Set-Up: It is quite possible that you’ve heard something from last year’s students — accurate or not — about:

  • this class in general
  • the work we’ll do this year
  • the books we’ll read/analyze
  • the writing assignments
  • what it takes to be successful overall
  • even a bit about “that teacher guy” up in front of the room

At the same time, you may be entering this class with zero assumptions. Either way, you undoubtedly have at least one question you’d like to ask as you prepare to start the year.

Challenge: Write one question you want to ask Mr. Long or one ‘rumor’ you’ve heard about the class.

Length: Follow this question/rumor up with 4+ sentences as to why you want to know the answer. You may add anything else that may be on your mind as long as it helps me come to know you a bit.

Hint: Other than the obvious choice to be ‘appropriate’, there is no limit as to what you can ask or share here. Whatever helps you get your footing in this class so that you can be successful over time — or just have a curiosity answered — is the key to this entry.


22 responses to “W1, #2: RUMOR HAS IT

  1. I haven’t heard much about this class from other student, except that the grade of this class depends heavily on in class participation on the the dicussion. The rest I heard from you. You said that this would be a very difficult class and that it will be extremely hard to get an A let alone a B. I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t sure whether or not you were serious. I did know that this class would be heavily based on in class dicussions. I really don’t have any questions at all because I have already realized what this class is all about. I realize that these strange, unusual in class dicussions are to expand our thinking and keep our minds open. This is to help us with our writing and to help us later on in life.


    from Mr. Long: I believe the “A let alone a B” comment was said (to you and a few other students with you at the time) in a tongue-n-cheek manner last year (as I was smiling). Getting an “A” is quite doable, but it definitely — esp. in an Honors level class now that you’re 10th graders — requires real work day in and day out. A “B” is also easy to get, which may be good news or difficult news, depending on what a student’s individual expectations/assumptions may be coming into this class. Trust me: many very, very strong students may experience this ‘B’ level early on before they truly get the hang of what is expected as writers. The participation concept is the easy part of class (although sadly many students hang back or don’t get as involved as they could, or try to ‘coast’ through a few weeks until their grade grabs their attention); the more tricky element lies in the year-long writing process which is not something anyone masters right away. That is why I offer students the chance to re-write a paper over and over and over again (giving them the highest grade they receive along the way), especially since I’m very honest early on what is a successful/developed essay and what requires more consideration from the view of the reader/audience. Re: class discussions, once we get into the year — say in about 2-3 weeks — the class discussions become huge in terms of students beginning to grasp the ‘story behind the story’ of every thing we read. Many students will come to class to get the ‘answers’ in terms of facts or to ‘understand’ because they only ‘skim’ or grasp the basics of the night’s reading. Those students will be challenged by class discussions. Other students will read ‘actively’ — underlining as they read, circling as they read, writing notes in the margins as they read, highlighting as they read, figuring out the 3 or 4 key quotations ahead of time as they read, etc. For them, class discussions will be active, energized, and intriguing. The first group will ask basic questions or jump to conclusions too easily; the second group will explore ideas, ask great questions on their own, always have strong evidence and quotations to share with the class, and play off of other student comments constantly. I don’t expect everyone to get ‘there’ immediately, but I do expect students to figure out that this is what ‘Honors’ means. Facts are fine but ONLY in the process of explaining important ideas that requires ‘active’ reading and daily participation/discussion.

  2. I am in the same position as student #1 in that I too have not been told much about this class from other sources. I have heard that this class involves nightly reading as well as participation throughout class. I am really enjoying the class discussions and I feel as though they will help me grasp concepts throughout the year. My true question was answered in your response to Student #1 in that you said individuals should write in thier books and highlight to serve them throughout the discussion. My question was if we were allowed to utilize our notes and books throughout the discussion and I now know from your response that we definately can do that.


    from Mr. Long: Glad you took the time to read my response to an earlier student. Seems that my devious teacher-type ways will be more than matched by intuitive students this year — and that’s a good thing! I’m almost always saying things on 2 levels: a) specific things to that individual student and b) larger ‘hints’ to the entire class/grade to see who picks up on various suggestions and ideas. As you pointed out, the #1 key to reading this year is to be an ‘active’ reader. This means being fast/furious with a pen/highlighter every time you read a page, figuring out new techniques for isolating key ideas and questions in the margins — such as a ‘theme’ labeled at the top of every page to make it easy to flip through the book prior to an exam or to find a key quotation to support you during an in-class essay when books are allowed (occasionally) — and knowing how to spot what will be a hidden layer of meaning woven into the story by the author before the teacher or class points it out in discussion. For any student hoping to take A.P. English as a junior or senior, this is the best skill you can learn…and fast, too.

  3. Mr.Long truly I am satisfied with the direction this class is going, even if there has only been three days of school. I only have two concerns though. First, I am wondering how will this class be different from any other English class I have taken, because so far I feel this class more about logic. I know it will help, but just exactly in what way? Second, as you said earlier today in class, we as a class are going down a rabbit hole. How much do we have to trust that instict ? How far do we have to jump that “leap of faith” to get to the other side ?


    from Mr. Long: Great questions. Both are challenges to me (in the best of ways) and both suggest a high level of integrity/curiosity that you’ll bring into class on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing them. Quick responses: 1) “[D]ifferent” is a relative word, so we’ll have to see…and ultimately you’ll have to decide. And the “exactly in what way” piece depends on your unique spin on interpreting the class along the way. I’m cool with whatever you determine by the year’s end (as long as we both put in our best along the way). In a phrase, the entire class comes down to this for me: “Don’t memorize; instead, understand…deeply…how/why you know what you know.” 2) I adore the final questions, BTW. Find a balance between trusting me from day one and trusting your own instincts over time. I have experience and a strategy that underlies how the class will function, plus I’m constantly adjusting it to fit each class and every individual student to ensure that everyone will be well served. That being said, you need to also be a ‘demanding customer’ and push me hard to ‘serve’ you well over time. I look forward to your critical eye and challenge.

  4. I, like others, have not heard much about this class except that it is very difficult to get a high grade such as an A. Now that I read your response about how some people try to just coast, that is helping me to feel better about the class because I really want to work hard to help me develop as a writer and as a person. If a good grade happens to come with the hard work I plan to put forth then that’s just a bonus.My question was like others why it was so hard to get a good grade, but that has been answered. I did expect difficulty because it is an honors course, but no one I heard really went in depth about why it was so hard which left me a little confused. When I walked into class on Wednesday I didn’t know what to expect. For all I knew the class could be completely boring and just strict memorization of details in every single book just like many other English courses. I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Long began to talk about how we were going to be blogging and having Skype chats with people around the world. It’s not your “typical” English class. I left class excited for a year of challenges instead of being afraid of failure. I appreciate how Mr. Long is trying to match our learning to us so that we may be more interested that if it was just some teacher who planned everything without any input from the students. As I was writing I thought of one more question and that is, How did you learn so much about graphic design and that area? Was it just curiosity or was it something you had to learn for college? Yes it’s a little random, but I think it’s really cool how you can incorporate it into our curriculum this year. It is something most English teachers don’t care about, they usually just want to pound facts about novels into your head. So I guess I also want to say thanks for adding something new to the mix. I think this is going to be a really challenging but really fun and rewarding year.


    from Mr. Long: I’m really pleased to have read this part of your entry: “I left class excited for a year of challenges instead of being afraid of failure.” Seems to be a nice way of playing off of the 3rd challenge in this week of blog entries, too. You asked about ‘design’ towards the end of your response. While I don’t want to bore everyone with too much on that front (plus, you can ask me one-on-one sometime when you have time), here is the not-so-short-but-trying-to-be-short answer: a) design’ has become a way of ‘seeing’ the world for me long before I began teaching, but I just didn’t recognize it until a few years ago when I had an opportunity to work professionally with architects who designed/built schools around the world; b) once I began to really focus on shifting from teaching (after 10 years) to working with school architects as my then-career, I began to think of design as a larger and more compelling way to re-think what it meant to be a student and a teacher (which affected the types of schools we designed/built for our clients). Essentially, design is about ‘problem solving’, rather than ‘decoration’, so it began to shape my desire to return to teaching a year ago, even as an English teacher; and c) I’m simply ‘mad curious’ about how unexpected things connect in this world, and that includes things like graphic design and ‘writing’/English. The Germans have the word ‘gestalt’ that refers to our mind’s ability to see the ‘whole’ after seeing only the ‘edges’ of an idea. A simple example: think of a box that is missing the sides, but the corners exist. Your eyes/mind fill in the blanks…and form the ‘box’ in our mind. Same thing happens with stars/constellations, too. And it happens in a billion other ways. So, in short, ‘design’ has become a way that my brain interprets and connects the world. Oh, and I also spent time in college studying it, too. (he smiles)

  5. The only rumor that I’ve heard is the same one that Student #1 already voiced about the difficulty of this class, but honestly I look forward to being challenged to investigate what I see and read, because not everything in this class can be accepted at first glance and without question as opposed to the black and white basis the other classes run on, where you’re either right or wrong. I don’t really have any questions about the class, because all that I would’ve liked to know has already been explained.

  6. I have neither spoken with any of your former students, nor heard any rumors or horror stories. However, it is apparent, based on the first three days of class that you are striving to develop our strategic thinking skills and encouraging us to see beyond what is blatantly obvious. More so, public speaking will be a significant challenge for me, as it seems that is a major part of what we will be concentrating on.
    Are you an innately curious, creative and out of the box thinker / writer? Or is your style a result of progression over time? How were you able to re-wire your way of thinking / writing to become three-dimensional? What is your recipe? (I acknowledge that you did address one of my answers in your response to Student #4, however I would still like to see your comments).
    I would like you to share your insights for several reasons. I am a concrete thinker and your class will test my ability to visualize, explore and express myself (including both the spoken and written word) beyond what is “black and white”. I would appreciate your thoughts so that I can begin the journey of “coloring outside the lines”. My ability to articulate past what is directly observable will assist me as a writer, thinker, student and person. No doubt, this ability will help me in the business world as well. It will also help me accept other people’s views when I am able to appreciate divergent opinions. I am already learning through these blogs, that often there is no correct or incorrect answer. Lastly, and probably most tantamount, your advice will serve me well me when we are required to discuss / debate topical and philosophical issues in class.


    from Mr. Long: To your question re: “curiosity” and “out of the box thinking”, I suppose in some ways I have always been ‘wired’ that way…and in other ways I had to learn to give myself permission to be this way (in public, anyway). The major difference — over time, esp. as I became an adult out in the proverbial real world and began to realize that it was entirely up to me what I pursued in life — was that I became more rigorous in terms of a) how to prove what I knew, assumed, put together, etc. and b) discovering how to help my audience (those that didn’t care or those who disagreed, in particular) find something they valued in what I valued, as well as how to see it from their eyes as well. I’m not sure this has much to do with being intelligent/smart; perhaps it has more to do with appreciating that other people’s opinions have tremendous value and that humility can be more impressive than cockiness when it comes to knowledge. Finally, sometime after high school I finally figured out that being the most curious person in group often had more power than the person that already knew the answers, since knowledge can be intimidating/conversation-ending (for others) while curiosity can be inspiring (to everyone). I’m not sure if this answers your specific question(s), but it is where my brain went with your nudge.

  7. I’ve only heard that we’ll write a lot in this class, which is good I guess, because the more we write the better we’ll get at it. We just won’t like it too much. I do like writing, if I’m interested in the topic, or if it’s fiction. I’m liking class so far; it’s so different from every other class I have. I think that by the end of the year I’ll really be thinking much more about the things around me. I’m glad that we’ll be reading 1984 — I’m always hearing references to “Big Brother,” and the story itself sounds very interesting. Well, all my questions have pretty much been answered by students 1-5…so…I guess all I can ask now is why your little wind-up dragon is pulled apart and put up on your wall, because now he can’t breathe those sparks anymore! It’s random, but I was also wondering why you have a little man in a cage.


    from Mr. Long: While I typically refrain from responding to student comments/answers on after Saturday night (midnight) — simply b/c I can’t keep up with hundreds that will arrive on Sundays as the year begins — I can’t help myself here after you brought up the wind-up dragon. First, you have great eyes/attention to detail; something tells me that will serve you (and all of us in your class) very well this year. Second, the dragon has been with me for awhile, but it wasn’t until this past year that it mysteriously fell apart. I had 2 choices…and I refused to toss it out. So, it needed a new life (shy of Super Glue recovery)…and one random afternoon this summer I tacked the 2 mirrored sides facing each other on my bulletin board. I could suggest that there is a symbolic meaning hidden in that arrangement, but in this case it is just a way to honor a lovely little toy rather than toss it aside.

  8. I really appreciate you allowing us to have so many sources of communication for this class. I did hear rumors last year, but to tell you the truth, I really didn’t pay much attention to those rumors because I knew that technically they weren’t rumors, they were people’s idea of the class. I forgot about them because I didn’t want to be taking “so-and-so’s” Honors English class, I wanted to be taking my own Honors English class. Its sort of like reading a book review I guess. A reviewer can judge a book according to their view and their past experiences. But I have had way different experiences than that reviewer, so maybe my take on the book is totally different. So rumors can’t be for everyone, and they are definitely not for me.

    I am so eager for this class. As student #4 put it, “I left class excited for a year of challenges instead of being afraid of failure.” That is how I felt, too, in a nutshell. I really think this class will allow me to grow so much in the way I write, read, act, think, talk and live. I have often wandered, “what do you mean by that,” or “is that really what you think, or are you underlying your true thoughts by that statement you just made?” During class, I have realized that is how you want us to think, but twist it up a bit. Maybe think, “how does that statement directly relate to my life when it wasn’t meant to,” or “Why that way of stating it, why not this way?”

    I have a few question for you.
    #1 Not being rude, but do you sometimes get paranoid about over thinking things and trying to find out the meaning behind the object? Going home after school, I was looking at every sign noting the seraph or san-seraph. (I didn’t catch how to spell it in class, I know this is the ‘angel’ spelling) I was wandering if those companies knew what I knew about their signs. I felt like I was getting paranoid my self. That leads me to another question. *** from Mr. Long: There are definitely times where I find myself wondering if thinking too much is possible (or harmful?). Clearly the limit to thinking should be at the line of action — if you can’t act upon your ideas, then over-thinking has been harmful. But in general? I sense that — as students/life-long learners — we are never harmed by pushing on our thinking beyond what comes conveniently at first. As to you now watching every billboard you pass by, I’m actually quite impressed. Keep on thing in mind: there are always exceptions to every rule (i.e. ‘graphic design’ of words that use seraphs when they should not or need not); this most likely has to do with a lack of talent (someone who has not been trained to note the difference but was still asked to design a billboard, for instance) than something intentional, but then again there are always folks who strategically break traditional rules. ***

    #2 Before this class, I had thought some about how I was writing and what I wanted to portray to my readers, but not to the extent of what I will after this class (which I am excited about) but, I sometimes think when I read poems, “what if this guy really was talking about [fill in the blank]? What if he didn’t want us to find the metaphor in this? Maybe this is his point, nothing more nothing less.” Is that sometimes how it is? I don’t think if a poem of mine is studied in an English class, I would want them just assuming what I meant by what was written, but I can’t just hand out a manual. What the point of writing a poem if I’m to include a manual? I’m anxious about how you will answer this.

    #3 I know this one might be answered in time just by the course itself but here it is anyways. Last week you said that you should not fear disagreement, but confusion. I really liked this thought because if you know what you believe and you portray it, then no doubt some disagreement will come your way. You can’t please everyone. But confusion should never be a problem. I think more people disagree because of confusion, rather than the statement at hand itself. With that said, how do you portray your message with out confusion, but with out spoon-feeding also? I want people to read between the lines, but now I am hesitant about every word making sure it can be understood, and not just dismissed with an ‘approve’ stamp or ‘disagree’ stamp. *** from Mr. Long: We’ll definitely cover this in real depth over time this year. The key is to figure out who your key audience is, then to figure out the best balance between over-telling and under-telling…and ultimately trusting your best instincts (with an understanding that you can always improve, too). ***

    Thank you and looking forward to your response.

  9. Unlike most responses I’ve heard quite a few rumors, mostly about the difficulty of the class and how much work there will be. I have a question about the essays. Last year I was in your advisory and you told us we would be very happy to receive a B-, C’s being the most common grade. To most students a B- isn’t that great. Will the essays really be graded that hard? Other than that I don’t have any questions and I am excited about this class.

  10. All I ever heard last year from the people I talked to was how annoying these online entries were. I don’t think these few people got along with you very well…I almost believed them about your class, ha

  11. I’ve heard from last years class that you grade really hard especially on writing. I’d like to know if this is true or not because I am worried about it. I feel like I’m not a good writer. My biggest problem is that it takes me awhile to get into the topic. But once I get into I feel better. Sometimes during class when I’m writing by the time I get going class is neither over. One goal I would like to accomplish this year is to be more organized with my thoughts and sentences.

  12. Although I have been somewhat concerned about how hard this class was going to be, I realized by the other students’ posts and your comments Mr. Long that this class takes dedication and thought just like any other class. How hard do you, Mr. Long, think this class is in your eyes. The reason I ask is because I like a challenge and to have a teacher’s perspective over his or her own class can really help me to achieve a good grade. Your opinion will help me better understand how the class works and functions. Also, it is always good for me to hear a teacher’s opinion in my eyes.


    from Mr. Long: Re: the “how hard” question — from my P.O.V. — I’d say that during the process of the year, it will feel difficult during key stretches (esp. given the reading load and expectations during the writing/multi-drafting process), but in hind sight students will feel remarkably confident in their abilities (and thus may say that it was actually not easy or difficult, just something that had to be earned through real work over time). Hope this helps, or at least hints at what may be helpful.

  13. Last year I started to rethink about taking honors english because I had heard someone say “dont take honors english you have to give a huge debate and its hard”. I thought to myself uh-oh I’m terrible and getting in front of the class and making a speech let alone a give a debate. Then I thought well I actually have never given a debate before so maybe I should try it.
    The second day of school I realized that we DO have to talk alot during class and participate as much as possible. The moment I realized it, I thought to myself aw man pretty much everything I say will probably be wrong and someone else will have the opposite and most likely right answer to it. So what’s the point of even saying anything? I know you did say that our opinion matters and we can just say something that is on our mind and it will be ok, but if someone is just going to correct you everytime and pretty much prove your wrong then what I’m saying is why say anything at all?


    from Mr. Long: I completely respect the reaction that you have had here; almost of all of us have that reaction at times, esp. when we feel ‘attacked’ by others. Let me say one thing that hopefully will help. Just like in life, when we focus on I and me first and foremost, than we judge all “are you sure?” challenges as an attack on us. Our ego gets hurt and we start to defend ourselves. On the other hand, in life — and in school — when we focus on others — especially in terms of serving others and not defending ourselves — we see the same questions/challenges as their sincere desire to learn, to imagine, and to re-think. When possible, think of how someone’s challenge (in a debate, for instance) as merely their interest in what you are saying, their desire to learn more, and their respectful attempt to help you learn more by digging deeply into what you believe in or have so-far mastered. Ultimately, a question is not telling you that you are 100% wrong. On the other hand, it might be the best way to find out if your words (on paper and face-to-face in conversation) were as clearly stated as possible…and whether or not you considered other points of view. Plus, the really cool topics/questions — in life and in school — have no right answer…and human beings will debate them for thousands of years to come.

  14. Student #16 (responding to another student)

    I wanted to comment on students 9s entry with hopes they will read this. I’m not sure if this is what this can also be used for but here goes. On your topic of the possibility/worry of thinking too much and over analyzing, I was sparked by Mr. Long’s notion of it may be bad if you don’t use your thoughts. There is an amazing book called “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, a long standing problem for the extremely intelligent main character Charlie, is that he goes through life noticing things about other people and the world around him all the time. things no one else would ever notice. And he thinks about these things and the people involved, in the book his teacher who mentors him in a way tells him it’s not bad to think and notice but it is if you use it as a way not to “participate”. If you think you participate, and share your thoughts and ideas, not necessarily the seraphs thoughts, but everything else, I think your fine.


    from Mr. Long: First, YES-YES-YES, you absolutely can use the blog comment as a way to talk to other students, or at least respond to their ideas/questions. Actually — if you want the real truth — the best part of blog commenting happens when the students start conversations between them along the way, not just when they ‘answer’ the Teacher Guy’s questions (he winks). My ONLY request is that respectful comments happen at all times; I will never publish inappropriate or attacking comments. Yes, you can disagree — which definitely happens — but it always has to happen in a logical/respectful tone where the goal is to help both you/them learn more. And if there is a disagreement, it must be about the topic (not the person). Second, I love how you took the time to recommend a great book, especially one that might not be obvious to everyone. I will definitely look it up myself, so thanks! Finally, I hope the original student — #9 — takes a look at this conversation. In fact, I hope that everyone continues to go back and read past comments; that is actually the reason that I add my own voice at times (but I figured most of you have figured that out given that several people have commented that I had pre-answered several of their questions/concerns by having read other student comments). Again, nice job! Hopefully others will follow your lead. Wink, wink! Nudge, nudge!

  15. Well first I’ve heard that, in the honors class, you don’t give out A+’s. It’s just that an A+ is the grade that can bring a, for example, B to an A- or A. Also it can give you a better chane of getting on the Head Master’s list instead of the Honor’s list. It’s just a concern of mine, because i would like to make the Head Master’s list this year. It deeply help my chances of getting into a good college.

    Second, I had a thought when you showed us the music video of Mae Shei (I think that’s how you spell it). Well when I was watching the video I thought that, not to be rude, it was a pointless waste of time. Then as the class progressed, I got why you showed it. So I was wondering, if you’ll be doing that a lot during class. I mean playing something for us and see if we can guess why your showing it to us. It was really fun to see why, and after, I got a look of what the year’s going to be like. Also I got a look of hoew your brain thinks (plus I found that band really cool).


    from Mr. Long: Will I be showing you things all year long that at first glance seem “pointless” or “odd”? You can pretty much bet your allowance on that! Now, as to whether or not they’ll end up being “valuable” or “logical” after the fact, that will be 100% up to you and the other students. If I fail, that’ll be a “dancing monkey” moment: perhaps useless in terms of your future career, but hopefully still worth at least 5 seconds of your relaxed curiosity in the middle of your school week. (Wink!)

  16. Rumor Has It

    I want to know what it takes to be overall successful. I have heard that your class is really hard and I am pretty sure that isn’t a rumor. I want to know that because of what you said in your handout. You said don’t care what is in the grade book, only our brain/imagination. But for many people, grades are important as learning and I am one of those of the people. I want to know how to learn in your class while getting an A as well.

    from Mr. Long: Don’t get me wrong: grades matter. They matter as a testament to work over time. They matter in terms of your options when you apply to college (as well as later in life with graduate school applications, and even some job/career options to suggest your work ethic over time) and scholarships to off-set future expenses. They matter as a way of understanding our ability to handle pressure/commitments as a student over time. And they matter to our families who can’t be with us in the day-to-day ‘school’ moments to see our constant ‘learning’, especially so they can trust that their financial/family investment and your academic effort align. At the same time, grades are but a fraction of how we define our success as a learner/teammate over time, and even colleges that expect very intelligent/hard-working applicants to prove themselves know this. In fact, once grades are considered — usually this is only phase 1 of their selection process — the vast majority of their consideration is focused on a) what makes you a unique addition to their overall campus community (esp. at select universities/colleges), b) what impact you’re likely to have during your 4+ years on campus, and c) whether or not you can handle independence and will seek unique academic/life opportunities along the way. Even more importantly, your future life will rarely ask you to share your school grades. Instead, you’ll be expected to be an intuitive learner, a savvy team member, a competent self-motivated researcher, an innovative problem solver, etc., in order to solve problems that will be unique in the future and to help every organization you’re a member of to accomplish its goals. Given that, my hope is that our focus this year will be on grade-based success being a natural extension of the deeper, life-long learning & problem-solving skills that we’ll focus on at all points. All I can promise is that every student is capable of achieving an “A”, but it will require far more than simply memorizing facts and being “right”. Ultimately, I think you and I will look back on the experience positively as time unfolds. Plus, we may actually learn a few things along the way.

  17. I, like many others haven’t heard much about this class from other students. However, I am a bit concerned about formal writing. It seems that although there are basic rules of writing that everyone generally follows, different teachers have different things that they would like their students to express. So my question for you is what are your expectations for our essay writing? I know there are things in terms of writing that we should already know how to do, but I just want to make sure that I stay on track and don’t miss the point that you are trying to get across to us through writing.
    -Somethin totally random: I forgot to mention earlier that I really like how you keep the lights dimmer in your room. It makes it seem much more relaxed and that’s a good way to start the day.


    from Mr. Long: We’ll cover the strategy of writing strong essays throughout the year, so I’ll refrain from giving a point-by-point break-down at this point. Suffice it to say, however, that one of the key elements I will stress is making sure that everything you write (for a final draft) is absolutely critical. Fluff should be rigorously edited out once you’ve been through a few drafts. Additionally, it is vital that each of you as writers focus on ‘flow’ — the transition from idea to idea, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. So often, inexperienced writers only think of individual sentences that seem ‘listed’ to the reader’s inner ear. Like a graceful dancer shifting from one move to another, the key to writing is the transition between facts/ideas…not just the facts/ideas themselves. Finally, it is absolutely critical that everyone become quite adept at thinking about how the reader/audience will ‘experience’ the essay, not what we intend to say as the writer. The reader/audience will never (or at least rarely — and usually only as a teacher) have the chance to ask you what you meant. Anytime they can get ‘lost’, they will; anytime they can get distracted, they most likely will. So, we have to have tremendous respect for the reader’s/audience’s attention as we consider how we approach each draft. And we must consider what questions — of understanding/logic — that might arise in their heads as the read: line by line, paragraph by paragraph. As long as we’re willing to develop that sort of radar, then we can begin to develop a unique writing ‘voice’ that will be the final feather in the reader’s cap: the inspiration and motivation for them to ‘care’ about our best ideas.

  18. I’m afraid of not having the time I want to to spend on your class. The time we spent talking before school shows how interesting conversations with you are. I’m not sure exactly how to get that kind of reaction to the entire year if I have to devote time to other classes as well. I was also wondering how you could help with writing. I do quite well in story, poetic, or silly writing, but the structured or research kind of writing; I just don’t fare well. I wanted to know if you had any helpful tidbits that I could work on for formal essays and my use of commas (as you mentioned in my previous entry).


    from Mr. Long: I’d be happy to offer you specific ideas re: your essay style once you have at least one in-class essay (later this week, actually) under your belt. Once I see a few trends, I’ll be able to talk to you about how to focus your energies. As for the overall effort, make sure you find balance b/w all of your classes. As important as this one may be to me, it is only 1/6th of your academic day…and that means it needs to be taken in stride. Plus, the thinking that you’ll challenge yourself to do in your English class will be transferable and echoed in all your other classes this year and deep into the future. The key is to take whatever you learn in our class and weave it into all that you do (since it centers on expressing your best ideas/questions).

  19. I have heard some rumors about your class but most of it was from the same person. I was told that it depended on what kind person I was to say whether your class was hard or not. She told me that there would be a lot of debates in class and she recommended honors English instead of regulars because we mostly do the same thing and being in honors will give me a .5 boost. I have not really debated before so I figured this will be a good experience for me since I do not talk much. She also told me that I would have to participate a lot although there were some students in her class that did not do much participation. If I remember correctly, she also said that her class got the chance to debate with another school through online or something like that which I thought was really cool whether I like to debate or not. I have also heard that you got Ms. Bonner to decide who won the debate over Frankenstein although my friend did not agree with her decision. I was told from someone else that there would be a lot of writing in your class which I sort of expected since it is an English class but I was still not to happy to hear it. I felt a little bit better after our first three days of class but I am still worried of how I will do in class. As far as you in particular, Mr. Long, I do not remember hearing anything about you. I can not exactly remember the details of the debate with another school and I think it was out of state but do you think our class will get a chance to do that? I think it would be quite interesting and memorable.

  20. I heard that we spent most of — if not all — class time discussing subjects. I want to know this so I’ll be prepared for class. I would also like to know this so I will be able to ask what we are talking about. I would like to be able to participate so as not to be left out of the conversation. I also want to know if we would be talking for the entire length of class time. Knowing all of this I believe I will be able to come to class everyday prepared, expectant, and hopefully excited.

  21. Random Comment (in a good way)

    Heehee, i guess that is a good idea for your wind-up dragon. My friend also asked you (in person) why you have a little man in a cage, & you said that that was a year-long riddle that we’ll have to figure out. All I can say is that I have NO idea.


    Mr. Long: Yes, the cage (and everything associated with it) is the riddle for the entire year. I’ll share the answer before you hit summer break. Maybe. (smile)

    Bon chance!

  22. I heard from some other students last year that this class was going to be hard to get an A in. I was told that in your class we write a lot of essays and your grade depends mostly on the participation. i think you said earlier on that my grade doesnt matter, its the imagination that you care about. I want to know how I get an A and also learn at the same time.


    Mr. Long: Since this was sent in after the due date (which wasn’t a big deal since you had already completed the one you were responsible for), I’ll ask you to come ask me in person so I can give you a thoughtful answer to the “A” + “learn” formula (which I love typing, BTW).

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