Dear Mr. Long’s 10th graders,

Thanks for keeping me company all year.

You’ve been an amazing group of thinkers and writers, going far beyond (most weeks) what your teacher thought would happen. In other words, he’s been pretty impressed (no matter what impression he may have given along the way).  And frankly, any one that might check out the blog (and what you wrote) would be, too!

So, here’s the deal:

I’ve decided to head off on summer vacation early.  Craving a little down time and a decent virtual tan.

Plus, rumor has it that you guys have done an amazing job this year (and more than impressed Mr. Long along the way).  Perhaps you could use a little extra time so that you can:

  1. finish A Tale of Two Cities (periods 1, 2 & 3)
  2. prepare for the semester exam in less than 2 weeks (good luck)
  3. just hang out a little (yup, even that is vital, too)

So, I’m out of here.  And that means your days of being a 10th grade English blogger are successfully behind you.  Congrats!


The Blog


If you have any interest, feel free to swing on by next year when the soon-to-be 10th graders are trying to expand their minds, too.

Your wisdom, feedback, and hints would be really appreciated.



NOTE:  This entry is ONLY for Per 1, 2, and 3


A_tale_of_two_cities_1935_film_2Leave it to some goofy English teacher to make this connection.  Or perhaps consider it a question asked by a college admissions officer in your future.  Either way, prepare to take a giant leap of intellectual faith on this one [insert one well-timed Cheshire Cat grin here].

By this point in time, you’ve already sat back in your proverbial chair with an ah-gosh-sucks (or something like it) look upon your face.  Truly. You have.


Well, because you’ve waited your entire life to finally figure out WHY Dickens wrote the following at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” (opening lines of Tale of Two Cities’ “Book the First: Recalled to Life”, page 5 in Mr. Long’s copy)

Your challenge:

  • Compare this quotation — one of the great quotations in all of literature — to your experience as a teenager and high school student.
  • 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences

Is it an intellectual leap of faith?  Sure.

And yet, not at all.

Take a look at the quotation more than once.  You’ll see what I mean.  Now all you have to do is take Dickens’ ideas — about the era of the French Revolution specifically — and see how they universally tie to the very act of being a 10th grader in the year 2008.

Bon chance, as one of Dicken’s French characters might say.


NOTE: This entry is ONLY for Per 1, 2 and 3


This is a wide open question for all of you who manage to read the first 50-ish pages of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities (as you are supposed to do — he smiles) ahead of Monday’s class (so you can do this entry — he smiles, once again).

I’m curious what stood out FOR YOU on the “it grabbed my attention/interest” level with regards to the way the novel started:

  • The famous — oh, so famous, actually — opening lines of the novel?
  • History?
  • Writing Style?
  • Plot?
  • Characters?
  • Something else entirely?

Response: 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences each. If you get stuck, start with a quotation and then explain why it caught your eye (even if you aren’t entirely sure where it’ll lead story-wise in the 350 pages to come).



NOTE: Any student — Per 1, 2, 3, 4, or 7 — can do this entry.


I’m curious what you think of the way Hollywood advertised the original film version of the novel back in the year 1956.

Certainly an interesting visual way to attract people to watch the film.

Challenge: In 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences each, analyze this film poster.

  • Does it work?
  • Does it surprise you?
  • Why do you think this is the way they tried to advertise the film back in 1956, only 7 years after the novel was first published?



NOTE: Any student — Periods 1, 2, 3, 4 or 7 — can do this entry.


As you all remember, Winston purchases a glass paperweight — with a piece of coral in it — from the antique shop…and sneaks it home.  When he later rents the apartment to hide with Julia, he keeps it there, too.  It becomes a symbol of something he is trying to understand/remember, even more than just being something beautiful.

For Winston, his glass paperweight represents a link to a ‘missing history’ he does not want to forget. It is also a link to an ‘imaginary future’ he dreams about.  In some ways, it helps him keep sane when everything around him seems beyond understanding.  Maybe this is what matters most to him.

Imagine this:

  • Imagine you suddenly woke up to find yourself in an apartment like Winston, with a blue uniform on, listening to a telescreen in the background.  In other words, you found yourself as a character in the book itself.  And there is no escape.
  • Imagine that you knew the ‘truth’ about Big Brother’s world…but you also realized that you’d be a ‘thought criminal’ (and killed) if you told anyone what you knew.  There would never be a way to change this. Again, there is no escape.  Your only choice is to find some way to let your imagination continue to live.
  • Imagine you could buy or find (1) object — like Winston’s glass paperweight — that would help you remain ‘sane’ and maintain ‘hope’ for the future.


  • Identify what the (1) object would be.  Be creative.  Anything is possible.
  • Explain why this (1) object would help you keep sane and maintain hope.
  • 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences each.



This entry is Mandatory.

Grading: Each entry will receive a) credit for blog entries and b) a ‘quiz’ grade based on the quality of word usage and the overall story development.

Length: 3+ paragraphs; 5+ sentences in each paragraph.

Words (from the May 4th list):

  • abscond
  • complaisant
  • converge
  • dirge
  • indict
  • insular
  • prodigal
  • recalcitrant
  • truculence
  • verbose

Images: Pick one of the ones that follows:





After you complete the mandatory Vocab Story entry, you may begin to respond to what students wrote last week.


  • All responses go on the original entry — do NOT place responses here
  • Each response must be a minimum of 3 paragraphs (of 5+ sentences each) to receive credit
  • Each entry can only be one one time for credit
  • You may choose one of the following:  respond to 1 student, 2 students, or 3 students
  • Suggestion:  It is better to respond to 1 student in detail than to superficially respond to 2 or 3 students