Tue, Feb 23rd–Humanties

HW: Read chapters 4-7 in Frankenstein.

What we’re up to:

  • Frankenstein, Frankensteen.
  • Stoics, especially Marcus Aurelius


Let’s start with Art. I’ll show you some examples of painting that depict first the death of Socrates and then the death of Marat.

Socrates and marat from nstearns

For 10 minutes, choose one painting and…

  • Make as many observations as you can about what you see in the painting.
  • Analyze what you think the reason the painter depicted their subject in this way

We’ll discuss.

Then, we’ll talk Frankenstein. In pairs, I’ll ask you to answer questions about both the letters and chapters 1-3.

After we discuss those a bit, I’ll ask you to conduct a small group discussion. Here’s the product I want.

What areas or discoveries should science stay away from (if any)? List them. Explain why they are included or why nothing is included. Be ready to make an argument.


Finally, we’re going to Aristotle. We’ll see a quick video and read through some of his ideas.

Then I’ll ask you to rate yourself and a friend on his scale of virtue. What can we do to get better?


Finally, we’re going to talk Stoics. We’ll see a short video and then I’ll ask you to individually respond to excerpts from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.


Tue/Wed, Dec 1st/2nd–AP

HW: Read “Walking the Path Between Worlds” by Lori Arviso Alvord (pgs. 316-323 and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Letter to My Son” (first half, you can stop at “…the Dream of living white.” Compare and contrast the two personal essays in terms of tone, persona, and attitude towards their subjects. 300 word minimum.

What we’re up to:

  • Applying our rhetorical skills to new essays on Community
  • Improving our writing clarity
  • Improving our sentence fluency.

Let’s start by looking at the Thoreau piece individually. We’ll compare answers to the homework and go through several of the paragraphs as we try to understand Thoreau’s point. On QuestionPress, then we’ll write our own piece that borrows his techniques while arguing the opposite.

Next, let’s talk a bit about writing. Reading the MLK essays, there were a number of issues in writing I’d like to address first. Clarity, especially, was an issue so let’s spend some partner time untangling some writing.

Also, I’d like to talk about three punctuation marks: semicolon, colon, and em-dash. I’ll ask you to take your work from the Thoreau piece and add 5 marks of new punctuation. Obviously, that will require you to move things around a bit.

Then, in small groups, I’d like you to prepare a short presentation where you:

  • Identify a common activity, piece of technology, or example of the way we live today. Something that is common to 21st century American culture as you know it. Describe it thoroughly. For instance, you could name cellphones, Netflix, select sports, getting your driver’s license, Instagram, rock climbing…whatever has a symbolic resonance for the values that you think modern life uphold.
  • Explain how this shows us something about our culture–good or bad. Be specific. Does this encourage humanity or degrade it? Does this have positive or negative future outcomes?
  • Suggest whether this might be curtailed or changed or whether it’s something that is inevitable or even beneficial.

Then, present.

Tue, Nov 17th–Senior Comp

What we’re up to:

  • Marking up our Opponent’s Work
  • Finding Credible Evidence
  • MLA citation and parenthetical notation

Quick Write

Robot Servant

Time to get our opponent squared away today.

First, let’s find them! Yesterday, I gave you a list of sites to look through; remember, you’re looking for someone who had made an extensive argument you want to counter. It’s helpful if they make multiple points and use a number of pieces of evidence.

Second, let’s mark up your opponent. I’ll be printing the opponent argument in class so that you have a physical copy of it to work with (unless your love of trees is so powerful that you can’t bear this.).

With highlighters:

  • Yellow highlight any CLAIMS: statements of truth that the opponent is making about the topic.
  • Blue highlight any EVIDENCE: facts, stats, and other information that supports their argument.
  • Pink highlight any EMOTIONAL or CREDIBILITY arguments.

Attached to the editorial now we’re going to understand who is harmed/benefited. And what principles are involved.

  1. Does the opponent want to change things, change the status quo? If so, why do they think the current status quo is so bad? Who is harmed? How?
  2. Does the opponent want to keep things the same? Are they against change? If so, who do they think will be harmed?
  3. How about benefits? Who is the opponent interested in benefiting? How?

Time for principles. Here, we’re looking at important moral and legal values that are inherent in the topic. For instance, with the minimum wage, we might be worried about either the freedom of business owners to pay the wages they want or the fairness of workers to be able to make a living wage.

  1. What principles are involved on BOTH sides of the topic? Does the author address them? How?
  2. What principles does the author seem to think are important? What principles does the author seem to ignore or disregard?

Ok, once we have that. It’s time for you to draft a research plan. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Figure out what parts of the opponent’s argument you need to counter. Where are they weakest?
  2. What questions do you need to answer that would help your case and weaken your opponent’s?
  3. What kind of evidence–if you could find it–would give you an effective response to your opponent.

Before you even begin to research, you need a minimum 6-8 questions in a Word or Paper document.

How to begin research

  • Instead of starting with Google, start with ProQuest. Use the left side to help you narrow down results.
  • Once you find something, you need to record these facts: title, author, publication, a QUOTE, and which question it answers.


I’ll demonstrate this by using this piece by Reihan Salam about increasing the military budget.


Mon/Tue–Nov 9/10–AP

HW: Read/watch 3 Commencement addresses from here. For each analyze their their rhetorical strategies (logos, ethos, pathos). Pull one quote from each as an exemplar of one strategy. 300 word minimum.

What we’re up to:

  • Assessing knowledge of Ethos concepts
  • Applying all rhetorical knowledge to Commencement Speeches

Ok, let’s take this ETHOS quiz. If you finish early, feel free to read from your SNP book.

Then, if we have time, let’s look at some Commencement addresses and apply our full rhetorical tool chest to these speeches. We’ll start with David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water.”

This is Water from Patrick Buckley on Vimeo.

  • Logos: What claims does he make? What evidence does he offer?
  • Pathos: What emotions does he try to evoke? What framing devices and rhetorical figures does he employ?
  • Ethos: How does he relate to the audience? How does he seem to want to be seen?


Let’s also look at Rachel Maddow’s speech at Barnard.

Same deal. Why so much on Carrie Nation? What is she meant to teach us?


What we’re up to:

  • Understanding Public Forum Debate
  • Choosing Resolutions
  • Preparing Background for the Debate
Team A: First Speaker: Constructive Speech 4 minutes
Team B: First Speaker: Constructive Speech 4 minutes
Crossfire (between first speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: Second Speaker: Rebuttal 4 minutes
Team B: Second Speaker: Rebuttal 4 minutes
Crossfire (between second speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: First Speaker: Summary 2 minutes
Team B: First Speaker: Summary 2 minutes
Grand Crossfire (All speakers) 3 minutes
Team A: Second Speaker: Final Focus/Last Shot 2 minutes
Team B: Second Speaker: Final Focus/Last Shot 2 minutes

Let’s see who partners and opponents will be. Here we go:

Andrew/Cole vs. Kenneth/Jaden
Jesi/Michelle vs. Maia/Tomas
Nick/Bones vs. Meredith/Cole

All groups should check out the list of Resolutions and choose which one you want to tackle.

Ok, time to start the background search and get yourselves situated with the Constructives.

Finally, take a look at this description from the folks at the National Speech & Debate Association for more background.


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