Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge

Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge: Roles and the Writing Process.

"What's the hardest part of writing?" I ask on the first day of class.
"Getting started," someone offers, groaning.
"No, it's not getting started," a voice in the back of the room corrects. "It's keeping on once you do get started. I can always write a sentence or two-but then I get stuck."
"Why?" I ask.
"I don't know. I am writing along, and all of a sudden I realize how awful it is, and I tear it up. Then I start over again, and after two sentences, the same thing happens."
"Let me suggest something which might help," I say. Turning to the board, I write four words: "madman," "architect," "carpenter," "judge."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Books Mr. Koch Recommends

Books Mr. Koch Recommends

The Crucible Themes

The Crucible Themes

Lies and Deceit
Respect and Reputation
Compassion and Forgiveness
Good and Evil
The Supernatural

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Crucible Themes."  Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 20 Sep 2010.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Readicide: how schools are killing ... - Google Books

Readicide: how schools are killing ... - Google Books

Crucible study guide [v5

Crucible study guide

Crucible study guide [v5 - Google Docs

Crucible study guide

10. One of Miller's most powerful devices in this play is his use of irony. Irony is a contrast or discrepancy between expectation and reality. In verbal irony a writer or speaker says one thing , but really means the opposite. In situational irony, what actually happens is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate. In dramatic irony, the audience or the reader is aware of something important that the character does not know. Explain how each of the following is an example of verbal, situational, or dramatic irony:

a. John's warning to Elizabeth at the beginning of the act, "Pray now for a fair summer."

b. Mary's gift of a poppet to Elizabeth

c. Proctor's reliance, early in this act , on the good offices of Ezekiel Cheever

d. The one Commandment out of ten that John Proctor can't remember

e. Proctor's statement toward the end about Abigail, "Good, Then her saintliness is done with."

f. Hale's statement about Parris , "The man's ordained, therefore the light of God is in him."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teaching the Virginia SOL Writing Domains

Virginia SOL Writing Domains

The Virginia Standards of Learning Writing Domains
  1. Composing
    1. Central idea
    2. Elaboration
    3. Organization
    4. Unity
  2. Written Expression
    1. Vivid and precise vocabulary
    2. Selected information
    3. Voice
    4. Tone
    5. Sentence variety
  3. Usage & Mechanics
    1. Sentence formation
      1. Standard word order
      2. Completeness
      3. No enjambments
      4. Standard coordination
    2. Usage
      1. Inflection
      2. Agreement
      3. Conventions
      4. Word meaning
    3. Mechanics
      1. Formatting
      2. Spelling
      3. Standard capitalization
      4. End punctuation
      5. Internal punctuation

SAT Essay Scoring Guide

SAT Essay Scoring Guide

Score of 6

An essay in this category demonstrates clear and consistent mastery, although it may have a few minor errors. 
  • effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support its position
  • is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas

Written Expression

  • exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary
  • demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure

Mechanics and Usage

  • is free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

Materials for Students: Writing the Academic Paper: Developing Your Thesis

Materials for Students: Writing the Academic Paper: Developing Your Thesis


In the end, you may have spent a good deal of time writing your thesis and still not know if it's a good one. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Does my thesis sentence attempt to answer (or at least to explore) a challenging intellectual question?
  • Is the point I'm making one that would generate discussion and argument, or is it one that would leave people asking, "So what?"
  • Is my thesis too vague? Too general? Should I focus on some more specific aspect of my topic?
  • Does my thesis deal directly with the topic at hand, or is it a declaration of my personal feelings?
  • Does my thesis indicate the direction of my argument? Does it suggest a structure for my paper?
  • Does my introductory paragraph define terms important to my thesis? If I am writing a research paper, does my introduction "place" my thesis within the larger, ongoing scholarly discussion about my topic?
  • Is the language in my thesis vivid and clear? Have I structured my sentence so that the important information is in the main clause? Have I used subordinate clauses to house less important information? Have I used parallelism to show the relationship between parts of my thesis? In short, is this thesis the very best sentence that it can be?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sacred Texts part 2

Complete a research based analysis of one of the following pieces of sacred literature:

Rig Veda





Using a minimum of 4 sources including your textbook, complete one of the following:

PowerPoint Presentation - this should include a minimum of 8 slides, be complete with appropriate visuals, and be clearly presented to the class. Include a background on the text, share significant excerpts, and give a personal interpretation of the text. Please include a slide with your MLA Works Cited page.

Vodcast or Podcast - this assignment should be a 5 minute podcast covering the subject matter. Please include appropriate musical selections for intro and outro, and demonstrate any necessary editing to your podcast. Include a background on the text, share significant excerpts, and give a personal interpretation of the text. Please turn in a typed MLA Works Cited page with your project.

Research paper - a more formal writing assignment, this paper should be free of mistakes and include an accurate MLA Works Cited page; also include accurate in text or parenthetical citations. Please include a background on the text, share significant excerpts, giving your interpretation of the meaning and relate a personal connection of the text.

Dramatic Reading - using a minimum of one prop, perform a portion of your text to the class. Your presentation should include the conventions of the style of writing that your work represents. Also, include time for an explanation or question and answer session explaining the conventions you used in presenting your
reading. Demonstrate knowledge of your research during the explanation phase of the presentation.

Artistic Rendering - Using any mode that you choose, complete a visual interpretation of the reading. Upon
presenting your artwork to the class, provide an explanation of the art in respect to the literature. During your
presentation, cite your research and the influences that it had on your piece.

Theater/Drama Literary Terms

Dramatic Irony
Situational Irony
Verbal Irony
Rising Action  
Falling Action  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SAT Essay Topics: Practice your essay writing

SAT Essay Topics: Practice your essay writing

Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment.

  1. Prompt:
    "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value."
    Thomas Paine

    Do we value only what we struggle for? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

  2. Prompt:
    If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn. In order to make progress we must admit where we are now. Such an admission of ignorance is not easy. As Thoreau says, “How can we remember our ignorance which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”

    Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  3. Prompt:
    “A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.”

    Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  4. Prompt:
    Many societies believe that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. But it is also true that attainment of happiness remains elusive. Perhaps Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”

    What gives us more pleasure and satisfaction: the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  5. Prompt:
    “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
    Winston Churchill

    Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  6. Prompt:
    “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
    Alexander Pope

    Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  7. Prompt:
    “What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.”
    Don Marquis

    With our modern awareness of ecology are we likely to make sufficient progress in conservation, or are we still in danger of damaging the earth beyond repair? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  8. Prompt:
    A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe.
    Georges Clemenceau

    Is it true that acting quickly and instinctively is the best response to a crisis? Or are there times when an urgent situation requires a more careful consideration and a slower response? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  9. Prompt:
    There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters – they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

    Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  10. Prompt:
    “Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” Bernard Shaw expected to provoke controversy with these words, but I would agree with him that these days there is too much emphasis on independence. While it is certainly true that excessive dependence on others is not a sign of maturity, total independence of others is neither attainable nor desirable: we need to be mature, and unselfish enough to recognize our interdependence.

    Do we put too much emphasis on self-reliance and independence, and are we afraid of admitting that we need other people in our lives? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Sacred Texts

"Locate on a map and identify the significance of the following:

Respond to the following:
How long did it take to build the pyramids? Why were they built? Find them on the map?
For what achievement is the Sumerian king Hammurabi known?
Why is Egypt referred to as 'the gift of the Nile'?
Summarize the role of Moses in Hebrew religion.
What is The Ramayana?
Who is considered the founder of Buddhism?
What does the word 'Allah' mean? What circumstances make Muhammad the founder of Islam?
Define Archetype?

List 3 character archetypes and 3 plot archetypes and identify figures/stories from literature, film or television which meet the characteristics of the archetypal structure.

Define Folk Epic and Literary Epic.

Include at least 5 epic conventions.

List eight stages of the Epic Heroes Cycle.

Identify a character from your literary or cultural experience that is an epic figure and trace how they follow the epic hero's cycle."

Speed Search - The Crucible

Speed Search - The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible opened to audiences in 1953. The story line recounts a forgettable period in American history, the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690’s. This time period is remembered with fear because it defies the very principles of freedom that Americans have come to hold dear. Unlawful accusation and imprisonment, corrupt and biased courts and judges, and a severe misuse of the justice system to achieve a personal end are some of the issues that The Crucible recounts. Sadly, Arthur Miller wrote with inspiration from another “witch trial.” In the 1950’s Senator Joseph McCarthy sought to prosecute anyone deemed “un-American” or communist. These trials serve as a frightening reminder of Massachusetts in the 1690’s.

Research one of the following:

  1. Arthur Miller’s world – Who was this guy?
  2. I spy something red – The Red Scare in the 1950’s
  3. Which witches are which – The Salem witch trials
  4. Starring Wynona Ryder as Abigail Williams… - The Crucible on stage and screen.