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Thursday, September 20

September 20, 2018

Professional Writing: 

Bookbinding: Today you began a new project. Here are the guidelines: Bookbinding 9.20.18 – Project 3, Pamphlets.

I am really most interested in your ability to think outside of the box in terms of design and construction. Go above and beyond for #2; if it fails, the stakes are low. That won’t always be the case once we’re into more complicated structures, so there’s no time like now to start trying things and figuring out how to navigate through trial and error.


Publishing: Same-ish as Tuesday. Remember to like our stuff on social media. I’d also like you all to have the website in the back of your minds: throughout the year, everyone will have an opportunity, sooner or later, to contribute. Think about what you might be able to write about, and if you can start or take some kind of action toward it, please do so.


Survey: Poetry: 

Wednesday, Sept. 19

September 19, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: Kennedy, Michalowski and Nascimento.

For Friday: Erb-White, Kashuba and McCoy.

For Monday: Holten, Haddox, Morsaint and Woefel.

For Wednesday: McKoen and Nelson.

For Friday: R3 poem due on the blog by 8 a.m.

Screenwriting Workshop: Workshopped Henry. Spencer and Bailey for Friday. Comments were kind of weak today, disappointingly – make sure to pick it back up. AND stay aware of your Round 2 due dates: those are coming up quick. If you have trouble with the Google Calendar, ask me for help. I cannot read your mind, and even if I could, I wouldn’t, because I don’t want to.  Here’s the link again:

Siren: Building a nation. No, sorry, just building an app.

If you’re not with us Tuesdays and Thursdays, please check the blog tomorrow for some info you’ll need to know soon.

BatCat: Hey! Lots of stuff going on. Joanie brought new papers – thanks, Joanie!

Violence: Today we reviewed for Friday’s first test. The study guide is here: Violence exam #1 study guide

I gave out a new essay about LotF, “Grief, Grief, Grief.” See me if you don’t have it. You will need to have read it for the test. (Focus on pages 62 and 64.)

Survey: Fiction: Today: first, a quiz on “The Chrysanthemums.” Then you took notes on setting, foreshadowing, atmosphere, and mood. Then you worked in partners to briefly discuss the beginning of the short story: Fiction 9.19.18 – ICA 5, Setting.

Following that, you got the guidelines for Prompt 3, which can also be found here: Fiction 9.18.19 – Prompt 3, Details & Setting. We went outside so you could begin this assignment (the setting is the outside stage and the park), and you each got a post-it with an assigned atmosphere. If you were absent, yours is in the box, as usual. Your homework is to polish and type it up, following the guidelines on the sheet, for Monday.

As I mentioned, this is fiction, so you do have some latitude to “make stuff up” within the bounds of the setting. For example, if you want to describe something you don’t literally see, but that would be normal in a setting like this (such as a man walking his dog, or a bird sitting on a branch), you can write about it. But don’t include something that takes away from the setting as you experience it (like, don’t describe the trees as all having pink leaves, and don’t add in absurd details like clowns or whatever).

Email me if you have questions.

Four contest/submission opportunities…

September 18, 2018

…because it’s never too early!

  • Bennington College is the alma mater of Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho. They are sponsoring a Young Writers Contest for poetry, fiction (including one-act plays) and CNF; details are here. (You need a teacher referral.)
  • Closer to home, The Strand Theater in Zelienople is sponsoring a “Ghost of the Strand” writing contest with a $5 entry fee. See us for more details if you’re interested:
Amidst these darkened walls, shimmering above the stage and balcony rails, a ghastly presence roams, distraught that The Strand continues to thrive. As it traverses the deathly silent theater, the damp air becomes saturated. Stairs creek and the old projectors, displayed as museum relics, flicker and come to life. The spectre of The Strand is in our midst!
At least that’s what WE think should happen! Every theater has to have a ghost, but as far as we know, we don’t have one. That’s where YOU come in. If you’re a student in grade 7 through 12, we want YOU to create a legend of a ghost that haunts The Strand.  PARENTS & TEACHERS: Share this E-Mail Alert with your devilishly creative kids!
Be Fanciful! Be Frightful! Be Brief! Tell Us in 500 Words or less! You may enter as often as you like, but a $5 Entry Fee must accompany each individual submission.
One winner will be chosen from all entries and receive a Strand Theater Prize Pack, including a pair of tickets to see WITCHES BREW live on stage, a pair of passes to our Nightmare Bus Tour of haunted ‘hot spots’ throughout Zelienople and Harmony, and even a Walmart gift card!  Witches Brew blends well-known Broadway & Pop music with an original storyline about the Witch of Halloween, seeking to turn all days into All Hallow’s Eve! This family-friendly show is ghoulish fun for all audiences!  Other cool prizes are in store for runners up and even the teacher of the winning entrant. Submission deadline is Friday, October 12th, 2018.
Don’t Wait! Enter today!
* And finally, Elan Literary Magazine, published by Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Florida, is looking for submissions for its Fall 2018 edition. Here’s the flyer; the deadline is Oct. 5: Élan flyer
You can also visit their submissions page for more info.
* But wait, there’s more! The Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest is open to high-school aged women through October 31. Click here for details. 

Tuesday, September 18

September 18, 2018

Professional Writing: Today we:

  • Turned in resumes. If you didn’t give me your first draft, please give it to me tomorrow.
  • Wrote down questions that you dread having a college interviewer or a job interviewer ask you. We’ll come back to these soon.
  • Reviewed the tests. They weren’t great, but here’s what we are going to do:
  • I’m going to give an additional, 25-point test on this same material on Thursday. This will be added to your existing grade, and give you a chance to boost it at least a letter.
  • If you’re happy with your current grade, you can opt out. (But if you take the retest, it counts.)
  • What will be on this retest? Only the most important stuff:
  • The difference between active and passive voice.
  • Identifying subjects and objects in active and passive sentences.
  • Questions 7 through 14.
  • Choosing the right verb.
  • A proofreading exercise, which will include spelling words from our list of 35.

I know it can be discouraging and frustrating doing this, because there are so many rules and so many exceptions. Don’t feel bad, because there’s no reason to do that. Nobody knows all the rules. We will get through this together.

Bookbinding: Today you handed in Project 2. Nice job, everyone. In class, I demoed the next book structure, which you replicated in class with prepped materials. We then went over the following documents: MeasureMarkCut // Bookbinding 2.4.14 – Softcover Booklet (1) // Bookbinding 9.18.18 – Skill 2, Paper Grain. 

Homework: READ these handouts. Like, read the words. Try to understand them. Then connect them to the diagrams. That sort of thing.

On Thursday, you’ll have to create one of these books from scratch, with your own measurements. If you want to bring some kind of cover material from home, feel free to do so. I am expecting you to finish in class on Thursday, so plan ahead (otherwise, you’ll have access to all of the papers from the last project).

Journalism: Workin’. (I hope.)

Publishing: Thanks for appearing to stay on task!

Style: You shared and handed in your Gaiman pieces, then got the new style for this week: Gertrude Stein’s poetry. Read and take notes for Thursday.

Survey: Poetry: We began Chapter Five:

  • We discussed euphony (sounds pleasing to the ear) and cacophony (sounds that are harsh to the ear).
  • We found examples of euphony using excerpts from four fairly well-known poems: Euphony and Cacophony examples Sept 18
  • The euphonious effect is created by soft consonants (“l”s especially, as well as w, s, and f) and long vowel sounds, and is appropriate to the first two poems because they’re like panning a camera slowly around somewhat pleasant scenes.
  • Conversely, hard, guttural sounds — short vowels and consonants like “k,” hard “g,” and “r” — can be used to create cacophonous effects. We see this in “Jabberwocky,” where the mood is tense (if nonsensical) and there’s even a warning in the second stanza.
  • We reviewed the difference between four non-rhyming sound devices: alliteration (repetition of a sound — not just a letter — at the beginning of multiple words); assonance (repetition of vowel sounds within multiple words); consonance (repetition of consonant sounds within multiple words) and onomatopoeia (words that sound like the effect they describe, like “bang” and “buzz”).
  • Then we described three types of rhyme: true rhyme (where the ending sounds are identical); slant (or off) rhyme, where the ending sounds are NOT identical, even if the previous sounds — usually vowels — DO sound the same; and eye rhyme, where the words look identical, but sound different, usually because of the vowel sounds. (For example: blood and good.)

Your homework for Thursday is to use each of the four non-rhyming sound devices in a line of poetry. Please give me two examples of each type of device. For example:


Example one: Who moved the stew? (Long “o” repeated three times)

Example two: Try not to pile the files on the child’s desk. (Long “i” repeated four times)

Then give me two sets of rhyming words for each of the three types of rhyme we discussed. For example:

True rhyme:

Blue and shoe

Back and attack

You can do this on the index card I gave you.


Monday, September 17

September 17, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: Nelson (R1) and Bocek (R2).

We held over two pieces: Kennedy and Michalowski.

For Wednesday: comments and annotations for Brody and Nascimento.

Screenwriting Workshop: Workshopped Spencer and Julia. Henry’s screenplays are for Wednesday – there is an original and revised version, all stapled into the same packet. He says you can be light on the annotations, but I still want to see something on every page, please! Those of you that really go above and beyond can take it easy. Please spend more time on the online comment, as he says these are more helpful.

Be working on your new pieces! Round 2 will be upon us before you know it. Know your due dates.

Siren: Today we discussed the “fog index,” something you wily vets already know.

The fog index is a measure of the approximate level at which you are writing. (The “fog” is a reference to clarity, or at least to how “foggy” your writing is to the average reader.) It’s based on a sample of your writing that is at least 100 words long.

The formula is as follows:

  1. Find the average # of words per sentence.
  2. Count the number of “hard” words — that is, words with three or more syllables. (Excluding proper nouns, such as people’s names.)
  3. Add #1 and #2.
  4. Multiply by 0.4.

You should get a number that ranges anywhere between single digits and twentysomething. This is the grade level at which you are writing. But remember: lower is generally better. The target number for newspaper stories is middle-school level: between 6 and 8.

How do you simplify without dumbing down?

  1. Write shorter sentences. When you can avoid connecting long chains of thought with conjunctions or commas (or whatever), do it.
  2. Don’t use a three-syllable word when a shorter one will work. This is trickier, because some three-syllable words — for example, “family” — are both simple and familiar. You wouldn’t substitute “group” for “family” just because “group has less syllables — they’re not exactly the same thing. But consider a word like “capitulated.” Wouldn’t it be better, in this context, to just say “gave in”?

I expect everyone to know this formula from memory. Forewarned is forearmed.

BatCat: It looks like we’ll probably be going to Frostburg – please use this week to check in with your parents and lock-in your plans (make sure you have your rides figured out). We’ll do an absolute confirmation on Friday.

Submissions – do more, please.

Violence: Today we talked about classification of the four major violent events in LotF:

  • The sow’s death
  • Simon’s murder
  • Piggy’s murder
  • The burning of the island

on our continuum. There aren’t absolute answers (though some are far more defensible than others). The goal, besides trying to understand how violence is used, is to learn to make a strong case for your own views.

Then we discussed the set of four image clusters (or chains, if you prefer) that can be found in the book:

  • Images of light and darkness
  • Images of dirt and excrement
  • Images of falling
  • Images of masks/disguise

We pointed out that the first three images can be found in the very last graf of the book. They really do run through the entire novel.

Finally, we talked about the background of this book — very general historic background. We discussed three philosophers whose views shaped the Enlightenment (essentially, the 18th century). Each of these guys had a very specific view of man in his “state of nature” — that is, man as he exists without civilization or any civilizing influences. (Which, by the way, is an imaginary concept; there never has been a man who lived in a pure “state of nature.”)

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was an Englishman (he lived during the chaos of the English Civil War, which explains a lot about him) believed that man’s natural state is the “war of all against all.” Therefore, he believed man needs a strong, perhaps even repressive government, to keep his evil influences in check. This was the subject of his best-known work, Leviathan.
John Locke (1632-1704) was also an Englishman believed that man’s nature state is of a “blank slate,” or tabula rasa — that we are are born with the capacity to learn, and with the capacity for reason. Because he did not believe that man’s evil impulses were predominant, he believed man, an inherently rational being, needed only limited government.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) was a native of Geneva, Switzerland, who believed that man’s state of nature was characterized by innocence, and that civilization is what corrupts him. His famous quote was “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This corruption man suffers via civilization, Rousseau believed, was in large part due to the effects of private property — man’s need to protect it, which necessitated laws and punishments. If he sounds like a romantic, you’re right: he inspired the Romantic writers of the late-18th/early-19th century. if he sounds like a hippie, right again. But his dislike of private property also made him a spiritual ancestor of Karl Marx, and thus of communism.

We talked about these three views of man’s state of nature, and what they mean in terms of government. And we discussed how these views affected Golding’s philosophy.

Wednesday we’ll wrap all this up, with our goal being a first test on Friday.

Survey: Fiction: Some of you shared your assignments (Prompt 2) that were then handed in. If you did have yours, or you were absent, please get it to me ASAP!

We then discussed the differences between two colors, and the rest of the time was yours to work on ICA 4, which can be found here: Fiction 9.17.18 – ICA 4, Synesthesia. Remember, the point here is to think about “concrete, significant detail” in a slightly different way – try to evoke these colors in an interesting, specific way that is also accessible to readers (in other words, it should carry meaning beyond your personal understanding). If you were absent, there is a hard copy and a color chip waiting for you in the box! These were not collected and will be at the beginning of class on Wednesday – so bring them back!!

For Wednesday: read “The Chrysanthemums” in The Norton Anthology (pg. 702). There will be a quiz.

Friday, September 14

September 14, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: Kashuba/Woelfel/McKoen.

I gave out the R2 packets, which are here if you need them: Poetry Workshop R2 Sept 2018

For Monday, we will begin by finishing R1 (Nelson). Comments and annotations for the first three poems in the packet are due: Kennedy/Bocek/Michalowski.

Screenwriting Workshop: Today we workshopped Jordyn and Mylo. Julia and Spencer are for Monday.

Siren: A variety of things happened today, none of them in a particularly formal sense.

The big thing is layout of the physical paper, to be followed early next week, we hope, by the approval of the app funding. The goal is to go to press and to debut the app before week’s end. That may mean pushing back some Intro stuff as needed; we still need to test the app and come up with an official way to debut it.

Everyone has some October assignments they might be able to begin working on in the meantime.

BatCat: If you are interested in perhaps running a table at the Indie Lit Fest at Frostburg ( – we would ONLY be doing Saturday; it’s about 2 hours away, a day trip) talk to your parents/guardians over the weekend. We’ll revisit this on Monday.

Otherwise, keep working on those submissions and don’t forget to grade yourselves.

Violence: Today we had a shortened class — probably too short to accomplish everything I set out to do.

We identified the four most significant violent acts in LotF: 1) the killing of the sow; 2) the killing of Simon; 3) the killing of Piggy; 4) the burning of the island.

Using the text of the book, I asked you to classify each act by using our sensation/revelation/culmination/regeneration continuum.

We did the first one together. The killing of the sow was clearly 1) sensational (it is described graphically; the author didn’t have to do this, so he did it for a reason) and 2) revelatory (this event shows us that the boys are capable not just of violence, but of violent cruelty as well). I don’t think it is culminative; this event is not really foreshadowed, nor is this the buildup of something — it happens fairly suddenly. I also don’t think it is regenerative, although Miss Holten made a clever argument for considering it that way, and if you are able to do that on an assessment, I might buy it.

Your job for Monday is to:

  • 1. classify the other three events, using the continuum, and giving a short explanation for why you think each one checks the boxes it checks.
  • 2. read the essay I gave you, “Law and Order Can Control Humanity’s Evil Nature.” (It’s here if you lost it or were absent: Law and Order in LotF) It covers a lot of ground; the author not only appreciates the book, she has some serious criticisms of Golding’s method and worldview. There are tons of ways into this. Three come immediately to mind:
  • Is this, or is this not, a dystopian novel?
  • Does Golding’s decision to leave out certain real-world elements (scarcity, women, etc.) limit the novel’s effect, or even invalidate it?
  • A big one, of course: is the suggestion — made by Golding, and repeated by the author — that sometimes, violence can only be met successfully with more violence an inevitable truth, or an avoidable mistake?
  • Your job is to pick one element discussed in the essay (it doesn’t have to be one of the ones above) and write a one-page response about why you agree or disagree with it. Type- or handwritten.

Survey: Haiku Rodeo 2018! Winners announced next weekish.

Thursday, September 13

September 13, 2018

Professional Writing: Today we talked about writing a business letter. You wrote one to Blue Marble Review and sent it to me.


  • There are three fonts you ought to stick to for a letter like this: two serif fonts (Times New Roman and Georgia) and one sans serif font (Arial).
  • Try to find the right person to address. If you’re submitting poetry to a journal, try to find the name of the poetry editor. If you’re applying for a job, try to find the name of the hiring director. Etc., etc. Names are important if you can get them. (But if you can’t, avoid the generic stuff like “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • If you have a personal connection with the person in question (you were a participant in a workshop they ran; you won a writing award that they judged; etc.) then that is probably mentioning in the cover letter. Otherwise, keep it short and simple.
  • Keep your letter to three grafs, maximum. And one of those should be the final “Thank you” graf.
  • Don’t get too cute with salutations and closings. When in doubt, play it safe. Think of the cover letter less as a way to wow people and more as a hurdle you have to clear to keep going in the race. Don’t disqualify yourself.

For Tuesday:

  • Read Chapter 3 in your textbook.
  • Revise your resume, fixing what needs fixed. (ALSO: I didn’t say this in class, and I should have, but PLEASE bring back your first draft — the one I marked up.)

Bookbinding: Work day. These are due at the beginning of class, with your written (typed) explanations.

Journalism: Today you turned in your liberal/conservative belief prompts, and we talked about the public perception of media bias and why it exists. First of all, it definitely does, and it does slant leftward — here’s a recent story about it from Politico, which suggests that it’s also a geographic problem.

However, the prompt we did today will also, I hope, remind you (when and if you need reminding) that all of us are more than just a standard set of beliefs. Covering an issue fairly means more than just reporting on both sides of an issue — it means understanding those sides, as well as we’re able.

A reporter’s job is a difficult one — a guy I used to work with once described it as “having to become an expert on something new four out of five days of the week.” But it’s also, in a lot of ways, a noble calling, I think — despite what you might hear outside these walls!

Publishing: Open house tonight! Good work on all fronts.

Style: Today we talked about Neil Gaiman’s short story, “Orange.” Here’s the board:


For Tuesday: shoot for about 2 pages (TNR 12 pt, double spaced, as usual. Include MLA header). Please do follow the style of a single-sided questionnaire/interrogation/etc. Use other elements as you see fit. There’s a lot of potential here to do something interesting – relatively high expectations for this one!

Survey: Poetry: Today I gave you the Terrance Hayes and John Betjeman poetry packets. We won’t need them for a while yet, but try not to lose ’em, please.

Then I gave you this handout about haiku: survey-poetry-haiku-introduction-september-2016 Haiku are easy to hate. They get a bad rep because they’re so short. People think that means they’re easy to write. But they aren’t, if you’re doing it right. One way you do it right is to come up with a compelling image that says a lot; good haiku are pretty dense.

We came up with a haiku about a chair (no need to reproduce it here for delicate hearts) that was a good approximation of how the process ought to work. We kept adding and subtracting, changing words and phrases until we hit just the right (well…) balance of accessibility (we understood this was a chair talking, thanks to Miss Lenkner’s astute suggestion about using a title) and unexpected imagery (most of the other stuff). It didn’t take that long, but it was a pretty intense 10 minutes of work.

You got with a partner and recorded five specific, concrete details about them. Then your assignment was to turn these details (some of them, anyway) into three haiku. You are to bring these in tomorrow: they will be your admission to Haiku Rodeo 2018!