September 19th–Debate

What we’re learning today

  1. How to edit and perfect our Constructives

  2. How to prepare for Cross-Examinations

Welcome, Friday Debaters! Here we go:

The Constructives are due today. I’ll come around and check-in. Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Correct length: typically people speak about 130 words a minute, meaning you need 50o words to make a 4-minute constructive
  • Correct format: intro, thesis, contentions, and conclusion. Say the words!
  • Clear contentions: I should be able to understand the reasons behind your beliefs. The contentions should be different from each other.
  • Credible evidence: source, date, quote. Make sure you back up your contentions well.
  • Explanations: Don’t forget to make specific linkages between the evidence you provide and how that evidence proves your point.

OK, then, we need to practice cross-examinations. You’ll need to take turn pretending to be the opposition. We’ll spend 20 minutes trying to think of questions that the opposition might ask us and then take turns trying to address these lines of attack. I’ll give you cards and you can use them to prepare for the cross-examination.

Finally, you’ll need to prepare for your own lines of attack. Create cards that will give you multiple choices for attacking your opponent’s anticipated lines of reasoning.

Resource: take a look at this, which is a list of sources that could be used to support extra funding for SETI–a program that attempts to communicate with and to alien life outside of our solar system. Even more info is here.

Debates start FRIDAY!

Septmber 19th–Humanities

What we’re Learning

  1. What did the Stoics believe?

  2. What are we willing to do for Utopia?

  3. What kind of societal control is permissible?

“Poverty is a virtue which one can teach oneself.”
Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes was asked why he always begged. “To teach people,” replied Diogenes. “Oh yes, and what do you teach?” people would ask him scornfully.  “Generosity”, he replied.

Reminder of Monday HW:

Shamelessness vs. Quiet Observation


Fury, Paranoia, Loss of Perspective

Ursula LeGuin’s Short Story

Read, explain, connect to our world and the Brave New One

Brave New World

Respond to these quotes:

1) A gramme is always better than a damn . . . A gramme in time saves nine . . . One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments . . . Everybody’s happy nowadays . . . Every one works for every one else . . . When the individual feels, the community reels . . . Never put off till to-morrow the fun you can have to-day . . . Progress is lovely

2)Wasn’t it wonderful?” said Fifi Bradlaugh. “Wasn’t it simply wonderful?” She looked at Bernard with an expression of rapture, but of rapture in which there was no trace of agitation or excitement–for to be excited is still to be unsatisfied. Hers was the calm ecstasy of achieved consummation, the peace, not of mere vacant satiety and nothingness, but of balanced life, of energies at rest and in equilibrium. A rich and living peace. For the Solidarity Service had given as well as taken, drawn off only to replenish. She was full, she was made perfect, she was still more than merely herself. “Didn’t you think it was wonderful?” she insisted, looking into Bernard’s face with those supernaturally shining eyes.

“Yes, I thought it was wonderful,” he lied and looked away; the sight of her transfigured face was at once an accusation and an ironical reminder of his own separateness. He was as miserably isolated now as he had been when the service began–more isolated by reason of his unreplenished emptiness, his dead satiety. Separate and unatoned, while the others were being fused into the Greater Being; alone even in Morgana’s embrace–much more alone, indeed, more hopelessly himself than he had ever been in his life before. He had emerged from that crimson twilight into the common electric glare with a self-consciousness intensified to the pitch of agony. He was utterly miserable, and perhaps (her shining eyes accused him), perhaps it was his own fault. “Quite wonderful,” he repeated; but the only thing he could think of was Morgana’s eyebrow.

3)Don’t you wish you were free, Lenina?”

“I don’t know what you mean. I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”

He laughed, “Yes, ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays.’ We begin giving the children that at five. But wouldn’t you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else’s way.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she repeated. Then, turning to him, “Oh, do let’s go back, Bernard,” she besought; “I do so hate it here.”

“Don’t you like being with me?”

“But of course, Bernard. It’s this horrible place.”

“I thought we’d be more … more together here–with nothing but the sea and moon. More together than in that crowd, or even in my rooms. Don’t you understand that?”

“I don’t understand anything,” she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. “Nothing. Least of all,” she continued in another tone “why you don’t take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You’d forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you’d be jolly. So jolly,” she repeated and smiled, for all the puzzled anxiety in her eyes, with what was meant to be an inviting and voluptuous cajolery.

He looked at her in silence, his face unresponsive and very grave–looked at her intently. After a few seconds Lenina’s eyes flinched away; she uttered a nervous little laugh, tried to think of something to say and couldn’t. The silence prolonged itself.

HW: Read chapters 7-8 in Brave New World. Monday is also the day your writing is due (Observation or Shamelessness reactions)

September 18th–AP

What we’re learning

  1. How to approach a rhetorical analysis

  2. How to identify the function of a paragraph within an argument

  3. What are logical fallacies and what are some of the most common examples of them

Analyzing evidence: Read this article on the case for later start times in high school. Identify the evidence, categorize it according to the terms in the textbook (first-hand–personal, anecdote, current events; second-hand–historical, expert, quantitative),  and then explain whether the evidence is STAR (sufficient, typical, accurate, relevant).

Let’s start by looking at the AP prompt with Lincoln and how I would go about tackling it. I’ll show it to you and discuss:

  • Thesis statements
  • Topic Sentences
  • Evidence
  • Analysis

See these student examples to get an idea about what we’re talking about.

Next, we’ll look at the “Against Empathy” piece and explore the function of paragraphs as opposed to their direct paraphrase.

Finally, let’s talk logical fallacies from the textbook:

  • Red Herring
  • Ad Hominem
  • Faulty Analogy
  • Straw man
  • Either/or
  • Hasty Generalization
  • Circular Reasoning
  • Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
  • Appeal to False Authority
  • Bandwagon Appeal

HW: Prepare for a quiz on logical fallacies and evidence analysis for Monday. Create examples of each of the logical fallacies to quiz your fellow students with. Read an article like this one and identify which kinds of evidence you see and whether that evidence meets the STAR requirements.

Extra: No more football talk in class, I promise. But this piece on football and American culture was impressive to me.

September 17th–Debate

What we’re learning

  1. How to convert our research into a 4-minute Constructive Speech.

  2. How to prepare for Cross-examinations.

Welcome! Where are we at?

Hopefully, you have the bulk of your research done. Let me remind you of a central concept if you’re having trouble coming up with contentions.

Benefits vs. Principles

Think about is harmed and who gains from your resolution. But also think are there important legal, philosophical, moral, or societal ideas involved with this resolution.

For example, with this resolution:

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its non-military exploration and/or development of the Earth’s oceans.

  1. Who benefits with the ratification of this resolution? Who is harmed if it’s not?
  2. Conversely, who benefits if it is not ratified? Who is harmed it is?
  3. What principle is upheld by the ratification of this resolution? What principle is violated by failing to uphold it?
  4.  Again, what principle is upheld by rejecting this resolution? What principle is violated if it is passed?

Another way to think of it is this:

  • Is there a significant need for a change? Is there a great harm in the status quo, and/or is there a great advantage which can be obtained by modifying our present way of doing things?
  • Will mechanisms in the status quo cause the problem to remain? Is the harm an intrinsic part of the present system? Can only the Affirmative proposal gain the advantage?
  • Will the proposal ease the problem effectively?
  • Will the plan avoid unpleasant side effects? (from John Prager’s Introduction to Policy Debate)


OK, your turn. By the beginning of class on Friday, you should have completely written out a 4-minute Constructive. It should have this form:

A) Introduction with a quote, stat, or fact.

B) “I stand affirmative/negative to the resolution” — then state the resolution word for word.

C) “In support of this resolution We uphold the following three contentions” Then, you state each contention briefly (5-7 words or so).

D) “I will now support my first contention: _______” Then provide at least 2 sources of evidence with the source mentioned and the date given. Also, explain how the evidence proves your contention.

E) Repeat D with the 2nd

F) Repeat D with the 3rd

G) “For the above reasons, we support/oppose the resolution:” and give the resolution word for word.

HW: Constructive is due first thing Friday.

September 17th–Humanities

What we’re learning today

  1. What did the Stoics believe and how can their ideas help us today?

  2. What can culture create and what is inborn?

Writing prompt

Lets use a video prompt from Fight Club to get us thinking.


Let’s take a look at this packet and talk about what it means to be a stoic.

See earlier class for what we’ll look at.

Chapters 5-6

  1. Comment on the Fordson Community Singery. What is its purpose and why doesn’t it work on Bernard?
  2. Why does Bernard take Lenina to the ocean? Why does he
  3. Should Bernard welcome being exhiled to Iceland? Explain.
  4. Why is there a Reservation? What’s its purpose for the society?

Short story from Ursula LeGuin

We’ll read and discuss.

HW: Due Monday. Two choices:

Try one of the shamelessness exercises–calling out the bus stops on the Metro, singing in the halls, wearing a set of bunny ears–and note both how others react and the stages you go through.

Observe. Watch people and listen to their discussion. In particular, find examples of people trying to make decisions about what’s right and wrong. How do they decide? What philosophies do they seem to be following–overtly or coverty? Explain and reflect.

300-400 words. You don’t have to print but it has to be available in your email or iPad for cutting and pasting.