Thursday, October 30, 2008


Holler Chapter 6

Summarize chapter 6 and develop six thesis statements taken from themes in the chapter: one definition, one consequence, one analogy, one testimony, and three 3-part thesis sentences or claims. If you don't know how to do this, then develop 6 thesis sentences.

Respond to three student arguments with appropriate evidence. State the page numbers from Holler, songs or lyrics, and/or poems from Rose.

If you haven't seen me yet to talk about your writing, make and appointment and do so next week November 3-5 (M-Th).



In the English 201 morning class I handed out four documents and then reviewed the 3-part thesis which Thomas said looked like a syllogism. Perhaps he can explain what he meant here. See Hacker's chapter on argument.

Topic: Student success

Although some students enter college unprepared, one cannot say this means they'll fail, because given the proper support and resources studies have shown they succeed.

Oh, homework is to catch up. Students have not responded to the assignment on Bay Diamonds or the one before this on Chaper 5 in Dyson. Do not post both in the same place, this was a mistake.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Diamonds in the Rough

Today we listened to Kev Choice's Bay Diamond, and discussed what the metaphor meant. Post four thesis sentences here which take their theme from the song. Use Invention Strategies to develop an analogy, a definition and a consequence: what is it like/unlike; what is it/what was it; what caused it/did it cause/will it cause. I also want you to try your pen at the 3-part thesis. We looked subordinating conjunctions up in Hacker's chapter on Clarity: 14a and 14b (110-114). Do the exercises on page 114-115 for tomorrow.

We meet in the L-202E. If you didn't present your scene, tomorrow we look forward to seeing it performed. If the first group wants to present again with their entire cast, they can if we don't run out of time.

Also. I'd like students to post their arguments and thesis sentences developed from arguments presented by Dyson in Chapter 5. We will discuss Chapter 5-6 next Monday. Bring in questions to discuss in Literature Circles. We will write an essay on Can't Stop, Won't Stop, next week taking it's theme from the second half of the book.

I will have progress reports for each of you Friday. Make sure I have your email address. I asked everyone to post it a while ago this month. Check the post and see if you did, otherwise I'll give you a paper copy Monday. I'll give each of you a paper copy anyway next week. We'll use this to develop a plan for completing the course with a passing grade. We have a month and a half left.

Many of you need tutors. Go to the tutoring center and get help. Help is also available in the Writing Center: you need to have the assignment available for the tutor of teacher to see, your planning and what you want them to help you with. See Hacker page 28. Professor Juanita Alexander is good (Tuesday afternoon, 1-4, L-235) and Rudy Gonzales, tutor, daily (but he is very busy). Elesha is also available for study hour and outside this time. You can call her and email her. I am going to have her drop by the class again next week (Monday and Wednesday).

Oh, do not forget to come to see me. I am the best resource, underutilized, but I am here and available.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Homework from Dyson

Homework for Wednesday besides preparing for presentations for the afternoon class is to read chapter 5 and pull 10 arguments from the chapter and prepare to share. We will exchange arguments and in groups find the evidence to support them. Write them out with page numbers.

The early class will share Tuesday in class. Post your midterm assignment. Perhaps if we have time Thursday, you can act the skits out in the L-202E. This is the only way you can get full credit.


Introductory Paragraphs Cyber Assignment

Today in both classes, no one was ready to perform their scenes, so we put off for today what was due last week :-) I didn't realize we never completed the hip hop archives in the afternoon class. We will do this next week, as we begin Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary and start working on our final essay: research on a person who uses hip hop culture for social change. The person needs to live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Post a completed essay here. You can use an introduction or body from someone else, but you have to compose your own conclusion, plus another section. Two thirds has to be original. Use a paraphrase, a block quote and a in-text citation, in the essay. Be sure to include signal phrases and transitions.

In the afternoon class we discussed developing thesis sentences. I suggest students read Planning (Hacker) and do the exercises on-line and in-text on developing thesis sentences. Some students were confused over a thesis sentences role in the essay and had learned really prescriptive methods of developing them and what their role was in the essay. We also discussed what a coordinating conjunction does and what a subordinating conjunction does. See Hacker. We defined essay: a short literary composition with a single theme or topic.

As I said in my introductory letter--stay loose and we'll be fine. All you need to remember is what is covered in the handout I gave you from Writing with a Thesis: a thesis is restricted, specific, and unified. It's not a title, an absolute fact, the entire essay or an announcement. For our purposes, it is an argument stated as a declarative sentence:

Although Tupac Shakur uses examples in his song, "Me Against the World," and his poem, "If I Should Fail," which often seem to contradict one another, his intention is to encourage his peers to continue pursuing their goals, because "even if things don't go the way [they] planned it [...]", they can still "make a difference in the world" (Verse 3MATW).

Here are my introductory paragraphs. We used Dalena's (I think):

Tupac Shakur's music articulated for black youth what Michael Eric Dyson called, "the contradictory poses of maturing black identity" (Holler 118). His poems, published after his death in A Rose Grew from Concrete, reveal a sensitive and vulnerable side of a public persona unimagined when one thinks of thug life. What happened to this young man, or is the 19 year old personality who speaks of love and pain and loneliness and fear the same person who writes about death and destruction? Though Tupac Shakur's use of examples in his song "Me Against the World" and poem "If I Fail" often seem contradictory, his intention is to encourage his peers to continue pursuing their dreams, because "even if things don't go the way [they] planned it [...]", they can still "make a difference in the world" (Verse 3MATW).

Looking at these themes: contradictions, isolation, hopelessness, resilience, we developed the foll lowing two body paragraphs, as I said, using a student introduction.

MATW expresses Tupac's struggles throughout his life, such as: absent parents, living in poverty, violence on the street and in the home. Tupac's desperation--his pursuit of happiness was like a job. Considering the emotional disadvantages he experienced, one could say it was a job he seemed least capable of fulfilling.

In the poem, "If I Should Fail," Tupac seems prepared for the worse, but hopes for the best. One can find similar ideas in the song MATW. In several stanzas, his character reflects on what he witnesses: people murdered, police violence, isolation, no support system. He even admits to participating in these illegal and self-destructive activities. Take for instance the lines in MATW, verse one which follow Tupac's question about his friends dying in large numbers:

Got me worried, stressin, my vision's blurried
The question is will I live? No one in the world loves me
I'm headed for danger, don't trust strangers
Put one in the chamber whenever I'm feeling anger
Don't wanna make excuses, cause this is how it is
What's the use unless we're shootin no one notices the youth
It's just me against the world baby

The introduction I write this morning in the early class follows: Rough draft revised...but it's still rough:

In Tupac Shakur's song, Me Against the World and poem If I Fail, he writes about the obstacle to success. He speaks eloquently about the loneliness and isolation a creative person feels when his intentions and thoughts are misunderstood or dismissed. He writes as if signing an epithet--"those who know me are aware of my hard life: [poverty, single parent head of household, black skin, male body] (Rose 27). Both in the song and in the poem Tupac tells his audience that even if it sometimes feels as if it is "him against the world" to not let the "pressure make [them] panic, and when [one is] stranded or things don't go the way you planned it to keep working toward one's goals. No one is going to help the person who doesn't help him or herself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Revised Field Trip Post

Per our conversation Tuesday, I want to attend Animal Farm on Friday, October 24 at Theater Artuad, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco, and Climbing Poetree on Saturday, October 25. Tickets for 10/24 are $5, Saturday, I haven't checked what the price is at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue. Visit Let me know. We can get a deal.

Re: Black White Boy, we can go later in the run. I'm going to opening night Monday, October 27. I'll tell you about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Field Trips

Laney College's production of Piano Lesson in the Laney College Theatre, 9th and Fallon (across the street from the Lake Merritt BART Station.) Thursday, October 23, 7:30 reception, 8 p.m. showtime

The Piano Lesson continues, Thursday, 10/30/2008 - Saturday, 11/1/2008. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.;Students, Faculty, Staff: $5;
General Public: $10 Location: Laney College Theatre, 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM

August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson," Friday, 12/5/2008 at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak Street, Oakland, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Friday, October 24, Climbing Poetree at La Pena Cultural Center, 3150 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, 7:30 p.m. (It's next door to the Starry Plough.)

Hip Hop Theatre
Saturday, October 25, Black White Boy at Intersection for the Arts, on Valencia in San Francisco, 8 p.m. There is a panel discussion afterwards with the playwright, director and a hip hop scholar, Jeff Chang. This is a part of the Living Word Festival 2008: Race is Fiction.

(Look at the post on field trips to read more about the last two events.)

Let me know tomorrow if you can go the Friday event and how many are in your party. Tickets are $10 (I think. I'm sure I can get a deal for us if we are more than 10. The same is true for Saturday. If anyone wants to read the play email me and I'll send it to you. "The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson circulates in the public library. COA might even have it.)


Cyber-Homework...due Wednesday, October 22

Respond to five (5) questions and then post a comment in response to a classmate's post.

1.Various themes run through Dyson's book, Holler If You Hear Me. Some resonate for certain readers more than others. Let's look at education. In a freewrite think about the significance of education in Tupac's life. Contrast or compare his views on education to your own.

Now, use evidence from chapters 3-5 to talk about American education or miseducation according to Tupac. Discuss how Tupac's belief that knowledge is power is developed in these chapters. Write this as an introductory paragraph on the theme "education." (Min. 10 sentences.)

3. What influences did Leila Steinberg have on the beginning of Tupac's career? (Chapter 3)

4. Was Tupac's mother, Afeni Shakur, a good role model for her son? (Chapter 2)

5. How did Tupac's mother's life as a revolutionary affect his development as a young man and as an American citizen?

7. How is black motherhood second to God?

8. Why did Tupac resent the fact that his mother was betrayed by the Black Panther Party?

9. How did Afeni Shakur, regardless of her foibles, live up to her title: Black Queen?

10. Listen to "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Keep Ya Head Up." Read the lyrics too. Discuss how "Keep Ya Head Up" is a letter of hope to Brenda.

Compose at least 10 sentences incorporating lyrics from the song where these lines from the lyrics help explain or illustrate what the writer is stating.

Note: An easy way to find evidence is to look at your statements and see where Tupac agrees with you in his writing. Use some direct quotes, at least 2 of the four. The other citations can be phrases and paraphrases.


Kurzweil Cyber-Assignment

Find an essay you've posted and use Kurzweil to edit it. Discuss what changed for you as a writer after using this speech to text tool.


Kurzweil at Laney

Please write a reflection on your experience this morning or afternoon with the Kurzweil text to speech program. I have CDs for each of you to try the program out for 30 days. I am going to have the program ghosted on the L-202E computers, so we can use it for the rest of the semester.

I'm really excited about the possibilities for composition and reading. Remember, you can use the labs at Laney, 9-4, M-F, in E-237.

Voter Registration
Today is the last day to register to vote. Don't miss this opportunity to participate in the governance of your nation. All libraries, post offices, court houses, colleges, and other public facilities.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Monday Class, October 20

The morning class will meet at Laney College in the Kurzweil Lab, E-257 from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. I will be going straight there; however, I might have a couple of seats open for a ride to COA.

Monday afternoon
English 201, 1-3 p.m. will meet at Laney College in the Kurzweil Lab, E-257 from 1 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.



The morning class paraphrased sentences assigned as homework yesterday. Please continue to paraphrase others and respond to minimally two classmates. We will meet at Laney on Monday, October 20, 8-9 in E-257.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Awesome! More cyber-homework...

Today the writing team (ENG 201 1-3 p.m. class) featuring: Treana, Renee, Vonreesha, and Monique, wrote their entire scene and performed it for the class. I made copies for all the students present. It was a great model.

Continue reading Dyson and write your logs. You will turn them in at the end of the month, when we complete the book. Post the scenes at the posted assignment below before Monday, preferably by Friday. We'll be performing the plays, October 27. We'll do a run through October 20, maybe, and complete the Writing with a Thesis package. Finish it before class 10/20.

Paraphrase the following sentences. See Hacker page 417 (6th edition).

1. "Tupac squeezed the various vulnerabilities of black life into verse without smothering its defiant hope" (Introduction 2).

2. "While he often decried racism and spoke about blacks and whites, Tupac rarely thought in black and white terms" (Introduction 3).

3. "Tupac's budding erudition only strengthened his suspicion of authority" (Introduction 4).

4. "...Tupac's lyrical and immortality are secure" (Introduction 5).

5. "The question of black authenticity haunts the culture; within hip-hop it is especially vicious, with artists often adopting a stance as a thug or gangsta to prove their bona fides and their ability to represent the street" (15).

6. "If the mother is central in black life, she is also made a scapegoat for the social disintegration of black culture" (22).

Define the words or phrases in context: autodidactic rumination(34); delegitimaized counterculture (34); black track...white flight (34); domestic pedagogy (37); gargantuan (41); fatally tethered to badness (45); presciently (51); heinous contradictions (58)

More to come later...


Email Addresses

Please post your email address here. We are missing some of them. We want to send you the second essay back.


Field Trips

Today in class students began typing their scenes. Please post them no later than 5 p.m. today. I want to look at them and give you feedback. Make sure the writing is standard and as polished as you can get it. You can certainly revise it later. Post it where at the link where I give you an outline to follow.

Old Assignments
No one posted a summary of Chapter 5. Next week and today in the afternoon class we will look at paraphrasing certain sentences in chapters 1-5. We'll work on the summaries, in the afternoon class as a group for a freewrite.

We will also review Writing with a Thesis exercises.

Field trip
The film "Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome," is screening tomorrow, the final day of the Oakland International Film Festival at Grand Lake Theatre, in Oakland. The film is screening 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. The producer is going to be present. The evening wraps with a party beginning about 12 midnight. Tickets are $10 with a discount of $5 for those who attended the festival. If you attend the film screening with me, tickets are $5 for you and any guests. I will meet you at 5:30 p.m. at the theatre tomorrow. Let me know if you plan to come no later than tomorrow.

There is another screening that begins at 9 p.m. I will not be staying for this screening, but I might return. I have an 8 p.m. engagement.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Writing with a Thesis and Cyber-Post for the Scenes from Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac

We continued working on the skits. I handed out a section from the book: Writing with a Thesis. Students are to read pp. 1-17 and answer the questions in the text. We will review the answers tomorrow.

English 201 8-9 a.m., post your plans and outlines for the scene where assigned. So far, nothing is posted.

A sample scene is:

Title--Act 1, Scene 1 (the title of the scene is taken from the title, for example: "No Malcolm X in My History Text."

Characters--Markita as Miss Steinberg
Edna as: narrator
Barry as: Tupac

(if the actors are double cast, put a slash between the characters they play
e.g. Barry as Tupac/narrator)

Setting--A park in Marin County, 1982

The narrator summarizes the chapter and leads into the scene..."In Michael Eric Dyson's book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac," in Chapter ? "No Malcolm...looks at .... In the opening scene, (tell us who she is) Leila S-- is sitting on the grass reading Winnie Mandela's book...when the young poet, Tupac walks up.

Tupac's lines
Leila Steinberg's lines|

Each character has his or her own lines. When the character changes, use another line.

We are meeting in L-202E--both classes Wednesday, October 15 and Thursday, October 16.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Assignments...Keep Reading Dyson

Today in the early class we had to evacuate because fumes were making students lightheaded. We are meeting in L-202E in the morning. I got a call from Police Services who stated the fumes were from work occurring on campus and that the fumes posed no threat to safety, but if students are feeling lightheaded we don't need to be in the classroom. I don't know when the work will be complete, but we'll meet in L-202E this week.

The afternoon class went over a handout from the book: Writing with a Thesis, chapter 1: The Persuasive Principle. We reviewed the material and went over the first set of exercises together. Homework was to read up to page 17 and do all the exercises in between. You can write on the handout. If you missed class, you can pick up a copy outside my office.

Homework was to read Chapter 5, which we skimmed, and write a summary. We will write a scene in class Wednesday.

The early class were assigned chapters to develop a scene from. We will continue writing tomorrow and perhaps do a run through. Wednesday is curtain. You can bring props and music and art. The scenes need to be written out. Everyone should have a copy. Look at a published play to see how to structure the writing. You can use the text for dialogue and characters, you can also develop your own.

A scene is a part of a story, as such there needs to be an introductory section of the piece or prologue to bring the audience up to speed. You can also include an epilogue, to let us know what happens later.

The scene should have characters, dialogue, and a setting or place where the action takes place….Describe this in the opening section of the scene.

Your scene can have a name
List the characters, including a narrator
Cast: student names and characters

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Homework for both classes

Read Dyson, Chapters 1-4. Skim chapter 4 first and be prepared to talk about the key ideas you noted when you did this. Students will also be asked to discuss how this previewing helped guide their reading and grasp of certain concepts later.

We will write a skit on Monday and for the early class, act it out on Tuesday. For the MW class, we will do both on Monday, October 13. Students will not know which chapter will be assigned, so read all of them and have a short log prepared with areas of interest and places that encourage dramatization noted in-text or in the notes.

A scene has characters and dialogue. It is not the entire story. In your case, students will have a narrative prologue to recap the story so far and give a little background on Tupac and Dyson's book: why he wrote it and what this chapter covers. We might have more than one ensemble developing scenes from the same chapter. In this case, you will be assigned a certain section of the text.

It should be fun!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Me Against the World Freewrite

We listened to "Me Against the World," and responded in a 3-paragraph essay. Writers can look at themes and key ideas, highlight language of the song itself, or compare this song to another with similar themes or context. Use a a paraphrase, a block quote and an in-text citation--one per paragraph. Take time to organize your essay before beginning. It will make the writing go more smoothly.

There is no wrong way to respond to this assignment. After you post your essay, respond to someone else's essay. Identify three aspects of the essay you like or that work well.

Here is a link to the video:
Here is a link to the lyrics:

My thesis:
Though Tupac’s protagonist in Me Against the World seems defeated and cowered by life and the plate in front of his place at the table is filled with food he'd rather not touch, let alone eat, the song ends with a ray of hope, almost like dessert after a horrible meal. The song, "Me Against the World" could be considered a pep talk for all those, "post-revolutionary kids like himself" (Chapter 2 Dyson). Tupac's narrator is telling his audience to "handle its business, to keep its head up, that it can do it, because if it doesn't, then no one--literally, not his parents, society, or friends, will.


Continue reading and annotating. Post Thesis Sentences Here taken from themes in Chapter 2

We discussed Chapter 2 in Dyson and shared responses to the poem, "Eternal Lament" (17) in Rose. Homework was to develop a few thesis sentences (min. 3) from themes raised in "Son of a Panther." Post the thesis sentences here. We will meet in L-202E Thursday morning. I haven't heard from Sekou yet, so we are not going to Laney College yet. Remember the film Equinox is at 9 p.m. at the Grand Lake Theatre. We'll meet there. tickets are $5. I will be in the lobby at 8:30 p.m. Call me if you don't see me. I'd like to sit together.

The skimming exercises does not take the place of reading the chapters. It just helps you get a sense of where Dyson is going and helps you, I hope, grasp the key concept a little better.

We are going to speed through the rest of the book, so that we can begin to look at social entrepreneurs for our research project.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Active Reading

Tuesday in class (8-9 a.m.) we read Chapter 2 in Holler. We skimmed the text: making predictions and looking at certain grammatical forms like parallel construction. For homework students were the continue reading the chapter and develop a reading log by the next meeting. The log was to include vocabulary, as well as questions related to references the reader might not understand such as "James Baldwin, Sonia Sanchez, Rev. Al Sharpton, Geronimo Pratt, Malcolm X's statement: " any means necessary."). When we looked at certain historical references, we learned that one student had family members who were members of the Black Panther Party.

We also spoke about my trip to the Student Success conference last week and a reading program used at Laney.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Missed You

I'm back! Flew into Oakland Friday evening and then went home, dropped off my luggage, jumped into my car and headed for Prescott Joseph Center for the play, "Ebony and Johnny: A 'Hood Play." It was great adaptation of Romeo and Juliet! Six students showed up from all four classes and we hung in there through the rain. It was that good! I encourage you to go this weekend: Friday-Saturday, October 10-11, 7 p.m., Sunday, October 12, 2 p.m. at 920 Peralta Street in Oakland. There is an art exhibit inside you can visit during intermission. There is art in the front hallway by the door and on the wall along the first staircase and in the first large room in the front of the building.

I curated the exhibit and the reception is Wednesday, October 15, 6-8 p.m. It's free. I canceled the early class this morning. We watched a film I got in a workshop at the Success in Basic Skills conference I attended last week: Reading between the Lives: Chabot College students talk abut reading and more...".

The film explored college reading assignments and skills needed to success in courses. It also looked at how students learned to read and their reading experiences as children and adults.

Post a response to the film and then respond to another student's response. Share an early reading experience. How would you describe your relationship to text? Some of your spoke about wanting to read more, to stop watching TV as much, as a reason why you are in college. Other students spoke of not enjoying reading or writing. What happened to turn you off to text? What has kept you connected to text: reading and writing?

Share something you learned which you plan to add to your reading strategy? How would you describe your reading strategy? Use the Dyson text as the example. Discuss how you would approach reading Chapter 2: Son of a Panther (46)?

Read Chapter 2. Develop 5 questions from the text. The questions can be about concepts you do not understand or those you agree or disagree with. Bring in the questions.

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