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That Time Mrs. Cardona Was Gone Forever


So I'm as sick as forty dogs and can't get off the couch. I'm hoping this plague will subside and I will be back Wednesday, but for now: couch. That means a little rearranging. Again.

I read your blog posts in response to the essays and the movie and I have to say, I am really impressed by what some of you wrote. All of you did the assignment and it was great (well, actually, not all of you did...still waiting on a few) but a few of you composed pieces that would be lovely essays. And so, you have stumbled upon one of my motives for making you blog: you end up writing brilliant, essay-quality stuff without really realizing that's what you're doing. Mua-ha-ha. In any case, well done; keep it up.

Ok. Then, over the weekend, you read those animal rights essays for Monday and had that quiz and, as for all quizzes, you're allowed to use notes/CRJs and all that good stuff. Quick note about that: whenever you are reading an essay for class that isn't an obvious content essay (like Bitzer, or a chapter out of a text book, or something) it's a candidate for a CRJ. Remember I'm never going to collect all of your CRJs, but I will call for one around midterm (yikes, that's like now...let's call it next week, okay?) and the end of the term. You choose which one to submit. Yes, you could go back and re-read an essay and fake a CRJ but the fact that you can always reference them on quizzes is supposed to be your motivation for doing them when the essay is assigned. So, that got long-winded, but I just wanted to remind you of that/finally address it if I actually haven't but only think that I have. Keep pestering me if it doesn't make sense. Seriously.

After the quizzing time you had time to prep for the debate that is supposed to be tomorrow and I'm betting that you have questions about what you're supposed to be doing. Rest assured that if you've read the essays well and are willing to engage in friendly, dramatized debate with your classmates, you will do fine. What you really want to know, though, is how to prepare: I'd say type or write out an overview of each author's main argument and approach along with some comments regarding the pros and cons of these different approaches. Consider what a panel of experts might ask each author and jot down a few questions. This is not extensive, serious debate prep, but it should be solid and workable. Does this help? I hope?

Okay. Tuesday. The debate is not happening, so you get another day to prep--hey consider bringing in some props--could be fun. Instead, you're going to do some similar argument analysis and pro/con stuff, but with a different topic. This is meant to be a partner thing, but you can certainly work by yourself if you'd like. It's further practice in argument identification and then synthesizing your own response (ie: exactly what the AP exam measures). The topic is same-sex marriage which was way more timely last fall (when I collected these articles) but still an interesting argument to explore. Pretend like it's a year ago if that helps you. Or just run with the perspective that it's a year later and same-sex marriage has been legalized...what's different? What are the conversations surrounding this topic now? You'll find that a number of topics we explore are inherently political--that's where the meaty rhetoric is, so we go there.

I'm going to get off the couch for the third time today and make some more tea/get more NyQuil/reload my supply of tissues. Pathos, pathos, pathos, you can't be irritated at my absence because I'm sick, pathos, pathos...

Miss your faces, see you soon.


Blog Post #4

Hello from Iowa!

I'm attending the Iowa Writers Festival at my alma mater, Luther College this weekend. I hope things went smoothly in class with The Soloist. Isn't is an incredible film?

So this week we read explored a similar topic from a few different angles--those angles are what I'd like you to consider for your post this weekend. Asher focuses on the underlying human traits of compassion and empathy. Gladwell gives us a human face to an otherwise faceless problem and proposes a solution (or explores potential proposals) and then Eighner gives us a firsthand account of living on the streets via his highly informative and, at times, tongue-in-cheek manual. In exploring their chosen topics, these authors comment on things they notice and offer their own opinions, observations, arguments. The Soloist does the same.

The interview with Lopez offer the behind-the-scenes information that inspired the film and of course the film takes on its own identity and its own argument, but ultimately all of these forms are getting at the same issue. Please comment on this or a related topic. Make your own observations, make your own social critiques and commentaries. I am not asking you to summarize or analyze all of these texts. I am asking you to synthesize your exposure to them and create something new: your perspective. I want to know what you think of this subject, what stirs you, what grates on you, what you'd like to be able to do about it--whatever. Please feel free to reference the film or articles as necessary, but know that I'm really more interested in your own ideas.

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

See you Monday for the start of homecoming week...perhaps there will be some opportunities for rhetorical analysis in those dress up days...



Blog Post #3: Rhetorical Modes

In case you did not get the email with the invitation to our dropbox folder, here's a link to it: AP JJ Essays 

The message that came with that emailed link is as follows: 
Your homework is to read and score your selected (anonymous) peer's essay.

Do not identify yourself in your commenting. Be honest, but be helpful and constructive. Use the scoring guide you received in class to guide your comments and scoring. You must decide on a final score, you cannot give a 6.5 or some such nonsense. Do not score below a 2. Reserve a score of 9 for an essay that is mind-blowingly awesome.

This process should take you no more than an hour and no less than 20 minutes of careful reading and consideration. We will debrief on Monday.


Okay? We good? Good.

Moving on. 

Your weekend blog post is something a little extra special. It's also going to be a separate little assignment in skyward. (Yay points. How exciting.) Have some fun with this. Play with language. It's important that you understand and can recognize and employ these modes. We will explore them further on in class next week.

Step 1: Choose an abstraction to work with (fear, jealousy, war, family, joy, generosity, truth, grief, trust, loss, courage, etc.) for this writing assignment. You cannot choose "love." I already did (see examples below). Also, barf.

Step 2: Find the document on my website (or on moodle) called Rhetorical Modes. Read it. Print it. Snuggle with it. Fold it into a swan and carry it around in your pocket. (Note: this is not currently live on but it will be later. It is currently live on moodle.)

Step 3: Write a post "about" your abstraction in FIVE of the NINE listed rhetorical modes on that sheet you just folded into a swan. Write about 75-100 words per mode.

Number your little blurbs for identification purposes, but DO NOT indicate which mode each blurb is written in. Your peers will have to guess eventually and you don't want to spoil the fun. You will reveal it all in due time. 


Step 4:  Read what your peers have posted, and for TWO different peers, guess the rhetorical modes they used for each of their numbered blurb. (Remember how you numbered them? This is why.)

Write down your guesses. Also post your guesses in their blog's comments sections. If you are unable to post your guesses in their comments section for whatever reason, fear not. You can give me your written version the next day. Everybody breathe. 


Step 5: The Big Reveal!

The Big Reveal entails you posting an answer key of sorts that includes the numbers of each passage and the rhetorical mode in which it is written. Check to see how you did on your guesswork.


Below is an example of how your initial post might look. Do not simply try to copy my syntax and just replicate what I've done here. That's taking the easy way out. Don't be lazy. Some of the blurbs written below for the various modes are way shorter than yours will be. Write between 75-100 words per mode (which is really not that much at all...and you can write more than that). Remember, you're writing in just 5 (any 5 you choose) of the 9 modes while I've at least begun a blurb for each of them. Mine are also in a scrambled order, which yours should be too.

1. My five year old half-sister-in-law is convinced that love involves exchanging presents (when she is the recipient anyway), fuzzy teddy bears, sharing cherry Popsicles, and endless games of leapfrog. Perhaps she is right--about the teddy bears anyway. They're always there for a hug; they don't judge, they listen patiently, and they comfort. 

2. When I was 10, I fell in love. Don't laugh, it's true. He was the boy next door--er, well down the street and around the corner and up the hill a ways, but we shared a bus stop for 9 years. We weathered middle school crushes and dumps and bullying and that stupid geography test in 7th grade. We had inside jokes and stories and memories of dumb school bus shenanigans. We always denied the flirtation. That is, until 9th grade when we went to Homecoming together. In my book, he was perfection--for a while, anyway. That's how young love usually goes.

3. An elderly silhouette against the glint of the sun off the river, expertly keeping pace with one another. He gingerly leans over to brush a fallen copper-glazed maple leaf from her shoulder and then laces his long, bony, arthritic fingers into hers; the same fingers that bear the diamond he bought her so long ago, held their babies safely, fixed so many suppers, and dried so many tears.

4. Love your enemy. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. We love our friends, we love our families, we love our favorite foods, movies, music, celebrities -- but our enemies? While it is counter intuitive for sure, it can be an exercise in empathy and compassion; it can open our eyes to a situation we hadn't considered. Loving our enemies can free us from our own misconceptions and burdensome emotions. 

5. Falling in love generally takes three stages. Sometimes it can happen instantly, and sometimes it takes many more than three stages, but the vast majority of us has fallen in love following the three basic stages. First, we set our sights on someone...

6. When we think of love, we most often think of romantic, storybook, rom-com, idyllic, glassy-eyed, idiot-inducing, do-anything-for-you kind of love. This myopic view of love, however, can blind us from the very real, very pure, very wonderful other kinds of love that exist. Love is a complicated endeavor full of unexpected dips and sharp turns that can send you careening toward certain doom if you are not sufficiently prepared. It involves the heart, the body, and the mind.

7. Love is the result of millions of synapses firing in the brain, a rush of endorphins, and elevated serotonin levels. It is a chemical reaction, they say, induced by sight and sound and smell and touch.

8. The difference between love and hate is apparent. This pair is by definition mutually exclusive. The difference between love and infatuation, however, is often not so clear. We love the new George Clooney movie, we love our favorite books, those cute boots, we love white fudge Oreos. But the thing is, with only a few exceptions, we really don't. We favor those things over others. We don't love them. Are we infatuated with them? Perhaps. Infatuation is typically superficial and fleeting, love is neither. George Clooney? Chuck Klosterman books? Cute boots? Infatuation. Well, maybe it's love with George. Or maybe it's creepy obsession.

9. Love is not this elusive, unattainable, perfect thing that we make it out to be. Rather, it is in the everyday mundane details of our lives. It is the people who surround us and take care of us and lift us up and shake us out of our stupor when we need it. Love is the thread that holds us all together. Us, being the human race, of course. Love is there to give us a swift kick in the pants when we've gotten lazy or given up.

So "love" is off-limits. So is "guilt" since that's the abstraction in the document on my website. Sorry. But hey, guess what? There are so many more. So many.

Hey, one more thing: if you still don't see your blog linked over there in the student blogs section, email me your URL again. I had trouble with a number of them. Broken URLs, URLs unable to be found, etc. If you have your privacy settings as such that only I can see it, then maybe remind me of that? Thanks!


This is Water


So here's the greatest speech in the history of time. Well, perhaps not, but it's brilliant nonetheless.

I would also encourage you to watch the 9 minute video mash-up that someone made.

Let it sink in. Consider his message. Consider why this might move someone to tattoo a silly phrase on her, hem.

Discussions continue tomorrow.


Happy Weekend: Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2: Independent Speech Analysis

Step 1: Browse speeches available online. Famous speeches. Political speeches. Movie speeches. Whatever you want. Pick one. Search Youtube. Check out Ask your parents.

Step 2: Watch/listen to it a few times. Note your observations. Do you notice sneaky rhetoricals? Language techniques? What about the physical presence of the speaker--inflection, gestures, etc?

Step 3: Write up a brief overview/analysis of it. "Brief" means it wouldn't exceed a page if typed up in a word doc. Bullet points and blurbs are fine. Complete sentences are always expected.

Your written overview/analysis goes on your blog. So does a video of your chosen speech. Due Sunday 8:00 ish (I will start looking at them then) but you will share with peers in class on Monday.


Ain't I a Woman?

For tomorrow, you must read (and CRJ) this neat little extemporaneous speech by the one, the only: Sojourner Truth! Expect a quiz.  Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman"

Also, in case you kinda sorta dig this logic stuff (or in case it's hard and you want/need more practice) here are a few resources for you:

Understanding Syllogisms
Syllogism Quiz
Norton Logic Tutor
Logical Reasoning (LSAT) -- this was your challenge today

I'll add these to my link list over there. Enjoy!


I Do Declare!

Read and CRJ (and/or print and annotate) The Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps you will feel compelled to watch this action-packed adventure flick:

But I hope you refrain. The only good part of that movie is Riley Poole. He's kind of adorable and pathetic. In any case, you're reading one of our nation's most important documents (hopefully not for the first time) and you're going to examine the language and argument of it. Woot.


Blog Post #1

Well, you survived the first week of AP Language & Composition. Well done, you!

Your first official blog post assignment is this: Tell me about yourself. Do this in an interesting way. By that I mean don't just ramble on about stuff you like/dislike. Craft a wee little story about some experience that reveals something about you.

But I'm boring. 

Nonsense! Even your days lounging languidly on your couch watching reruns of Chopped have some kind of story embedded in them. You will learn in this class that anything can be worth writing about if you write it well enough. Try that idea out on your first blog post.

Include an active link to something, at least one photo, and try to embed a video. Woah. That's a lot of things. You can do it! Please post by Sunday 8:00 PM if at all humanly possible. We can discuss and settle on a time that works better if this gets in the way of other stuff...but you do have all weekend and, of course, you can post earlier than the deadline.

A note about the blogging component of this class: your blog is a place for you to personalize your writing, to experiment with writing, to air out some ideas, to interact with your classmates (and,  I guess, the world) and most important, to develop and strengthen your writing voice. Barring significantly inappropriate writing (in either form or content) just completing the weekly task will earn you your credit for this element. It's not "graded" the same way an essay would be. But since we play how we practice, I expect you to get in the habit of, like, using capital letters and punctuation and real sentences in your blog posts. Try to give them some shape or personality. Have a point. Write something worth reading. And, because blogs are blogs, make use of the media aspects when appropriate. Some professional bloggers include at least one image per post so that an icon linking to that post can be generated. If it feels like I'm speaking another language, don't worry, you'll catch on. This should be fun. Take ownership of your blog. Personalize it. Add gadgets. Make it reflect your aesthetic. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS GOOD, DO NOT USE A HIDEOUS ILLEGIBLE FONT. Consider your audience. Consider the purpose. Consider the form. Go nuts.

Happy blogging!


Well, Hullo There!

Normally I would post something strikingly witty and brilliant here, but summer still has dominion over my brain, and as such, I can come up with nothing more than: Usfbq3287rytfghbvjjzkd,djfa8.

Still, though, I am thrilled that you have found the blog and I will encourage you to bookmark it or make it your home page so that you get into the habit of checking it ALL THE TIME. We also have a Moodle page that you should get comfy with and there's a website and there's another website. I know this is confusing. I will streamline it all and we'll figure it out.

For now, just find these places and make a note to yourself about how to find them again.

Find "The Rhetorical Situation" by Lloyd Bitzer. Read this for tomorrow. You may print if there is enough paper. Otherwise you're on your own there. Digital copies with digital annotations are fine by me if you're comfortable with that.

You will notice a thousand other documents including an old syllabus. Most of it is the same so it wouldn't be a crisis if you looked at it, but you'll get a pretty new one tomorrow in class.

Note the cartoon. What argument does it make? How? How is it meant to be interpreted?

What is on September 21st at 8:00 PM? Take to the interwebs to learn more about this. What did you find? What do you think? How is this an argument?

I would say browse some of the fun things I have linked on my blog, but many of them will probably be blocked because they do not, at first glance, appear to be educational. But they are.

Now it's time for you to create your own blog. I recommend Blogger since it's all Google-connected and I'm familiar with it so I can help you out if need be, but you may use another platform if you prefer. I'm turning you loose to figure out how to do this on your own, but I will be here as a resource. You also have very smart, very capable classmates who can assist you (and I'm sure they'd love to). 

Make sure you give me a slice of paper with these things on it:
  • Your name/preferred nickname if this exists
  • Evidence that you found the things you were to find
  • Your blog's URL and your blog's name (you might not get this far today, that's fine)
Happy first-day-after-summer-died!