Essay #3

Essay #3

Minimum of 2 pages

Minimum of 2 sources

There is no rough draft requirement for this essay. If you would like to bring a rough draft in to class, I am happy to look at it. Otherwise, just bring in your final draft on the 17th.

For Essay #3 you may write another opinion essay in which you form an opinion about either “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, or “A Christmas Carol,” and then support this theory with sources. Or you may choose to write about one of the five authors that we have read this semester: Harper Lee, Lois Lowry, William Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or Charles Dickens. If you choose to write about the author, this is still not simply a research paper. You will need to form an opinion about that author and the book they wrote.


No matter what topic you choose, remember to have a strong thesis statement! Examples are below:

“Charles Dickens’ writing was influenced by his unhappy childhood in which he experienced poverty,  distant parents, and illness.”


“A Christmas Carol” remains a popular novel, because of it’s inspiring message, interesting characters, and supernatural content.”


Good luck!



Weeks 11 and 12 (Sherlock Holmes series!)

I chose to combine this post on Weeks 11 and 12, since they were both on the same series, and we played several of the same games over these two weeks.

We read four short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” “The Speckle Band,” and “The Red-Headed League”. (I think one of the favorites was “The Boscombe Valley Mystery!).


About Arthur Conan Doyle:

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland in 1859. Conan Doyle’s father was an alcoholic. It was Conan Doyle’s mother who he cites as the inspiration for his writings. She often told him stories at night, until he says he is not sure what portions of his childhood is real, and what is a story! At the age of 9, Conan Doyle was sent to a boarding school in England. Here he was bullied by children and teachers alike. After graduation he went to medical school. One of his professors, Dr. Joseph Bell, especially interested Arthur Conan Doyle. He now says that Bell was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. After releasing many Sherlock Holmes stories, Conan Doyle killed off his main character. After public outrage, Doyle brought the famed detective back to life.


TV Show:

We watched the “Jeremy Brett” interpretation of “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”.




Lie to Me: This game is popular game show in the UK. We chose a team of four students, and they came up with a fact that was true about only one of the team members. (For example, one was hit by a car). Yet all four of them told the same fact, creating a story about how that “fact” happened. The other students could quiz the team, and had to decide who was telling the truth, and who was lying. 3 out of the 4 times we played, we guessed wrong!

Crack the Case: This is a game where students are given several “facts” about a crime. By quizzing the “narrator” they must solve the crime, and often even figure out the story behind the crime!


Writing Exercise: Sherlock Holmes is famous for his deductions about people. In several of his stories he is able to understand a person based on tan lines, breadcrumbs, haircuts, etc. Try writing one of these scenes!


Discussion Questions:


1) In many mysteries you are able to “jump ahead” of the detective. Were you able to see where Sherlock was going with his ideas, or were you usually with Watson, who had to wait until the end for the big reveal?

2) Why do you think Arthur Conan Doyle wrote from the point of view of Watson?

3) How do these mysteries compare with other mystery stories you have read?

4) Why do you think these stories continue to be read today?


Body Language:

We spent some time discussing body language. Body language experts suggest recognizing a person’s “Baseline” (Do they talk with their hands? Do they speak formally? How high is their voice? How fast do they speak? Do they nod when others are speaking? etc). When a person deviates from this baseline they could be lying, nervous, etc. This was helpful when we played “Lie to Me”.


For example, when a person is standing, where are their hands? If they are clasped in front of the person, the person is  usually fairly comfortable. What if the person is grasping their wrist? They are likely uneasy or uncomfortable. The farther the person moves up their arm, the more uncomfortable they are. If a person clasps their hands behind their back, they are completely open and exposed. This is a sign of trust and calm. There are many videos and books on body language, and it’s an interesting read! I would encourage everyone to look up a basic video on body language.


Below are some videos we watched in class:


Week #9



Dun. Dun. Dun.


Wait, wait! Don’t get scared. We’re reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. This is a comedy, not a tragedy. (Do you want to know the difference between Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies? Count how many main characters die. More than ten, it’s probably a tragedy).


We first discussed the history of Shakespeare. He lived in from 1565 – 1616, and this was a very tumultuous time politically. As a playwright, Shakespeare was able to get away with jabs at different political parties, although no one knows where Shakespeare stood politically. We also went through a brief overview of the play to make sure everyone was on the same page. Shakespeare’s language can be difficult to understand, but if you take it nice and slow it’s easier to get into the swing of things.

One thing that makes William Shakespeare’s work more difficult is the fact that words had different connotations when he was writing. For example, when you think of “Desperate” what comes to mind? I think of a crazed person willing to do anything for what they desire. During the sixteen hundreds, “desperate” actually just meant “determined”. A “rival” was a “partner”, and the word “eager” meant “sour”. This lends to confusion when reading Shakespeare’s plays!


We only had a few discussion questions for this week:


1) Do you find this play funny?

2) Why do you think Shakespeare is so revered?

3) Do you think Shakespeare’s works should be required reading? (Most of the students agreed that one of his plays is plenty).


Our writing activity this week was hilarious! All of the students had to choose a story to transcribe into “Shakespeare Language”. Do you know what a nursery rhythm would sound like in Old English? How about “Winnie the Pooh”, or “Little Red Riding Hood”? The responses were so creative, and very funny! Major props to everyone!


The other game we played took Shakespearian words such as “Hugger Mugger” (secrecy) and students had to slip them casually into conversation, earning candy. If you want to play, check out the “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” page. I have a resource there with an entire dictionary of Old English!


Is Shakespeare really that bad after all?


Check out the video clips below to see how “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is portrayed on stage and in films.




Week 8!

This week was the end of our unit on “The Giver”.

The biggest complaint about the book was the vague ending. Lois Lowry wrote that she wanted every reader to decide the fate of Jonas and Gabriel for themselves. There was some disagreement among the class over what they thought had happened! Some believed Jonas and Gabriel died, while others believed that they reached another community (or place) where they were safe. To continue on this theme, our creative writing exercise was to finish writing “The Giver”. Responses ranged from goofy to tragic! It was interesting to see the different interpretations.

Below are the following discussion questions we considered:

1) Did you find the end of “The Giver” satisfying?

2) What are the benefits of living in the community?

3) What do you think of the scene (pg 127) where Jonas’ parents cannot tell him that they love him?

4) What did you feel when hearing about the release? Did it surprise you? This is a very relevant social question today, with many debates continuing to discuss whether euthanasia is humane.

What do you think make up a perfect community?

Everyone has food? Everyone has a job? Everyone is equal? There is no fighting? There is no war? It is organized?

What freedoms are you willing to give up for equality or safety?


All of these topics are important to consider, and it was a great discussion book for the class. I’d recommend seeing the movie at some point as well, and asking yourself if the movie was as good as the book (or better!). Next week we begin to read Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Week 7

“The Giver” is a very easy book to read. Many libraries/schools classify this book as “Middle School” subject material. However, I’ve found that “The Giver” is a very thought provoking book about social issues. Lois Lowry was inspired to write this book after she visited her father in a nursing home. He had Alzheimers, and had forgotten about her oldest sibling who had died young. Lowry was then forced to wonder: Was it a good thing that he had forgotten such a painful memory?

This week we discussed quite a few questions that the book raised. Consider the following questions:

1) What are the advantages to having rules? The disadvantages?

2) If you could lie, would you?

3) If you could ask anything and receive an honest answer, what would you ask?

4) What would a world without color be like? (Consider black and white movies).

5) On page 98, Jonas and the Giver discuss what would happen if people had choices, and they said that people would choose wrong. What do you think of that? Is it safer to have someone else chose your job (or spouse)?

6) Do you believe painful memories bring wisdom?

7) Memories are easier borne when shared. If you could take someone else’s pain, would you? Do you want everyone to feel pain?


Our creative writing activity this week was to describe color (or a color) to someone who did not know what it was. The responses were really great, and students chose many different ways to discuss color!

We also played a game called “Telephone Pictionary”. This game begins with a simple phrase or description, but as it is passed among students they must alternatively describe and draw the phrase. In the end, “A man playing basketball” easily turned into “A Penguin and elves”. It was a hilarious game to play! This game had a slight tie-in to “The Giver”. It made us wonder if memories can truly be shared equally, and also made us wonder how memories can be skewed over time.

We had a great Week 7! In fact, I think most of the students have already finished the book!

Essay #2!

Essay 2 Requirements


Response Paper OR Compare/Contrast Paper on either “The Giver” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.


If you chose to write a Response Paper:


Chose a book, and then a topic relating to the book. For example, what is your opinion on the stance “The Giver” made about social issues? Create a thesis statement, and back up your opinions with sources! Use direct quotes from the book, and at least one other source. Remember that a thesis statement is your opinion about the book. You should be able to use sources to back up your opinion. A thesis statement can be argued.


If you chose to write a Compare/Contrast Paper:


Chose which book you will be writing about, and then chose a second source with which to compare this book. This second source can be a book, movie, play, song, commercial, etc. For example, you could compare the play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the movie version of the play. Or you could compare “The Giver” to “The Hunger Games”. Just remember, for compare/contrast essay you are NOT comparing apples to oranges. You need to choose to compare two sources that have the same message, or the same setting, etc. There needs to be something to compare! (It would be really hard to compare Seseme Street to Transformers simply because they are so different). For compare/contrast you also need to decide which one is better! You will still need a thesis statement. An example is below:


“The Giver” addressed the importance of memories better than _________, with its characters, discussion of important social issues, and vague climax scene.


A compare/contrast essay can be very fun to write, but be aware that it may take more than 2 pages to organize your thoughts because you must have an opinion about two sources instead of one.


Regardless of which type of essay you chose:


2 pages


2 sources


A Works Cited page


MLA format (If you need help with this, that’s what a rough draft is for! I’m happy to help).


The topic is up to you to decide. Feel free to run it by your classmates for additional ideas. I’m also happy to help along the process if you feel you are having trouble.


Happy Writing!

The Giver Resources

Lois Lowry Biography:

What assignment from “The Giver” is best for you? (I’m a Recreation Instructor… what are you? Comment below!)

Week 6

This week we began to read “The Giver”. This book is by Lois Lowry, and was written in 1993. “The Giver” is a great discussion book because it raises questions about society and government. Would you rather live in a peaceful world where your life is decided for you, or would you rather live in a world where chaos and pain exist in everyday life, but you have the freedom to make your own choice?


In the book, precision of words is very important. To say “starving” instead of “hungry” is an exaggeration that will not be tolerated. We played a game of “Password” where it is very important to say the correct word. One member of each of the two teams tries to get their teammates to guess a word given to them on a card. The catch? The team leaders only get one word to help their teammates. Especially difficult was the word “employed”.


Another important aspect of “The Giver”, is the moment where all 12 year old members of the community are given an assignment chosen for them by the Elders of the community. We staged our own mock “ceremony” where classmates decided the fate of an individual, and then compared this decision to what the individual foresaw for themselves. Some decisions aligned nicely, others were way off! (I’m supposed to be an acrobat?) :)

Below are several of the discussion questions we considered.

1) What do you think of the sharing of feelings around the table? Do you think it’s beneficial?

2) What are the benefits of a committee deciding your assignment?

3) What do you think about the family units?

4) Precision of speech: Is this good or is it overboard?

5) Does your family have any rituals or traditions associated with birthdays or turning a specific age?