Monday, March 23, 2009


Synthetica Essay

Today in class we discussed the recent tragic deaths in Oakland and wrote a letter in President Obama's voice to the citizens of Oakland. Please post these letters here. Students were asked to offer a solution to the citizenry so that perhaps such tragedies can be prevented in the future.

We then tackled a couple of quizzes and the essay based on errors from Synthtica.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


6th Anniversary of the War

Wedensday, March 18, we spoke about the anniversary of the War in Afghanistan today, March 19, read poems (from a handout), and discussed student responses. You can post your responses here. If you need a copy of the poems I can email the package to you. Let me know.

There was a problem with the printers in the Open Lab, so many students emailed their papers to me. It's hard with Pid essays to respond via email, so I'll give them back to you on Monday with comments.

In the morning class we reviewed exercises from Part 4, Pronoun Agreement (108-123). The homework is to locate the errors in the Synthetica essay (124-126). If you do the error exercises then you don't have to complete them Monday, March 23.

There is no class Wednesday, March 25. It is a staff in-service and the college is closed.

We listened to the audio book: Dreams for My Father.Students in the afternoon class said they enjoyed it, so I'll play more at the next class.

What else?
Keep reading Dreams and writing your logs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Study Sessions in L-235 Tuesdays, 10:30ish until 1:30ish

Today we had a study hall in L-235 for a couple of productive hours. Students liked hanging out here, so we'll make this a weekly session all students are invited to. You can drop in during this time with questions or just for camaraderie and academic support.

This is also a good time to call me on the office phone, (510) 748-2131 which one student did.

You can eat in this room and talk and not worry about disturbing others.

Note: Sometimes there is a college hour event, which we might want to attend at 12:00 which means we'll end early, but I can definitely commit to a couple of hours on Tuesdays. I didn't do much, I was just here if a question arose and a few did.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Happy Chinese New Year

A belated Happy Chinese New Year, just in case I forgot to say it.


Morning class

This morning we spent a significant time on Ladies First (38). We identified the thesis adn then pulled out evidence in the reflection that supported Felicia Pride's point that: Girls can do anything they want to do in life. There are no limitations.

After we did this students worked on a second assignment, same article, to write a three paragraph letter to Felicia Pride as Barack Obama. Students were to choose a "Halloween" moment in his life and reflect on it as he writes to Pride. Use first person, which means you are not quoting Obama, you are Obama. Put page numbers so I will know where the citations comes from.

Use three. Sources: Ladies First (song), The Message, Dreams from My Father

I told you to use direct quotes, but I have changed my assignment: use free paraphrase. You can quote Pride and Latifah.

Post your letters here.

Homework is to post your freewrite which was a reflection on Pride's chapter 38 (102-104). You can continue reading Obama and completing essay 2. Only two students brought their work in typed. We are behind now.


Cyber-Post for March 16, 2009

Afternoon class, post your outlines here for your chapter. Identify the chapter and the student partner who worked on the outline with you. This can be a list. On Wednesday we will use this information to write a paragraph about the chapter.

After students finished reviewing the chapters, we shared sections from the book chapter by chapter up to Chapter 6.

Chapter Outline
--Identify the plot or thesis for the chapter: key points or ideas (with page numbers)

--List the characters and where they come into the story and how
Differentiate between new characters and continuing characters from previous chapters;also identify the characters' relationship to the protagonist (Obama)

--What changes for "Obama" the character in the chapter because of his relationship to the other characters?

--Gvie the chapter a title that reflects the theme (you can note the section)

In class today we reviewed Essay 2. I graded the revisions and gave them back. Some students kept their essays for further revision and will give to me Wednesday, March 18.

Wednesday, March 18 is the day before the anniversary of the War in Afganistan. We'll read poetry about the war and freewrite on it. If anyone wants to bring in anything to share regarding this anniversary date, please feel encouraaged to do so.

In Stewart Pidd we reviwed Pronoun Case, Part 4 (108-114). Complete (115-126).

We didn't do anything from The Message today.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Character Profiles from Dreams from My Father

Post your three character profiles here. Students were to read up to chapter 11 for 3/16.


Cyber Assignments from The Message

Wednesday, March 11, we reviewed Essay 2 in both classes, the afternoon students who'd turned their essays in Monday got them back graded. If the grades were not passing grades the revision is due Monday, March 16. For the earlier class, bring in your papers typed. Complete the checklist before class. Your peers will do another checklist and recommend a grade.

Our freewrite was Ladies First (the Message). Students were to write a letter to Felicia Pride discussing 3 points in her essay. Include a direct citation and a paraphrase from the Message and Latifah's song. No more than one citation per paragraph. The response should be no less than three paragraphs.

The other part of the freewrite was: How would Obama respond to Felicia Pride's Ladies First? Write a letter to the author in Obama's voice and have him share his Santa Claus experience with her and how he made it through it.

Homework was to develop three character profiles. Choose three different characters from Dreams and draw descriptive paragraphs from what you've read about them. Use vivid language. Be sure to connect them to Obama in significant ways. Talk about shared values and lessons Obama learned from them, and perhaps those learned by the other party.

Bring the character profiles in to class to share.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Phone calls

I received a few calls from students today and yesterday. Only one student identified herself and left her phone number. Please leave your number when you call.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Ghetto Bastard cyber-posts

Freewrite: Respond to #31 "Ghetto Bastard" by Felicia Pride in her book "The Message." Look at her reflection from a personal point-of-view (POV)and from Obama's POV expressed in Dreams. How does Obama miss the tragedy that is Treach (a character in the song)? How does Obama's mother and other women help him see faith and hope as something tangible? Cite page numbers or stanzas?

What is the point here?

My reflection:
I think Felicia Pride's thesis is in the last paragraph where she states: "We're all prefilled with the power we need to survive. Can you feel it?" And Naughty by Nature's protagonist echoes this point when he asks the question over and over again: "Why me huh?" It is as if the character wants to do better but seems stuck on a social treadmill and can't escape the curse, the mandate, the destiny, society dubbed him when he was born to a "mother who couldn't afford us all, [so] she had to throw me out with [the trash]."

I don't think the protagonist's mother, who says her son is "priceless" really throws him out, but perhaps she is emotionally unavailable and this is what makes her son angry because he is a child and can't manage life without her guidance.
Is everything really going to be all right for him? No, it is not when we meet him.

In the second stanza the protagonist seems to change; this person says being "priceless" means he can't afford a gun, that he is the one kid in the 'hood who is nice which translates as the one kid who doesn't eat. He is also the one kid who feels worthless, if value is the person who is feared and has showy of enviable possessions. Treach even feels suicidal and wishes he could afford a these ill conceived "treasures" as he keeps asking the same question: Why me, why me, why me?

As long as Treach can ask the question, the song seems to state that everything will eventually be all right. It might take a while but the kid in the story is thinking, he is reflecting on his life and his situation and even though he is emotional and angry about life and what it has offered him up to this point, there is a potential for change.

Treach is looking for answers inside himself because all the advice from people outside is useless. He states out of frustration: "If you ain't never been to the ghetto/ Don't ever come to the ghetto/ 'Cause you wouldn't understand the ghetto/ So stay the f-- out of the ghetto/ Why me, Why me".

His name,"Treach," which contains the words: reach and teach is not coincidental.

Obama, on the other hand, was born into a two-parent family which eventually became a single female head of household. He knows his father intellectually, if not emotionally right now in the book. His mother tells him about his father, he carries his name, he can speak to him on the phone and his father visits him.

Another important difference between Treach and Obama is that Obama was not born in the ghetto. Single parents with money and support from family do a lot better than those without. Obama was also born into white skin privilege by association--his mom and grandparents. His mother and grandparents shield him from the "two-word mandates" Pride mentions (81). Obama's Dreams speaks to the complexity Pride and Naughty identify in "Ghetto Bastard." This is his quest and this is why he writes the book.

At the end of the journey, when Obama identifies his "dream" even if he doesn't actually find it was the journey worth it? How many of us can capture a dream once we awaken?

When Obama's quest ends is everything all right? How is that so, how does he reconcile the pain and doubt and perhaps even anger at his father and American society?

Today in class
Students turned in their three paragraph freewrites to me to read. I read a couple. I'll return the others on Wednesday. Bring in Pidd and Dreams. Students turned in Essay 2(afternoon class). The morning class should bring their essays in for a peer review. We will be reviewing pages 108-126. We'll write an essay in class next week on Synthetica and begin Essay 3.

Read up to chapter 10-12 by Wednesday also pp. 248. We will look at key characters and do some analysis. Students who have not turned in Essay 1 have until tomorrow to get it in. Email me and call me to let me know you have sent it to me: Identify yourself in the subject line: Name, class, assignment. You can attach the essay so it doesn't loose it's formatting. Include an checklist.

Visit¤t=YouTube-NaughtybyNature-GhettoBasta.flv to see music video of Naughty by Nature performing "Ghetto Bastard."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Essay 2...homework for Monday's class

In the afternoon class we had a chance to read two chapters from Felicia Pride, "I Ain't Mad at Cha" (171) and "Stop the Violence" (120-121). We had an extended conversation about "violence" and how this characteristic was typical in American culture, especially when defining what it means to be a man.

Students were asked to identify the thesis, which I'm not certain anyone responded to. In the second Felicia Pride reflection, we defined words like: misogyny, reminisced, metamorphosis, deteriorate, and feisty. We agreed that this reflection was about change, a process that happens as we grow older, and there is nothing we can do to stop it in ourselves or in others.

The assignment was to reflect on the topic and then look at the topic as reflected in the character Obama's life up to now. How is change a theme in the book? How is the character changed in certain situations mentioned in the book, and how does he change others? Are some changed voluntary or forced, which ones? What is the outcome in these circumstances?

Students only had to respond to one chapter. Post your freewrites here.

After we did the freewrite and listened to the Tupac song, the other wasn't audible, we went over the Essay 2, and I assigned students a error to develop into a paragraph. Homework is to complete the essay, type it, and complete the check list. Bring to class for a peer review.

Other homework for both classes is to continue reading Dreams up to chapter 8. Write another short 3-4 paragraph essay on another value Obama learns from a woman. You can continue with the woman you already explored earlier, plus introduce another woman you meet in the next section of the book. This woman should not be a relative. Post the essay in the same place you posted the other assignment. Don't forget to respond to another student's essay.

Make sure you practice paraphrasing and using direct citations: one per paragraph.

Oh, bring your books to class. The Message is a book we will take our freewrite topics from.

Extra Credit
Miriam brought in a poem of a favorite woman write who wrote in the 15th century to share. She read the Spanish and Sabah read the English translation. I'll post the poem at the comment here once I get it plus Miriam's comments about the poet and why she likes the poem. This is an extra credit assignment.

I enjoyed reading your freewrites on your mothers. Sabah is the only student who wrote an essay reflecting on women and values they taught Obama. We are on essay 2 now in this exploration, do not get behind. Also, Sabah is the only student who posted two reflections on women whom she admires: the first was her mother, the second is her aunt. I want three posts each week. They do not have to be about different women, you can add to your reflections on the same person. I'm sure many of you could write a book about your mothers. Make sure you comment on another student's comment.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Women's History Month Reflections Cyber-Post

As a freewrite today we reflected on women in our lives who we honor or respect. Begin to post these reflections here starting today. Each day you can reflect on the same woman or on a different woman. Three posts a week would be great. At the end of the month, you can compile the reflections and give to this woman.

These are affirmations or positive reflections, not that all experiences with women have been such. Again, as in all posts, respond to each other.

This month, if students want to get extra credit feel free to bring in music, poetry, art, and other media to share by women you know. If it is something printed or musical (lyrics) bring enough copies to share with students. I can make copies if you let me know in advance.

You can post these extra credit assignments here also and responses to the presentations. If you like, we can have a Women's History Month Party and presentation midway through the month. Let me know.


Women in Obama's Life

Freewrite prompt:
How have women influenced the man Obama is? What does he say about these women in Dreams? What values did they share?

Post your essays identifying the values traced to women in Obama's life. Introduce the woman per Obama's text. Make certain you put the page numbers in parentheses at the end of the sentence where the quote or paraphrase is.

Some of you cited several women, others stuck to one women, like his mother. Remember, name the value, such as "love" or "compassion" and use Obama's example to illustrate the lesson. Practice direct citation and free paraphrase. In three paragraphs note one value per paragraph and explain how Obama incorporates it into his life right away or later on; note how it changes his life in ways he does not necessary articulate but you see in the story he shares about himself. Some or most of these values are connected to themes in the books. From the values you can easily see why he is disciplines, educated, compassionate and hardworking, why he is honest and cares about those less fortunate than himself and why he feels it his job to make certain our country is representative of the whole not just the most vocal parts.

We didn't have a chance to share our freewrites on women who we admire or honor. Post those freewrites at the link provided. Continue reflecting on women you honor for the entire month. Make certain you respond to another students each time you post a comment. The cyber-space is another conversation opportunity.

Also, students are to continue in Pidd. We will write Essay 2 as a class on Wednesday, March 4. The final draft will be due Monday, March 9. In the afternoon class we went over pages 84-85 and identified the errors on page 87-88. Fill out page 89 and work through as much as you can in the chapter. We will review the essay together on 3/4.

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