Observe death carefully, sympathetically

Write a narration about your experience with a person or an animal whose actions you have observed carefully, using a first-person point of view to present not only your own observations of your subject but also the details of that subject’s experiences as you have sympathetically understood and interpreted them.

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The Nature of Art

Suppose you find a beautiful rock formation while out in the woods. Experts study it and declare that it is a statue made by a primitive and now extinct group of people. So, you donate it to an art museum, where it sits for many years and is admired by many people. Then new evidence is uncovered that shows that it is a natural rock formation, made by rain dropping from a cave wall. Can the rock formation still be art? Should it be moved from the Museum of Art to the Museum of Natural History? What do you think you will say when you look at it again? Do you think it will look any different to you than it did when you first saw it?

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Who Wrote the Book of Love?

Compare one of these lyrical versions to Eleanor of Aquitane’s version of the Book of Love.


“The Book of Love” by The Monotones
(Warren Davis, George Malone and Charles Patrick)

I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love
I’ve got to know the answer
Was it someone from above

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

I love you darlin’
Baby, you know I do
But I’ve got to see this Book of Love
Find out why it’s true

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

(Chapter One says to love her)
(You love her with all your heart)
(Chapter Two you tell her you’re)
(Never, never, never, never, never gonna part)
(In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance)
(In Chapter Four you break up
(But you give her just one more chance))

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, wWho)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

Baby, baby, baby
I love you, yes I do
Well it says so in this Book Of Love
Ours is the one that’s true

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

(Chapter One says to love her)
(You love her with all your heart)
(Chapter Two you tell her you’re)
(Never, never, never, never, never gonna part)
(In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance)
(In Chapter Four you break up
(But you give her just one more chance)

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, Who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

Baby, baby, baby
I love you, yes I do
Well it says so in this Book Of Love
Ours is the one that’s true

(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)
I wonder who (yeah)
Who wrote the Book Of Love

“Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel from Shall We Dance Soundtrack
The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures and instructions for dancing
But I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything
The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb
But I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything
The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know
But I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings
And I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings
And I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You ought to give me wedding rings
You ought to give me wedding rings

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DIY Radio

Create a radio diary.

Anyone can make a radio diary. Try your hand at making radio. Whether you’re interviewing a neighbor, or a grandparent, or someone you’ve never met, a microphone is a passport into their lives. If you or someone in your community has a story to tell, get a microphone, a recorder, a pair of headphones, and get started.

The Teen Reporter Handbook has been used in schools across the United States, as well as in Russia, Israel, South Africa, and even in a journalism training program in Southern Afghanistan.

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Wordle: Decisions

a Wordle created with a Mac or PC

a Wordle created with a Mac or PC

a Togul created with a Chromebook

a Togul created with a Chromebook

Search the net for a few quotes about decisions. Recall these focus questions to help you in your search.

Collect a handful of phrases that give you pause to think. Avoid anonymous quotes, note the author. (Keep the unharmed list safe in your notes somewhere.)

Go to wordle.net (on Chromebooks try tagul clouds while logged in with a google account) and and blast one, or some, or a whole pile into your own “wordle”. Try several attempts till you have something rich in thought, an inspiration to a deep thinker like yourself.

When you have a “wordle” you like, take a screen capture of it (Mac: command+shift+4 or Windows: Print Screen key) and upload the “png” to your blog and ….

Write a creative narrative (a short short story of about 500 words) that develops an idea about decisions inspired from your “wordle“.

Warning: the ideas you spawn from generators like these should be used with caution, seriously.

Story Idea Generator

Story Idea Generator (tv tropes)

How to Write a Short Story

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New York Times

The New York Times is going to feature your blog on its home page, and you’ve been asked to publish a new post – it’ll be the first thing tens of thousands of new readers see. Write it.

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Macbeth: Personal Response after Act 5

Examine one of the following topics and write a narrative or personal essay:

Kingship (Consider the differences between the four Kings in the play)
Ambition (Consider the differences and similarities between the ambitions of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth)
Guilt (Consider Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s response to guilt)
Order (Consider nature, politics, relationships, and how order is restored)
Deceptive Appearances
Fathers and Sons
Loyalty and Patriotism
The Ideal Marriage

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Old Age In Good Health

Write a process analysis on how to attain old age in good health?

First, brainstorm or freewrite. Then do a rapid “discovery draft,” leaving whitespace. When it has “cooled off,” analyze it: Are the steps in order? Are the instructions clear? Have you suppled examples? Revise accordingly in your next draft. Now sharpen word choice as well. Heighten transitions. Cut deadwood. And test your prose by reading aloud, before publishing the final version.

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Superman or Tarzan?

Crash Test Dummies music video “Superman’s Song” from their 1991 debut album “The Ghosts That Haunt Me”.
Written by Brad Roberts

Tarzan wasn’t a ladies’ man
He’d just come along and scoop ’em up under his arm
Like that, quick as a cat in the jungle
But Clark Kent now there was a real gent
He would not be caught sittin’ around in no
Junglescape, dumb as an ape doing nothing

Supermen never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see
Another man like him

Hey Bob, Supe had a straight job
Even though he could have smashed through any bank
In the United States, he had the strength, but he would not
Folks said his family were all dead
Their planet crumbled but Superman, he forced himself
To carry on, forget Krypton, and keep going

Tarzan was king of the jungle and Lord over all the apes
But he could hardly string together four words: “I Tarzan, You Jane. ”

Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes
I’ll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back
On man, join Tarzan in the forest
But he stayed in the city, and kept on changing clothes
In dirty old phonebooths till his work was through
And nothing to do but go on home

I. Responding to the Song:

  1. Use words or phrases to from the song lyrics to describe Tarzan and Superman. Which character, if any, do you think the songwriter, Brad Roberts, respects the most?
  2. When you think of these two characters, what images come to mind? Do your images match those of the songwriter?
  3. Why is Superman trying to save the “world from Solomon Grundy”?
  4. Why would Superman be tempted to stop what he’s doing and “join Tarzan in the jungle”?
  5. Are Superman and Tarzan symbols for types of people? If so, what might they symbolize?
  6. Which character, if any, would you rather be? Explain.

II. Writing a Short Story
Which superhero would you rather be, Superman or Tarzan? Explain. Develop your answer to this question into a short story, told in the first person, about your experiences as Tarzan or Superman for a day.

III. Presenting a Song:
Work with a partener or small group to plan a reading of another song.

  • First choose the song. Think about how you will read it to the class so the meaning is clear.
  • Practise reading the song, working together to read it effectively. Focus on tone, volume, gestures, and emphasis to use as you read the lyrics. Discuss how reading a song is different from singing it.
  • Record your reading with Garageband, save it as an mp3 and share it via your blog. What elements of your recording were most effective?

Consider the following:
Focus Questions: Decisions
tvtropes.org: Crime and Punishment
Superman @ wikipedia
Tarzan @ wikipedia
How to punctuate dialogue correctly

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Twitter Essay: Environment and Technology

Your Specific Tasks:

The Discussion:
Form a discussion group of about 5 students(invite a staff member, too, if you want).
Start your discussion in Twitter (use a new/unique #hashtag and avoid spamming existing hashtags). One of you picks the discussion starter from any of the “Environment and Technology” prompts from my iblog. Post follow-up responses to each other so the discussion is “two-way”.

The Proof:

  1. Add a #hashtag widget to your blog of your discussion.
  2. Create a “Twitter essay” in your blog highlighting the main points in your discussion, try to embed a tweet or two from each contributing group member.

Demonstrate these “I can…” outcomes:
“I can … Explore your thoughts, ideas, understandings and ask your discussion group members to do the same.
“I can … Respect each others opinions, but work together towards building a discussion thread that is perceptive, insightful, engaging and unified.

Once each member of the group is satisfied that they have completed the discussion task, and met the more general “I can…” outcomes, assign your discussion thread a score using this “Personal response” rubric:

Use this rubric for scoring your “Twitter Essay”:

Rubric for a “Twitter Essay”

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Barney 2.0

Read: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mouse-sex-studies-1.3545486

Imagine a companion story to “Barney” by Will Stanton – “Barney 2.0.”

Think about the possibilities of a parallel story where a female rat also experienced “awakened intellectual curiosity.” Her name is … Barbara. (It has to be Barbara, I’ll tell you why if you ask after all stories are done.)

1. Begn the diray in trees in the stial of the ratt Barney.


2. Begin a new sequence of enlightened diary entries in the voice and style of Barbara.

No “R” rated male/female stuff for the rats, please. I could not handle that. Classical allusions, metaphors, allegory, suspicion, trickery, betrayals, violence, fear of isolation, love and loss. Barney and/or Barbara have “flipped through” more books. Go.

PG-13 ok. Imagine the musical soundtrack if you like, just no sex.

Have fun, but try to remain faithful to the purposes of Will Stanton in the original.

What does your “Barney 2.0” reveal about the human condition after critical examination?

Environment and Technology–Reality and Responsibility

Equality–Pain and Pride

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Floating Lanterns XII
On August sixth every year
the seven rivers of Hiroshima
are filled with lanterns
Painted with the names of the
fathers, mothers, and sisters
they float on their way to the sea

Almost there, pushed back
flame snuffed out
Darkly coming back in pieces
Tossed by ocean waves

That time, years past
these same rivers were filled
With the corpses of those
fathers, mothers, and sisters
— Poem by Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki
Translated by Nancy Hunter and Yasuo Ishikawa

Research the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by answering these questions:

  • What led to the decision to drop the atomic bombs?
  • What was the strategic objective of these actions?
  • What judgements have historians made about these events?
  • What other questions do you have about Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

Find descriptions, photos, or videos clips of the aftermath of the bombings. Using the information you have researched, write your own poem about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Nature Personified

Watch some living creature(s) in their natural environment: a nest of garter snakes, an orb spider, a gopher mound.

Write a short story featuring the creatures, but describe them with human characteristics: personify.

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