• 1 entry for a “C”; 2 entries for a “B”; 3 entries for an “A”.
  • Length:  Each entry must be a minimum of 3 full paragraphs
  • Paragraphs:  Each paragraph must be 5+ sentences.
  • Any entry that is less than 3 paragraphs — and entries with paragraphs less than 5 sentences – are not guaranteed credit.

BACKGROUND: All of you are extremely bright and have figured out a remarkable range of ideas along the way.  This is a wide open question that allows you to consider anything we’ve discussed in class this year. Absolutely anything.

  • Sometimes the realizations — or ‘epiphanies’ — may have been purely based on the plot or text of something we’ve read.
  • Other times they may have been about something that is in the real world…and suddenly feels connected to our class/texts.
  • Whatever it is, I’m curious about one ‘big idea’ or realization you’ve had this year (that continues to stick with you) because of anything that was discussed in class. Sometimes they’ve been a mixture of both plot and real world.  Actually, it may be hard to separate them.

CHALLENGE: Tell us about ONE thing that really made an impact on you as a person (and student).




  1. What always intrigued me was the debate on good versus evil. This conflict is apparent in almost every novel we’ve read. In Beowulf it was not good versus evil, but a matter of perspective. Was Grendel really that evil when originally he was only trying to figure out what caused him such pain? To be the dork that I am I will reference Harry Potter and Voldemort’s speech about how there is now good and evil, only power. Good and evil is really only a state of mind, a perspective.

    It seems that everything is about perspective. You must put yourself in the ‘villians’ shoes, before judging him to harshly. Maybe they are only doing ‘evil’ because they are trying to protect something, or because they feel alone on the outside of everything else. Villains are really just overly dramatic version of everyone else. Almost every person would seek revenge if they felt wronged, or at least would think about it briefly. The only difference between them and a villain is actually acting on their anger.

    This concept fascinated me at the beginning of the year while we were reading Beowulf, and then it came up once again in our pursuit of who was morally right in Frankenstein. The concept is a slightly creepy one. The fact that every human has the ability to be ‘evil’ that we all contain that possibility, which was a major theme in Lord of the Flies. We all contain the possibility of being ‘evil’ because ‘evil’ is simply an opinion, a perspective. There also can not be ‘good’ with out ‘evil.’ There is no shadow without light. There can not be the ‘right’ decision without there being a ‘wrong’ decision to compare it to, for if there is nothing to compare, then there is no decision.

    Right, wrong, good, evil, there can never be one without the other, and each is just a perspective.

  2. My realization was how all the parts of writing an essay contribute to proving one point or argument. By argument I mean your thesis. I realized that each body paragraph in the essay uses proof from the source of the topic to prove different aspects of your argument. This proof is the specific quotes taken from the piece of literature being discussed in the essay. I learned that every part of your argument has to be supported by examples from the text.

    At first I used to think that in an essay you just had to go on and on in an open discussion about the topic. I used to just talk, bringing in any information I thought whether it actually pertained to the topic or just the subject the topic was on. I never used quotes. Then I was taught the structure of how to write an essay, having an introduction with a thesis, using quotes in my body paragraphs, and having a conclusion. After this I still didn’t really understand it, even though I knew how to form it. I was taught that the thesis was my main point not my argument, so I just made that what I rambled about. I wasn’t taught that the quotes were used to prove your thesis; I just picked a quote, and would openly discuss it even if it had no pertinence to my thesis.

    Lastly, I didn’t used to make all my paragraphs about the thesis, discussing different aspects of it. I just used make them about whatever I wanted to say next. Now I make my thesis may main argument to the prompt. I make my body paragraphs about to specific aspects of my argument. I find quotes and explain how, in my point of view, they support my argument. None of my body paragraphs are their own discussions on the same book. Lastly, my conclusion isn’t a repetition of my introduction anymore. Now I use my conclusion to tie in all the proof in my body paragraphs and show how they all support my thesis.

  3. English has been totally different this year. I admit this was the first year I did not like english at all. We have gone about things in a completely different way and while I don’t agree with it I know I did learn a few things. I felt we went more in depth than normal, probably why I didn’t like it haha. We read many different books and did many different things with them.

    One of the first things we learned right off the bat were in the in class essays. While I despise them greatly it definitely exposed me to more writing which I know I needed. I realized that English class is not the only place we will be encountering writing. Being able to write good is a skill we will need for any future jobs too. I’m glad that I realized this so that I can start taking it more seriously since I will need to know how to do this in the future.

    The last thing is with the book analyzing. While I still stand firm in my belief that we ‘over analyze’ I feel good because I think I know how to do it now. This most recent book we read I actually could like tell some things that were not written right on the page. I realized that Winston actually is thinking so why isn’t he dead yet. When I figured that out it made me feel smart because I noticed something like the ‘hidden’ thing in the book. Now hopefully when I read a book I can see the different meaning it might have instead of just reading thru it.

  4. My realization is not based on a specific plot or assigned reading. It is quite broad and simple actually. It is based on a compilation of a recurring theme from day one. I’m not sure this qualifies as an epiphany since it is so rudimentary. The concept that has captured my attention the most thus far is that the written word should never be taken at face value. There is always at least one underlying theme that is covertly hidden below the surface text, waiting to be discovered. Similarly there is always an overarching theme that can be expanded upon and further analyzed to help us understand the big picture.

    Our class incorporates a mixture of disciplines. We are archaeologists, always burrowing further down to find more. We are psychologists who delve into the psyches of the many characters we have studied. We are out of the box thinkers, searching for that last puzzle piece. We are philosophers, searching for answers to questions that may have no right or wrong answers. The quest to constantly ask why will carry each of us far beyond our literary readings and analytical writing assignments.

    This realization has helped me use what I have learned in English and cross over to other tasks. One example of this cross over pertains to my History class. Recently, I was charged with writing a short essay on how an allegorical piece of literature impacted a particular historically relevant period of time. I was able to easily reflect back on our in-depth study of Lord of the Flies. I was then able to equate the many symbolic ideas from this novel and apply them to the Nazi regime of World War II. Therefore, I was able to apply my epiphany to a another class on a completely different topic. The value for me has been to be able to draw upon what I had learned in English and translate this forward to a non-English related class.

  5. One of my realizations this year had been about heroes. The constant debate of what a hero really is. Our Skype chat with Mr. Langdon earlier this year made me think a lot more about heroes. I always try to discover who the hero is when I read a book, but it hasn’t been so easy with some of the novels and plays we have read. It almost seems like there is no true hero.

    I know my standards for what makes a hero are different than those of others, because we all have our own opinions. However in Othello for example there seemed to be no true hero. Iago was obviously a villain, and while Othello didn’t necessarily plan to do evil, he still killed his wife. In Macbeth there didn’t really seem to be a hero. The only person who could really come close to one was Malcolm, but he ran in the face of danger, which doesn’t appear very heroic. The other characters aren’t necessarily evil, they are just bystanders. I guess I am always on the lookout for true heroes.

    In my opinion a hero should always do what is right, in a brave manner, and do it to the best of their ability. I realized that with this view, there are almost no true heroes. I probably am a little harsh in my standards, seeing as I am pretty much just a bystander, but without standards, so many characters could be called heroes. I think that there are a lot more heroes in real life than there are in novels. I see people going out of their way to help, and that in my opinion, is the purest form of a hero. They have nothing to gain from helping, and yet they do what it takes to help the situation.

  6. I’d always thought that the skill of an author was simply based on how good the story was, how excited you got when you were reading it. I never really knew how deep writing could get. The most ground-breaking works are those with layers and layers of meaning and viewpoint on aspects of human life or behavior. There are allegories of those human aspects, and allegories of allegories. There are ideas carried from work to work, author to author, movie to movie…all ideas that appeal to human interest for one reason or another. The greatest authors/directors know how to work with those ideas, build and piece them together to create statements far more powerful than just an appealing story.

    I’m only beginning to learn how to move beyond writing just the appealing story. I think that’s the main difference between children’s books and books for adults. It’s the complexity of meaning behind the appealing story, the complexity of the characters. A child won’t see that deeply into the text or grasp such a powerful statement. (And I still miss quite a bit of stuff, too.) But there is meaning and symbolism in children’s stories, too. It’s just generally a lot simpler and sunnier.

    I’ve also realized why The Simpsons is not a children’s show, even though it’s a cartoon. (Not only does it have some PG material, but) it’s full of clever parodies and connections to the real world. You just have to be knowledgable enough to truly appreciate it. I remember when we were starting to read Lord of the Flies, and out of the blue an image popped into my head of all the Springfield kids sitting around a campfire roasting a pig on a spit, and Lisa off to the side licking moss off a rock because she’s a vegetarian. That is hilarious, and now I know why.


    Great catch on the Simpsons episode! — Mr. Long

  7. I realize that there is always many meaning in the story. In the story, the author also has some meaning want to tell us. It is why we read book, because it tells you something you don’t know. Just like a teacher and it tells you new stuff everyday. It is lot of work but we learn new stuff.

    In the Lord of the Flies, the story looks like a group of kid get loosed in the island and they lose their mind and kill each others. We all have a beast in our mind, and we will never get rid of it. Even the kid will become savage. They think the monster will be satisfied by the pig head. But they don’t know that they are the real monster and the greedy in our heart will never get satisfied.

    It changes a lot for me, because thing is not what I thought before. Now I try to get the deep meaning from the story or the movie. I think it is going to help a lot in the rest of my life. It is a hard work and takes a lot of time, and some time I still don’t get the main idea of the article. But I believe the more I work on the more I get.

  8. I’ve actually learned a LOT about writing. Writing styles, writing tricks, little things writers throw in there. I guess I never really knew how much work it takes to write a truly suspenseful/meaningful novel. All the books we’ve read have really struck me in different ways, but this was one big way.

    Reading Lord of the Flies was probably the most interesting. Noticing all the different foreshadowing–“the skull-like coconuts”–became fascinating. I was suddenly noticing the extreme importance that rested on each word! I knew that poets stressed about individual words, but I began noticing how the same is true for novelists. It definitely affected me as a writer.

    Reading LOTF inspired me to practice developing deeper plots. Using foreshadowing seemed hard (and was) but through practice it became easier. It opened my eyes to what writing style really is. Previously I’d never really thought about it, or what it meant. But all of a sudden I found myself drawn to different styles. I now feel like a real writer (or at least, like more of a writer than I did before)!

  9. Just the new way of learning English and the way we’ve learned things this year is very different and will be very lasting. I’ve never had an English class that was so essay driven. At first I was scared and didn’t really like it. It turns out I like it way more than any other English class I’ve ever taken. Using essays so much really makes me feel like I’m getting way more out of what we’re doing.

    Coming into this year I was so bad at essays. I didn’t really understand how to really write one. Usually when I wrote what I thought was a good essay it was actually not very good at all. I’ve just learned really how to write an essay and how to get your point across. I feel like my essay writing has never been better and it’s effecting all of my other classes. I really feel like this year has been a HUGE step in my writing ability.

    I’m starting to feel VERY ready for college. My essays used to be very lacking and I didn’t know how well I would be able to right in college. I feel like you grade a lot like a college professor would. It makes me feel very confident when I turn a paper into you and it winds up being a good grade. I really feel like, for the first time, I understand how to write an essay. Thanks to all I’ve learned this year, from a writing standpoint, I have a lot more confidence in my writing.

  10. Analyzing books has made a large impact on me as a reader. Taking many of the things for granted in books before was enjoyable, but not as much as it is now. The way authors construct their books with truths and opinions that are related to historical events are really fascinating. Before this English class, I thought that each book was just a story and nothing more than characters with a plot. This class has given me many opportunities to learn what is actually inside books and help me better understand every concept.

    At first, I thought this class was very tough. Everything we did was tough and I wasn’t sure what the reasons for all of the things we had been doing were. I had thought analyzing books was a silly process and a waste of time, but clearly it isn’t. Everything that we’ve done with a book has a large purpose and if it wasn’t for this class, analyzing books in college would be stepping on a nail. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do and where to start. This class has helped me understand what to look for and where.

    Bringing this method will help me become extremely successful in college which I can see happening. Throughout all the things we’ve learned, English class will not be difficult for me. Writing is practically a daily routine in this class which maybe tough, but greatly appreciated. Grabbing the reader’s attention is not necessarily a difficulty, but something that becomes better with practice and help. Everything this class has given me is great and has given me the confidence I need.

  11. My realization is where I fit as a student. This year there have been many obstacles to push ourselves individually and as a group. It showed us the hard work and dedication it takes as a student to achieve those goals. From the first day getting an idea of the class and what would be expected the next few months. As a student in your class we have learned the importance of debate, public speaking, expressing ideas, and drastically changing the idea of words.

    My first emotion of being in the class was intimidation but I soon realized that I could harness that emotion and use it as a motivation for success as a student in the class. The large debate that was held in class really helped me break out of that barrier, the barrier afraid to express ideas because of their relevance or importance. I used the debate and learned to speak up because there are many hidden ideas within the class that are left untouched. Public speaking helps me to share my opinions to the class and also hear the ideas of others to learn from other intelligent thoughts. This class has been a test as a person and student to be as successful as you can be and to harness the lessons taught within the class not only towards the class but in everyday life.

    This class has showed me a different outlook on literature, Shakespeare, and a simple sentence amongst the black and white print. I have learned to change the idea of words and how a simple elegant sentence is more graceful and meaningful than a long sentence with SAT words just thrown in for the mental appearance. I have grown into a whole new person and my outlook on literature is completely different. Shakespeare’s words have now gone to complicated and impossible to a man who is recognized for a reason. I have greatly enjoyed this class and am sad it’s ending but will use every tool I have learned from this point on in life.

  12. This year has been alot more difficult than other years. Last year we did nothing. All we did was act like we were doing work in class and she didn’t care. This year though we have been getting pushed. Just about every Weds we have an in class-essay. Its always about something we are doing that past week.

    Also this year we go over the books that we read. Well we did go over them last year but not like this year. This year we get called out to talk about the book. So you really have to be up to schedule on when a certain numbers of chapters are read. There is also no way of faking that you have read the book even with Spark Notes.

    Although the class is hard I like it. In everything I do zi tend to like stuff more when I am getting pushed. Also I’ve noticed that this year has brought some stuff out of me that I never knew I would like. For example I liked writing a poem about my experience in nature. I really like nature so it was cool to have another way to tell others about it. Where I probably would have never done this unless I was pushed into it. I also thought I would hate doing in class essays every week but I kind of like it. When I read books I get really into them so I actually understand them. So its cool to be able to talk about something that we are being required to read and just writing about it we get a grade for it. This has been one of my most favorite Rnglish classes that I have taken

  13. Well, English this year has been pretty amazing. In fact, it’s been the best English class I’ve ever had. I don’t care how many people definitly feel the opposite, I’m glad I got the chance to be apart of Mr. Long’s English class. I learned so much, without even knowing at the time. And the thing that makes the class the most fun is that Mr. Long cares about his students enough to liven up the scenario a bit sometimes. With him, you never know when your going to be in a desk with a lap top, or outside in the grass under the sun with a book. 😀

    The first thing I think I learned was the ability to look beyond the pages of a book. And so far, my favorite this year was Lord of the Flies. It was fun to read, and learn about and break down. The skills I learned have helped me in such ways that would have been beneficial before. And of course, if I could take this class again, (as a junior though :)) I would in a heartbeat.

    As far as English could have gone this year, I’d say it was perfect. I never thought I could learn so much and have fun with it at the same time. And the fact that I’m going to take all this information with me through the rest of my high school and college education is pretty cool. I hope the freshmen appreciate Mr. Long next year, and based on the English they have this year, I’m sure they’ ll love him. I know I will always remember this class as the class I looked forward to. 🙂

  14. My biggest realization this year is how writing is important in every subject or theme. It is quite literaly used everywhere. Whether it used in history class, or watching my dad write notes to his patients about their conditions and effective ways to treat their problems. Up until this year I believed writing was only useful and effective for the classroom. I was wrong, and came to this epiphany during second quarter of this year. This is when I found myself writing papers or essays for every class.

    I really decided to care more about writing this second semester. Only because it’s a very important aspect of every subject, which most people don’t utilize. I had an experience this year in the classroom where we had to pick a profession and learn then teach about it. After studying and exploring many professions, I realized they were all linked to writing some how. This changed my opinion on language and writing. And it provoked me to trying harder and having a passion for writing.

    This epiphany has benefited me in several ways. Not only did it change my writing, it also changed my opinion of it. I now appreciate the uses and professions that are linked to writing. I believe that most epiphanies are beneficial. They make you think more meaningful about things, and really take things in to perspective.

  15. I have had several ‘epiphanies’ in English this year. To be honest with you, I couldn’t tell you ‘it was in English class on February the ninth when I found out what the whole meaning to life was.” I cannot tell you this, because 1) I have the worst memory in the world. 2) I believe that we can never know absolutely everything, ever. 3) The date is the least important thing; it’s the composition of different thoughts and/or new knowledge that has made me grow as a person that really counts.

    I have always been interested in English, so it wasn’t hard for me to jump into this class head first. What I hadn’t known was how deep writers can actually get into their own beliefs or messages that they are trying to portray. I’m not trying to sound like I have low expectations for myself, but I don’t believe I could ever have so many metaphors or double meanings in any of my writing. I’m fine with that though. I mean, God has those people who can write, and others who have completely different talents. There have been many times in life I’ve wanted to become a writer, and I still do, but I’ve been more aware of being zealous about living life, not just writing about it.

    The things I have learned because of (not necessarily IN) this class would be that Shakespeare is even more brilliant than I thought he was and that there are so many connections and references to literature in everyday life. Shakespeare made brilliant and unconventional works that pose questions that society today still faces. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this before, but his sense of writing and level of comprehension amazes me. Shakespeare is referenced as well as tons of other literacy in other books, comics, televisions series/movies, even candy or toys. Connections are being made all over the place. I think its very interesting to think about that you could probably go several days with only speaking in quotes from different literature.

    I’ve been thinking about oblivion a lot lately. Sometimes I just wish I could read a something for pleasure without thinking ‘what does this say about society’ or analyzing it. Sometimes it’s really cool to find out those quirky things that only a 10th grader from Mr. Long’s class would notice. I’ve been pondering the phrase ignorance is bliss or IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH if we want to talk 1984. 😉 If I had a chance to know, why would I just sit around knowing that I will never know… but then again, if I chose to know (and when I say know, I mean dive deeper into different thoughts and proposals made by some of the greatest authors to reach my own conclusions about their topics) I can never go back, I can never swallow the other pill. (Yes, you did convince me to watch The Matrix, and I can pick up those references now:) )

    I guess, with thinking about all that I’ve learned- how scary, vile, and harsh society can be, how things aren’t what they appear to be, that maybe education is more than a diploma, or that Star Wars wasn’t totally a new idea after all-I still have so much to learn. Everything that I am learning now will play a role in next year, and five years, and for the rest of my life. Everything I am being exposed to will come in use sometime and is definitely for a reason. Until then, I will persevere, knowing that with all that I have experienced this year, there is still more to be learned, and to be discovered.

  16. Biggest realization this year, that would probably have to be looking at what’s underneath the surface. I never liked reading, so when we read ” Lord of the Flies ” I thought, ” What you see is what you get.” About 3 Chapters in I realized I was wrong in so many ways. But it was a good thing, I learned my lesson.

    Funny thing now is that I like to read into stuff such as shows, a book or two, movies even. If they hint at a plot under the obvious one, then I’m all over that instantly. I really wouldn’t call my realization an epiphany, but more a door way to something more interesting. Now I’ve actually started to read by choice and not because I’m forced to. Now that I try to find a plot under the other plot, I started to get all philosophical at times, it’s kind of fun. It has lead me to a path where I start to like literature a lot more than I used to.

    But honestly, the coolest thing I think that came out of this realization was my phrase “The Truths behind Truths.” I think that if you put that in anything, your mind will be forced to think about stuff constantly. Another thing I thought was cool was that for me to think about the secret plot or the true meaning was the use of perspectives. If you look at something from one way, how can you develop a decent opinion. In the end, my realization has led to a lot of beneficial things.

  17. I’ve had an epiphany that has become more obvious throughout our days in class. Actually it’s more like a series of epiphanies, but I’ll tell you my most recent one. My most recent epiphany is that life, in context to what we’ve been discussing with 1984, is a series of rules controlled by the government. Also, if these rules are broken then we are punished, sometimes more severely than with others. Of course I know that without rules, our society would fall into an order of chaos, anarchy, and consequences… Why do we have rules again? Any ways, the point of my epiphany is that some of these rules are a little ridiculous at times, and some are even unnecessary for our modern time.

    For example, the ‘no chewing gum’ rule is an insignificant rule which was made, in my strong opinion, so as not to get the school dirty. Yes, I must admit that gum under desks is very gross, but did you know that it is scientifically proven that if someone studies while chewing gum, then that person retains up to 10% more of what they’ve learned. Or, how about the ‘dress code’, which is, by far, the most annoying rule that I’ve ever known. The dress code is just a way to show our conformity to the masses, and to symbolize the obedience that is given off to the potential payers, who visit the school. But, if the school is supposed to broaden our minds to the different aspects of adult hood, and to ready us for the life outside of human nest, then why do we not express ourselves as individuals. Do the colleges and companies want to see how similar we can be as a group, or are they looking for what you can bring to the table, as an individual.

    You know, I think that I might take philosophy in college. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In summary, society can not survive without law and order, however, some of the more older, and more unnecessary of these rules, should be removed, or, at least revised, so that every one can agree to it, and follow it. This would make life more simple, and also cut down on the amount of rebellious teens in the world. What adult, wouldn’t like that, a day where you didn’t have a teen yelling at you, or running off and getting tattoos and body piercings. So, in conclusion, some rules good, others a pain in the butt.


    What really changed my perspective was how now every single movie I watch isn’t the same as before. Its all since we had that conversation that tells us basicly every storylines plot. When I go to movies its not because I dont kno whats going to happen because I do know whats going to happen. I go because I don’t know how there going to make it happen because they make it happen differently everytime. Which makes movies interesting because it makes it hard to predict what there going to do next. Which is interesting because you can predict what’s going to happen in the long term.

    What has helped me this year was with all the reading we have done. With all the reading of the Tradgedy of Macbeth and Lord of the Flies and Ozzymandious I have learned to become a better reader. I read faster which makes me prone to missing more information but i reread it over again. I do this for two reasons, to catch anything i miss and to search for hidden things that might be useful or important later on. Im still learning how to do this and i don’t think ill ever be perfect but with practice i can become close. I have had fun reading in your class as it is an ideal place to read were you can ask questions and get answers.

    What also changed me in a good way were the essays you make us do. Even though on the outside I might not like them on the inside I do like them on the inside. I like them because they are helping me become a stronger writer. Even though in todays world writing is becoming less and less and typing is becoming more and more. You still need to know how to write and just because were you write it or type it doesn’t mean that its not the same. As writing becomes less and less it also becomes more appreciative when someone actually writes them a letter instead of sending an email. I thank you Mr. Long for making me a better writer.


    So far this year I have learned that pretty much everything that is done and said has to have a purpose behind it. I think that everything does happen for a reason, but everything that goes on in your class is done with a purpose. We just have to figure out that purpose, what was the reason for saying/doing that? I have also learned that you can take in so little information, but take it to extreme lengths. I never knew all the analyzing and over analyzing that you could do with just one sentance.

    If something is said in class with no purpose, then it is not relevant and not helpful to the conversation. It doesn’t make the argument move forward it may only make the conversation move back a step. Colleges will notice the people who make smart and thoughtout statements in an argument that help the argument. I have realized that this is why you are teaching us to think ‘ahead of the game’. Since every debate is a game, who can say the smartest and most clever things.

    This ties into all the analyzing and over analyzing every thing being said. If you pay attention to every little detail that the other person has said, then you have something to talk about. Most likely they would have said one word wrong, unless they were taught by Mr. Long *wink*wink*. I’m very glad you go to the extreme and make us over analyze everything so that when we do get into a situation where we need to save ourselves we can think back to our sophomore year. I hope we have great teachers like you in the future…

  20. Student Response #1

    I am responding to Student #4.

    While you claim that your realization is simple and broad, I believe that it is still profound in its own way. Not everything has to be overly complicated and convoluted, sometimes the most simple idea can be the best. Your epiphany contains the very important idea that nothing can ever be trusted and simply taken at face value, which I definitely agree with. Everything can have an underlying or overarching theme, as you mentioned, and that should be understood by anyone who wants to analyze anything. Every quote can be found to have some ulterior meaning, not just the ‘big’ quotes. Everyone can see that there is some form of double meaning in the ‘big’ quotes.

    Your epiphany made me think of an idea that I have had before. Perhaps the meaning that we find in an author’s work is completely unintentional. It seems completely plausible to me that maybe some authors didn’t intend for their works to have a deeper meaning and they intended their works to be taken at face value. Maybe most of the time the deeper meanings that we stumble upon are completely imagined and pieced together, and never part of the author’s intentions. If this were true, I would love to see the reaction of an author to someone analyzing their book, and making assumptions that the author themselves hadn’t even thought of. If Tolkien didn’t intend Gandalf to be a ‘Jesus-like’ character, how would he have reacted to people making those claims today? How would any author react to their book being expanded upon in ways that the author never even thought possible, while their primary meaning was completely missed?

    I also really like your statement about how knowledge in English can cross over to other disciplines and actually make those classes easier. Also, I think that its worth it to mention that other classes can help you in English, specifically History. With a book like 1984, knowing the climate of the world post-World War II makes it much easier to see how a book like this was written. Orwell’s ideas were a compilation of the fears of the future that many held during the late 1940s and early 1950s: fear of the possibility of a communistic future or a totalitarian regime that dominated all of Europe. I love that knowledge that I have gained in History betters my understanding of books that we read in English class. This makes it even more apparent that classes that I may not necessarily like will aid me in other facets of my education, even in classes I do like.

  21. Student Response #2

    I am responding to student number four.

    Throughout this year I as well have discovered the power of the written word. As you say nothing, and I go as far as to extend it to anything in life, can be taken at face value. If a writer takes the time to write a book they most likely have a hidden meaning or message to tell you. If they did not, why would they write it? It is through our careful analyzing this year that this has first become apparent to me. I’m actually very glad we had not read a book that first come across as “easy reading” like LOTF, earlier in our academic career because there would have been so much we would have missed.

    Though what we do may be tedious at times I believe it shows us the value of literature and what we can take from it if we only open our eyes to the hints and clues left by the writer. As for your occupational metaphors, love them. I do not believe there is a day in English that I do not feel more challenged than just being a tenth grade student. However, I also do not believe I have spent a day in English where I have not come out with a smile…ok maybe after an essay.

    Also I love that some of your classes are helping others. It is a great feeling to be able to understand something better, using your example, in history, because of something you did five months ago in English. From that I think you will get great value out of all your classes. It helps us learn that literature is all around us and envelops all aspects of our lives. (Yesterday I saw signs reading “Give me 1776, not 1984”.) Without both English and History I would have been lost. I really appreciate your epiphany and I hope it is one everyone can share in by this year’s end.

  22. Student Response #2

    Response to Student #1.

    I agree with what this student says. Good and evil really are both based on the viewer’s perspective. I also agree with how you say we can see this in all the novels we read. In Beowulf it was harder to see because the monks that had rewritten the story made it so that Grendel, his mother, and the dragon were evil to make the statement that humans fight for God who is good against these beings that are without God so they are completely evil. In Lord of the Flies it is made to look like a beast is evil working against the boys even though the beast is really just the boys’ fear, paranoia, and primitive nature.

    In Frankenstein evil was all up to someone’s point of view because it was pretty evenly divided that the monster committed evil acts but Frankenstein caused those acts by abandoning the monster. This was the best example we have read this year about this topic. In Macbeth it is also up to the reader’s point of view that Macbeth is the evil one because he plotted to kill the king, increase his power, and then started to kill everyone. It can be argued the witches are evil because they manipulated Macbeth into thinking about taking the crown in the first place. It can also be argued that Lady Macbeth was evil because she manipulated Macbeth into wanting to kill the king even when he had doubts and how she shows nearly no compassion when it comes to getting power.

    It is true that all the novels we have read this year have a good and evil according to the reader’s point of view. This concept is common in all novels really. It is also seen in nonfiction too. In a war, the country that someone lives in is seen to be good and the opposing force is seen to be evil. However this is exactly opposite on the other side. This concept is even carried on into the future; when people read history books they usually see their country or the country with ideals or customs close to theirs as good and the opposing force as evil. I’ve always wondered how it would feel to live in a country that had lost a war. It would be strange to look back at that and see evil having triumphed.

  23. Student Response #3

    Responding to Student #5

    I thought your epiphany on heroes was very interesting. I also had a similar epiphany about what really makes a hero a hero. The Skype chat we had with Mr. Langdon was really informative and one of the coolest things we’ve done all year in English. I thought that the whole experience really helped to broaden our perspective on everything. I think it’s interesting about the whole “there is no true hero” comment.

    I really like books in which you can’t tell who the real hero is. I find it makes the characters a lot more relatable and makes the whole story a lot less predictable. It’s also a lot of fun to read about their journey. I think some of the best works of literature don’t really have a true hero. One of the things that makes an author great is their ability to create people that don’t run by a set formula. The most compelling characters to date are the ones that are engaging and unpredictable.

    Yes, it is true that with your standard of heroism, there aren’t many true heroes. Heroes that actually exist, anyways. I really appreciate a hero that does what’s they feel is right to the best of their ability, but not necessarily do it with bravery. What really makes a hero is their ability to face the fear that accompanies standing up for what they believe in. If a hero truly fears nothing, then it makes doing what’s right too easy. I usually tend to like a hero that’s afraid of heights and makes the leap anyways as opposed to the hero that jumps with no second thoughts. I can really see how you would like the other type of hero however, because fearlessness is something that can always be respected.

  24. Student Response #4

    I’m responding to student #5.

    I think the topic of heroes is really interesting. Because of the culture when we think of heroes, the classic guy in tights and a cape pops into our minds. Truly though, a hero could be anyone. Even the man you randomly bump into on the street. He may not be your hero, but he is probably someones.

    I too look for the hero when reading a book. I think everyone does. Its simply instinct. We look for someone to root for, to side with. Yet sometimes, as you showed with Othello and Macbeth, there is no real hero. The same is true for Frankenstein. Both the monster and the creator have committed atrocities, so who do we root for? Who’s side to we choose? I think that people’s personalities also influence who they believe the hero of the story truely is. For someone who has a different frame of mind may find the character that you consider the hero to be the villain.

    What I thought was strange was that you used the phrase true hero. I know you stated what you believed a hero should be, but if one lacks one of those characteristics does that make them not a hero? What is a true hero? Is there a difference between the ‘true’ hero and a regular hero? You paint that classic image of a hero. They always do whats right and they do it bravely.

    Was Beowulf a hero? For he saved all of Herot, yet he massacred two creatures. What about Achilles? He killed thousands in war, yet he was still considered one of the heroes of the Iliad. Was he a true hero? Because in my opinion killing isn’t the most ‘right’ thing to do. They may be doing it for a good cause, but wouldn’t you agree that killing is wrong? So are they not true heroes?

  25. Student Response #5

    I am responding to student #4

    I am responding to this student because I too have experienced the same realization. Prior to this class I assumed that authors created their works during moments of inspiration and that the entire work came together due to their innate talent. Though this may be true for multiple authors, in reality many authors set out with a specific goal in their works. I have learned through “Lord of the Flies” and “Macbeth” along with other works that most authors are trying to convey their opinions towards either their society or perhaps mankind as a whole. And just as most works have a hidden message and theme they are trying to get across so does every word choice. The problem with this realization is that while I am interested that every word was chosen for a specific reason, I have begun to stare at a page and attempt to decide why the author made a certain verb choice when perhaps they chose it just because it made sense.

    I also loved the second paragraph of this entry. The way this student compared our classes to psychologists and archaeologists was very interesting. These were very bold comparisons but they gave a double meaning to words which I had assumed to meant just one thing. It is amazing that in just a few short months we have had the ability to not only read great pieces of literature but truly analyze them. It has become obvious that to literally read a piece is not the same as studying and analyzing that work. Because I have gathered so much information through this analytical study of works I think the multiple comparisons student #4 made in the second paragraph were justified due to the many jobs of a student.

    The fact that I had the exact epiphany that this student experienced is comforting and strange. It is comforting in that I know someone else is experiencing the same realizations and therefore I am not behind in my thought process. Also it is comforting that not every student had this realization prior to this class. I completely agree with the viewpoint of student #4 and I think that this is one of he most important lessons learned in this class thus far. I can no longer read anything without analyzing the placement of the words and the words themselves. It is intimidating to understand that authors have the intelligence to make every single comma and word important to the story. I think the sign of a good writer ties in to this point because if every sentence is so important that the story could not exist without it then the author is truly amazing. Thanks student #4 for your great response!

  26. Student Response #6

    Responding to Student #10

    I too have learned the importance of analyzing this year. Before sophomore English I never understood why I had to highlight in my books. I understood the plot and the main ideas so what was the highlighter for? I have learned to spot themes and foreshadowing in the books I read, even if they aren’t for school. Highlighting important quotes helps me whenever I need the perfect words for an essay or if I just need to quickly go over a chapter. Writing notes allows me to remember what my thoughts were when I first started a book. I know that there is no way I can remember every thought that goes through my head while I’m reading so learning how to “actively read” has been one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned this year.

    I completely agree with you about the difficulty of this class in the beginning of the year. I still think this class is pretty difficult, maybe even my hardest class. I’m not as confident of an essay writer as I would like to be but I have improved since the beginning of the year. I have learned how to use quotes well and how to write a solid and convincing introduction paragraph. I had no idea that the introduction paragraph was so important before starting this class. I thought of it as just another paragraph. I have learned that because it is summing up your argument and is the first thing that the reader reads, it is the first impression the reader has about the validity of your argument and your competence as a writer.

    Personally, I think English class is going to be hard for me no matter what the level of writing is. It’s just a subject that I seem to have trouble in. The frequent in-class essays are helping me become a more confident writer, though. Of course I don’t like writing them but I know that they are helping me. To be able to state a compelling argument in 45 minute timed writing is a valuable skill. I know that I will be using these skills even after high school.

  27. Student Response #7

    I am responding to Student #17

    I appreciate how you relate the Big Brother premise to life in general, as being “a series of rules controlled by the government.” You use this broad statement to drill down to your real message. I believe you are trying to demonstrate how some rules are unreasonable and not applicable to present day. Then you back up your argument with two specific examples that relate to school policy. You presented your first two paragraphs very logically. I also like how you summarize by restating that there must be some form of oversight, although there is room for revision for those rules that are not necessary. Again, I commend you on how you connected your original statement to your true message. Your last line was a perfect wrap up to your main point, as I interpreted it as meaning that some rules do what they are intended to do and, at the same time, squelch our individual liberties.

    It is obvious that you are passionate about the dress code and the no gum chewing rule. This is what really drew my attention to your blog. You see the no gum chewing rule as an infringement on your personal rights. I agree that this rule does squash your right to chew gum, but, as you admit, it also protects the cleanliness of school property. I would not want to be the person who had to remove wads of chewed gum from under the desks. Also, I wouldn’t want to be the one who stepped on a piece of gum, only to have to dislodge it from underneath my shoe. Beyond that, the no gum chewing rule may have been instituted as a matter of courtesy. Teachers may not want to look out into a sea of students chomping on gum. Other students may not want to be distracted by a fellow student blowing bubbles. I am surprised that gum chewers retain 10% more of the material that they study. It is interesting that research has actually been done on this subject.

    You present a solid argument against the dress code. I believe you are correct when you say that this policy is used to display a standard appearance among students. You state that the dress code is used to “symbolize obedience” to impress prospective students. This may be one of the reasons for uniforms, but I don’t think it is the primary purpose for mandatory dress. You also state that the dress policy takes away your right of self expression. Once again, I agree with you. However, just like with the no gum chewing policy, a broader issue may be the reason for the dress policy. It may have been established to equalize the difference between those who can and cannot afford designer clothing and accessories. The dress code might also be used for security purposes. It makes it easy to spot a visitor or, more importantly, someone who may not have a purpose for being on the campus.

  28. Student Response #8

    I’m responding to Student #1.

    The idea of “good vs evil” intrigues me as well. After all, countless books and movies and video games use it (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Earthsea, the Legend of Zelda, even Mario games). I’ve heard people suggest that the “good vs evil” theme is a rather simple and straightforward one, used most often in works for children (and for those with simple, childlike minds). And I had started to agree with them. That is, until English this year, and until I read your response and started thinking about it more.

    The truth is, that theme is so broad, so vague, it can appear anywhere (yes, even in more ‘complicated’ works for adults). It can have layers and layers, meaning upon meaning, and it can even come back and contradict itself. Any situation where something is opposing something else is an example of “good vs evil” (and you can even be opposing yourself). And that is so true, that idea of perspective. Just because you’re in opposition to someone doesn’t make them “evil.” To that person, it is YOU that is “evil” and himself/herself that is “good.” (Just yesterday my history teacher called the Allied Powers “the good guys,” and I thought about how all the people of the Central Powers actually thought we are bad.) I think some more accurate words for “good and evil” are “protagonist and antagonist.”

    One epiphany I know I’ve had this year is that I am indeed a dork/geek. Though I’m more for Lord of the Rings than Harry Potter, I did recognize your quote from The Sorceror’s Stone, and I love the way you tied it in. Also, the point where you said, “The only difference between them and a villain is actually acting on their anger” reminds me very much of what Dumbledore says to Harry in the second book/movie. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” In Harry Potter, there is not just a simple struggle between him and Voldemort. He is struggling against the evil in himself, too.

  29. Student Response #9

    I am responding to Student #17

    I absolutely adore your response. I think it’s massively interesting that we are reading about such an oppressive society in 1984, and yet our own society is not that different. While we are appalled about the government of Oceania’s censorship of the press and complete control of the people, our own world in 2009 really isn’t that different, especially in places like North Korea. We are controlled by the government and laws. While there are no laws in 1984, there are the ‘unspoken rules’ that people follow so they aren’t considered threats to the Party. While we may not be controlled by the Propaganda of Big Brother, we are controlled by other things– such as time. We plan our days based on time, we are constantly checking our watches to make sure we aren’t late for appointments, we get up at certain times; the clock controls us as much as Big Brother controls Oceania.

    I love your idea that our laws suppress the spirit of the individual to make us all the same. We all wear the same types of clothes, drive the same speed, don’t steal food– and we look at the people who rebel against these rules and are different than everyone else as weird. Is our society getting the point that blacks and Jews are no longer social outcasts, but anyone who is different is shunned?

    Just because I am currently so consumed with AP Euro that I am having historical dreams, I will reference Nietzsche. Nietzsche thought, like you, that the rules and regulations of society suppress the individual spirit. He thought that the human mind can only tolerate a certain amount of suffocation until it goes crazy. His ideal society would have been one without rules, where people do whatever they want to whenever they want to. His vision, while lacking rules like in 1984, would have been the complete opposite of Oceania, with the people being allowed to think whatever they wished, and acting upon their thoughts. Here’s a question for you: who gets to determine which rules are necessary and which are superfluous? Why isn’t it acceptable for someone to steal something from a store, but it is considered a great deed when a store gives things away for free? Isn’t the same thing? Who decides what is socially acceptable and socially immoral?

    I think it’s thought-provoking that you believe by reducing laws in society, our society would actually become ordered. That’s really interesting because like in 1984, the society is obviously massively organized, while in The Lord of the Flies, equally without the restrictions of society, the boys go crazy. So how can we tell which is more realistic? Or are both possibilities equally realistic?

  30. Student Response #10

    I am responding to student #3.

    I definitely know how you feel. English has been very different for me this year. So far in my time here at this school, I have never had an English class that has challenged me as much as this one. However I know that in the end it is a positive thing. I think that everyone at some point should have a teacher that really pushes them out of their comfort zone and helps them experience new things. I know that by the end of this year I will be a much better writer.

    I must admit, in-class essays have not been my favorite either. I know that these are a great way to gauge our understanding of the book, but in the beginning especially these were really hard for me. It was difficult for me to organize all of my thoughts and form a strong argument in such little time. Again in agreement with you, it has been made very clear that writing is a skill that we definitely need to develop if we want to be successful. It’s not one of those subjects that you can just write off and know in the back of your mind that you are never really going to use most of it. (*cough* algebra -just kidding :])

    Lastly, English this year has totally changed the way I read also. In previous years, when we had to read for school my books rarely contained highlighting or notes of any kind. Now, virtually every page is full of notes and arrows and 14 different colors of highlighter. I have also never been this analytical when reading but I think it opens up a whole new world. It is very different to read a book when you are trying to understand the message that the author was sending, rather than reading just to see how the story ends.

  31. Student Response #11

    I really like the idea that student #1 brings up. It seems like there is a good vs. evil conflict in every story. I like the Harry Potter reference a lot. I am not a huge fan, but my older brother loves it. It is a clever spin on how evil is a matter of perspective.

    It is incredibly true that what may seem evil to one person, may seem so true to another perspective. Someone could do something awful, like killing someone, and likely so in our eyes, it appears as evil. But to them, for whatever reason, it may have seen just. This may not be the best example, but it all has to do with perspective. It could look good or bad.

    It’s quite apparent that the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters in the stories have been just perspective. The frankenstein debate was interesting because you could see both ways. It is true that there cannot be good without evil. Without the devil, there would be no God. It is a very interesting idea.

  32. Student Response #12

    Responding to student #17:

    I think your entry was really funny. I do credit you with having an honest opinion. It’s kind of ironic that as soon as you grow intellectually in school, you can reason with all of the rules and discover that some of them are unnecessary. I think that normally, rules are made to prevent something ‘bad’ from happening again. Which is, in a sense, kind of like treaties because they try to keep whatever the reason was for the argument from not happening again, while mending whatever was lost.

    Now, concerning gum rules. The only thing I could think of for why we can’t chew gum is because it could be a distraction. I mean, I might get annoyed by someone if they were smacking on some Double Bubble. If we were allowed to chew gum, I think that the teachers could have a right still to tell a student to spit out their gum if they were being distracting in anyway. That’s all they would have to do. Also, people wouldn’t put gum under the desks because they wouldn’t be in trouble for chewing gum. — Carpet is actually the main reason. Schools pay a great deal of money to replace carpet due to gum being permanently added to it. — Mr. Long

    The dress code has bothered me several times throughout the years. The positive about dress code is that you don’t have to think about what you are going to wear each day, which is nice. Uniforms are also to prevent distractions in the classroom. If everyone is the ‘same’ nothing stands out, therefore one of the only things we can pay attention to is the teacher. I have heard that uniforms also limit the number of bullying because students are wearing the same things. I do not agree with this at all because people find ways to make fun of people that are ‘different’ or secretly cooler than themselves. 😉 The dress code does not help with that. On the other side of the spectrum, a ‘non-uniform’ dress code would be beneficial. Its like allowing students to study in their own habitat. But it is really constricting when you want to be your own person, not just a person in the blob of polos, khaki and plaid. What amuses me is that there are ‘government’ rules or legal rules, and then we have ‘society’ rules. The kind of rules that no one has said “you can’t do that,” but everyone knows not to. Just like Winston walking around in the prole area.

  33. Student Response #13

    I am responding to student # 1 reaction. I never thought of good vs evil as a matter of perspective. I always knew that there were sympathetic villains and anti-heroes but I never made the connection that good and evil is just perspective. It is possible for Grendel to consider Beowulf to be evil. It can go both ways.

    I don’t quite agree with you saying that the only difference between a hero and a villian is that villian is the one who acts out in anger. There are many heroes who act in anger. One example would be Dirty Harry. Dirty Harry works outside of the law to take down criminals. Yet he is still a hero.

    I don’t understand what you mean when you said that villians are an overly dramatic version of everybody else. I not sure but I think you are saying that villians are more reactive. However, I disagree with that. To be a hero you have to react to threats. I guess the only way anyone could be truly good is by being an innocent victim. I’m not sure there is any way anyone could be truly bad through and through, though.

  34. Student Response #14

    Responding to Student 8

    This student mentions lots about writing styles which I too never knew about. I too never knew about all the tricks writers put in there. Personally I guess I would rather read a book that only has one meaning as its less confusing. Somehow tho even though I didn’t notice other meanings in books I still found them suspenseful and stuff. I like not having to dig deep to figure out what the dang book is about.

    Reading Lord of the Flies was definitely NOT the most interesting for me — hahaha. I barley understood anything they wrote in that book. I still probably will never understand all this foreshadowing stuff that everyone else claims to notice in the book. I guess I will just be a lost cause then since everyone apparently understood it. Maybe its that I’m just not thinking enough but I still do not know how to find that ‘deeper meaning’ on a book.

    I am not a writer but I will try to incorporate foreshadowing into my vocab stories maybe. I think its great that this student actually learned something just from reading a book. Although I do hope this student figured out how to use the techniques in a way MOST people can understand it. For some reason I just think it would be nice to read a simple book. I’m glad this student took away something form Lord of the Flies to help them that’s great!

  35. Student Response #15

    I am responding to Student #15

    First I am genuinely impressed with the time, effort, and thought you put in your answer. Your passion just jumped out at me. It seemed that you really spoke from the heart and mind. Which means either you are either very passionate or extremely skilled. Your wisdom of the value of inner growth and your realizations as a reader reminds me of myself.

    Your realizations as a reader in conjunction with your experiences as a member of society are also inspiring and intelligent. I like your wisdom about your own shortcomings as a writer, which we all must recognize in order to improve. Your recognition of Shakespeare’s true value being his amazing insight into humanity itself is an important epiphany. I think you will be a great and effective writer someday.

    The growing inquisitiveness and increasing awareness you display is an inspiring reminder to “Persevere, knowing… there is still more to be learned, and to be discovered.” I like your contemplation of “Ignorance is Strength,” and our variation ‘Ignorance is bliss’, the parallel it draws to our society is thought provoking and frightening. Personally, I love every slogan from 1984, which may be my favorite piece of political fiction of all time.

    Also, yes the world and the society we live in is a very cruel and scary place, but it’s also filled with kindness and happiness. Good luck, and keep discovering.

  36. Student Response #16

    Response to Student #5

    I had forgotten about the hero debate. I’m glad I read your entry, because the qualities of a hero help to shed a new light onto the stories we’ve read since then. I completely let the “hero” factor fly under my radar. And your right about how hard it can be to distinguish between hero and villain. Especially in Othello.

    I respect your standards of heroism. But sometimes you need to let heroes slide on the small stuff. Heroes can’t be perfect. That’s what makes them heroes. They need to overcome their difficulties. Even when they make a mistake they need to fix it.

    A hero, in a story, can’t always do the right thing. Then there couldn’t be a story. However you are completely right about real-life heroes. the people in the real world, helping others just because they can, are the purest form. A young man used to rent a part of my house, and he became a fireman. He just went to his first real fire about a week ago. So real life heroes are something that I can see pretty easily.

  37. Student Response #17

    Response to student 3

    I’m the exact same way. coming into the year I didn’t like all the new stuff we were doing in English. It seemed very complicated and daunting. I didn’t think there was any way I was gonna pass. It turns out I feel that I’ve gotten more out of this year than any other English class. I don’t ever feel like I’m doing busy work and everything feels like it has a purpose. I’ve never felt that way about an English class before.

    I also agree that it will make life so much easier after school worth all this knowledge of essay writing. I don’t feel like any of the essays are easy or pointless. Every essay has a purpose and I feel really good every time I finish one of Mr. Long’s essays. I know that’s just getting me one step closer to being ready for college. I’ve also never been in a class that prepares me so much for college and seems like it’s main focus is to get me ready for college. This is easily the most interesting English class I’ve ever taken.

    I somewhat agree with you about the books, but not completely. I do sometimes feel like we’re over analyzing, but I think it’s all for a good cause. The books are meant for us to see that, it just depends on if you’re smart enough to see it. It’s also going to get us ready for college English courses. They’re not just gonna be plot summary so we’ve gotta be ready to be able to look deeper than the text. I don’t always enjoy it, but at the end of the day , it seems very important and I don’t mind doing it. This is all getting us ready for college and that’s what I use as motivation.

  38. Student Response #18

    Respond to student number 16

    That was funny when I read the first paragraph. A lot of book needs to understand the deep meaning, and the story that the writer want to tell. It is kind of like the allegory that we learn in the history class. I think that was a good practice to find out the decent meaning in the story. And I always get the same problem with you, always had the wrong guess on the books, that makes me very sad, maybe I just not a good guesser.

    It is always good to read the books and watch good movies, because in those you can learn a lot of new stuff and knowledge, some of can also learn about the history or science. If you all find out all of the meaning, that was always good, because even the thing is not useful for you, but still learn something, is better then nothing. Sometimes reading can calm your feeling, and also can kick your boring away. A lot of people think reading is fun; they spend a lot of times on reading books, articles, or magazines. Those reading are very helpful.

    "If you look at something from one way, how can you develop a decent opinion?"

    That was a very good one. Right when you are thinking an idea to solve a problem, you can not only think a one way, because maybe their had other good ways to solve the problem. A good example was the math, if you only study one way to solve a problem; on the test the teacher changed the question, that you will get lost, and not able to solve it. “Think thrice before you act” my dad always said that to me. He wants to warn me, everything needs to be careful and take your time and solve it.

  39. Student Response #19

    Response to Student #3

    I completely agree that English is different this year from all other years that I have been forced to take the class. I still dislike the class but this year I happen to like it at least once a week. I can honestly say I too have never seen an English class run this way. You seem to think this depth is something frustrating, I find it to make the class easier, as a student I am not forced to go and just read a book then write a stupid paper over it and then repeat this with the next book. This year I am actually enjoying reading one or two books, ok you got me I have liked all but three. This is a first for me, because in the past I have looked at books as a waste of my time.

    The in-class essay, one part of the class that I am not fond of. While they help me improve my writing skills, they also make me nervous and look for ways to conveniently miss English class. Unlike you, I am still struggling to find a reason for English class, we just do the same things over and over, with this year being the first expedition to the broken record type class I have ever been in. On another foot, I want to know who invented term papers for ever class in college and some high school classes. I find these excuriatingly painful to write. So this might be the only real good reason I see in having this many English classes. However, I still don’t want to take this class seriously unlike you, I would rather have a type of nap time, but still I like the discussion and they usually keep me awake, also the fear of being yelled at, or kicked out has something to do with it.

    Ah book analyzing, this can be fun or not, sometimes I like it because I catch things I missed, but it can also make me look like a fool when I get called on and know absosmurfly nothing on the topic. I have to disagree with the over-analyzing point you made, I think the depth we go helps students for when they write in class essays or take home papers. The point that Winston is thinking why he isn’t dead yet was also brought to me because of Mr long’s deep burning desire to analyze books to that depth. However that is just one of the many things his conversations has taught me. In this book, just reading I catch a few things but still miss a whole lot, without this analyzing I probably would fail the test or in class essays over this book, so Mr. Long I thank you.

  40. Student Response #20

    I am responding to student #4

    First off, I have had this same epiphany on my own as well. Even when I’m not trying to now a days, I am constantly noticing things we learn in English. Like whenever I am watching a movie, I always am analyzing why an event took place and always notice foreshadowing and try to predict what this could mean will happen in the future. Before, I was just watching a movie and not noticing anything out of the ordinary really, but now I am constantly looking all around me for any symbolism or leitmotifs. Noticing the little things in novels or in movies really does help you to understand the big message of what you are reading or watching.

    I thought your point about us being”archaeologists, always burrowing further down to find more” was really well stated. That is exactly what we are and what Mr. Long pushes us to be. He always tells us to be professionals in one subject and dig deep for in one subject than know little about a lot of subjects. As students, we really are like all those occupations which is really interesting to think about because I never though about it like that. It makes me feel all smart.

    Not trying to suck up to Mr. Long, but English is actually the most important subject. It can pertain to every single subject we will ever study; history, science, etc. Knowing how to apply that knowledge is what is really important and is what this epiphany helps us do. From now on we will be more educated in literature and life because of this one realization. Everything has a hidden meaning, the trick is knowing how to find it.

  41. Student Response #21

    I’m responding to Student #6.

    This is kind of similar to my epiphany. I thought the same thing! I never considered the layers of meaning, which was a great phrase by the way. It’s NOT just the ideas. You’re right. It’s got to be deep. Sure, exciting stories sell, but the really good ones are the ones that provoke deep thought.

    Appealing stories aren’t that easy to write, though. I mean, lots of them exist, but it’s hard to know exactly what people will want. Kids are easier to understand, though. Pre-teens too. There are certain things that’ll always be popular with kids. You can totally see why Twilight is popular, because it fits the formula. But I think adult books can be the same way. Actually the more that I think about it, kid books AND adult books can both be written so as to excite, OR written so as to provoke deep thought. I mean, if you go to a book store there’s always some adult fiction about mid-life crises and stuff.

    Yeah, I think that’s why the Simpsons is really a successful show. It knows the right things to mock and reference. I mean, someone who understands none of the references can still enjoy it, but they only get the donut jokes or whatever. I’ve caught so many Lord of the Flies references in popular culture! It’s crazy. I’ve heard it mentioned on at least 3 TV shows, and it made me really excited. I feel really smart.

  42. Student Response #22

    NOTE: It is unclear whether you are responding to another student…or if you are merely turning in late entries from last week (a full week late). Can you clarify? — Mr. Long

    Throughout the year Ive always enjoyed our on going discussion on how all storys are similar. We always seem to bring it up in class when talking about what we are reading. I find that all story’s have a similar plot basis. Wether its son grows up to take down father or girl grows up to be a princess they are all alike. I had this epiphanie while watching the movie Wanted. The plot was so obvious I could have left half way through the movie and known the ending.

    To put in perspective our disscusions one instance would be comparing book to film. Macbeth is earily similar to the story of Anakin Skywalker. They are both tempted by dark forces which they cannot control. Macbeth and Anakin both eventualy are turned and become the opposite of what they where percieved to be. These are two classic examples of how stories can be the same.

    Mr. Long of all people uses these examples effectively to keep a students intrest in the conversation. I find it particularly interesting when he does this. So during the year I found that the idea of stories revolving around one main Idea great. This is what i love about English this year. It is what I live for after all.

  43. Student Response #23

    I am responding to Student 15

    There are several truths that caught my attention. The first was when you stated that education was more than a diploma. This struck me as such a mature comment. I agree that the journey is sometimes more important than the final destination. It made me realize how our English class has been a series of explorations. Each writing assignment or literature study that we have embarked upon has led us to a new discovery. I’d guess each of us has learned something about ourselves that falls outside the realm of a typical English class.

    I agree with you that some people have a talent for writing and some people have other talents. Before taking Mr. Long’s class, I considered myself to be an above average writer. I have been humbled this year. The quality and depth of some of the Visual Vocab stories amaze me. There are some incredibly talented writers in 10th grade. You wrote that you were interested in becoming a writer. I think you can balance your passion for enjoying life with your desire to write.

    I, like you, have developed a stronger sense of Shakespeare’s genius. To think that his works are still studied today gives credence to his brilliance. Doctoral students write theses about his works. It makes me wonder how one person could be so capable. Then I revert back to your statement of how some have a talent (or in Shakespeare’s case-a gift) for writing.

  44. Student Response #24

    I am responding to student #16.

    I have exactly same feeling as yours. Reading is not just homework to complete for me anymore. We need to find out what the author to tell us. Lord of The Flies is a great example. At first, it was just normal story about a group of child with an island. But its all about human natural and it really teaches me a lot.

    I have the same reaction as yours. When I’m watching a show or a movie or a novel, I will try to find out the meaning of inside. I also find out the symbol between Macbeth and Macduff. The Macbeth is the dark side of the humanity and Macduff is the bright side of the humanity. If I don’t think about it after I read it, I will never going to get it in my life and it is why I think thing is getting better and better.

    I really learn a lot from this year. It is going to help forever. Not the way I do thing and also the way I think thing. I agree about what you say, thinking thing many ways is going to help many things. I also like your quote very much “The truths behind Truths” and there is never going to be a totally correct answer for we all.

  45. Student Response #25

    Im responding to student 3:

    I definitly agree that I didnt look forward to english. As a freshman, the english had to do with alot of mla and grammer, and I loathed every minute of it. But mostly because it was so boring! I sat in the back with my best friends, and it was first period, so we slept alot haha. But the only fun we had was when we did group projects, because that gave us an excuse to be with our friends on the weekends, and my personal favorite, the ability to be creative.

    I also agree with you about the essays. They are definitly my weakness this year. I’ve always had a small set-back with writing essays in english, mostly since middle school. But I know for a fact, mr.long’s class has been a helpful factor with mine. I wouldn’t be as strong as a writer that I am today without his help. 🙂

    But I have to say I cant quite agree with you on the “over analyzing” belief of yours. I think the opposite actually. The way we take the time to look deeply into the books and stories we read is amazing to me. I love to read, so now with this ability to analyze beyond what I wouldnt have thought to look at before is an extrodinary talent. I like being able to talk about things I dont know on certain pages, as a class. Because when I get to college, knowing how to read that deeply will be important.

  46. Student Response #26

    I am responding to Student No. 17

    I, like you, had a series of epiphanies. My epiphanies were self-discoveries, though. I had moments in which I discovered how to write better, read more deeply, and analyze the “why” questions more than I had ever done before. As a whole, I feel I grew as a more thoughtful, reflective person. (Last year another teacher told me to be more “reflective” in solving problems. That was a great advice, and believe it or not, this English class is helping me to do that.) What I discovered is that becoming a more reflective person caused me to be slow to criticize, especially to existing rules.

    Your example of “no chewing gum” rule is case in point. You seem to write it off as an insignificant rule made to not to get the school dirty. Upon further reflection, you might see that keeping the school clean is pretty significant. Your “scientifically proven” retention of “10%” more of what a person learned while chewing gum might change if that same person were trying to learn while accidently touching “gum under desk.” Would you study better after experiencing something you admit is “very gross?”

    Your point on the dress code requires similar reflection. I myself have to worry about clothes in general, so I like the uniform. But it’s rather cynical to write off the dress code as a symbol of obedience to the “potential payers, who visit the school.” Whether or not you agree with dress code, your assumption that the school views all who visit the school as just “potential payers” cannot be right, and your assumption that uniforms would appease the “potential payers” also does not make sense. There are private schools with no uniform dress code requirements, you know. How about thinking that the school takes care of one decision for you every day? How about thinking that the school is teaching you to be humble, and you can earn the “free dress” at the last semester of your senior year? If you reflect upon reasons this and most private schools made the dress code requirements, you might find some good reasons besides just showing conformity and obedience.

    I agree with you that some unnecessary rules need to be removed, but I’d say, let us think more about which rule is “unnecessary” before we remove it quickly. Give credit to people before us who came up with the rules. And don’t assume the “government” in the book 1984 is the government we have now. Remember, 1984 did not happen, and we do not have the conditions in the book now. Perhaps because of the prescient warnings of writers such as Orwell, our government ensures many individual freedom, and Big Brother lives only in our imagination.

  47. Student Response #27

    I agree with student 1, it catches my attention when the conversation turns into good vs evil. The perspective is also a very good point made because everything depends on your view of it. If you see the guy you don’t like doing harm, he instantly becomes the ‘bad guy’ of the story to you. You are only judging him because either you don’t like the way he looks, or don’t understand why he’s doing it. I really like how they say everyone has the potential to be evil, it all just depends on the choices you make.

    I can relate to student 2 because my writing has gotten stronger since we’ve started this school year. You must have a good topic statement that you can branch off of in order to have a great essay. I still ramble on a little when I get off topic, but that doesn’t happen too often. When I started out, I didn’t include the quotes, I used them as a sentence and then wrote about them. I also agree that the conclusion is a good paragraph to tie everything together because if the person reading it didn’t understand what you were trying to say, that is the point to explain your arguement.

    I’m on the same page with student 4
    , because although the text says one thing there is always another meaning to it. I think there will be a major theme to connect the books we’ve read this year. We are going to come up with millions of answers and there will still be more that we didn’t even consider. I really like how they compared our jobs as english students to those of the real work place, because all of those descriptions are equal to what we do in this class. The novels we are reading has a deeper meaning then we could’ve imagined before your class.

  48. Student Response #28

    Im responding to student # 14

    I also had not realized how much writing you do in other classes. We wrote alot of essays last year in history but I would say if I had a chance to do it over I think i would do alot better. Ive learned this year to not write to many facts like I have and write more opinionated.

    Anybody can write the plot they learned. But it shows that you can write when you describe your feelings on the topic and give examples about it. Describing what you think about the topic can be hard. Alot of times you don’t really know what to write about. I guess you have to find something in the topic that entrests you.

    Im responding to student #1. As I read this students writing I remembered when we were in class and having a class debate. It was about Frankenstein. I never thought I would like something like this cause I have been more quiet in the classroom before. But this year it seams like I have been drawn out. I love competition so when we were told we were going to have a debate I got real excited. This really helped because now everytime Im speaking to the class about a book or something I try to convince them to agree with me.

  49. Student Response #29

    Note: The student did not put this response in the correct entry, so Mr. Long used his own log-in…which puts his own photo (with his son) in next to the comment (possibly). Excuse the confusion. — Mr. Long

    I am responding to student #3.

    In the first paragraph, student #3 talks about how he did not enjoy English as much as he did in his previous years of study. I would like to respond to this because I have enjoyed English more this year than I have previously. The approach to teaching English was different this year because we write on a daily basis there are a lot of detailed class discussions. The expectations were highly. This led to me becoming more successful as an English student.

    Writing has always been my strongest academic subject. In class this year we have written almost on a daily basis. I have become a stronger writer because we have learned how to write on random topic spontaneously. Blogs entries were a new concept that I have actually enjoyed. Blogging has allowed me to compare, contrast, and respond to works of other students.

    Reading novels has allowed me to not only read and understand books, but almost fully analyze the book. I can make connections from religion, history, and the modern day events. Analyzing shows, a hidden argument, that is much bigger than the story holds. Shakespear was difficult but it challenged my thinking skills. I was excited going in to this because I knew it would be a challenge.

  50. Student Response #12 follow-up

    Student Response #12 says:

    Thanks Mr. Long, I hadn’t even considered that idea/reason. When I read your comment, I actually said “Oh!!” out loud. It’s a legitimate reason and I am glad to truly know why and not just ‘because the rules say so.” 😀

  51. Student Response #30

    I am responding to student # 1:

    I was very intrigued that the good vs. evil can be seen as more of a perspective than an actual necessity in a story. I do absolutely agree with you on the perspective part. A villain wouldn’t see themselves as a villain, but more of a hero for their own cause. And in the reader’s eyes the hero would be the villain to the villain the reader’s eyes. If the villain then had to counterpart, then would he be a villain?

    Villains were made to look bad in our eyes, and that is why we cannot put ourselves in their shoes because we as humans are just so focused to see the ‘good’ winning. I laughed when I read the part with: “Villains are really just overly dramatic version of everyone else”, that is the most truthful thing I have ever read. Once we
    find out that the villain is nothing more than the biggest bully on the playground, we don’t fear him anymore. It is interesting to see, when at first everyone hates the bad guy because no one can fathom doing something ‘bad’, when really they committed a similar and simpler crime in the second grade. True villains may have not gotten caught by the teacher.

    I was pleasantly surprised whilst reading your article. At first my thought process drove along the rails of: Oh great, a really smart article and I won’t understand one big word used. But the way you described such a difficult and deep concept so simply is really great, and it makes sense on all levels. The only thing I would like to challenge is if it makes villain because they acted on their anger. I believe everyone acts out on their feelings, even if it is just throwing a pebble at the floor. I do not think it is human nature to keep things bottled up.

  52. Student #20 (late)

    Late reply.

    I’ve truly enjoyed many of the discussions this year. The desire to participate and debate in class has actually motivated me to read. I’m proud to say this year I think I actually read my first book. I’ve read plenty of books of course, but I have never analyzed every line and fought myself about what it really meant before in my life. I still don’t really enjoy the writing section of the class but I really look forward to our discussions in class, depending on if I’ve read.

    Throughout the year I have also begun to work at an ability to “tread water”, but only if I have to. Sometimes we all have to tread water. I think of class as a pool, if you’ve read you are in the shallow end playing and getting around pretty easily. If you haven’t read you are in the deep end where you can still swim but just not as easily. When I have read and discussed intelligently in class I have had several epiphanies.

    Sometimes my epiphany will come from hearing someone else speak their mind in class. Other times I will be reading a quote again for the 4th time and I will see it differently all of a sudden. My favorite epiphany is when I read something one time and it triggers something in my brain that pulls a lever here and opens a trap door there and then literally turns on the light switch and my eyes burn with a deep yellow glow as if I have just been given life in a dark castle. After I get this feeling though I want to express it to someone, anyone. Anyone who will listen and accept my thoughts and possibly reflect on them to help me understand them. Winston can’t do that, too bad so sad.

  53. Student Response #31

    Response to student # 6

    For me writing is one of the hardest things to do. I admire famous writers because I don’t know where they get their ideas from. My problem isn’t just coming up with ideas. I also have a lot of problems with vocabulary and grammar. I am confused by the rules. I use writing to practice English and to make improvements in my studies. In school, if you don’t know English well you will not be very successful.

    On the second paragraph, I agree with you about the differences in children and adult readings. In children’s books, they make the words easier which enable learning and understanding. Whereas adults are more likely to read some appealing stories because adults are more likely to enjoy content with deeper meaning that challenges readers to think and interpret the story the author is trying to tell.

    I’ve also realized why The Simpsons is not a children’s show, even though it’s a cartoon.

    This one makes me laugh so hard. I think The Simpsons have a lot of differences with the Family Guy and South Park . The Simpsons is funny not only because it uses profanity, but because sometimes the show relates to some big current events. Sometimes it makes fun of serious topics that bring awareness to what is going on. As a result, I think The Simpsons is not for kids because of the mature subject in the show. Since I am not a big fan of American cartoon, so if I am wrong please let me know and I will gladly adjust my point of view.

  54. Student Response #32

    Responding to student number 3:

    I agree with student 3 when he/she says that english has been different this year. But I do love the way it went because you have taught english in a different way then everyone else. Which I feel is a better learning environment. We learn better and new techniques that will help us in the future. You taught us to highlight in books which makes looking back for specific things easier and doing open book essays alot more productive.

    In class essays were a great thing to learn from the beginning I couldn’t agree more. It did indeed help us get better especially under pressure and a set time limit. I agree that writing is a great skill to posses even though you are seeing less and less of it in this new modern world. Even though at the beginning I never really thought about what affect this could have on the future. But the thing that matters is that now I do know and I am working to make up my mistakes.

    Analyzing a book although at first glance seems like we are going to deep, we are actually not going deep enough. Its a good skill to have agree but to fully understand book analysis we have to fully analyze the book. We can’t just partially analyze a book because it only means you have part of the skill required. You taught use to fully analyze the book you have to first understand it. But to understand it you have to reread the book several times which most people don’t do. So if people just took the time to reread the book then they would be doing there part in fully analyzing the book. The other part would be to get a group who have read the book and share your ideas to come up with a conclusion.

  55. Student Response #33

    I am responding to Student #1.

    Yes! I completely agree with you. I remember watching a TV-show with my brother on Cartoon Network… I don’t remember what it was, but I think it was Naruto or something similar. The heroes had just finished off a villain’s crony, who was defending his master to the death even though his master had the most sick and twisted ideals. After the battle, one of the heroes commented on how demented the crony had been to which the other replied that the crony had not been demented, but just believed himself to be justified in his actions. Frankenstein believed that he was justified, and good, in his desire to kill the creature, yet many people could argue that this is an evil act simply because it is his own creature. Good and evil are just concepts and perspectives in the eye of the beholder, and to the ‘evil’ being, ‘evil’ may not really be evil after all.

    In the second paragraph, this sentence caught my eye: “The only difference between them and a villain is actually acting on their anger.” This is exactly what I used for Iago’s defense in that take-home essay as a psychologist. Iago had his pride challenged and was degraded by Othello. I argued that anyone would have done the same thing; Iago just was someone who had taken thoughts to actions. I remember my closing line to my essay was that if the Venetian court decided to sentence Iago to death, I (aka the psychologist) wished them luck sentencing the rest of the Venetian citizens to death as well. Everyone possesses, no matter how deep down, villainous qualities like you’ve pointed out. I also remember Mr. Long pointing out the fact that we all wished we could be Roger since he possessed the freedom that came with rebellious, ‘evil’ character.

    Yep, Frankenstein is definitely a good point to bring in. The monster was evil, or Viktor was evil — we had that huge debate over who was morally right or wrong. There is no real answer to this, since, like you pointed out, evil is just an opinion and a perspective from the viewer. To everyone, good and evil are different concepts that can change when you jump from person to person. Opinions are always present in people, so that’s why evil can be present in anyone since opinions are things that can always change. Perhaps Lord of the Flies was not all about the basic, primal human instinct but about ‘evil’ and ‘savagery’ as abstract concepts within the human mind.

    Hey, I’ve reached my own epiphany while replying to yours!

  56. Student Response #34

    Response to student #11

    I agree with your first paragraph. Before stepping into this class I had no idea where I was heading or where I was going to end up. Now I have learned to push myself to my fullest and I have learned how to really know the subject of english. Already we have gone through so much and im sure in these last six weeks we will learn so much more. I am a better person now that I have learned to face all these different kinds of obsticles. I have really enjoyed where I have gotten so far this year in english.

    Your second paragraph proves a very good point too. When I first leanred we were going to have full class debates I freaked out. I am the most shy person you will ever meet in your life. I only like talking around people I know very well and I definitely do not like talking in front of a crowd. Now I think I have gotten better and am not as terrified. Im glad I have over comed this a little more because this quality will really help me through life.

    Student # 11’s last paragraph I woul have to agree with the most. Before I came into sophmore english I thought reading a book was just about plot summar. Boy was I wrong. I never knew you could look at a book or even a sentence in a book so many different ways. In every book so far we have read I have always looked at it different. From now on when I read a book I will not only look at it with plot summary in my mind, but I will look at it with annilization and different view points in every direction. It makes my brain think harder then usual and for once I think im okay with that. 🙂

  57. Student Response #35

    Note: Please note the requirements for each entry…esp. re: the minimum # of sentences for each paragraph to get full credit. — Mr. Long

    Response to student 10

    I have gone through much of what student 10 has experienced also. I haven’t really done any analyzing either except for brief parts in Ms. Khalil’s class and not nearly in the detail that we go into. It too was very challenging to me at first and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. But once I learned how to do it, essays became much easier to write as well as support.

    Although this has definitely helped my writing, I agree with student 10 on how grabbing your reader’s attention improves with practice but I still find it challenging at times. It isn’t all about just attracting your reader, but instilling the right kinds of thoughts and attractions.

    I would have to agree with this person on how learning to write and attract my reader will prepare me for college. My writing has become more natural than before and it definitely gives me more confidence in my work when I can use some good quotes in a book to support my thoughts. This experience has been challenging for me but it will definitely prepare me for my college experience because I am now a stronger writer.

  58. Student Response #36

    LATE reply

    I’m responding to student #6.

    I really like your catch in the Simpsons. I completely agree with you on so many levels. Almost everything we encounter in our lives has a meaning that we don’t see. I’ve been watching a lot of old movies lately and realizing that most new media is referencing them. It’s amazing the amount of knowledge you would need to understand every Family Guy, Simpsons, or M*A*S*H reference.

    I also think that in our own lives we discredit people for things that they say. If we’re talking in class and someone says something that we don’t get, we think,”Wow! He/She has a wierd sense of humor. ” Actually they just cleverly referenced a movie or old TV show that we havn’t seen. If we had seen the old movie or TV show, that comment would’ve been hilarious. I think that your points on the underlying message are very true.

    I know your entire response wasn’t just about the hidden meaning. I also like when you said that the most successful authors have stories with many layers. That is so true. Look at the books that we have read this year. Every single one of them has a hidden meaning that we wouldn’t have seen without our class. The other thing that they all have in common is that they are all some of the “greatest” books ever. Coincidence? I think not!

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