Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Poetry Out Loud Selections


  • Use the chart on classroom to fill out your POL selection:
-No duplicates or "Fire and Ice."  You must select a different poem from last year.

  • Make sure you have everything submitted, including your POL selection
  • You should have read through chapter 5 in O Pioneers!
  • You also should have submitted part 3 today in addition to your most recent reading questions

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Land Jigsaw Part 2


  • Warm-up journal: What more did we learn about our character's relationship with the land?
  • Wrap up part 1
  • Begin part 2 with new group
  • Answer part 3
  • Part 3 due tomorrow
  • Vocab mastery due tomorrow
  • Redos and revisions due by the end of the week that we return.

Monday, December 19, 2016

O Pioneers Themes: Land


  • Begin Jigsaw Activity on the land

  • Read chapters 4 + 5
  • Complete reading questions

Friday, December 16, 2016

Peer Review


  • Peer Review overview
    • Rubric
    • Questions (submit to classroom)
  • When finished, begin to edit originals
  • Workshop time if not completed

  • Read ch 2-3 for Monday w/ Questions
  • Make sure your SPOTTTS group analysis is completed
  • Vocab due before break
  • Retakes and redos due at the end of the week we return

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Whitman's "Pioneer's! O Pioneers!"


    • Complete online chart with your partner

  • Draft of paper due Friday
  • Read chapter 1 with chapter questions completed for Friday

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Introducing Quotes and Writing Workshop Continued


  • Introducing Quotes Review
  • Quote Introduction Practice Worksheet
  • Drafting time when finished
  • Quote Intro Packet due tomorrow
  • Draft #1 of paper due Friday
  • 12/15--redos and retakes due

Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday: Draft Workshop


  • Time to work on full drafts if done with the three steps leading up to it

  • Drafts due 12/16
  • 12/15--due date for all revisions and retakes leading up to now (from what you have received back so far)

Thursday: Introducing Quotes

  • Journal
  • Worksheet Overview
  • Practice
  • Read article
  • Drafts of papers due next Friday
  • 12/15 due date for revisions

Wednesday: Pre-Reading O Pioneers


  • Pass out books
  • Pre-Reading worksheet
  • Make sure pre-reading is done
  • Evidence sheet should have been handed in today

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Outlining and Grouping Evidence


  • Return and review evidence finding sheet
  • Outlining and grouping information packet

  • Outlining worksheet due Thursday
  • Vocab mastery due before break
  • 12/15--retakes and redos (tests and projects)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Grammar Quiz


  • Dashes and parentheses quiz
  • Vocab
  • Signed PR if not already
  • Make up work and revisions/retakes due 12/15
  • Vocab mastery due before break

Friday, December 2, 2016

Review Dashes and Parentheses


  • Review (post test part b)
  • Vocab review (or work on packet if not finished)
  • Signed progress reports for Monday
  • Study for quiz on dashes and parentheses on Monday
  • Apostrophe retake by 12/15
  • Caricature revisions by 12/15
  • O Pioneers! vocabulary due prior to break

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Critical Lens: Evidence Part 2


  • Progress Reports
  • Finding Evidence

  • Complete the evidence sheet for tomorrow
  • Progress Reports due signed Monday

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Critical Lens Brainstorming


  • Announcements
  • What is a critical lens?
  • Part 1: Brainstorming
  • Complete brainstorming worksheet for tomorrow
  • 12/6 MLA revisions due
  • 12/12 Apostrophe retake due

Monday, November 28, 2016

Apostrophes and Allusions


  • Review of apostrophe test
  • Allusion chart return
  • Sample allusion writing
  • Allusion paragraphs (submit to classroom)
  • Complete allusion paragraphs for tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Allusion Review


  • Dashes and Parentheses Review
  • Allusion and direct reference finding:

  • None unless you need to catch up!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Grammar: Dashes and Hyphens


  • Vocab warm-up
  • Grammar: Dashes and Hyphens
  • Exercise 8
  • Make sure that your 4-square is completed
  • Finish the grammar eercise

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

For Friday: Caricature Workshop


  • Continue working on caricature assignment
  • You should edit your paragraph based on feedback
  • You should complete your final, colored drawing

  • Final caricature and paragraph due Monday

For Thursday: Apostrophe Test


  • Test
  • Complete Station Activity
  • You should have completed at least 5 out of the 7 stations and hand them in before the end of class

Allusion Stations


  • Review allusion v. direct reference
  • Station Activity
  • Review for tomorrow's apostrophe quiz
  • Read hyphens in the blue book (it comes after the section on apostrophes)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Allusion v. Direct Reference


  • Exercise 3 + 4 Practice and Review
  • Allusion Intro:
  • Allusion v. Direct Reference Handout + Practice

  • Exercise 5 + Review Exercise A in blue book
  • Study for Thursday's apostrophe test

Allusion Station Links

Links for Stations 2 and 5

Station #2--  

Station #5--

Monday, November 14, 2016

Apostrophe Review


  • Review exercises 1 & 2
  • Complete 4 Square

  • Finish any remaining squares of the activity
  • Study for Thursday's apostrophe quiz

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Four Square


  • Intro Questions/discussion
  • Four-Square Activity
  • Finish reading the text and add to your Venn Diagram in another color

Four-Square Activity

Four-Square Analysis ABC

In your group, follow the following steps.  You all should be helping one another and planning the project together, but I would suggest that each person be in charge of one section of the project.

  1. Share your answers from the verbal questions together.
  2. Divide your chart paper into four sections.
  3. In the top left square, you will be creating a word cloud.  If you do not know what a word cloud is, Google it.  Look at Wordle.  Your word cloud should be representative of words and terms that you see repeated a lot in the graphic novel and that you believe are important to the graphic novel.
  4. Write a theme for American Born Chinese.  Write it big in the top right square.  In smaller print, include one quote from each of the three main characters.  Each of these quotes should help to best illustrate your theme.
  5. In the bottom left square, you will be creating a drawing of Jin.  This should be a symbolic drawing based on how he is characterized.  Include a setting and accessories.  Be sure to label at least five components of your drawing that you included because they make Jin who he is.
  6. In the bottom right corner, you are going to be writing a paragraph of six to eight sentences.  This paragraph should compare Yang's American Born Chinese and Cisneros' The House on Mango Street.  Some questions to consider: Did they deal with similar themes?  In the same ways?  Was each effective?  Remember to follow the rules of good paragraph writing--topic sentence, supporting details, proofreading, etc.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review Day


  • Review apostrophes and hyphens in diagnostic test
  • Read to p. 198
    • Answer Questions
    • Continue GN notes making sure to use vocabulary from the packet
  • Finish reading American Born Chinese for Monday
  • Add to Venn Diagram in a different color ink

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Grammar: Apostrophes


  • Diagnostic Test
    • Vocab site while others finish
  • Read pp. 610-612 in blue book
  • Exercises 1 & 2
  • Complete exercises 1 & 2

Monday, November 7, 2016

Goals Revisited


  • Collect MLA handout
  • Discussion of homework completion
  • Goals worksheet

  • Make sure you are caught up
  • Last day to retake test 11/10

Friday, November 4, 2016

MLA Review


  • Review practice packet
  • MLA summative works cited page
  • Finish MLA WS for Monday

Grade Reports


  • Create new proficiency chart
  • Review grades
  • Make sure that you are caught up

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Caricature v. Stereotype


  • Setting up folders
  • Caricature v. stereotype project
  • Project packet w/ draft and final summative paragraph due Friday
  • HOM test retake due 11/10 (You have to attend a review session before you may retake it)
  • Read to p. 163 for Thursday and add to Venn Diagram

Caricature v. Stereotype Directions

Ms. Hoffmann
English 10

Caricature and Stereotype

Review: Use your notes from class to help you answer the following questions.  You also may use a basic Google search for clarification.

  1. What is a stereotype?

  1. What is caricature?

  1. What is the difference between the two?

Analyze: Look back at the Chin-Kee section that you read.
  1. How is Chin-Kee based on stereotypes?  Which stereotypes?

  1. Could Chin-Kee be considered a caricature?  In what ways?

  1. In a well-developed paragraph (6-8 sentences), explain how Yang’s use of stereotype and/or caricature contributes to his message.  (You will need to identify the theme or message first. Then you will need to think about how stereotype and/or caricature help to get it across.  If one or both were not used, would anything be lacking?)

Create: Now it is your turn.  You will be creating a caricature or a brief cartoon using stereotypes to help get across a serious message.

  1. Do you want to use caricature or stereotype?  ___________________________________

  1. Choose your focus:
    1. If you are looking at discussing stereotypes, you may want to pick one of the following topics:
      1. bullying
      2. discrimination
      3. the debate over violence in video games
      4. beauty standards and the media
      5. the debate over what technology is doing to youth
    2. If you are focusing on caricature, you will want to consider someone to create a caricature of.  (You may not copy another artist’s caricature from the web.)
      1. a political candidate
      2. a movie star
      3. a singer

  1. What do you want to say about your focus?  What is your audience’s takeaway message?

Flip over------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
  1. Think about how you can use caricature or stereotype.  If you are using caricature, what will you exaggerate?  Why?  If you are using stereotypes, which will you depict?  Why?

  1. Complete a draft on a separate blank sheet of paper.  This draft should make use of color and be as refined as possible to get appropriate feedback for the final version.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Poe's Diction


  • Watch Poe's "The Raven"
  • Circle words affecting mood
  • Change the words to create a different mood
  • Finish rewrite if did not in class
  • Finish reading if did not for today w/ venn diagram

Stereotypes and Caricatures


  • Worksheet: stereotypes v. caricatures
  • Reading section 2 w/ Venn Diagram
  • Read through p. 106 completing venn diagram as you go
  • Retakes of HOM test due 11/10 (You must review with me prior to retaking, so you will need to attend two TEA periods)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

MLA Continued


  • Vocab Practice
  • MLA Practice
  • Poetry Contest


  • Poetry Contest due Monday
  • Vocab Practice due tomorrow
  • MLA packet due tomorrow
  • Vignette Revisions due tomorrow
  • HoM test retake due 11/10 (You must come in to review prior to retaking)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Previewing Themes


  • Warm-up journal on fitting in and Esperanza fitting in (handout)
  • Previewing Theme w/ "Subdivisions"
  • Group Questions
  • Due tomorrow: Monkey King Reading and Questions
  • Due Friday: Vignette Revisions, ABC Vocab Print outs, MLA Packet Practice, Test Retakes (only if want reflected in grade for Tuesday submission)
  • Due Monday: Read through p. 106 of Graphic Novel with venn diagram
  • Due 11/10--All House on Mango Street Test Retakes

**To retake a test, you must come to a review session**

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MLA Practice


  • MLA Resources and Common Mistakes
  • MLA Practice Packet
  • Corrections in own papers
  • Read 1-20 in ABC and complete notes on classroom
  • Finish revisions of comparison paper for tomorrow
  • Vignette revisions due Friday
  • MLA packet practice due Friday
  • House on Mango Street retakes due 11/10 (sooner if you want it reflected on this quarter's initial sending of the report card)

Graphic Novel: Vocab Practice


  • Apply vocab to journal (on classroom)
  • Work on ABC vocab list
  • Work on outstanding work
  • Finish journal
  • ABC vocab due Friday
  • Vignette Revisions due Friday
  • Wednesday Revisions on Comparison Paper due

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Graphic Novel Terms


  • Review handout
  • Vocab site if finished early
  • Practice terms with sample graphic novel

  • 10/28--vocab due
  • 10/26--paper and revisions due

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Intro to Graphic Novels


  • Vocab practice
  • Graphic Novels Podcast:
  • Finish podcast fill in blank sheet and upload to classroom
  • vocab sheet due by next Friday
  • Essay revisions due Wednesday

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The New SAT


  • Scavenger Hunt with links on New SAT

  • Finish scavenger hunt
  • Final Paper Revisions due 10/26

Monday, October 17, 2016

Revision Writing


  • Review intro
  • Review hook writing:

  • Revisions due by 10/26 (You need to complete two drafts if you have not written anything yet)
  • Vocab list print out due by 10/27

Writing an Intro


  • Vocab Practice for ABC
  • Rewriting our pieces
  • Revisions of piece due 10/26

Thursday, October 13, 2016

House on Mango Street Test


  • Complete test
  • Work on vignettes
  • Signed IC sheets due
  • Vignette (final + draft) due tomorrow

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Formative Review


  • Work on review questions.  
  • Once you are able to answer everything, work on one of the outstanding assignments.
  • Vignettes due Fri
  • Signed IC reports due Fri
  • Changing tone worksheet (parts A + B) due Thurs

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Connotation/Denotation Continued


  • Practice with synonyms.  Does it mean the same thing?
  • Word choice and tone
  • When finished, work on item of choice
  • Thursday test
  • Thursday, tone worksheet and poem (word choice) rewrite due
  • Vignette due Friday
  • Signed IC report due Friday

Friday, October 7, 2016

Vignette Peer Review


  • Peer Review
    • Complete rubric
    • Add noticings, likings, and wonderings
  • When finished work out any of the writings you need to complete or the vocab site.

  • Mon: Final comparison piece due
  • Thurs: Final vignette due

Prose Poem Comparsion


  • Review prose poem
  • Poetic style worksheet
  • **You may want to use this to help you with your comparison pieces**

  • Same as previous posts

Writing Workshop


  • Announcements regarding proficiency chart
  • Direction on writing prompt
  • Vignette final due 10/13
  • Writing final comparison 10/10 (on classroom)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Writing Workshop: Comparing Styles

  • Writing Prompt:  
    • In a one-page, MLA-formatted paper, explain to me whether Cisneros' or Albom's writing style is more effective.  Your answer is going to be your opinion backed up from evidence in both authors' work (with the help of the two style charts).  However, you should not be saying anything along the lines of "I believe" or "in my opinion."  This is an academic paper: leave the Is, mes, and mys out of it.  
      • Don't know what MLA formatting is? (It's part of the reason I demand Times New Roman.)  Take a look at the following resource:  Better yet, bookmark this site.  It's incredibly useful, and many college recommend using it over citation generators.  
      • You may write more than a page, but I expect no less than one, full page.  Not almost one page.  Not a page with a heading in 25 pt font and triple spacing.
    • I am going to be grading you on your discussion of style as well as the basic format of your paper.  You should know from past English classes to include an intro, body, and conclusion to your piece.  You also should know that your thesis statement needs to come at the end of your introduction--yes, even for a one-page paper.
    • The rest of your paper is going to help me to determine what grammar, style, and usage rules we need to review in class.  Do your best.  Don't be lazy with punctuation and capitalization, or we will be spending classes reviewing those topics.
    • Please be aware that you DO need to include textual support for what you are arguing.  Even though you are talking about the style of writing rather than plot events, which you may be more used to doing, you need to be sure that you are backing up what you are saying.  Your opinions--even if not stated as "in my opinion"--need to be backed up with support.  
    • Link to Albom's full text:
Due: Monday at the beginning of class.
Journals Revisions due no later than 10/5 at the beginning of class
Final vignettes due 10/13 ...but be prepared for the peer review THIS Friday

Friday, September 30, 2016

Comparing Styles


  • Review hw
  • Reading from Albom excerpt
  • Style chart
  • Complete style chart
  • Begin vignette revisions

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Style Continued


  • Review style notes
  • Review homework sheet
  • Close reading for components of style
  • Final vignettes due 10/10
  • Vocab printed for tomorrow (sheet from
  • Finish worksheet from class for tomorrow

Tuesday, September 27, 2016



  • Style notes
  • Sentence type worksheet
  • Style practice worksheet
  • Finish practice worksheet for Thursday
  • Final vignettes due 10/10
  • Vocab list completion (print out) due 9/30/Friday

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vignette Revisions


  • Vignette final checklist
  • Sample critique
  • Revision time
  • Final revision due 10/10

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Sally Chapters and Characterization


  • Characterization Review
  • Inner Square/Outer Square: 
    • How is Sally characterized?  What seems important?
    • What role does Sally play in the novel?  Why are these things about her important?  Please connect to parts of the story like: larger themes, social commentary, and perhaps, how this affects Esperanza.
  • Ticket out: Why does Sally matter in The House on Mango Street?

  • Complete exit ticket if you did not in class
  • Make sure you actually have completed the text

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Social Commentary Extended


  • Announcements about resubmissions
  • Review of Geraldo
  • Political Cartoon Close Reading

  • Finish text
  • Resubmissions of Esperanza journal due 10/7
  • Make sure you finish the vocab for HoM by 9/30

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Digital Books and Vignette Workshop


  • Announcements
  • E-Book discussion w/ Mrs. Tilden
  • Vignette Workshop
  • Complete vignette draft for tomorrow
  • "Geraldo" worksheet will be checked tomorrow

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Social Commentary Continued


  • Update proficiency chart
  • Social commentary extended definition
  • How is the WWYD clip social commentary
  • Worksheet: Look at "Geraldo No Last Name" and complete the worksheet, including what stereotypes the section deals with and what the social commentary seems to be
  • Finish "Geraldo" worksheet

Monday, September 19, 2016

Social Commentary


  • Social Commentary journal (ppt)
  • Social Commentary Notes
  • WWYD Viewing + handout
  • Think, Pair, Share


  • Read through p. 85 and answer journal on classroom

Vignette Workshop


  • Vignette Directions
  • Practice writing vignettes (see handout)


  • Make sure that you have read through p. 71
  • Drafts of vignettes due Wednesday

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Review and Finish Jigsaw


  • Check-in quiz
  • Finish jigsaw
  • Home handout
  • Make sure you have read unto page 71
  • Complete handout from class on home.  In part b, instead of re-writing, go through and make a list of what a home is to you. You should have at least three characteristics.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016



  • Wrap-up journal: Will Esperanza be a traditional Mexican-American woman in the future?  Explain using textual evidence.
  • Bildungsroman jigsaw w/ graphic organizer

  • Read through p. 71 
  • Continue to think about how Esperanza is growing up, particularly in the "Earl of Tennessee" section and the "Edna" section.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

STAR Assessment


  • STAR Test
  • Vocab Practice (Mastery of list is due 9/30)
  • Agree/disagree lines
  • Make sure you have read pp. 33-58, which was assigned for today's class
  • Answer the journal prompt, and upload your response to classroom

Monday, September 12, 2016

Societal Roles


  • Journal: What are your roles?  Fixed or chosen?
  • Viewing:
  • Agree/Disagree lines including questions on Marin and Alicia (to be continued)


  • Read pp. 33-58
  • Answer the journal on classroom

Loose Ends


  • Group share of section
  • Discussion of Cathy and characterization in vignettes

  • Read through and including p. 32 and fill in the associated chart on roles of women

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Characterizing Meaning


  • Review
  • Notes on characterization
  • Finding Meaning
    • What is your section about?  Its purpose?
    • What do we learn about the characters?
    • What is a thematic statement for your section?

  • Read 12-22 and complete the chart

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Style and Vignettes


  • Review theme
  • What is style?
  • What is a vignette?  What are components of a vignette?
  • Close reading of "Home"

  • Read through "My Name" and complete notes on how each section is a vignette.  Upload this information to the classroom assignment.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016



  • Announcements
  • Review theme
  • Rules for writing thematic statements
  • Write a guess for a thematic statement based on the quotes that you were given on the class handout.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Intro Wrap-Up


  • What makes a good English goal?
  • Writing English goals
  • Pre-reading strategies
  • Cisneros' background
    • What does this suggest that the text might be about?
  • Make sure that you have all of your supplies for Tuesday

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What are English Proficiencies?


  • Review Questions
  • Go over standards
  • Paper portfolios + Habits of Work chart
  • Digital Portfolios

  • Make sure you have supplies for class

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016-2017 Welcome


  • Syllabus

  • Locate binder for course

Friday, June 3, 2016



  • Finish documentary
  • Review: Crooks' depiction
  • Finish text for Monday

Link to Steinbeck's Nobel Prize Speech

The Extent of the American Dream


  • Review Homework questions
  • The N-Word documentary
  • Review vocab
  • Read rest of text for Monday

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

OMM American Dream


  • Journal warm-up
  • Discuss themes from last class/add to theme chart
  • Comparison of OMM and American Farmer Letters
    • Think/Pair/Share
    • Discuss of similarities and differences

  • Read chapter four
  • Answer the questions about Crooks

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Themes in Of Mice and Men


  • Review themes
  • Group search for themes: power vs. powerlessness and community vs. individuality 

  • Read the excerpt of Letters from an American Farmer and answer the discussion questions
  • Finish questions from today's group work

Friday, May 27, 2016



  • STAR exam (if you are absent, you will need to come to the TEA time I scheduled you to next week to make it up)
  • Vocab definitions

  • Finish vocab list
  • Read ch 3 in OMM for Tuesday

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review OMM Intro


  • Check-in Quiz
  • Review beginning of text
  • Peer share sections 1 & 2
  • Read section 3 for Monday

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Realism, Naturalism, and Regionalism


  • PPT
  • Review places we see it in OMM
  • Study for vocab tomorrow
  • Thursday: Read section two and keep a journal of at least five instances of realism, naturalism, and regionalism in the text.  Please be as specific as possible.  Instead of saying, here's this quote, it's naturalism, explain why.  Is it very detailed?  Is it fatalistic?

Monday, May 23, 2016



  • Finish "Johnny Bear" + thematic statements

  • Read section one
  • Answer 1 Paragraph journal: Do you agree that George's relationship with Lennie is more complicated than Lennie's relationship with George.  Explain.
  • Vocab quiz Wednesday

Friday, May 20, 2016

OMM Previewing Themes


  • Theme Presentation
  • Reading "Johnny Bear" + Theme Practice
    • Link to audiobook:
    • until 12:08

  • Finish writing your second theme that covers the first 4 pages that we listened to in class

Finish Film


  • Complete viewing of Riding the Rails documentary
  • Hand in completed viewing notes

  • None

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Mindset behind OMM


  • Journal on homelessness
  • Viewing Riding the Rails and answering questions:

  • Blog entry due tomorrow

Illustrated Vocabulay


  • What is it?
  • Assigning Words
  • Poster Creation
  • Sharing + gathering definitions
  • Blog entries due on Wednesday

Friday, May 13, 2016



  • Test on perspective and colons
  • Workshop time for writing pieces
  • Critical Lens Revisions due Monday
  • Blog piece due Wednesday

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blogging Perspectives

Ms. Hoffmann
English 10

Blogging Perspectives

Overview: There will be times throughout high school and college when you are asked to write informal responses.  While these responses allow you the chance to use “I” and “my” in the way that a strict academic paper would not, they still need to have some academic aspects to them.  Foremost, you still need some form of citation.  Think about the blog examples that I showed you.  One had formal, MLA citations while the other at least mentioned the names of articles.  Depending on the class that you are taking, the latter may be fine.  (For example, if you all have the same readings available to you and you have been asked to respond to them in particular.  Err on the side of caution, though, and ask your specific teacher in these situations.)  You also need to have some sort of flow and main idea to your work--even if that main idea is not presented in the form of a thesis statement at the end of your first paragraph.

  • You are going to be writing your own, one-page blog entry.
  • You need to use information from at least three of the news sources that you outlined in your graphic organizer.  You need at least one from each section.
  • You need to decide how you would like to cite your information.  Non-MLA is fine, but you need some sort of citation.  If you used a news article of your choice, please include a link to it at the end of your blog entry or in parenthesis after you mention it.
  • You need to answer the following question: Is the historical fiction in When the Emperor was Divine still relevant today?
    • There is no right or wrong answer.
    • You probably should address the themes we discussed in class today to help you focus your answer.  Remember, you still need a main idea somewhere, and your ideas still should flow even if you do not have a formal thesis statement.
    • Use the articles as evidence to support your answer.
      • Hint: Maybe you think the themes are still reflected in real-life events.  Maybe you think there are different themes present, maybe the book was too specific.  Maybe you are somewhere in the middle.  
      • You do not need to confine yourself to my hint.  That is just to help you to get started.
  • You have all of class to work on this writing.  
  • Due Date:  

Sample Blog 1:

The Invisible Fence: The Limits of Freedom Online

The Internet.  It seems infinite.  Has anyone seen every webpage in existence?  Are there any limits in terms of the ways in which it can be developed?

            A quick glance suggests that the possibilities are endless.  But are they really?  Does the Internet really offer us endless opportunities and new frontiers of freedom?

In its earliest form, the Internet was mostly text-based (Nakamura 1).  However, even in this form—perhaps especially in this form—it was considered a potential utopia.  It was considered a place where people could make their thoughts public without necessarily being judged upon their identity.

            Recent publications challenge the true extent of the voice that the Internet allows its users.   Jodi Dean calls its supposed openness to all voices a “fantasy of democracy,” a “fantasy of participation” (24, 30).  She bases this on an argument that although the Internet circulates our messages, it does not guarantee that they will be received (20).  Nonetheless, she believes this placates people and directs their attention away from true political struggles and organization (40).  In her words “technology covers our impotence and supports a vision of ourselves as active political participants” (36). 

            Despite the logic of her argument, there is some evidence that it is not completely true.  Near the end of her article, she is forced to recognize the success of MoveOn’s virtual sit-ins (46).  More recently, there also have been virtual protests related to the conflict in Egypt—although they are too recent to determine the outcome of, it is clear that they are attracting a good deal of attention and uniting many people.  (Of course, Egypt also raises other questions of who really controls our access to the Internet).  Given such examples, can we really conclude that the Internet is becoming so overcome with voices that we cannot pick out the big issues and respond to them in some way?

            Virtual responses and their ultimate effects aside, isn’t it enough that we feel compelled to get our voice out online?  If we continue to do it, it must be doing something for us.  Is it not enough that it sometimes just fulfills this need to get out thoughts.  Do our words always need to lead to political action for them to be relevant?  Even if they are just making us happy, aren’t they accomplishing something?

            When considering this issue of voice it is important to consider that in recent years, the Internet has been changing.  Specifically, it has come to depend more and more on graphics than on just text (Nakamura 1).  Lisa Nakamura takes this into consideration as she debates how much freedom it allows us.  She notes that there has been “disagreement over just how empowering digital interactivity may be” (15).  She goes on to provide arguments for both sides as she explains the ways in which graphics allow for the collaborative production of “digital images of the body in the context of racial and gender identity formation” since new representations deal with and renegotiate these categories (1). 

However, Nakamura’s argument ends on a more positive note than Dean’s.  Despite her obvious reservations, she explains that the Internet is “interactive” and “empowering” (14).  She also makes it clear that even though women and minorities may not experience the Internet in the same ways as the majority, their experience can get turned into differential forms of access which allow them to redefine it (15).  Furthermore, she claims that creativity allows people to overcome majority opinions.  For example, she explains that avatars are “easily obtained and customized” (30).  She also ends her introduction on the note that the Internet arouses and enables “the passion for claiming identities” (35).

While I like Nakamura’s general assertions about avatars, I cannot help but think that she glosses some important issues related to them.  First of all, when things get put into a visual form, less is left to the imagination.  To understand this, one needs to only consider books in comparison to movies.  Have you ever read a book and later seen an adaptation of it that was nothing like your vision?  In some ways, the movie form forces you to see the book from another’s vantage point. 

A similar effect occurs when it comes to avatars.  Putting an imagined avatar into pixels leaves less to the imagination.  This is particularly the case when one is not in control of the design software.  In this case, one is stuck with the options thought up by another creator.  Consider the fact that when you register for a screenname or begin to create a new avatar that you typically only get to pick between male or female genders (and when it comes to the latter in video games, options are even more limited).  Additionally, there tends to be fewer minority avatar options.  Therefore, even if we decide to explore new frontiers and lifestyles unlike our offline lives, we might not have as much wiggle room as we would expect.

In both its text and graphic states, the Internet both allows for and limits freedom.  As the Internet grows and changes, what the future holds is uncertain.  Perhaps, a completely new interface will arise that will allow for more perfect freedom.  Until that happens, maybe we should be less concerned about the political issues and more concerned about the quality of individual user experiences.

Works Cited
Dean, Jodi.  Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet.  Minneapolis: University of
Minneapolis Press, 2007.  Print.

Nakamura, Lisa.  Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism &

Left Politics.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.  Print. 

Sample Blog 2

If I Die Young…Update My Facebook Status
            Since my short hiatus from blogging, I had a bit of trouble thinking of something worthwhile to talk about this week…that is until my cell phone rang.  My default ringtone is currently The Band Perry’s hit single, “If I Die Young.”  (For those of you who have not heard it, I suggest you YouTube it, though the music video is fairly plain).  This may seem rather trivial, but it brought to mind a news article that I recently had to read for class, Rob Walker’s “Cyberspace When You’re Dead.”  The article questions what happens to all of the personal information and works that we have floating around the internet once we die.  Considering that each year the elderly population has more exposure to technology and is, thus, more likely to leave a virtual footprint, this question has growing significance.
            Nonetheless, the question of what happens to our Internet footprint is largely ignored.  Walker suggests that this is partially because as humans, we do not like to question our own mortality.  Although the morbidity of the topic is obvious, this does not seem like the best explanation.  What to do about people’s technological habits once they die has come up a lot before, just not necessarily when it comes to the Internet.  For example, I remember browsing through a technology magazine about four years ago and coming across an article about a man being buried with his cell phone.  His family’s rationale behind this had something to do with his love of technology and the simple fact that he always seemed to be on his cell phone.  This is not an isolated case.  In my attempt to rediscover this article through Google, I found many similar stories—the funniest of which had to be “Man gets buried with cell phone, still gets incessant calls from his wife” (  There you have it folks!  Cell phones have become the 21st century’s grave goods.
            Given that the Internet—and the need to stay constantly wired into it in some form or another—has become so important to people, it seems like what to do with the deceased’s blogs, tweets, and Facebook pages should be a point of concern.  This is very much a current issue because it is not only the elderly who pass away.  Some people do die young, and these young people are generally tech-savvy and likely to have some online account that their death will leave abandoned.  I personally witnessed this issue two years ago, when a girl who I went to high school with was tragically killed in a car accident.  She spent a couple of days on life support in a nearby hospital before she was publicly declared dead.  However, one of my family’s close friends works in the hospital and told me what had happened before the media leaked the news, and subsequently, before most of my high school class found out.  I had this on my mind the next time that I logged onto Facebook.  As a result, I soon found myself looking through her wall posts and photographs.  A morbid idea?  Yes, and a very painful one.  Nonetheless, I just could not get over the strangeness of knowing a Facebook user, someone I could still digitally visit, who had passed away.  Walker touches on the idea of using digital media as a way to memorialize those who have left a mark on the Internet before passing on, but he does not get across the clear sense of strangeness that I felt.
            Although he mentions that advertisements and spam may begin to mar memorial sites, Walker also overlooks just how contentious things can get.  Going back to my example, after sifting through the webpage, I thought it would be cathartic to post a memorial status.  A number of my friends followed suit once they came across the status in their news feed.  Even though these were not even posts to the profile, they caused an uproar.  Other people we had gone to school with refused to acknowledge her death because the media had yet to confirm it.  Despite our honest intentions, they felt as though we were leaving hate messages and trying to send negative wishes.  Thus, a few simple status updates set off a drawn-out Facebook battle which ended in bitterness and a good deal of unfriending.  As petty as this may sound, it was very stressful.  The emotions and sensitivity that are connected to the loss of an Internet user need to be thoroughly considered as more companies and websites develop policies about what to do with what is left behind.  Not only is this new ground, it is clearly not an easy task. 
I think that this gets at the actual reasons why dealing with the deceased’s virtual footprint has not become a bigger issue today.  It seems natural that virtual creations and identities should follow people to their graves or get allocated to their relatives like more mundane pieces of property.  However, it must be understood that the former are much more complicated than the latter.  There are not unprecedented legal issues with the latter.  Moreover, they are not involved with this issue of the mass accessibility of the property.  Even when it comes to the example of cell phones—even those still being paid for by living family members—large numbers of people are not able to access and respond to one another’s messages.  They are not able to tread on one another’s raw emotions or affect one another’s image of the dead in quite the same way as mass, interactive forms of communication are able to. 
            If I die young, I don’t care if you update my Facebook…but my friends might.