Monthly Archives: October 2008


Who: Periods 1, 2, 3, 4, & 7

Set-up: Next year — as an 11th grader — you will begin to think about the process of applying to colleges and universities around the United States (or beyond).

Part of the application process requires writing essays to help the university learn something intriguing about you. Not only do they want to learn facts (grades, SATs, etc.), they also want your creativity and attitude.

Often colleges want to know about your strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they want to see how you explain them.

Challenge: For this entry, you are being asked to pick one ‘weakness’ of yours you’d like to get rid of…but there is a trick. You have to pick one ‘strength’ (that is equal to your ‘weakness’) that you will also have to get rid of.

  • Identify the ‘weakness’ and why you want to get rid of it.
  • Identify the ‘strength’ and why you want to get rid of it.
  • Explain what you think your life would be like without both of these

Length: 7+ sentences



Who: Periods 1, 2, 3, 4, & 7

Set-up: While we spend a great deal of time on the ‘techniques’ of writing, we must never forget that writing is as much an ‘attitude about life’ as it is a set of skills.

Challenge: Pick one of these quotations about writing that catches your eye.  Offer a reaction.

Length: 7+ sentences:

Option 1:

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” — Anais Nin

Option 2:

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another.  One tears it from his guts.  The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” — Charles Peguy

Option 3:

“What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.  — Logan Pearsall Smith, “All Trivia”, Afterthoughts, 1931


Who: Periods 4 & 7 only

Set-Up: On page 149, Jack is described as being almost god-like:

“Before the party had started a great log and had been dragged into the center of the lawn and Jack, painted and garlanded, sat there like an idol.  There were piles of meat on green leaves near him, and fruit, and coconut shells full of drink.”

Challenge: Answer the following questions:

  • Why do you think that the boys so easily a) were willing to follow Jack’s ideas/orders and b) began to treat him “like an idol” (or god) at this point in the story?
  • Does this say something about human beings in general or was this just a strange reaction on this one island?

Length: 5+ sentences


Who: Periods 1, 2, & 3 only

Set-Up: We are almost at the half-way point of the Lord of the Flies project.  Given the wide range of ways that each of you can creatively ‘solve’ this assignment, I’m curious how you are applying your knowledge and imagination.

Challenge: Tell us the following:

  1. What project you are doing
  2. How you are uniquely combining your own knowledge/creativity (including enough of a summary to help us ‘get it’)
  3. How your project will ‘teach’ your audience even more about the novel (and its themes)

Length: 7+ sentences


Who: Periods 1, 2, & 3 only

Set-Up: After completing Lord of the Flies and being introduced to the Stanford Prison Experiment in class before midterm exams, we’ve begun to consider ‘human nature’ as being a complex mixture of good/evil.  Clearly the average person will never be  as ‘good’ as Simon or as ‘evil’ as Roger, yet we tend to use such literary extremes to consider human instincts/behavior.

During our Skype video conference with Matt Langdon — the founder of The Hero Workshop — on Tuesday, we’ll be discussing 3 things:

  • His knowledge of Stanford University professor emeritus Phil Zimbardo – the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment — a gentleman that Matt Langdon is now working with on an international ‘hero’-based project.
  • Considering the Simon vs. Roger question:  exploring whether this is the right way to look at human instincts in terms of decisions made in difficult times.
  • How ‘average’ people can do ‘heroic’ things in little ways, day after day.

Challenge: Simply offer a thoughtful, detailed reflection on the Skype conversation.

Please note: Matt will read all of your replies.  Understandably, he’ll be very interested in your ideas and reactions.


Who: Periods 1, 2, 3, 4, & 7

Set-Up: There is an expression — “6 degrees of separation” — that suggests how connected we individuals are as collective humanity, no matter how big a world it may be.  In short, it means that:

if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is an average of six “steps” away from each person on Earth.

Playing off of this concept, we’re going to play a weekly game called “6 Degrees of Separation” where we are given 2 topics (that seem to have nothing in common) which we must figure out a creative way to connect.  The trick is that we have to use a logical set of connections to show how the 2 items are related in “6 steps”.  Additionally, we will also offer a bit of trivia about each new step to showcase our knowledge and imagination.

Example: Let’s take 2 random topics — Ancient Egypt and “Lord of the Flies” — and figure out how to connect them in “6 steps” with some added trivia to show our knowledge:

Step 1: When someone in America thinks of ancient Egypt (1), he/she can’t help but think of legendary pharaohs given that everything one can easily think of from that period of Egypt’s history — from golden statues to the Great Pyramids — are remnants of these god-like leaders. It’s particularly interesting that pharaohs were often buried with everything they owned, gifts for them for the afterlife, and even their living servants.

Step 2: The most famous pharaoh (2) that I can think of is King Tut (1) which was one of my favorite stories growing up.  Even though the amazing amount of gold discovered and the identity of the “boy king” were supposed to be the important parts of the story, this wasn’t what captured my attention at first. As a young kid, I actually daydreamed a lot about the idea of a curse placed on all of the people involved in finding the original tomb, especially given that the spirit of the pharaoh may have been angry that they disturbed his eternal slumber. This led me to study a range of curses and superstitions when I was in elementary school.

Step 3: King Tut’s (2) exhibit just arrived in Dallas (3) — as a major art exhibit called “King Tut and the Golden Age of Pharoahs” being held at the Dallas Museum of Art — for several months.  Hundreds of thousands of people (paying up to $32/ticket) are expected to attend the show, including some of our own art and archeology students who will go there on an upcoming fieldtrip.

Step 4: On Elm Street in Dallas (3), specifically near the Texas School Book Depository (4), was the location of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Step 5: The Texas School Book Depository (4) was “a multi-floor warehouse for the storage of school textbooks and related materials” (according to Wikipedia) that shut down in 1970 when the business moved out.  It was also in the year 1970 that the American Library Association awarded the first Coretta Scott King Award was given to African-American writers/illustrators who focused on the creation of books specifically for children and young people (5).

Step 6: One of the most famous school books ever taught in the United States, Lord of the Flies (6), appears to be about children and young people (5). Clearly, however, it is not “just a book about kids on an island”.  Golding’s book was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English language books published since 1923 (and was also ranked by the American Library Association as one of the most “challenged” books between 1990-2000.)

Challenge: Using these 2 random ideas, connect them in “6 steps”:

  • “High School Musical III”
  • Not having the right to vote until you are 18

Length: Varies


Who: Periods 4 & 7 only

Set-Up: In Chapter 9, the boys savagely kill Simon during the storm.  Needless to say, ‘in the moment’ none of the boys seem to realize what they are doing, as they believe that Simon is ‘the beast’.

Challenge: Imagine being one of the boys waking up the next morning.  Given the realities on the island at this point, what would you have done the next morning?

Length: 5+ sentences:

Additionally: If you’ve already read Ch 10 (by the time you write this), consider the following as a part of your answer:

  • Would you have acted more like Ralph, admitting what they had done (“murder”) but slowly finding excuses as Piggy talked to him?
  • Would you have acted more like Piggy, immediately blaming the death on Simon’s own actions and trying to convince Ralph not to take responsibility?