your house NOT! ask your parent to verify that you have a system of organization.  They will receive an email from me in a day or so with instructions about that.

We’ve taken a little break from grammar.com, but we’re good now. Go to your account and take the tests that are there. If you’ve done them all, take the practice tests in your blue grammar book, pages 78-81. The answers are in the back of the book, so check yourself after you do the questions. We will have a grammar test on October 14.


September 23

Here’s a new term for you: grunt work. Defined, it is “an expression used to describe thankless and menial work. Grunt work can also refer to jobs that lack glamour and prestige or are boring and repetitive. This term may be derived from the slang term “grunts,” which was used to describe low-ranking American soldiers during the Vietnam War.”  You are about to engage in weeks upon weeks of grunt work, which (regrettably) you cannot get out of if you intend to succeed in high school English.  (I had the ultimate “grunt work” job once; ask me about it next week.)

I refer to the tedious task of taking notes.  Today I explained one system of note-taking for research papers:  note cards.  Your homework is to take notes, using note cards only, on the Time, Inc. article, “Does Facebook Replace Face Time or Enhance it?” and the Discovery News article, “Is Online Social Networking Good or Bad?”  I gave both of these to you today.

First, however, you must annotate both articles.  When you annotate, you are actively engaging your brain to comprehend the article.  Underline catchy phrases and important points.  Ask questions – write them in the margins.  Use symbols — numbers, whatever you need to make sense of the text.  Some think annotation is also grunt work.  Others think it is torture.  Sorry about that, but it must be done.

In short, do this for next week:

  1. Check grammarbook.com for your practice tests.
  2. OOPS.  Apparently my subscription to the site has expired.  I will renew…but not until this weekend.  Take a break.  No grammar quizzes due this week.
  3. Read both articles.
  4. Annotate both articles.
  5. Make source cards – one for each
  6. Source cards must contain, in order:
    1. Author’s name
    2. Article title
    3. Place article was found
    4. Date article was published
    5. Web? Print?
    6. Publisher
    7. Date accessed
    8. URL
  7. Take notes on both articles using notecards. (“How many” you ask? As many as necessary.)
  8. Note cards must contain information about where the note was from (article), what “section” heading it might belong to in your paper (Greenfield’s Qualifications, for example), and a page number if the text is numbered by pages.
  9. Remember the weird way of using quotation marks.
  10. Notecards are due next week. I’ll be evaluating them for proper headings, use of quotation marks, etc.

September 16

This morning I demonstrated how to login to GrammarBook.com and find your very own student account.  To access the quizzes I have put in your folder, enter your first initial and last name (lowercase, no spaces) and the 4-digit number I gave you for your password.  You will have two quizzes to complete, and your scores will be sent to me.  These must be completed by next week, as part of your homework.

Are social networking sites good for our society?

Well, are they?

In class we developed a list of “benefits” and “detriments” to social networking. Rewrite that list with at least five points for each side. This is your “brainstorming list” which you will keep in your notebook; however, I will ask to see it next week. Then, choose two claims on opposite sides of the argument – two benefits and two detriments – and think about how you might support them with specific evidence. This evidence must come from your own personal schema (background knowledge), so don’t do any research. Here is a link to a worksheet that might help you know how to organize your thoughts, although I think the paper itself doesn’t give you enough room to write on. Use it if you wish, or make your own.

Social Networking ex 1,2

Finally, read “Facebook & Bebo” and answer questions below. Please write in complete sentences.

Facebook and Bebo

  1. Who is the author of this article? Where did this article appear?
  2. Define these terms (you may use a dictionary or online resource): infantilizing, sensationalism, empathize, attention-deficit disorder.
  3. Who is Lady Greenfield? Does she appear credible? Explain?
  4. Lady Greenfield (from now on, she will be “LG”) expresses several points against social networking. List three of them.
  5. According to LG, how do social network sites put attention span in jeopardy?
  6. How is playing a computer game to rescue the princess different than reading a book about a princess who needs to be rescued?
  7. How do social networking sites erode our identity?
  8. Overall, what is LG’s main concern about social networking sites? What do you think about her opinion?



September 9

You survived your first day of high school English, didn’t you?  Yes.  Now to work!

First, linked below are the two handouts I gave you in class today, just in case yours disappear.

MLA Style Guidelines for English Papers

High School English Expectations

As for homework, it is twofold:

1. Write a fat paragraph explaining the difference between a “basic essay” and a “research paper.”  I discussed this with you in class, and you took notes.  Use your notes to refresh your memory, and simply explain the difference to me, following all of the formatting rules (look at the handout).

YES.  You need a rough draft, edited, and a final draft.

A fat paragraph is 10-15 sentences long, with a clear topic sentence, details or examples in the middle, and a clear clincher sentence.  Grammar, spelling and punctuation count, as always.  See the check sheet, linked here, to know how I will grade your paper.

Fat Paragraph Check Sheet

2.  Read little Bethany Tugan’s research paper, “The Blame Game” which I gave you in class today.  (I cannot link it here, so if you were absent I will give you a copy when I see you and this assignment can wait until then.) Answer these questions about it, on your own notebook paper:

a. How long is this paper?  Pages?  Paragraphs?  Words (take a guess)?

b. Estimate the font size.  Is it the same throughout?

c.  What is the writer’s thesis statement?  Copy it onto your paper.

d. According to the author, what are the “basic flaws” in our immigration system?

e. What is the author’s stated position on immigration?

f. Who wrote “Immigration Benefits America”?

g. Was the quote from Patrick Buchanan in print or electronic?

h. When was The Economist published online?

And, that’s all for this week.

August 15, 2014

Dear Future High School English Students,

Summer is waning,

Our hours be few,

‘Tis but a moment,

And then I’ll see you.

Fortunately, though, poetry is not among our topics for the new year.  Research paper writing is, so play hard these last three weeks –you’ll be working hard come September 9.

I look forward to our year together!  You’ll need The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Strauss (if you have this from last year, you do NOT need a new copy.)

Mrs. B