Let’s Use Malcolm Gladwell’s Podcast to Introduce Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Malcolm Gladwell examines the story of this famous painting to begin his podcast. Below is an image of Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea, better known as The Roll Call. I used the image from Wikipedia; it is an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler. It became one of the most celebrated British paintings of the 19th century, but later fell out of critical favor. Elizabeth Southerden Thompson; Elizabeth Butler. I think the examination of this 19th century artist will help us appreciate Kate Chopin’s main character, Edna, as well as her ambitions to be an artist.


The Roll Call by Elizabeth Thompson

Malcolm Gladwell explicates the fascinating art history story of Elizabeth Thompson, and he begins her story with the story of her work, The Roll Call.

How do we know if we are in a pioneer moment (Jackie Robinson) or a moral licensing moment (Sammie Davis Junior)? Jacob Weisberg brings up this great question at the end of a recorded discussion he had with Gladwell at a 92nd Y event, and it may be a good place for us to start our conversation about the first episode, The Lady Vanishes, in Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjf8b_LLZ6g)

Click here to hear the entire podcast:  http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/01-the-lady-vanishes

Respond to these questions in a word document for homework. We’ll do a think, pair, share when we start class on Monday.

  1. What does Gladwell mean when he says that Elizabeth Thompson’s story is repeated over and over again?
  2. Can you explain the term moral licensing into your own words?
  3. How does Gladwell use the example of Jackie Robinson who crossed the color line in 1957 and opened the door to African-Americans in baseball as five years later in 1962 there would be 150 African-American players?
  4. What happens to Elizabeth Thompson’s art career with her painting, The 28th Regiment at Quatre Brashttp://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/4408/
  5. Click on this to view her famous painting, Scotland Foreverhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Forever!
  6. What does Elizabeth Thompson’s husband write in his memoir about his wife’s famous art career? What does Elizabeth Thompson write in her memoir about her art career? Can you explain why each person wrote their account in that way?
  7. How does Gladwell wrap up the podcast with Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister in Australia?
Posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, Flipped Classroom, Podcast, Twitter | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Create a Compelling Argument

In 4-6 sentences (of Standard English), make an argument for the best AP Prompt that illuminates the most profound literary qualities of Cather’s novel, My Antonia. If someone else has claimed the same prompt that you had in mind, then write another perspective to that argument. Profound topics elicit complex responses. Here is a copy of the document: Open-ended Questions for Advanced Placement Literature: https://mseffie.com/iOpeners/Open_Questions.pdf

Posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, AP Mindset, Flipped Classroom | 9 Comments

Managing Time and Workflow

pomodoroLet’s tap into the optimism that the new year provides and consider ways to improve how we complete our homework assignments. When we step back into the winter trimester in January, let’s explore a time-management technique, called the Pomodoro Technique. Use the “comment thread” below to add suggestions or supply critiques of best ways to complete this method. We can eventually share what we learn about this technique by adding more important content to the Wikipedia page.

The interesting thing to try first is to do this technique with an old fashion kitchen timer (which inspired the name), or you can utilize apps and other technology devices that help you set aside time and help you stay focused. Please consult with parents before purchasing anything for your phone. Even though some of these apps are not that much money, I would hope that you shop around for what’s best for your academic approach to work. Consult with me and your parents if you want help reflecting what type of learner you are and how you complete academic tasks. The benefit of using an app may be to help your phone and computer block out distractions. That said, it would also be beneficial for you to try other humble and modest means such as putting your phone away and disabling your wireless or internet connection and just focusing for 25 minutes on the goals you set.


Reflecting on how you complete your work is an important activity of metacognition

The other benefit of this exercise is that it will help you prioritize your work, which is a skill you will improve when you practice it every day and week with daily and weekly reflection. So when you finish the night’s homework, reflect back and ask if you did indeed forecast what the most difficult subject for you to tackle first was as challenging as you thought? Could there have been a strategy question that you could have asked about that night’s assignment in class to make the completion easier? Did you included chunking other long-term, larger projects and studying into your evening’s priorities? Try visually chunking (or organizing) your homework into manageable units. This process may make homework look more “doable” and help you change your attitude towards the task. There are a variety of ways homework chunking can occur. What’s the best one for you?

We can also have classmates share the best apps and practices for trying to stay focused during the 25 minute intervals. There are apps that can free help you focus on your Mac computer, such as Hocus Focus, which makes interactive windows disappear. Does that work for you? You can also get apps for your phone, such as the Forest app, by Seekrtech, which helps those who are addicted to their phone and can’t put it down to do sustained academic work. Using the Pomodoro technique, this app becomes an interesting way to turn your focused attention into growing a virtual forest that then can be turned into helping plant real trees. “When our users spend virtual coins they earn in Forest on planting real trees, Forest team donates to their partner and create orders of planting trees with a real-tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 11.06.26 AM.pngA faculty discussion group recently read Ana Homayoun’s Social Media, and her pages on studying methods and workflow inspire me to suggest the Pomodoro Technique. That said, it is a basic technique that I think most of us have tried, and one can adapt nuances to make this method work for their style. This author also includes many other apps to help with these strategies. The most important thing is to try one way well, then reflect and consider that aspects that worked best for you as an individual. Then seek feedback and ask me for more help refining aspects that we can utilize to make you a more efficient learner. Here is a link to a promotional video that explains more about this interesting book, Social Mediahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3nVsEU69GU

Posted in Growth Mindset, Pomodoro Technique, Time Management | 1 Comment

Can a Podcast Help Cultivate a Growth Mindset in the Classroom?


Let’s have fun learning about this now ubiquitous App Instagram evolved, and then we will examine how we can adopt elements of their success story as we begin our first steps in our own project-based learning journey. So how can we use this Instagram’s story to teach the dynamic disposition and positive attitude a student needs to cultivate in a project-based learning classroom?

It is very fascinating to hear the early iterations of Instagram (see more here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/instagram-used-to-be-called-brbn/373815/) and then realize all the changes they made to make the app what it is as a working app today. That process that is narrated here is design thinking, which is a process we will explore more this year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design-based_learning

Perhaps an important moment in their start-up was when they followed the advice to ask their users about what they enjoyed about their app rather than investing time into wondering what others who are not using the app would want. What did they learn from this part of the process?

(Podcast Time: 6:30) Isn’t it fascinating that the best thing for any entrepreneurial is failure? The founders of Instagram cite Eric Ries and his ideas about the process of a lean startup. “Don’t ask why people don’t sue your startup. Ask why people who continue to use your start up use your startup.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_startup 

(Podcast Time: 8:00) One of the founders tells a story of being burnt out and going on a break. Does he really take a break? Why type of thinking does he do on this “break” and how does it help the next iteration of the product of Instagram?

(Podcast Time: 9:00) Style topic. Did you notice how the music delivers a great downbeat when the divergent thinking that one of the founders has when his then girlfriend and now wife provides an insight while walking on the beach?

(Podcast Time 12:00) Just appreciate this moment. No response necessary. This is my hook for our audience!. “It was trial by fire; so many chances to fail. Kept working; all nighters. The amount we learned in that first year was crazy. It was fives years of college in one.” I would make this the hook because I’m an educator, and the producer here chose a more entertaining hook.

(Podcast Time: 17:30) There is a great conversation about how the story of success is never linear. It’s always dynamic, an up-and-down journey. Reflect on this moment and also reflect on how the founders keep their eye on the experience of the user. Do you have a personal success story that was not linear and had several “false starts” along the way before you achieve a degree of success? Write a 3-6 sentences here about that experience. We’ll share these moments in class and expand more on them.

(Podcast Time: 23:00) Around minute 23 they discuss the currency that feeds an entrepreneur. Explain in your own words this experience and its value. Then reflect on our course description and explain what experience will make our experience valuable.

(Podcast Time: 24:00) They reveal another great moment where they learned a lot through failure. This moment had to do with a mistake. What was the mistake? Could the mistake been avoidable? What else did they learn about the relationship they had with her users?

What do you think of the founders’ thesis about luck and talent? What role do resilience, grit, and optimism play in capitalizing on luck?

Posted in Growth Mindset, Podcast, Project Based Learning | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Connect a Moment in Section 52 to Another Location in Whitman’s Work

The technology staff in the Crowsnest is back on the job to isolate perhaps the most important part of this video that will help you understand how and why Whitman develops the first person voice in Leaves of Grass. You will find out why Ed Folsom will claim that “Everything that is going to be great in Whitman are in these lines of his notebook.” Then you hear several modern poets read famous passages from Song of Myself.

So, start at minute 27:50 where Whitman comes to terms with slavery. Then finish at minute 39:10 where Ed Folsom reflects on the totality of Leaves of Grass.

To focus our attention on Section 52 of Song of Myself, let’s have everyone make a comment that connects a word, line, or literary device from Section 52 to any other line in Whitman’s work. By all means feel comfortable connecting another section from Song of Myself to your favorite moment in Section 52. Compose 5-7 sentences in Standard English and read it out loud for clarity’s sake. If you want, draft and revise your comment in a Word document; then paste it into the comment box on the blog.

For Section 52, we’ll use this version in class for explicating on the Interactive Whiteboard. https://iwp.uiowa.edu/whitmanweb/en/writings/song-of-myself/section-52

Posted in 21st Century Learning, Design Thinking, Design Thinking on HMK, Homework, Honors English III, Twitter, Whitman | 9 Comments

Connect a Specific Line from Whitman’s Poetry to a Specific Scene in This PBS Documentary

The technology staff in the Crowsnest is still trying to find out why PBS took the great episode of Whitman off of their American Experience website! We found another great asset on YouTube sharing this on their channel. So, we move forward in the name of using educational material for educational goals. View the first twenty minutes of this video and strive to connect a specific scene from the documentary to one or two lines from any of the Whitman poems on the syllabus. Compose your in 5-7 sentences of Standard English in Word or another word processing software. Read it out loud for fluency’s sake. Then post it in the comment thread below.

Here is an outline below:

0-5 minutes: excellent overview of 19th century American culture.

5-9 minutes: important family background information. Growing up on the margins of early 19th century culture. 9:40 New York City: the place where a young man goes to make his mark in the world. Is that true today for women and men?

10:00—15 minutes: young Walt cultivates a sense of self-reliance (Emerson) and follows his Democratic sympathies and impulses. Needless to say, it’s not great career advice to tell give these “ideals” as excuses for missing work. The technology staff in the Crowsnest wants to prepare you for college and career.

15:00—21: 55 minutes: this portion completes the biographical idea of his growing “urban affection” by the end of this section. It is so fascinating to note that Melville and Poe are walking the same streets during the same period and write about other subjects!

Posted in 21st Century Learning, American poets, AP Mindset, Design Thinking on HMK, Digital Citizenship, English III Honors, Higher Order Thinking, Whitman, YouTube | 9 Comments

Let’s Curate Digital Assets for Colonial Literary History

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsLet’s start collecting digital assets that will enhance our study of colonial literature. Again, as we begin our work in American literature, we are not formally using volume A of our multi volume Norton Anthology of American Literature. Instead, I am impressed with your work so far for remember US History trends and ideas from last year, and leveraging those insights to dive deeper into our essential questions for this unit as well as the year.

Keep up the great work! Simply annotate your link in the comment thread. In other words, compose 3-4 sentences in Standard English that explains the value on your link to our unit’s goals. Also reflect on the source itself. Is it an educational site? When was the information last updated? What else should you consider when you check a source’s value?

Nathaniel Philbrick discusses his book Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War.https://www.c-span.org/video/?192903-1/mayflower
Towards the end of minute 9, Philbrick makes the claim that “the pilgrims are our founding myth. We’re a recent people. We need a beginning. Best to see it as it was.” Click here for the NPR essay where he wants to “debunk the myth” of the pilgrims. http://www.npr.org/books/titles/137946495/mayflower-a-story-of-courage-community-and-war

Ronald Reagan’s use of Winthrop’s “A City on the Hill” reference. How does Reagan’s city compare to Winthrop’s version? This version was produced by the Reagan Library.

Posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, Becoming an American Literary Critic, Colonial Literature, Twitter | Leave a comment

Let’s Use PBS Documentary to Guide Colonial Literature

PBS Frontline’s God in America helps us appreciate the Puritan way of life exhibited in Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing and will help us get ready to read John Winthrop’s sermon “A Model of Christian Charity.” Let’s have you just view segments of this for homework. Then we will ask you to compose a response in a Word document and paste it in the comment box under this blog post. God in America is a great resource for teachers and students about the spiritual life of Puritans, the Puritan Doctrine, John Winthrop, and Anne Hutchinson. Please view minute 12-33 of this documentary. It dramatically shows how Anne Hutchinson sets the stage for colonial Americans to “recreate” their idea of religion here and how one’s “consciousness” can speak out against the state. It was fun the other day in class when we discussed Geraldine Brooks’ comparison of John Winthrop to the Taliban. You all perked up and made more connections to the tension  in both the novel, Caleb’s Crossing as well as the historical record of John Winthrop. Again, here’s that link if you want to review that interview.

Directions for homework: View the specific twenty minutes of the movie outlined above (you can view more if you have your other homework completed). Then isolate one moment in the documentary that you think will help you appreciate future intellectual or cultural trends in studying the next three centuries of American literature. One example of this assignment may be a reflection of how Anne Hutchinson inspires other brave thinkers in American history to speak their “consciousness” against the state. Can you think of a specific example? Likewise, does any moment in the documentary answer this question for you: Why have people come to America? (This will be a fun question for us throughout the year when we also reflect on why do people to come to America today?) If you do find an answer to that from the documentary, feel free to explain that moment as your response. Another way to consider this documentary is to reflect on Anne Hutchinson’s position as a woman. One question we will be asking all year is how does gender, race, and class function in American culture? And how do those who are discriminated by gender, race, and/or class seek education and power? Does a moment in the documentary provide you a response to these questions? Comment on one of these topics. Make your response 4-7 sentences. Whatever you decide to comment upon, please be sure that you use Standard English and revise your prose in a Word Document. Try reading your phrase out loud to create more fluency with your response. Have fun!

Posted in 21st Century Learning, American Literary Studies, Becoming an American Literary Critic | 12 Comments

Establish an Argument for the Best AP Prompt

This is just to let you know that the technology department in the Crowsnest likes to connect literature to movies; enjoy this trailer from the interesting teen movie, Easy A. Though by no means a rendition of Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, you will find that some issues repeating here: individual reputations within an intense, hypocritical community, double standards, and the social dynamics when cultural forces treat women as objects. Have you seen this movie? It was released a while ago, but maybe you caught it on Netflix recently. Or that other media, Television. You can enjoy the movie in your free time, though it will not directly help you with the nuances of the novel’s plot. It is just a fun homage. In the meantime, click on the link below of past AP Essay prompts. Download and review carefully this PDF Document, which lists the essay questions on the past AP Exams. Please reflect on the whole list well and then select what you think is the best prompt to apply to The Scarlet Letter. Argue in 5-7 sentences in Standard English, which prompt would help you create the optimal essay for The Scarlet Letter. You can refer to your prompt simply by the year. Again, compose your 5-7 sentence argument in a Word document so that you can conduct spellcheck and grammar check easily. Then paste your 5-7 sentence argument in the comment thread below this post. In other words, you will make comments on this post just as you did for the comments on the community text. AP.Prompts.1970-2015.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, AP Mindset, Honors English III | 10 Comments

Community Happens! What’s Your Take-away?

English teachers often challenge students to invest time and thought into their essays. We make handouts, write notes in the margin of essays, give pep talks, and repeatedly suggest to students the need to reflect on one’s thesis. One of the marvels of Sebastian Junger’s Tribe stems from the fact that he has been ruminating his entire career about the complex ideas in this book regarding tribes and the alienating effects of modernity. While coming to terms with the effects of trauma after being a war correspondent himself, Junger’s firsthand experience of being embedded in Afghanistan informs a reflection over his long career as a war correspondent as well as a chronicler of dangerous jobs in American (see his book Perfect Storm). Interestingly, he was a tree climber and trimmer, which historically ranks high on the list of dangerous jobs. In addition, when Junger was testing himself as a young man by hitchhiking across the country, a compelling encounter he had with a homeless man enters his thinking and never leaves. And perhaps another, more profound theme resonates from an insight shared by his long time Native American mentor who reminds Junger that Native Americans rarely fled from their “tribes” to colonial outposts. Historically, the flight trend occurred among colonists who had fled from rescue attempts once experienced tribal life. So what is it about having a feeling of belonging in a small group of people? Interestingly, Junger taps into his anthropology background (his college major, which is a great liberal arts major to build critical thinking skills) for more understanding to explain our human tendencies to bend towards community bonds. That said, how does the convenience of modern life sometime deprive us of opportunities to work together, appreciate the vital things of life, and share resources? Or, what aspects of community and community spirit that is linked to our cultural DNA, do you find enduring, blooming? What’s your take-away? Feel free to enter the text wherever you want and create your personal response.

Directions: Please reflect on Junger’s Tribe and write about one useful takeaway that you had after reading this text. Then supply one sentence or phrase from the text that supports your takeaway (your idea, insight, or claim), and compose a 5-7 sentences in Standard English explaining how your quotation explains and supports your takeaway. Please follow MLA guidelines for citing your page number so that we can look up your passage easily. I suggest that you compose your comment in a Word document first, and then read it out loud to see how you can improve the flow of your ideas. Here’s a great model for help: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/ Also recall to italicize titles.

Personally, I found this text compelling to read and ruminate upon throughout the summer. One aspect of Sebastian Junger’s profound thesis that I noticed reappearing on the news coverage lately had to do with the recent events in Texas and now Florida. So many people are taking responsibility for others and sharing resources! In fact, I also learned about Team Rubicon when I heard a great podcast that Junger did with Joel Klein, and these ideas together seem to be playing out even more. (https://www.ket.org/arts/great-conversations-sebastian-junger-and-joe-klein/) Team Rubicon helps channel veterans who have an innate sense of community and want to help out fellow humans recover from disasters. The organization is doing great work right now because it allows veterans to re-experience a sense of selflessness as well as that feeling of making a difference for others in need. This organization fills a need and deploys specialist who want to feel an authentic community spirit.  https://teamrubiconusa.org

Posted in #Placemaking, 21st Century Learning, Brain-Based Learning, Community Theme, Community Theme, Text, Disposition of a Critical Thinker | 64 Comments