Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reading Period 29: May 19-25: It Ain't Right

Long Read:

To Kill a Mockingbird, chapters 22-25

Short Read:

"Our Town", Act 3, AIAL 995-1004

Poetry:

Luisa Igloria
"Note to Her Translator"
"Yo Yu"

Luisa Igloria is a working poet, a professor at ODU, and she lives in Hampton Roads. She has written many books of poetry and had many poems published in magazines and journals. You can find her web site here. One really interesting thing about Luisa Igloria, besides the fact that she is practically a neighbor, is that she has been writing and publishing a poem a day for over four years. You can find all of them here.

Creative Assignments:

Poet Luisa Igloria posted a poetry prompt every day for the month of April, which was National Poetry Month. Choose one of these prompts and write a poem.

OR

Create an illustration of the five most important objects in To Kill a Mockingbird. You might choose the rifle Atticus uses to shoot the dog, or Jem's mended pants, or the blanket Boo puts over the children, or the judge's gavel, or Mrs. Dubose's camellias. Think about how these objects function in the novel, and choose one line or phrase from the book for each object, to include in the illustration.

Writing Assignments:

The people in Maycomb are divided along more than just racial lines. The Ewells, the Baptists, the Finches, the Cunninghams, Calpurnia's church, the ladies of the Missionary Tea, all have their own preconceptions or prejudices about other groups. Do you think you feel any prejudice toward any groups of people? Think hard about positive or negative assumptions you make when you see people who are dressed a certain way, or who have a certain job, go to a certain church, etc. Who has "background" and "good breeding"? Who is liable to be resistant to change? Who is strict and mean? Who is open-minded and fair? Do you think people have assumptions about you, based on you being a homeschooler? Write a 300 word essay about assumptions you think people still make, based on race, religion, appearance, education, or anything else.

OR

It seems to me that the whole novel comes down to one exchange between Atticus and Jem, in chapter 23. They're discussing the outcome of the trial, and Atticus tells Jem, "Those are the facts of life." Jem responds, "Doesn't make it right." Do you agree with Atticus that this "baby step" toward justice is something to be glad about, or do you agree with Jem's frustration at the injustice and backwardness of the jury's decision? Are we always to be resigned to "the facts of life" or are there times when we can't accept things as they are? In presenting both characters, Harper Lee helps us to understand this complicated question, and by giving both characters voice, she illustrates the conflict in the reader's own mind. Then there's the fact that in spite of Atticus' resignation, he still risked his life to defend Tom Robinson. Write a 300 word essay in which you answer the question for yourself: Who is right? Atticus or Jem?

OR

Watch this movie version of "Our Town" with music by Aaron Copeland. (Quiz bowl team: Name two other pieces by Aaron Copeland!) You don't have to watch the whole thing, if you want to fast forward and skip around.



Most of the lines are exactly the same, but what is the most significant difference between the movie version and the stage version as described in the script? Do you think this change ruins the point of the play? In what way is the movie similar to the play? For example, when the stage manager interviews the professor at 13 minutes in, is that how you imagined it sounding in the play? When you watch the third act, does it have the same impact as you imagine the minimalist staging would? Write a 300 word essay giving your opinion on this movie, and how well it communicates the ideas and dramatic action of the stage play.

Paper:

The paper is already due! Why is it not in my eyes! You people are all fired. Except if you've turned your paper in. Then you're not.

Quiz:

The quiz this week covers TKAM chapters 22-25.

1. How does Atticus defend his decision to let the children witness the trial, when Aunt Alexandra challenges him?
2. What does Calpurnia find all around the back step, the morning after the trial?
3. Why was it significant that Judge Taylor named Atticus to defend Tom Robinson, instead of Maxwell Green?
4. Why does Atticus say he doesn't mind getting spit on and threatened by Mr. Ewell?
5. What is circumstantial evidence and what are eye witnesses?
6. Why can't Miss Maudie serve on a jury?
7. Why does Scout plan to be nice to Walter Cunningham?
8. What was the official topic of discussion at the Ladies Missionary Tea?
9. Why didn't Atticus tell Tom Robinson he would win an appeal and go free, according to Calpurnia?
10. What were the circumstances of Tom's death?

BONUS: Why does Jem tell Scout not to kill the roly-poly bug she finds in her room, and how does that relate to Tom Robinson's wife and to the title?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reading Period 28: May 13-19: The Trial Begins

Long Read: 

To Kill a Mockingbird, chapters 17-21.

Short Read: 

"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, Act 2.

Poetry: 

Spoken Word Poetry: Watch this video!



Creative Assignments:
Think about the minimalist style of the staging of "Our Town." Now think about minimalism in drawing. What are the fewest pencil marks needed on a page to communicate a wedding like George and Emily's? Experiment a little bit and post your results. How can you depict a wedding in a pencil drawing, as minimally as possible?




OR

Do as Sarah Kay suggests in the video about Spoken Word Poetry, and write down ten things you know to be true.

Writing Assignments:

Since we are reading about a trial, this week's writing assignments both pertain to laws.

In the novel, characters use the goal of protecting women as an excuse to bully and wrongfully accuse an innocent man. Consider the "Ladies' Law" from the criminal code of the state of Alabama:

  [The "Ladies' Law" states: "Any person who enters
     into, or sufficiently near to the dwelling house of
     another, and, in the presence or hearing of the
     family of the occupant thereof, or any member of
     his family; or any person who, in the presence or
     hearing of any girl or woman, uses abusive, insulting,
     or obscene language must, or conviction, be fined not
     more than two hundred dollars, and may also be imprisoned
     in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county
     for not more than six months." THE CODE OF
     ALABAMA, Vol. III --- CRIMINAL [Nashville,
     Tenn.: Marshall and Bruce Compant, 1907], p. 272.]

Do you think this law is a good one? Or is it condescending and belittling to the women it's meant to protect from harm? Can women handle listening to obscene language? How hard do you think this law would be to properly enforce? Write a short persuasive essay arguing that this law should be upheld as just and moral, or that it be stricken from the books as irrelevant and outdated. In your argument, address why you think this law was ever included in the criminal code, and why it was ever necessary to give people six months' hard labor for swearing in front of a woman. 

OR

Watch this video and read this article about the history of the Ku Klux Klan. Atticus, in the novel, Atticus says he believes the Ku Klux Klan does not exist in Maycomb, that its influence is gone. Did you know that the Ku Klux Klan is not gone from America, even now in 2015? We have always struggled, in this country, with the problem of free speech. If we have free speech, then we have the freedom to create, for example, Ku Klux Klan web sites that openly promote "white, Christian" America, and use symbols and ideas that evoke a horrible history of violence. Many organizations and churches have denounced the Klan as a terrorist organization, and its existence is controversial and often dangerous.

Now read this, from the code of the state of Virginia, an anti-mask law. It is written to stop people from wearing masks for criminal purposes, including members of the Ku Klux Klan. It has exceptions for holiday masks, surgeons, etc., but there are no exceptions for people who wear masks for religious reasons. Write a short persuasive essay arguing that this law should be upheld, or argue that it is restricting free expression and should be removed from the criminal code. Does outlawing masks help? Is it a sneaky way to address a larger problem? 

Paper:

One final extension. You have until Tuesday the 19th. Why not? We're all friends here.

Quiz:

This quiz is over chapters 17-21 of To Kill a Mockingbird.

1. Where do the kids sit, in order to see the trial? (This is from back in chapter 16)
2. What was Heck Tate's involvement in the incident? Why is he a witness?
3. Why do you think Atticus wants to establish that no one called a doctor for Mayella?
4. What role does Mr. Gilmer play in the trial?
5. Why is it important that Mr. Ewell is left-handed?
6. What does Mayella say she asked Tom Robinson to do?
7. What is unusual about Tom Robinson's left hand?
8. Why didn't people leave the courtroom during the recess?
9. What does Tom Robinson say that Mayella Ewell did when she invited him into the house?
10. Why does Scout defend Mr. Gilmer when Dill says he's being hateful?

BONUS: How is a trial like a spoken word poem? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Reading Period 27: May 6-12: Don't Call That a Blind Spot

Long Read: 

To Kill a Mockingbird, chapters 9-16

Short Read:

"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder, Act 1 (AIAL)

Poetry: 

Gertrude Stein
"A Little Called Pauline"
"A Substance in a Cushion"

Lyn Hejinian
[but isn't midnight intermittent]
[a straight rain is rare...]

Creative Assignments: 

Read this short description of "language poetry" after reading the poems of Gertrude Stein and Lyn Hejinian. Language poetry creates meaning that comes from language, instead of the language being used to express a pre-existing meaning. Write a poem in the style of the language poets. Starting with no particular meaning in your head, let some language create a meaning. Now write a second poem using words and ideas from To Kill a Mockingbird, but without trying to express a particular thought or message. Does a message come through in either of your poems?

OR



Pretend you are the owner/director of a small theater company and you are about to stage a production of "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder. You're worried about the MINIMALIST staging instructions -- just a few chairs and a couple of ladders to show the interior of a home? How are you supposed to do that? You're concerned that your audience members will expect the REALISM they've come to expect from stage settings, and will reject the play. Write a letter to Thornton Wilder, expressing your concerns. Make sure it expresses a good definition of realism and minimalism.

Writing Assignments: 

At this point in To Kill a Mockingbird, the family relationships are starting to become very clear to readers. The way Atticus treats his children, the relationship between the siblings, the way Calpurnia behaves to the children -- all these connections are illustrated in detail. Write a personal essay telling whether you identify with any of these characters, or find any points of comparison with some of these characters and your own family relationships. If you have a younger sibling -- are you like Jem and Scout? In what way? Your fathers are all professionals -- do you feel the way Scout feels about her father's job? Is there a person in your life who functions like Dill? Like Calpurnia? Write 300 words comparing the family relationships in your life to the ones in the novel.

OR

Compare and contrast the town of Maycomb, Alabama to the town of Grovers Corners in "Our Town." In Act 1 you get quite a bit of information about Grovers Corners, and in the first few chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, you get quite a picture of Maycomb. How are they similar to each other, and in what ways do they differ? You can talk about the people, about the size, the location, the attitudes, the economy -- whatever you notice that would make a good point of contrast or similarity. For example... Mr. Underwood from Maycomb and Mr. Webb from Grovers Corners?

Paper:

Your new due date is May 15. You're welcome. I've been waiting for all the rough drafts to come in to make my comments, but I think I'm going to just comment on the ones that have come in, and let you latecomers take your time. No rush, it's only MAY. :D

Gertrude Stein says "WRITE YOUR PAPER." 


Quiz:

1. Does Atticus believe he will win his court case defending Tom Robinson?
2. Who are Atticus' siblings and what are they like?
3. What does Atticus do when a mad dog comes down the street, that proves he is not "feeble"?
4. What is Jem's punishment for going crazy on Mrs. Dubose's flowers?
5. What brave thing did Mrs. Dubose do before she died?
6. What was the response of MOST of the people at Calpurnia's church, when she takes Jem and Scout to worship there?
7. Why does Zeebo have to sing out the lines during the hymn sing?
8. Scout thought there was a snake under her bed. But what was it?
9. Why does Atticus go downtown the night they moved Tom Robinson to the Maycomb jail?
10. What did Mr. Cunningham and his gang intend to do that night?

BONUS: Why is it a sin to kill a mockingbird?