MOOCs

2014 ELA 20 Final Exam

1. Read/view the following texts carefully and thoughtfully before you start the writing assignments.
2. Read both the Personal/Creative and Critical/Analytical assignments before you start writing.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne, No Man Is An Island

“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. If they like their jobs. Or us. And I wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report due on top of that. Or wondering who did the heart breaking. And wondering why.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“We have to heal our wounded world. The chaos, despair, and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment.” – Michael Jackson

“Wherever I was, I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn’t mean anything, nothing had form but I was still me, you know? And I was warm and I was loved and I was finished. Complete. I don’t understand about theology or dimensions, or any of it, really but I think I was in heaven. And now I’m not. I was torn out of there. Pulled out by my friends. Everything here is hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch this is hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that knowing what I’ve lost…” – Joss Whedon

Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell 
Heaven from Hell, 
Blue skies from pain. 
Can you tell a green field 
From a cold steel rail? 
A smile from a veil? 
Do you think you can tell? 

And did they get you to trade 
Your heroes for ghosts? 
Hot ashes for trees? 
Hot air for a cool breeze? 
Cold comfort for change? 
And did you exchange 
A walk on part in the war 
For a lead role in a cage? 

How I wish, how I wish you were here. 
We're just two lost souls 
Swimming in a fish bowl, 
Year after year, 
Running over the same old ground. 
What have we found? 
The same old fears. 
Wish you were here.” 
- Roger Waters

“To a man utterly without a sense of belonging, mere life is all that matters. It is the only reality in an eternity of nothingness, and he clings to it with shameless despair.” – Eric Hoffer

“Once he went into the mountains on a clear, sunny day, and wandered about for a long time with a tormenting thought that refused to take shape. Before him was the shining sky, below him the lake, around him the horizon, bright and infinite, as if it went on forever. For a long time he looked and suffered. He remembered now how he had stretched out his arms to that bright, infinite blue and wept. What had tormented him was that he was a total stranger to it all. What was this banquet, what was this great everlasting feast, to which he had long been drawn, always, ever since childhood, and which he could never join? Every morning the same bright sun rises; every morning there is a rainbow over the waterfall; every evening the highest snow-capped mountain, there, far away, at the edge of the sky, burns with a crimson flame; every little fly that buzzes near him in a hot ray of sunlight participates in this whole chorus: knows its place, loves it, and is happy; every little blade of grass grows and is happy! And everything has its path, and everything knows its path, goes with a song and comes back with a song; only he knows nothing, understands nothing, neither people nor sounds, a stranger to everything and a castaway.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

“but as he plodded along a vague and almost hallucinatory pall hazed over his mind; he found himself at one point, with no notion of how it could be, a step from an almost certain fatal cliffside fall—falling humiliatingly and helplessly, he thought; on and on, with no one even to witness it. Here there existed no one to record his or anyone else’s degradation, and any courage or pride which might manifest itself here at the end would go unmarked: the dead stones, the dust-stricken weeds dry and dying, perceived nothing, recollected nothing, about him or themselves.” – Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

“At the top of the slope on the perimeter of the site, overlooking six lanes of motorway, is a diner frequented by lorry drivers who have either just unloaded or are waiting to pick up their cargo. Anyone nursing a disappointment with domestic life would find relief in this tiled, brightly lit cafeteria with its smells of fries and petrol, for it has the reassuring feel of a place where everyone is just passing through–and which therefore has none of the close-knit or convivial atmosphere which could cast a humiliating light on one’s own alienation. It suggests itself as an ideal location for Christmas lunch for those let down by their families.” – Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” – Charles Bukowski, Factotum

“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” – Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

“If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” – Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“And then one day, the songs stopped coming, and while you’ve suffered from periods of writer’s block before, albeit briefly, this is something chronic. Day after day, you face a blank page, and nothing’s coming. And those days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, and pretty soon those months have turned into years with very little to show for your efforts. No songs. So you start asking yourself questions. What have I done to offend the gods that they would abandon me so? Is the gift of songwriting taken away as easily as it seems to have been bestowed? Or perhaps there’s a more — a deeper psychological reason. It was always a Faustian pact anyway. You’re rewarded for revealing your innermost thoughts, your private emotions on the page for the entertainment of others, for the analysis, the scrutiny of others, and perhaps you’ve given enough of your privacy away.

And yet, if you look at your work, could it be argued that your best work wasn’t about you at all, it was about somebody else? Did your best work occur when you sidestepped your own ego and you stopped telling your story, but told someone else’s story, someone perhaps without a voice, where empathetically, you stood in his shoes for a while or saw the world through his eyes?

Well they say, write what you know. If you can’t write about yourself anymore, then who do you write about? So it’s ironic that the landscape I’d worked so hard to escape from, and the community that I’d more or less abandoned and exiled myself from should be the very landscape, the very community I would have to return to to find my missing muse.” – Sting How I Started Writing Songs Again

“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles. This is the first thing I hear when I come back to the city. Blair picks me up from LAX and mutters this under her breath as she drives up the onramp. She says, “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.” Though that sentence shouldn’t bother me, it stays in my mind for an uncomfortably long time. Nothing else seems to matter. Not the fact that I’m eighteen and it’s December and the ride on the plane had been rough and the couple from Santa Barbara, who were sitting across from me in first class, had gotten pretty drunk. Not the mud that had splattered on the legs of my jeans, which felt kind of cold and loose, earlier that day at an airport in New Hampshire. Not the stain on the arm of the wrinkled, damp shirt I wear, a shirt which looked fresh and clean this morning. Not the tear on the neck of my gray argyle vest, which seems vaguely more eastern than before, especially next to Blair’s clean tight jeans and her pale-blue shirt. All of this seems irrelevant next to that one sentence. It seems easier to hear that people are afraid to merge than “I’m pretty sure Muriel is anorexic” or the singer on the radio crying out about magnetic waves. Nothing else seems to matter to me but those ten words. Not the warm winds, which seem to propel the car down the empty asphalt freeway, or the faded smell of marijuana which still faintly permeates Blaire’s car. All it comes down to is the fact that I’m a boy coming home for a month and meeting someone whom I haven’t seen for four months and people are afraid to merge.” – Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero

“You’re always saying people don’t like you but people can’t like something that’s not there.” – Cath Crowley, A Little Wanting Song

Not Waving but Drowning 

Nobody heard him, the dead man, 
But still he lay moaning: 
I was much further out than you thought 
And not waving but drowning. 

Poor chap, he always loved larking 
And now he's dead 
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, 
They said. 

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always 
(Still the dead one lay moaning) 
I was much too far out all my life 
And not waving but drowning.” 
- Stevie Smith, Collected Poems

“No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes—forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection), but still unique.” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“But most days,
I wander around feeling invisible.
Like I'm a speck of dust
floating in the air
that can only be seen
when a shaft of light hits it.
- Sonya Sones, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies

ASSIGNMENT 1: Personal/Creative Response to Texts (suggested time: 45 minutes)
What do these texts suggest to you about isolation and alienation? Relate the text(s) you have chosen to your own experience and/or observation of alienation and isolation. Support your ideas with reference to one or more of the texts presented and your previous knowledge or experience.

In your writing, you must

  • use a prose form: personal essay, narrative
  • connect one or more of the texts provided in this examination to your own ideas and impressions

Initial Planning:

To which of the provided texts are you responding?
_______________________________________________________

What is the connection between the text(s) and your response?
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________

What idea do you intend to explore and how does it address the topic?
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________


ASSIGNMENT 2: Critical/Analytical Response to Literature (suggested time: 90 minutes)
Discuss the ideas raised by Martha Ostenso or Sinclair Ross about isolation and alienation.

In your planning and writing, consider the following instructions. -

  • Carefully consider your controlling idea and how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response.
  • As you develop your ideas, support them with appropriate, relevant, and meaningful examples from your choice of literary text(s).

Rubric

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ELA 20: Longing to Escape

from WILD GEESE

The story is set in the 1920s. Judith (Jude) Gare, who is 17 years old, has a passionate and rebellious spirit. Her overbearing father, Caleb, seeks to control Judith through the relentless demands of farm work. Caleb’s tyranny intimidates Judith’s mother, Amelia, as well as Judith’s submissive older sister, Ellen. Lind Archer, a young woman who has come to teach in the local school, boards with the Gares. Sven Sandbo is Judith’s sweetheart.

For the rest of the day, Judith’s hands were of no use to her, so she slipped away with her dog, Pete, through the bush to a little ravine where a pool had gathered below the thread of a spring. Pete caught a scent and was off, and Judith was left alone.

It was clingingly warm, as before rain. Not knowing fully what she was doing, Judith took off all her clothing and lay flat on the damp ground with the waxy feeling of new sunless vegetation under her. She needed to escape, to fly from something – she knew not what. Caleb . . . Ellen . . . the farm the hot reek of manure in the stable when it was close as today. Life was smothering, overwhelming her, like a pillow pressed against her face, like a feather tick[quilt] pinning down her body.

She would have struck Caleb today had it not been for Amelia. Always pity stood in the way of the tide of violence she felt could break from her. Pity for Amelia, who would get what Caleb did not dare mete out to her, Judith.

Oh, how knowing the bare earth was, as if it might have a heart and a mind hidden here in the woods. The fields that Caleb had tilled had no tenderness, she knew. But here was something forbiddingly beautiful, secret as one’s own body. And there was something beyond this. She could feel it in the freeness of the air, in the depth of the earth. Under the body there were, she had been taught, eight thousand miles of earth. On the other side, what? Above her body there were leagues and leagues of air, leading like wings – to what? The marvelous confusion and complexity of all the world had singled her out from the rest of the Gares. She was no longer one of them. Lind Archer had come and her delicate fingers had sprung a secret lock in Jude’s being. She had opened like a tight bud. There was no going back now into the darkness.

Sven Sandbo, he would be home in May, so they said. Was it Sven she wanted, now that she was so strangely free? Judith looked straight about her through the network of white birch and saw the bulbous white country that a cloud made against the blue. Something beyond Sven, perhaps . . . freedom, freedom. She dipped her blistered hands down into the clear topaz of the pool, lifted them and dipped them and lifted them, letting the drops slip off the tips of her fingers each time like tiny cups of light. She thought of the Teacher, of her dainty hands and her soft, laughing eyes . . . she came from another life, another world. She would go back there again. Her hands would never be maps of rope-blisters and Jude’s were now, from tugging a calf out of a mudhole. Jude hid her hands behind her and pressed herself against the cold ground. Hard, senseless sobs rose in her throat, and her eyes smarted with tears. She was ugly beyond all bearing, and all her life was ugly. Suddenly she was bursting with hatred of Caleb. Her large, strong body lay rigid on the ground, and was suddenly unnatural in that earthy place.

Martha Ostenso
1900-1963

ASSIGNMENT

Literature often describes some aspect of the human desire to escape. An individual may desire escape from physical, social, emotional, or psychological circumstances. Whether the individual responds actively or passively to that desire affects the course of his or her life.

In this excerpt from the novel Wild Geese, Martha Ostenso uses descriptive details to convey to the reader a sense of Jude’s longing to escape.

What idea(s) does Martha Ostenso develop regarding the desire to escape? Develop your essay by providing specific supporting details from Wild Geese.

•FOCUS your essay on your controlling idea regarding escape. Provide only those details that develop and support your controlling idea.

•ORGANIZE your essay so that your ideas are clearly and coherently developed.

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A Canadian Family Portrait: The Gares

In Canadian literature the family is handled quite differently. If in England the family is a mansion you live in, and if in America it’s a skin you shed, then in Canada it’s a trap in which you’re caught. The Canadian protagonist often feels just as trapped inside his family as his American counterpart; he feels the need for escape, but somehow he is unable to break away.

Families in Canadian fiction huddle together like sheep in a storm or chickens in a coop: miserable and crowded, but unwilling to leave because the alternative is seen as cold empty space.

Grandparents are not necessarily settlers, . . .instead of pitting their force of will against the land– that’s been done for them by their ancestors – they pit it against other people, most notably their descendants.

Parents lack the will, the attachment to the land and the metallic strength of their parents, but they have been unable to replace it by anything more positive and attractive.

Children try to escape both previous generations. They desire neither the Calvinism and commitment to the land of the Grandparents, nor the grey placelessness and undefined guilt of the parents. They want, somehow, to live, but they have trouble finding a way to do this. They sometimes feel a double pull – back to the tough values and the land, like the Grandparents, or away – farther away than the parents managed to get. –Margaret Atwood, Survival.

Atwood, in Survival, presents arguments on several thematic developments in Canadian literature. In this section of her book she discusses the Canadian author’s treatment of family relationships. Many authors are included in her analysis, including Margaret Laurence, Hugh MacLennan, Tom Wayman, Mavis Gallant, and George Bowering. However, Margaret Atwood makes no direct mention of Martha Ostenso in Survival.

Compare and contrast the themes developed in Martha Ostenso’s Wild Geese with the above statements by Margaret Atwood. Why should, or should not, Atwood’s chapter on family relationships include reference(s) to Wild Geese?

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ELA 30 Midterm

ELA 30-1
Discuss the idea(s) developed by Elie Wiesel in Night about the role adversity plays in shaping an individual’s identity.
You must

  • carefully consider your controlling idea and how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response
  • develop your ideas and support them with appropriate, relevant, and meaningful examples from Night.

ELA 30-2
What is your opinion of the idea that the ability to face hardship is an essential human quality?
You must

  • discuss a character from Night, by Elie Wiesel. You may choose to discuss more than one character.
  • ensure the details you select support your opinion of the idea that the ability to face hardship is an essential human quality
  • reflect upon your own knowledge and/or experience
  • present your ideas in an organized discussion so that your ideas are clearly and effectively presented.

Carefully Consider the following in preparation …

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ELA 10 Final Essay Topics

English Language Arts 10 Final Essay Topics

ELA 10-1

Your response can be in the form of a narrative or essay.

In Julius Caesar, we have many people working together for various reasons and with varying degrees of success. Most of the relationships have tension in them and all are marked with conflicting pressures, values, and consequences that surround decision making.

Choose any two characters that have a close relationship and examine the effect of their decisions on their relationship. Consider carefully how the decisions of these characters are affected by three of the following “big ideas”: power, fate and free will, friendship, art and culture, gender, manipulation, pride, principles.

Brutus and Cassius

or

Brutus and Portia

or

Caesar and Antony

or

Antony and Octavius

 

ELA 10-2

Your response can be in the form of a narrative or essay

Write a narrative or essay in which you examine conflicting pressures, values, and consequences that surround decision making. Connect to news, history, culture, religion, politics, sports, and/or society in your exploration of the decisions that surround the use of violence.

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ELA 10 Midterm Assignment

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. -William James

Read carefully the two short stories, The Sniper by O’Flaherty and Araby by James Joyce.

Write a post in response to one of these stories in which you discuss the idea(s) the author suggests to you about decisions.

Consider the rubric:

Tips General:
This assignment should allow you to showcase your expository writing skills. As well, you should consider relevant items for your discussion from your Short Story Study Guide. Show how the author builds interest/intensity about decisions through the use of literal (information, vocabulary, conflict, etc) figurative (symbolism, irony, allusion, etc) and archetypal elements.

Tips Extra:
The rubric will reward discussions which incorporate philosophical ideas in general. This task would be an excellent opportunity to quibble about existential ideals specifically.

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Same Circus, New Clowns, … and New Clown Pants

I was thinking this morning I had better push out a list of some items new and returning students should have or soon add to their sites:

  • update choice of themes, revised site titles and tag lines.
  • check profile and update any details – especially your password and email details (must be your active @ecacs16.ab.ca email)
  • customize your theme – look at theme settings for any other details to make your site more uniquely your own
  • add a personal gravatar to your ecacs16.ab.ca email account
  • create a few amazon book widgets: “Books I’m Reading”, “Books I’ve Read”, “Books I Want”, “Favourite DVDs” etc.
  • create a custom menu widget of your class (and other classes)
  • add a custom menu widget for your most used links: forum Book Talk, email, School Calendar, Snowflakes, etc…
  • add a link to your custom menu to your current course outlines and focus questions at the Pingo Lingo and ComTech blogs

If you have other tips or tidbits in your blog you think we all should have, please drop me a comment below.

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ELA 30 Writing Assignments: Modernism

First and second assignments:
30-1, 30-2, and 30-4 do the following:

Third assignment:
30-1 do the following:

30-2 do the following:

30-4 do the following:

Fourth assignment:
30-1, 30-2, and 30-4 do the following:

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Hamlet and the Human Condition

“Hamlet is a name; his speeches and sayings but the idle coinage of the poet’s brain. What then, are they not real? They are as real as our own thoughts. Their reality is in the reader’s mind. It is we who are Hamlet.” – William Hazlitt (1817)

Write an essay about what Hamlet (the play and/or the character) has to say about who we are, about the human condition.

Tips:
Try the online essay planner for Hamlet at shmoop.com.
Synthesize arguments from the notes and discussions topics from our own classes (any topic/concept/question/conundrum from Apollonian to Xenophobia).

… not selfishly–or not always selfishly, we are in search of our identity, the identity of our human condition.
- Malcolm Ross & John Stevens

The most profound discovery that we can make is our discovery of self. Our identity rests in the kind of people we are. To understand who we are and to develop fully as human beings, we must explore the nature of our humanness and the purpose of our lives. Who and what are we? What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold? What roles do other people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives? What brings us joy, inspiration, and fulfillment? What doubts and fears do we have? By examining our lives and searching for answers to these and other questions, we can find meaning and fulfillment as human beings.

The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
- Plato

Critical Response Rubric

Critical Response Rubric

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