Monday, October 08, 2007


English 201 1-3 p.m.

Today in class we read a few poems from A Rose Grew from Concrete, then discussed themes and shared a few thesis sentences students developed from the themes. We also completed the handout from Writing with a Thesis. The assignment was evaluating two student essays on the short story The Lottery. One essay was a plot summary, the other was an essay. We also talked about transitional words and phrases. (We looked it up in Diana Hacker's Rules for Writers.)

A lot of students left early when we got into small groups to discuss the Dyson. Students received a few handouts, one was on "Literature Circles," where students each take a role in the discussion of a text. In this case the book was Holler If You Hear Me. We had two groups: two were up to chapter 5, one was up to chapter 4. Other students read, one wrote.

After our discussions, we reassembled, to talk about writing introductions, today's homework (see the blog entry below this one). There was another handout (pink sheet), plus one on revisions copied from Hacker (green sheet).

The thesis we developed looked at the theme "achievement." When I went back to the classroom to jot down my notes from the whiteboard, I revised the paragraph and changed the thesis. So for students who were there, what I am about to share differs from the introductory essay you copied from the board, the one we developed together. I even changed the theme. It's entirely different now. Can you guess the theme? I have made references to songs but haven't nailed down the specifics. This is a draft so there is time :-)

Oh, students who want to go to see The Color Purple musical on Tuesday, November 6, 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, bring your money in Wednesday, October 10. The tickets are $25 each. the service charge for the order is $13. Students can split this between them Wednesday. It will probably come to just a few dollars or less.

Sample Introduction to essay (note it is 3 paragraphs long)
Where is the thesis?

Tupac Shakur's life exemplified that of a person driven to achieve greatest. It's as if he knew his time here was short. In fact, his poetry and music hinted at the temporalness of life often and his work was frequented with references to the afterlife, hell, God and one's destiny.

In the poem, "What Is It that I Search 4," Tupac Shakur knows he's here for a reason, that his life has purpose even if the aim eludes him, thus his mistakes. This uncertainly, despite his quick rise to celebrity status, precipitates his equally rapid decline if one looks at imprisonment as a set back, rather than as Tupac obviously did-- just another one of life's lessons.

For some the road isn't easy. Tupac emerges more determined not to fail from prison. His weakness or trust in the wrong people speaks to his isolation and fear or perhaps just to his youth. He wasn't paranoid and he knew he didn't have many friends, yet he let these people use him anyway. I wonder why? Was this another case of his duality in soul and spirit, that two-ness he seemed unable to escape?

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